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Baja Fishing Report

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San Quintin’s people, fishing and cuisine never disappoint
Yellowtail on the iron, and non-stop lingcod and bottomfish with Juan Cook on his 25-foot Parker charterboat Slaptail ; Cabo marlin and tuna scene continues; limits of yellowtail and lots of golden spotted bass in BOLA; Fred Hall show next week, so plan your next trip!

BY MEGAN McDONELL

Special to Western Outdoor News


SAN QUINTIN — The San Quintin area fishing grounds have produced all winter for yellows and the usual array of rockfish, and WON was on the spot Tuesday and Wednesday to give the area their best shot with Capt. Juan Cook of the charter boat Slaptail.


Staying at the Old Mill Hotel, former WON editor Pat McDonell and IGFA rep. Chris Wheaton filled the cooler with fillets, whacked 15-pound class yellows (8) the first day Tuesday in high spots on yo-yo’d iron and then went after rockfish and lings the rest of the day and Wednesday.


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PAT McDONELL AND IGFA Rep. Chris Wheatonfished early last week with Capt. Juan Cook out of San Quintin Bay and stayed at the Old Mill Hotel. The action was good on yellowtail the first day, the iron scoring 8 forkies all about 15 pounds, and an array of quality lingcod, reds, chuckleheads, bocaccio and other bottomfish. The dining was epic at the Old Mill’s Eucalipto restaurant and Jardines just up the road. PHOTOS BY PAT McDONELL

“It was wild lingcod and bottomfish action,” said McDonell. “Not sure what was better, the fishing or the food. San Quintin has grown, but it’s still the same beautiful spot 180 miles south in many ways. It’s developed some great restaurants and wineries though. What a trip, and all credit goes to charter Capt. Juan Cook, who took us out both days on his 25-foot Parker Slaptail and paved the way for us at the Old Mill hotel, and at Javier Castllanos’ fantastic Eucalipto restaurant, where we had a fantastic seafood pasta feast the first night we arrived.”


McDonell said they also squeezed in some time with Chris’s good friend Julio Mesa, a native of San Quintin Valley, who is a prominent berry farmer and rancher, not to mention a well-known Baja fisherman. Mesa showed the group around his home turf of fields and sent them home with five crates of various types of berries!


“All the crates were okayed by the custom folks at San Ysidro,” said McDonell. “No problem if they are packaged, I guess. I have to say that it was so strange to come to the border at about 10 p.m. when the U.S. Border Customs App for checkpoint updates indicated a 10-minute wait. Not true. It was far less. There was one car ahead of us, and when we left, after chatting up the customs officer about fishing and the crates of berries, there was no one behind us. There are now about 20 lanes and 40 kiosks after a recently completed expansion.



“The trip was really a look at the entire area, including the charter operations and the hotels (there are a bunch, but the Old Mill, Don Eddie’s and Jardines are the best options),” said McDonell.


“We even hit the oyster farm to the north in Bahia Falso after our fish was filleted and we’d checked out of the Old Mill,” added McDonell. “As we found out after a drive out there with Julio, the oyster operation’s expanded patio restaurant (they do oyster tastings like wine bars) is closed Monday-Thursday, but with Julio with us (he knows everyone in the valley) a worker pulled a bag of them to a sorting table overlooking Bahia Falso and cracked open a few dozen for us until we couldn’t eat any more.”


It was a quick trip by San Quintin standards, starting Monday mid-day driving from Carlsbad, and back home Wednesday night. There were no issues with construction on Mex. 1 except a short delay on the mountain past Maneadero going south, with no wait going north.


“It was too quick of a trip, but we filled the cooler, pulled on fish every drift and ate like kings, so it was still amazing,” said McDonell. “The best part was the quick border crossing, both ways. So many lanes coming north, finally. I’m planning another trip, late summer when the seabass move in.”


He added that if you drive across, make sure your downloaded visa form, even if free (for stays six days or fewer), is signed signifying you are legally in Mexico and checked in by customs. Otherwise your Mexican insurance will be invalid.


Capt. Juan Cook reported in a few days after McDonell and Wheaton headed home Wednesday afternoon.


“On Thursday and Friday I fished with my friend Rick Jensen of Sportfishing Financial and his friend John Alderson. We had socked-in fog, with visibility in some areas not more than 100 feet,” said Cook. “John caught our only yellowtail — one was a nice fish in the 20-plus category. But after that the yellows vanished, so we went deep dropping for lings and reds, with easy limits on both, and had a blast even with the cold, foggy weather.” Cook said that was his last report from San Q. until June, as he is heading to Gonzaga Bay and then L.A. Bay before coming home to beat the heat and run charters out of his home base in San Quintin.


LONG BEACH — The Fred Hall show in Long Beach March 4-8 is coming up, followed by Del Mar March 26-29. Dozens of Baja and mainland Mexico fish operations and hotels, as well as related travel clubs and businesses, are going to Long Beach for five days — and this is the best opportunity to drive a bargain on a trip.


Among the Mexico fishing operations exhibiting will be WON supporters Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Baja Fishing Convoys, Rancho Leonero, Club Vagabundos, the El Pescador in Puerto Vallarta, Martin Verdugos in East Cape, and Tailhunter International. Also, on the Accurate Main Stage at the Hall show, be sure to check out Cabo surf casting guide Wes Brough’s seminars each day at 4:30. Amazing stuff.


As a final reminder, one spot remains on the WON/El Pescador 3 ½-day charter — a high-end trip from May 21-24 targeting cow tuna at prime time. Passengers are picked up at the airport and brought a few minutes away to Marina Vallarta. They may choose to stay up to two nights, before and after fishing, at a 5,000-square-foot penthouse at Shangri-La on the beach across from the marina at no charge, except for incidentals. On the trip, Seeker rods and Okuma reels are provided on the 50-foot Delta, a luxury sportfisher with three staterooms, two heads, a huge bait capacity and galley, and salon. The trip includes all gourmet meals, snacks, drinks, bait, tackle (sponsor Hi-Seas provides 130-pound fluouro) and fish filleting, two nights at the penthouse condo and an array of free swag including commemorative El Pescador hats, a shirt and a sweatshirt. Want to fill that final slot and get that cow tuna or super cow? Contact Dylan Hartnett at Dylanh@wonews.com or 949-366-0921. For more on the El Pescador, go to www.epicpacificcharters.com or see them at the Hall show in Long Beach.


LORETO — Rick Hill at Pinchysportfishing said the region had great weather for most of the week, which allowed more boats to explore some of the farther out rock piles.


“We are still waiting for the big bite to open up, and I shrink from mentioning that we are still a month off for that annual happening,” said Hill. “Right now the big biters are the smaller snapper varieties and pinto bass. Yellowtail continue to be a finicky proposition at least in any numbers. The yellows that are coming to the fillet tables are averaging 16 pounds, with most other species under 5 pounds. Coronado Island still has had the most attention and fair catches.”


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THE PISCES FLEET in Cabo was into a nice mix of marlin, sierra, tuna and small roosterfish — with a few dorado mixed in. Mainly it has been a lot of catching and releasing marlin, and the bite has been furious as the weather settled down. As a reminder, on the Accurate Main stage of the Long Beach show, Cabo guide Wesley Brough will be speaking on Cabo beach casting each day at 4:30 p.m.


CABO SAN LUCAS — The bite here has been solid all winter, and it continued last week for the Pisces Fleet and others.


“We’ve been MIA for reports lately,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces, ”but the marlin haven’t, with top boats like our 40-foot Caliente releasing 21 striped marlin over the 3-day span. Other boats like Pisces 37-foot Viking BBII released up to 11 marlin in one day, and the 35-foot Bill Collector 2 went 4 for 6!” Overall, the boats scored billfish 69 percent of the time, dorado 10 percent, tuna 6 percent and other species like sierra and small roosters (25 percent) on inshore runs.


“Again, the marlin showed up at the Old Lighthouse in good numbers over a 4-day span, and everyone seemed to average about 3 striped marlin per boat, which hit on live bait mostly,” said Ehrenberg. “Marlin ranged from 100 to 180 pounds for several boats. Some of them were also found out by Migrino and Golden Gate Bank. Catches totaled 137 billfish this week. The other top-producing fish were sierra mackerel, with 10 to 20 caught per boat along with other small game like red snapper, grouper and sheephead.”


She said there were some small roosterfish caught, too, with Pisces 28-foot Andrea being one of the top boats for these, with up to 4 caught in one day, averaging between 8 to 10 pounds.


“For this category of small game (roosters, sierra, etc), we had about 150 fish caught total,” she said, adding that, “dorado were few and far between, but the ones caught were decent-sized between 15 to 25 pounds each. But there were only 8 of them caught this week, close to Migrino and the old Lighthouse.”


Tuna numbers were also very low, with only one notable tuna catch this week: The 40-foot Chasin Tail landed a nice 60-pound yellowfin out at the Iman Bank, along with another 20 pounder and a red snapper. There were 12 total tuna catches this week (including skipjack tuna).


The colder weather went into the weekend, with a cold front and some wind that came through. There was good weather overall though, with lower air temperatures of around 70 to 75 F. The water temperature is currently 69 to 71.


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DONNA THOMPSON IS pretty good at catching fish and always seems to hit the spots. She snuck over to the east side of Cerralvo Island and caught these nice yellowtail using live mackerel while fishing out of La Paz with Tailhunter International. Donna lives across in La Ventana but is formerly from Long Beach, CA.


LA PAZ — Winter winds and chilly breezes dominated the past week, said Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International. It’s the off-season, and this is pretty much the situation with sporadic windows of opportunity to fish. It’s also show season, and Jill and Jonathan Roldan are at the tail end of their western states tour of setting up booths and connecting with customers at the fishing shows, culminating with the Fred Hall Long Beach show and then Del Mar.


“Although not really much of anyone fishing during the winter months, we had a few folks scheduled to go out this week fishing as well as whale watching over on the Pacific side all set and ready to go,” said Roldan. “However, we had to either cancel because it was too rough or re-schedule.”


He added, “Most were folks in town for a few days and not hardcore anglers. They were just looking for a day on the water and wanted to give fishing a try. Not many were too upset about staying onshore rather than braving the waves or else they had other days to re-schedule.”


Roldan said a few anglers found small windows of opportunity to fish between bouts of wind. If you had mackerel or got lucky on a trolled Rapala, the eastern side of Cerralvo Island was holding some nice yellows of about 10 to 25 pounds.


“But that can be a long run over there and you gotta scoot really fast if the winds kick up,” said Roldan. “Also, a few schoolie-size dorado were hit here and there, which could produce some nice surface action with fish about 10 pounds or so. A few snapper and pargo pretty much rounded out the scant moments of fishing.”


He said the annual Carnaval is packing the town, which runs from Feb. 20-26 with pretty much a good portion of the waterfront closed down with booths, rides, fireworks, parades and huge concert stages every single day.


“So, it’s pretty lively in town this week,” he said.


EAST CAPE — John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero will be at the Fred Hall show in his usual booth, booking trips and talking fishing out of his iconic hotel patterned after a Baja rancho. The reopening after a few months off is good timing, as the action has been “pretty darn good for winter,” he said.


Esteban Alcom from La Ribera, Kevin DeLa Pena and Thadeo Fisher, also from La Ribera, scored dorado, sierra and yellowfin, and all those fish were caught casting from the beach at the Las Arenas Lighthouse this past week. That’s off the beach (surf fishing). It looks like the East Cape is in for a heck of a season.


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ANGLERS WITH GORDO BANKS pangas were drift fishing with strips of squid, as well as slow-trolling live caballito — hooking into tuna that averaged about 20 pounds, but several to 80 pounds or more were also accounted for.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Winds diminished through the week, and anglers found very nice ocean conditions on most days. “With the conditions improving, so did the chances of hooking into yellowfin tuna on the grounds from the Gordo Banks to Iman and San Luis banks,” said Eric Brictson of GordoBanksPangas.com.


Anglers were drift fishing with strips of squids, as well as slow-trolling live caballito — hooking tuna that averaged about 20 pounds, but several 80 pounds or more were also accounted for. Said Brictson, “No big numbers, but there was a good chance now at landing a couple of these fish.”


He added that dorado were scattered, at times encountered in sizable schools and very near shore, some anglers being more fortunate to find the fish and others never finding any. Various bait fish seemed to work best. “There are still some roosterfish and sierra being found near shore as well. The best bite seemed to be very early, then quickly slacking off through the morning,” said Brictson.


The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 64 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 11 striped marlin, 48 dorado, 64 yellowfin tuna, 8 sierra, 22 roosterfish, 8 cabrilla, 8 bonito, 65 red snapper, 2 pompano, 7 yellow snapper, 3 sheepshead, 2 wahoo and 24 triggerfish.

 

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THESE VERY LUCKY anglers all caught their limits of yellowtail and gold spotted bass while fishing out of Bahia de Los Angeles (BOLA) with Captain Joel using mostly surface and yo-yo jigs.

 

BAHÍA DE LOS ÁNGELES – Orchid Martinez, owner of Baja Fishing Convoys, reported a great day of fishing last week.


She said, “Boat captain Joel of Joel's Sportfishing took four very lucky anglers to fish out of Bahía de los Ángeles (BOLA). They all caught their limits of average 12-pound yellowtail and some delicious gold spotted bass. They used mostly surface and yo-yo jigs, as the fish were not that deep. Even in the winter, if you can get a good day to go out fishing, the fishing is amazing! Congratulations to the anglers and Capitan Joel!”


Orchid will have a booth at the Fred Hall Long Beach and Del Mar shows.


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Readers, you can contribute to the Baja reports. Each week WON compiles reports from Mexico, and we can receive them at baja@wonews.com or patm@wonews.com , with the deadline for pictures and copy Sunday morning for the next report in WON and the wonews.com Baja Fishing Reports Blog.



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