CABO SAN LUCAS — The 2012 IGFA Offshore World Championship kicks off the season in Cabo San Lucas this week and cumulates with WON’s Tuna Jackpot the first week in November. The event, which saw teams start to arrive on Friday and runs from May 13 thru 18, will definitely separate the “men from the boys.” The marlin are finally starting to bite now that the “super” moon phase is waning. As of Sunday, 48 teams from 20 countries had checked in.
The IGFA “by invitation only” event is a compilation of first place winners from qualifying offshore international fishing tournaments from around the world. First place prize is the coveted title and championship rings among many other prizes. And as this writer has been reporting for weeks now, you can bet they will all make a beeline to the 1150 Fathom spot.
Reporting for the Gaviota Sportfishing and Fish Cabo fleets, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the billfish bite for the past week offered anglers some terrific action, as the boats reported an average of 2-plus billfish landed per boat.
“The Gaviota IX had a 6-striper release day earlier in the week and remained the high boat for the week,” he said. “The fleet-wide action continued throughout the week, with the hot spot in the area of the 1150 Fathom spot. The catches are expected to continue right into the IGFA tournament and the teams should have some outstanding action over the dark of the moon. The overall fish counts for 14 charters included 37 stripers, with 33 released, and a single dorado taken aboard the Gaviota IV.”
The coming IGFA tournament will probably result in most of the boats using rigged trolling baits due to the new “catch your own live bait” rule, but more on that later.
“This week’s report could just be called the marlin report, because they were the number-one catch in Cabo, with the 1150 spot the hottest spot in the area,” said Tracy Ehrenberg from Pisces Sportfishing. “This is good news with the World Offshore Championship Tournament starting up. We saw plenty of international teams arriving early to practice with local crews and techniques ahead of the main event, which is spread over four days of fishing. Anglers fish on a different boat every day, randomly selected by a drawing at check-in, and can only use 30-pound line and must catch fish unassisted. Seventy-four percent of our boats caught between 1 and 5 marlin per day, with the odd boat here and there getting skunked.”
Capt. Landrum from Fly Hooker Sportfishing said with the moon in its waning phase, more striped marlin are on the surface and they seem more willing to take a bait than they were the previous week. “The favorite area is still between the 1150 Fathom spot and the San Jose Canyon, but there are fish showing up on the 95 Fathom spot; probably as the warm water keeps moving to the west, the fish will follow,” Landrum said.
“A few boats were finding marlin very close to the beach, less than 2 miles out,” Landrum reported. “They were not there in the numbers being found offshore, but they were willing to bite, and many boats managed to close out a half-day trip by catching one outside Cabo.
“More good news… the warming water may also be bringing in more of the larger marlin, as several boats reported catching blue marlin,” Landrum said. “I did not see any of the fish but they were reported to me as being less than 200 pounds and were caught on lures pulled for striped marlin. Never forget that there are other billfish out there, as well. A private boat out running some checks on their electrical systems, checking the radar, put a couple of lines in the water. Crossing the 95 spot they hooked up a swordfish that weighed just under 300 pounds on a lure at night!”
Other tournaments of note: The Billfish Tournament is on October 16-20, Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore is Oct. 19-21, followed directly by the Bisbee Black & Blue on Oct. 23-27, and WON’s Tuna Jackpot on Nov. 7-10. Check out and sign up for the Tuna Jackpot at http://www.loscabostunajackpot.com or click on the “Events” tab at the top of this page. Here’s hoping I didn’t miss any of the other larger events throughout Baja!
ANOTHER CLEAN RELEASE — It’s nice to see the circle hook in action, doing exactly what it is supposed to do: hook the fish where it is not going to do damage so it can be released. There will be plenty more of these photo opportunities this coming week at the IGFA Offshore World Championship out of Los Cabos. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIO BAÑAGA AND PISCES SPORTFISHING
In other Baja fishing action:
— BAHIA ASUNCION (just south of Guerrero Negro): It was a great week in Asuncion, with beautiful calm mornings for fishing and not much swell.
“Our visiting anglers took their small inflatable out to Asuncion Island and got their limits of calico every day,” said Shari Bondy of Campo Sirena. “They also enjoyed exploring the area with some day trips to San Roque beach, San Hipolito and Pta. Abreojos, as well as shore fishing in front of their beach house rental.”
Bondy said abalone season is going very well and shore fishers have been catching lots of perch at Ensenadita by the point.
— EAST CAPE: The fish are definitely out there but most could only look at them and curse for not biting.
“We just didn’t see the numbers we were seeing the previous two weeks, but we did see some quality fish,” said Eddie Dalmau from Van Wormer Resorts. “We are still seeing lots of billfish in the area; both striped marlin and sailfish were landed. Our anglers that didn’t get skunked landed one to three per boat, but some were seeing more than a dozen a day.
“The dorado bite slowed down, but the ones that did come to the dock were in the 30- to 50-pound range,” Dalmau said. “Aaron Jones from Phoenix. Ariz., landed the dorado of the week while trolling a dead ballyhoo onboard the 28-foot cruiser J&B. The dorado was estimated to weigh 50 pounds by Capt. Alberto Cota.
“Some of the other species we saw included roosterfish up to 25 pounds, jack crevalle, amberjack, cabrilla, pargo, ladyfish and mako shark,” Dalmau said. “The water temperature has been in the upper 70s, with air temperatures already in the low 90s, so things are heating up.”
Over at the Buena Vista Beach Resort, the bite also tapered off, in part thanks to the “super” moon. “We had 19 boats out this past week (through Saturday) with a total of 7 striped marlin and 1 sailfish,” Felipe Valdez said from the report. “Fish of the week were roosterfish but anglers had to work hard to get them to go.
“All of our boat went south, as far down as Los Frailes,” Valdez said. “We are very close to things busting wide open. Remember, May is still a transition month, but considering that, the waters are looking good and we are right on track for another great season. Next up should be the tuna followed by the blacks and blues.” Included in the weekly fish count were also cabrilla, 3 nice-sized dorado, jack crevalle, needlefish, 1 shark, skipjack, several snapper and 4 trumpetfish.
Valdez said a few days his dock workers watched huge schools of big mullet swarming under and around the ramp, with a few big gallos in pursuit.
Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing agreed that marlin fishing has been tough. “Finding and sighting fish has been easy, but getting them to bite has been frustrating,” he said. “Boats are only getting 1 marlin out of 10 to take the bait. Quality dorado have taken up some of the slack, though. Fish as large as 50 pounds are in the mix every day.
“Inshore, roosterfish and pompano are on the feed,” Rayor said. “Finding sardines for bait has been the key to success and not easy some days.
“Yellowfin tuna have not arrived yet,” he said. “I can't remember the last time we weren't knee deep in tuna by the middle of May. We did see a big school of them the other day in the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park. That is a protected, no-fishing area but the sighting is a good sign of things to come.”
Starting this month on May 26-28 the non-profit ALMA Fishing Tournament at (Spa) Buena Vista Beach Resort starts off the season, followed by the Van Wormer’s Dorado Shoot Out on July 19-21. Right on its heels is the Bisbee’s Offshore on July 24-28 back at the Buena Vista Beach Resort. The Lynn Rose Classic is usually scheduled for October, but dates for this year’s event are not listed anywhere.
— ENSENADA: The great yellowtail action continued and the first “rumored” albacore reports were also heard, but there have been no photos yet to prove it. Even so, hopes are high as the waters slowly warm up. There were also lots of barracuda and bottomfish around, as well.
“The week started with anglers Peter Harms and Ken Rangel aboard the Angler fishing near Punta Morro, sighting and catching lots of barracuda of various sizes,” said Mariana Hammann from the Coral Marina Store.
“But north of the island they found yellowtail galore, everywhere,” she said. “They managed to catch two that weighed between 20 and 25 pounds and lost another two. They also caught a decent mix of bottomfish, all with a little help from their jigs.
“On the weekend, the La Laine caught another medium to big yellowtail near the island, as well,” Hammann said. “Our friends on the Reel Adventure tell us the water temperatures are around 61 degrees, a good temperature for the fish they caught. There has also been a good mix of bottomfish such as calico and Johnny bass.”
“In town, reports of a local vessel catching 6 albacore was the buzz,” Hammann said. “Reportedly, the hot spots for albacore right now are at the 238 and the lower 500. We will be checking these reports out, that’s for sure!”
The big tournament not to be missed here of course will be the Western Outdoor News/Hotel Coral Saltwater Championship on July 27 and 28. Check in with WON at http://www.wonews.com/c-87-ensenada-hotel-coral-tournament-July-27-28.aspx to sign up and get all of the info, or click on the Events Tab. at the top of this page
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MORE ’TAILS FOR THE TABLE — Ensenada continues to enjoy (and feast) on a variety of species, including yellowtail, barracuda and bottomfish. Hopefully, there will be photos of albacore next! PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MARINA CORAL STORE