Baja Fishing Report

San Jose Del Cabo tuna an offseason surprise

BY ROBIN WADE/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 15, 2012

SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS) — It was hit or miss time here, especially since the month of February is now living up to its reputation as having very unpredictable weather patterns. The week started off with clear and calm days and then a cold front move in from the north, leaving moderate rainfall on and off through Wednesday, followed up by wind from the north on Thursday and Friday.
“Water temperatures began the period averaging about 72 degrees but by the end of the week, dropped down into the 67/68 degree range,” Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said. “Tourists numbers remained light, though the limited numbers of anglers did find some very good angling action during the first half of the week. The full moon seems to always stir conditions up during this time of year and extreme tides and often wind, also scattered baitfish schools. Despite this there were good supplies of sardina found off the beaches near Desteladera. Schooling mackerel were hard to find though skipjack continued to be found in large schools throughout the region.”

Brictson said the striped marlin activity has been scattered, although anglers targeting these billfish had a few opportunities per day on stripers ranging up to 120 pounds. “Much of this action was found 10 to 20 miles off the Chileno down to Cabo San Lucas,” he said. “Strikes came on trolled lures, rigged ballyhoo and dropped back baits. We expect as water temperatures warm back up some, their food supply fish such as mackerel, sardineta and flying fish should improve the action offshore.”

“The most consistent fishing action has been closer to shore over rocky structure, most often at depths ranging from 100 to 150 feet,” Brictson said. “San Jose del Cabo charters concentrated most of their efforts around the Iman Bank. Besides finding some of the heaviest whale watching concentrations in the area, this is where they found yellowfin tuna action. It was not wide open, but there was definitely a chance at landing one or two, sometimes more, quality sized fish. They were a bit finicky about taking drifted sardina, at times preferring live bait and other times dead on fluorocarbon leaders of 40 to 60 pounds ranging between 30 and 80 pounds although some fish were in the 100-pound class.”

Brictson said these fish would come up on chum at unpredictable times during the day, sometimes early, other times being more active later in the day, with lots of aggressive skipjack and sea lions to deal with in the meantime. “Considering that this is now off season for the yellowfin tuna fishery in local waters, this has been a special bonus for anglers,” he said. “It is not always a sure deal to have chances at this size of tuna during the cooler winter months.”

“There were even a few wahoo in the mix striking in the same area where the tuna were schooling, hitting on yo-yos and sardina,” Brictson said. “Of course as usual for ‘hoo, more strikes were lost than actually landed. Dorado action tapered way off compared to previous weeks, though earlier in the week before conditions turned over, there were some decent number of dodos found. Most of these fish were weighed 15 pounds or less, with a few exceptions of larger specimens.”

“Bottom action showed some signs of improving, but then slowed back down to a standstill, though anglers did find limited numbers of yellowtail, amberjack, various pargo/snapper species and cabrilla,” Brictson said. “Some of these fish weighed up to 30 pounds and hit while drift fishing off the rocky bottom areas on baits and yo-yo jigs.”

Closer to shore just outside the surf zone there were sierra, roosterfish and jack crevalle. “Slow trolling with sardina was the most productive method for finding action, though anglers also reported success on hoochies and Rapalas,” Brictson said. “More sierra than anything else were found up to 3 or 4 pounds. The few roosterfish that were encountered were also of similar size, some of the jacks ranged to 20 pounds, they’re strong fighters and strong tasting fish as well.”

The combined panga fleets launching from La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos sent out 50 charters for the past week, with anglers reported a fish count of 2 striped marlin, 29 bonito, 11 amberjack, 16 cabrilla, 13 yellowtail, 36 huachinango (red snapper), 116 sierra, 6 roosterfish, 33 dorado, 69 yellowfin tuna, 26 yellow snapper, 18 barred pargo, 4 dogtooth snapper, 12 shark and 450 black skipjack.

good timing

Although the fishing has been hit or miss, Ed and Sue Maxey visiting from Redding, CA and members of the area’s Phil's Prop team accounted for an impressive rack of fish, including 4 yellowfin tuna up to 50 pounds and some decent sized dorado while fishing with Gordo Banks Pangas skipper Chame Pino aboard the 22-foot panga Tina Lee on the Iman Bank. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS

In other Baja fishing action:   

— SANTA ROSALIA: Santa Rosalia is usually a real yellowtail hotspot on the peninsula but this year things have been a little different. Both the squid and the yellowtail decided after the middle of December to go to other spots in the Sea of Cortez.  

Jim Anderson, a local angler living here for many years said sadly, his personal theory is that it is a direct result of the indiscriminate wrap netting that occurs when the fish come in close to shore to spawn. “The netters have learned to kill massive amounts of fish in areas that they used to leave alone since the rocks destroyed their nets,” Anderson said.  

“Being both creative and hungry, they learned to put divers over the side of the boat and move the nets to the center over the rocks,” Anderson said. “So not only have we lost our spawners but the other fish have learned to avoid those areas where the heavy netting takes place.”  

There was a bright spot in this past week’s report, as a few divers saw a new group of fish aggressively feeding on the north end of San Marcos Island. “It was a mix of medium- to smaller-sized fish but Saturday there were reports of some fish caught,” Anderson said.   

“We know that all of the winning yellowtail from the Mulege tournament came from San Nicolas and Isla Ildefonso, so we are hoping that some of these larger yellowtail are going to be migrating into our area,” Anderson said. “For those who have been holding off coming down to get into the nicer yellowtail, this next week may just be the ticket.”

Anderson said fishing for gold spotted bass, grouper, cabrilla, and baqueta has been good when the wind settled down. “There are lots of good freezer fish available, which make a nice addition to the yellowtail when they do show.”

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