Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Storms keep anglers on their toes

Magdalena Bay marlin pileup an annual pilgrimage
Wahoo and hordes of striped marlin draw a fleet to remote area 200 miles north of Cabo; huge tuna in Cabo waters keep things rolling before Tropical Storm Raymond interrupts the fun

MAGDALENA BAY — The wild marlin pileup continued last week off Mag Bay as a fleet of private yachts up from Cabo again have made their annual pilgrimage to areas just off the bay, which reports of dozens of catches and releases of stripers by boats. November, or the end of the Cabo billfish tournaments, always signals a return of boats from Cabo to their homes in SoCal, and before they make the full voyage, crews will stop in May Bay for a week and get in some amazing marlin action.


MAG BAG TURNED up hoards of striped marlin but also quality wahoo like this one for the vacationing crew of the Scorpion Fleet’s El Rogalo, which is normally based at the East Cape.

Boats from Baja also come from the other side of the peninsula, as in the case of the El Regalo, a charterboat based at the East Cape with Scorpion Sportfishing.

Matthew Clifton was on that crew vacation trip last week and said it was an epic fishing experience.

“The action was off the charts,” said Clifton. ”The first day we went north to the banks where we found a good wahoo bite and an excellent dorado bite. The size of the wahoo was great with two of them coming in over 60 pounds! The next day we headed out for marlin. The action was en fuego as we released 33 marlin, just short of last year's boat record for the El Regalo. Huge schools of bait, diving birds and marlin feeding everywhere is a sight to behold!”

Inside the bay and at the mouth of Belchers the action has been good, but not as has been in past years for Capt. Juan Cook, who spent two weeks of “off duty time” fishing Mag Bay with a friend.

“It was slow for us this season, so John Fitzgerald and I called it early,” said Cook. “Snook and pargo were not there, and wahoo on the outside at the Thetis, the 38 and 23 fathom spots were slow for the wahoo, although we did catch a couple fish – and the marlin, well, there’s a lot of them south of San Carlos and awesome dorado fishing in some areas.”

Cook said the fly fisherman based out of Lopez Mateos were catching lots of dodos on the shark bouys 20 miles offshore and were doing very well on the inside of the bay, catching small snook, pargo and golden travelly.



TAIL BEAT GOES ON! The tuna frenzy continues for the Pisces boats in Cabo. This set of photos is from one day late last week. The Pisces 25-foot No Borders with an almost 200-pound tuna and 3 more yellowfin, the 31-foot La Brisa with two of just over 100 pounds each and another 2 yellowfin caught, plus one striped marlin released. Last but not least, the Bill Collector landed this 128-pound yellowfin and 4 four others, and a nice dorado.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The beat goes on in Cabo, or it did until the weekend when a storm moved in and was expected to close the harbor for a day or so. Before that, the week was epic on the heels of the 21st annual Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot, Nov. 6-9, that produced eight tuna over 200 pounds and one 345 pounder by Team Sirena. The dorado were thick and the bigger tuna that had just started to arrive on the banks stuck around for some rod-bending, and the marlin action continued to be excellent.

“We had close to a 100 percent catch success rate this week once again, with 90 out of 93 vessels catching fish,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. “Dorado were undoubtedly the most abundant, with an astonishing 398 dorado caught and we always respect catch limits (2 per rod, per day) with releases. Billfish percentages were actually one point higher than last week, meaning about half of our boats caught marlin and sailfish, but the numbers of fish are less in comparison: 84 billfish total. This is mainly because the marlin have spread out, and also because the dorado are numerous and relatively close by, between Los Arcos and Migrino mostly.”

She said anglers are choosing to go for the easy (and tasty) dorado targets instead, and are often lucky to land a marlin there too.

Then there are the yellowfin. They came a little late, but they are big and mean.

“The tuna fishing continues to impress, with a total of 142 caught with several fish between 100 and 200 pounds. For example, theBill Collector 2 caught two yellowfin, one of 100 pounds and the other 218 pounds at the San Jaime Banks. Others such as our La Brisa didn’t go far to catch them – they had 5 yellowfin, with a 119 pounder and a 60 pounder, both caught close to Los Arcos on feathers. Other species caught were mostly wahoo, roosterfish and skipjack.”

For the full report and photos, go to

THE GORDO BANKS action for 100-pound class tuna perked up late last week before a storm kicked up and kept boats in for a few days. These fish were caught late last week on a Gordo Banks panga.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Tuna, tuna, tuna. They had not arrived until the big Tuna Tourney but they are here now for anglers running out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina for the Gordo Banks Fleet, said Eric Brictson. Strangely, the finicky fall weather is messing up plans for some folks. But only for a few days starting Sunday.

“Large crowds of anglers continue to arrive, as the peak fall season will be winding down in a couple of weeks. Weather patterns have been abnormally unpredictable, with winds out of the north increasing, creating choppy seas,” said Brictson. “Presently we are following development and forecast for Tropical Storm Raymond, which is expected to bring significant rainfall to Southern Baja, strong winds and has forced port closure for at least Sunday, most likely Monday as well. Also, the annual local wahoo tournament was canceled and rescheduled for Dec. 15. Looks as though by Monday midday this rare late-season topical system will pass to the north and dissipate rapidly.”

Sportfishing fleets, he said, are covering all directions, with most local fleets now working the grounds from the Gordo Banks to Vinorama. Bait vendors are selling caballito, limited amounts of sardinas, ballyhoo and slabs of squid. On the Pacific there are schools of mackerel. The next month is when these baitfish start to move towards the Sea of Cortez.

The most common targets have been yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dorado and billfish, with more marlin action now closer to Cabo San Lucas, he said.

“The yellowfin tuna action had vanished off of the areas north of Gordo, especially near San Luis Bank, but this week there were once again a quality grade of tuna to over 100 pounds found on local grounds, including one 240-pound cow on Friday afternoon,” said Brictson. “No big numbers, but every day a handful are being brought in, with many others being lost. The bite was sporadic, some fish hooked early, then dead action for hours, but maybe later they’d go on another bite. Most all of these yellowfin were striking on strips of squid, lots of chum needed to keep making continued drifts. Some charters had as many as three or four tuna, most felt lucky to have one. Also some smaller football-sized tuna found with sardinas or hoochies, scattered bite though.”

As for dorado, they saw more than they had. It has been a slow season on bigger ones.

“We heard of some bulls to 30 pounds,” Brictson said of the bite on the Pacific side. “The dorado off San Jose del Cabo have been mainly under 10 pounds. Wahoo action continued to be more consistent near Vinorama, though this bite slowed during passing of recent full moon. A few fish also striking on Rapalas, but not as many lure strikes as we traditionally would expect. In recent days, charters were doing well to land a wahoo or two, and the fish brought in were weighing up to 45 pounds.”

HOTEL RANCHO LEONERO super pangas got into some nice dorado action along with marlin, roosters and tuna on the outside under porpoise.

EAST CAPE — John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero started off his fishing report with a weather rundown. And why not? It’s Baja perfection.

“The water is 80 degrees and cooling now, nice and flat, and clean water all week,” said Ireland. “The air is cool, typical for our fall weather, cool mornings in the 60s and daytime highs in the low 80s, clear blue skies all week, but we will have some wind and rain starting today. It's part of the fall season.”

As for the fishing, before this latest tropical storm, his fleet had a great week on the water with lots of billfish, some tuna, and wahoo and dorado were also taken, really good for this late in the season,” said Ireland.”

They also had lots of sierra and a good roosterfish bite on the inside.

“Very light fishing pressure with just a few boats going out daily is helping the fishing. With the exception of the yellowfin, all the good fishing has been very close to the hotel,” he said. “I have to say, it was one of our best dorado fishing weeks of the year! Most boats limiting on some of our bigger fish of the year, 10 to 30 pounders spread from the ranch to south of the lighthouse. Almost all were taken on trolled ballyhoo.”

The yellowfin were on the outside, 40 miles, but the guys are limiting out on the porpoise school from footballs to 40 pounders. The larger fish were eating the cabbies, but squid is also working. As for wahoo, he said, a couple in the 60- to 70-pound range came in this week, one taken off La Ribera the other off Punta Colorado, both taken on ballyhoo.

Marlin and sailfish were mixed up, and if you wanted to target them, the average was one per boat per day off the La Ribera Bank, with ballyhoo being the ticket.

In other action on the East Cape, Scorpion Sportfishing and the El Regalo said they focused on having kids on board and scored marlin and also located dorado in the same area around the buoys. Inside, the charterboat found small roosters and even found a school of porpoise close to shore holding good-sized tuna.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said there were few anglers on the water, but plenty of people.

“As we slide into the off-season, weather has become a larger factor,” said Roldan. “For the same reason that the La Paz area becomes a mecca as a world class windsurfing and kite-boarding because of the strong winds during the winter, it makes it difficult to fish, and a good part of this week, we had either winds, rain and rough seas, and sometimes all three hindering being out on the water.

He added, “Earlier in the week, we had some rain. Then, it let up with some small windows of opportunity, but then Tropical Storm Raymond, a late-season blow came up the Baja peninsula and dropped several days of rain and drizzle along with dark skies and blustery seas.”

He said the few windows of opportunity that did open provided some scratchy action on some school-sized dorado ranging mostly from 10 to 15 pounds, plus, there’s still some wahoo around, which is not unusual for this time of year.

“Bonito, jack crevalle and small cabrilla added to the catch,” said Roldan. “We got some reports that commercial guys near the island reefs had found some yellowtail, but it was hard to follow-up on that and get across to the island with the rough water in the channels making it difficult to get over there. As the current storm moves out, we’re expecting some stronger gusts this week. Bring your wind surfboard!”

L.A. BAY — Capt. Juan Cook bailed out from Mag Bay earlier than he planned due to so-so fishing for snook and pargo, but said Bay of L.A., where he ended up for a few days, was really solid for yellows and cabrilla.

“It was good yellowtail fishing considering it’s still November,” said Cook, a roving guide who is now back in San Quintin, his home. “I’ll be here in San Quintin until late February and then move the Parker to Gonzaga in March and April.”

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DR. ROBERTO SANTIAGO of Los Angeles got a wahoo fishing out of Bahia Muertos near Las Arenas using a slow trolled purple Rapala. He also picked up a medium-sized dorado as well in a rare break in the rough weather that plagued La Paz for a good part of the week.

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