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Baja Fishing Report

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Loreto yellows going off between blows
It looks like a banner season for Loreto anglers; Cabo marlin and tuna still offering epic action, East Cape prospects are prime; reserve your seminar spot for surf fishing the Pacific coast at upcoming Long Beach show

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LORETO YELLOWTAIL FISHING has been solid when weather permits. Nemenchas Charters scored beefy yellows last week between winds. From left, Rigo Martinez, German Martinez, Wayne Bashore, Julio Martinez and Frankie Martinez. They used live bait on a downrigger to locate the fish and then dropped Pacific lures for the yo-yo action.


LORETO — The use of downriggers is a growing tool in locating feeding yellows at depths in this region, and on a recent trip the three-boat fleet of Nemencha Charters headed by Rigo Martinez and his sons scored limits of bruiser forkies.


The weather has been a tough nut to get around this winter, but when the wind lays down, the various fleets have been going out and the results have been outstanding on the quality yellows.


Rigo was at the dock when sons German, Julio and Frank Martinez returned to the Loreto marina with Nemechas Charters customer Wayne Bashore and a load of yellowtail, full 5-fish limits of quality fish. The pangas are being outfitted with downriggers, and slow-trolling live bait through areas and getting hooked up followed by yo-yo iron action has been effective.


The only question is not whether the yelllowtail are on the structure spots but whether there are customers to go during weather windows.


Rick Hill, of pinchysportfishing.com, reported the quality was up but the quantity down. It’s the wind. But temporary.


“The fish count was down this past week due to the weather which usually happens during winter,” said Hill. “When the few days of winds die down a whole new ball game starts with half the boats hitting the old "spot" and the others off checking other possibilities. Yellowtail are running in the medium size range with most fish just under twenty pounds. The coastal action is still kicking out cabrilla and a few pargo for the boats with lots of sardina to chum.”


In other news, the biggest tourney of the area is on the books for July 11-13. It is the Fishin’ For The Mission Dorado charity tournament based at the recently expanded (upper level for large groups) La Mision Hotel. Go to the tournament’s official Facebook page for details.


Finally, Outpost Charters, based at the Marina Puerto Escondido south of Loreto and which is owned by Jay Yadon, is up for sale. Yadon, who owns the charterboat Cast ‘N Reel which has recorded some great catches in recent years and has provided reports to WON, said business at his real estate company has taken off and needs his full attention.


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THE MANGIERI GROUP with their tuna catch on the Pisces’ 32-foot Bill Collector and other assorted catches including a swordfish on the Bill Collector, and then there was an estimated 800-pound black marlin fought but lost for anglers aboard the C-Rod. It was an outstanding week for all the fleets in Cabo.


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Pisces Sportfishing Fleet recorded a 100 percent success rate last week as the striped marlin, yellowfin tuna and inshore action guaranteed success last week. Winds were minimal, and swells never got over 3 to 5 feet. There were some notable catches, including a swordfish and one that got away, an estimated 800-pound black marlin.


“What a week,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces. “An incredible time for fishing in Cabo. Two outstanding catches stand out, a swordfish catch by Bill Collector owner Mark Chiavetta to start off the week, and a jaw-dropping estimated 800-pound black marlin by the 38-foot C Rod . We saw consistent fishing all around, with more marlin closer to port, too and some nice inshore fishing for roosterfish, jack crevalle, sierra mackerel, and grouper, among others. Dorado numbers are about the same as last week, with only a few sprinkled in, and tuna numbers are holding strong, even though the boats are heading out far too find them, about 30 miles or so.”


As Ehrenberg reported the Bill Collector was about 30 miles out when they saw the swordfish sleeping on the surface. They quickly pulled all lines in and snuck up on the fish, pitching a bait at it from the bow. The swordfish took the bait immediately and it was on. Owner/angler Mark Chiavetta said it “fought hard, like a tuna,” but they landed it relatively quickly. The fish hit the scales weighing in at 98 pounds.


“The next big thing this week was the black marlin for angler Lance Roffers, who works in the construction business in Wisconsin, and who had never caught a marlin,” said Ehrenberg. “At first, the C-Rod crew and anglers thought it was a striped marlin. The crew had found a nice school of porpoise about 15 miles south of Cabo and was looking to land some tuna. They saw a marlin come up to the surface in the midst of all the porpoise and cast out a live mackerel bait on a 30-pound test line with 100-pound leader.


“The fish took the bait and then a few moments after jumped. They were all astonished to see the size of it and quickly realized of course, this was no striped marlin. Lance’s first-ever marlin fight would be one for the books. Ultimately though, the fish won the fight, after about an hour and a half when only a few feet from the boat, it broke loose. But hey, they did find their tuna, they kept one 30 pounder in the end.”


And as if this wasn’t enough for the C-Rod in the week, the crew showed off their skills with 12 striped marlin released at Golden Gate on a different day. Anglers were John and Kathy Carey from Missouri, who caught their fish on mackerel bait, ranging in size from 100 to 130 pounds each.


The Pisces Caliente released 12 stripers just outside the Lighthouse, using weighted ballyhoo bait on the troll and some live mackerel. The Bill Collector headed to Golden Gate Bank to release 7 striped marlin, with the largest of approximately 180 pounds.


Tuna catches included yellowfin by Pisces’ Ruthless with 10 tuna caught 40 miles out, around the 160 Spot. The tuna were about 20 pounds each and hit on cedar plugs and feathers. The next day the Johnson family from Santa Rosa, Calif. scored 6 fish of 25 to 30 pounds closer to Cabo, south of the Lighthouse. They found an almost 20-pound dorado there too, which hit on mackerel.


In other Baja action:


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PACIFIC COAST SURF fishing is the hot topic for the special seminar at the upcoming Long Beach Fred Hall Show. Pictured is Cabo surf fishing guide Wes Brough who has some pretty exciting techniques to share for roosterfish, snook and other Pacific nearshore species.


Baja Surf fishing Secrets : This year the Long Beach Fred Hall Show, CCA and Daiwa will be offering a pre-show seminar on Friday, March 8. “Surf Fishing from California to Cabo” will take a look at equipment, rigging, baits and techniques to find surf fish from Santa Barbara to Cabo San Lucas. Presenters include light-line expert Bill Varney, Cabo surf master Wes Brough (the most sought-after surf fishing guide in Cabo), and Corey Sanden (MC Swimbaits) an expert on finding, baiting and catching halibut in the surf and bay. The seminar will also include an update from CCA-California, raffle prizes and includes admission to the Fred Hall Show.


Seats are limited and will sell out quickly. Tickets will become available online at www.fredhall.com/tickets. The seminar begins at 11a.m. on Friday, March 8 with entrance directly into the show at 1 p.m. Additional raffle tickets will be available for sale at the event with proceeds benefiting the Coastal Conservation Association California.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas filed this report on Sunday from Marina Puerto Los Cabos: “We saw more north winds through most of the week, calming down for the weekend, an ideal climate now with moderate crowds, making this a great time to visit the Los Cabos area. Ocean temperatures dropped into the 70 to 72 degree range though most of the region. It is a transition period for migrating pelagic gamefish, as warmer water species head south during this colder period.”


He said offshore action was limited mainly to looking for striped marlin, action was better early in the week and became more scattered as the week progressed. Schools of mackerel were found off of the San Jose del Cabo grounds, as well as sardineta, chihuil and inside the marina area there were caballito. There were some unconfirmed reports of sardinas being seen along beach stretches north of Cabo San Lucas, so Brictson was hoping these baitfish will become available.


With the cooling waters, the action for the more glamorous species such as yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo has all but halted, said Brictson. That’s normal during this time frame, besides the on-and-off striped marlin action offshore, fleets start to search out inshore and bottom structure for a variety of smaller fish. He said pangeros are waiting to see if a run of yellowtail and red snapper develops. There were red crabs found this week drifting to the surface on the Gordo Banks, a positive sign for finding the red snapper.


“So far the snapper action was mainly for the smaller fish, as the huachinango of over 10 pounds have not been plentiful yet,” said Brictson. “More triggerfish off the rock piles than anything else. Drift fishing with pieces of squid seemed to produce the more consistent action, most of these fish smaller in size, but all of them very fine eating. We saw a few sheepshead and pompano in the mix.”


He added, “The weather feels like we are now on a warming trend, at least we have not seen the frigid low temperatures as the week before. We need these north winds to lay down more and give a chance for ocean conditions to rebound. Recently there were strong currents moving in and out, this always make it tough to try and concentrate on bottom action.”


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 59 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 1 sailfish, 13 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 2 yellowfin tuna, 92 bonito, 125 red snapper, 4 bagueta, 6 yellow snapper, 8 pompano, 10 surgeon fish, 8 barred pargo, 3 sheepshead, 8 hog fish, 13 sierra and 85 triggerfish.


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing is done with boat work and eager to get fishing, but first things first. He will be at the Pacific Coast Sportfishing Festival this week. Stop by and say hello at the Accurate booth Friday, Saturday and Sunday 15-17 at Orange County Fair Events Center.


“I'm feeling like we are on the down hill slide from winter to spring,” said Rayor. “Calm days are starting to prevail over windy ones and the air temperature is not as frosty. A clear sign to me is that I sighted my first carpenter bee. In this neighborhood the carpenter bee is a better predictor of coming weather than Puxatawney Phil. Who ever trusted a groundhog anyhow?


“A plume of colder water has come down from the north and all but shut the bite off. I saw a dozen fleet boats depart yesterday (Saturday) and only one return with one marlin flag. Yes, it is tough in the neighborhood right now. It is a little ironic watching the whole fleet roar off in the morning for parts unknown like their hair is on fire while the tin boat fleet is seeing action. Tin boaters in their 12- to 16-foot boats staying close to shore and home are bagging yellowtail, sierra mackerel, white bonita and other inshore species.”


Rayor said that back at the Jen Wren compound on the beach, the crews and Mark are chomping at the bit to fish.


“Cabin fever has set in and as beautiful as our beach is the Jen Wren crew and myself can't wait to get off of it and in the water,” said Rayor. “Boat maintenance has come together. Last touch on Jen Wren was installing new dripless shaft packing, completely new bonding system and new Nibrel propellers. We have had a couple hiccups with Jen Wren III's new motor installation snapping a turbo/manifold bolt and finding a small oil leak from the transmission output shaft seal. All the kinks have been worked out and it is just polish and wax now. Hope I'm not talking too soon but work on Vaquera has gone without a hitch and the whole team is ready for action.”


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International was just wrapping up the week’s work at a Portland sports and boat and travel show (they have eight left before coming home to La Paz) when he reported in. “The week started well with lower winds and calmer seas for once. Not many anglers in town, but we had a few and surprisingly got into some warm-water action with a handful of dorado popping up. Nothing big, but it’s surprising to get dorado in the winter and for first-timers hooking an acrobatic 10- or 15-pound dorado is pretty exciting.”


In addition, he said that jack crevalle, good numbers of fat bonito plus some cabrilla over the rocks provided fun action, especially on light tackle.


“As the week went on, winds came up and it got colder and rougher, enough to bend the palm trees and put little whitecaps on the bay,” said Roldan.


L.A. BAY — Bill Boyce producer and host of Destination Baja TV show who has a house in L.A. Bay, said Sunday that the last he heard, anglers were getting up north to Remedios on the good weather days and getting some nice 15 - to 20-pound yellows. Mackerel was easy to make in the bay too, but all this cold wet weather may have turned things around a bit.”


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K&M SPORTFISHING SCORED solid action on the yellows outside San Quintin Bay on the iron.


SAN QUINTIN — Wide open on the hot spots outside the bay for yellows of good quality, reported K&M Sportfishing. Yo yo-ing is doing the deed.


Have a great trip to Baja? Share your tales of fishing and travel with other WON readers by sending reports to Baja@wonews.com and send a photo or two.




Cabo Tuna Jackpot: Two new rules and an earlier deadline for reserving your team number


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CABO SAN LUCAS — The Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot deadline to reserve your team number from last year has been moved up to March 1. In addition, two rule changes have been announced.


Western Outdoor News had a very successful tournament 2018 in the 20th year with 163 teams, up from 147 the previous year. But for the 21st run there will be two changes to the event in 2019, and one deadline for signups has been moved up due to increased interest in the tourney and early signups. First off, the deadline for reserving your team number is now March 1.


One rule change will be a new spot for the 6 p.m. weigh-in deadline for boats. It will not be the inner harbor. It has been too dangerous as boats speed in to make the deadline, creating issues with the harbor police and other boaters, so the outer harbor will be the designated spot that will be videotaped and manned, just outside the jetty.


More details on the Nov. 6-9, 2019 Tuna Jackpot will be forthcoming, but the Wednesday through Saturday schedule will remain the same, and the same sites are expected to be used for parties, check-in, and weigh-in.


The second rule change is that the $1,000 wahoo/dorado optional is now replaced with separate $1,000 optionals. The 30-pound minimum on both is in effect the first day but if a qualifying dorado is not caught the first day the minimum will be lowered to 20 pounds. The 30-pound minimum for wahoo will remain in effect both days. “This has long been a goal, and the feeling among anglers is that it is time to divide them up so there are more chances to win,” said director Pat McDonell. “You can target tuna and get a big dorado, but in most cases, wahoo are specifically targeted and usually are much bigger, making the dorado an irrelevant species in that optional. Now teams will be able enter the dorado only $1,000 optional and have a shot at both tuna and dorado.”


To sign up and reserve your current team number, send in $100 to Western Outdoor News. Go to Wonews.com and go to Events, and click down to the Cabo tourney and go to “reserve your number” and use the entry form. Full boat and team info is not needed to reserve your 2018 number. We will reserve 2018 team numbers until MARCH 1, and then we start assigning numbers in sequence — unless your 2018 number is still available or you request a number still available. Your signup contact is lori@wonews.com. Note on any entry or check that you are requesting a specific number.


You can reserve your number right now with a credit card by going to this link and paying the refundable $100 fee. If you not enter the tourney in full, that amount will be returned to you. If you sign up, that $100 will be credited toward your team $1,000 entry fee.


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