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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.
Loreto yellows going off between blows
It looks like a banner season for Loreto anglers; Cabo marlin and tuna still offering epic action, East Cape prospects are prime; reserve your seminar spot for surf fishing the Pacific coast at upcoming Long Beach show

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LORETO YELLOWTAIL FISHING has been solid when weather permits. Nemenchas Charters scored beefy yellows last week between winds. From left, Rigo Martinez, German Martinez, Wayne Bashore, Julio Martinez and Frankie Martinez. They used live bait on a downrigger to locate the fish and then dropped Pacific lures for the yo-yo action.


LORETO — The use of downriggers is a growing tool in locating feeding yellows at depths in this region, and on a recent trip the three-boat fleet of Nemencha Charters headed by Rigo Martinez and his sons scored limits of bruiser forkies.


The weather has been a tough nut to get around this winter, but when the wind lays down, the various fleets have been going out and the results have been outstanding on the quality yellows.


Rigo was at the dock when sons German, Julio and Frank Martinez returned to the Loreto marina with Nemechas Charters customer Wayne Bashore and a load of yellowtail, full 5-fish limits of quality fish. The pangas are being outfitted with downriggers, and slow-trolling live bait through areas and getting hooked up followed by yo-yo iron action has been effective.


The only question is not whether the yelllowtail are on the structure spots but whether there are customers to go during weather windows.


Rick Hill, of pinchysportfishing.com, reported the quality was up but the quantity down. It’s the wind. But temporary.


“The fish count was down this past week due to the weather which usually happens during winter,” said Hill. “When the few days of winds die down a whole new ball game starts with half the boats hitting the old "spot" and the others off checking other possibilities. Yellowtail are running in the medium size range with most fish just under twenty pounds. The coastal action is still kicking out cabrilla and a few pargo for the boats with lots of sardina to chum.”


In other news, the biggest tourney of the area is on the books for July 11-13. It is the Fishin’ For The Mission Dorado charity tournament based at the recently expanded (upper level for large groups) La Mision Hotel. Go to the tournament’s official Facebook page for details.


Finally, Outpost Charters, based at the Marina Puerto Escondido south of Loreto and which is owned by Jay Yadon, is up for sale. Yadon, who owns the charterboat Cast ‘N Reel which has recorded some great catches in recent years and has provided reports to WON, said business at his real estate company has taken off and needs his full attention.


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THE MANGIERI GROUP with their tuna catch on the Pisces’ 32-foot Bill Collector and other assorted catches including a swordfish on the Bill Collector, and then there was an estimated 800-pound black marlin fought but lost for anglers aboard the C-Rod. It was an outstanding week for all the fleets in Cabo.


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Pisces Sportfishing Fleet recorded a 100 percent success rate last week as the striped marlin, yellowfin tuna and inshore action guaranteed success last week. Winds were minimal, and swells never got over 3 to 5 feet. There were some notable catches, including a swordfish and one that got away, an estimated 800-pound black marlin.


“What a week,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces. “An incredible time for fishing in Cabo. Two outstanding catches stand out, a swordfish catch by Bill Collector owner Mark Chiavetta to start off the week, and a jaw-dropping estimated 800-pound black marlin by the 38-foot C Rod . We saw consistent fishing all around, with more marlin closer to port, too and some nice inshore fishing for roosterfish, jack crevalle, sierra mackerel, and grouper, among others. Dorado numbers are about the same as last week, with only a few sprinkled in, and tuna numbers are holding strong, even though the boats are heading out far too find them, about 30 miles or so.”


As Ehrenberg reported the Bill Collector was about 30 miles out when they saw the swordfish sleeping on the surface. They quickly pulled all lines in and snuck up on the fish, pitching a bait at it from the bow. The swordfish took the bait immediately and it was on. Owner/angler Mark Chiavetta said it “fought hard, like a tuna,” but they landed it relatively quickly. The fish hit the scales weighing in at 98 pounds.


“The next big thing this week was the black marlin for angler Lance Roffers, who works in the construction business in Wisconsin, and who had never caught a marlin,” said Ehrenberg. “At first, the C-Rod crew and anglers thought it was a striped marlin. The crew had found a nice school of porpoise about 15 miles south of Cabo and was looking to land some tuna. They saw a marlin come up to the surface in the midst of all the porpoise and cast out a live mackerel bait on a 30-pound test line with 100-pound leader.


“The fish took the bait and then a few moments after jumped. They were all astonished to see the size of it and quickly realized of course, this was no striped marlin. Lance’s first-ever marlin fight would be one for the books. Ultimately though, the fish won the fight, after about an hour and a half when only a few feet from the boat, it broke loose. But hey, they did find their tuna, they kept one 30 pounder in the end.”


And as if this wasn’t enough for the C-Rod in the week, the crew showed off their skills with 12 striped marlin released at Golden Gate on a different day. Anglers were John and Kathy Carey from Missouri, who caught their fish on mackerel bait, ranging in size from 100 to 130 pounds each.


The Pisces Caliente released 12 stripers just outside the Lighthouse, using weighted ballyhoo bait on the troll and some live mackerel. The Bill Collector headed to Golden Gate Bank to release 7 striped marlin, with the largest of approximately 180 pounds.


Tuna catches included yellowfin by Pisces’ Ruthless with 10 tuna caught 40 miles out, around the 160 Spot. The tuna were about 20 pounds each and hit on cedar plugs and feathers. The next day the Johnson family from Santa Rosa, Calif. scored 6 fish of 25 to 30 pounds closer to Cabo, south of the Lighthouse. They found an almost 20-pound dorado there too, which hit on mackerel.


In other Baja action:


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PACIFIC COAST SURF fishing is the hot topic for the special seminar at the upcoming Long Beach Fred Hall Show. Pictured is Cabo surf fishing guide Wes Brough who has some pretty exciting techniques to share for roosterfish, snook and other Pacific nearshore species.


Baja Surf fishing Secrets : This year the Long Beach Fred Hall Show, CCA and Daiwa will be offering a pre-show seminar on Friday, March 8. “Surf Fishing from California to Cabo” will take a look at equipment, rigging, baits and techniques to find surf fish from Santa Barbara to Cabo San Lucas. Presenters include light-line expert Bill Varney, Cabo surf master Wes Brough (the most sought-after surf fishing guide in Cabo), and Corey Sanden (MC Swimbaits) an expert on finding, baiting and catching halibut in the surf and bay. The seminar will also include an update from CCA-California, raffle prizes and includes admission to the Fred Hall Show.


Seats are limited and will sell out quickly. Tickets will become available online at www.fredhall.com/tickets. The seminar begins at 11a.m. on Friday, March 8 with entrance directly into the show at 1 p.m. Additional raffle tickets will be available for sale at the event with proceeds benefiting the Coastal Conservation Association California.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas filed this report on Sunday from Marina Puerto Los Cabos: “We saw more north winds through most of the week, calming down for the weekend, an ideal climate now with moderate crowds, making this a great time to visit the Los Cabos area. Ocean temperatures dropped into the 70 to 72 degree range though most of the region. It is a transition period for migrating pelagic gamefish, as warmer water species head south during this colder period.”


He said offshore action was limited mainly to looking for striped marlin, action was better early in the week and became more scattered as the week progressed. Schools of mackerel were found off of the San Jose del Cabo grounds, as well as sardineta, chihuil and inside the marina area there were caballito. There were some unconfirmed reports of sardinas being seen along beach stretches north of Cabo San Lucas, so Brictson was hoping these baitfish will become available.


With the cooling waters, the action for the more glamorous species such as yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo has all but halted, said Brictson. That’s normal during this time frame, besides the on-and-off striped marlin action offshore, fleets start to search out inshore and bottom structure for a variety of smaller fish. He said pangeros are waiting to see if a run of yellowtail and red snapper develops. There were red crabs found this week drifting to the surface on the Gordo Banks, a positive sign for finding the red snapper.


“So far the snapper action was mainly for the smaller fish, as the huachinango of over 10 pounds have not been plentiful yet,” said Brictson. “More triggerfish off the rock piles than anything else. Drift fishing with pieces of squid seemed to produce the more consistent action, most of these fish smaller in size, but all of them very fine eating. We saw a few sheepshead and pompano in the mix.”


He added, “The weather feels like we are now on a warming trend, at least we have not seen the frigid low temperatures as the week before. We need these north winds to lay down more and give a chance for ocean conditions to rebound. Recently there were strong currents moving in and out, this always make it tough to try and concentrate on bottom action.”


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 59 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 1 sailfish, 13 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 2 yellowfin tuna, 92 bonito, 125 red snapper, 4 bagueta, 6 yellow snapper, 8 pompano, 10 surgeon fish, 8 barred pargo, 3 sheepshead, 8 hog fish, 13 sierra and 85 triggerfish.


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing is done with boat work and eager to get fishing, but first things first. He will be at the Pacific Coast Sportfishing Festival this week. Stop by and say hello at the Accurate booth Friday, Saturday and Sunday 15-17 at Orange County Fair Events Center.


“I'm feeling like we are on the down hill slide from winter to spring,” said Rayor. “Calm days are starting to prevail over windy ones and the air temperature is not as frosty. A clear sign to me is that I sighted my first carpenter bee. In this neighborhood the carpenter bee is a better predictor of coming weather than Puxatawney Phil. Who ever trusted a groundhog anyhow?


“A plume of colder water has come down from the north and all but shut the bite off. I saw a dozen fleet boats depart yesterday (Saturday) and only one return with one marlin flag. Yes, it is tough in the neighborhood right now. It is a little ironic watching the whole fleet roar off in the morning for parts unknown like their hair is on fire while the tin boat fleet is seeing action. Tin boaters in their 12- to 16-foot boats staying close to shore and home are bagging yellowtail, sierra mackerel, white bonita and other inshore species.”


Rayor said that back at the Jen Wren compound on the beach, the crews and Mark are chomping at the bit to fish.


“Cabin fever has set in and as beautiful as our beach is the Jen Wren crew and myself can't wait to get off of it and in the water,” said Rayor. “Boat maintenance has come together. Last touch on Jen Wren was installing new dripless shaft packing, completely new bonding system and new Nibrel propellers. We have had a couple hiccups with Jen Wren III's new motor installation snapping a turbo/manifold bolt and finding a small oil leak from the transmission output shaft seal. All the kinks have been worked out and it is just polish and wax now. Hope I'm not talking too soon but work on Vaquera has gone without a hitch and the whole team is ready for action.”


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International was just wrapping up the week’s work at a Portland sports and boat and travel show (they have eight left before coming home to La Paz) when he reported in. “The week started well with lower winds and calmer seas for once. Not many anglers in town, but we had a few and surprisingly got into some warm-water action with a handful of dorado popping up. Nothing big, but it’s surprising to get dorado in the winter and for first-timers hooking an acrobatic 10- or 15-pound dorado is pretty exciting.”


In addition, he said that jack crevalle, good numbers of fat bonito plus some cabrilla over the rocks provided fun action, especially on light tackle.


“As the week went on, winds came up and it got colder and rougher, enough to bend the palm trees and put little whitecaps on the bay,” said Roldan.


L.A. BAY — Bill Boyce producer and host of Destination Baja TV show who has a house in L.A. Bay, said Sunday that the last he heard, anglers were getting up north to Remedios on the good weather days and getting some nice 15 - to 20-pound yellows. Mackerel was easy to make in the bay too, but all this cold wet weather may have turned things around a bit.”


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K&M SPORTFISHING SCORED solid action on the yellows outside San Quintin Bay on the iron.


SAN QUINTIN — Wide open on the hot spots outside the bay for yellows of good quality, reported K&M Sportfishing. Yo yo-ing is doing the deed.


Have a great trip to Baja? Share your tales of fishing and travel with other WON readers by sending reports to Baja@wonews.com and send a photo or two.




Cabo Tuna Jackpot: Two new rules and an earlier deadline for reserving your team number


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CABO SAN LUCAS — The Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot deadline to reserve your team number from last year has been moved up to March 1. In addition, two rule changes have been announced.


Western Outdoor News had a very successful tournament 2018 in the 20th year with 163 teams, up from 147 the previous year. But for the 21st run there will be two changes to the event in 2019, and one deadline for signups has been moved up due to increased interest in the tourney and early signups. First off, the deadline for reserving your team number is now March 1.


One rule change will be a new spot for the 6 p.m. weigh-in deadline for boats. It will not be the inner harbor. It has been too dangerous as boats speed in to make the deadline, creating issues with the harbor police and other boaters, so the outer harbor will be the designated spot that will be videotaped and manned, just outside the jetty.


More details on the Nov. 6-9, 2019 Tuna Jackpot will be forthcoming, but the Wednesday through Saturday schedule will remain the same, and the same sites are expected to be used for parties, check-in, and weigh-in.


The second rule change is that the $1,000 wahoo/dorado optional is now replaced with separate $1,000 optionals. The 30-pound minimum on both is in effect the first day but if a qualifying dorado is not caught the first day the minimum will be lowered to 20 pounds. The 30-pound minimum for wahoo will remain in effect both days. “This has long been a goal, and the feeling among anglers is that it is time to divide them up so there are more chances to win,” said director Pat McDonell. “You can target tuna and get a big dorado, but in most cases, wahoo are specifically targeted and usually are much bigger, making the dorado an irrelevant species in that optional. Now teams will be able enter the dorado only $1,000 optional and have a shot at both tuna and dorado.”


To sign up and reserve your current team number, send in $100 to Western Outdoor News. Go to Wonews.com and go to Events, and click down to the Cabo tourney and go to “reserve your number” and use the entry form. Full boat and team info is not needed to reserve your 2018 number. We will reserve 2018 team numbers until MARCH 1, and then we start assigning numbers in sequence — unless your 2018 number is still available or you request a number still available. Your signup contact is lori@wonews.com. Note on any entry or check that you are requesting a specific number.


You can reserve your number right now with a credit card by going to this link and paying the refundable $100 fee. If you not enter the tourney in full, that amount will be returned to you. If you sign up, that $100 will be credited toward your team $1,000 entry fee.


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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. 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.



Apollo/WON run scores a 321 pounder off Puerto Vallarta
Loreto’s Puerto Escondido Marina announces first annual Robert Ross tourney for May 17-19; yellowtail season is on in the region

PUERTO VALLARTA There is something truly amazing about the waters off Puerto Vallarta when it comes to huge yellowfin tuna. The amount of bait perhaps, especially squid that larger tuna don’t have to work very hard for. Whatever the case may be, 300-pound tuna are a potential catch every time you throw out a caballito or drop a squid over the rail, or float a balloon and wait for a blowup.


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THE 321 POUNDER that highlighted the WON charter on the Apollo on a 3 ½-day run out of Puerto Vallarta by Las Vegas resident and general contractor Jeff Vogl. Pictured are, from left, crewman Jake Kertzman, Giavanni Cruz, Jeff Vogl, and Capt. Jay Lorenzo Cruz. PAT McDONELL PHOTO


In the past three years of WON charters at Puerto Vallarta, a 300-pound yellowfin has been caught on each trip, the latest a 321 pounder by Jeff Vogl of Las Vegas, Nev. last week on the 65-foot Apollo captained by Jay Cruz on a 3 ½-day run to the waters north of Banderas Bay with 14 anglers. The trip was hosted by this writer and Rick Ozaki of West Coast Marketing and was sponsored by Avet reels and Graftech rods.


There will be more on the trip next week. While the fishing was not as good as past trips, it did produce five fish, all over 140 pounds, two were over 200, including a 232 pounder by Jeremy Lara of Escondido (his first-ever big tuna) on a flylined cabbie bait and the 321 pounder by Vogl that slammed cabbie bait under the balloon.


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RICKY TREVOR WITH Outpost Charters in Puerto Escondido (Loreto) was “back in the saddle” after some winter time off in the states and nailed a nice yellow aboard Cast N Reel. Winds have been a factor in recent weeks, with few windows of opportunity. But the yellowtail are in the usual spots. The Robert Ross Fishing Tournament was just announced. The inaugural event (tuna,yellowtail, dorado, billfish release) May 16-19 is detailed at robertrossfishingtournament.com.


LORETO — Rick Hill of Pincheysportfishing.com said, “the yellowtail season, at least the hardcore part, has just started in the waters off Carmen Island's northeast tip. Punta Lobo and further out at the "50 spot" has been the go-to spot since the winds died down. Yellows from 18 to 27 pounds were hitting the decks for most of the boats making the ride. Closer to town the smaller yellows and cabrilla are whacking sardinas along the coast and around Coronado Island.” Ricky Trevor of Outpost Charters fired off a pic of a big yellowtail he caught on a run out of Puerto Escondido between blows.


Marina Puerto Escondido, recently expanded, is getting into the tournament business to promote its facility with the first annual Robert Ross Fishing Tournament May 17-19 with $1,000 entry, and three kill divisions for tuna, yellowtail and dorado (biggest single fish), a catch and release billfish division (single winner) and a Kids Division. Registration is the first day with a dinner for teams, two days of fishing and a Sunday dinner ceremony. See more at robertrossfishingtournament.com where you can enter online.


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THE BILL COLLECTOR scored a swordfish and six yellowfin tuna on a run out of Cabo San Lucas, last Tuesday. DREAMMAKER CHARTERS PHOTO


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ETHAN AND HIS father Chris Schaffnerof Oregon had a superb day on the water with Mike Tumbiero, owner and captain of the 35-foot Cabo charterboat Renegade Mike. RENEGADE MIKE PHOTOS


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ANGLERS DAN AND Kurt with their 187-pound yellowfin taken aboard the Pisces Andrea on a run outside. Kurt, left, is holding the " brujita" lure that the fish hit on.

 

CABO SAN LUCAS — Even in Baja, a swordfish is a rare catch and last week, the Bill Collector, a Pisces charterboat out of Cabo, caught one as well as some nice tuna, reported Grace Cote at Gricelda’s Smokehouse.


“Fishing was slow for a couple of days,” said Cote. “Then we started getting tuna, sierra and lots of bonito. Plus, plenty of catch-and- release marlin, and we had bottom fishing outside the lighthouse for stripers. And today, the Bill Collector caught a swordfish and 6 yellowfin tuna.” There were no other details on the swordfish catch at press time.


On Saturday, Mike Tumbiero of Renegade Mike Sportfishing took a run with customers on his 35 Bertram Renegade Mike and said, “Fishing had been good to great for most of January but for some reason today (Feb. 2) the fish seemed to be down all day. We managed to get at least one billfish and dorado to make a day of it but I am a little worried for Monday and Tuesday. As a matter of fact I tried to move Monday to later in the week but no can do as a longtime angling client had a full itinerary for his family and grandkids. Hopefully things will turn around for the better as conditions did not really change but for some reason the fish just did not want to show themselves today.”


Chris Schaffner of Oregon fished with Tumbiero with his young son Ethan after the Saturday trip and said on a Facebook post that evening: “Day one of Cabo fishing is over. Big thanks to Renegade Mike Tumberio for his hard work and being so good with Ethan. If you're going to Cabo this is the guy you go with, period. He works hard to put you on the fish and is a fun guy to boot. Fishing was slow for everyone but we managed to get Ethan his first dorado and striped marlin, which was released scared but unharmed. Stopped by the Tiki Bar before we left and as always they did an awesome job preparing the dorado three different ways! Damn I love it here!”


Tumbiero responded to the comment: “Contrary to what some people may say, as I am a little rough around the edges, I just love having kids on the boat and turning them onto their first big game experience. This young man is quite an accomplished fisherman as his dad runs a top-notch charter operation in Oregon. It was a joy to fish with them and look forward to doing it again and watching Ethan grow.”


Pisces Sportfishing Fleet’s Rebecca Ehrenberg said the bigger yellowfin tuna continue to the bite — on Sundays. The porpoise are holding fish, and they are not footballs, the yellowfin in the 40- to 70-pound class with bigger grade fish over 100 pounds also in the packs.


“Another good week of fishing in Cabo, and looks like if you're looking for big tuna you should head out on a Sunday,” she said. “For over a month now, we have caught yellowfin tuna over 150 pounds on every Sunday of the month! This week was no different, with anglers Dan and Kurt from Los Angeles landing a 187-pound yellowfin!”


She added that overall, marlin action is still on, with multiple releases at the Finger Bank and up to 4 stripedmarlin released per boat closer by to Cabo, between the Old Lighthouse and Golden Gate. Smaller game this week included sierra, skipjack, grouper, needlefish and amberjacks.”


Again, top Finger Bank action by the Pisces captains was headed the 42-foot Caliente with 16 striped marlin weighing between 90 and 140 pounds, hitting on live mackerel bait by angler Samuel Frankenthal from Texas. Return anglers Gene and Darlene Lavengco on the Bill Collector did well again (they were in Cabo for the beginning of the Finger Bank bite), releasing 14 striped marlin of about 90 to 180 pounds each, also on mackerel.”


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THE ACTION CLOSER to shore off of Punta Gorda had faded out, but this week this action rebounded for both wahoo and dorado. The key was to have live chihuil for bait, slow trolling within one mile of the point, still hit or miss, but some boats did account for multiple wahoo as well as dorado. GORDO BANKS PHOTO


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Marina Puerto Los Cabos reported weather has been pretty good for February, with temps into the upper 70s. There is scattered early cloud cover burning off later in the day and plenty of warm sunshine. As for fishing, the marlin are within reach after being concentrated for months up the Pacific side and recently moving directly outside Cabo and now spreading out on the banks outside Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


“Striped marlin action is now heating up off of the San Jose del Cabo area, anywhere from three to five miles straight out from the marina,” reported Brictson. “On these grounds is where schools of mackerel and sardineta are congregated, attracting good numbers of billfish. Many charters are drift fishing baits down deeper where the stripers are feeding, there has been some surface action going on as well. Many boats were reporting multiple chances for marlin, these fish are ranging in sizes from 60 to 100 pounds. A few dorado also coming from these same grounds. Water temperatures have been in the 70- to 75-degree range, fluctuating currents moving in and out.


“Other bait options in the marina have been caballito, ballyhoo and squid,” said Brictson. “Also many of the super panga charters are catching their own chihuil on the Inner Gordo Bank. The Inner Gordo Bank is where there has been a quality grade of yellowfin tuna holding, though the bite has been sporadic, though every day we are seeing a handful of these tuna accounted for by the combined fleet, these fish have been in the 60- to 100-pound class. Anglers were having success while drift fishing with strips of squid, as well as on chihuil.”


He added, “The action closer to shore off of Punta Gorda had faded out, but this week this action rebounded for both wahoo and dorado. The key was to have the live chihuil for bait, slow trolling within one mile of the point, still hit or miss, but some boats did account for multiple wahoo as well as dorado. Wahoo were of mixed sizes, some less than ten pounds, to fish near 50 pounds. Most of the dorado were in the 5- to 15-pound class, a few pushing 20 pounds. Good action considering that we are now in the midst of winter and these species are not always a normal catch for this time of year.”


Bottom action remained spotty, with more triggerfish and small snapper than anything else. Some commercial pangeros had connections for imported red crabs and they reported some nice hauls of red snapper.


“Maybe we will start to see these crabs on our local grounds, the best for snapper action,” said Brictson. “This coming month we usually start seeing some more consistent activity for nicer sized fish off of the bottom structure. Hoping for improved yellowtail migrations this season.”


Inshore there were a few sierra, jack crevalle and some juvenile roosterfish, still early in the year for these species, no sardinas makes it tough to find schooling sierra. The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 55 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 32 striped marlin, 58 dorado, 18 yellowfin tuna, 38 wahoo, 16 bonito, 48 red snapper, 5 cabrilla, 8 yellow snapper, and 4 barred pargo.


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CAPT. JUAN COOK took customers out to the high spots off San Quintin Bay before the storms hit and the result was a solid showing on quality yellows on the iron. The seals made an appearance too, but Cook said there were plenty of fish.


SAN QUINTIN BAY OFFSHORE — Punta Colonet was solid on the high spot reefs for forkies, but the only boats getting them were the 1 ½- to 2 ½-day boats out of San Diego before the storms hit. In San Quintin, Capt. Juan Cook took out customers he called “Rosarito” Jimmy, “Cousin” Pauly and Mark “da' Spook (retired)” on crispy cold mornings early last week and scored fish during warm sunny days and by Saturday they had 14 yellowtail and on Sunday they went 6 for 10 on hookups, as sea lions were a problem. “But there were plenty of fish in the area,” said Cook.


CEDROS ISLAND — The WON charter to Cedros Island is on the books and has several open spots available for Sept. 6-9. The cost of $1,800 includes all meals and 2½ days of fishing and transportation to and from the island from Brown Field by van and commercial flight. The trip for a total of 12 people will again be hosted by Pat McDonell. Cameron Gauci of WON is handling the bookings. Reserve your spot before they are all gone. Email Cameron@wonews.com for details.


BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondy, who with her husband owns and operates the La Bufadora Inn at Baia Asuncion, said that when the weather allows the pangas to fish, yellowtail are abundant. That pretty much says it all. The main attraction for Inn guests are whales, and the grays are in full migration mode. Great spot to stay and see the whales” on tours.


LA PAZ — It’s the offseason, so few boats are out. Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International are on the show tour in the western states and will end up at the Fred Hall shows in Long Beach and Del Mar before getting home to La Paz Bay. Jonathan told WON on Sunday, “Not many anglers around these days. Early in the week it was pretty chilly, cold and windy. Conditions got a little better as the week went on.”


He said bait has been an issue because of the rough water so his captains have relied on slow-trolling dead bait and lures inshore where it was more protected. Catches included bonito, jack crevalle, snapper, cabrilla and barred pargo.”


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Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and directs the annual Cabo Tuna Jackpot as well as reports weekly on Baja. You can contribute Baja reports by emailing WON and McDonell at Patm@wonews.com or BajaReports.com. Reports are compiled all week but are finalized Monday morning for the print edition.


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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. 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.


Jaime Bank tuna: Four cows and one new super cow
Excel camps out off Cabo and scores some big yellowfin to 298 pounds before moving on; Stripers off Cabo still producing epic days; Sea of Cortez pretty much blown out all week; Bahia Asuncion and San Quintin yellows going off

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TEXAS ANGLER ABBIE MILSCI fished aboard the Pisces 41-foot Caliente and single-handedly released 17 striped marlin in just over two hours. PHOTOS COURTESY PISCES SPORTFISHING


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Gordo Bank is just off San Jose Del Cabo and seems to get the bulk of the headlines on big tuna most of the time for boats out of the two Cabo harbors, yet the region is laden with seamounts and structure that hold big tuna. Lately, the boats have been keeping vacationing customers happy with 10- to 20-plus days of catching and releasing marlin at the Finger Bank, and then mixing in some smaller yellowfin tuna under 100 pounds under porpoise. That’s a great day for freshwater folks from Minnesota.


The folly for some charters is hooking a huge tuna that takes hours to bring in on the wrong gear. Or it’s lost for the same reason. Bruised egos, busted tackle and a perfectly good charter out of Lands End ruined and with it a chance for a nice crew tip. So, the banks are not fished by charters in traditional ways for big tuna, particularly chunking. In fact, many offshore banks are not fished at all with big tuna in mind, especially this time of year.


If there is a group of boats and crews that can unlock the jaws of big tuna, it is the long range boys. The big tuna were on the bite at the Jaime Bank, located directly out from the tip, with some huge tuna right at the 300-pound mark coming aboard the long range sportfisher Excel on a 16-day trip out of San Diego. It is not common for the long range boats to come into the nearshore banks where Baja’s charterboats make their living, but they have the permits and will come close if need be.


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THE EXCEL’s 298 was a fatty at the Jaime Bank last week, and in the other photo, the crew begins to hang another yellowfin onto the digital scale. The long range boat’s next choices on the 16-day were the Hurricane Bank or Puerto Vallarta’s offshore. VICTOR LOCKLIN PHOTOS


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ANOTHER BIG BAJA yellowfin hits the scale aboard the Excel.


After walloping the wahoo at Alijos, the sportfisher made bait at Mag Bay and heard from other boats the fishing at the Hurricane Bank was poor, and instead chugged south down the peninsula to the Jaime Bank which is about 20 miles off Cabo. The Finger Bank was closer down the line 50 miles north but it was chugged with striped marlin that have been all the rage for Cabo sportfishers for two months.


The Jaime Bank, as it turned out, was a great choice to anchor on. It was on fire with quality tuna of 50 to 200-plus pounds. Victor Locklin, who won the Cabo Tuna Jackpot with his Estrella Del Norte team in 2017 and is a big tuna chaser, on Facebook messaged WON: “I’m on the Excel now for 16 days. We stopped at Alijos Rocks on Thursday afternoon and hooked 106 wahoo. Then we stopped at Mag Bay and made bait but got bad reports from other boats at the Hurricane Bank. So we now have been at Jaime Bank catching yellowfin tuna from 60 to 285 pounds for the last 36 hours. Today’s bigger catches were the following: a 213, 263 and 285.”


The fish were weighed on an onboard digital scale. He followed that up with the report that a bigger fish, a 298 pounder was caught on a chunk bait at the Jaime the next day. At that time the Excel was hoping to move outside to the Hurricane, with another option going to Puerto Vallarta where the big tuna have been going off for boats like the Constitution, the Apollo, and PV-based six-packs.


The Pisces Sportfishing fleet’s Rebecca Ehrenberg reported the following: Yellowfin tuna numbers have risen a bit more and are holding steady. Some of the bigger fish are still around, even if found far offshore. The marline bite at the Finger Bank keeps going strong, and we’re wondering if it will ever let up. We’re not complaining, as the catches are still in double digits up there. On average, 15 marlin per boat, with especially good days looking at almost 30 stripers each. Small game this week included mostly roosterfish and grouper.


And just mind-blowingly impressive is solo female angler Abbie Milsci from Texas, who decided to target marlin on Pisces’ 42-foot, Caliente. She went all out, and after only two-and-a-half hours of fishing, she decided she’d call it a day, as she had single handedly caught, tagged and released 17 striped marlin.


That’s one striped marlin released every 8 and a half minutes!


In other Baja news:


It’s winter and a good time to plan your trips, and one way to get fired up about the warmer Baja season is to watch Bill Boyce’s TV show Destination Baja which enters 2019 reaching over 200 million homes in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the Caribbean on three networks, and five online affiliates. It’s hard not to find it. From January through to July, a “Best Of” selection of the series’ greatest episodes will air on the Pursuit Channel four times a week, World Fishing Network two times a week, and Eleven Sports two times a week. It also can be seen 24/7/365 on five different online affiliates that include Amazon Prime, Pluto TV, Aqua TV, Wild TV Africa, and MOTV.


In the last two seasons, the show has won a total of five TELLY Awards for Best Travel / Outdoor series (twice), Best Cinematography, Best Writing, and Best Promotional Reel. A travel / outdoor / fishing series that explores on-road, off-road, inshore and offshore adventures, each week viewers are taken by Boyce to the best locations in Baja Sur to enjoy a bevy of activities that showcase the region’s most treasured pastimes: fishing, diving, dirt bikes, cultural areas, dining, resorts, surfing, free diving, restaurants and fishing operations.


If you have traveled the Baja extensively, or have never ventured south of Tijuana, this show will make you wish you were heading south and into Margaritaville.


Pursuit Channel: Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m.


WFN: Tuesday, 3 a.m.; Thursday, 2 p.m.


Eleven Sports: Saturday 5 a.m.; Monday - Saturday TBA


gordobanksproduced
THE GORDO BANKS produced a nice grade of tuna like this one weighing nearly 100 pounds, but just a handful a day.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Marina Puerto Los Cabos reported windy conditions prevailed most of the week, with gusts from the north. Water temperatures were 72 to 74 degrees, and daytime highs are a comfortable 80.


For bait, caballito, chihuil, bally­hoo, mackerel and slab squid were available. The sardinas are absent. “It’s hard to say where they are, this time last year we had a steady supply,” Brictson said.


Most local charters were fishing from Red Hill to Iman and La Fortuna, as well as the Gordo Banks. There was no particular hot spot. The action was scattered from day to day.


“The Gordo Banks were producing a quality grade of yellowfin tuna, a few fish brought in weighing near 100 pounds. The problem being that there were very few of these fish being landed, on a normal day we are just seeing a handful of these yellowfin brought to the filet tables. The offshore action for the tuna associated with porpoise faded out some and was out of range of most boats anyway, being 30 to 40 miles offshore,” Brictson said.


With the passing of the recent full moon the billfish action also became scattered, they are still being found but not in any frenzy like the past months. Despite cooler waters, there were even a couple of sailfish hooked, though most common have been the striped marlin averaging 60 to 100 pounds.


“Early in the week we saw a few wahoo landed at the La Fortuna area, squid and chihuil were the main baits used. Only an occasional dorado was seen in the mix, scattered, no particular location,” Brictson added.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 61 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 4 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 24 yellowfin tuna, 4 wahoo, 84 bonito, 18 red snapper, 6 cabrilla, 8 yellow snapper, 4 mohara, 18 tijareta, 3 amberjack, 5 roosterfish, 10 sierra and 75 triggerfish.


LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter (Wait for report coming to you)


EAST CAPE — The East Cape is generally all quiet, especially this past week with horrid weather, but look for the wind to settle this week for at least a few days.


“It’s an easy report this week,” said Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing. “Nobody is fishing because of harsh weather. The forecast is for it to lay down on Monday for a couple of days. We hope to splash Jen Wren III at that time and take a couple laps around the pond to try out her new motors and maybe catch a fish or two.”


Rayor was supposed to head out to Puerto Vallarta for some action on tuna with good friend Jack Nilsen of Accurate and others on a yacht charter, but got behind on the repower. “Jack and his buddies bagged a 256,” said Rayor. Nice.


East Cape Guides were at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup, Wash., at the Washington State Fairgrounds and Event Center, last week. At all shows coming up, including the Hall shows, they will be at the Baja’s Van Wormer Resorts booth to answer all of your questions and book trips for the 2019 season.


In tournament news, the East Cape Bisbee’s Offshore tournament, slated for 2019 on Aug. 1-4, is always a great event, and attracts the top boats and crews from Southern Baja. The Bisbees announced their East Cape tourney dates recently and opted to cut fishing days from three to two. Get more on all the Bisbee’s events at bisbees.com.


yellowtailwereon
THE YELLOWTAIL WERE on the bite on the high spots of San Quintin Bay for guide Juan Cook who guided Capt. Daniel Fischer to a nice bite on the iron last week. JUAN COOK PHOTO


SAN QUINTIN BAY OFFSHORE — As with all winter months, there are periods when you simply can’t get out most days, but when you do, the yellowtail fishing has been solid. Capt. Juan Cook scored some nice forkies and his U.S. friend, Capt. Daniel Fischer, gave a clinic on the use of surface iron.


LORETO — Rene Olinger of Baja Peninsula Adventure Tours said the wind was blowing all week, and while the viento (your Spanish lesson for the week) was slated to let up Monday of this week, it was due to kick up again for several days. Prior to the winds, though, the yellows were going off at various spots at Coronado Island with a solid forkie season in store.


BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondy, who with her husband owns and operates the La Bufadora Inn at Baia Asuncion, said “The 2019 fishing season in Bahia Asuncion has started out with a bang with wide-open yellowtail bites most days and some nice big quality fish are being caught as well as a few dorado and tuna too. Shore fishing has been hot with halibut and corvina plentiful. So come on down, the water’s fine and near 70 degrees!”


L.A. BAY — Bill Boyce, producer and host of the award-winningDestination Baja TV show, has a home in L.A. Bay and told WON, “The weather down there has been great. My neighbors went out with Igor last week and got some nice yellowtail and gold spotted bass. This can be a good time for white seabass as well. March and April slow down then mid-May through the end of November it’s back on!”


* * *


Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and directs the annual Cabo Tuna Jackpot as well as reports weekly on Baja. You can contribute Baja reports by e-mailing WON and McDonell at patm@wonews.com or BajaReports.com. Reports are compiled all week but are finalized Monday morning for the print edition.


bisbeeseastcape
THE BISBEE’S EAST CAPE OFFSHORE tournament slated for Aug. 1-4 will be two days of fishing instead of three. Go to bisbees.com for details. GEORGE LANDRUM PHOTO


•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. 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.


Tuna of all sizes pick up speed off Cabo
Loreto yellowtail show up in big numbers off Coronado Island, San Quintin’s high spots also deliver wide-open action on the forkies

CABO SAN LUCAS — The yellowfin tuna on the porpoise and on the local banks have amped up the action and the options for anglers here, as calm seas and water temps still at 74 degrees have kept the fish biting at a record winter pace. And there have been reports of cow tuna being caught at the Jaime Bank by private boats and one long range sportfisher out of San Diego.


Clearly, this has been a wild season for Cabo, which started slowly but has been cranking at an epic pace on the marlin and now tuna traveling with the porpoise at the banks. 


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THE PISCES FLEET in Cabo scored well on the striped marlin releases as well as the tuna, some in the bigger sizes still around on the banks. But most have been in the 30- to 40-pound class.


“Yellowfin tunanumbers have risen a bit more and are holding steady, and to our delight, some of the bigger size fish are still around, even if found far offshore,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg at the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. “The marlin bite at the Finger Bank keeps going strong and we’re wondering if it will ever let up! We’re not complaining though, as the catches are still in the double digits up there, on average 15 marlin per boat, with especially good days looking at almost 30 stripers each.”


Pisces anglers Ed Johannes from Rochester, New York decided to bring his two boys Eddie Johannes and Matt Driscoll with him for an epic father-son trip aboard the32-foot Bill Collectorwhich they hoped would include a first-ever striped marlin for Matt. Well, they got that one and much more. Here is Johannes’ version of the day:


“Short description of our day. We left for the Finger around 6:30 aboard the Bill Collector, and two hours into the run we ran into a huge school of feeding porpoise, hundreds and hundreds of them all sizes jumping and working schools of bait. A mix of birds and tuna were just exploding all around us as Esteban set out rods. Seconds later we were doubled up, then tripled up. As fast as we could get fish in the boat we were hooked up again. Tuna are so much fun! After we got our fill of tuna, 8 for 9 on hookups over 20 minutes we powered up and continued north until we reached the Finger Bank.”


He added, “Within seconds of reaching our destination we were tripled up on marlin! Birds, bait balls, marlin, fish jumping everywhere! It was like something you only see on TV fishing shows. Juan was a master dropping us right on top of everything and Esteban followed up with quick hook sets. Two and a half hours felt like it went by in minutes as we had fish after fish after fish successfully being released boatside. We could have fished until nightfall if our bait and arms didn't give out. All in all we went 8 for 9 on the tuna and 18 for 21 on striped marlin! We will be back!”


On one Pisces sportfisher, a solo lady angler, Abbie Milsci of Texas wanted to target only marlin on the 42-foot Caliente. She went all-out, and after only 2½ hours of fishing, she decided she’d call it a day, as she had single handedly caught, tagged and released 17 striped marlin. That’s one striped marlin released every 8½ minutes!


Ehrenberg said the Pisces 31-foot La Brisa had a great week of tuna catches, with Jan. 15 being one to stand out with 22 yellowfin tuna, most ranging from 15 to 20 pounds, with a few over 30 pounds, and one well into the 50-pound size. They used cedar plugs, feathers and hoochies at the 120 Spot.


The 60-foot Reel Machine also did well with some tuna around the 50-pound mark. They caught 9 yellowfin ranging from 15 to 50 pounds on feathers, cedar plugs and hoochies about 25 miles south of the Old Lighthouse. They also released 1 striped marlin at the Old Lighthouse.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Yellowfin tuna took center stage offshore from here as the wahoo and dorado bite slowed, likely due to pressure. Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said there had been very limited action for yellowfin tuna, but this past week as the wahoo bite waned, the tuna bite that has been pretty good for the Cabo boats moved closer and got some attention by charterboats out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


“We encountered the tuna traveling with porpoise, much of this found 25 miles plus offshore,” said Brictson. “Just in recent days the yellowfin are becoming active on the Inner Gordo Banks. This bite had become a late-afternoon local commercial deal, with boats hooking tuna late in the afternoon, returning to the docks in the dark. There was a 200-pound yellowfin brought in earlier in the week and other fish of 150 pounds or more. These yellowfin are now finally striking in the morning as well, drift fishing with squid has been the main thing these fish have been striking consistently on. Most of these fish are weighing in the 30- to 90-pound class, but there are tuna much larger on these same grounds.”


He said there are not big numbers of tuna being brought in, but there is a fair chance now at catching one or two. Besides looking for these tuna, the main bite being targeted is on Eastern Pacific bonito off La Fortuna, the 4- to 8-pound fish striking steadily on jigs like Rapalas and hoochies.


He added, “The great action we had the previous week for wahoo and dorado faded out this week, hard to say why, water conditions are similar, no drastic changes, we are optimistic that these fish are still in the region.”


Striped marlin has been on and off of San Jose Del Cabo, with a better chance to the south closer to Cabo San Lucas, said Brictson.


“As more baitfish move in the direction of the Sea of Cortez, then we will see the marlin more prevalent,” he said. “Along the inshore stretches there have been some sierra and roosterfish found, without any sardinas it makes it more limited inshore.”


The ocean water temperature was holding in the 72- to 75-degree range, air was in the 80s, water clarity was good, with clean blue water found within a mile of shore. There were supplies of caballito in the marina area, also ballyhoo and slabs of squid.


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 68 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 9 striped marlin, 12 dorado, 24 yellowfin tuna, 5 wahoo, 225 bonito, 13 red snapper, 4 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 12 yellow snapper, 6 mohara, 10 tijareta, 8 roosterfish, 4 surgeon fish, 12 sierra and 80 triggerfish.


chuckchandlerin
CHUCK CHANDLER ALL the way from Alaska found some warm sunshine and some nice dorado right off the rocks at Punta Perico near La Paz while trolling a Rapala. He was fishing with Tailhunter International.


LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International were on the road in Sacramento at the Cal Expo for the ISE sportsman’s show but received a report from down south that dorado are still in La Paz Bay and outside Muertos Bay.


“It was an up-and-down week dictated by the weather and winds which is typical of this time of the year,” said Roldan. “Earlier in the week it was calm although there were some incidents of localized rain mixed with sunshine. Later in the week, winds got stronger generating some rougher water.


“Surprisingly, however, given it’s winter and waters are chillier than normal, we got into some decent school-sized dorado. Bait is difficult to get because of the winds and choppy surf, but dragging lures has been productive.”


He added that in addition to the dorado, tasty white bonito provided some great action.


“Many folks are surprised that the white bonito are not just great sport, but also pretty good eating! Add in some tough jack crevalle and a few firecracker yellowtail, sierra and cabrilla off the rocks and there were actually some nice catches.”


eastcapeisstill
THE EAST CAPE is still loaded with fish, with marlin still hitting and providing great catch-and-release action. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEN WREN SPORTFISHING


EAST CAPE — “Our conditions have been gnarly all week with strong north winds and a very grumpy Sea of Cortez,” reported Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing on Sunday. “The few anglers who did brave it were rewarded for their efforts. Striped marlin have been close to shore off La Ribera and a volume of dorado have been right out front just a few hundred yards off Palmas de Cortez's moorings.”


Rayor added that, “Many anglers are of the same belief as me that 2019 is going to be a good one. Our requests for reservations are coming ahead of any past year and the smart angler is planning ahead. Last week we had some of our faithful regulars want to stay at Palmas and found that Palmas and Playa de Sol are both already plugged for dates at the end of October. They were not able to get rooms. This is not the year to be cyber fishing and waiting for the reports to be good. It was good all of last year and all indications are that this is going to be a repeat performance.”


Addressing the rumor mill, Rayor said that while he is now 70 years old, he is not going anywhere.


“It has been gratifying to watch my work grow since arriving in Buena Vista 28 years ago,” said Rayor. “Jen Wren Sportfishing has become a recognized brand with a reputation of top notch service and equipment. Without argument we have set the bar in this region with the latest innovative equipment and still continue to improve.


“I'm in excellent health but 70 is still 70. I am at a crossroad and have to accept that I can't keep up my current pace of managing and maintaining three deluxe twin-engine cruisers forever. I am very fortunate to have excellent employees and in the last year have delegated many of my responsibilities to them. They have risen to the occasion but still it all ends up on my shoulders. It is becoming harder for me to manage and maintain the standard we have set. My first consideration was to downsize. The difficulty is that would be the start of dismantling what we worked so hard to build.”


“So, to address the rumor mill, we are not pulling up stakes and moving. The East Cape is our home. Jen and I obtained our Mexican citizenship more than 10 years ago and have lived here more than one third of our lives. We built our dream home and are ‘living the dream.’ We love where we live and what we do. My wife Jennifer is my first passion and sport fishing is my second. I'm ready to pass the baton and make the business available if the right person came along. Until that right person comes along it will still be this old guy answering the phone, scrubbing the bottoms and shoving off every morning at 6 a.m. Just planning ahead.”


sanquintinhad
SAN QUINTIN HAD the big waves and a lot of yellows for the guys fishing with K&M Sportfishing.


SAN QUINTIN — The surf was up, and so was the yellowtail fishing for those watermen fishing with K&M Sportfishing at the high spots. Both Juan Cook, a local guide, and Kelly Catian of K&M reported outstanding yellowtail fishing outside the bay. In fact, you could call it wide open.


A group made up of SoCal anglers/surfers and one from Hawaii fished in tough conditions and scored big fishing the high spots and then surfing the bay’s outer point with Capt. Kelly.


“After heading out to the high spots through heavy fog and big swell we arrived and within minutes we had a steady pick going,” said Catian. “After a couple hours we had a healthy stack of yellowtail and the guys were ready for some waves. Everybody got some bombs! Thanks Ramsey, Ken, Ian, and Jim.”


LORETO — It looks like a big year for Loreto yellowtail action as it busted loose last week, said Rick Hill of Pinchysportfishing.com.


“It was a big week with a couple of firsts for the new year,” said Hill. “One welcome arrival was limits of good-sized yellowtail for many of the boats working Coronado Island's points and shallow high spots. The fish ranged from 15 to 25 pounds. Some of the boats were back by 11 a.m. with sore muscles and full limits.


“The other arrival was the winter winds that scream into town for a day or two and then split. It looks really good all season for the yellowtail down here.”


BAHIA ASUNCION — Shari Bondy of La Bufadora Inn here said the weather was spectacular all week, and believe it or not (you should), the yellowtail fishing has been outstanding, and even dorado were being caught. Unheard of for winter.


“Fantastic weather and fishing down here, said Bondy. “Great yellowtail fishing and even some dorado! January Is the new December!”


* * *


Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and directs the annual Cabo Tuna Jackpot as well as reports weekly on Baja. You can contribute Baja reports by emailing WON and McDonell at Patm@wonews.com or BajaReports.com. Reports are compiled all week but are finalized Monday morning for the print edition.


•   •   •  •  •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. 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.


Yellowtail bite solid before the storms
Cabo tuna action offshore with porpoise still outstanding, marlin are still thick, and big wahoo were taken on the Gordo; and there was a monster 38-pound snook caught by a surfcaster

ENSENADA — Storms hit the west coast of Baja, and truth be told it wasn’t too nice either on the Sea of Cortez all last week, but there were plenty of opportunities to slide between blows and big swells for good fishing on the Pacific coast from Bahia Asuncion to San Quintin and on up to waters off Ensenada.


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THE BOYS FROM Montana had a field day on the yellows while fishing with Shari Bondy near her La Bufadora Inn in Asuncion Bay just as the swell was building.


Shari Bondy, who with her husband owns the La Bufadora Inn in Bahia Asuncion and hosts anglers eager to fish the nearby reefs, said the yellowtail fishing has been outstanding. By the weekend, the yellowtail bite was full-on, and then the swells came, and the situation won’t be much better until this next Pacific Northwest blow moves through. That was the same for San Quintin Bay’s Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing, who took clients to the high spots outside the bay over the week for a solid smack on the quality yellows.


Ensenada has been a tough nut to get information out of this past year. Few PBer’s go down any more due to the paperwork required (licenses, passports, visas, import docs, boat reg, insurance and rumor has it, your first born child) when you arrive and check in with the harbor master. But nothing has changed in terms of the quality fishing except most Americans simply don’t run to Ensenada any more by trailer rig or run down by water from San Diego for a weekend at the Hotel Coral and Marina. The short trips are just not worth the trouble, especially in winter. But, there are windows of information that pop open occasionally.


WON readerPaul Montgomery is an avid Baja angler and was just coming off a Baja Fishing Convoys charter out of Ensenada aboard the charterboat Gamefisher. The group of eight met at Brown Field at Otay Mesa at 4 a.m. and headed south via Baja Fishing Convoys owner Orchid’s van.


“After a two-hour ride we arrived at our destination and with the assistance of the crew of the Gamefisher, loaded ourselves and our gear on board,” said Montgomery in a Sunday Facebook post. “We headed south of the bay to Punta Banda, had breakfast and spent the day in that general area catching a very nice variety of bottomfish. I think everyone on board would agree that it was a very good trip with everyone getting limits of fish.


“Since we snuck out between storms the weather was very good with little or no wind and reasonably calm seas. We all had a great time and it was at great start to our fishing year. Our next trip is on Feb.11-13 on the Relentless (H&M Landing) headed for Colonet on a 1 ½-day trip limited to 16 anglers.”


coryidedafirst
CORY IKEDA’s FIRST cast from the beach on the Pacific side with Cabosurfcasters owner/guide Wesley Brough turned up this monster snook of 35 ½ pounds Jan. 5 on a topwater lure. CABOSURFCASTERS.COM PHOTO


Huge snook: One of the toughest targets in Baja is the snook, because they are rare catches in any size or numbers. But they are caught in nearshore areas near freshwater lagoons that are sand-blocked rivers where groundwater seeps into the ocean or rivers or streams flow into the Sea of Cortez. Mag Bay, the Pacific beaches above Cabo, San Jose Del Cabo in front of the estuary, La Paz Bay and the docks in the marinas, the Mulege River and many other areas where freshwater mixes with saltwater. And where this condition meets nearshore bait, primarily mullet.


Cory Ikeda was fishing before dawn on a beach north of Cabo when on his first cast he hooked a 38½-pound snook on a surface lure while being guided by Wesley Brough of Cabo San Lucas. Brough, 30, owns Cabosurfcasters.com guide service and hosts one to four clients a day, five to six days a week. It was not the biggest snook that Brough has ever guided customers to, that being a snook of 44 1/2 pounds a few years ago, but Ikeda’s 48-incher was his biggest-ever fish.


“It was caught so early and in the dark we couldn’t even get any video of the fight,” said Brough, a father of two, who grew up in Cabo and has forged a reputation as the go-to guide for Cabo’s beaches. “Two pumps of the lure and he was on.” The fight lasted 15 minutes. The snook catch is rare, of course. Primary targets are jacks and roosters, said Brough, “but once in a while we hook them.”


In other Baja action:


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A 60-POUND WAHOO was this angler’s reward while fishing with Gordo Banks Pangas out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


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JAMES ROSENWALD OF St. Croix, Minnesota, a two-time Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament champ on the Estrella Del Norte, did pretty well on a midweek run for the Gordo Bank wahoo out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — The highlight of the week in waters from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose Del Cabo was the wide-open wahoo action encountered on Monday and Tuesday off of Punta Gordo, reported Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas.


“Of course with so many people in the area, the word gets out in a hurry and no secret bite can be sustained, with everyone and their brother out trying to get in on this action,” said Brictson. “Water also turned off a bit on Wednesday, turning greenish, and between that and all of the pressure the bite tapered off. The best bet for these wahoo was on slow-trolled live chihuil, which are no guarantee to obtain.


“This was a new group of wahoo, appeared to be a spawning run, and many of these fish were in the 40- to 50-pound range, some over 50 pounds. Many charters were landing two to four or more wahoo, losing at least as many other strikes. Dorado were found on these same inshore grounds, but were not as numerous as were the wahoo, though once found they were a higher percentage of actually landing, the dorado weighed in the 10- to 20-pound class.”


Brictson said in his report that billfish 70 to 100 pounds are still more active on the Pacific, but they are now being found off the San Jose del Cabo grounds as well, as mackerel and sardineta baitfish schools are now shifting in this direction.


Bait options remained much the same, live caballito being netted in the marina area, but no sardinas are to be found, but ballyhoo and slabs of squid are available.


“Another option was to try and catch chihuil on the inner Gordo Bank, this proved the hot ticket the first half of the week,” said Brictson who added the bottom action was scarce, with more triggerfish than anything else, with an occasional cabrilla or pargo. The currents were strong and most anglers were preferring to target more glamorous surface species as long as they were still prevalent.”


As for yellowfin, the bite in his area within striking distance of pangas on local banks dropped way off, with the only action reported has been by the local commercial pangeros fishing late in the afternoon on the inner and outer Gordo Banks, taking yellowfin in the 60- to 90-pound range practically every day.


“No huge numbers, but enough to keep them working at it, and all of this action was on various baits; chihuil, chunk of caballito, skipjack or squid,” he said. “Very little action was reported for sierra or roosterfish. Once again, there are just not many people trying that now, especially without live sardinas available, limits inshore options during the winter season. We are optimistic that if weather allows, that the wahoo will be in the region through this month.”


As for the weather, he said, it seems to have stabilized some, with warmer conditions.


“At least the lows were not in the mid-50s like they were previous week. Scattered cloud cover, highs of 80 degrees. Ocean swells were moderate and winds from the north finally laid down, water clarity improved and ocean temperature was in the 72 to 75 degree range.”


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 78 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 19 striped marlin, 72 dorado, 3 yellowfin tuna, 76 wahoo, 14 bonito, 12 red snapper, 5 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 8 yellow snapper, 15 tijareta, 5 sierra and 65 triggerfish.


troyturnerwho
TROY TURNER, WHO also caught 25 striped marlin on Free 2 Play with friends celebrating his birthday this week, shows off his dorado and snapper catches at the Cabo Arch. He also released a roosterfish.


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PISCES 31-FOOT Ruthless anglers scored 14 yellowfin, the largest weighing in at 93 pounds caught by Meredith, sitting in the chair.


CABO SAN LUCAS — You want to catch big tuna, medium sized tuna, or just stick to catching and releasing striped marlin, as many as your arms can handle? Go to Cabo. Now. That’s pretty much the scenario this winter, which has seen the Finger Bank marlin pileup draw boats from Cabo 50 miles away. It was thought that bite was slowing, but it picked up where it left off a few weeks ago, but the better news is that the fish are moving down the line closer to Cabo.


That’s good news for everyone but the fuel docks.


“Our catch rate was 95 percent this week,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing. That means every boat, every day, caught something 95 percent of the time. Billfish was the top catch with a 63 percent success rate, followed by yellowfin tuna of 29 percent, and dorado 6 percent. “Another beautiful week of fishing in Cabo San Lucas to report here. Successful fishing, no matter what species was targeted, but with higher and more consistent numbers of marlin than any other species.


“The crews are finding the marlin are now very close to Lands End, with the Finger Bank (which we thought was starting to slow) now picking back up as weather has warmed slightly again. Yellowfin tuna are still found in decent sizes, ranging from 30 to about 100 pounds each, but with anglers heading about 30 miles out to find them. Scattered dorado catches, and very nice catches of smaller game like grouper, roosterfish, red snapper, sierra mackerel, skipjack and others.”


The Pisces Sportfishing website has the full report and many photos, but here are a few examples of the solid action. For marlin fishing close by, 12 striped marlin were released on the Pisces 31-foot Ruthless on Jan. 9 by the Dunn family from Charleston, South Carolina. That day was one of the top producing days for marlin.


“The Pisces 31-foot Rebecca caught and released 7 striped marlin and 1 sailfish too, this time by solo angler Jon Svedsen, from Phoenix, Ariz., who had his work cut out for him! The marlin ranged in size from 30 pounds all the way to 150 pounds each, and the sailfish was quite large, about 110 pounds approximately. They used mackerel bait for all fish, usually dead and weighted or live when the marlin was seen on the surface out in front of the Old Lighthouse.”


Ehrenberg continued: “Not only did we see large amounts of marlin released, but we had the fair share of yellowfin tuna, too. The Rebecca caught 6 yellowfin, with the largest hitting 86 pounds and the others ranging in size from 30 to 70 pounds each. The fish hit on cedar plugs, and guacamayo lures out at the 110 Spot. Anglers March Schloss and Paquale Travolino also released 2 striped marlin on mackerel at the Old Lighthouse on their way out.”


The Ruthless had a great day for tuna as well, catching 14 yellowfin tuna for anglers Margie and Meredith Bledsoe and George Schul, the largest tuna weighing 93 pounds. Others ranged in size from 30 to 70 pounds each. The tuna hit on cedar plugs, feathers and green lures about 30 miles out, at the 180 Spot.


yellowfinincluding
THE YELLOWFIN, INCLUDING this one, were biting right off the bat in 2018, and will the East Cape have another sensational season this time around? MARK RAYOR OF JEN WREN PHOTO


EAST CAPE — There is not much happening on the East Cape. Few anglers and a lot of wind this past week. Hotel Rancho Leonero is on its winter hiatus, and few boats are out. It’s show season, which will come to SoCal with the trio of Hall shows in March, but for now it’s Northern California’s turn.


East Cape Guides will be at the International Sportsmen's Expo in Sacramento at the Cal Expo State Fairgrounds, Jan. 17-20 at the Baja's Van Wormer Resorts booth to answer questions and book trips for the 2019 season.


One thing is for sure, winter weather on the East Cape is unpredictable in terms of planning fishing trips. Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfshing said in his blog over the weekend, “After a week of ugly weather with strong north winds, big seas and cold temperatures it has turned around. Now the Sea of Cortez is flat and I'm back to short sleeves and flip flops. Because angling conditions are so unpredictable in January not many fishermen are in town. For the second week in a row I have no report.


“March is when the relentless north wind starts to subside and fishing conditions become more favorable. I was going through some photos and found some from our shakedown cruise last March. We do this on each boat to make sure everything is in order after performing our winter maintenance.”


In the Jenwren Sportfishing website blog, Rayor posted photos from the successful shakedown cruise for one of his charterboats, Jen Wren.


“The day was March 14, 2018,” said Rayor who caught yellowfin that first day. “The whole season developed into one of the best in many years.”


kenwardand
KEN WARD AND Rich Chandler from Alaska found sunshine as well as some great inshore action on small roosterfish with their trout rods and had a hoot. They were fishing with Tailhunter just off the beach in Bahia Muertos/ Suenos Bay near La Paz.


stevegreenofwyoming
STEVE GREEN OF Wyoming was working the rocks off Punta Perrico near La Paz with Tailhunter International when he got these two nice cabrilla to chew.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International is on the road for a string of western states fishing, tackle and travel shows. But he gets regular reports from his pangeros.


“Not a whole lot happening this past week to be honest,” said Roldan. “It was a bit cold and chilly and not a lot of folks on the water as we hit that lull after the holidays. It’s hard to get a true assessment of fishing if there’s not that many folks getting out, but then again, there aren’t that many visitors and vacationers in the city to begin with.


“However, there were a few out on the water who found some fun inshore action, especially on lighter tackle. Efforts produced a wide range of species that included a few dorado and even some small roosterfish that were all released.


“Over the reefs and rocky areas, cabrilla and yellow snapper put the bend on the rods plus bonito, sierra, jack crevalle and some smaller firecracker yellowtail and smaller amberjack. Enough to keep folks happy and some good action.”


LORETO — Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com reported the yellowtail bite is on and the pangeros are concentrating on the forkies.


“Some firecrackers are in the count but most yellows are mediums,” said Hill. “The rockpiles haven't switched "on" yet for the big yellows but some nice sized pargo and cabrilla are falling for live mackerel. Sardinas still hold the best odds for hooking up along the coastline with the still-cooperating cabrilla. When chumming a bunch of sardinas doesn't work, a productive alternative has been hardbait deep divers.”


* * *


Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot in its 21st year. Contribute to Baja Reports by emailing him at baja@wonews.com or patm@wonews.com


apolloa1

apolloa2

apolloa3
THE APOLLO, A 65-foot sportfisher out of San Diego, is fishing in waters off Puerto Vallarta and has been scoring some big yellowfin like these, which were posted on Facebook on Sunday by angler Andrew Mack. Great weather, cow tuna. WON is hosting its second annual 3 ½-day Apollo charter on June 26-29.


•   •   •   •   •

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