Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Baja wind persists, but spring is coming

East Cape poised for another great season
 Update:  Tuna under porpoise    


The Fred Hall show this week is chock full of Baja-related booths, but be sure to stop by John Ireland’s booth for details on hotel improvements and book your East Cape/Baja adventure at the Rancho; Dorado and tuna in the area as weather calms; Cerralvo Idslanmd yellows the bigger grade

At the show, be sure to stop by and see Tailhunter, Baja Fishing Convoys, Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Buenavista, Tony Reyes Tours, East Cape guides, Club Vag and many more! It starts today in Long Beach!


THE MASSIVE FRED HALL SHOW is going on this week through Sunday in Long Beach, so be sure to stop by the booths of our Baja/WONsupporters that include Tailhunter International, East Cape Guides at the Van Wormer Hotel booth, Hotel Rancho Leonero, Baja Fishing Convoys, Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Bob Vanian at, Hotel Buenavista, Club Vagbundos and many others. PAT McDONELL PHOTOS


HOTEL RANCHO LEONERO'S staff will be ready to help you book a great East Cape trip at the show.

JILL AND JONATHAN ROLDAN at Tailhunter's always-lively booth are eager to see their good friends and customers who enjoy fishing and fun off La Paz Bay and Muertos Bay. 

East Cape yellowfin still in area under porpoise, says Jen Wren's Mark Rayor on March 6


EAST CAPE– As a quick update, Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing was live from the East Cape this morning, Wednesday, before he hopped on a plane to hit the Fred Hall show. Rayor, who runs his fleet out of Los Barilles from his beachfront home, said one of his captains went out yesterday and scored a 40-pound yellowfin tuna under the porpoise, and a few days ago he heard of a dorado being caught from shore as the weather has calmed down at the East Cape. 

Even before this report, prospects for the East Cape season look outstanding. It would be hard to top last year's action on tuna, dorado, marlin and huge roosters, but all signs point to a great year with loads of bait, and now word that tuna are in the area

As for the show this week through Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center, there's a ton of great Baja-related businesses. In fact, Mexico destinations and travel agents, fleets, lodges, and even tackle promotions dominate the show.

Hotel Rancho Leonero is up and running after taking a few winter months off during the offseason to make $150,000 in improvements to the hotel. Owner John Ireland and staff will be in the Fred Hall show at the hotel’s usual main aisle booth in the Long Beach Convention center this week March 6-10 and at the Del Mar 4-day show at the end of the month.

Ireland sent in a great “opening” fishing report from a few days ago. The question is, will this year be as good as last year’s? Conditions indicate all systems are “go.” Right now, few boats are on the water. But winter winds are waning.

Our first boat went out yesterday,” Ireland reported to WONon Sunday. “Alfredo Porras, our federal congressman, and friends fished from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on the El Jefe.They caught yellowtail, amberjack, grouper and cabrilla all on mackerel and it was just out front of the hotel on the high spot. The yellowtail was a big one, over 30 pounds.”

The hotel’s bookings are way up, and if you want the best dates or just time frames that suit your personal schedule, do it at the show or soon, he suggested

HOTEL RANCHO LEONERO’S cruiser El Jefe took out Alfredo Porras, the local Baja/East Cape federal congressman and friends on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and they caught yellowtail, amberjack, grouper and cabrilla all on mackerel out front of the hotel on the high spot. RANCHO LEONERO PHOTO

“We had the best fishing on the East Cape in 20 years,” with tuna inside and outside early and into the winter, and folks want to go after those again, as well as the big roosterfish, yellowfin, marlin and other species.

Improvements to the hotel were extensive, but like most of them done in the offseason months, they will not be instantly evident by longtime guests. New roofs were put over several rooms, 10 guest bathrooms were updated, there is a new gym, a new electrical system was installed, and some landscaping was added. As always, the hotel’s aim is to create an old Baja feel of a personal beachfront rancho, with all the amenities.

Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing weighed in with a blog on Sunday from his beachfront headquarters at Los Barilles. (he added the aforementioned  live post on Wednesday about the 40-pound tuna being caught on Tuesday over a porpoise school.)

It has been a long winter but March has finally arrived.” he said. “We are still getting some windy days but spring is on the way. I have graduated back to short sleeves and flip flops. We haven't had to stoke up our fireplace for more than a week and history tells me it is time our weather will just keep getting nicer. There have only been a few boats fishing which makes it difficult to get a good handle on the action. I'm not seeing many flags and the little I have heard is that it is still tough. I did speak with a commercial snapper fisherman who had some encouraging news. The fish dope was that, aside from an excellent snapper bite while bottom fishing on high spots off Buena Vista, he has seen schooling yellowtail breeze by his lights. I also heard Cassman report striped marlin are starting to migrate from Cabo San Lucas up the Sea of Cortez.”

And, now the yellowfin tuna Tuesday by a crewman on one of the Jen Wren boats that trolled over porpoise, even if it was one 40 pounder.

Rayor added that signs of life all indicate another great season is in store for his three sportfishers laden with Accurate and Calstar outfits.

“The other day from our deck I saw pelicans diving on bait,” said Rayor. “I also saw some incredible shots from the beach of whales breaching right in front of Playa del Sol. All the signs are right and the East Cape is ripe to have the bite go ballistic within the next few weeks. Last year the yellowfin tuna showed in March and it wouldn't surprise me to see it happen again. Our boats have been gone over from top to bottom and ready to go. We don't have a scheduled trip for a couple of weeks but I am going to slide them in the water next week and start shaking them down for the season.”

At the show this week, East Cape Guides, a WON supporter, will be at the Van Wormer booth, and they are a top-notch sportfishing charter company. Stop by their booth this week and be sure – if you are a woman angler -- to get all the details on a unique Van Wormer tourney planned for Hotel Palmas De Cortez, July 11-15. It’s the first annual Ladies Only Fishing Tournament, with an entry fee of just $50. One to four anglers per team, with results based on points for billfish, roosters, tuna, wahoo, dorado and another scoring division for several bottom grabbers. Winning team will earn a return trip, and there are second and third place prizes. Sounds like a great way to keep the guys out of the way and let the ladies have their fun. Call reservations at 877-777-8862. The booth will have details as well.

LONG BEACH -- This Baja report  is dominated by the Fred Hall show that runs this week, March 6-10. Nowhere is there such a strong attendance of Baja-related businesses. Be sure to stop by the booths of our Baja/WONsupporters that include Tailhunter International, East Cape Guides at the Van Wormer Hotel booth, Hotel Rancho Leonero, Baja Fishing Convoys, Tony Reyes Tours (Midriff), Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Hotel Buenavista, Club Vagbundos, and many others.

And of course, be sure to go by the WON events booth and get the latest monster show copy of WON, and a list of all the charters coming up. And great deals and gifts for annual subscriptions. This reporter will be at the show the first three days at the WONsubscription booth. There are two Baja trips on the books, one to Cedros Island in September with Cedros Outdoor Adventures, and another just finalized with Baja Fishing Convoys (booth 340) to Mag Bay/La Bocana on Oct. 12-17. See below for more on these trips.

In other Baja action:

Time change Reminder. The northern half of the Baja peninsula along with other northern border states will move their clocks forward one hour this Sunday morning, March 10, in order to stay aligned with the time change north of the border. Baja California Sur will wait until Sunday, April 7 to make the change to Daylight Saving Time, staying synced with mainland Mexico.

LA PAZ -- Tailhunter International’s Jonathan and Jill Roldan finished up the Boise, ID show on Sunday and by Monday were on the road and headed to Long Beach, ready to greet anglers in their lively Hall Show booth March 6-10. It is, after all, Jonathan’s birthday week. Jonathan said his pangeros in La Paz and Muertos Bay reported the week in La Paz started pretty blustery with white caps, even in the normally calm La Paz Bay, but as Roldan pointed out, that’s normal for this time of year. By the time the show was being set up Monday and Tuesday, the bite for yellowtail, big yellowtail, got going.

"We got yellowtail going at Cerralvo Island!" said Jonathan. "They're big and tough and the fact that they're in shallow water makes such big fish even harder to stop from heading into the rocks!  Donna Thompson knows how to fish and put the brakes on this big pig forktail!"

 DONNA THOMPSON  put the skids on their at Cerralvo Island on a Tailhunter trip out of La Paz. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

A BIG-HEADED YELLOWTAILfalls to the gaff for Ken Gragg from Bakersfield who was fishing just off Punta Perrico near La Paz, using dead bait. He also got a big cabrilla. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

“However, as the week went on, winds diminished somewhat, at least enough to get out although there was still some chop and it was good to have a jacket or sweatshirt on,” said Roldan. “Fishing out of Bahia de los Muertos, we hit quite a mix of fish, especially for so early in the year with warm water species mixing with the normal cold water species. Big cabrilla, jack crevalle and both white bonito and skipjack kept the rods bent as well as smaller snapper and pargo.

“However, we also got some legit yellowtail over structure at both the north and south ends of Cerralvo Island as sell as just outside of Bahia de los Muertos on both sardines and Rapalas and topped it with some flurries of dorado and even wahoo.”

Roldan said live bait is still hard to come by with all the rough water, but they are dragging lures and using dead bait pretty effectively and the fishing is not too far off the beach. He added that it was also calm enough to get out to swim with the whale

sharks in La Paz Bay.

“We had as many as a dozen in the shallow waters, but on the choppy days it’s hard to see them let alone swim with them,” said Roldan.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO/CABO SAN LUCAS– Few reports were coming out of here this week. The marlin bite finally slipped off the table, tuna are offshore and north winds hit the area, so it was a tough week compared to what it had been. There have been reports of marlin and dorado close in, but not in any big numbers. The quality of the dorado a bit north has been good, 10 to 12 pounders and some up to 25 pounds.

Eric Brictson at Gordo Banks Pangas, based at the Marina Puerto Los Cabos, said weather patterns are much the same: northern winds, switching to the south at times, though not as strong as they had been earlier in the winter.

“Once again we saw a cooling trend and greener water sweeping into the area from the north,” said Brictson. “Water temperature ranged from 68 to 72 degrees. Main bait options now have been caballito, ballyhoo, mackerel and chihuil (long rangers call these prime tuna baits “tube mackerel”) also being found at times, another option was smaller sized skipjack and some slabs of squid as well, everything but sardinas, no signs reported for them.”

He said most action is being found from straight off San Jose del Cabo to the Iman Bank, some charters have scouted as far north as Vinorama.

“No particular location where the action has been hot from day to day,” said Brictson. “Early in the week, before the water cooled and the color turned over, there were good numbers of decent sized dorado found. Most of this action was found later in the morning and very close to shore. Trolling caballito and ballyhoo worked well, some anglers used chihuil or mackerel. We actually saw a couple of dorado up in the 25-pound range, though average was more like 10- to 12-pound fish. Still nice fish for the winter season. Late in the week this dorado action slowed way down, to where anglers were fortunate to find one of these fish.”

THE OCCASIONALquality tuna can be had off Marina Puerto Los Cabos, such as this one taken by a Gordo Banks Pangas charter.

Offshore action, he said, was dominated by the striped marlin, with areas straight off the marina, from one to four miles, being the best location, though stripers were also found near the Iman Bank and close off of Punta Gorda.

“Even a sailfish was hooked into close to shore, after it was landed it was released, not a normal species in the cold water,” he said. “Most stripers were striking on various trolled baits, ranging in sizes up to 120 pounds a bit larger than we had been seeing.”

He added, “The yellowfin tuna bite was very spotty, only hearing of maybe one or two tuna per day being found. The cooler off- colored water, combined with windy conditions, made this a tough go. Same deal for wahoo, a few smaller fish early in the week, then none, as conditions turned over.” 


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 77 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 24 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 82 dorado, 9 yellowfin tuna, 3 wahoo, 102 bonito, 72 red snapper, 14 baqueta grouper, 8 leopard grouper, 5 roosterfish, 2 sheepshead, 12 jack crevalle, 6 yellow snapper, 5 barred pargo, 3 amberjack, 12 golden eyed tilefish, 6 glasseye snapper, 14 sierra and 90 triggerfish.    


CEDROS ISLAND– It’s show season for Jose Sanchez and his wife and partner Melanie Lamaga at Cedros Outdoor Adventures will be at their usual Hall show area, at the end of an aisle. Check the program for the exact booth number. 

This should be a great season for the operation, with the new 7 passenger twin prop Navajo Chieftan a no-border-hassle travel option out of Brown Field, and two new private blufftop cabins to go with the Baja Dreams Lodge. The website has a lot of details on the operation, so go to and check it out. I will add that the average trip costs about $1,800, or $400 more if you opt for the COA Chieftan flight from Brown Field. It’s an incredible trip as you go after calico bass, yellowtail, halibut and later in the season, yellowfin tuna and dorado.

 In a recent newsletter before the show, Melanie and Jose  addressed the expansion with the plane and the two cabins, saying groups are now staying longer, 4 to 5 days.

“We added two new cabins and rolled out of our Premium Guide Service, which includes private air transfer from the U.S. on a twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain flown by COA's professional, US-licensed pilot-guides, an extra half-day of fishing, and starting in 2019, free vacuum-sealing of your fish. Due to client demand, we have added more flights on the Chieftain for this year, (Tuesday-Saturday and Saturday-Tuesday).

JOSE AND MELANIE with their new twin prop Chieftain that will run on an expanded schedule this season. 

“There is one caveat in all of this good news, however. Since we now have groups coming and going 4-5 days a week instead of 2 days a week, as in the past, we, unfortunately, will not be able to honor specific room requests in most cases. (If you want to know why imagine a jigsaw puzzle).That said, of course, we will do everything in our power to make sure those who need a downstairs room for health reasons get one. We know some of you that come every year have favorite rooms and you may be a bit disappointed, but we think most everyone will agree that having the Premium Guide Service available is worth it.”


THE BAJA DREAMS LODGE, expanded, awaits.

As a reminder, WON has its 2019 hosted charter going to the island, Sept. 6-9, and the cost is $1,800, which includes all transport to and from the lodge, meals, fishing, and filleting. For booking that trip, contact For all other trips, check their website at www.cedrosoutdooradventures.comand call them at (619) 793-5419 or stop by the COA booth at the shows and book the best dates.

LA BOCANA– There’s a special Baja booth 340 at the Long Beach Fred Hall show you should really check out if you want a great adventure. It’s Baja Fishing Convoys owned by Orchid Martinez-Guevara who coordinates trips all over Baja, to isolated places where many anglers want to fish but need assistance and good boat captains and accommodations. 

These include spots like L.A. Bay,  La Bocana, Ensenada, Gonzaga Bay, San Felipe, Cedros Island, San Quintin, Erendira and Ensenada. She takes the worry about Baja travel, and all you have to do is fish and tell stories at the bar.

THE ACCOMMODATIONS are beachfront cabins, food is amazing and the fishing is a choice between inside the mangroves, the coast or offshore in super pangas. 

A WON trip to La Bocana is slated for 12 anglers, and as anyone who has fished it, the area is unique, a spectacular fishery, especially during the time period of the trip, Oct. 12-17. It will be hosted by Orchid herself, and this writer, who will be writing a feature on the group’s experience. Orchid accompanies all drive-down trips by van. Orchid said that, for example, she hosted a trio of anglers last year who caught 28 different species of fish as they split their time between fisheries inshore, offshore and the estuary. While remote, it’s not roughing it.

“The cabins at La Bocana are beachfront, have great beds, and are very comfortable,” she said. “La Bocana has a full-service restaurant with a full bar and can use your credit card to easily and safely pay for your drinks at the bar. The fish processing at La Bocana is professionally processed, vacuum-sealed and flash frozen for the incredible price of $2 per vacuum seal bag!” As for the fishing platforms, they are high-end super pangas, and a few of them even have heads for the ladies.

Stop by Orchid’s booth (340) at the Hall show or call her at (619) 483-7315. To book your spot on the WONtrip in October, you must contact Cameron Gauci at Go to

www.bajafishingconvoys.comfor more details, and check out the various online posts and videos on La Bocana  and other Baja Fishing Convoy hotspots.

ORCHID MARTINEZ GUEVERA at her Baja Fishing Convoys booth at the LB Hall show last year. She is at booth 340 this year.


LORETO– The yellowtail season is in full swing here. Wind has been an issue in recent weeks, but a window of opportunity last week allowed pangas on the water from the various fleets. Rick Hill at emailed WONfrom Loreto and said the season is ON.

All the boats are killing the yellowtail!,” he said. “The ‘tails are hitting everything at the San Bruno high spot and out at Carmen. The good times are here!” Hill added the migrating whales came into the area in big numbers this past week, a bit late.”

In a FB post on Monday morning, Francisco Martínez Davis of Nemenchas Sportfishing and tours out of Loreto Marina posted a nice yellowtail caught on a custom dorado pattern jig by Pacific Lures.

FRANCISCO MARTINEZ DAVIS of Nemenchas Sport fishing on Loreto caught this yellowtail on Sunday on a Pacific Lures dorado pattern lure.

In other Loreto news, The May 17-19 Robert Ross Fishing Tournament based at the beautiful and newly expanded Marina Puerto Escondido is starting to take shape for its first run, and there are some serious bucks involved for the two-day tournament. It’s not necessarily a big boat event because it offers four categories for the $1,000 entry per four-man team. Divisions are Yellowtail, Tuna and Dorado and one catch-and-release Billfish Division.

There are daily optionals for each division ranging from $500 to $4,000 with 85 percent payouts, plus other awards: $1,000 to the biggest fish caught using the ”tournament plug” and even $500 for the smallest fish caught. The team entry of $1,000 includes a minimum $2,500 prize for biggest fish in each of the four categories plus a welcome bag, with hat and shirt, neck buff, tournament lure and awards dinner entry and drawing tickets for a Suzuki outboard, resort package and airline tickets. It should be a great event. See more at

ROBERT ROSS of San Diego and Aqua Verde/Loreto pulls on a yellowfin that weighed 470 pounds a few years ago at El Seco, a seamount located southwest of  Catalan Island. The upcoming tournament in May based put on by the owners and managers of Marina Puerto Escondido is named after him.

SAN QUINTIN– Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing in San Quintin posted some pictures of Feb. 28 of some solid yellowtail catches. He wrote: “Buenos Dias, yellowtail still on the chew folks!

Will Alderson and crew had a great day yesterday with Capt. George Catian. We have plenty of openings on the Parkers and panga this weekend and next weekend so come hang out and bend. Weather is looking good!011521(616)109-1869

WILL ALDERSON and his crew had a great day Feb. 27 outside San Quintin Bay with Capt. George Catian of K&M Sportfishing. The yellowtail were biting for sure. K&M PHOTO

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

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