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Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Yellowtail bite solid before the storms


Tuna of all sizes pick up speed off Cabo
Loreto yellowtail show up in big numbers off Coronado Island, San Quintin’s high spots also deliver wide-open action on the forkies

CABO SAN LUCAS — The yellowfin tuna on the porpoise and on the local banks have amped up the action and the options for anglers here, as calm seas and water temps still at 74 degrees have kept the fish biting at a record winter pace. And there have been reports of cow tuna being caught at the Jaime Bank by private boats and one long range sportfisher out of San Diego.


Clearly, this has been a wild season for Cabo, which started slowly but has been cranking at an epic pace on the marlin and now tuna traveling with the porpoise at the banks. 


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THE PISCES FLEET in Cabo scored well on the striped marlin releases as well as the tuna, some in the bigger sizes still around on the banks. But most have been in the 30- to 40-pound class.


“Yellowfin tunanumbers have risen a bit more and are holding steady, and to our delight, some of the bigger size fish are still around, even if found far offshore,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg at the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. “The marlin bite at the Finger Bank keeps going strong and we’re wondering if it will ever let up! We’re not complaining though, as the catches are still in the double digits up there, on average 15 marlin per boat, with especially good days looking at almost 30 stripers each.”


Pisces anglers Ed Johannes from Rochester, New York decided to bring his two boys Eddie Johannes and Matt Driscoll with him for an epic father-son trip aboard the32-foot Bill Collectorwhich they hoped would include a first-ever striped marlin for Matt. Well, they got that one and much more. Here is Johannes’ version of the day:


“Short description of our day. We left for the Finger around 6:30 aboard the Bill Collector, and two hours into the run we ran into a huge school of feeding porpoise, hundreds and hundreds of them all sizes jumping and working schools of bait. A mix of birds and tuna were just exploding all around us as Esteban set out rods. Seconds later we were doubled up, then tripled up. As fast as we could get fish in the boat we were hooked up again. Tuna are so much fun! After we got our fill of tuna, 8 for 9 on hookups over 20 minutes we powered up and continued north until we reached the Finger Bank.”


He added, “Within seconds of reaching our destination we were tripled up on marlin! Birds, bait balls, marlin, fish jumping everywhere! It was like something you only see on TV fishing shows. Juan was a master dropping us right on top of everything and Esteban followed up with quick hook sets. Two and a half hours felt like it went by in minutes as we had fish after fish after fish successfully being released boatside. We could have fished until nightfall if our bait and arms didn't give out. All in all we went 8 for 9 on the tuna and 18 for 21 on striped marlin! We will be back!”


On one Pisces sportfisher, a solo lady angler, Abbie Milsci of Texas wanted to target only marlin on the 42-foot Caliente. She went all-out, and after only 2½ hours of fishing, she decided she’d call it a day, as she had single handedly caught, tagged and released 17 striped marlin. That’s one striped marlin released every 8½ minutes!


Ehrenberg said the Pisces 31-foot La Brisa had a great week of tuna catches, with Jan. 15 being one to stand out with 22 yellowfin tuna, most ranging from 15 to 20 pounds, with a few over 30 pounds, and one well into the 50-pound size. They used cedar plugs, feathers and hoochies at the 120 Spot.


The 60-foot Reel Machine also did well with some tuna around the 50-pound mark. They caught 9 yellowfin ranging from 15 to 50 pounds on feathers, cedar plugs and hoochies about 25 miles south of the Old Lighthouse. They also released 1 striped marlin at the Old Lighthouse.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Yellowfin tuna took center stage offshore from here as the wahoo and dorado bite slowed, likely due to pressure. Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said there had been very limited action for yellowfin tuna, but this past week as the wahoo bite waned, the tuna bite that has been pretty good for the Cabo boats moved closer and got some attention by charterboats out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


“We encountered the tuna traveling with porpoise, much of this found 25 miles plus offshore,” said Brictson. “Just in recent days the yellowfin are becoming active on the Inner Gordo Banks. This bite had become a late-afternoon local commercial deal, with boats hooking tuna late in the afternoon, returning to the docks in the dark. There was a 200-pound yellowfin brought in earlier in the week and other fish of 150 pounds or more. These yellowfin are now finally striking in the morning as well, drift fishing with squid has been the main thing these fish have been striking consistently on. Most of these fish are weighing in the 30- to 90-pound class, but there are tuna much larger on these same grounds.”


He said there are not big numbers of tuna being brought in, but there is a fair chance now at catching one or two. Besides looking for these tuna, the main bite being targeted is on Eastern Pacific bonito off La Fortuna, the 4- to 8-pound fish striking steadily on jigs like Rapalas and hoochies.


He added, “The great action we had the previous week for wahoo and dorado faded out this week, hard to say why, water conditions are similar, no drastic changes, we are optimistic that these fish are still in the region.”


Striped marlin has been on and off of San Jose Del Cabo, with a better chance to the south closer to Cabo San Lucas, said Brictson.


“As more baitfish move in the direction of the Sea of Cortez, then we will see the marlin more prevalent,” he said. “Along the inshore stretches there have been some sierra and roosterfish found, without any sardinas it makes it more limited inshore.”


The ocean water temperature was holding in the 72- to 75-degree range, air was in the 80s, water clarity was good, with clean blue water found within a mile of shore. There were supplies of caballito in the marina area, also ballyhoo and slabs of squid.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 68 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 9 striped marlin, 12 dorado, 24 yellowfin tuna, 5 wahoo, 225 bonito, 13 red snapper, 4 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 12 yellow snapper, 6 mohara, 10 tijareta, 8 roosterfish, 4 surgeon fish, 12 sierra and 80 triggerfish.


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CHUCK CHANDLER ALL the way from Alaska found some warm sunshine and some nice dorado right off the rocks at Punta Perico near La Paz while trolling a Rapala. He was fishing with Tailhunter International.


LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International were on the road in Sacramento at the Cal Expo for the ISE sportsman’s show but received a report from down south that dorado are still in La Paz Bay and outside Muertos Bay.


“It was an up-and-down week dictated by the weather and winds which is typical of this time of the year,” said Roldan. “Earlier in the week it was calm although there were some incidents of localized rain mixed with sunshine. Later in the week, winds got stronger generating some rougher water.


“Surprisingly, however, given it’s winter and waters are chillier than normal, we got into some decent school-sized dorado. Bait is difficult to get because of the winds and choppy surf, but dragging lures has been productive.”


He added that in addition to the dorado, tasty white bonito provided some great action.


“Many folks are surprised that the white bonito are not just great sport, but also pretty good eating! Add in some tough jack crevalle and a few firecracker yellowtail, sierra and cabrilla off the rocks and there were actually some nice catches.”


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THE EAST CAPE is still loaded with fish, with marlin still hitting and providing great catch-and-release action. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEN WREN SPORTFISHING


EAST CAPE — “Our conditions have been gnarly all week with strong north winds and a very grumpy Sea of Cortez,” reported Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing on Sunday. “The few anglers who did brave it were rewarded for their efforts. Striped marlin have been close to shore off La Ribera and a volume of dorado have been right out front just a few hundred yards off Palmas de Cortez's moorings.”


Rayor added that, “Many anglers are of the same belief as me that 2019 is going to be a good one. Our requests for reservations are coming ahead of any past year and the smart angler is planning ahead. Last week we had some of our faithful regulars want to stay at Palmas and found that Palmas and Playa de Sol are both already plugged for dates at the end of October. They were not able to get rooms. This is not the year to be cyber fishing and waiting for the reports to be good. It was good all of last year and all indications are that this is going to be a repeat performance.”


Addressing the rumor mill, Rayor said that while he is now 70 years old, he is not going anywhere.


“It has been gratifying to watch my work grow since arriving in Buena Vista 28 years ago,” said Rayor. “Jen Wren Sportfishing has become a recognized brand with a reputation of top notch service and equipment. Without argument we have set the bar in this region with the latest innovative equipment and still continue to improve.


“I'm in excellent health but 70 is still 70. I am at a crossroad and have to accept that I can't keep up my current pace of managing and maintaining three deluxe twin-engine cruisers forever. I am very fortunate to have excellent employees and in the last year have delegated many of my responsibilities to them. They have risen to the occasion but still it all ends up on my shoulders. It is becoming harder for me to manage and maintain the standard we have set. My first consideration was to downsize. The difficulty is that would be the start of dismantling what we worked so hard to build.”


“So, to address the rumor mill, we are not pulling up stakes and moving. The East Cape is our home. Jen and I obtained our Mexican citizenship more than 10 years ago and have lived here more than one third of our lives. We built our dream home and are ‘living the dream.’ We love where we live and what we do. My wife Jennifer is my first passion and sport fishing is my second. I'm ready to pass the baton and make the business available if the right person came along. Until that right person comes along it will still be this old guy answering the phone, scrubbing the bottoms and shoving off every morning at 6 a.m. Just planning ahead.”


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SAN QUINTIN HAD the big waves and a lot of yellows for the guys fishing with K&M Sportfishing.


SAN QUINTIN — The surf was up, and so was the yellowtail fishing for those watermen fishing with K&M Sportfishing at the high spots. Both Juan Cook, a local guide, and Kelly Catian of K&M reported outstanding yellowtail fishing outside the bay. In fact, you could call it wide open.


A group made up of SoCal anglers/surfers and one from Hawaii fished in tough conditions and scored big fishing the high spots and then surfing the bay’s outer point with Capt. Kelly.


“After heading out to the high spots through heavy fog and big swell we arrived and within minutes we had a steady pick going,” said Catian. “After a couple hours we had a healthy stack of yellowtail and the guys were ready for some waves. Everybody got some bombs! Thanks Ramsey, Ken, Ian, and Jim.”


LORETO — It looks like a big year for Loreto yellowtail action as it busted loose last week, said Rick Hill of Pinchysportfishing.com.


“It was a big week with a couple of firsts for the new year,” said Hill. “One welcome arrival was limits of good-sized yellowtail for many of the boats working Coronado Island's points and shallow high spots. The fish ranged from 15 to 25 pounds. Some of the boats were back by 11 a.m. with sore muscles and full limits.


“The other arrival was the winter winds that scream into town for a day or two and then split. It looks really good all season for the yellowtail down here.”


BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondy of La Bufadora Inn here said the weather was spectacular all week, and believe it or not (you should), the yellowtail fishing has been outstanding, and even dorado were being caught. Unheard of for winter.


“Fantastic weather and fishing down here, said Bondy. “Great yellowtail fishing and even some dorado! January Is the new December!”


* * *


Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and directs the annual Cabo Tuna Jackpot as well as reports weekly on Baja. You can contribute Baja reports by emailing WON and McDonell at Patm@wonews.com or BajaReports.com. Reports are compiled all week but are finalized Monday morning for the print edition.


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