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Baja Fishing Report

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


814-pound blue biggest marlin in years for Cabo
Caught on Pisces 31-foot Bertram Tiburon, and brought back with the help of two other charterboats after 6-hour battle

CABO SAN LUCAS — As many top billfishermen are aware, the offseason for billfishing — which is right now — is when the huge marlin often are caught. That fact was illustrated clearly on Sunday when an 814-pound blue marlin was caught by anglers and crew aboard the Pisces charterboat Tiburon, a 31-foot Bertram, after a battle of more than six hours. It is the biggest marlin caught in Cabo waters in several years.


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THE HUGE MARLIN could not be brought into the 31-foot BertramTiburon which does not have a transom door, so crews of the La Brisa and Reels ‘N Dirt helped secure the blue marlin for the ride home.

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CATCHING THE 814-POUND blue marlin was the group of California anglers who fished aboard the 31-foot Tiburon, a Pisces Fleet sportfisher. The battle lasted six hours. Anglers were Dennis Poudel, Mark Molnar, Sam Ferrans and Curtis Paul.


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THE PISCES FLEET’S 28-foot Andrea released3 striped marlin beginning the week, between Golden Gate and Migrino on mackerel bait and also landed a 30-pound yellowtail on mackerel for John Craegn and Mike Hoback from Seattle.


“Today saw the surprise catch of an out of season blue marlin that took everybody by surprise,” said Tracy Ehrenberg of the Pisces fleet in Cabo. “But most of the record fish are lone catches, caught in winter and spring.”


Aboard were Dennis Poudel, vice-president of Top Shelf Disc Supply and Mark Molnar, Sam Ferrans and Curtis Paul, his clients at Innova Disc Golf, and all came to Cabo from various parts of California.


Their main target was tuna, and even though the bite had been slow in recent days, Captain Rosendo Gomez and deckhand Salvador Flores delivered the goods, soon finding and hooking fair-sized tuna and at one point they had seven hooked up at the same time, bringing all seven to the boat. The four anglers called it enough for a day, but Captain Rosendo suggested they troll for marlin. Thirty minutes later, out of nowhere, the trolled ballyhoo was hit by a marlin at lightning speed. No one aboard noticed what had slammed the bait, and in short order it also swallowed a green lure being trolled.


“The line with the ballyhoo went on to break after it had spooled the angler,” said Ehrenberg who added the anglers each took turns fighting the fish which all thought was about 300 pounds, but twice they had it up to the leader and realized that first calculation was wrong, way wrong.”


The anglers moved through another rotation of fighting the marlin and were at the 4 ½-hour mark, the battle made tougher as they were using tuna trolling gear for smaller yellowfin: a Penn International 50 with a 200-pound leader.


“It was shortly after this they realized the fish had died and suddenly become impossible to budge, and they now had a dead weight on the end of the line and the fish down deep,” said Ehrenberg. “After another two hours they had it alongside the boat, but there was no way it would fit on the swim-step as a standard 31 Bertram has no transom door to slide the fish into the cockpit. This was communicated to Pisces Fleet office in Cabo who dispatched help by way of the La Brisa and her crew.


“Even with all this manpower of four anglers and four crew it was impossible to hoist the monster fish into the boat. Just then the Reels N Dirt, a 66-foot Viking and the latest addition to the Pisces Fleet, came cruising by, noticed that help was needed. With the help of the owner, crew and veterans on board, the huge fish was easily loaded through the transom door into the large cockpit which even with its size, still could not contain the fish, leaving the marlin tail sticking out the back.”


Shortly afterwards the fish arrived at port and a sizeable crowd gathered and appeared on the hotel balconies.


“A rope was tied around the fish’s tail and it was dropped into the water at the Marina Fundadores dock, as soon as the winch was attached. As the fish was being raised a 30-pound dorado dropped out of the fish’s stomach,” said Ehrenberg. “The blue was pulled up as the electric winch strained and then, burned out, but not before the scale registered 814 pounds, making it the largest fish we’ve seen in several years.”


Angler Mark Molnar said, “Everything was top shelf. The hospitality we’ve received has been amazing and the crew stopped at nothing to achieve the objective and we will never forget that.”


In other Pisces catches for the week, the Caliente, a 42 footer, was the fleet’s top boat and did well to release3 striped marlinof about 100 pounds each on mackerel at Golden Gate Bank on an early week charter for anglers Kevin Kelly and Jordan and Racheal Connor. Later in the week Caliente had an outstanding day at Migrino with 3 red snapper caught on mackerel, as well as a 25-pound yellowtail.


The Pisces’ 28-foot Andrea released3 striped marlin beginning the week, between Golden Gate and Migrino on mackerel bait. They also landed a 30-pound yellowtail on mackerel there. Anglers were John Craegn and Mike Hoback from Seattle. Pisces’ other 28-foot vessel, the Adriana also released 2 striped marlin this day at Golden gate, using mackerel. The marlin were about 100 and 140 pounds each, for anglers Kim and Danny Schnaubert from Texas.


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RENEGADE MIKE TUMBIERO’S charter over the weekend turned its attention to pargo after a slow marlin day, and the customers scored these three out of 12 smackdowns. These are tough fish.

In other Cabo action, Capt. Mike Tumbiero said marlin fishing is iffy, and over the weekend took out a group on his Bertram sportfisher Renegade Mike out of IGY Marina and found success on the grouper.


“Another slow day of Marlin fishing,” said Tumbiero on his Facebook page. “Although we did not give it a lot of time as we went pargo (snapper) fishing. I think the pargo won today as we went 3 for 12 on pargo bites. Pulled hooks and rocked more times than I want to remember. That’s pargo fishing. You need to fish with extreme drag pressure and short pump hard and fast.”


In other Baja news:


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BAJA FISHING CONVOYS took a group made up of John Turner, Rich Manzella, Bob Selvin, Fabio Moro, Jim Williams and Jonathan Guevara to Gonzaga Bay, encountering typical Baja fun and fishing and issues with washed out roads. Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys who hosted and organized logistics for the trip reported the group had good fishing a few of the days topped by a 36-pound cabrilla. The fishing will only get better as the area heats up.


GONZAGA/PUNTA BUFEO — Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys hosted a trip to Gonzaga Bay and Punta Bufeo last week and provided a nice insight into the fishing, and rod conditions as the season is just beginning for this northern region of the Sea of Cortez.


Joining Orchid Martinez who was hosting the group was John Turner of Mondo Baits, Rich Manzella, Calico Bob Selvin, Fabio Moro, Jim Williams, Jonathan Guevara and the group’s cook, Yoli.


They crossed the border in San Diego after loading the bags in the van at 7:30 a.m., obtained visas, picked up Orchid’s husband and the group’s chef Yoli and took the road to Mexicali, stopping at a great bakery before going onto Punta Bufeo.


“For those who do not know, Mexicali offers some of the best steaks due to its local cow farms,” said Orchid Martinez. “So we stopped by for a few kilos of marinated arrachera for the guys to enjoy at our home in Punta Bufeo. We stopped in San Felipe for a yummy seafood lunch and continued to Punta Bufeo, a difficult task in itself. The road to San Felipe was great however, once you pass San Felipe the road conditions were just simply terrible! There is no other way to describe this road in this area of Baja. In fact, I think I even mentioned that I would never complain about Highway 1 again after driving this stretch of road.


“We met a few friends down in Gonzaga on the day the guys didn’t fish due to high winds. Those guys towed their own boats. All I could think of is, “Towing boats on that road is just crazy!” This re-affirmed my thoughts on how there is no need to tow a boat if there are plenty of local pangas to take you out to fish!”


She said they counted nine washouts, long periods of washboard road and potholes “the size of dog houses.” High profile vehicles are strongly recommended for these type of roads, she advised.


“At one point our van would not start because all the vibration disconnected our battery. Glad it wasn’t anything more serious!” she laughed.


When they arrived they set up in the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom beach house equipped with a full kitchen with 4 queen size beds and 3 full size sofa beds.


“There was a fire pit, and a gas barbecue grill as well and Yoli, our cook/maid, prepared delicious meals for us. No one went hungry on this trip! We enjoyed carne asada, pollo asado, chiles rellenos, clam linguini, fish tacos, ceviche, sashimi, chicken in Poblano chili sauce, fresh made corn tortillas, flan, rice pudding, pastel frio, fresh guacamole, fresh salsa, fresh fruit, delicious breakfasts, sandwiches or burritos for lunch on the pangas. And the weather was so nice we ate on the porch everyday except for the morning of departure due to high winds."


The fishing this time of year is not at its best, but it gets better the warmer it is. This particular group of guys could only go this week because of work time issues. Sea conditions, said Orchid, were best on the 5th day. Each morning they drove to the launching spot in La Poma.


Day 2 and 3 they caught some spotted bass, a couple of small cabrilla, sierra and a hamachi size yellowtail. Day 4 was too windy and unsafe to fish so after breakfast they ventured out to Gonzaga Bay for some sightseeing, lunch and shore fishing by Papa Fernandez.


“We all agreed that Gonzaga Bay at the popular location was too ‘Gringo'd out.’ We were shocked at the prices for the food on the menu. We all had a drink and watched the local fishermen bring the hotel's kitchen staff fresh fish. They caught some corvina for the hotel, only fishing within the bay since it was too rough outside. After we had our drinks we headed out to Papa Fernandez. Well, this place is the complete opposite to the gringo'd out place. We had lunch there and even bought some t-shirts. Lots of great pictures on the wall of Papa Fernandez. Even John Wayne visited that place!”


Day 5 was the best fishing day out of this trip. A 36-pound grouper was caught together with more respectable size cabrilla, spotted bass, sierra and really nice size yellowtail!


“They were all beyond stoked with this very happy fish ending!” said Orchid. “Day 6 was our trek back home. We got up and had breakfast. We packed the van and our SUV. We departed Punta Bufeo at 8:17 a.m. We drove up that bad road again, past San Felipe. While fueling in San Felipe the guys bought some tamales from a tamale man at the gas station. This helped from having to do a lunch stop. We by-passed Mexicali. Crossed the border in Tecate (2-minute wait) and I dropped off the guys at their cars in San Diego at 4:32 p.m. Less than 8.5 hours including the border wait, not bad!”


As Orchid pointed out, Punta Bufeo is a great destination for those who don't mind bad road conditions. Although the local boat captains say that summertime is the best time of the year to fish this area, the summer heat can really be an issue. Since the house is solar powered it does not have A/C for super hot summer days.


“Although April is not the best time to fish, it does give you better weather. May would also be a good time with warmer days as well and potentially better fishing. As for the traveling, Baja Fishing Convoys can also offer fly-in trips to Gonzaga however it can elevate the price due to the charter plane.”


As she mentioned, this northeast Baja destination will only be offered when a group of 6-8 anglers are set to go.


“We make these trips stress-free for you so all you have to do is fish and be pampered even when in an off-the-grid destination like this,” said Orchid. To see more photos and a full story and details on all Baja Convoys trips, visit the website at bajafishingconvoys.com.


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DR. DESMOND SJAUWFOEKLOY from Los Angeles has fished with Tailhunter International a number of times over the years and got a quick get-away to La Paz where he found some fish like this fat yellowtail just north of town around Espirito Santo Island. He also boated some trophy cabrilla and dorado.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International said, “Just when we were getting all comfortable and figured winter was done with us, I had a feeling she still had a few gusts left in her. Sure enough, like Game of Thrones winter came back to remind us we’re not quite out of range yet.


“The week started out sort of okay. But we could tell it was going to ramp up again. Our folks got a nice mix of fish including yellowtail, some big fat cabrilla and other species plus a smattering of dorado.”


But, with each day, the winds got stronger.


“Towards the latter part of the week, it was not just gusting, it was ripping, and even the La Paz Port Captain shut down all boat traffic… No boats coming in and out. It did calm down just a tad by the end of the week, but not much and about the only thing we could raise in the rough water was bonito.”


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MARK RAYOR AT Jen-Wren Sportfishing reported slow fishing for pelagics like dorado and tuna last week out of the East Cape. He hosted a group of notables from SoCal, Ben Secrest (right) of Pit Bull Tackle, Dave Marciano (middle) of Wicked Tuna, and Sergio Fainstein (left) of Angler Chronicles radio and TV shows. Rayor is in the background.


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THIS ANGLER SCORED a yellowfin aboard a Buenavista Beach Hotel charter boat, despite it being a fairly slow week.


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing at Los Barilles said in his blog Saturday the weather late in the week was not much for sportfishing, and the bite has been off.


“Our weather man has missed the mark the last couple of days predicting calm seas,” said Rayor. “It has been sporty out there with strong winds and a grumpy sea. Vaquera's Seakeeper takes out the boat roll but anglers have still had to hang on to their hats so the wind doesn't blow them off.” 


He added, “Last year at this time it was game on with full coolers of tuna, dorado, and wahoo. This year has been nothing better than a scratch. Brad Avrit, with his son Daniel, fished hard on Jen Wren III (Friday), came in after four in the afternoon with one white bonita and one small dorado.


“Tough fishing has not been exclusive to the East Cape. From La Paz to Cabo San Lucas reports have been lackluster.The thing about fishing is that it is always changing. Today could be the day that rods start to bend.”


Luis Enrique Fraijo at Buenavista reported on the April 12 that Arnold and Maricarmen Sánchez from Edinburgh, Texas fished with crew members Julio and Cristopher aboard Calereste early this week. After a beautiful, calm morning, the wind came up fast mid-day and blew really hard but still they managed to catch, and then release, three roosterfish and a couple skipjacks using caballitos and sardine for bait. They were cruising just south of La Ribera and El Rincón.


In other Buenavista action, Jim and Shelly Walton from North Padre Island, Texas, also aboard the Calereste later in the week with the same crew, landed four roosterfish near Los Palos and La Ribera also using caballitos and sardines. They had an amazing sightseeing trip while they were fishing seeing whales, turtles, a hammerhead shark, and a thresher shark. They also hooked a mullet snapper and manta rays.


LORETO — Rick Hill from pinchysportfishing.com said it’s the same song as last week.


“No big changes this past week,” he said. “Yellowtail are still hitting mackerel at San Bruno and Candeleros for the boats working the north side of Coronado Island. Cabrilla are also in the bag with sardinas being the best bait for these targets.


Down at Danzante and the south end of Carmen the best action has been coming from assorted trolled hardbaits close to the rocks.


“The best yellowtail action has been at the farthest spots around Isla Catalan's north side. There’s lots of live bait and sargasso in the water which has been making everyone guess, ‘When?’”


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THE MOST CONSISTENT action out of San Jose Del Cabo was working the various rockpiles, from Palmilla Point, Red Hill, Gordo Banks, Cardon, La Fortuna, Iman and San Luis. A mix of great eating species like these were found.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas and Marina Puerto Los Cabos said waves of spring break vacationers are arriving, many family groups, with only a limited numbers of serious hardcore anglers, the area between peak seasons.


“Weather patterns were typical for early spring time,” said Brictson. “We felt crazy cool low temperatures later in the week, actually down to 52 degrees, this before the sun came up and mid-day high temperatures reached the upper 80s. Winds were a bit unpredictable as well, most mornings were calmer, but we saw some afternoon and evening wind gusts to 20 mph plus. The ocean water temperature was in the 71 to 74 degree range, clarity was a bit greenish closer to shore due to stirred up afternoon windy conditions.”


Brictson said various baitfish were available, including moonfish, caballito, limited sardinas and some ballyhoo and slabs of squid. Anglers were also catching a variety of species while using yo-yo style jigs.


“One nice wahoo was hooked on a blue/white yo-yo off of the Iman Bank, but we did not hear of any other wahoo taken,” said Brictson. “Dorado were not found this week either and only a handful of yellowfin tuna were reported, most of these from La Fortuna to San Luis, ranging to 50 pounds, but very few were landed, even though on some days they were seen breezing on the surface.”


Billfish action was not happening much either, at least off the local San Jose del Cabo grounds, some striped marlin were spotted, but not interested in any offerings. Increased numbers of sea lions were noticed on the local high spots, making it difficult to land fish at times.


The most consistent action now was working the various rock piles, from Palmilla Point, Red Hill, Gordo Banks, Cardon, La Fortuna, Iman and San Luis. A mix of great eating species were found, most numerous were the Eastern Pacific bonito, also red snapper, amberjack, leopard grouper and a few broomtail grouper. One amberjack of 70 pounds was accounted for, others in the 15- to 30- pound class. The majority of this bottom action was found while using the yo-yo jigs, some on whole and cut baits.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 66 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 4 yellowfin tuna, 1 wahoo, 15 leopard grouper, 2 broomtail grouper, 170 bonito, 48 red snapper, 5 barred pargo, 3 African pompano, 4 yellow snapper, 18 amberjack, 12 golden eyed tilefish, 4 glasseye snapper, 2 sierra, 12 roosterfish and 75 triggerfish.


ENSENADAWON’s Baja Reports editor Pat McDonell is headed south to bluefin grounds on Friday and yellowtail action on the way down and back with a story on how to access the productive grounds from the Hotel Coral Marina (and streamline your paperwork), which seems to be off the radar of many private boat anglers, but the marina should be considered a great private boat destination this season. Wes Price at the Hotel Coral Marina store said the bite has been very good on the bird schools in the bay and north, and the bluefin bite was excellent on 40 to 60 pounders for 1 ½-day and multi-day boats out of San Diego. And for boats heading south, of course the Rockpile and waters outside it were turning out high counts of yellowtail that seem to be hitting more surface baits and jigs than in recent weeks.


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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