Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, April 09, 2019
Big pargo and yellowtail a Cabo option

La Paz, Loreto and Coronados yellowtail get down to spring business
Fred Hall Del Mar show wrapped up Sunday after four days and spring has brought great weather; North Coronados yellows debut under bird schools eating iron and bait; East Cape tuna under the porpoise

LA PAZ — The spring season in Baja — on both sides of the peninsula — brought better weather and therefore more opportunity to get to the fish for just about every area. The best reports for the forkies came out of Loreto, La Paz and the Coronado Islands, as private boats chased after bird schools, chucking iron and bait with success on 8 to 15 pounders.

yellowtailbitYELLOWTAIL BIT SATURDAY out of La Paz near Espirito Santo Island like mad doggies. Lost a lot of fish to the rocks and missed bites, but Tailhunter anglers ran out of bait and the fish were still on the chew! Rod Brown from Alaska and Jeff Brown, his brother from Minnesota with a few of their catch!

WON READER BILL EVANS fishing near Cerralvo Island caught 3 yellowtail while fishing mackerel off of the west side of the island.

RUSH WHITMARSH FROM Colorado Spring, CO was using light tackle up tight to the rocks near Cerralvo Island and got the better of this trophy cabrilla while throwing a jig.

Let’s start first with La Paz and Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International, who wrapped up their three-month sojourn of western states sports shows with the Del Mar Fred Hall Show on Sunday after four days in their booth.

They are headed south and just in time for the nice smack on the forkies.

“What a difference a week or two makes!” said Jonathan. “We’ve gone from some of the harshest and toughest winter fishing in a long time several weeks ago to some of the nicest conditions and fishing so far this season. Still not completely up-to-speed and I’d be crazy to say we’re completely done with winter and the pesky winds, but this past week was sure a nice time to be on the water.”

With the first true week of springtime and temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s, the winds weren’t completely done with the Baja Sur region and there were some episodes for several days, but overall, Mother Nature was good to fishermen for once.

“With some perfect candy-sized mackerel for baits for both our Tailhunter La Paz and Las Arenas fleet, the big story were the yellowtail,” said Roldan. “They popped up in several places including the upper east-side of Cerralvo Island, south point of Cerralvo and Punta Perrico. We also had quite a bite going around the high spots around Espirito Santo Island.

“Most of the fish weren’t huge, but that’s because so many of the fish were hovering and feeding in shallow waters close to the rocks, shore or over structure. Lots of the bigger 30- to 40-pound mossbacks threw hooks or broke lines in the rocks plus quite a few missed bites! But the ones that were landed were respectable, powerful 20- to 25-pound fish.”

Roldan reported on Sunday the yellows really bit hard out of La Paz near Espirito Santo Island. “Like mad doggies,” is how Roldan described the bite.

“Lost a lot of fish to the rocks and missed bites, but our guys ran out of bait and the fish were still on the chew!” said Roldan. “Rod Brown from Alaska and Jeff Brown, his brother from Minnesota, our good amigos who fish every year at this time with a few of their catch.”

Not to be completely outdone, they also had some incredible cabrilla fishing tight inside to the cliffs and rocks with some trophy-sized fish being landed on bait, jigs and slow-trolled Rapalas and Yo-Zuri lures, as well as some pargo and assorted rockfish.

“We also saw action on lots of bonito on light tackle, jack crevalle and even some early-season roosterfish! All-in-all some solid biters and some of the best variety of the young season!”

In a report out of La Paz’s Muertos Bay, WON reader Bill Evans fished near Cerralvo Island caught 3 yellowtail last week while fishing mackerel off of the west side of the island. So, it’s game on for springtime.

In other Baja action:


RANCHO LEONERO ANGLERS at the East Cape saw improved weather and warming water with yellowfin mixed with a few wahoo and a few dorado taken this week, very close to the hotel. Inshore/bottomfishing saw lots of medium sized pargo, cabrilla and amberjack taken.

EAST CAPE — John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero reported on Sunday, March 31 that while the East Cape is waiting for the pelagics to move into the area in bigger numbers, the bottom fishing has been really good for all the anglers on cruisers and super pangas heading out from the hotel. The weather has been excellent as conditions shape up for another epic season.

“Water is 73-74 and warmer this week, clear and flat,” said Ireland. “Clear and flat, with beautiful clear days with cool mornings and low 90s for our highs. The warming water has helped the fishing this past week. We had good inshore fishing in Palmas Bay. The yellowfin are mixed with a few wahoo that finally showed Wednesday and Thursday. A few dorado were taken this week very close to the hotel.”

Ireland said the yellowfin were about 15 miles offshore off Rincon, just north of Pulmo under porpoise with nice quality — 20 to 30 pounds — and all taken on trolled (of course) cedar plugs.

As he said, dorado are very close to shore, not in big numbers, just 5 to 10 pounds, but it’s a very good sign that fishery is on the mend.

“Inshore we’ve had really good bottomfish, with lots and lots of medium-sized pargo, cabrilla and amberjack taken this week,” he said. “The closer inshore drop-offs are producing the most fish.”

Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing reported in from Los Barilles that the “East Cape weather is transitioning to spring with warmer days and calm seas. The Sea of Cortez is coming alive and yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo have started to cooperate and bend rods.” He sent a photo of Erwin Glicksman, who bagged a quality dorado while fishing aboard the Jen Wren III.

AUSTIN BORDEN OF San Diego was fishing out of Loreto in recent weeks and his buddies sent in this picture of him with the toad pargo.

LORETO — Just as we expected, when the weather allowed the pangas to get on the best spots, the action was going to be outstanding, and it was last week.

“The yellowtail bite is going on at full-tilt pace with better weather,” said Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com. “The weather has been a little friendlier this week, allowing more boats out checking most of the yellowtail hangouts.

“The southeast tip of Coronado has been great for making mackerel every morning, with a couple of cabrilla spots close by. The boats seem to have divided their attention to northern rockpiles from the north side of Isla Coronado all the way to San Bruno. La Cholla has slacked off considerably so those boats have been working Tinturara and Lobo. Most boats are getting one or two good fish with the only bigger 'tails being caught out at Isla Catalana.”

GORDO BANKS PANGAS reported the best chance of catching fish now has been to concentrate over the structure, with the more productive areas being from the Gordo Banks to the San Luis Bank. Using various whole and cut baits, as well as yo-yo style and flat fall jigs, anglers found a variety of species.

CABO/SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas and Marina Puerto Los Cabos said that despite the local spring break not happening until second and third week of April, he did see a flood of spring break vacationers arriving from northern states.

“Visitors were greeted with great weather and conditions, mostly clear sunny skies and high temperatures averaging 80 degrees,” said Brictson. “Ocean conditions were relatively calm, moderate swells and winds were not much of a problem, though currents remain swift. We are now still in a transition period, with ocean conditions slowly rebounding, now up to 72 degrees and much cleaner, with blue water returning, more signs of batfish, flying fish, etc… all good signs that spring season is arriving and we are optimistic that the fishing action will be very good.”

In recent days, he said March 30 bait supplies were limited, with ballyhoo, some slabs of squid, but very little activity for any sardinas, and many charters are caching some of their own chihuil or mackerel out on the grounds near the Gordo Banks. Overall the action this week was tougher than last, but a variety of fish were found and there some quality specimens accounted for.

As for marlin, Brictson added, “Billfishing was very spotty and scattered, though every day there are reports of striped marlin being seen, just not in any numbers and much of the time they were not in the mood to strike, though a handful were landed, weighing in the 90- to 110-pound range. With the ocean now on a cleaning and warming trend, we do expect to see improved billfish action soon.”

Species such as wahoo, dorado or yellowfin tuna were hard to find.

“Thursday we did have one 40-pound yellowfin brought in,” he said. “It was taken near Cardon on a trolled chihuil for bait. Other tuna were lost this same day, then on Friday the bite picked up with some more quality tuna in the 40- to 60-pound class accounted for. So this bite seems to be developing once again. Off of Cabo San Lucas, we heard reports of some tuna, and we assume that these fish were being found further offshore and most likely associated with moving porpoise. We are only seeing an occasional dorado, and had no wahoo to report.”

Brictson said the best chance of catching fish now has been to concentrate over the structure, with the more productive areas being from the Gordo Banks to the San Luis Bank Using various whole and cut baits, as well as yo-yo style and Flat-Fall jigs, anglers found a variety of species.

“Early in the week we were seeing a handful of quality-sized yellowtail in the 25- to 35-pound range, most of these hooked into on live baits off of the Gordo Banks. Later in the week this action seemed to stall out, as more sharks and other species were found.”

The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 85 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 5 striped marlin, 6 dorado, 9 yellowfin tuna, 12 yellowtail, 8 leopard grouper, 245 bonito, 26 red snapper, 3 island jack, 16 roosterfish, 2 surgeonfish, 6 barred pargo, 9 yellow snapper, 22 amberjack, 12 golden eyed tilefish, 4 glasseye snapper, 7 baqueta grouper, 6 sierra, 4 jack crevalle, 3 broomtail grouper and 80 triggerfish.

CEDROS ISLAND — Jose Sanchez at Baja Dreams Lodge Cedros was at the Cedros Outdoor Adventures (COA) booth Thursday through Sunday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The operation begins its season of trips in a month or so and all signs point to another great season. The interest in the WON charter trip is filling the 12 spots. Remaining are about five slots for the usual charter, with the van leaving Brown field and driving to Ensenada for the flight to the island. The preferred Guide Service with the operation’s new plane is sold out and in fact, the lodge may have to purchase another plane to satisfy the surging demand.

WON has its 2019 hosted charter going to the island and the Baja Dreams Lodge, 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 cameron@wonews.com. For all other trips, check their website at www.cedrosoutdooradventures.com and call them at (619) 793-5419.

SAN QUINTIN — Kelly Catian at K&M Sportfishing reported on the Baja@wonews.com hotline that they have had good bottomfishing lately, with plenty of big rockcod and other assorted groundfish.

“Boats have been fishing inshore as well for bass and halibut. Yellowtail slowed down last couple weeks with only a few caught. Seems like the yellows are off the deep reefs and up top now so its time to tie on some surface iron, Rapalas or fly-line bait.”

ENSENADA – Wes Price at the Hotel Coral Marina store said the yellows are biting well under the bird schools in the bay and out the island and to the north as the weather cleared up. The season is just beginning.

MIDRIFF — The first trips are starting this month, and we will have reports each week, courtesy of Tony Reyes Tours, which is operated out of San Felipe and which booked out of the Longfin Tackle shop in Orange. There are still some spots available on the summer mother ships, said Tom Ward, owner of the Longfin, which was exhibiting at the Del Mar show in its Tony Reyes booth.

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Contribute to the Baja report here and at wonews.com each week by sending any information during or right after the trip to baja@wonews.com or patm@wonews.com .

WHILE STAYING AT his dad’s place at Rancho Costa in Bahia Muertos, Miles Wagner was working the shallow waters in the bay with light tackle and sardines and hooking small early-season roosters like this one and had a blast catching and releasing fish.

La Bocana trip generates a buzz at Del Mar Show

WON charter and resulting publicity about the relatively new operation south of Pt. Eugenia generates interest

LA BOCANA — The Del Mar Fred Hall show fired up the troops who are looking for unique Baja adventure, and a special WON charter to La Bocana on the west coast of Baja in October fit the bill for many who stopped by the WON and Baja Fishing Convoy booths. The Stoked On Fishing booth was a spot people heard about the trips as two shows were filmed there, and Baja Fishing Convoys website has the links to those TV shows.

The area is unique, a spectacular fishery, especially during the time period of the trip, Oct. 12-17. The $2,095 price includes flight from Tijuana (you cross the bridge at Otay Mesa) to Guerrero Negro, and includes five nights and four days of fishing, and all meals order from the restaurant menu.

BAJA FISHING CONVOYS Orchid Martinez points to the spots where La Bocana’s fish camp sits just south of Pt. Eugenia and just north of Punta Abrejos. Baja’s newest and unique fishing opportunity drew a lot of interest at the Del Mar show and the BFC booth over four days at the Fairgrounds.

La Bocana is on the west coast of Baja just south of Pt. Eugenia and north of Punta Abrejos. It offers a large variety of fish species because of its location at the mouth of a massive estuary that is legendary, with some groups of anglers enjoying catching dozens of different species, splitting time between fisheries and relaxing at their new beachfront cabins and enjoying incredible restaurant cuisine. It may be remote, but it is not primitive.

John Ballotti, a WON reader and member of the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club, fished La Bocana last year with fellow members Joel Steinman and Rob Baldwin and told WON’s Pat McDonell — who is hosting the October trip with Baja Fishing Convoys — that it was one of the best Baja trips he’s ever taken. His trio did not even bother to fish offshore for tuna, wahoo or dorado. The fishing was just too fun inshore on the local reefs, and in the Boca. Non-stop action all day, every day. As he said, inshore trips were epic. “Everything bit the surface iron,” he said.

“The La Bocana trip is first rate and is a blast in the mangroves with 8-pound test (or higher for some species and deeper areas) and small hardbaits or Hookup Baits (or four-inch plastics) for real variety, and the fishing was non-stop on the coast for calicos, grouper, yellowtail,” said Ballotti. “It was just amazing how hard the sheephead would pull. You just get ripped on every drop. At night, after dinner or before, the surfishing with light gear was fantastic.”

He said the best thing about the place was that the cabins (very nice, two people to a cabin) are right on the estuary beach and super pangas are just outside your door.

“They just launch you into the calm waters, and of the wind is blowing on the ocean, you have the estuary to fish, and the variety is incredible,” he said.

In four days of fishing he caught the 18 species, among them: yellowtail, calico, spotted bay bass, sculpin, grouper, sheephead, barracuda, halibut and even bonefish (on the fly) as well as a variety of smaller species like Sierra mackerel, corbina and kelp wrasse.

As far as the food, the facility has a full-service restaurant with a full bar, and they take credit cards, You can bring your own for your cabin, of course. While meals are not included in most trips, they are on the WON charter and you order from the menu, and as Ballotti said, the meals are outstanding. The only restriction is that you can order lobster just one of the nights. You choose the day. All other items are yours to enjoy all five nights.

“The food is excellent,” he said. “A step above what you would find at any lodge in Cedros,” he said, adding, another trip is on the books for the group from the club. “It’s really first class and the great thing is that if the weather is tough, you can fish the Boca. It’s a really fun and a great operation.”

Ballotti said the La Bocana “camp” is remote but the transportation was first rate.

“La Bocana is on the Pacific coast of Baja, north of Mag Bay and south of Point Eugenia,” he said. “Much like fly-in trips to Cedros Island, our day started at Brown Field in San Diego, where we were met and driven to the Ensenada military airport. After boarding the plane, our first stop was Cedros Island. After a short stop for Cedros-bound passengers to deplane, we were off again for the 25-minute flight to Guerrero Negro. There we met our driver who skillfully maneuvered us down Mexico Highway 1 to the turnoff to La Bocana. The 2½-hour hour trip back and forth from the airport was enjoyable due to the outstanding vehicles used for the journey.”

Hosting the WON trip in October will be Baja Reports Editor Pat McDonell, and Orchid Martinez, owner of Baja Fishing Convoys.

Several spots are already taken for the 12-person trip. To book your spot on the WON trip in October, you must contact Cameron Gauci at Cameron@wonews.com. For all BFC trips, go to www.bajafishingconvoys.com for details and check out the Stoked On Fishing shows on La Bocana.

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