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Baja Fishing Report

WON Editor Pat McDonell "retired" recently but remains busier than ever. His current WON duties includes the WON Baja weekly saltwater reports, hosting a few WON charter trips, and is the tournament director of the WON / Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament.
San Quintin and L.A. Bay keep pumping out yellows
Cabo’s big tuna still on the local banks to 277 pounds, and marlin are surging in numbers as stripers finally move down from Mag Bay, doubling the catches

SAN QUINTIN — The residual buzz about cow yellowfin tuna in Cabo continues with more big-fish reports, but the primary staple of the Baja Peninsula these days is yellowtail, with action off San Quintin, Bay of Los Angeles and Loreto and La Bocana featuring quality forkies on the iron. It is, after all, winter.

SAN QUINTIN HAS been a hotbed of yellowtail action on the iron over the high spots just outside the bay for various charter companies like Garcia’s Pangas and K&M Sportfishing.

Reports coming into and social media platforms indicate that when the weather allows, the yellows are on the chew on the high spots. No place has been more consistent than San Quintin as rockfishing prospects for freezer fillers are taking a back seat to throwing and yo-yoing the iron in the fleet out of San Quintin, located 150 miles south of the border.

K&M Sportfishing with the Catian family of guides on their 23-foot Parker charterboats were reporting whacks on the yellows. In one report, one group drove through the night from SoCal and arrived by 7:30 a.m. for the charter with Christian Catian and scored several big yellows on the iron. There were several reports from Garcia’s and Jaime’s Panga fleets of similar action.

Across the peninsula was Bay of L.A. and Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys said the bite has been fantastic for her pangero Joel whom she uses for her trips south.

“Joel (from Joel’s Pangas) in Bahia de Los Angeles is simply killing it!” said Orchid. “Will and Ron Bouterse from Northern California

went out Wednesday and Thursday with Joel and caught an ample amount and variety of fish. All sizes were respectable. Winter fishing in BOLA can be really good if you can get a couple of good non windy days.”

JAIME GONZALES OF Jessica Sportfishing has been in on the big tuna, including this one of 277 pounds. They have caught several in the past week, from 150 to this size as the crazy big tuna season continues off Cabo on the Pacific Banks. PHOTO COURTESY OF ZACH PAUL


THE PISCES FLEET had anothergreat week for the tuna and dorado and a nice whack here and there on the wahoo on runs out of Cabo San Lucas. The striped marlin appear to have begun their migration south from Mag Bay, doubling the number of hookups from the previous week.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The buzz continues in Cabo over the huge tuna on the inshore banks up the Pacific Coast as more cow tuna are caught, one of which was a 277 pounder by Jaime Gonzales of Jessica Sportfishing who has caught several big tuna in recent weeks, 150 to 277 pounds. There are not many details on that 277 pounder, but it is legitimate and comes from Reel Time Sportfishing’s Zach Paul. As you might remember, a funding effort through GoFundMe helped Jaime get his panga repaired after a friend borrowed it and dumped in the surfline. His Facebook page Jessica Sportfishing shows the boat after repairs.

Most of the tuna have been 10 to 30 pounds, though, and the dorado action has been very good. It also appears the marlin have made Cabo a stop on their migration south.

On Sunday afternoon, Pisces Sportfishing Fleet’s Tracy Ehrenberg said they saw billfish numbers nearly double from the previous week, so the season is finally clicking on as the stripers make their way south on the migration from Mag Bay.

“It started to pick up over the weekend as our boats released 86 billfish this week, with only two kept, which did not make it,” said Ehrenberg. “One of these was a 450-pound blue marlin caught aboard Pisces 60-foot Reel Machine by anglers from Sydney, Australia. The fish hit on a yellow and orange lure only about three miles offshore from Cerros de Arena area. A teenage angler fought the fish for almost two hours. Originally they had searched for yellowfin out at San Jaime, and actually landed one football and one skipjack before they headed closer to shore in search of dorado, which is when this blue hit. The marlin was shared between anglers, crews, and others still.”

As for tuna and dorado, percentages of boats landing them remain the same, although the numbers of fish have lowered slightly. This of course is related to the larger number of billfish caught, too. There were 165 dorado and 236 tuna caught.

The fleet’s top marlin vessel was Pisces 61-foot Pour Decisions with 12 striped marlin released in only two days out this week. On Thursday the Viking yacht recorded 6 striped marlin released, ranging in size from 90 to 120 pounds, and hitting on dead and live bait at the Golden Gate Bank. They also landed 12 dorado there, of which they released 2, for anglers from Florida.

The Pisces 38-foot C Rod also had a fantastic week, with 11 striped marlin tagged and released. On their top day they produced 6 striped marlin released, along with 4 dorado, the biggest of about 35 pounds. The striped marlin ranged between 120 and 140 pounds and hit on dead and live cast bait, as did the dorado, at Gaspareño. Aboard were anglers Brian Warbis, Ken Meyers, Sam Hefferman and Tom Macintosh and Regney form Wisconsin.

The Valerie released 3 striped marlin, between 100 and 130 pounds close to Golden Gate, hitting on mackerel bait. Anglers Colter Marcum and Michael Harrell from Texas also caught 10 yellowfin between 10 and 20 pounds on feathers, cedar plugs and “brujitas” at San Jaime.

And hitting the dock just after them, Pisces 28-foot Andrea showed off 6 striped marlin released and 5 dorado flags. The marlin hit on mackerel at Migriño and weighed approximately 100 to 130 pounds each. Dorado were decently sized, between 10 and 20 pounds each, hitting on mackerel and a few on green lures. The Andrea was the top dorado boat this week with 18 dorado total.

The C Rod also did well with tuna this week; their largest was an approximate 70 pounder caught by Andrew Van Raalte from Seattle. They caught all yellowfin on cedar plugs and varied lures, landing 10 in total at the 150 Spot.

Pisces Karina was the top tuna boat this week with 40 yellowfin caught total, most ranged from 10 to 30 pounds. They also released 6 striped marlin and 5 dorado. On one of their best days they caught 10 yellowfin on feathers and cedar plugs at San Jaime and then released 2 striped marlin of about 100 to 120 pounds and a 20-pound dorado at Pozo Cota.

In other Cabo action, Renegade Mike Tumbiero of the charterboat Renegade Mike said he’s back posting fishing reports, primarily because some “gringo local” posted on Facebook that Tumbiero is not reporting fish on social media because he’s not catching any. Trolling comes in many forms. The reality is that Tumbiero is beat after a day on the water and he’s a one-man operation besides his crew. But, he’s taken on the challenge.

“Yeah, right, I’m not catching fish? Look, if you can’t catch fish in Cabo there’s something seriously wrong with you,” said Tumbiero. “The guy who posted that actually did me a favor cause I have to admit I have gotten a little burnt out on the social media scene. Anyway, we still have very good fishing for dorado, striped marlin, and some tuna around especially some bigger models around the high spots. Still some wahoo around and those that are specifically targeting them are getting 1 to 2 a day.”

Last Saturday Tumbiero hosted Kraig Brody and his group of four total anglers.

“We had lots of action on dorado early but our hook-up ratio was only about 50 percent as we had a lot of fish jump off but we still ended up with 6 nice dorado for the day and one for four on marlin as we had several marlin bites but we had bad luck on hook-ups. Marlin were short-biting the lures and did not want the Bait Masters ballyhoo and we did not have any live bait.”

On Sunday they had David Anderson and his 19-year-old daughter Hailey from Pennsylvania.

“We went to the Golden Gate bank and made plenty of mackerel at the bank. The sea lions were being pests, they kept taking our baits, but we ended up with one wahoo caught with a light wire circle hook, 80-pound fluorocarbon leader on a sinker rig. Pretty lucky, I would say. We ended up with two marlin released and limits of dorado (2 per angler) and one nice 33-pound wahoo.”

DAVID PITTS SCORED a nice variety on a run last week out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos with Gordo Banks Pangas.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 68 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 11 striped marlin, 160 dorado, 42 yellowfin tuna, 26 wahoo, 38 pargo, 22 sierra, 16 roosterfish, 9 cabrilla, 4 jack crevalle, bonito 6 and 28 triggerfish.

Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported wind patterns are typically unpredictable, lows in 50s some days and highs up to mid-80s on others. Wind predominately came from the north, in cycles of two, three, four days. Moderate ocean swells, with clarity fluctuating accordingly to running currents. Ocean temperatures have been in the 72- to 74-degree range, slightly warmer than normal for this time frame.

“Bait options consisted of caballito, ballyhoo, slabs of squid, sardineta and some mackerel,” Brictson said. “Large schools of baitfish now congregating on areas off of San Jose del Cabo, more sardineta than anything else. No word on sardinas moving within range of local fleets.”

He said striped marlin are following their food source in this same direction, though still not in big numbers, but more this week compared to last.

“Dorado were the more numerous gamefish at this time, found throughout the area, often close to shore, striking on a variety of lures, but more readily on available bait. Sizes ranged up to 20 pounds, though the majority were averaging 10 pounds.

“Wahoo action rebounded somewhat this week, as we saw ocean temperatures remain warm enough to keep these fish in the area. Still this action was more sporadic, most strikes were reported from Punta Gorda to Vinorama. Sizes were all the way from sierra sized wahoo, up to 45 pounds. Ballyhoo and caballito both produced a higher percentage of strikes.

Juvenile sized roosterfish and are now seeing more sierra found along local beach stretches. At times frigate birds could be seen circling and diving closer to shore, especially mid-morning, this activity was typically associated with feeding dorado.

“Yellowfin tuna action was spotty, but we are seeing limited numbers of tuna in the 10- to 25-pound class taken through the inshore zone, seen more near Cardon and La Fortuna recently,” said Brictson. “There’s not much going off the bottom, and the commercial fleet has concentrated on the red snapper, not much red crab surface activity this past week. A few cabrilla taken off of the high spots, bonito, pargo, but more triggerfish than anything else. We look for this bottom bite to improve in coming weeks, and we’re hoping for a good yellowtail season.”

ROBERT BOYD FROM Colorado got into some nice sierra like this as well as dorado on a run out between blows with Tailhunter International. The sierra bit slow-trolled Rapalas while the dorado were enticed with strips of fresh bonito.

LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International are keeping tabs on the weather and fishing back in La Paz.

“It’s cold and windy again,” said Roldan, “but there were a few windows of opportunity to get in some fishing. It was largely hit-or-miss at times, but there’s some surprising variety. Either using live bait or slow-trolling Rapalas produced sierra, jack crevalle, cabrilla, bonito and even some dorado, which is remarkable given that dorado are warm-water species while the others are largely cold water species.”

He said no one is really getting too far offshore because of the rougher water and winds, but tucked in on the lee side of structure, there’s fish. Some yellowtail hooked and lost as well as amberjack, too.”

EAST CAPE — Little being reported here. Hotel Rancho Leonero is closed for the winter except for large groups, but Martin Verdugo’s, the Palmas fleet, Jen Wren and Scorpion Sportfishing are all operating. In tourney news, the Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore tourney, after being shortened to two days on the water, was brought back to a three-day fishing event after a poll of teams. It runs Oct. 20-24. For info, go to


LORETO YELLOWTAIL AND grouper fishing has been very good in the San Bruno area, with iron doing the trick. These photos are from Rafael Martinez who works with Baja Fishing Convoys who relayed them to WON.

LORETO — Baja Fishing Convoys reported the yellowtail season is in full swing with great catches of quality forkies on the iron and sent in a batch of photos of the fish caught last week by guide Rafael Martinez.

In another report to, Rick Hill of said the pangas sitting on the rockpiles are scoring big on red snapper and triggerfish.

“They are both great eating but a limit won't give you a huge dinner!” said Hill. “Yellowtail have been harder to locate, at least the ones interested in attacking a live mackerel. The San Bruno high spot did kick out some 20-pound class 'tails for the early boats.”

Not much has been happening with the cabrilla bite, he said. “Maybe they are just trying to get tuned into the new weather cycle.”

PUERTO VALLARTA — Jodie Morgan’s sportfisher Apollo is on its WON 3 ½-day annual charter (Jan. 20-24) with former WON editor Pat McDonell hosting a full load of 12 anglers to the Tres Marias Islands region in search of big tuna. The word from the fishing grounds is that the bite went off two week ago, then slowed at the full moon, then started to show signs as the high volume of fish in the area reactivated last week. A brief report will be in the next issue of WON followed by a feature, and the WON Facebook page will have some details when the boat arrives at Marina Puerto Vallarta on Friday.

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THE YELLOWTAIL BITE is still going on for the La Bocana Camp super panga fleet in the dead of winter, reported Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys.






BAY OF LOS ANGELES continues to be a great spot for a variety of catches, especially the quality yellowtail. Capt. Joel of Joel’s Pangas and his customers Will and Ron Bouterse from Northern California went out last Wednesday and Thursday and caught an ample amount and variety of fish. Baja Convoys sent the pictures in as Joel is a charter captain of BFC, as well as pangas in Guilermo’s fleet.

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300-plus pounder taken in epic 7-hour tuna fight
Skiff angler Nathan Browne, a Baja resident and champion surfer fishing on his 22-foot boat, ended up running out of fuel, drifting out near the 1150 spot and had to be rescued by friends after taking the huge fish; in other Baja action, San Quintin and Erendira winter yellows eat the iron and Cabo action is just stellar for dorado and tuna


NATHAN BROWNE OF San Jose Del Cabo with this 300-plus-pound yellowfin he caught on his skiff last week after a 7-hour battle on a trip to the Gordo Bank that ended more than 20 miles away at the 1150 Spot off Cabo. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — A local angler and champion surfer, Nathan Browne, caught a fish well over 300 pounds but it took a while to catch it and get it back to Marina Puerto Los Cabos last week.

Browne, a competitive surfer who lives in the San Jose Del Cabo area and runs his 22-foot skiff out of there, is also a world record holder for snook in the 8-pound line class category. He knows what he’s doing, but the fish he hooked at the Gordo Bank gave him a battle that lasted seven hours, and when it was over, he and friends found they had run out of fuel and had drifted at least 20 miles south west to the 1150 spot, an area directly outside Cabo marina, and had to be towed back by friends late at night.

The report came from Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas, a sportfishing service based at Marina Puerto Los Cabos in San Jose Del Cabo. He said big tuna had been hitting on the local Gordo inner and outer banks until typical winter north winds hit late in the week and some quality tuna — 20 pounds to 100 pounds-plus — were under the porpoise. There was little other info available on the huge tuna, he said, as it came back very late at night. But it is clear, the tuna bite continues inside and out between patches of winds typical for this time of year. Brictson’s full report on the region can be found below.

In other Baja action:




PISCES SPORTFISHING STARTED off the new year in Cabo in grand fashion. A blue marlin was released and measured out to 400 pounds, caught by lady angler Jennifer aboard Pisces 35-foot Bill Collector 2, and they also caught 3 nice yellowfin tuna. Anglers aboard Pisces 40-foot Chasin’ Tail closed out the year with some yellowfin ranging between 30 and 100 pounds each and some nice dorado too. A third boat, the 42-foot Hot Rod, brought in the New Year with 7 tuna and 1 dorado. The Pisces Andrea (seen here with the big wahoo) caught 2 wahoo, 10 tuna and 4 dorado and 8 skipjack. The biggest tuna of the week was the 122.5 pounder by Brian Moore on the BBII on Jan. 5.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The New Year was kicked off in grand fashion off Cabo with great tuna and dorado action, but the biggest fish — and biggest surprise — was ablue marlin that was released, but not before being measured out to 400 pounds. The huge marlin was caught by a lady angler (Jennifer) aboard Pisces’ 35-foot Bill Collector 2, and they also pulled in 3 quality yellowfin tuna.

In other New Year’s action off Cabo, anglers aboard Pisces 40-foot Chasin’ Tail closed out the year with some yellowfin ranging between 30 and 100 pounds each. Anglers aboard Pisces 40-foot Chasin’ Tail nailed some yellowfin ranging between 30 and 100 pounds each and some nice dorado, too. A third boat, the 42-foot Hot Rod, brought in the New Year in grand style with 7 tuna and 1 dorado.

Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces reported Monday morning, Jan. 6 that the week’s catch rate was close to 100 percent. Dorado was the top producing fish with 416 caught and most released. Most were 12 to 28 pounds, and a few were over 30 pounds. The Andrea had a great day Saturday with 14 dorado caught by 9:30 a.m. (most released). Tuna fishing remains good, with average fish ranging from 20 to 50 pounds and others over 100 pounds. The Pisces 37-foot Viking BBII had back-to-back days of quality yellowfin — on Saturday they landed 10 fish, mostly 30 to 50 pounds on the porpoise, but one was a 100 pounder, and the next day they scored 8 yellowfin topped by a Jan. 5 catch by Brian Moore of a 122.5 pounder. There were 382 tuna caught by Pisces this week, Ehrenberg said.

“Billfish have been a little trickier to find, with 52 caught and released this week,” she said. “These have mostly been striped marlin between 100 and 160 pounds each, using ballyhoo and live/dead mackerel bait.” Weekly reports with even more boat-by-boat details can be found at and you can follow the catches on Instagram and FB.

The main locations being fished are from the Old Lighthouse as far as Pozo Cota/Migrino for dorado, and up to 30 miles south of Old Lighthouse for tuna, along with some marlin at the 210 Spot and Golden Gate Bank.

The weather has been pretty good overall, Ehrenberg said, with minimum swell and wind a few days that produced chop but it was very fishable.

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Ken Mayer, former DFG director, had just come back from an Excel trip to Guadalupe Island (a success, of course) and after reading last week’s issue, he emailed WON Northern California Editor Bill Karr.

I read a great article by Pat McDonell about the 115-boat protest in Cabo regarding the illegal fishing of dorado on page 22,” wrote Mayer. “The article ends on page 26. Immediately following is a Baja Fishing Action Report. That report starts ‘It has been an epic late season for dorado.’ It goes on lauding how fantastic fishing is. While it is probably true, it really negates/counters all the concern over dorado in the previous article. I hope the Mexican politicos aren’t reading this. When I was Director, stuff like that was shoved up my nose and set our conservation efforts back. I recognize there is a difference between great local fishing during one season and the overall fishing but that distinction will be lost in the political battle. Anyway, if you weren’t aware I thought I would point it out. I truly believe WON does have broad influence so it’s important to be strategic."

My response as Baja Reports Editor: “I appreciate the feedback — it comes from a respected source, that is for sure. It could be true that the juxtaposition is taken that way. But news is news, in whatever form it takes. The protest and outcry by sportfishing interests concerns proposed legislation making dorado a commercial fish for the first time. True, the Baja region’s dorado fishing is finally decent, but as the report said, it’s been a three-year wait for it to happen, and in my estimation these are small fish by Baja standards. I think it bears repeating that we can only keep two fish per day, which is the most restrictive sport fish limit in Mexico besides billfish. The pangas netters from the mainland, it is believed, three years ago took every fish, large and small. It was painfully obvious the fishery has suffered as a result. Could it have been the effects of El Nino? No one is sure. But, the fishery is not what it was. Two years in row (2016-17) the biggest dorado at the East Cape Shootout were 12 pounders (yes, the past two years the winning fish have been bigger) but Cabo’s dorado have been small by Baja’s standards. The Nov. 4-7 Cabo tourney WON put on this year couldn’t produce one dorado over 22 pounds over two days with 150 boats and $80,000 at stake. We had to reduce the minimum to 15 pounds for the second day to ensure a payout. The fishery is just making a comeback. This is a bad, bad idea to propose a commercial take, especially now.”

THE GORDO BANKS PANGA fleet got into some nice tuna a wahoo before a north blow shut down the action. Typical winter weather. The porpoise are holding tuna on the outside, and on the banks, a local panga scored a 300-pound class yellowfin.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported temperatures were cool by local standards, with lows in the 50s and highs in the lower 70s, though it was still very pleasant “compared to most of North America.”

Skies were cloudy at times early, with sunny burning through by mid-morning. Winds were variable, the period started with light breezes, though through this weekend northern winds increased, this made for rougher ocean conditions and contributed to pushing in cooler and off colored currents.

“We are now in the season where conditions are cooling, north winds can be predominant and patterns can be unpredictable,” said Brictson. “Ocean temperatures were down in the 72- to 74-degree range.”

He said bait supplies remained similar, caballito being the main bait found in the marina, with slabs of squid and ballyhoo also offered. Schools of baitfish were inconsistent with very few mackerel, and more sardineta are being sold at this time. There have been no reports of the larger sardinas being available.

“This cooling trend normally could attract mackerel and sardinas, so we see what follows,” said Brictson. He said early this week, before cool front swept through, the all-around action was good for a mix of dorado, wahoo and some yellowfin tuna, as well as roosterfish and some billfish migrating into local waters.

“Things changed significantly through the week, mainly due to cold winds from the north pushing in off-colored, colder current,” said Brictson. “Dorado, which had been one of the more common catches, all of a sudden became very limited and scattered, and the same for wahoo. They had been elusive but were showing signs of becoming more active just before the weather turned over.”

Also the first part of the week saw the yellowfin action starting to rebound for some larger cow-sized fish in the vicinity of the Gordo Banks. No big numbers, though a handful of large yellowfin were brought in, the largest was by a group of local anglers led by local competitive surfer and angler Nathan Browne, who was fishing from his small panga. The fish was brought in late at night, and weighed over 300 pounds.

Overall the tuna bite had been slow early in the week, then the north blow came, which helped shut down the wahoo and dorado bites. But offshore of San Jose del Cabo, anywhere from 4 to 8 miles, there were rapidly moving pods of porpoise encountered, with the yellowfin tuna moving among them.

“Tuna ranging 10 to 30 pounds were being landed, with the best technique drifting under the porpoise with strips of squid,” said Brictson. “Charters targeting this hit-or-miss event were finding one or two, and up to 7 or 8 fish. But this is a fast-changing, opportunist deal with windy conditions making it even harder. Also, increased boat pressure put things down and charters had to chase these schools all morning to have a legitimate chance.”

Inshore, the roosterfish action has slowed down as dirty, cooler water pushed in. Bottom action was limited to various smaller jacks, pargos, bonito and triggerfish. The exception was that pangeros saw a couple of amberjack and cabrilla.

Brictson said billfish opportunities faded as the week progressed, though a few sailfish were still encountered in the cooler conditions, nicer sized fish, which were released. A few striped marlin were found but were very scattered.

“As conditions do eventually stabilize and we see more offshore baitfish, we anticipate the marlin bite to break open,” he said.

The numbers: The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 96 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 3 sailfish, 9 striped marlin, 61 dorado, 56 yellowfin tuna, 14 wahoo, 8 yellow snapper, 2 barred pargo, 4 tile fish, 5sierra, 11 roosterfish, 28 huachinango, 3 blackfin jack, 2 amberjack, 4 big eyed jack, 6 jack crevalle, 8 porgy and 38 triggerfish.

MONTE AND MARLENE ALDRIDGE of Richfield, Utah got in one day of fishing with Tailhunter Adventures and and picked the one day of the week when waters were calm enough. They scored some nice sierra mixed in with dorado on a run out of Bahia de Los Muertos, south of La Paz.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International was headed to Denver over the weekend for the first of many sportsman’s road shows in their new custom-wrapped truck (the tried-and-true show van was finally retired), including the Hall stops in Long Beach and Del Mar in March. (FYI: Fred Hall & Associates no longer owns/runs the Bakersfield show. It went back to the original owners this year). Roldan filed a report from the road based on information he and Jill Roldan received from their panga crew in La Paz. The word is, if the weather is good and you can get out, the fishing is pretty good, so be flexible.

“It pays to watch the weather,” said Roldan. “This past week there were some incredible uber windy and cold days. Normally, these are days we would recommend not going fishing. We even had some rain this past week. It happens. It’s winter. It’s off-season. Some folks decided they still wanted to go fishing. So, off they went despite my warnings. They didn’t catch much of anything and it was so rough they had to come back early. We had others booked but had to cancel them because of the rough weather.”

He said that only two of seven days were fishable. That said, some folks were flexible on their schedule and on days when it was decent, they found fish. A lot of fish.

“Surprisingly, it was pretty decent fishing,” said Roldan. “Most amazing was the mixture of fish. Cold-water fish like big sierra typical of this time of year were running 5 to 8 pounds. However, mixed right in were some school-sized dorado. The strange thing is that dorado are warm-water fish that we usually catch during the warmer summer and fall months. So, they’re normally not running this time of year.

Richfield, Utah visitors Monte and Marlene Aldridge picked the one day of the week when waters were calm enough and got some nice biters on big sierra mixed in with dorado while running out of Bahia de Los Muertos south of La Paz.

“Along with those species, there were jags of bonito and scattered jack crevalle as well as snapper and cabrilla along the shorelines where there was structure such as reefs, rocks and drop-offs. The weather makes all the difference. The coming week forecast mostly cloudy weather again to start the year with winds running 15 to 20 mph at times.”

ENSENADA -— Rockfishing is closed this side of the border but open in Baja, so sportfishers from San Diego are heading south for a mix of bottomfish and yellows. If you want to head to Ensenada for a shot at both by going south by car, it’s a great time to fill the freezer by fishing with the Gamefisher out of Ensenada, either on your own or with charter trips by van with Baja Fishing Convoys.

For those that are fine with driving in Mexico, you can contact Captain Mike Slater at (760) 578-3022 to book, and if you want to join an open charter, Baja Fishing Convoys does escorted day trips to Ensenada on the Gamefisher. The cost is $156 per person including van transportation from San Diego, water, coffee, breakfast, fishing and fish cleaning. Tips are additional.

“We make our respectable taco stop on the way back home (not included),” said Orchid Martinez. “ I also try to get into the shortest waiting lane at the border on the way back. My method isn't a 100 percent guarantee, however, but lately I have been averaging anywhere from 20- to 60-minute waits.” That isn't nearly as bad as those who don't cross with her. Martinez currently has spots open for: the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of January and the 12th and 24th of February. Contact Orchid at (619) 483-7315 or send her an email at .

DANIEL AND MARCIA BIGELOW came all the way from Michigan to fish Erendira and Castro’s Fishing Place with Baja Fishing Convoys, and as you can see, they scored some some great rockfish.

ERENDIRA TRIPS WITH Baja Fishing Convoys feature a cliff-top home within walking distance of the boats at Castro’s Camp, although a van will take you back and forth. The yellowtail fishing aboard Castro’s Fishing Place pangas was going off last week.

ERENDIRA — This area has been booming with yellowtail these past few days. Tere Castro, reporting for the Castro’s Fishing Place on Sunday, said the New Year has brought plenty of yellows.

“We had nine groups this past week mostly from SoCal and a group from Tijuana, and they were fishing around five to eight miles from the shore, 120 to 200 feet deep, and the water temperature was at around 60 degrees,” Castro reported to “This week we had a lot of yellowtail and also a lot of bottomfish in very good sizes, plus lingcod, red snapper and sheephead. The weather was great all week, perfect for fishing — we were able to fish everyday we had a scheduled group.”

Castro’s is a destination that often targets for its “freezer-filling” trips due to its abundant rock fishing. The New Year will see some bluff-top lodging for the group trips.

“When the yellowtail are in the area like they are now it certainly adds benefit to fishing in Erendira,” said Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys. “We love to fish with all the very experienced boat captains at Castro’s Fishing Place. For decades, many have fished out of Castro’s camp and rented their unique bunk-bed cabins right there. This year, for our groups we have upgraded the accommodations with a house on the bluff with a private cook to make our customers’ experience feel like a true fishing vacation.”

They offer 4-day trips by van leaving from Otay Mesa with two days of fishing with three or four anglers max per panga. Meals are provided. The house has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a huge living area with a several couches, recliners and chairs to relax in. It has a large kitchen and dining areas.

“It even has a fireplace for cooler evenings. The house is located on a bluff with a spectacular ocean view,” she said. “The sunsets here are beautiful and it’s is just a short walking distance to Castro’s camp but a van will be available to drive you back and forth.”

The cost for a hosted 4-day fishing trip by van from Otay Mesa is $589 per person and Orchid has two open charter dates: April 17-20 (5 spots left) and another in December, and she can set up others charters for groups at (619)483-7315 or emailing her at .

LORETO — Rick Hill of reported on Sunday the fish are “hitting the decks” this week, mostly firecracker yellowtail from the Isla Coronado area.

“This was the best deal for fishing boats last week, and when the winds permitted this week we repeated that,” he said. “Also in attendance have been dorado feeding on the endless schools of baitfish around Danzante Island.”

Hill added that their scuba trips out of are seeing their favorite groupers popping up at various dive sites.

“They had been unseen for most of this season and now they are back,” said Hill. “Their return has been a big relief emotionally for our dive instructors!”


CEDROS ISLAND IS in its offseason at the lodges but the guys are still fishing here and there, and the big yellows are eating the iron, and quality sheephead are on a serious bite!

CEDROS ISLAND — The various operations still fishing in this offseason are hammering the yellows and the big sheephead.

BAY OF L.A. — Joel from Joel’s Pangas told Baja Fishing Convoys they went out on Saturday and caught 9-, 16- and 18-pound yellowtail and 6 good-sized cabrilla. All were down deep.


SAN QUINTIN’S K&M SPORTFISHING has been posting a ton of photos of quality yellowtail caught on their 25-foot Parker charterboats, with the fish eating the iron top to bottom. It’s been a great winter. Cold, but red hot on the yellows lately.

SAN QUINTIN — The high spots, likely the 240 reef in particular, are holding quality yellowtail as the panga fleets and K&M Sportfishing on their Parker 25s are getting into the forkies with surface and yo-yo iron.

BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondi from La Bufadora Inn reported lots of bonita and some yellowtail. Weather has been a factor, and hopefully better weather will bring better fishing.

LA BOCANA — Local boat captains are catching some midsized yellowtail and bonita. Water conditions are a little bumpy, making it hard to get out every day.

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Big tuna are hitting the kite baits on multi-day runs

WON’s charter trip to yellowfin country off Puerto Vallarta is slated for Jan. 20-24, and indications from sportboats are that anglers will have more chances for early season tuna catches in the trophy sizes

ANOTHER HUGE TUNA comes over the rail aboard the Apollo on a 3 ½-day run out of Puerto Vallarta on the annual WON charter. The Apollo was heading to PV this week and begins it’s all-charter runs this month and reports from the area off Islas Tres Marias indicate more early season fish are around than last year. The WON charter runs Jan. 20-24.WON PHOTO BY PAT McDONELL

PUERTO VALLARTA — The big tuna season for sportfishers out of San Diego is on, and unlike last year’s early stages when the numbers of winter fish were thin in waters off Islas Tres Marias, this season the situation is looking much batter based on reports coming in.

“It’s not like last year when the fish had not come in very strong,” said Jody Morgan, owner of the sportfisher Apollo which is heading to PV this week and running PV charters all winter, one of them the annual 3 ½-day ”WON run” hosted by Pat McDonell Jan. 20-24. “There’s a lot more fish in those water early in the season than we saw last year, so we are looking for a much stronger start.”

The islands are accessible on multi-day runs out of the PV marinas, but the extended one-day tuna runs have been productive, too for local charterboats. Cortetena and El Banco have had some great months of action on the big yellowfin on 12-hour charters, reported Stan Gabruk of Masterbaiters Sportfishing in PV. Despite some cooling waters, which are typical for the January time frame, the bite is still going.

“Well it had to happen, the calendar is getting long in the tooth and the cool water finally came in,” said Gabruk. ”It always happens at the end of December, but this year we were lucky. But luck doesn’t last forever as we see strong and cold currents coming down from the north. With this cold water is coming the winter bait, the whale food so to speak. Squids, krill shrimp, sardines to name a few have flooded the area. This is a double-edged sword.

“Corbetena this week experienced the same drop in water temperatures. What was 81 degree water is now 75 degrees. We’ve seen as much as a 1.5 degree drop in just one day, and this puts a chill on fishing. But at Corbetena we’re still seeing yellowfin 60 to 200 pounds one to two miles north of the rock, slashing through bait all over the place. The problem is that bait is squid in the 3-inch range with red tuna crabs and massive amounts of 4-inch sardines plus krill squid and shrimp are moving in. These 3-inch squids look like popcorn “squirting” up about four inches from the water trying to escape being eaten. Basically it’s all whale food the tuna are indulging in!"

He added, “Keep positive, though, because the guys bare still catching fish, and this is where experience comes in. Sails are chasing baits but they’re fickle. Marlin are dropping in size, but 300-pound blue marlin and 175-pound striped marlin will be around for a while longer. Dorado are also here, but they’re thinning out and full of those same squid and tuna crab.”

Gabruk said the area around Punta Mita to El Morro has been alive with sailfish, dorado and striped marlin very close to shore. In fact, they are so close inside the surf fishing guys have a great shot at 30-pound dorado in the surf line. Roosterfish are possible north of Sayulita in the 20-pound range. For most they’re catching one dorado and a sailfish, maybe 2 to 3 dorado the next day.

Gabruk said the monster tuna multi-day Tres Marias region yellowfin trips he offers feature Capt. Oscar of the Maximus and his first mate Armando at the helm. Gabruk said they still have open dates for February and March.

— Pat McDonell

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Winter scene still offers exotics, plus yellowtail
Cabo tuna over 200 pounds plus quality dorado, a 122-pound wahoo by a San Jose Del Cabo spearfisherman, quality San Quintin area yellows and East Cape dorado still for the taking

CABO SAN LUCAS — Winter fishing off Baja California Sur is bringing is a helluva new year with 200-pound tuna, quality dorado and even a monster wahoo of 122 pounds. That’s right. It was 122 pounds, although it ate the steel, speared on a run out of Marina Puerto Los Cabo by a local diver, Remmy Viniegra.

REMMY VINIEGRA, A resident of the San Jose Del Cabo area and a spearfishing enthusiast, nabbed this monster 122-pound wahoo last week on a run out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS

It is no secret huge wahoo are in waters off Cabo, said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas who reported the wahoo. As far as hook and line goes, the IGFA’s all-tackle world record is a 184 pounder caught July 29, 2005 just five miles south of the famed Cabo arch on a Mean Joe Greene lure by 15-year-old Sara Hayward who was visiting Cabo with her family and fishing on the charterboat Pez Espada.

It’s winter and most ardent warm-climate fishermen are laying low these days. Lands End waters were productive for snow birds and holiday revelers with some great catches on the charter boats working over roving schools of porpoise still holding quality school-sized tuna, with some monster cows thrown into the mix. Run with the porpoise and a 30 to 40-pound set of fish can be mixed in with a 100 pounder, and once in a while a cow tuna explodes on a bait. Usually a lure skipped on the surface on heavy tackle.

One such spectacular catch was a 238-pound yellowfin that literally exploded onto a Yummee Flyer skipped on the surface under a kite rig offered by the Pisces 40-foot Chasin’ Tail. Capitan Pepe de la Peña said the yellowfin jumped eight feet in the air on the strike.

“We were fishing Punta Gorda (the Gordo Bank) and had already tagged and released a nice striped marlin and landed 3 dorado when we decided to look for some tuna,” said La Peña. “We left that area and in about 45 minutes found a pod of dolphins. We set up the kite and this one was our first bite.”

It took angler Brian Anderson about 1 1/2 hours to land it on 100 pound Spectra. On another trip last week, the boat with the Fort Worth, Texas-based Vaden family aboard, had another good score with 2 tuna, the largest about 45 pounds, which also hit on the kite and on a skipped lure, this time a cedar plug. They found the tuna under the porpoise about 15 miles south of the Old Lighthouse. They also landed 4 dorado between 15 and 20 pounds, each on live mackerel.







THE PISCES FLEET saw great action on a mix of big yellowfin and dorado, with the most exciting one a 238 pounder caught by Brian Anderson aboard the Pisces’ 40-foot charterboat Chasin’ Tail. The tuna attacked a Yummee Flyer while the sportfisher skipped the lure under a kite over a school of porpoise.

“Again, we had an impressive week of fishing in Cabo!” wrote Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces in her weekly report on Sunday afternoon. “Eight-three out of 86 of the boats caught fish, making for a 97 percent catch success rate of all species combined. The largest numbers of fish caught were once again dorado, with a staggering 394 caught (she noted that many of those fish were released, respecting catch limits).

“For tuna, there were 148 caught by all boats, including the big yellowfin by Chasin’ Tail. Marlin were up from last week, where around 10 percent of boats caught them last week, to 35 percent this week. Total marlin catches were 48 fish, all released, which included a 20-pound blue marlin on Pisces 31-foot Rebecca. Other species caught included sierra mackerel, wahoo and a few roosterfish.

Ehrenberg had several great reports. We cant print them all! Here’s another one, though. The 32-foot Bill Collector’s anglers Allen, Nicole and Teresa Dutt caught 14 yellowfin, with the largest just shy of 100 pounds. The tuna hit on various feathers and cedar plugs at the Golden Gate. They also found 2 dorado of about 15 to 20 pounds which hit on live mackerel. And to top it off, a nice wahoo of about 20 pounds snapped at a lure as well.

Weather was good, with calm seas most days, with 75- to 79-degree water. See full reports at .

In other Baja fishing action:

LA PAZ — The La Paz report was missing last week. Computer issues were resolved and Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter (our WON columnist, of course) was back on the reporting tasks.

“Mostly a quiet Christmas week in La Paz,” said Roldan on Sunday, “Sun’s out. Occasionally we get some showers and it’s breezy. Most folks in town aren’t here to fish or hit the water. Those that are in town for watersports are windsurfers and kiteboarders taking advantage of the strong winter winds. Or they’re here to swim with the whale sharks in the bay.

“The few out fishing are mostly finding action inshore along the rocks and beaches. It’s not bad fishing at all. There’s been a decent bite on some nice cabrilla up to about 10 pounds with most in the 2- to 5-pound range and lots of little ones getting released. Snapper were also on the chew. All good fish for the table. The biggest issue is getting live bait. If waters are rough and winds are blowing, getting live bait in the shallow areas where the bait schools can be problematic. If bait is an issue, slow trolling small crankbaits like Rapalas, Rebels, Yo-Zuri, Mirolures or similar can still be very productive and fun.”

Roldan said that offshore, bonito are still there for some harder battles as well as jack crevalle.

“There’s a chance of an occasional dorado as well,” he said.” I’m surprised we aren’t getting into more sierra, as this is the time of year we should be getting them, but perhaps we’ll see more as the waters get cooler.”

QUALIITY DORADO ARE in the offing for anglers on Gordo Banks Pangas working out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos. There have been yellowfin tuna as well as small roosters.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Puerto Los Cabos Marina Los Cabos said it’s a typical Baja winter, with ocean water temperatures in the 75- to 77-degree range and minimal swells with variable northern winds, bringing favorable overall fishing conditions.

“The most consistent fishing action has been for dorado, most of this action found within a mile or two from shore,” said Brictson.” Anglers were using smaller sized trolling lures and various baitfish to entice these gamefish, average size fish was in the 10-pound class, but there were larger specimens to over 20 pounds also being found.”

He said for the past several years December and January have been prime months for the bigger dorado and, “We expect this action to last into the New Year.”

The yellowfin tuna were much more scattered, as the bite off of La Fortuna where the shark problem was so bad faded off, with just a few tuna up to 40 pounds reported, these taken on strips of squid. A few tuna in the 15- to 40-pound class also were hooked into off Punta Gorda on a mix of caballito and lures, but these were very limited. Off the Gordo Banks there was a chance at a nicer grade of yellowfin to 100 pounds though this was very hit-or-miss and involved large amounts of squid for chum and plenty of patience to repeatedly make drifts all day long for a chance at a hook up, mainly something the local commercial pangeros were doing.

“On the outside, some 20 or more miles offshore, there was porpoise activity moving in the direction off of San Jose del Cabo, on Friday there were a couple of 200-pound class yellowfin landed off larger sportfishers, so maybe this will develop into something,” said Brictson. “Wahoo are in the area, but getting them to hit has not been that easy, though on any given day that could change, best bet has been on bait versus lures. Of the wahoo we saw, sizes ranged 15 to 40 pounds, though one monster 122-pound wahoo was brought in by a spear fisherman.”

Stretches of beach just to the north of the Puerto Los Cabos marina were good numbers of juvenile sized roosterfish, some up to 15 pounds, and also mixed in were jack crevalle and sierra. Best bet was with the smaller sized caballito. Brictson said if sardinas were available for bait this action would bust wide open.

Off the bottom there was action for huachinango, most of these under 5 pounds, also a few yellow snapper and barred pargo.

“Bait supplies out of the local port consisted of caballito, ballyhoo and slabs of squid,” he said. “There are sardineta and mackerel just starting to move onto local bait grounds as well, so far more sardineta. This is attracting striped marlin into this same area, despite not being the warm season, we are seeing some sailfish as well.”

The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 110 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 2 sailfish, 15 striped marlin, 265 dorado, 21 yellowfin tuna, 35 wahoo, 8 yellow snapper, 4 barred pargo, 1 glass eyed snapper, 12 sierra, 4 pompano, 85 roosterfish, 45 huachinango, 3 amberjack, 15 jack crevalle and 45 triggerfish.



THE WINTER YELLOWTAIL bite is going strong off San Quintin Bay on the high spots with iron on the surface and deep yo-yo jigs working on quality forkies for outfits like Garcia’s Pangas, which posted these photos to their Facebook page.

SAN QUINTIN — Capt. Juan Cook said he has not been out recently over the quiet holiday season, but since he lives just up the road from the Old Mill Hotel and the ramp on the back bay, he’s been seeing some good catches at the ramp and cleaning table brought in by Garcia’s Pangas, one of several charter outfits located there.

“They have been catching nice yellowtail and bottom fish, weather permitting, and the ‘tails are 15 to 20 pounds and weather is a factor, because it’s been raining off and on,” said Cook. ”The weather is kinda cool to cold. But the fish are still here.”

EAST CAPE — Very little specific information is coming out of here because it’s the holidays and few boats are going out, but those groups fishing are enjoying decent weather most days between typical winter blows, and are getting a shot at 10- to 15-pound dorado and the occasional marlin. Hotel Rancho Leonero is closed for the winter.

LORETO — Rick Hill at said Isla Coronado has been the "go-to" spot for the holiday fishing boats.

“Yellowtail, snappers of various types and cabrilla round out the count in most fish boxes,” said Hill. “Between the days of wind and Christmas activities fewer boats are out chasing fish. The boats working the outside spots like ‘Lobo’ and ‘Perro’ make quick exits from the boat ramp, which I take as being a sign of bumpy fishing and not many bites.”

He added, ”It's still the beginning of the season and once the holidays are over the serious work will begin.”

As a quick note, sign-ups are being taken for the second annual Robert Ross Fishing Tournament held out of Marina Puerto Escondido May 15-17. The marina is also the organizer. Go to their website at for details and the entry information.

SAN CARLOS — We don’t get many reports out of San Carlos on the other side of the Sea of Cortez, but it’s a great option for many anglers, especially those with boats in tow as the road south (unlike Baja roads) is two lanes and the marina facilities at San Carlos are extensive. And there are many charter outfits.

One of them, Margarita Sportfishing’s Bryan Replogle ( sent this report Saturday: “San Carlos (Sonora) is just cooling off for winter. There have been some hot bites in close trolling and jigging for yellowtail to 16 pounds,” said Replogle. ”The bonito bite has been excellent at times, as well as with sierra. There were good numbers of small dorado in October, and a few marlin. Yellowtail were caught jigging in October, but better numbers are showing as the bait leaves the shorelines.

“San Pedro Nolasco has had some big fish at times, as well as up the coast, but it's hard to beat filling the cooler within a mile of port in calm seas. Larger fish and topwater action in the spring will make longer runs worth the cost and effort. Shoreline fishing was excellent, but now probably limited to corvina.”

ERENDIRA — Bottom fishing is going on off Castro’s Camp. This area also is known for yellowtail fishing and the occasional white seabass on the high spots. It is a nice, easy drive from the newly expanded San Ysidro border. There are several charters now being planned to this area, Ensenada, L.A. Bay and Gonzaga Bay for 2020. Go to for the new schedule. Many of the trips to those above areas as well as Cedros, Mag Bay, La Bocana, and other locales on the mainland and Baja are hosted by owner Orchid Martinez.

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Protest over commercialization of dorado erupts
Dec. 17 in Cabo marked the protest of 115 boats off the famed arch to decry possible legislation that would allow commercial catch of dorado in Mexican waters; In fishing news, dorado go off and close-in yellowfin to 215 pounds continue to be caught off Cabo

CABO SAN LUCAS — There is no question that illegal commercial fishing of dorado in the Sea of Cortez in Mexican waters has affected the size and numbers of dorado which at one time was prolific. But legislation recently introduced would not stiffen the penalities for the commercial take, it would condone it.

It is hard to understand the rationale behind this, and sportfishing operations have joined together to protest this move, and a petition to oppose the pending legislation is now being circulated.


legislationtoLEGISLATION TO COMMERCIALIZE dorado was met with a 115-boat protest fleet at the famous arch in Cabo. The founder of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, Marco Ehrenberg, was one of the organizers and speakers.

Mexican Senator Claudia Valero Yañes, of Veracruz, with the Morena party, has introduced a proposal to remove dorado from the list of fish reserved exclusively for sport fishing. The legislation (Bill 68 Ley General de Pesca y Acuacultura) would open all dorado in Mexico to commercial fishing, and the fear is that dorado, already sold illegally everywhere, would open the gate to commercializing marlin. The dorado commercialization would also open a catch loophole for “incidental” catches of marlin. There is also concern heavy commercial fishing for dorado would adversely affect the marlins’ food chain.

“Only in Cabo the capture of one dorado caught in sport fishing has an economical value of around $2,500 dollars,” said Rebecca Ehernberg of the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. “This means that to fish that one dorado, studies have shown us, that there is an expenditure of close to that amount since it involves other industries, hotels, restaurants, air travel, transportation, local bait guys and others purchases. The commercial value per fish is only about $20 per fish and the distribution of wealth is nowhere near what sport fishing provides.”

On Dec. 17, 115 boats out of Cabo San Lucas Harbor joined in an official protest. Strangely, yellowfin tuna is not considered a “sportfish,” primarily due to its commercial value, and dorado could be moved to that category at a time when the fishery can least afford the pressure. It goes without saying that dorado has always been the foundation of the charter business — fast growing, abundant, easier to target around floating structure, high flying and great tasting and not particularly difficult to fight. Great for tourists, especially kids, beginners and cruise ship customers.

However, the past three seasons have seen a sharp decline in their numbers off Baja, and it has only been in the past month — extremely late in the season — that Cabo has seen an influx of dorado in bigger sizes. The East Cape saw two years in which the winning dorado in two big tournaments, the Dorado Shootout, were 12 pounders. In the past two years the winning sizes have increased, but overall the size of dorado has been far smaller overall and in far less numbers.

This season in Cabo the influx of dorado came late, and the size of the fish was not impressive. In the November Cabo Tuna Jackpot when the minimum size for the Dorado Optional worth $80,000 ($40,000 each day) was 30 pounds, no dorado were weighed in the first day close to that, and the second day the minimum was dropped to 15 pounds, and none were weighed over 24 pounds. Small fish, indeed, and that scenario has played out over all of Baja the past three or four seasons. Only in the past year has the fishery seemed to rebound.

The blame by many in recreational fishing has been put on rampant illegal fishing from mainland Mexico pangas. Now, it appears Mexico is poised to make such plundering legal when the dorado has one of the most stringent recreation restrictions, two fish per day per person. Only marlin is more restricted, one fish per day and the emphasis is on catch and release. Most other Mexican species, like tuna, cabrilla and bottomfish, have a 5-fish limit.

The founder of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, Marco Ehrenberg, was one of the organizers and speakers for the 115-boat protest and afterward shared his opinion on the subject in a video. Ehrenberg, speaking from the bow of a charterboat and surrounded by dozens of captains and crew, spoke in Spanish but with English subtitles. You can see the video by going to their website at or their Facebook page.

“The dorado is a sportfish that sustains a fishing industry that supports and feeds 600 people here in Cabo,” said Ehrenberg who began Pisces Sportfishing 42 years ago. “This law would affect the older guys, the younger guys and the guys starting out.” What Ehrenberg did not mention is that the sportfishing industry is the foundation of Cabo’s growth over the past five decades, and the health of the fisheries is critical to thousands of jobs in the tourism sector.

Ehrenberg went on, “In this whole country we have seen how the sale of marlin and dorado is indiscriminate and we don’t want this to end in a sort of apocalypse of fishing… all because a few want to benefit. It has been said fishing is an elite sport. It is not an elite sport, it is an industry, it is a profession of generations and in southern Baja and we have succeeded in creating the best fishing in the world with sustainable programs.

“The ocean belongs to all of us, the commercial and the recreation fisherman, and we need to take care of our resources and we are all in this together, as we demonstrated today.”

Longtime Baja and Cabo San Lucas angler Dave Brackmann, part owner of the charterboat Caliente booked in Cabo, wrote in support of the protest last week.

“They have been illegally wiping dorado out with the converted shrimp boats with fleets of pangas fishing with short set long lines baited with live baits along the mainland coast for years now,” wrote Brackmann in a Facebook post. “Remember back in the days when dorado were thick and big bulls were a nuisance when pulling blue marlin size lures? Seeing dorado over 30 pounds was commonplace. I miss those days before the illegal long liners raped this fishery.

“In the meantime the illegal commercial slaughter of striped marlin continues each year on the Finger Bank by harpoon, hardline and buoy panga pirates running out from the beach each day in groups killing stripers for illegal sales. Imagine if those in higher positions lose sight of the sportfishing tourism economic value of dorado and legalized the slaughter! I hope they are wiser than that and not let the dollars go to a few who would allow this put their own interest above that of the community and tourism economics.”

The petition is online and accessible through the website and Facebook page.

In Baja fishing action:


COW TUNA HIT the docks for the Pisces Fleet in Cabo last week. In one day the Pisces 37-foot Viking BBII and angler Mike Kott brought in this 215-pound yellowfin after a 45-minute fight. The fish hit on a Yummy Flyer about 30 miles south of Cabo, along with 4 other quality yellowfin. The other angler onboard, Gary Bailey (pictured), caught 3 dorado.

THE YELLOWFIN TUNA frenzy captured underwater by the Pisces crew last week. Three tuna were free-gaffed and the bite produced some great catches for two boats and yellowfin to 160 pounds.

A WILD TUNA and dorado season is going on in Cabo for the holiday visitors aboard Pisces sportfishers.

CABO SAN LUCAS — It has been a epic late season — or just a continuing season for dorado and tuna at a time when the marlin action is doing its typical winter transition to deep water with all eyes on the Finger Bank which saw one of the best bites ever last winter and through the spring. For now, it’s all tuna and dorado for the holiday visitors.

“We had another truly amazing week of fishing in Cabo,” said Rebecca Ehernberg of Pisces Sportfishing. “We had an incredible catch success rate of 100 percent! All 69 charters caught fish, and in good numbers. The dorado fishing produced the most, with 280 fish caught and most fish were of nice size as well, ranging from 10 to 15 pounds to up to 30 pounds each. The dorado were found from the old Lighthouse and up the Pacific coast until Elias Calles. They took mostly live and dead bait, mackerel mainly, as well as varied feather lures, blue/white lures or green.”

Ehrenberg said it was the yellowfin tuna that were creating an even bigger stir, with the tuna found closer to shore and some of those catches were pretty notable — and exciting.

“Mate Martin Aguilar of the Pisces 38-foot C-Rod captured a big yellowfin tuna frenzy on camera only three miles offshore,” Ehrenberg said. “The crew were searching for tuna and found a pod of spotted dolphins. They, and other Pisces boats trolled the pod, and while everyone landed their limits and headed back the C-Rod and Ruthless stayed behind. C-Rod had caught about 6 tuna already on cedar plugs, feathers and lures, but Captain Abel and crew, as always, were eager to land the big one and weren’t about to give up.”

Martin Aquilar explained, “All of the sudden the tuna erupted! We got near and caught some of the bait they were feeding on, green jacks, and pitched them back in. We got the big one, about 160 pounds on a Shimano 50 with 100-pound test and 200-pound fluorocarbon leader. Captain Abel fought it in just under 45 minutes.”

Meanwhile, Captain Beto Lira of the Ruthless described the moment.

“I have been fishing for over 20 years and have never seen anything like this,” Capt. Beto said. “I was so excited when the tuna picked up that I almost flew onto the deck. I could see the tuna everywhere and I couldn’t help myself, I put the gaff in the water it was so thick with fish. To my surprise, I landed one! It was a day I won’t forget.” There were 3 tuna free-gaffed that day.

The Ruthless caught its tuna limit of 10 that day (with two anglers aboard) and one dorado. The C-Rod ended up with about 12 tuna around 20 pounds and not only one, but two yellowfin over 150 pounds each, topped by the 160 pounder, said Ehrenberg.

“In various occasions the crews were surprised to find schools of porpoise only 1 to 3 miles offshore, accompanied by enough tuna to limit in an hour,” she said.

In another report, the Pisces 37-foot Viking BBII also surprised many at the dock on a run earlier in the week, when anglers Mike Kott and Gary Bailey weighed in a 215-pound yellowfin. The fish hit on the Yummee Flyer about 30 miles South of Cabo at the 210 Spot. They also caught another 4 tuna there and 3 dorado around 20 to 20 pounds. The fleet accounted for 224 fish over the week.

She said billfish catches were very slow this past week, Which is atypical of the season, but actually not surprising since we haven’t even seen the striped marlin fishery start up at the Finger banks yet. The few striped marlin caught and released this week were all on the Sea of Cortez side, between Cabo Real and Palmilla areas.”

Other catches this week included several wahoo, sierra mackerel and some nice roosterfish. All these were caught on Pacific side as well, and all roosterfish were successfully released — taking live bait mostly.

MOST OF THE local charters out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina are working the fishing grounds from Red Hill, Gordo Banks, La Fortuna and off of Punta Gorda. Most common species found were dorado, but there were decent chances at yellowfin tuna and wahoo. GORDO BANKS PHOTO

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Puerto Los Cabos Marina said a typical winter weather pattern of north winds continues, particularly early in the week. That said, there was decent fishing action close to shore in more protected areas. The Pacific side was calm for the most part. The ocean water temperature was averaging 77 degrees throughout the local region. There were scattered clouds and the climate was a bit cooler than previous week, though on most days highs were at least up to 75 degrees, and no rainfall was reported.

As for bait, vendors were finding decent supplies of caballito, and also offering ballyhoo and slabs of squid.

“No sardinas were found near San Jose del Cabo,” said Brictson. ”Some of the panga charters were able to find some chihuil for baitfish, but this was not a guarantee, and needed to put in the extra effort and time for this. Most of the local charters are working the fishing grounds from Red Hill, Gordo Banks, La Fortuna and off Punta Gorda. Most common species found were dorado, but also still decent chances at yellowfin tuna and wahoo.”

Off La Fortuna there were yellowfin tuna of various sizes found, with some quality fish.

“The problem was that there was an abundance of large aggressive sharks on these same grounds and they were ready to grab any tuna that was hooked, a ratio of at least 80 percent of hook-ups being lost, so not many charters were even fishing there anymore,” he said. “There were yellowfin found on the Inner Gordo Banks, though numbers were very limited, a handful of tuna over 100 pounds were accounted for this week, though this took a lot of persistence and large amounts of squid, so that you could continue to drift, while chumming and patiently waiting for a chance at a hook up.”

Brictson said wahoo were also found on the Gordo Banks, though they have been finicky, and the best bet was to slow troll baitfish, either caballito or chihuil.

“Not many were striking on lures, some of these fish were also found further north and off of Punta Gorda,” said Brictson. “With the warmer water still hanging around we expect to have chances at wahoo into the New Year.”

Dorado were providing the most success for anglers, most of these also on various baits, ranging in sizes up to 20 pounds. Many anglers were able to catch their two-fish limit and release others.

“Areas closer to shore, such as Punta Gorda and Cardon were best for the dorado, a few tuna were also found on the same grounds, if sardinas were available the chances of getting into the tuna action would be much greater, so who knows when we will have sardinas locally. These baitfish do also migrate along the shorelines.”

He said bottom fishing catches were minimal, though they did see some red snapper this week; the majority were smaller sized, but a few nicer fish were in the mix.

Roosterfish are always a wild card but it’s getting to be that time. He said good numbers of roosterfish were found along the beach stretches, within a mile or less of Puerto Los Cabos Marina. There fish readily hit on trolled caballito, most of them were under 15 pounds, a few much larger jack crevalle were mixed in.

Billfish catches were scattered off of San Jose del Cabo, and he said it was surprising there were more sailfish seen than striped marlin, an anomaly for this time of year.

The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 56 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 4 sailfish, 2 striped marlin, 88 dorado, 15 yellowfin tuna, 16 wahoo, 4 yellow snapper, 2 barred pargo, 1 amberjack, 4 bonito, 8 sierra, 22 roosterfish, 24 huachinango, 4 jack crevalle and 45 triggerfish.

LORETO — Wind blew out half the days this week. “Fishing is starting to get interesting with spots closer to town heating up,” said Rick Hill at “The San Bruno high spot and Candeleros are the best shots when the wind starts blowing in from the cold north.

“Yellowtail to 25 pounds are there and cabrilla and red snappers rounded out the fish count. Sardina and mackerel are working the magic for most fish.”

QUALITY CALICOS WERE reported being caught in waters off La Bocana.

L.A. BAY, LA BOCANA, MAGDALENA BAY, BAHIA ASUNCION — Baja Fishing ConvoysOrchid Martinez had several great short reports from various remote spots from her various pangeros she books with.

From L.A. Bay, she said, “Our boat captain Hector Torres from Guillermo’s Sportfishing was reporting lots of pargo and medium-sized yellowtail. We all know how strong a medium- sized yellowtail can fight.” From La Bocana, she said, “La Bocana assistant manager Ezequiel and Poncho, a local fisherman, are reporting junior size yellowtail, bonito, grouper and really nice size calico bass. Shore fishing for calico bass has been lots of fun.”

From Bahia Asuncion, Orchid said, her friend and hotel operator Shari Bondi from La Bufadora Inn reported some good-sized yellowtail, “if you can get past all the bonito. It looks like it’s time for some bonita albondigas, people!”

Out of Mag Bay, her good friend and avid spearfishing free-diver, Andres Solorzano, took a vacation and speared marlin.“This one in the picture was bigger than him and I must say Andres is not a small man at all! He also caught some nice size pargo.”

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ANDRES SOLORZANO, TOOK a vacation in Mag Bay and speared striped marlin and also caught some nice size pargo. BAJA CONVOYS PHOTOS

SAN QUINTIN — There were no postings of yellowtail this week, but there were pictures of big lingcod and bottomfish by Garcia’s Pangas.

• • • • •

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Dorado close in and big off Cabo
Loreto yellows offer tough decisions, East Cape is still biting as winter approaches, San Quintin yellows chewing the iron




THE PISCES FLEET was having a great week on the quality dorado as depicted in these photos posted on Sunday night. Catches here included multiple dorado for the Pisces’ 32-foot and 35-foot Bill Collectors, the 35-foot Valerie, the 29-foot Adriana, and 6 big dorado on the fleet’s 27-foot super panga.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The dorado bite is still on in Cabo, and in fact it’s wide open, and the action is close. The Red Rum and Pisces fleets and other local charter boats are reporting the only “issue” is that the dorado limit of just two fish per person is a nice problem to have. It often happens too quickly.

There are, however, other hard targets at Lands End as this epic fall season continues. There are great bites farther out on yellowfin tuna over porpoise schools, and wahoo have moved into the area in greater numbers.

Said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces, “The dorado bite is still on! Catches from this week include multiple dorado for the Pisces 32-foot and 35-footBill Collectors, Pisces’ 35-foot Valerie and our 29-foot Adriana, and 6 big dorado on the fleet’s 27-foot superpanga.


CAPTAIN GIL CASTRO of the Pisces Bill Collector 2 has now been officially crowned as wahoo king! Gil and his family, his son Ronaldo and cousin Roberto Castro aboard, took first place in the last tournament of the year, the Wahoo Tournament out of La Playita, with this 33.8 pounder shown. Not only this but the team also caught 8 dorado, 2 sierra mackerel, a grouper and 2 sailfish released! This win qualifies them to the final leg of the tourism department’s Tournament Cup, “Copa De Campeones Calisureños” in 2020.

In other Baja news:


JAIME’S PANGAS GOT full limits on a trip out of San Quintin Bay, and other operations like K&M also reported great fishing for the forkies. Conditions are excellent. PHOTO COURTESY JAIME’S PANGAS

SAN QUINTIN — The tail beat goes on for San Quintin Bay charter companies, and while the white seabass are not being targeted, winter yellows on the high spot are still out there, specially at the 240 Spot with iron — surface and yo-yo — all doing the job on 15 to 20 pounders.

“I haven't been out this week, but there have been very good yellowtail on the high spots, also good reds and nice lingcod,” said Juan Cook, a local guide and regular WON Baja contributor for the northern Baja areas. “It’s been a touch on the cool side, and water temps have been 62 to 64 and the water is very clean.”

This is a great time to book with some of the local charter companies and get into the last round of yellows and then fill up the cooler as the rockfish season is year-around in Baja, but in SoCal closes up for a while at the end of this month.

KATHY WONG FROM San Francisco was having fun this past week in La Paz with Captain Armando and a pargo liso she hooked on a trip out of Bahia Suenos near Las Arenas just south of La Paz while fishing with Tailhunter Sportfishing. PHOTO COURTESY TAILHUNTER SPORTFISHING

LA PAZ — It’s holiday season, and then it’s show season, but some folks still want to get out on the water here. But clearly, this is the off season. It’s for locals, and those escaping the northern climates.

“The town is kinda quiet right now!” said Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International. “It’s that lull between the holidays and not many folks are in town right now except for some snowbirds and kite boarders and wind surfers taking advantage of the winter breezes. Not really many folks on the water as this is off-season for fishing, but even then, most folks in town are just enjoying the sunshine and getting ready for Christmas.

“It definitely seems like you can already smell the tamales cooking on the streets! But, lights are up and folks are doing Christmas shopping and that’s kind of it.”

He said there was some fishing, mostly the inshore variety.

“There’s a decent bite over the rocky spots for cabrilla up to about 5 pounds plus snapper and pargo,” he said. “All are great eating fish. The hard-pullers include some nice jack crevalle running up to about 10 pounds plus good activity on bonito. It’s really hard to get a complete fishing picture when not many folks are fishing. It was too bad because this past week was one of the better weeks for weather and minimal winds. I’m sure the town is gonna start getting more crowded in the next few days as we get closer to Christmas.”


AMY KENT, VISITING the East Cape from Ohio, released her first blue marlin while fishing with Scorpion Sportfishing. There was plenty of action on other species, as well, marlin and dorado.

EAST CAPE — Scorpion Sportfishing at the East Cape reported midweek that the fishing was going off with light crowds. You just had to dodge the windy days.

“We were able to get out between windy days this week,” said Matthew Clifton of Scorpion, which operates the El Rogala and Scorpion charter boats in Los Barilles. “We started the day with a blue marlin release by Amy Kent visiting from Ohio and had several other marlin eat the trolled skipjacks only to throw the hook. Dorado were also present in the area with most successes on trolled ballyhoo. We finished off the day with a good-sized cabrilla. We’re looking forward to the next calm day as the fishing is great!”

Scorpion Sportfishing partners with the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort.

“This family-run hotel sits over an underground river of natural hot springs that flow into the shimmering, azure-blue Sea of Cortez,” said Clifton. “The rich water that creates a lush tropical landscaping of palm trees and exotic flowers also provides the perfect elements for a relaxing, quiet getaway or an adventurous vacation, offering world class big game saltwater fishing, diving and snorkeling among other great adventures.”

THE MAJORITY OF local charters with Gordo Banks Pangas were working the grounds from the Gordo Banks, to La Fortuna, Cardon and close off of Punta Gordo for a mix of tuna and dorado and some wahoo.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Puerto Los Cabos Marina said a holiday run south might be in order. No crowds, great weather and fishing.

“Now is the perfect time to visit, ideal weather, despite dipping down to 55 degrees early morning, daytime highs have averaged in the upper 70s, plenty of warm sunshine,” said Brictson. “Early in the week there was more wind from the north, but by the weekend we saw much calmer ocean conditions. Average water temperature was about 77 degrees, with some isolated areas up to 80 degrees, surf was minimal, though tides were extreme with the passing of recent full moon, the last one of this decade.”

He said bait vendors are finding caballito in the marina area, also offering ballyhoo and slabs of squid.

“Off of the San Jose del Cabo hotel zone the schools of baitfish, mackerel and sardineta, are moving in and this will become an option for the next month or two,” he said. “The overall fishing action was more scattered this week, perhaps the moon was affecting feeding habits, also there was a noticeably stronger current sweeping through local grounds, as well as winds being a factor at times. The majority of local charters were working the grounds from the Gordo Banks, to La Fortuna, Cardon and close off of Punta Gorda.”

The main target species continue to be yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo, also some billfish and limited bottom action to round out the options. Yellowfin tuna are varying in sizes up to 75 pounds. The larger fish were found on the Gordo Banks and other mixed grade of yellowfin off La Fortuna.

“Though there was a major issue with sharks attacking hooked fish — and they got more than their share, and these were not little sharks either,” said Brictson. “We saw quality sized tuna bitten completely in half or swallowed whole, they were even attacking wahoo or dorado if they had the chance. It has been a while since so many aggressive sharks were found on these same fishing grounds, hard to say how long they will be around, they now know that they are able to find some easy tasty meals. Hopefully when the water temperature cools off the sharks will move on.”

Wahoo were more finicky this week, he said, though they have not gone anywhere, just were more wary about striking. Some hit on strips of squid while anglers targeted tuna, other on trolled baits, a smaller percentage were striking on lures.

“The largest we weighed recently was a 48-pound specimen,” he said Saturday in his weekly post.

There was a local wahoo tournament slated for Sunday, originally slated for Nov. 17, but it had to be rescheduled due to Tropical Storm Raymond.

“It will be interesting to see how many teams enter, since it is now during a not-so-busy tourist time frame,” said Brictson. “Numbers of dorado were down compared to last week, though these fish are still scattered through the area in smaller sized schools, with the larger sized dorado now found on the Pacific, though off of San Jose del Cabo we did see some fish up to 20 pounds.”

Billfish action now seems to be transitioning from the Pacific to the direction of San Jose, as these fish follow their food source. Though the bite is spotty, it has not been wide open yet. There are striped marlin being found within several miles of shore, the majority in the 70- to 120-pound range. Also, they saw at least one sailfish in recent days.

“Not much going off the bottom, an occasional leopard or baqueta grouper, various pargo, bonito and triggerfish,” he said. “More whales definitely are showing up, peak season will be here now any week, as these mammals are now arriving for their winter’s stay.”

The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 70 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 1 sailfish, 9 striped marlin, 38 dorado, 78 yellowfin tuna, 14 wahoo, 5 yellow snapper, 3 pompano, 4 golden eye tile fish, 6 barred pargo, 9 cabrilla, 2 amberjack, 8 bonito, 5 sierra, 5 roosterfish, 6 baqueta, 2 surgeonfish and 45 triggerfish.


JULIO AND FRANKIE of Nemenchas Fishing in Loreto took advantage of some good weather midweek and put the screws to them with some Pacific Lures up north by Pulpito. PHOTO COURTESY NEMENCHAS FISHING

LORETO — Chris Wheaton, IGFA rep and director of the Fishin’ For the Mission Tournament, relayed some fishing news from the area. He fished there over Thanksgiving and said he has been keeping in touch with the folks down there as he nails down the details of the 2020 tourney.

“There’s a lot of cabrilla and yellows being caught,” said Wheaton. “Julio and Frankie of Nemenchas Fishing took advantage of some good weather and put the screws to them with some Pacific Lures up north by Pulpito.”

As for the tourney, Wheaton said they are all set for dates for next year's tournament.

This will be the 30th Fishin For The Mission tournament,” said Wheaton. “Tournament dates will be Thursday, July 9 2020 to Saturday, July 11. Currently Alaska Airlines is showing available flights on the 9th to the 12th. Alan Ceseña should be posting the discount code soon for the discounted room rate at the La Mision Hotel.”

Rick Hill of checked in with WON on Sunday for an overall rundown of the fishing. “Sardina has been the active ingredient for the bass types and yellowtail are slamming mackerel for their last meal. Bigger fish are landing in a few iced catch bags down on the south end of Carmen Island. Twenty-five-pound yellowtail and breakoffs on bigger fish are making for a difficult decision this past week.”

He explained the dilemma: “It's not easy to hit both spots in one day, plus there is another rock pile halfway between. There are lots of choices on fishing as the holidays move into town.”


THE GAMEFISHER HAS been scoring limits of rockfish at the Banda Bank and also has been getting in some yellows on its charter trips out of Ensenada. PHOTO COURTESY GAMEFISHER

ENSENADA — According to Orchid Martinez at Baja Fishing Convoys who books trips by van to Ensenada from the Otay border, the boat she uses, the 12-passenger Gamefisher, has been reporting some good mid-size yellowtail, bonito, and rockfish catches. The rockfish season will close for a few months at the end of the month here in SoCal, so any rockfishing will have to done in Mexican waters. BFC will post escorted day trips for 2020 soon, or you can call Captain Mike to book at (760) 578-3022.

LA BOCANA’S Capt. Dago is showing off a very respectable white seabass caught on Monday, Dec. 9. The beachside sportfishing facility is seeing a continued bite on yellowtail and bass even this late in the season. PHOTO COURTESY BAJA FISHING CONVOYS

LA BOCANA — Baja Fishing Convoys is the official U.S. representative for La Bocana Adventures and while this is considered late in the area’s season, it’s still going off on a variety of species, including yellowtail and white seabass.

“This week our boat captains caught some nice size white seabass at La Bocana,” said Orchid Martinez at BFC. “It just goes to show that the fishing is still good this late in the year. Aside for the white seabass there are some nice-size yellowtail as well.”

She added, “Don't miss out on next year's packages at La Bocana including the 2020 WON charter, Oct. 12-16. Sign-up online at (click the Events tab), or call or e-mail Dylan Depres at (949) 366-0726;


MAG BAY CONTINUES to be a great spot for a variety of gamefish. Baja Fishing Convoy’s Orchid Martinez reported Mag Bay Lodge visitors are still very busy with dorado and marlin.

MAGDALENA BAY — Mag Bay Lodge Sportfishing is still very busy with a great selection of fish species down there, said Orchid Martinez of Baja Fishing Convoys. “Dorado and marlin are still the regular suspects that are not too far offshore.”

2020 is almost here and it’s time to plan a trip to this amazing destination and fishery.

“A great benefit to booking a trip with us is that your tackle is all included,” she said. “We make sure you have the right stuff to catch your bucket list fish.” They offer a 36-foot Pro Kat, a 31-foot Cape Horne center console and standard pangas. All our captains are local and experienced fishermen.” For a list of the 2020 BFC trips go to

* * *

To contribute to the Baja report, fire away a report by Sunday morning to make it in the next WON print and digital report. Attach a photo or two, please. Send to




L. A. BAY — The yellowtail scene is blistering hot, but the action is also sizzling on other species attacking the iron. A late report Monday by Capt. Joel from Joel’s Sportfishing consisted of photos of several quality yellows and assorted cabrilla and grouper. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BAJA FISHIUNG CONVOYS

• • • • •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

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