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Baja Fishing Report

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Quality tuna on the Gordo


Rains come and go, Baja Sur keeps up super winter action
Marlin off Cabo, tuna at the Gordo to 130 pounds, San Quintin ’tails and bottomfishing off Ensenada all in the mix and the East Cape showing signs of an epic upcoming spring

CABO SAN LUCAS — Baja Sur got a nice dust-off with a one-day winter downpour last Thursday, but overall these past weeks, the Baja Norte and Sur regions have been fairly calm and fishable. Aside from the Thursday storm, that pattern continued this past week.


WON found the marlin season continuing its torrid pace off Cabo, to go with tuna running 50 to 130 pounds on the Gordo; the East Cape is turning up quality dorado in this very mild winter, with all signs pointing to a fantastic spring fishing season.


Closer to home, yellowtail fishing at San Quintin was a weekend option to go with bottomfishing on pangas and skiffs from San Quintin Bay to Ensenada.


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THIS 35-POUND DORADO was caught aboard the Contessa, and the 10 marlin and one dorado flags tell the Pisces Sportfishing fleet’s angling story for the week. In the other photo, small game cooperated for these Adriana anglers. PHOTOS COURTESY PISCES SPORTFISHING


Let’s start the report this week with the wild marlin bite off Cabo for the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. The water was clean and clear and the temperature was about 75 degrees, perfect for stripers with a dorado mixed in here and there.


“Continuing from last week, we’ve seen the striped marlin catches abounding, with slightly more dorado and many small game fish of good size caught as well,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing. “Crews have done a great job of finding tuna for those anglers hoping to catch them by going out long distances.”


She said that Jan. 27 started off the Pisces week nicely with many boats catching upwards of 5 marlin each. The Pisces Hot Rod for example, caught6 striped marlin for anglers from California, the stripers going 150 to 180 pounds each. The marlin hit on mackerel at Golden Gate Bank.


The Pisces 31-footRebecca also caught 6 striped marlin this day at the Golden Gate Bank, the crew releasing all of them – anglers were Andy Patch, Geoff D’Sena and Peter Babros. The fish weighed approximately 140 pounds.


That was a pretty hot day for the fleet, as 4 stripers were caught and released by the 32-foot Bill Collector for anglers Chantal Charron and Otto Sabo from Canada.


As for the tuna, the Bill Collector had a great tuna day on the 31st, with 18 yellowfin caught about 36 miles out from the Jaime Bank on cedar plugs and small hoochie lures. The tuna weighed approximately 20 to 25 pounds. They boat also scored 4 dorado of 15 to 25 pounds on feathers and mackerel.


But, the best marlin day for the fleet was posted by the 42-footYahoo at the Golden Gate on the 31st. The Yahoo gang caught and released 10 striped marlin and 1 dorado. The anglers were Guy Ward, James Rith, Michael Louden and Steven Targarona from Maryland. When the dust settled, said Ehrenberg, the Yahoo was the top marlin charter boat for the fleet, with 18 marlin caught and released.


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THOMAS SMITH AND family after a day with Gordo Banks Pangas. It’s been pretty good these past weeks between rains.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson at Gordo Banks Pangas at Puerto Los Cabo Marina said February usually brings unpredictable weather patterns, and sure enough, they had a crazy start to this week.


“We felt strong north winds out of the north for most of the week, with cooler green water pushing in from Los Frailes towards the Gordo Banks. The ocean currents were down in the 70- to 71-degree range, then the winds resided and we felt calmer conditions,” said Brictson. “Low morning temperatures were up to 68 degrees and the water temperature warmed back up into the 74-degree range, as well as clearing back up to a nice blue color within a couple miles of shore. On the Pacific, the water was up to 75 degrees.


“So conditions were changing daily, daytime high temperatures reach up to 85 degrees on some days. On Thursday we actually had a surprising amount of rainfall, as moisture sweeping in the from the southwest brought much needed relief to the dry landscape.”


He said light crowds of visiting anglers were finding decent supplies of sardinas, which are now being netted off the beach stretches from Cabo Real to Chileno. There were other bait options too, including mackerel, sardineta, caballito and strips of squid. Fleets were fishing areas from the Pacific Banks, Santa Maria, Gordo Banks and north toward Iman. Most common catches were for dorado, which were found close to shore, as well on the offshore grounds, striking more often on baitfish, but also on trolled artificials. Average size fish was under 10 pounds, though on the Pacific there were reports of a larger grade of dorado up to 20 pounds.


“Getting late in the season now, though the warmer water has kept these game fish hanging around in local waters,” said Brictson. “Wahoo were scarce, with only a few fish reported off the East Cape areas, and a few more reports of these fish being found on the banks off of the Pacific, where the warmest currents are now holding; very late in the season for these fish as well.”


More billfish activity came straight out of Cabo San Lucas and towards the Pacific, though it was a bit slower during the full moon period, he said. Only a scattering of the striped marlin are now being encountered off of San Jose del Cabo, but the stripers should start to move northward up the Sea of Cortez in the coming months.


He said the yellowfin tuna were being found through the region from the Pacific banks to the Gordo Banks, with no big numbers at all, though the yellowfin were a nice grade, most of them ranging from 40 to 130 pounds.


“The largest tuna seem to be coming off of the inner or outer Gordo Banks,” said Brictson. “Drift fishing with various baits was the main technique, as they are finicky fish, and often they could be seen in numbers breezing on the surface but would be difficult to entice into striking the hooked baits. There is also continued heavier boat pressure on the Gordo Banks, since within that range this was one of the more productive areas now providing opportunities at quality fish.”


Inshore areas had not produced much more than a scattering of small roosterfish and a few sierra, with more numbers reportedly on the Pacific. The bottom action was spotty, strong current much of the week – most common catches were smaller-sized pargo, a few cabrilla and amberjack, as well as the ever present triggerfish.


Brictson reported that the combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 59 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of: 8 striped marlin, 2 wahoo, 74 yellowfin tuna, 115 dorado, 5 amberjack, 13 yellow snapper, 5 barred pargo, 16 Eastern Pacific bonito, 12 roosterfish, 15 cabrilla.


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ARON GARCIA FROM Nevada found a nice spot of yellowfin tuna off the south end of Cerralvo Island just across from Las Arenas, and using live and dead sardines, he got a nice limit of fish similar to this one. PHOTO COURTESY TAILHUNTER INTERNATIONAL


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International is on the road show circuit (and he and Jill are, of course, coming to Long Beach and San Diego Fred Hall shows in March) and Roldan is getting full reports from his Muertos Bay-based pangeros.


“It was a week of contrasts,” said Roldan. “But it’s often like that for wintertime fishing. Some days are cloudy (and even a bit of rain this week, Thursday). Other days were somewhat sunny. There were some expected windy days when we had to fish close inshore. When the winds weren’t blowing, we got out a bit further and our area of fishing was expanded. Not many folks were fishing.”


He added, “On those days inshore, we got the usual. Not bad fishing.” There were cabrilla, snapper, jack crevalle, bonito and sierra, as well as some pargo. Bonus fish were some dorado schooling around the shallow waters.”


On the few days the pangas got over to the island, there was a spot of decent yellowfin tuna that were eating sardines over by the island.


“That spot was just on the high spot right off the rocks. It’s pretty unusual to get tuna this time of year, but these 15- to 25-pound fish were ready to chew. Simply fly-lining the sardines without weight and letting them sink and drift got the fish to bite.”


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EAST CAPE ACTION from the Scorpion Sportfishing’ charterboat El Rogalio after it returned to the East Cape from the season in Cabo. There are still some fish to be caught this winter. In these photos, Matthew Clifton, guide and owner of Scorpion Sportfishing, with a dorado, and in the other, Sheila Giovanna Verduxco of La Barrilles.


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen-Wren Sportfishing said winter in the region is still chillin’ but said, “We are not out of the woods of winter weather yet but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


He added, “As far as winter goes, this has been a very mild one. North wind, yes, we have had enough windy days to satisfy kite boarders and sailors. But it has not been the howling, house-rattling kind.


“I say ‘not out of the woods’ because traditionally February is our coldest, windiest, rotten-weather month of the year. In Februarys past, I have not wanted to get out of bed in the morning and put my feet on the cold tile floor. So far, not this year.


“There are few anglers in town but favorable winter conditions have allowed them to get on the water many mornings. The water, which normally turns green this time of year, has stayed blue and clear and is holding at 70 degrees. There is loads of bait and marlin and dorado have been consistent. The last couple of years these game fish disappeared in the winter and early spring, but now it is like the years of past.


He wrote in his blog, “All signs indicate this fishing season is going to be a barn burner. The stars are starting to line up, so hang on to your hat.”


Hotel Rancho Leonero and other hotels are already booked solid for many prime time dates, as are many of the premier boats.


“My recommendation is to plan ahead and get a reservation, while there are still dates to get.”


Rayor added he and his wife Jennifer and friends just returned from their annual camping trip to Mag Bay. Always an adventure, always a test of Baja wilderness wills.


“The landscape is breathtaking and the pelagic bird life amazing…” he wrote. “This trip brought outstanding weather and we feasted on fresh clams, shrimp, lobster and fish until I was practically in a seafood coma. Add a couple bloody Mary's and it was close to Utopia. The 20 miles of bad washboard road is always a challenge, rattling our teeth and beating up our rigs but we have always been able to overcome our breakdowns.


“Not this year. John had to get a tow from a military truck to make camp. He made it out to the highway but tarnished our perfect record having to leave his motorhome about 70 miles north of La Paz when it squatted at a service station and gave up the ghost.”


Adding to the East Cape report was Matthew Clifton at Scorpion Sportfishing, who said that after an epic end to the season in Cabo San Lucas, his charter boat El Regalo was recently brought back to the East Cape.


“We hated to leave the red-hot marlin bite, but it was time for off-season maintenance,” said Clifton who got in a bit of fishing before running the boat north. “A marlin on the fly rod was a great way to end the Cabo season.”


Clifton said he found the East Cape winter fishing still good for quality dorado. That is a great sign.


“There are also some tuna and marlin biting, with yellowtail starting to arrive,” he said. “The waters are loaded with bait and we expect an active spring and a strong start to the East Cape season.”


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THE VONNY FLEET based at Punta Banda below Ensenada on Saturday saw Capt. Beto scoring limits of bottomfish for anglers Rich Bonelli and wife Louise Bonelli.


ENSENADA — Ivan Villarino reported to WON over the weekend that anglers fished with the Vonny Fleet at Punta Banda and on Saturday, Capt. Beto scored limits of bottomfish for anglers Rich and wife Louise Bonelli.


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JUAN COOK TOOK this shot of Dave Cutler, Pete Case and Gary Galvan, all from the Los Angeles area, after a day of fishing off San Quintin Bay.

SAN QUINTIN — Capt. Juan Cook reported to WON over the weekend that he fished Saturday, Jan. 18 and “the weather is great, summer-like here in San Quintin, with good yellowtail action, reds and lingcod with the water temp is 62.5 and very clean, with tons of red crabs and the fish are feeding on them.” The yellowtail they scored were fish were from 10 to 17 pounds, all on iron – blue and white the best color. Fishing with Capt. Cook for the yellows outside the San Quinton Bay on the high spots were Dave Cutler, Pete Casey and Gary Galvan, all from the L.A. area.


LORETO — Pinchysportfishing.com’s Rick Hill said the weather smoothed out toward the end of the week, with only one day of overcast and sprinkles. With that improvement, the fishing shifted to more distant spots with everyone getting burned out at last month's hot spot at Coronado.


“Out at the '50 Spot' the action was better, with bigger bottomfish being landed,” said Hill. “Most of the catch consisted of huachinango, a prized snapper. Many of the reds were close to 10 pounds. Sierra and a few pargo were caught on trolled plugs along the coastline. Yellowtail action has slacked off with just a few fish being caught.”


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MARK OUELLETTE FISHED out of Puerto Vallarta and had a great time with Captain Armando Villalobos Garciaon with a run out of Las Penas Marina. They found an immense school of birds, bait and breaking jack crevalle just an hour out of the marina. He caught all 5 jacks of 30 pounds on trolled Rapalas.


PUERTO VALLARTAWON reader Mark Ouellette reported a great trip out of Puerto Vallarta. He emailed us on Saturday and reported that he fished out of Puerto Vallarta and had a great time with Captain Armando Villalobos Garcia, based at Las Penas Marina. The captain put them on an immense school of birds, bait and breaking jack crevalle just an hour out of the marina. They caught all 5 jacks of 30 pounds on trolled Rapalas. Ouellette said they caught them, “One right after the other. I had limits in two hours.”


In other PV news, Stan Gabruk of Masterbaiters sportfishing wrote in a report to WON that the colder water does not mean there’s bad fishing.


“After last week’s severe drop in water temperatures due to cold currents pushed down by northern storms, water temperatures have snapped back a little,” said Gabruk. “This week we’ve seen the water warm up so we’re seeing some, not many, summer species like dorado still lingering taking advantage of the plentiful bait conditions. As we move deeper into the winter season, these lingering dorado will be moving out. In fact, I’m surprised we still have even small numbers of dorado and blue marlin, but they’re out there for the very lucky. So keep this in mind, just because there are 'some' out there, it doesn’t mean you’ll be the lucky one to boat a marlin, but then again, you may.”


This week, the area around Corbetena has seen some different action. Cubera snappers at 50 pounds are picking up in numbers but are not super abundant. Sailfish have been seen around the area but only a few have been boated. The ones that were caught have been nice sized, running over 120 pounds, he said.


“Secret here is the sails are taking dead baits, so go figure. You have some striped marlin and blue marlin still roaming the area,” said Gabruk. “Midweek was very active around the 'Rock' but it’s iffy at best. You can have a great time one day, the next it’s dead. You have, of course, jack crevalle to 40 pounds, bonito to 35 and yellowfin on spinner dolphin to 40 pounds.”


Would you want your trip to be included into our Baja report? Each week over the weekend, we compile reports from anglers and operations, so all you need to do is write a few notes and attach a photo of your fish and email to baja@wonews.com. Reports here are compiled from phones calls, emails, social media and personal fishing trips of WON staff.


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