SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS) — This past week the striped marlín bite finally went wide open from the Outer Gordo Bank and the 1150-Fathom high spot and multiple hook ups were reported. Mako and thresher sharks and a few big dorado were also found in the same area.
The striped marlin action that has dominated the offshore action for the past few months, changed to wide open action this past week, as the numbers of marlin on the local grounds significantly increased. “Anglers were regularly accounting for multiple catches of striped marlin up to 150 pounds,” Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said. “In recent days the hot spot has been between the Outer Gordo Bank and the 1150 high spot, 10 to 12 miles offshore. But the stripers are being found throughout the region; at times within just a few miles offshore.”
Brictson said the marlin are striking on a variety of trolled baits and artificial lures. “Local panga fleets were reported incredible success while slow trolling dead bolito but caballito and skipjack also worked,” he said. “The billfish seemed to prefer the bolito, striking on the fresh dead bait without hesitation. Many double and even triple hook ups were reported, these marlin were encountered in concentrations as well. As skipjack and bolito schools increasingly congregate on the fishing grounds, this is now attracting larger concentrations of game fish.”
“There were also continued reports of mako and thresher sharks found on the same offshore fishing grounds and more dorado also appeared in the fish counts,” Brictson said. “There are no real numbers yet of the dorado, just single fish being encountered; hooked on trolled lures or bait, the majority of the dorado have been of larger size, with a handful of impressive sized bulls close to 50 pounds accounted for from the same marlin grounds. A few wahoo stories were being told as well and we look for these elusive fish to become more active with the warming currents and their favored bolito food source appearing.
One reason for the increased activity was the water temperatures were on a warming trend throughout the area this past week and at this time there is 76-degree water pushing in from outside of the Gordo Banks area. From Cab San Lucas to Los Frailes the inshore water is ranging from 72 to 74 degrees.
“Increasing ocean swells from the south made it difficult for pangeros to net any sardina, so in recent days live sardina were not available and anglers were using the larger caballito, which remained plentiful from the marina area,” Brictson said. “The problem was these baits are purchased per piece, not to be used freely for chumming with like the sardina. More bolito are now schooling on the fishing grounds and these are being caught early in the day for use as bait. Also at times pelagic red crabs have been surfacing, being netted and used for bait over the bottom structure.”
“With the lack of sardina and higher surf conditions, there was not much to report for inshore action,” Brictson said. Anglers had other options though, such as fishing rocky structure areas, from 50 to 200 feet. Anglers found mixed results on a wide variety of species; most common were yellow snapper, barred pargo, huachinango (red snapper), amberjack, cabrilla (leopard grouper) and triggerfish.”
“Some days there was good early morning action reported on yo-yo jigs and live caballito, many heavier fish were cutting lines off in the rocks,” Brictson said. “Red crabs were sporadically found on the surface and being used successfully for red snapper bait, even an occasional amberjack hit on these small crabs.”
Brictson said sea lions were also hanging around their favorite snapper grounds and were a negative factor to deal with. “Bottom species become finicky when the grounds are plugged with red crabs and all of the fish acquire a preferred taste for these crabs and not much or anything else,” he said. “But with persistence and patience there were quality catches accoutered for; all excellent eating specimens and we certainly enjoyed the improved action.”
The combined local panga fleets launching from La Playita at the Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out 52 charters for the week, with anglers reported a fish count of 86 striped marlin, 6 mako shark, 2 thresher shark, 23 dorado, 22 barred pargo, 86 yellow snapper, 4 yellowtail, 34 amberjack, 28 cabrilla, 14 pompano, 48 triggerfish, 42 sierra and 12 roosterfish.
GORDO BANKS STARTS TO HEAT UP — From the Outer Gordo Bank to the 1150-Fathom high spot; anglers have found a wide open bite for marlin and multiple hook ups. The occasional, single dorado like this 45 pounder caught by Willy Espinoza, right, where also found out there. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS
In other Baja fishing action:
— BAHIA ASUNCION (Just south of Guerrero Negro): There may not be any yellowtail around this time of year in Bahia Asuncion, but the food fishing is still great!
“Capt. Juan had a day off from abalone fishing so of course we went sportfishing,” Shari Bondy of Campo Sirena said. “We arrived at Juan's secret spot and limited out on white fish and calico in a short time using squid for bait. This is the kind of fishing I love, getting a fish every drop and sometimes two”
“Whitefish is the best fish for ceviche and of course calico are just plain great any way you cook them,” Bondy said. “There are lots of calico being caught off the rocks as well. The weather has been lovely with air temperatures in the high 70s it’s been nice and cool. It is windy in the afternoons but calms down at night. Abalone season is going very well for the fishing cooperativas.”
— CABO SAN LUCAS: With the Pacific side holding colder and dirty water, most of the Cabo fleets headed up to the San Jose area and the 1150-Fathom spot for a better chance at marlin.
According to Fish Cabo Fleet owner, Roberto Marquez, the marlin were scattered all over and extended from out front of the Finisterra Hotel and easterly, into the Sea of Cortez, with the primary hot spot from the 95-Fathom spot to the 1150-Fathom spot. Reporting for the fleet, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said, "The fish are beginning to bite much better and the hot bait was the slow-trolled ballyhoo baits just like in the old days. While they were still eating the live baits, both the caballito and the mackerel, it seemed the ballyhoo was the right way to go for many of the boats."
“It started out slow earlier in the week but picked up as the week progressed and with any luck at all, it will just keep getting better,” Edwards said. “Many boats were reporting multiple fish days and that was a dramatic turnaround from the prior two weeks.”
The overall combined fish counts for a total of 12 charters fished offshore included 13 stripers (12 released) and 3 dorado. There was a single inshore fishing day that produced 10 sierra and 1 yellowtail.
Capt. Landrum of Fly Fisher Sportfishing reported the same type of offshore action but also commented on the inshore bite. “The yellowtail bite has dropped off and the sierra have taken over the position of the fish of the week for anglers fishing inshore,” he said. “It’s not that the yellowtail aren't out there, it's just that the numbers have dropped off. Toss in an occasional amberjack, grouper and a few snapper and fishing the beach has been the best way to insure you had something to eat for dinner. The best areas have been from the lighthouse on the Pacific side to the arch, and on the Sea of Cortes from Chileno Bay to Palmilla Point.”
“The problem on the Pacific side of the Cape was that we have 70 degrees below the San Jaime Banks and 67 degrees above it,” Landrum said. “That colder water above the San Jaime is green and just off the beach inside the Golden Gate Bank not only is it cold, but it is a very dirty red/green color.”
— EAST CAPE: It was the luck of the draw in the East Cape this past week, with some finding finicky stripers some days even though everyone saw plenty of them and others, plenty of opportunities. Dorado numbers picked up a bit and the rooster began to crow.
Eddie Dalmau from Van Wormer Resorts said fishing was almost a carbon copy of the previous week. “Guests were getting plenty of shots at striped marlin and said some were landing up to six a day and seeing over a dozen per day,” Dalmau said. “But we also had boats reporting that the marlin were very finicky and appeared not to be very hungry. Even so, those who don’t get discouraged were able to land some nice billfish.”
“The dorado bite continues to be hot,” Dalmau said. “Once again it wasn’t the number of fish landed but the size of the ones that were landed.”
“The roosters were once again being landed in bunches, although not as many as last week,” Dalmau said. “But this may be because not as many people were targeting them. We are also still seeing some nice jacks in the area, jack crevalle and skipjacks were both landed by guests. Some of the other species we saw included cabrilla, pargo, ladyfish, pompano, and mako shark.”
Dalmau said the water temperatures continued to hold steady at 74 to 76 degrees. “The air temperature has been in the low to mid 80s, but we are seeing more mid 80s and even a few low 90s. Friday the sky turned grey and we had some late afternoon thunder and lightning but it only lasted the one day.”
John Ireland at Rancho Leonero said ranch guests had the same good fishing as in the previous week. “We don’t have many photos in our gallery though since both the striped marlin and roosterfish are normally released. “That said; the striped marlin were mixed in with a few sailfish and were abundant and close in, between the hotel and Punta Arena (the lighthouse).”
“Anglers targeting billfish released at least one a day, most were being taken within eye sight of the hotel,” Ireland said. “The billfish are very close inshore, some within a ½ mile of the beach. Our shuttle panga driver, Eddie, caught a striper around our boat anchorage on Wednesday afternoon.” Ireland said skirted ballyhoo and live caballito were working best but trolled squid colors worked as well. The fish were between 150 and 200 pounds.
“There were also a few big bull dorado to 60 pounds taken daily, all on trolled marlin lures,” Ireland said. “The roosterfish bite has been very strong, with lots of gallos around. The roosterfish were bigger this past week, with some 40 to 50 pounders released. And inshore has been good with lots of pompano and pargo taking sardine. The water is warming up fast; we will have 80-degree water within the next two weeks, which is very early. We are waiting for the tuna to show up at anytime!”
Felipe Valdez from the Buena Vista Beach Resort said all of his anglers headed down and off the lighthouse since most were looking for a marlin or two and then planned to finish off the day targeting other fish. “If you were targeting the marlin, it was all about the ballyhoo this past week,” he said. “There were a few reported finicky biters, especially the one day we got some weather. But most of our guests fished more than one day so they all ended up doing well, it pays to be persistent.”
“We didn’t see a lot of dorado but the ones we had were all very nice-sized fish,” Valdez said. “We ended the week’s count (Saturday) with 20 marlin, 1 sailfish, some nice dorado, a mako shark, several pargo, a few cabrilla, jacks and triggerfish but only 5 roosterfish as only one boat was targeting them.”
Marisol Verdugo of Verdugo’s Beach Resorts reported dorado from 15 to a whopping 61 pounds as well as marlin.
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HAVING A BALL WITH THE BULLS — The action is heating up on the East Cape and its close in, too. Not only are anglers finding an improving bite for willing marlin, they are finding some nice bull dorado. This one weighed in at almost 50 pounds. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VAN WORMERS RESORTS