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Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Huge tuna fire up the troops in Cabo
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
300 pounder leads tuna march into Cabo


Hurricane Lorena veers off and action continues
The mild hurricane was headed for Cabo, turned up the coast, then switched back and headed east up the Sea of Cortez and dumped just rain; after port captains reopened the gates, it was back to tuna, marlin and pargo in Baja Sur; to the north, white seabass continue to bite off San Quintin Bay

LA PAZ — It’s tropical storm season in Baja Sur, and so far it’s been a mild one, but Hurricane Lorena put a scare into the region before she veered off from her trajectory of a direct hit on Cabo late in the week. Within 12 hours of expecting heavy winds and rain, the storm headed west, then changed her mind again and swept up the Sea of Cortez, moving east and dumping nothing more than heavy rain.


No harm, no foul, except lost days of fishing that had been incredible for the summer crew of captains and anglers going after big and small tuna, black and blue and striped marlin, bigger dorado, wahoo and pargo.


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IT’S LATE IN the season, and not many folks are fishing for them since dorado and other species are so prevalent, but the big roosters are still around! Mari Bedsaul was fishing in La Paz for the first time with Captain Jorge of the Tailhunter Fleet when she hooked this beautiful rooster off Punta Perico near Las Arenas. The fish was released.

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JON SPARKS REALLY wanted a roosterfish, so after several days of catching dorado, he dedicated a day to chasing the big gallos with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz. Here, Captain Archangel seems to be checking the fish’s teeth or trying to retrieve his hook so they can release the fish.


“The fishing was really good here all week, really crazy, and then Lorena hit,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International in La Paz. “It was relatively small compared to many others, but it started heading towards Baja and really didn’t look like much other than maybe a little wind and rain. Then, the Hurricane Watch became Hurricane Warning. It was definitely headed up to Baja! However, the initial advisories indicated it would veer off to the Pacific and La Paz would only get the edge of the storm.


“However, as sometimes happens, late Friday, the storm turned and put us right in the crosshairs on a direct collision. So airports closed, flights got canceled, the port closed and no boats were allowed out…folks started getting ready with water, candles, flashlights and extra beer. A lot of our anglers got stuck for an extra night or two unable to leave. Others trying to get in couldn’t fly down because of canceled flights or the closed Cabo Airport.”


Roldan added, “When the storm finally hit, it was a lot weaker than so many storms we’ve had, but enough to drop wind and rain on us for about 12 hours and keep everyone pinned indoors all night watching the storm. Fortunately, other than some flooding and downed trees, no one was hurt and very little property was damaged. It was just a big, wet, inconvenient pain in the butt!


“Frankly, many of our clients partied and rolled with it and were very patient with us and the circumstances. However, I felt badly for those that lost fishing days or got stuck one way or the other. As of Saturday morning, the airports opened and normalcy started returning as we dried out and dug out. Not sure how this will affect the fishing but we’ll keep you posted.”


Before Lorena, it was a wild week in a full moon, starting with a crazy good bite on dorado, and the fish just bigger and bigger, especially for the Tailhunter La Paz fleet, which saw limits of up to 25-pound dorado. Then it went off, big time, on marlin.


“The marlin went crazy nuts insane!” said Roldan. “In 25 years here, I have never seen anything like it. For four days, almost all our pangas were hooking 1 to 4 marlin per boat per day! Stripers up to 120 pounds! Blue marlin in the 150-250-pound range! We even had a 600-pound marlin at one point.”


Roldan said his customers all had some good stories. Here are two:


“Our panga was in the middle of the dorado school, and we had two fish on. I happened to look down and saw a marlin just kinda hanging under the boat. Then, I felt a bump and realized there was another marlin bumping the boat!”


“Pretty exciting stuff. In 3 days, we hooked and released 5 marlin on light tackle, including 4 stripers and 1 blue. My wife says she loves fishing now! For our last fish, we were on our way in and had one rod out with a little feather — and a striper bit it!”


Roldan said the big issue was that so many of these fish showed up while guys were going full-turbo in the dorado schools.


“Consequently, they were fishing with light 30- and 40-pound test… small hooks and small baits when the marlin bit. Many of the marlin were not only eating the baits, but also eating the dorado. On light tackle, the fights were long and epic.”


Then, Hurricane Lorena showed up!


EAST CAPE — John Ireland at Hotel Rancho Leonero reported that the water is clearing up fast after the storm Friday – and for most of the week, the good fishing continued. He said having large schools of sardines throughout Palmas Bay is really helping.


According to Ireland, there was a strong, consistent yellowfin bite early in the week. Most were taken off Rincon and the lighthouse two to three miles offshore, and fish ranged in size from 5 to 35 pounds. Live sardines and chunked squid were both working.


The billfish bite was good this week too, with lots of stripers, sails and mostly black marlin. All anglers targeting billfish were releasing at least one. Ireland said they’re seeing a ton of big blacks and blues this season — caught mostly on slow-trolled ballyhoo, darker lures and live caballito.


As for wahoo, the bite was a little slower this week, centered mostly around the lighthouse and the white cliffs off of Vinaramas. Fish ranged from 20-55 pounds. CD-18 Rapalas are still the ticket.


Inshore, the fishing was great — with the inside drop-offs producing amberjack, dogtooth snapper, pompano and some nice grouper.


Finally, Ireland said that there was light fishing pressure on roosterfish, with most anglers going for the meat fish, but they saw some nice-sized gallos inside along the beaches.


They decided to pull the hotel fleet out of the water Thursday afternoon, and Lorena hit them midday Friday. “It could have been a lot worse,” said Ireland. “We had heavy sustained winds for over five hours, with surprisingly light rain. The palapa roofs took a beating, and a few windows were broken, but it wasn’t too bad overall… The hotel is open, and it’s business as usual!”


LORETO — Rick Hill at Pinchysportfishing.com reported that, after a couple days of tropical storm rain, the sun is back and the stormy weather has moved on!


“We will be back out with the 10-pound dorado and hoping to meet up with their bigger versions,” said Hill. “Roosters, toro and bonito are also in the mix along the coastline and around Coronado Island.”


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MATE MARTIN AGUILAR of Pisces’ 38-foot C Rod holds up a 140-pound yellowfin. Before the storm, the big tuna were on the bite, with fish 100 to 200 pounds and over.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet saw fishing shut down for a few days as the port was closed, but it reopened over the weekend after the threat passed with just light rain.


“Even with this week’s Hurricane Lorena, which only brought slight rain and closed the port Friday and Saturday, the amazing fishing continues,” she said. “Marlin catches are down slightly, but only due to the fact that we fished fewer days because of this. We had 100 billfish released compared to 165 last week, but we did see more blue marlin this week, sailfish and even some spearfish released. Many boats this week caught and released up to 10 striped marlin each, with tons of more marlin bites still!”


Ehrenberg said catch numbers for dorado doubled this week, with a total of 97 (of course respecting catch limits). They saw tuna increase as well, but she thinks it’s because they had more boats targeting them.


She said, “We had anglers from Michigan, a group of friends who come to Cabo just about every other year to fish with us, spending three days on three different boats. The guys diversified their fishing efforts and did one day inshore panga fishing, one day focusing on billfish and some did a day of searching for tuna. All in all, they caught 49 fish total. They went 19 for 35 on striped marlin releases, and also released 2 sailfish and 3 nice blue marlin that ranged from about 150 to 220 pounds each. Two of the blues were caught on Pisces’ 31-foot Tracy Ann, and they also released 2 very nice spearfish this same day. The spearfish were about 70 and 80 pounds and hit on dead caballito bait about 22 miles out at the 150 Spot. Their tuna fishing resulted in 12 yellowfin between 20 and 30 pounds each, as well as 9 dorado, 1 bonita, and 1 skipjack.”


Pisces landed another notable fish this week too! This time it was angler Derek Stills aboard the 38-foot C Rod, catching a 140-pound yellowfin close to San Jaime Bank.


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CAPT. JUAN COOK took this shot of some of the deep drop bottomfish he got with friends and family, and while he did not get any seabass until Sunday, he did spot some fleet boats that scored earlier in the week. Here, Capt. Miguel of Tiburon charters holds up a nice white seabass.


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RON GOMEZ ON Sunday with Capt. Juan Cook on the 23 Parker Slaptail.


SAN QUINTIN BAY — The white seabass action went off again last week and continued into this week – with the guides scoring on the critters to 50 pounds and some boats early the week really scoring limits quickly. By the weekend, it had slowed a bit but was still going, according to Capt. Juan Cook of San Quintin Bay Sportfishing. He reported to WON on Sunday morning that he fished on Sept. 19 with his friend Rosarito Jimmy, brother Tony and nephew Robby – and they dropped for vermillion and lingcod with solid catches.


On Sept. 20 Capt. Cook said he was out with his brother Frank and Eric Cook and fished deep for plenty of action, and the next day looked for seabass but had no takers, while the rest of the fleet were catching good white seabass. He took some photos of the on-the-water pangeros holding fish to 50 pounds.


San Quintin Bay Sportfishing, a Facebook page, posted a report of a fact-finding mission. Is the bite as good as reported?


Ron Gomez Hoff departed at 6 a.m. from the Old Mill dock aboard the Slaptail with Capt. Cook.


Gomez quickly discovered that the catch reports of white seabass were indeed authentic, landing two very nice white seabass in short order - one in the 50-55-pound range and the second a short time later in the 30- to 35-pound range."


The bite is quite real and most fleets were recording multiple catches of large fish.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported that before the storm shut down the port on Thursday, there were light crowds, so charter numbers were limited. Sardinas were being netted off of beach stretches near San Luis and delivered to the grounds near La Fortuna and Iman.


“Sardinas were the best ticket for enticing the yellowfin tuna,” said Brictson, “and action varied from where the best bite could be found.” In recent days, smaller-grade tuna of around 15 pounds were found near Vinorama, and the action near Twenty-Five spot and Iman was more sporadic, though this is where a handful of yellowfin up to 70 pounds were landed. Brictson said there are still no reports of the cow-sized tuna showing, even on the Gordo Banks — and lots of large black skipjack were biting on all these same grounds, so that was kind of a nuisance.


Overall, they saw fewer dorado than in previous weeks, and most fish they did catch were smaller in size. The wahoo became more active, however, and they saw a few 20 to 40 pounders most days.


The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 32 charters for the week, and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 2 blue marlin, 1 sailfish, 24 dorado, 12 wahoo, 92 yellowfin tuna, 150 black skipjack, 2 island jack, 3 surgeon fish, 4 leopard grouper, 12 Mexican bonito, 4 yellow snapper, 2 barred pargo, 3 pompano, 5 amberjack and 26 triggerfish.


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ANGLERS LIMITED OUT on yellowtail all week long at Cedros Island, and Gary Fuller made the surprise catch of the week with a 25-pound bull dorado.


CEDROS ISLAND — Quality-grade yellowtail continue to rule the surface action at Isla Cedros, as hordes of frenzied baitfish scatter in the often futile attempt to avoid becoming lunch for the hungry forktails. The calico bass bite remains active for fish up to 8 pounds; but the biggest news last week was the landing of the season’s first bull dorado shortly before the beginning of fall.


Avid sportsman Gary Griffin, who is a resident of Rancho La Bufadora south of Ensenada, joined his son Rick and fishing buddy Rick Lee, along with his son Charley, for a reunion celebrating their last trip to Cedros Island half a decade before. They arrived on the Island focused on yellowtail, and ended up limiting out on fish up to 25 pounds while trolling purple hard baits.


Kirk Mitchell and a couple of his friends from San Diego were first-timers, and ended up being surprised by the great fishing they encountered. The trio fished around the north point for big calico bass up to 7 pounds that inhaled 6-ounce Salas mint green surface iron. Over the next few days, they limited out on yellowtail using scrambled egg surface iron. However, Gary Fuller made the surprise catch of the week with a 25-pound bull dorado.


Charlie Osaki and his buddy Mark Sirof from Orange County were on their second trip to Cedros and experienced the fishing adventure of a lifetime. They reported catching limits of yellowtail on blue and white surface iron, as well as a huge 45 pounder in only about 15 feet of water.


Osaki said, “I was using a live mackerel and 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader on a Daiwa 300 Lexa and Phenix M1 rod. The yellowtail took the live mackerel, ran up the beach, and then suddenly took off for the channel, where we finally gaffed it in 375 of water over a quarter mile off the shore.”


The next day at the same location, they hooked a 37-pound yellowtail at approximately the same depth while using a live mackerel, but were able to bring that one over the rail only about 400 yards off the beach.


Osaki concluded his report by adding, “The south end of the island was limit fishing for virtually all pangas, with limits coming within two hours to as long as a half day. Trolled mackerel were the favorite natural bait, but irons like Tady 45 and Candy Bars in blue and white and sardine colors were working best. The few boats that trolled large Rapala lures also did well. Most of the fish in this area ranged from 10 to 18 pounds.”


MIDRIFF — The Longfin Tackle in Orange filed a report on the latest Tony Reyes mothership trip. Tom Ward said the weather and fishing were both good this week, bringing in a total of 463 yellowtail, 208 cabrilla, 291 spotted bass, 61 pargo, 6 sheepshead, 10 barred pargo, 5 grouper, 1 black seabass, 3 white seabass, 5 broomtail, 3 sierra, 1 dorado and 5 lingcod.


Go to tonyreyes.com for more information.


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WAHOO AND DORADO were in Cabo waters with tuna and marlin as the action in Baja Sur is now in full swing during tropical storm season.


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