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Baja Fishing Report

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Big pargo and yellowtail a Cabo option
Marlin are still on the banks, but most charters are going after the bottom grabbers in big sizes; La Paz sizzle begins, Loreto forkies hit and miss but in bigger sizes

CABO SAN LUCAS — Just when you thought Baja was going to bust loose with good weather and then good fishing, things stalled. Not all areas, though. It’s sort of a transition time right now, and it can be amazing one day and slow the next.


On the northwestern front of the peninsula, the yellowtail bite at the Coronados and down south and then from Ensenada to San Quintin and even down to Cabo, there are great reports of yellowtail action. And, bluefin were being caught in smaller sizes near the inner banks, with the 425 Spot producing limits for some private boaters before the winds kicked in Tuesday, according to Bob Vanian of 976BITE.com. See his Private Boater Spotlight Report in this issue of WON for more details.


Cabo San Lucas had a pretty good week on a variety of species. The marlin scene was actually decent and inshore action on yellows and grouper was pretty steady for charterboats, reported the Pisces, Redrum and Renegade Mike Sportfishing.


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CAPT. MIKE TUMBIERO of Renegade Mike Sportfishing in Cabo turned these anglers onto some huge pargo after they left the Golden Gate Bank marlin grounds. The biggest of the three quality pargo went 49 pounds.


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THE PISCES FLEET had a great week off Cabo with a 90 percent catch rate for all charters with 39 percent of the boats scoring marlin, 6 percent yellowfin, 4 percent dorado and 60 percent assorted other fish like bonito and yellowtail inshore.


Capt. Mike Tumbiero reported Sunday night he had just returned from a charter. They started with marlin, but in one hour, inshore action made the day.


“We went marlin fishing at the Gate, and got a lot of bait,” said Tumbiero. “We had one marlin on but it didn’t stick, so we ran to the pargo grounds late in the day and fished it for one hour and made a day of it. The big one went 49 pounds.”


Pisces turned in a great report based on catches March 30 to April 5, with marlin dominating the pelagic catches, tuna coming a faraway second, and action on species like grouper, pargo and yellowtail being a great option for charters close to home for anglers.


“Marlin numbers this week stayed pretty consistent compared to last week,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg at Pisces Sportfishing. “Our top boat produced 6 striped marlin released in one day and other catches were small game of yellowtail, sierra mackerel, jack crevalle, grouper and red snapper. They made for lots of fun, especially for many of our young anglers. Tuna numbers decreased, and only a few dorado were found in this week as well.”


The top boat referred to was the 72-foot Tag Team that nailed six marlin, all on mackerel at the Golden Gate Bank, and went 90 to 140 pounds. The second best marlin catch and release day was by the Pisces 37-foot Tag Team III with 3 stripers at the same spot, same bait.


As far a the “fun” smaller species, the 28-foot Adriana scored 2 grouper of about 15 pounds at the Golden Gate Bank and also nailed a trio of red snapper, by chumming. The 38-foot C-Rod opted for a heading to Los Arcos that same day, which paid off. T One group of Pisces customers – the Leonettis and Kahanes families with many young anglers 8 to 11 years old – did a great job to land 1 sierra mackerel, 1 amberjack, 1 jack crevalle of about 25 pounds, 10 pompano, and 7 bonita. All were taken on mackerel via chumming. Plus, 2 skipjack hit on feather lures to keep the kids busy at the rail.


It’s Spring Break, and Ehrenberg said conditions were good all week, with only one or two choppy days and water temps 71 to 74 degrees.


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CAPTAIN JOEL OF the Tailhunter fleet was off Espirito Santo Island just north of La Paz with Jeff Brown of Minnesota when they hooked this trophy barred pargo on a live mackerel. They also got yellowtail, snapper and cabrilla, and lost many in the rocks.


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MICAH PETTIT FROM bountiful, Utah was visiting La Paz for the first time with his dad who has fished with the Tailhunter Fleet for years and hooked his first yellowtail just outside of Bahia Muertos. He also got cabrilla, pargo, snapper and sierra and lost lots of other hookups for his first fishing trip.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan at Tailhuinter International said that while the season is in “transition,” it also means there are some epic days where you don’t know what the heck is going to bite.


“We had incredible variety this week as we hit a second good week of action,” said Jonathan on Sunday. “It’s what we call “transitional” time although it usually doesn’t hit until about next month. However, it’s the time of the fishing season when it’s not winter anymore and not summer quite yet in the water.


“Consequently, you still have the ability to catch cold-water species like cabrilla, pargo, sierra, yellowtail, amberjack, snapper and more as they still linger. However, warm-water species like dorado, tuna, wahoo, billfish and larger roosterfish are now starting to move in as surface waters warm.”


He added that if you catch bonito, jack crevalle, skipjack and other year-round species, that’s a lot of variety right now.


“That’s the kind of week we just had with great action on a number of different kinds of fish,” he said.


Roldan suggested that you may not get a lot of any one species, but you could finish a day with 6, 8, 10 or more different species in the box at the end of the day. The boat right next to you have another 3 or 4 different species. The next day you get completely different species. “It makes for some really fun fishing,” he said.


While there are still few anglers on the water, the ones who were took yellowtail, barred pargo, dog-tooth snapper, sierra, amberjack, bonito, jack crevalle, roosterfish (released), yellow snapper, cabrilla as well as tuna (lost) and wahoo (lost), said Roldan.


“Signs of striped marlin were also seen. Biggest problem is that many of the fish are in shallow water right now or over structure, so lots of big fish are getting lost in the rocks but they’re willing to bite.”


Roldan recounted what one angler said after a trip this week.


“Another great day of fishing. We caught almost 70 mackerel for bait this morning. For the third day in a row we ran out of bait by 1 o’clock because of just too many hook-ups! Today's catch included 7 yellowtail, 5 nice-sized cabrilla, one large barred pargo and one sierra. The fish were tough on our equipment. The first thing they do is run for the rocks. We lost more than we boated. We also snapped one of the heavy rods on a hook set. This has never happened before!”


In other Baja action:


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing at Los Barilles said on Sunday they have had beautiful weather, excellent conditions and slow fishing.


“That’s it in a nutshell,” said Rayor. “Sea conditions look right with 75-degree clear-blue water. The abundance of bait we saw last month has disappeared and for the most part so have game fish. Last week we were out hunting for porpoise and didn't see any life all day. No birds, turtles or bait, the sea was just dead. A couple days ago we were back in the same area and the place was alive. Turtles, whales and birds were everywhere. We encountered 4 different schools of porpoise but nobody was home. Didn't meter any bait or fish in our sounder. All the signs look right but the tuna just haven't shown up yet.”



He added, “The last day I was out we did sight four different marlin tailing and saw several more jumping. All we can do is keep trying and I have faith that one day soon the place is going to pop.”


Scorpion Sportfishing’s Matthew Clifton said, “After seeing lots of bait and improving fishing the past couple of weeks, things went silent this week. Gone were the mackerel. We were only able to obtain live ballyhoo. Fishing at night for snapper (pargo) was really the only game in town close to Los Barriles. There were marlin and dorado spotted but not willing to eat.


“With that in mind, we traveled overnight to fish Isla Cerralvo and Isla Espiritu Santo, where we heard of a decent yellowtail bite. At the north end of Isla Cerralvo, we encountered willing biters in white bonita, which are excellent table fare. We were able to catch many before heading to our overnight moorage outside of La Paz. There we attempted to make bait but only able to get about 7 mackerel and the many of the less desirable (for yellowtail) caballitos.”


Clifton added, “The next morning we made our way to a bank on the other side of Isla Espiritu Santo. We were able to boat two nice yellowtail before we ran out of mackerel. Two times we were broken off on the bottom trying to stop fish. We suspect they were large cabrilla or amberjack. We are hoping conditions improve closer to home this week. It should calm down wind wise later in the week and bring some warmer weather. As the water continues to warm, we should again see bait in the area and with them better fishing.”


Luis Enrique Fraijo at Buenavista Beach said It’s that time of year on East Cape. Just when you think the fishing is getting good….things cool off…then heat up again.


“Our guests and our neighborhood fishing friends have been all over out there, with mixed results. We’re catching a few yellowtail and dorado off Cerralvo Island and seeing many manta, whale and a few marlin on the surface. We’ve had a fun group this week enjoying their “Bradley Family Reunion" here at Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort. They ventured out on the Nath&Mich, Alegria and Calereste and brought home a bunch of triggerfish and enjoyed a family feast of ceviche and grilled and fried fish fingers with all the sides. Snapper was for dinner for our Rotary Club friends visiting from all over the USA They enjoyed their catch of the day with their happy hour cocktails, prepared as ceviche by our kitchen staff. You catch it, we cook it!” 


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DEREK AMESON, A San Diegan and WON reader, fished Loreto with friends and scored good cabrilla and yellowtail action with Capt. Alfredo Rubio of Rubio Sportfishing. He was joined by friends Jim Chandler, Eddie Higuera, Baron Ching and Arneson.


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A NICE MIX of Loreto yellowtail and cabrilla were caught at Isla Del Carmen on a trip with Baja Peninsula Adventures with the Winkler family from Seattle on Thursday.


LORETO WON reader Derek Ameson fired off a report on the 6th and said the yellowtail and cabrilla fishing was very good with “everything on the surface.” The group was made up of San Diegans Jim Chandler, Eddie Higuera, Baron Ching and Arneson. They were fishing with Capt. Alfredo Rubio of Rubio Sportfishing.


Rick Hill from pinchysportfishing.com said the action on yellows slowed this week. It’s a transitional time and maybe the warming water is kicking the dorado and tuna conditions into gear quicker than expected.


“It's an unusual year when we have the big whales still working the area!” said Hill, who added that conditions for fishing are also changing. “Fishing for yellowtail has slipped with only one good area at the extreme of many boat's range and slim picking closer to Loreto.


“Many boats are lucky to hit one yellowtail and a cabrilla or two! Not sure what it all means, but focusing on the water temperatures and the spring float of the sargasso it might be looking like a good year for our summer fish.”


Rene Olinger of Baja Peninsula Adventures, which operates pangas out of the Loreto Marina, reported to WON on Sunday afternoon, “Yesterday we had 5 yellows and 2 pargo at the area between Kobo and Choya. It is a mix. Seriously, it has been either really good or super slow, and definitely slower than February and March as some are getting 3 or 4 per person and good-sized fish, or just one. There’s a lot of bait around, so it’s hit-or-miss.”


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GORDO BANKS PANGAS had a few wahoo, marlin and dorado to pick through but they were hard to find. Yellowfin tuna are being hooked into every day, mainly on strips of squid for bait, best spot was the Iman Bank, though the yellowfin are also being seen on the Gordo Banks.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas and Marina Puerto Los Cabos said, “We continued to see waves of spring break vacationers arriving, many of these being families, as well as the college groups. The climate is definitely feeling spring like as well, mostly clear skies, lows about 65 degree, reaching 85 degrees later in the day, an ideal time to visit.


“The winds have been moderate, most of the strong northerlies now past, ocean currents continuing to vary, quite strong at times,” said Brictson. “Ocean temperatures averaged 72 degrees early in the week certain regions reported 74 degrees. Water clarity had been on a cleaning trend, then with changing currents became it bit greenish again, time of year that things can change rapidly from day to day.”


Charters are using a combination of bait sources, ballyhoo, slabs of squid, as well as limited supplies of sardinas, chihuil action faded out this week, some imported red crabs were obtained for red snapper action by the commercial panga fleet. Anglers were also using some yo-yo jigs and Rapalas.


Most common catch has been the Eastern Pacific bonito, schooling over high spots throughout the area, average size 4 to 6 pounds, some up over 10 pounds. These are a good eating fish, similar to tuna, same family species and scrappy fighters on light tackle. A few cabrilla, pargo, snapper and amberjack, of course lots of triggerfish. Some quality size huachinango were accounted for, one monster amberjack near 100 pounds was landed from a panga midweek, they were using a whole bonito for bait. The yellowtail action we saw last week seemed to stall out, we expect to still see more activity for these jacks.


He added, “Wahoo, marlin and dorado were not easy to find, though we did see a handful early in the week. We expect as water warms we will see more activity from these game fish. Yellowfin tuna are being hooked into every day, mainly on strips of squid for bait, with best spot was the Iman Bank, though the yellowfin are also being seen on the Gordo Banks. The tuna are very finicky though and anglers were fortunate to land one, sizes ranged from 25 to 90 pounds. These fish can become shy when they have plenty of natural food source to gorge on and when water conditions fluctuate daily.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 70 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 3 striped marlin, 5 dorado, 28 yellowfin tuna, 13 leopard grouper, 260 bonito, 42 red snapper, 4 barred pargo, 12 yellow snapper, 9 amberjack, 8 golden eyed tilefish, 6 baqueta grouper, 4 sierra and 90 triggerfish.


CEDROS ISLANDWON has its 2019 hosted charter going to the island and Cedros Outdoor Adventures’ 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.


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ENSENADA YELLOWTAIL ACTION is on fire right now.


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. In a Facebook Post on Saturday, Jose Garcia wrote he had a great day panga fishing with Guillermo Gomez Chavez as Garcia took his brother, an Iraq vet, and friends Dan and Adam on the trip and scored several nice yellows.


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 also books 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.


LA BOCANA — A reminder: a special WON charter to La Bocana on the west coast of Baja in October by the WON and Baja Fishing Convoys.


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, 5 nights lodging and four days of fishing, and meals which are ordered from the restaurant menu.


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.


Several spots are already taken for the 12-person trip. To book, contact Cameron Gauci at Cameron@wonews.com. Go to www.bajafishingconvoys.com for details on this and other trips, and check out the two Stoked On Fishing shows on La Bocana.


* * *


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.


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