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Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Tuna of all sizes pick up speed off Cabo


Jaime Bank tuna: Four cows and one new super cow
Excel camps out off Cabo and scores some big yellowfin to 298 pounds before moving on; Stripers off Cabo still producing epic days; Sea of Cortez pretty much blown out all week; Bahia Asuncion and San Quintin yellows going off

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TEXAS ANGLER ABBIE MILSCI fished aboard the Pisces 41-foot Caliente and single-handedly released 17 striped marlin in just over two hours. PHOTOS COURTESY PISCES SPORTFISHING


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Gordo Bank is just off San Jose Del Cabo and seems to get the bulk of the headlines on big tuna most of the time for boats out of the two Cabo harbors, yet the region is laden with seamounts and structure that hold big tuna. Lately, the boats have been keeping vacationing customers happy with 10- to 20-plus days of catching and releasing marlin at the Finger Bank, and then mixing in some smaller yellowfin tuna under 100 pounds under porpoise. That’s a great day for freshwater folks from Minnesota.


The folly for some charters is hooking a huge tuna that takes hours to bring in on the wrong gear. Or it’s lost for the same reason. Bruised egos, busted tackle and a perfectly good charter out of Lands End ruined and with it a chance for a nice crew tip. So, the banks are not fished by charters in traditional ways for big tuna, particularly chunking. In fact, many offshore banks are not fished at all with big tuna in mind, especially this time of year.


If there is a group of boats and crews that can unlock the jaws of big tuna, it is the long range boys. The big tuna were on the bite at the Jaime Bank, located directly out from the tip, with some huge tuna right at the 300-pound mark coming aboard the long range sportfisher Excel on a 16-day trip out of San Diego. It is not common for the long range boats to come into the nearshore banks where Baja’s charterboats make their living, but they have the permits and will come close if need be.


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THE EXCEL’s 298 was a fatty at the Jaime Bank last week, and in the other photo, the crew begins to hang another yellowfin onto the digital scale. The long range boat’s next choices on the 16-day were the Hurricane Bank or Puerto Vallarta’s offshore. VICTOR LOCKLIN PHOTOS


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ANOTHER BIG BAJA yellowfin hits the scale aboard the Excel.


After walloping the wahoo at Alijos, the sportfisher made bait at Mag Bay and heard from other boats the fishing at the Hurricane Bank was poor, and instead chugged south down the peninsula to the Jaime Bank which is about 20 miles off Cabo. The Finger Bank was closer down the line 50 miles north but it was chugged with striped marlin that have been all the rage for Cabo sportfishers for two months.


The Jaime Bank, as it turned out, was a great choice to anchor on. It was on fire with quality tuna of 50 to 200-plus pounds. Victor Locklin, who won the Cabo Tuna Jackpot with his Estrella Del Norte team in 2017 and is a big tuna chaser, on Facebook messaged WON: “I’m on the Excel now for 16 days. We stopped at Alijos Rocks on Thursday afternoon and hooked 106 wahoo. Then we stopped at Mag Bay and made bait but got bad reports from other boats at the Hurricane Bank. So we now have been at Jaime Bank catching yellowfin tuna from 60 to 285 pounds for the last 36 hours. Today’s bigger catches were the following: a 213, 263 and 285.”


The fish were weighed on an onboard digital scale. He followed that up with the report that a bigger fish, a 298 pounder was caught on a chunk bait at the Jaime the next day. At that time the Excel was hoping to move outside to the Hurricane, with another option going to Puerto Vallarta where the big tuna have been going off for boats like the Constitution, the Apollo, and PV-based six-packs.


The Pisces Sportfishing fleet’s Rebecca Ehrenberg reported the following: Yellowfin tuna numbers have risen a bit more and are holding steady. Some of the bigger fish are still around, even if found far offshore. The marline bite at the Finger Bank keeps going strong, and we’re wondering if it will ever let up. We’re not complaining, as the catches are still in double digits up there. On average, 15 marlin per boat, with especially good days looking at almost 30 stripers each. Small game this week included mostly roosterfish and grouper.


And just mind-blowingly impressive is solo female angler Abbie Milsci from Texas, who decided to target marlin on Pisces’ 42-foot, Caliente. She went all out, and after only two-and-a-half 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 8 and a half minutes!


In other Baja news:


It’s winter and a good time to plan your trips, and one way to get fired up about the warmer Baja season is to watch Bill Boyce’s TV show Destination Baja which enters 2019 reaching over 200 million homes in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the Caribbean on three networks, and five online affiliates. It’s hard not to find it. From January through to July, a “Best Of” selection of the series’ greatest episodes will air on the Pursuit Channel four times a week, World Fishing Network two times a week, and Eleven Sports two times a week. It also can be seen 24/7/365 on five different online affiliates that include Amazon Prime, Pluto TV, Aqua TV, Wild TV Africa, and MOTV.


In the last two seasons, the show has won a total of five TELLY Awards for Best Travel / Outdoor series (twice), Best Cinematography, Best Writing, and Best Promotional Reel. A travel / outdoor / fishing series that explores on-road, off-road, inshore and offshore adventures, each week viewers are taken by Boyce to the best locations in Baja Sur to enjoy a bevy of activities that showcase the region’s most treasured pastimes: fishing, diving, dirt bikes, cultural areas, dining, resorts, surfing, free diving, restaurants and fishing operations.


If you have traveled the Baja extensively, or have never ventured south of Tijuana, this show will make you wish you were heading south and into Margaritaville.


Pursuit Channel: Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.


WFN: Tuesday, 3 a.m.; Thursday, 2 p.m.


Eleven Sports: Saturday 5 a.m.; Monday - Saturday TBA


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THE GORDO BANKS produced a nice grade of tuna like this one weighing nearly 100 pounds, but just a handful a day.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Marina Puerto Los Cabos reported windy conditions prevailed most of the week, with gusts from the north. Water temperatures were 72 to 74 degrees, and daytime highs are a comfortable 80.


For bait, caballito, chihuil, bally­hoo, mackerel and slab squid were available. The sardinas are absent. “It’s hard to say where they are, this time last year we had a steady supply,” Brictson said.


Most local charters were fishing from Red Hill to Iman and La Fortuna, as well as the Gordo Banks. There was no particular hot spot. The action was scattered from day to day.


“The Gordo Banks were producing a quality grade of yellowfin tuna, a few fish brought in weighing near 100 pounds. The problem being that there were very few of these fish being landed, on a normal day we are just seeing a handful of these yellowfin brought to the filet tables. The offshore action for the tuna associated with porpoise faded out some and was out of range of most boats anyway, being 30 to 40 miles offshore,” Brictson said.


With the passing of the recent full moon the billfish action also became scattered, they are still being found but not in any frenzy like the past months. Despite cooler waters, there were even a couple of sailfish hooked, though most common have been the striped marlin averaging 60 to 100 pounds.


“Early in the week we saw a few wahoo landed at the La Fortuna area, squid and chihuil were the main baits used. Only an occasional dorado was seen in the mix, scattered, no particular location,” Brictson added.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 61 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 4 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 24 yellowfin tuna, 4 wahoo, 84 bonito, 18 red snapper, 6 cabrilla, 8 yellow snapper, 4 mohara, 18 tijareta, 3 amberjack, 5 roosterfish, 10 sierra and 75 triggerfish.


LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter (Wait for report coming to you)


EAST CAPE — The East Cape is generally all quiet, especially this past week with horrid weather, but look for the wind to settle this week for at least a few days.


“It’s an easy report this week,” said Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing. “Nobody is fishing because of harsh weather. The forecast is for it to lay down on Monday for a couple of days. We hope to splash Jen Wren III at that time and take a couple laps around the pond to try out her new motors and maybe catch a fish or two.”


Rayor was supposed to head out to Puerto Vallarta for some action on tuna with good friend Jack Nilsen of Accurate and others on a yacht charter, but got behind on the repower. “Jack and his buddies bagged a 256,” said Rayor. Nice.


East Cape Guides were at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup, Wash., at the Washington State Fairgrounds and Event Center, last week. At all shows coming up, including the Hall shows, they will be at the Baja’s Van Wormer Resorts booth to answer all of your questions and book trips for the 2019 season.


In tournament news, the East Cape Bisbee’s Offshore tournament, slated for 2019 on Aug. 1-4, is always a great event, and attracts the top boats and crews from Southern Baja. The Bisbees announced their East Cape tourney dates recently and opted to cut fishing days from three to two. Get more on all the Bisbee’s events at bisbees.com.


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THE YELLOWTAIL WERE on the bite on the high spots of San Quintin Bay for guide Juan Cook who guided Capt. Daniel Fischer to a nice bite on the iron last week. JUAN COOK PHOTO


SAN QUINTIN BAY OFFSHORE — As with all winter months, there are periods when you simply can’t get out most days, but when you do, the yellowtail fishing has been solid. Capt. Juan Cook scored some nice forkies and his U.S. friend, Capt. Daniel Fischer, gave a clinic on the use of surface iron.


LORETO — Rene Olinger of Baja Peninsula Adventure Tours said the wind was blowing all week, and while the viento (your Spanish lesson for the week) was slated to let up Monday of this week, it was due to kick up again for several days. Prior to the winds, though, the yellows were going off at various spots at Coronado Island with a solid forkie season in store.


BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondy, who with her husband owns and operates the La Bufadora Inn at Baia Asuncion, said “The 2019 fishing season in Bahia Asuncion has started out with a bang with wide-open yellowtail bites most days and some nice big quality fish are being caught as well as a few dorado and tuna too. Shore fishing has been hot with halibut and corvina plentiful. So come on down, the water’s fine and near 70 degrees!”


L.A. BAY — Bill Boyce, producer and host of the award-winningDestination Baja TV show, has a home in L.A. Bay and told WON, “The weather down there has been great. My neighbors went out with Igor last week and got some nice yellowtail and gold spotted bass. This can be a good time for white seabass as well. March and April slow down then mid-May through the end of November it’s back on!”


* * *


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 e-mailing 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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THE BISBEE’S EAST CAPE OFFSHORE tournament slated for Aug. 1-4 will be two days of fishing instead of three. Go to bisbees.com for details. GEORGE LANDRUM PHOTO


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