Baja Fishing Report

Cabo – getting better – and gets another weird one! Alaska brings back two flights to Loreto

BY ROBIN WADE/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 01, 2012

CABO SAN LUCAS — With an overall catch success rate for all species combined at 85 percent, fishing in Cabo improved a lot; especially for marlin, even though it still has a way to go; the area had some encouraging daily fish reports for this past week, as well as another weird fish.

“Blue marlin season is from July to mid-November, nevertheless with few exceptions, a blue marlin caught this time of year can still be very large,” Tracy Ehrenberg from the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet said. "And this year has been no exception. Although the fish have been small at around the 200-pound mark, the Adriana found one that took a purple lure 18 miles out from the Old Lighthouse,” Ehrenberg said. “They released the blue before going on to catch 6 yellowfin tuna.”

Ehrenberg said their other 28-foot boat the Andrea, also did very well. “Fishing on the other side at Destiladeras on the Cortez side, they released 3 striped marlin and caught 3 skipjacks,” she said. “We are starting to see some big stripers; Ruthless reported a 170 pounder was released at Destiladeres. Looking over our numbers for this past week, we saw that the majority of marlin were in the Sea of Cortez, quite unusual for this time of year, while tuna and other game fish tended to be on the Pacific side. With 32 percent of Pisces charters catching and releasing marlin during this report, that made for 16 marlin released.”

Dorado fishing was actually quite good considering everything, with half the boats catching from one to eleven fish up to 25 pounds. “They took live bait and green lures, with most found on the Cortez side,” Ehrenberg said. “Our total dorado tally was 75 fish. Yellowfin tuna catches were fair, with 28 percent of our boats catching from one to seventeen up to 25 pounds. La Brisa caught 15 but had to travel 33 miles off the lighthouse to find them; cedar plugs were the most effective method of hooking up. Lots of skipjacks are also around but the black type are not considered good eating. And there were also some roosterfish and sierra.”

In other Cabo news, Ehrenberg said Cabo is known for picking up unusual fish stories, and they somehow always seem find their way to Pisces Sportfishing. "We were advised that another strange fish was found by the boat Viviana,” she said. “They brought the fish to us to examine and to keep for the scientists. This is now the third of this species that we have seen over the last few years. The odd looking creature is a chimera or ratfish and judging by what we’ve seen before, this one is a female, as it lacked the clasper on the forehead sported by the males.

Reporting for the Gaviota Sportfishing and Fish Cabo fleets, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said it appears that the billfish may be filtering around the tip of Cabo San Lucas and starting their move up and into the Sea of Cortez.  “While it may be an anomaly, since the billfish don’t usually start their move until mid-February, the fish report for this past week suggests they may be headed that way,” Edwards said. “We’ll be looking forward to the report for the coming week just to see if the trend continues.”

“Overall, the fishing was quite slow and for no apparent reason,” Edwards said. “This forced the boats to start looking around on the Sea of Cortez side and that produced a billfish on the 95-Fathom spot and another just above the Gorda Banks. The other two billfish were taken at Pozo De Cota on the Pacific side.”

Edwards said that while not a bonanza by a long shot, it was an indicator that the fish may be on the move. “The overall fish counts for a total of 17 charters fished reflected a combined total of 4 billfish released, 4 dorado, 17 yellowfin tuna, 10 skipjack tuna, 1 sierra and 3 roosterfish,” he said.

Capt. Landrum of Fly Fisher Sportfishing ran “a loop” on the water temperatures for this past week and said it appears that the warm water we have been seeing just to the west of the San Jaime bank earlier in the week has slowly moved towards Cabo, to the point that it is now on top of the San Jaime. “This is 70-degree water, three degrees warmer that the expanse of ocean between the Banks and Cabo,” Landrum said.

“Right along the beach on the Pacific side we are seeing much cooler water at 63 degrees, but this only extends off the beach about a mile,” Landrum said. “The water on the Pacific side has been a very nice blue, while the water immediately off the Cape has been greenish and the water in the Sea of Cortez has had a slight green tinge. In San Lucas Bay we have 64-degree water.”

“The striped marlin seem to have concentrated (if you can call it that) in the warmer waters atop the San Jaime Bank and just offshore in the San Jose Canyon,” Landrum said. “They are still not there in great numbers, and still very picky due to all the 15-inch squid they have been feeding on, which makes it tough to get them to bite. But with patience and enough fish to present to, some of the boats managed to release as many as four fish during a charter, although most of them were happy to get one or two releases.”  

Landrum said one thing the presence of squid this size signifies, is that sometime ‘soon’ we should start seeing more swordfish, as these squid are the perfect prey for them. “They also seem to show up in the slightly green water, so I expect the next one caught will be from outside the Gorda Banks.”

“With the warm water on the Pacific side moving in closer to us, the run to the fish has lessened, but that does not mean that running to the warm water will guarantee you yellowfin,” Landrum said. “The fish are scattered in the porpoise and not all the porpoise have tuna associated with them” he said. “As you can see, it is a bit of a crap-shoot, but if you do manage to get into the fish, there have been some nice ones to 60 pounds being caught. Of course, those were the exception; most of the fish have been between 12 and 25 pounds with a decent number of them weighing between 20 and 40 pounds.”  

“I am very surprised that we are still seeing any dorado at all coming in to the docks, as the water is much cooler than they normally like,” Landrum said. “While there have been a few nice fish in the 20-pound and larger size, most of the fish have been 10 pounds or less.”

Landrum said the good news is that inshore the sierra bite is going good for small fish, and there has been no problem with most anglers being able to limit out on these little razor-tooth fish. “Also good news is that there’s a showing of yellowtail along the rocky areas, and some of them very nice sized as well,” he said. “Small roosterfish to 12 pounds have been schooling along the beach between Grey Rock and Cabo Del Sol as well. Toss in some nice snapper going up to 25 pounds and some scattered bottomfish and there is action and food to be had fishing along the beach.”

marlin and tuna

MARLIN, TUNA, SOME LATE SEASON DODOS AND ANOTHER ONE OF THESE — Here’s the third one of this species seen over the last few years, the odd looking chimera or ratfish was turned into scientists by way of Pisces Sportfishing this past week. These deep water fish have never been seen here until three years ago. They are usually found on the surface where they are dying and just scooped up and taken aboard. PHOTO COURTESY OF PISCES SPORTFISHING

In other Baja fishing action:  

— EAST CAPE: Reports were not only scarce this past week, there weren’t any as the waters continued to be better suited for the kite boarders than anglers.

— ENSENADA: This past weekend there were many sightings and rumors of yellowtail between Todos Santos Island and the San Miguel Reef as the water temperatures were holding between 57 and 59 degrees.

“Typical, anglers are focused on the lingcod, which has been ‘fair’ north of the island,” Mariana Hammann from the Coral Marina Shop said. “There is lots of bait (mackerel) north of the island and close to San Miguel Reef as well, but everyone is hoping to switch to yellowtail sooner than later,” she said.

— LORETO: Although the fishing was slow this past week except for bottomfish, the good news here is that Alaska Airlines seems to be starting their two flights per week again, with the "big jet," a 737, like a few years ago.

“We had three great days on the water this past week, but then the wind came back,” Rick Hill of Loreto Sea and Land Eco Tours said. “Fishing was all about the reef or bottomfish such as pinto bass, cabrilla or pargo.”

“The giant schools of firecracker yellowtail are being found just outside the islands and consistently outside the sea lion colony at Coronado,” Hill said. “The trouble is that there are enormous schools of sardine all over the area and the bottom line is that the firecrackers are stuffed to the max with fresh sardine and if you cast a live mack out there he will be dining on sardine as well.”

— MULEGE: Mulege had to change the dates for their tournament due to wind and it is now scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, which Bouyweather shows as being calm and having low winds.  

— SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS): Los Cabos weather conditions continue to be extremely pleasant for wintertime, with mostly clear sunny skies, high temperatures reaching 80 degrees and variable northern winds. Cooler nights ranged as low as 50 degrees and helped to lower the water temperatures a few degrees since the previous week. The ocean temperatures are now ranging from 67 degrees on the Pacific side to 70 degrees further offshore and in the direction of San Jose del Cabo.

“Supplies of sardina have been plentiful off the beaches north of Punta Gorda,’ Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said. “This has been convenient for anglers out of San Jose del Cabo because this is the same area where the fishing action for species such as dorado and yellowfin tuna was more productive; also there were miscellaneous structure species being found.”

Brictson said dorado were found spread out throughout both the inshore and offshore fishing grounds. “These fish are striking on a wide variety of lures and baitfish, ranging in size between 5 to 15 pounds, but every so often there were fish up to 25 pounds accounted for,” he said. “With the ocean now on a cooling trend, this could slow the bite down, as these fish tend to migrate south when currents drop to 70 degrees or lower.”

This past week Brictson said anglers found much improved action for yellowfin tuna around the Iman Bank. “There was a fast current to deal with, also some pesky sea lions and let’s not forget to mention the presence of huge schools of aggressive skipjack,” he said. “They made it tough to get through to have a chance at the tuna. Persistence and patience was the key, but many charters did account for one, two, three or more yellowfin, with sizes ranging from 25 to 40 pounds, and some fish up to 80 pounds mixed in. Using sardina or chunks of skipjack for bait was the most productive technique.”

Closer to shore, he said there have been fair numbers of sierra; most of these fish were in the1 to 5 pound class. “There were quite a few juvenile sized roosterfish in the area as well, both of these species hit best on sardina, but would also strike Rapalas and cast jigs.”

“Off the bottom, when the currents allowed, anglers using various baits and yo-yo’s found a mix of amberjack, yellowtail, yellow snapper, cabrilla, bonito and dogtooth snapper,” Brictson said. “There were no great numbers of them, but at times it showed good promise for some great eating variety.”

“Striped marlin action has been more spread out this year, and at this time the fleets are finding more numbers of stripers in the direction of San Jose del Cabo from the Gordo Banks and Desteladera to Vinorama,” Brictson said. “This should be the area to concentrate on in the coming months.”

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita and the Puerto Los Cabos sent out 68 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of 6 striped marlin, 94 yellowfin tuna, 14 bonito, 15 amberjack, 13 cabrilla, 42 yellow snapper, 6 dogtooth snapper, 196 dorado, 18 roosterfish, 8 yellowtail, 6 mako shark and 88 sierra.

— SANTA ROSALIA: Fishing continued to be very slow in the Santa Rosalia area as the yellowtail have not shown up, except for an occasional fish that seems to be off the beaten path.  

“Cabrilla fishing has been pretty good at Tortuga Island along the shore with trolled Rapala like lures and swimbaits,” local angler Jim Anderson said. “The green mackerel have gotten very scarce and are proving to be very difficult to locate in the deeper waters.”   

“There are a lot of Spanish mackerel off the cliff areas but they are all very large in size and may not be the best baits to use,” Anderson said. “The big-eye scad that are normally found by the marina in Santa Rosalia have also disappeared, so getting enough bait is a challenge, but since we don't have many yellowtail, it really matters a whole lot.”

Anderson said on the calm days there have been some baqueta and gold spotted bass taken when one can get down in the 350- or 400-foot mark, and so those who are persistent have been coming in with some fish.  

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