Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, November 05, 2019
Time to Fish Hard, Party Harder

Three teams share bulk of $4.5 million Bisbee’s payday
Day 3 proved to be the biggest payoff with Costa Rica’s team on the Tranquilo with a 577-pound blue marlin claiming $1,411,375 of the record payout; Next up, the $$ tuna tournaments as the yellowfin bite explodes!

CABO SAN LUCAS — Back in 2015 the Costa Rican team on the private yacht sportfisher Tranquilo caught the third biggest fish of the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournament, a 327-pound blue marlin, but emerged with the lion’s share of the money, over $2.5 million. It’s hard to explain, but the team with the biggest fish doesn’t always win the title, but they get the biggest check.

THE WINNING Bisbee’s Black & Blue fish was a 577-pound blue marlin on day three for Team Tranquilo from Costa Rica. They won $1,411,375, one of three teams to win a cool million of a $4.5 million pot, a record. Three teams posing here won more than $1 million, another first for the 39th annual Bisbee’s. Third place finisher Wild Hooker won the most money at $1,751,462. BISBEES PHOTO

THE CHAMPS WITH their winning blue marlin of 577 pounds caught the third day on the Sea of Cortez. BISBEES PHOTO

Four years later Team Tranquilo almost got it all. Over three days of big buck battles on the water last week, Wednesday to Friday, 125 teams battled for a record pot of $4,5 million in the 39th annual Bisbee’s Black & Blue. Team Tranquilo cashed in on the title with a 577 pounder and the tourney’s second biggest payout at $1,411,375. Wild Hooker, which finished third with a 466-pound black marlin the first day, won all the possible dailies for $1,751,462.

The blue marlin of 577 pounds by Tranquilo was the tournament’s biggest, caught on the third and final day. It took many — but not all — of the third day optional jackpots, and also won first place money. You might say Wild Hooker duplicated Tranquilo’s situation in 2015. Third place, but they got top money.

The Bisbee’s is a high stakes gamble in which the buy-in is $5,000 minimum, goes up to $16,000 in optionals for many, and then the mega optionals recently added can jack that pay-in to $71,500. Now, if you really want to up the ante and play at the high stakes table, there is an additional category called Krazy Kids Challenge, which takes the maximum amount of entry to $131,500. Krazy, indeed.

Thus, for the first time in the history of the tourney, three teams cashed checks of $1 million or more. The results:

1ST PLACE :Tranquilo, 577 blue marlin, $1,411,375

2ND PLACE: True Grit, 498 black marlin, $1,296,062

3RD PLACE: Wild Hooker, 466 black marlin, $1,751,462

4TH PLACE: Stella June, 466 black marlin, $11,070

5TH PLACE: Los Tapatios, 387 black marlin, $7,380

1ST PLACE RELEASE: El Suertudo, 1,500 points (5 blues), $69,615

2ND PLACE RELEASE: Chupacabra, 1,500 points (5 blues), $24,097

3RD PLACE RELEASE: Quitena, 1,500 points (5 blues), $13,387

Gary Graham, WON's Road Trekker columnist, was on staff for Bisbee’s, and later posted some catch information on Most successful boats fished up the Sea of Cortez.

“On they trolled for the next hour or so in search of the ‘big one.’ And then they had a ‘be careful what you wish for’ moment — a double hookup for anglers Amanda Cofer and Bill Pino, and this time it was the right kind!” reported Graham.

Pino’s blue marlin greyhounded across the calm Sea of Cortez as Amanda’s smaller marlin thrashed about closer to the boat. Graham spoke to Pino who told him, “It was a double-header! It had my heart pumping. Adrenaline was coursing through my body. Should we back off on the big one and release the small one as quickly as possible? Or should we fight both equally? Maybe we should horse Amanda’s in, while mine was out there jumping around? I was getting nervous, but Captain Victor Julio knew what he was doing and was calm throughout the fight.”

Graham reported Cofer released her fish in a mere five minutes allowing the entire team’s attention to turn to Pino and his enormous blue marlin.

“Fancy boat handling, along with a skilled angler, was too much for the monster blue that was boated in 44-minutes,” said Graham. “The Tranquilo team, from Costa Rica, was a loud, raucous bunch as they escorted their fish to the scale.”

Pino said they fished every tourney, and their boat captain Victor said they had a shot at the big one. “…we caught this one right where we had ‘the shot’ yesterday!”







THE TUNA AND wahoo action for the Pisces Fleet boats is going off just in time for the Cabo Tuna Jackpot Nov. 6-9, now in its 21st year. One boat, No Borders, had six tuna of 100 to 200 pounds over four days last week. The wahoo and dorado have been good targets as well, and those two species will be chased by teams in those individual $1,000 optionals for the first time in the Cabo Tuna Jackpot. PISCES PHOTOS

Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo said it’s wild fishing times in Cabo and the timing is perfect for the 21st annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament Nov. 6-9 which last year boasted 163 teams and $840,800 in payouts to five teams. A two-day Pelagic Rockstar tourney precedes it, starting Nov. 1.

“Our boats caught and released 200 billfish, 145 dorado, quite a few wahoo nearing 40 to 50 pounds, and although yellowfin tuna were targeted by only 20 percent of our boats, we 134 fish caught with many of those tuna over 100 and even 200 pounds.”

She said the influx of big tuna will make for two exciting events!

“Next week’s tuna tourneys in Cabo can’t come soon enough!” she said. “In our latest report (at, we show photos of 6 yellowfin between 100 and 200 pounds in four days on ONE boat, the No Borders. They have been absolutely on fire. It’s hard to believe it’s still available for charter for the Rockstar, but it’s booked for the Tuna Jackpot Nov. 6-9, which is looking to have about 180 boats entered and close to a $1 million pot.”

She said that not only are tuna in town, but so are the wahoo and dorado.

These species are secondary optional categories all their own in the tourneys so looks like there will be some fun competition happening over all categories, Ehrenberg said.

THE GORDO BANKS pangas were all over the quality wahoo that were taking live bait. GORDO BANKS PHOTO

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks said the weather has settled and that has been a boon to the big money events.

“We’ve had perfect all-around conditions, clear sunny skies, slightly brisk now early mornings, though days are still quite warm,” said Brictson. “Ocean swells have been minimal, with moderate variable breezes, shifting to the typical fall pattern, with winds off the land from the west early, then switching later out of the northeast. Ocean water temperature ranged 82 to 85 degrees from the Pacific and up past Los Frailes, or in the direction of the Sea of Cortez.”

Sportfishing fleets and tournament participants were scouting out all directions, searching all possible options. The majority of local charters are now concentrating on the grounds from the Gordo Banks to Iman, San Luis and some venturing as far as Vinorama.

“Heavy pressure always means various bait options can become limited due to unavailable resources,” he said. “Though this week with patience there seemed to be sufficient supplies of sardinas, slabs of squid and caballito. Sardinas were scarcer near the marina jetties and are now seen schooling off of Chileno, which means a long back track for local bait vendors, as well as a later start for anglers, if they want this bait option.”

He added, “Other anglers are going early, directly with squid and then some are catching chihuil on certain high spots, which proved to be probably the best chance now at hooking into a wahoo. Sardinas and the squid were best choice for finding any yellowfin tuna action. Dorado became very scattered, saw very few this week, not many billfish from the standard charters, more sailfish than others, a higher percentage of anglers were preferring to target wahoo or tuna.”

Yellowfin tuna were found in recent days on the San Luis Bank, Brictson said, drift fishing with various baits, mainly sardinas and strips of squid. Yellowfin tuna to over 100 pounds were caught, and the majority of the tuna hooked into were in the 60- to 90-pound class.

Not many wahoo seemed to want the trolled lures, so this week live bait proved best, particularly off Vinorama, but finding the live chihuil for bait was not always a guarantee.

“As is the normal case, many more wahoo strikes were lost compared to actual fish landed. With the water temperature now still so warm, we expect wahoo action to be even better through next couple of months,” he said.

EAST CAPE — No report from the East Cape. There was a Tuna Shootout based at Palmas, but no results were posted or available by deadline Sunday night.

CEDROS ISLAND — Tom Gatch of Cedros Outdoor Adventures and the Baja Dreams Lodge reported that trophy sized yellowtail are on the chew.

“One of the best indicators of a prime sportfishing venue is its ability to lure anglers back year after year once they have experienced its fishing for the first time,” said Gatch. “Shea McIntee and the crew from Stoked on Fishing, a southern California-based travel adventure and fishing show that is on Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket, brought a group of 16 anglers with them on the show’s fifth trip to Cedros Island last week, and four of the anglers had never been there before.”

The group scored well, with daily limits of quality grade yellowtail weighing between 30 and 40 pounds, California halibut that tipped the scales at over 30 pounds, and a variety of other fish including several fat calicos up to 5 pounds, which were immediately released.

Shawn Sullivan, from Evansville, Indiana, was on his ninth trip to Cedros Island with five fishing buddies, three of which were visiting the Island for the first time. Sullivan told Gatch, “I love taking guys to Cedros as everyone is in awe of the world class fishing, majestic views, and the sheer beauty of the island and its abundant marine life. As always, we had great fishing on this trip. The fishing for yellowtail was off the hook. We had to stop keeping yellowtail by Saturday afternoon because we had so much. We blacked out our tank with mackerel each morning, and the yellowtail showed a preference for it when the baits were slow trolled. The yellowtail were really big, in the 30- to 35-pound class. And that is really a workout bringing up yellowtail of that size.”

Continued Sullivan, “When the red crabs were too thick around the island one afternoon, we took about an hour boat ride over to Chester’s Rock just south of Punta Eugenia on the mainland. This area has a huge kelp forest. The calico fishing was awesome with one of our pangas catching over 100 calicos in the afternoon session. On several occasions, we had as many as 10 other calicos following a caught fish to the boat.”

Sullivan said that they come in the fall for possible shots of dorado and yellowfin tuna, plus white seabass, in addition to the other all-summer species of yellows and bass and halibut.

“Apparently, dorado were caught in the week previous to our vacation, but had moved out of the area,” said Sullivan. “Last year in October, we caught white seabass upwards of 60 pounds. We will be back next October to experience the variety of species.”

MARLENE KIKUCHI FROM Los Angeles had a live mackerel pinned to her line not far from Punta Arenas with Captain Pancho of the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz when she hooked this massive wahoo not far from the shoreline. The big fish was weighed on a scale and measured 56-pounds! TAILHUNTER PHOTO

ON HER FIRST day out and first-time in La Paz, Kathy Parker was with Captain Luis and deckie Miguel from the Tailhunter Fleet in the channel between the city and Espirito Santo Island in an area where big 50- to 150-pound tuna had been sighted. On her first bait in the water, this big yellowfin inhaled her little sardine and the fight was on! With her sister, Sherry, trading the rod back and forth for four long hours, the ladies finally got this big boy to the boat! TAILHUNTER PHOTO

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said cooler temperatures, stronger winds and currents and rougher water the last 10 days have tuned the corner on their summer to fall.

“The warm water season ended sooner than expected and I think things will continue to change as warm water species like the dorado, tuna, wahoo, and billfish move out and are replaced by more inshore cooler water species,” said Roldan. “Once again this week, captains and clients worked hard to find picky fish. Bait was harder to come by in the rougher waters and there were times there were some uncharacteristically big swells, chop and gusty winds making it more difficult to fish. The winds will only get stronger as normally calm La Paz Bay even got some big wind-generated rollers that smashed waves onto the waterfront areas.”

Roldan said there were still some dorado around although the schools are diminishing. Most days boats scratched out a catch of 1 to 5 dorado per day with most about 10 pounds or so. Smaller ones were released. Lots of bonito, fortunately, usually kept rods bent. There are, however, some great catches still waiting!

“We had a few nice wahoo this week including a whopper 56 pounder by Marlene Kikuchi from Los Angeles. As well, there’s still the occasional 30- to 50-pound roosterfish. The biggest surprise was the appearance of some pig yellowfin tuna that were in the 50- to 150-pound class between Punta Tecolote and Espirito Santo Island in the channel. These fish were toads that tore into anglers for one- to four-hour battles, when they would bite. Sometimes, they were just a tease boiling around the pangas, but not interested in eating a hooked bait. But, when they did bite, they were beasts! Normally, we don’t see tuna around La Paz as we catch them mainly around Las Arenas so this was a nice surprise.”

LORETO — Rick Hill at said big dorado have become a nice addition to the cabrilla and pargo action up at Punta Colorado.

“Twenty-pound class dodos are hitting sardina close to the hot cabrilla spots,” said Hill. “Seems another school of 20-pound dorado is down at our southern extremes but only biting live sardina on light line. Maybe these are the grown up versions of the springtime's dinks! Great weather and now some excitement on the water.”

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Contribute to the Baja report by sending reports to baja@wonews.,com. Deadline for the next print issue of WON is Sunday morning.

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