Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Roosters wild, weather mild

Close in, huge fish
East Cape is blowing the doors off big fish, especially roosters and dorado, just in time for the July 20 Dorado Shootout

CORRECTION: In a Baja Report story last week on big white seabass being caught at Cedros Island, WON mistakenly listed the anglers as fishing with Cedros Outdoor Adventures when, in fact, the anglers were staying and fishing with Cedros Sportfishing. We apologize for the error.

EAST CAPE — John Ireland at Hotel Rancho Leonero wondered just much better the weather and fishing could get on the East Cape after last week’s great action inside and out. Well, he found out soon enough.

“The water was clear and flat most days, and while the air was warmer this week, it’s still pleasant, in the low 90s and low humidity. Every week since early June the fishing has continued to get better. A strong consistent yellowfin bite, lots of billfish, big dorado and huge roosterfish all are biting aggressively. Good inshore fishing with big pompano.”

The bigger dorado are a welcome arrival. That’s because the East Cape’s annual Dorado Shootout is this week, with fishing competition over one day, July 20, and more than130 boats are expected to vie for cash, prizes and a new truck for big fish. Expect something over 50 pounds.



HUGE ROOSTERS AND dorado were caught by Hotel Rancho Leonero anglers this past week as the fishing and weather continued to be more summerlike. There were four huge fish caught on the fly, with Jeff DeBrown taking the pictured 75-pound roosterfish from the beach, and Capt. Michael Bressler, stationed at Camp Pendelton used a fly for a big dorado, pompano and roosterfish (not pictured).

While dorado will be targeted in that event based at Palmas, there are plenty of species on the hot seat. Yellowfin are under numerous fast-moving pods of porpoise spread north and south, 5 to 30 miles offshore.

“Chunk squid, fast-trolled hoochies and cedar plugs, and live mackerel and caballito all working,” said Ireland. “Hoochies and squid have been the most effective. All anglers finding the porpoise are limiting on fish from 5 to 67 pounds.”

Billfish are plentiful with stripers mixed in with a few blues and the drop-off from La Ribera past Frailles is producing most of the fish. Some fish are surprisingly close to the shore (within a half a mile). “Anglers targeting billfish are releasing at least one a day, most multiples. They love the ballyhoo and are taking live mackerel and caballito.”

Ireland said the dorado are, “Real quality fish from 30-55 pounds coming in daily. A few school sized dorado from 5 to 15 pounds. One or two big bulls a day are being taken daily. Most of the big fish are taken on trolled ballyhoo and marlin lures,” he said.

Then there are the roosters, some real whoppers this week, he said.

“Fifty pounders were released daily by most anglers targeting them. A 75 pounder was released off the beach on a fly by our fly fishing guide Jeff De Brown. This has to be the biggest rooster off the beach on fly released anywhere in the world, this year for sure.”

In other East Cape action, Matthew Clifton at Scorpion Sportfishing said they had continued action for billfish, tuna and roosterfish.

“Striped marlin, sailfish and the arrival of blue marlin provided lots of action for anglers this past week,” said Clifton. “Tuna action was up and down. Some days the action was pretty good for tuna and other days they had lockjaw. Typical yellowfin tuna. Big roosterfish showed up around the lighthouse. The key was getting live bait which was available some days and hard to get the others.”


CEDROS ISLAND YELLOWTAIL are quality fish, but they are tough to get on the hook these days with all the large bait they have for forage. It’s not an uncommon problem this time of year. Soon, they’ll be slamming the iron and mackerel, said Cedros Outdoor Adventures.

CEDROS ISLAND — Joe Angel Sanchez at Cedros Outdoor Adventures is in the first weeks of the season for the Baja Magic Lodge and said there is a “good problem” right now.

“There is a lot of bait and prey for the bigger fish (like yellowtail) which is one of the reasons it’s been difficult for our anglers this week to get July style big-fish bites, because the their stomachs are full,” he said.

“But, as some of them said, its not about how many fillets you bring back, but the whole experience, and that is the truth! For instance, Daniel and son Clayton spent good many hours teaming up and sharpening their fishing skills, getting some action at the many boils, and simply enjoying the time together doing something that they both enjoy much. Still, the last day they went fishing for a half-day and got their best fish of the trip using live bait.”

Also, Sanchez said, long time guest Robert with friends Mark and Brandon were just having a good time, as always. But not just yellowtail was the target species for their groups. Some calico, halibut, sheephead and bonito also cooperated to keep them engaged.

“It’s an interesting season so far developing and keeping us guessing every day,” said Sanchez. “My only recommendation is: keep trying with all of your arsenal and tricks. They will eventually bite.”


L.A. BAY HAS been on fire, says Capt. Juan Cook, who said the yellowtail are quality and thick, and hitting iron as well as live bait on the surface and dropper loop. Plus the cabrilla fishing is also top-grade.

L.A. BAY — Juan Cook, a guide who operates out of San Quintin and L.A. Bay and Gonzaga Bay, reported to WON that L.A. Bay yellowtail fishing is on fire!

“On Sunday I fished with my longtime friend Landon Yacabushy and his lady friend Cassandra Ontiveros. We fished the Canaleados Reef for wide-open yellowtail. Landon is a pro fisherman so we decided not to use the gaff, instead we lifted the fish Olympic-style. Great fun with fine friends and super nice weather.”

Just before that trip, Cook said he was out fishing with the Graham brothers and fished the same reef (Canaleados) for wide open yellowtail and a couple gulf grouper, then worked the shore line for some excellent cabrilla fishing.

A BULL DORADO of 56.7 pounds was caught on the Pisces Valerie by Rudy Mendoza. His son Diego and wife Christine were aboard as well, and Christine caught and released her first marlin that day.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing said warmer water temperatures on the Cortez and Pacific brought some good fishing in the first few days of the week.

“We saw anglers heading out to find lots of tuna, some marlin and landing a few dorado per boat, even if some were too small to keep, and others, like the 56.7-pound trophy bull dorado caught by Rudy Mendoza on the Pisces 35-foot Valerie. The Rebecca also came back last Monday with a 50-pound wahoo.”

It appeared, said Ehrenberg, that the action might finally get uncorked and kick off the summer season to a level of consistency.

“But, as fishing would have it, it began to get a bit more inconsistent come midweek, and crews had to work very hard to find and land the fish, as we had some picky billfish,” she said. However, the Pisces 31-foot Rebecca still managed to catch and release 5 striped marlin at Destiladeras in one day and also saw some blue marlin start to show up, too. “All were released and mostly were around 200 to 250 pounds each. We had seven blues and 49 billfish caught total for the fleet this week, along with 160 yellowfin tuna. Inshore fishing included grouper, jack crevalle, triggerfish, and a couple of roosterfish.”

You can a full report and ton of photos by going to piscessportfishing.com

Tito Sportfishing posted on its Facebook page that roosterfishing is turning up some big fish. “What a great day fishing with new friends. Thanks to Steven Castillo and Sandy for fishing and making us part of your vacation and experience. They landed a 45-pound rooster and couple of dorados and bonito, not bad for a first-timer fishing in Cabo. titossportfishing.com

MEX 5, THE road from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay and L.A. Bay that was developing into a good option to avoid Mex. 1 traffic, is now a bad choice. The storms of this past winter ruined several stretches.

ROAD UPDATE — Ben Montoya in the Facebook group Talk Baja reported after a run south on Mex. 5. He suggested that it be avoided and to drive to L.A. Bay on Mex. 1 despite traffic issues through Ensenada to San Quintin.

“Highway 1 for sure. Traveled last week to Gonzaga Bay via Mexicali, Highway 5, what a mess past San Felipe. Heard it ended near Puertocitos, but that's far from accurate. Road washed out in so many spots. Its passable but driving very, very slow, that is if you cherish your vehicle. Traveled about 20 mph over very bumpy, rocky, uneven roads. “Lots of collapsed bridges, repairs are taking place but I'd estimate they are at least 2 to 3 years away from smooth sailing on Highway 5.”

Montoya added, “Also, we decided to take the Lake Chapala route home through San Quintin, not much better. Lots of damage from Hurricane Rosa. Longer stretches of construction, was able to jump on small portions of freshly paved roads, but be prepared to be patient if you choose Highway 5. Also, I would definitely recommend driving only during the day on this route. It was rough when the sun was up, can't imagine at night, one wrong turn and you are stuck.”

THE 29TH ANNUAL Fishing for the MissionCharity Dorado Tournament was topped by Team Black Hook with Jon and Julie Hills fishing with captain Jorge Valente with 2 dorado totaling 27.2 pounds.

LORETO — From Tourney Director Chris Wheaton: “Some unexpected bad weather saw only 27 teams compete in the 29th annual Fishing For The Mission charity Dorado tournament out of La Mision Hotel in Loreto. Thursday, July 11, saw flat seas and lots of dorado but high winds and rough seas made it hard to fish for both Friday and Saturday of the event.”

Wheaton reported Team Black Hook with Jon and Julie Hills fishing with captain Jorge Valente won first place with 2 dorado totaling 27.2 pounds. Second place was Team Freebird of Steve Birdsall, Steve Datema, Laura McDonald, and Buz Schott fishing with captain Eugene Davis with a single dorado of 23.7 pounds.

“Steve Birdsall also won Big Dorado of the tournament but couldn't manage another fish to back it up,” said Wheaton. “Rob Gonzales and Will Burns won the Other Species class with 2 yellowtail totaling 29 pounds. Totals are not in yet but looks like again around $10,000 was raised for the Mission and people of Loreto.”

In other Loreto action, Rick Hill of Pinchysportfshing.com gave a general report on the region’s fishing last week. Hill said marlin, sailfish and tiny dorado are being spotted and landed here in the Loreto area. Along the coast there is a consistent current line holding small dorado.

The bigger fish are being caught north of Coronado Island. Hill added that striped marlin and sailfish have been hitting live mackerel and an occasional feather strike on blue and white jetheads. “There are pargo and cabrilla along the coast with a big show of toro up at Punta Colorado. Looks like everything is heating up in Loreto!” said Hill.

MATT BROWN FROM Cupertinocame to La Paz fishing with Tailhunter Sportfishing to hopefully get his first roosterfish. He ended up hooking and releasing a trio of big ones off Punta Arenas.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International said the fishing remains unseasonably crazy.

“It’s mid-July, but the fishing still hasn’t quite caught up with the calendar. It’s still more like April-May fishing than summertime fishing,” said Roldan. “Normally, we should be thick into the bluewater species that inhabit the warm waters and warmer seasons. Our fishing reports should be full of dorado, tuna, wahoo, billfish and the like. We should be talking about hot sunny weather and flat balmy Baja seas.

“But, it’s not like that and Mother Nature is only grudgingly moving to where it should be. She’s not going easy. For instance, we still have erratic unpredictable winds that pop up from nowhere and tear up the sea. A few miles away, it’s flat. We have blistering sunny weather one day that feels like a tropical sauna. By afternoon, it’s raining. Or we have days when it’s overcast and heavily clouded.”

Roldan continued, “One day waters are blue. Next day, or even later in the day, the waters turn green, cold and turbid with strong currents. Or, one day dorado bite and the next day, we see all kinds of dorado, but they could not care less about biting a bait or jig! Sure, we’re seeing more dorado and bigger dorado. And that is a good sign. And a few billfish mixed in. Plus assorted large and small roosterfish, bonito, and jack crevalle. But, we are still catching crazy cold-water fish like spawning pargo, cabrilla, amberjack and even fish like sierra and yellowtail, the latter two being definite cold-water species.

“That just tells me that there’s warm surface water, but below that, there’s a strong layer of colder water holding these other species. Everyone is catching fish. It’s just that the bite is unpredictable and varied.”

GORDO BANKS PANGA catches saw an 83-pound amberjack for Eric Chen, from Las Vegas, as he fished with skipper Chuy on the super panga Fortuna.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson posted the following weekend blog in his Gordo Banks website:

“Now in the midst of the summer season we are progressively feeling warmer conditions and increased humidity. High temperatures around 90 degrees, quite a few tropical clouds earlier in the week, burning off with the heat of the day. Ocean water temperatures are now ranging from 80 to 86 degrees, warmest area offshore and towards Los Frailes.”

Brictson said there have already been several named tropical storm systems following paths out west, and as of Saturday when he filed the report there was a low pressure system moving off to the west several hundred miles from southern Baja, which was not forecast to make any impact on land. It will give a bit more “tropical feeling” he said.

The warmer water has also brought in larger marlin.

“In recent days we have heard of daily reports of blue marlin being hooked into, at least one of about 240 pounds was landed and others to over 400 pounds were battled and broken off,” said Brictson. “Still some striped marlin are in the area, but most of them are now closer to Southern California searching for cooler water and their preferred mackerel food source.”

Brictson added, “Early in the week anglers found a small grade of football-sized yellowfin tuna spread out in open water around the San Luis Bank. Trolling small hoochies produced scattered results, this time of year we see these small tuna show. Only a few yellowfin tuna to 50 pounds were reported this week, so far nothing going on larger cows being seen, the next several weeks is when things change rapidly and we would expect to see schools of larger yellowfin tuna move onto local grounds. No wahoo were reported, only a handful of dorado reported, the majority small sized and being released.”

Off the bottom there was on and off action for red snapper, amberjack, leopard grouper and bonito. Anglers used yo-yo type jigs, as well as various baits.

“This is the month when we normally see the largest amberjack of the season,” said Brictson, “and this week we weighed in a 83-pound amberjack for angler Eric Chen, from Las Vegas, as he fished with skipper Chuy on the super panga Fortuna. We have not seen the run of dogtooth snapper develop yet, this is peak time for them.”

MIDRIFF — The Longfin Tackle shop in Orange, booking agent for the Tony Reyes mothership trips to the Midriff out of San Felipe, reported the Craig Johnson 6-day charter had nice weather. They scored limits of yellowtail from islands San Francisquito and San Lorenzo with plenty of live bait available. White seabass were found but few landed on live bait. Cabrilla were caught at other islands like Refugio and Snake. A 120-pound grouper was caught the last day.

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•   •   •   •   •

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HERE COMES THE 21st edition of the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament, slated for Nov. 6-9 and detailed next week in a special preview supplement. The tournament features options for tuna, wahoo and dorado and a payout that may reach the $1 million mark.

Special Preview to the biggest tournament in Mexico is in next week’s edition of WON with great features on Nov. 6-9 event

CABO SAN LUCAS — You have heard of the event, maybe fished it or a friend has and likely you have noticed that each year the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament gets bigger and more lucrative each year.

This year, the tourney that hosted 163 teams and paid out a record $840,600 to five teams in 2018 is headed for its 21st year when the teams from all over the world gather at Land’s End from Wednesday to Saturday, Nov. 6-9.

The special Tuna Jackpot Preview is coming in WON next week and on WONews.com, the latter in a four-color digital format. Director Pat McDonell and former editor of WON Pat McDonell details all the elements of the tourney, what is new in rules and format, contests, and charity efforts for Baja children. Plus there will be special features by Rich Holland on techniques that have brought champions success over the years, and there is Gray Graham’s story on the Gray Fish Research Tagging program that this year is benefitted by a new $20,000 Tuna Optional.

The tourney will also feature separate $1,000 Wahoo and Dorado optionals for the first time, which may push the payout over the $1 million mark. The preview will also detail longtime sponsors’ involvement, and welcome several new sponsors, among them Gamakatsu, Nomad, Chevron Techron and Cinco Perros tequila.

Watch for the special Preview section, and if you are looking for a great time, all you need to know about the tourney is also on the official website is loscabostunajackpot.com where you can find links to great room rates at the Hotel Tesoro for the tourney.

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