LORETO — Yellowtail fishing continues to be slow but it was still an improvement over what the area has been experiencing since early December. There were also bottomfish to be found and whales to watch. Whales can also be used as indicator species of what’s going on underwater as well.
“At Punta Pulpito yellowtail of all sizes are coming in with jigs fished off the bottom,” Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said. “They're over the reef and about 150 feet down. Cabrilla and pargo are mixed in with them as well.”
“Cabrilla are also being caught off La Cholla with sardina flies, and trolled Rapala type lures,” Bolles said. “Live mackerel are available and easy to catch but they don’t seem to be their bait of choice.”
Bolles said sardina are well offshore and east of Punta Perico and Punta Lobos on Carmen Island's north side. “These sardina are reproducing off the islands and attracting a surface yellowtail bite in the afternoons if you want to go out that far.”
“And farther offshore from the sardina schools are huge masses of krill, enough to feed the over two dozen blue whales that are in that area now,” Bolles said. “The sea surface temperatures are very cool for mid February but as that water warms up the krill will move in and the blue whales with it. The whales can be used as indicators of what’s going on.”
“We've seen very little humpback activity near shore and inside the channel; this indicates a lack of sardina and other baits these large mammals feed on,” Bolles said. “As the water warms up and the bait moves closer to the coast we'll see the whale's spouting from shore again and we'll see better fishing as well.”
Rick Hill of Loreto Sea and Land Eco Tours said some consistent action is happening at the shallow rockfish spots, with pinto bass being the number one catch. “The fish have been averaging 16 inches and they are perfect for the frying pan,” he said. “We have also picked up a few firecracker-sized yellowtail on trolled lures while targeting cabrilla.”
“Chunked mackerel is the bait for the pintos if you want to fish the Coronado spots,” Hill said. “Cut squid seemed to work for the huachinango (red snapper) in the deep spot right off the airport approach with12 ounces of lead and a rockcod setup.”
“One lucky boat on Tuesday loaded up on a surprise sierra boil between Danzante Island and Punta Coyote,” Hill said. “They had 12 nice sierra and one 7-pound cabrilla on silver and black CD11 Rapalas.”
In other Baja fishing action:
— SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS): Northern winds continued to blow, but not as relentless as they can be this time of year. Water temperature warmed back up to an average of 69 to 70 degrees, earlier in the week cold currents of 67 degrees had swept through the area turning water conditions. But a returning yellowtail bite was a bonus, considering these fish are usually not around now.
“The rainfall and the following gusty winds from the north attributed to turning the water conditions over through the previous weekend, shutting down the yellowfin tuna bite that had developed on the Iman Bank,” Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said.
“Conditions have been improving though and by week’s end, anglers were catching limited numbers of yellowfin tuna while drift fishing with sardina,” Brictson said. “These fish are weighing in the 30- to 50-pound class; a definite bonus considering these fish are normally out of season during this time period. But black skipjack and sea lions continued to be a nuisance for anglers to deal with.”
Brictson said anglers found improved action closer to shore and off the rock piles. “Along the beaches the sierra action broke wide open, particularly off the Chileno area and limits of some nice-sized sierra up to five pounds were accounted for with sardina,” he said.
“While using yo-yo jigs retrieved up from the bottom, anglers were hooking into a mix of yellowtail, amberjack, cabrilla, pargo and bonito; all very good fighting fish and excellent table fare,” Brictson said. “The Red Hill area is starting to hold more fish, another consistent spot was near Iman Bank.”
“Bait suppliers were finding schooling sardina near Desteladera and from Palmilla to Chileno,” he said. “No one reported catching any mackerel off San Jose del Cabo, but there were caballito available from vendors.”
Striped marlin activity was scattered and offshore baitfish activity has been scarce. “As weather becomes more stable this activity should improve,” Brictson said. “Some charters searching for billfish had multiple strikes, while others were not so fortunate. There were more chances in the direction of Cabo San Lucas and on the Pacific side than in the direction of the Sea of Cortez.”
The combined panga fleets launching from La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos sent out 62 charters for the past week, with anglers reported a fish count of 1 striped marlin, 90 bonito, 21 amberjack, 26 cabrilla, 22 yellowtail, 16 huachinango, 22 sierra, 8 roosterfish, 16 dorado, 27 yellowfin tuna, 35 pargo,3 dogtooth snapper and 12 jack crevalle.
— SANTA ROSALIA: Fishing started to show a little move towards improvement here, with a few yellowtail being brought in but the real news was that of the largest grouper anyone has ever caught.
“There are signs of spring in the air with an increase in baitfish, which can be seen feeding on the surface as well as a lot of floating sargasso the last few days,” local angler Jim Anderson said. “Water temperatures are hovering around the 58-degree mark now, which is about normal.”
“But the big news this past week was the largest grouper anyone has ever seen was caught in San Bruno,” Anderson said. “It was caught by a hand line and mackerel bait by Rigo Ojeda of San Bruno. Ojeda was fishing solo for the day and hooked the monster in about 100 feet of water. It pulled him about 1/2 mile but was unable to get him in the rocks and Ojeda was able to land the fish.”
“The interesting part of the story was how he put down a bait and the fish broke his line, so he put another line down which got bit immediately,” Anderson said. “When he pulled it up, it had both hooks in his jaw.”
The grouper weighed in at 145 kilos or 319 pounds. “He had a really hard time dragging the fish into his panga but managed to bring him in over the transom without mishap and then needed four large people to drag the fish out of the boat when he reached shore,” Anderson said. “Needless to say, he was ecstatic when they weighed the fish and realized just how large it really was. This fish will go a long way in helping recover from a poor winter of fishing.”
A FEAT IN ANYBODY’S BOOK — Hauling up a monster grouper from the deep, Rigo Ojeda of San Bruno, while fishing alone, handlined, and then hauled the 319-pound beast into his panga alone. He needed the help of four other men to get it back out. PHOTO COURTESY OF WON READER AND CONTRIBUTOR JIM ANDERSON
— SAN QUINTIN: Not to be outdone by other areas, reports of yellowtail and rockfish were all over the airwaves here as well.
“Thursday started off with the VHF on our boat Offshore IV, reporting yellowtail on the iron at the15-Fathom spot by Capt George,” Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Offshore Sportfishing said.
“Mike Rooney and his son had three on and were still fighting them but their final count was not three but one they managed to boat out of the many they hooked up and plenty of rockfish and lingcod,” Catian said. “The weather was great and other boats from the local fleet did well on rockfish and lingcod as well.”
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