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Baja Fishing Report

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Easy Cape
After a slow seasonal start, things went a little crazy on the East Cape this week with quick tuna limits under the porpoise as the action has gone wide open; La Paz also seeing a wild bite on tuna and huge roosters with crashing fish that brings back images of tales of Ray Cannon on Sea of Cortez; Pisces Team Tag wins inaugural Robert Ross tourney in Loreto

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THE EAST CAPE bite on the yellowfin was crazy good for all the area sportfishers. In these photos, Hotel Rancho Leonero’s John Ireland and crew hold up some quality yellowfin, and Billy Maddox of Long Beach poses with 52-pound dorado he caught last Saturday on a Leonero boat.

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THE YELLOWFIN FOR the East Cape-based Jen Wren Fleet out of Los Barilles were wide-open eaters with porpoise schools that ranged from 10 to 30 miles out and offered super quick limits on hoochies and cedar plugs. The bite started in close the previous Sunday and just kept rolling through the week. From left, Jack Nilsen of Accurate, Richard Jensen of Spotfishing Financial and Wayne Shimabukuro.

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THE REEL ADVENTURE crew from the Hotel Coral Marina Store in Ensenada timed their trip to the East Cape just right with great weather and yellowfin tuna under the porpoise 26 miles out for Steve Richardson, Greg Taylor and Wes.


EAST CAPE — The fishing on the East Cape has blown wide open warming waters and reports of easy tuna limits, marlin arriving, dorado to 52 pounds and roosters. La Paz boats also weighed in with tuna to 100 pounds and roosters to 95 pounds. Loreto saw 25 to 45-pound yellowtail.


It’s game on in Baja Sur on the Sea of Cortez. It’s all about conditions, and the East Cape has been ready to bust open for weeks, and last Sunday it did with yellowfin moving in to within 10 miles under the porpoise. It was a wild scene thereafter with tuna spread out from 10 to 30 miles out.


“The East Cape has busted loose!” proclaimed John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero on Sunday. “It’s limits of yellowfin for all anglers and the billfish have arrived and there’s some dorado up to 52 pounds, and a couple of wahoo are being taken daily. Plus we had good roosterfishing with the bigger ones coming in this week.”


Ireland, owner of Hotel Rancho Leonero, took a run out one day last week. He had an 11 a.m. appointment to make, so he ran his boat out at 7 a.m. from the Ranch, taking an hour to reach the porpoise schools 10 miles away. They spent 1½ hours and had 12 fish aboard before rolling back in. Mission accomplished.


The tuna have been 10 to 50 pounds depending on the vast spread of porpoise schools you troll hoochies and cedar plugs over. If they are the small ones, you keep looking. It doesn’t take long, said Ireland. “It’s limits for ALL anglers.”


Another very good sign overall for the fishery is the appearance of big dorado. They are no in big numbers, but a 52 pounder on Saturday by Leonero guest Billy Maddox of Long Beach created a stir at the dock.


Billfish are a big draw for the East Cape, and this past week they debuted with the stripers mixed in with sailfish, and anglers targeting them are getting at least one, with the fish spread from La Ribera to Frailes on the outer bank working best.


“It’s been light pressure, though,” said Ireland, with most people targeting the yellowfin.”


The Reel Adventure crew based at the Hotel Coral Marina Store in Ensenada timed their trip to the East Cape just right. Good weather, great fishing.


“We went to Martin Verdugo’s at East Cape and caught some nice small to medium grade yellowfin tuna under the porpoise 26 miles out,” said Wes Price, whose sportfisher is named Reel Adventure, which is kept at the Hotel Coral Marina. They fished with Ronnie Verdugo on one the hotel’s cruisers. “We had perfect weather while it’s been cold and rainy at home. The group was made up of Steve Richardson, Greg Taylor and Price. “Great time at the East Cape!”


In other Baja action:


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FROM MONTANA ON their first trip to Mexico, Ken and Peggy Miller, were out with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz when Peggy hooked this yellowfin tuna estimated in the 80-pound-class.


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WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS Editor Blake Warren scored a 55-pound rooster that day, his biggest ever.


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JED HINKLE IS a former state senator from Montana and caught-and-released this huge roosterfish just off the beach near Las Arenas. The fish was estimated the fish to be about 95 pounds. Keep in mind Jed is 6-foot-5.


LA PAZ — This region is seeing a major uptick, and on Facebook some panga anglers posted video of roosters crashing the surface, hundreds and hundreds of bigger grade fish, boiling. It was like the old days of Ray Cannon and his writing, tales that romanticized the Sea of Cortez fishery. The fish this past week were all over 30 pounds. On Sunday, Tailhunter International’s Jonathan Roldan confirmed the wild action in a WON report.


“Despite a full moon last week, we might have had one of the best weeks of the fishing season!” he said. “High quality fish, where anglers were fighting fish for one to two hours, and losing a bunch, but plenty of bigger tuna and roosters were caught.”


Among them were tuna, amberjack, yellowtail; three species of pargo, dogtooth, cabrilla; yellow snapper, red snapper, white bonito, jack crevalle and wahoo, hooked but not landed). And they also got our first marlin of the season!


Inshore the roosterfish came on strong with fish between 40 and 90 pounds (yes, 90 pounds) getting caught and released.


“It was by far our best roosterfish week of the season with some sightings or entire schools of roosterfish crashing baits along the beaches,” said Roldan. “One of my captains said there could have been “hundreds” of big roosterfish in one school!”


Fishing with Tailhunter, Jed Hinkle (a former state senator from Montana) seems to have a knack for big roosterfish every time he visits La Paz and fishes with Tailhunter Sportfishing. He caught and released this huge roosterfish just off the beach near Las Arenas. Captain Gerardo estimated the fish to be about 95 pounds.


Roldan said while the roosterfish were thick and big and some areas, with 50 pounders slamming baits on the surface, tuna were actually the highlight.


“These were not the football sizes, these were those mean 40- to 100-pound yellowfin that have a tendency to even break strong men,” said Roldan. “Most of these fish took one to three hours on our lighter live-bait tackle and most of the fish taken in shallower water. The fun thing was that it seemed that many of the larger fish were hooked by first-timers or the wives and girlfriends. t was great to see them grit it out and all of them enjoyed it. There were even larger fish that were battled and came unbuttoned or the lines broke after long fights.”


On their first trip to Mexico were Montana residents Ken and Peggy Miller who hooked a yellowfin tuna estimated in the 80-pound class and she battled the fish alone and refused to ask for help even at the tail end of a 90-minute fight! And, Western Outdoor News Editor Blake Warren down for the week and fishing three days caught and released a 55-pound roosterfish, a personal best. Last year he caught a 50-pound class pez gallo.


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PISCES TEAM TAG on the 72-foot Viking Tag won the overall title at the first annual Robert Ross Tourney held over the weekend, May 17-19 out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos, releasing 2 stripers the first day, and 16 marlin and 4 sailfish the second to win $11,200 and a Suzuki 140 hp outboard.


LORETO — The main bulk of the fishing pressure from bigger boats and some skiffs was via the inaugural two-day Robert Ross Tournament run May 17-19 out of – and by – the Marina Puerto Escondido. There were 25 teams, with a $1,000 entry, plus optionals. It is the first big money tourney held out of Loreto, made possible by the expansion of the marina.


Here is an account on Monday the day after the event ended, from WON columnist Gary Graham who was down in Loreto for the event:


“The 25 teams in the Robert Ross Fishing Tournament found even better weather on Sunday morning, May 20 than the first day, as once again they sped past the official start boat at 7-am sharp.. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, rumors of not only large but also plenty of fish ricocheted around the weigh-station until almost 4-pm when the first team “Bad Influence” arrived at the scale with both a qualifying dorado and a qualifying yellowtail. Once again, over half of the teams had returned to the scale with qualifying fish or videos of multiple releases of marlin.


— Grand Prize for Marlin and Sailfish Catch and Release went to “Tag Team” - John Sercu for a total of16 Marlin and 6 Sailfish in the two days which earned the team $11,200 plus a Suzuki outboard motor.


— Dorado Overall First Place was taken by “Voladores” - Angler C.P. Dewitt caught a 30.5-pound dorado the second day earning $5,625.


— Yellowtail Overall First Place went to “Canuks” with a 29.7-pound yellowtail earning $5,625. (They also won the $4,000 yellowtail jackpot on the first day plus $4,500 pot the second day) …for a total of $14,125.


John Sercu observed, “Marina Puerto Escondido is fantastic! The offshore fishing for billfish this weekend reminded us of Magdalena Bay. It was awesome, and we will be back in August for the Dos Mares “Finale!”


Jeff Hill, who spends three months in British Columbia and nine months in Loreto added that the Tournament Coordinators had done a fantastic job organizing the event and that he would be back next year!


C.P. Dewitt, Phoenix, Arizona, was delighted with his personal-best dorado that came along just at the right time. His team was also far offshore and caught the largest dorado among the many groups of billfish they spotted.


Enrique Salcedo, General Manager, thanked all the participants and congratulated the winners. He recognized the local and visiting dignitaries and he promised that the 2020 Second Annual Robert Ross Fishing Tournament would continue to keep “fun” as the event’s foundation next year.


In other Loreto news….


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CHUCK NICHOLS, A WON reader, sent in this pic of a 45-pound yellowtail caught by his friend John Durso in Loreto. Capt. Francisco Davis is on the left and John is on the right. It was caught flylining a mackerel. The bite May 8-9 was epic on big fish for Durso and friend Billy.


The fishing and weather has been very good out of Loreto Marina, and with some true monsters. Chuck Nichols has been a WON subscriber for many years and relayed a photo and report of a friend John Durso who fished Loreto May 9 with a friend Billy. They had a great trip and it was topped by a wild bite that day in which Durso had 5 fish including a 45 pounder, Durso‘s biggest yellowtail ever in Loreto. He used a live mackerel flylined on the surface. His buddy Billy had a 43 pounder the day before


In other Loreto news, Rick Hill of Pinchy Sportfishing reported from the region north by pangeros over the weekend.


“It's been a bit of a pick on the yellowtail this week with many boats lucky to find a few biters,” said Hill. “Mackerel is still the best ticket for deep rockpile hugging yellows. Most of the trips head north and have better luck with other species. Different snappers and cabrilla are higher on the catch list. Almejas and Pulpito were the most productive destinations.”


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BIG ROOSTERS ARE in the mix for the Pisces Fleet out of Cabo San Lucas, as well as striped marlin the crews always tag and release.


CABO/SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Marlin at the 1150 area and roosters on the shore off Palmilla and Chileno Bay have been the main targets for the sportfishers out of Cabo. Good conditions and water is warming up. Most action was on the Sea of Cortez side with warmer water and more striped marlin. See more detailed reports this week at www.wonews.com


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THE GORDO BANKS yellows have been in some big sizes on live bait and jigs for Gordo Banks Pangas, reported Eric Brictson.


Eric Brictson reported that the Gordo Banks Pangas fleet was getting more customers, and more fish. The season in Baja Sur is moving in the right direction.


“We are seeing limited crowds of tourists now, but we have noticed an increased number of actual anglers, so hopefully this trend will continue,” he said. “Weather patterns remain ideal, lows of about 65 degrees, with highs reaching into the near 90 some days. Warmer currents are moving in from the north, up to 78 degrees on the Gordo Banks, but it’s still much cooler on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas.”


Bait is critical to the area and he said, as netters had to work extra hard to obtain what they could, a mix of moonfish, caballito and a few species of sardinas were found. On Gordo Banks, anglers were able to jig up some other chihuil baitfish, but this proved scarcer by the day as water warmed up quickly. Using mullet now is prohibited. This season will open up in coming weeks.


As for the main fishing grounds, he said, pangeros have been concentrated on Palmilla, Red Hill, Gordo Banks, San Luis and as far north as Vinorama.


“The Gordo Banks had been the location where yellowtail were being found, averaging 25 to 35 pounds striking on larger live baits near the bottom, though as the week progressed this bite came to a standstill as large numbers of various shark species were also moving in on these same grounds,” said Brictson. “ Sea lions were a pesky problem as well, especially on the grounds to the north. Other bottom action included cabrilla, leopard grouper, pargo and amberjack, on Thursday there was a very impressive 96 lb. amberjack landed from a panga.


“In recent days the striped marlin became much more active, on these same grounds and a bit further offshore there were stripers being found, most of these were striking various baits and average weights were 70 to 100 pounds, though one monster striper of about 180 pounds was landed on Friday, many people were thinking it was a blue marlin because of its size, years past we used to see more of the larger striped marlin. One wahoo of about 25 pounds was also landed Friday, but no dorado or yellowfin tuna to speak of.


“To the north off of Cabo Pulmo they have been finding tuna, so we expect these fish will also move south into our range before too long,” said Brictson. “Off of the San Jose del Cabo hotel zone anglers were finding better action for roosterfish in the 15- to 25-pound range, we look for this action to peak in the six weeks or so.”


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BAY OF L.A. has seen a nice wad of yellows and grouper as the conditions get better and water warmer. This set of photos was provided by Baja Fishing Convoys which has a trip slated for a group May 24. Stay tuned.


BAY OF L.A. — Fishing here was starting to roll as waters have warmed and weather has settled, and that means cabrilla, grouper and yellowtail. Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys is taking a group down on May 24 and says she hopes to send back some great reports. She got a nice indicator with some pictures of captains Igor and Joel. They scored yellows for their anglers between the surface and 100 feet, and the grouper are, of course, on the structure.


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JOHN FITZGERALD AND Juan Cook on their Bay of L.A. Bay run after they left Gonzaga Bay, which was slammed with winds. They left Gonzaga and fished three straight days in BOLA and found fish in several areas.


GONZAGA BAY/L.A. BAY — Juan Cook, a guide who runs between San Quintin and Gonzaga Bay and L.A. Bay depending on the season and action reported he was fishing May 7-9 in Gonzaga Bay with friend John “Rockodile” Fitzgerald.


“We fished hard for leopard grouper all the way to Bahia Calamajue for not much, turned around and headed to Isla San Luiz, found a huge spot of sierra feeding on the surface and caught a few bottom dwellers that we used to catch a small gulf grouper,” reported Cook in a FB post. “It was wide open so we had enough and stopped fishing and headed home. The next day it was blown out, so we hooked up John’s Grady-White and drove it 4 to 5 hours with no troubles to Bay of L..A. for the start of the season there. We rested on the 9th due to winds and fished three days from the 10 th to the 13th. It’s the beginning of the season in BOLA so we traveled far looking for fish and found them in different areas. There’s of bait in the area so the fish are scattered, but those fish we found were on the reefs.”


MIDRIFF — The mothership Tony Reyes will be running trips now until November. There was no report this week. For information go to www.tonyreyes.com or www.thelongfin.com


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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.



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