ENSENADA — It was all about the yellowtail and barracuda here this past week.
“From town, the Lucky II caught one medium-sized yellowtail and limits of barracuda just outside of Marina Coral,” Mariana Hammann from the Coral Marina Store said. “The water temperature has climbed to 64.9 degrees and this warmer water has been doing wonders for our marine diversity.”
“And from the Marina Coral, the Papaloco caught limits of lingcod in the Sauzal area,” Hammann said. “The yellowtail are biting, but their picky, they only caught 1 yellowtail to go with their lings. The ones that were hungry and biting like crazy were the barracuda this past week, near Todos Santos Island. And the weather has been beautiful these last few days, with just one day being overcast.”
It was another “Victory at Sea” day for Louie Prieto from Its 4 Reels Sportfishing last weekend; he got 4 yellows and bass in nicer conditions fishing the San Miguel lighthouse area Saturday but by 10:30 a.m. on Sunday he had 5- to 7-foot seas at 6 second intervals and 10- to 15-knot wind. “We still managed some nice sandbass, rockfish and pretty much all the barracuda you could want to catch,” Prieto said.
“We were drifting a nice reef in 80 feet of water at about 2 knots and picked off the sandies and rockfish on an assortment of irons,” Prieto said. “But conditions kept deteriorating so we headed back towards Ensenada and found the fleet drifting with no bird action. We shut down and started casting lures and quickly found the barries pretty much everywhere. It was fun watching my guests work their lures through the 5- to 7-foot swells.”
“Slow retrieves produced barracuda strikes and follows with the barries seemingly surfing down the swells to chase down our lures,” he said. “We drifted for 2 miles with fish hitting pretty much the entire length of the drift. The best part is that we were 10 minutes from the Ensenada Harbor.”
— LA PAZ: Just as in Cabo, the weather was weird in La Paz this past week.
“Things are definitely changing and we’re going through that transition right now between the cooler waters and spring and the warmer summer waters,” Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said. “The fish are going through it as well and so they’re adjusting.”
“Every day was different,” Roldan said. “Some days the fish bit and some days they did not. One day one species would be the hot species and the next day a completely different species would take center stage and the fish that were hot the day before, were nowhere to be found.”
“The other thing was that bait got scarce,” Roldan said. “Sardine schools (the foundation of our fishing) just vanished. We got a little, but it was like pulling teeth to find enough to fish. Even the bait guys had problems finding them or found only a handful to sell or, it took the better part of the morning looking for bait to start fishing.”
“So, of course, that all reflected on the fishing numbers,’ Roldan said. “But, I’m not sure that would have made that much of a difference either because some folks went to trolling lures in the absence of bait and they didn’t exactly light the world on fire either”
“So we had a little of this and a little of that, the roosterfish along the shores were still active,” Roldan said. “Pargo and cabrilla also bit, but that always works better when you have bait. We had some really exciting catches on big amberjack and some very nice dorado were picked up as well as a few marlin.”
“Anglers fishing conventionally, did better since they had more to work with,” Roldan said. “I really felt badly for the fly fishermen. With no bait, it’s hard to chum fish up and get them interested. Fortunately, we didn’t have any flyfishers this week, but I know other friends who were out there doing their best in a difficult situation.”
“But the conditions look ripe, the waters look good and I continue to think we’re right on the cusp of some really good fishing,” Roldan said.
— LORETO: There weather was great here this past week and the fishing improved, with more yellowtail and tons of roosters were around.
“We had a typical end of spring week, most of the fishing activity moved north and focused on the area known as La Cholla,” Rick Hill of Loreto Sea and Land Eco Tours said. "Halfway up the west side of Carmen Island, it is a large bay directly across from Coronado Island.”
“Their ‘feeding time’ seemed to vary from day to day and by week's end the yellows were not biting until 10 a.m.” Hill said. “If you had been fishing since 6 a.m. and nothing is going on, well you move and miss the bite, look for a new bite or wait it out. It's the ultimate fishing question.”
“Bait has been very easy to catch both outside the Loreto Marina (one mile straight east) and down south at Danzante, Submarine Rock,” Hill said. “You can fill the bait tank in 30 minutes or bait is still for sale at Loreto. The bait (macks) down south seems to average a little larger, some 15 inches.”
“Richard Santoni from California, fished Wednesday and started with the yellows at La Cholla,” Hill said. “After landing two 20 pounders and breaking off another four on the rocky bottom they moved to find some action at Coronado and had a big surprise, two different schools of roosters but both suffering lockjaw with the mackerel there.”
“They finally nailed one from the first school on a very old, high mileage Krocodile spoon,” Hill said. “Their final tally for the day was 2 yellows in the boat, four break offs and one 40-pound rooster, released.”
— MAGDALENA BAY: Here’s another area that’s had a lot of bait and not so many bites. But Mag Bay also had a different problem than most, the shark netters.
“There are a few white seabass right now off the point feeding on the Humboldt squid,” Bob Hoyt from Mag Bay Outfitters said. “The water has started to warm a little and there are lots of small yellowtail as well. We are also seeing a few marlin but they don’t want to eat, there’s lots of bait in the water,” Hoyt said.
“The big news here has been whether shark fishing shut down today (Sunday) or not,” Hoyt said. “They all said as of Sunday they could not sell any more. But this morning we fished the bay and there were lots of boats returning with shark and lots going out so I think there is no closure or at least no enforcement if there is.”
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER — Fishing this past week with Sea and Land skipper Fransisco Fernandez at Punta Perico and La Cholla, Joe Brajole and Cheryl Cunningham from Sunset Beach land two nice 20- and 24-pound yellowtail. Some pargo also decided to come home for dinner. PHOTO COURTESY OF LORETO SEA AND LAND ECO TOURS
— SAN FELIPE & NORTHERN SEA OF CORTEZ: Tony Reyes just returned from his first 6-day trip of the year in the Sea of Cortez and here’s their report.
“They started fishing near Partida Island with great weather, catching a mix of cabrilla and yellowtail,” Tom Ward from The Longfin said. “Then they moved to Salsipuedes Island where they found schools of yellowtail in the 20- to 44-pound range boiling on the surface, biting surface jigs and Mirrorlures. Cabrilla were found near the rocks and were eating the jigs well.”
“The next day they moved to San Francisquito and fished near El Barril, catching many large yellowtail,” he said. “From there they moved to San Estefan Island where they focused on cabrilla and limits were caught. The cabrilla were biting the surface jigs, DX jigs and Mirrorlures.”
“Water temperatures ran between 70 to 75 degrees,” Ward said. “Bait as well as squid were tough to get but should get better when the water warms up some. Thursday the wind blew and there was some fog from the southeast so they fished the Refugio area, catching more yellowtails and cabrilla.”
“They ended up fishing the Enchanted Islands where they caught a 49-pound grouper, with others breaking off anglers line,” he said. “More cabrilla were landed and overall it looks like we are going to have a great fishing season.”
— SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS): The weather is often unpredictable during the late spring season. The normal pattern for the Los Cabos area, is that the ocean water temperature holds on a steady warming trend through the month of April and through the first half of the month of May, then as winds and currents shift, there is cold water that sweeps in from the Pacific and within a day water temperatures can drop by 15 degrees.
“With the IGFA Tournament being held this past week we did notice an increase of visitors,” Eric Brictson from Gordo Banks Pangas said. “During the first two days of the tournament anglers witnessed near record paced striped marlin action but teams faced much tougher conditions on the third and fourth day, though many marlin were still tagged.”
“Weather patterns changed on Wednesday with relentless winds from the west, shifting to the south and persisting through the rest of week,” Brictson said. “Overnight the water temperatures dropped from being in the upper 70s to a chilly 60 degrees off of Cabo San Lucas, off San Jose del Cabo the water is now in the 65-degree range. Marine fog, previously hanging over the Pacific also moved in the direction of the Sea of Cortez.”
“Some 30 miles offshore, near the Cabrillo Seamount the water temperature is now about 72 degrees,” Brictson said. “Anglers will need patience for patterns to stabilize and wait for the ocean to warm back up. It could be a matter of days or weeks, it’s hard to predict, but things can change rapidly during transition periods and we must remain optimistic.”
Brictson said before the mid week weather change it was feeling more like summer; air temperatures were into the 90s, and the clean, blue current was in the 75- to 80-degree range and found within miles of shore. “We were starting to see a few wahoo showing, even some action for yellowfin tuna was encountered, along with some great variety of off the bottom spots and continued wide open marlin action on the offshore fishing grounds,” he said. “But on Thursday the wind gusted from the south and this made for a tough day with limited options.”
“Most charters ended up trolling close to shore, where most found wide open roosterfish action, some larger-sized roosters were accounted for including one 60-pound specimen landed and released by John Hefty of Cabo San Lucas while fishing with skipper Chame Pino,” Brictson said. “Trolling with caballito was the most consistent deal for the inshore action. Sardina had been available again, but with increasing southern swells this is a day to day situation, as to if the live sardina will be available.”
“Earlier in the week there was great striped marlin action encountered off of the San Jose del Cabo grounds; fish were striking on lures, ballyhoo, caballito, bolito and skipjack and multiple catches were common,” Brictson said. “Only an occasional dorado was found, a few wahoo strikes were also being reported as these elusive speedsters were becoming more active in the warmer waters. Several groups of a half dozen or more wahoo were seen slowing swimming on the surface, in shallow waters off of Cardon. But these fish would not strike on anything presented to them.”
“Earlier in the week anglers also reported tuna strikes while trolling with live bolito outside of San Luis,” Brictson said. “These yellowfin were found traveling with larger-sized porpoise and were in the 70- to 100-pound class. Limited numbers were landed but other fish were lost and many strikes were missed. It was encouraging news but now we will play the waiting game for conditions to become favorable again.”
Brictson said construction on the new hotel in La Playita continues at a rapid pace, apparently there’s no problem with funding here. “We have heard it is going to be a Four Seasons Resort but we do not see their sign up yet. Apparently it will have some eighty rooms and be three to four stories, all overlooking the Puerto Los Cabos Marina.”
“As a result, local marina officials have become stricter with the commercial pangeros bait sellers, now enforcing that no netting or selling be done inside the boundary set near the channel entrance,” Brictson said. “But the local are not easy to persuade to conform to new rules.”
The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos sent out 77 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of 28 striped marlin, 7 yellowfin tuna, 15 dorado, 2 wahoo, 28 cabrilla, 85 various pargo species, 14 jack crevalle, 2 yellowtail, 19 amberjack, 135 roosterfish, 12 pompano, 8 bonito and 14 sierra
WOW WHAT A WEEK! — Just as things were heating up out of San Jose, major fog and now cold water returned. Earlier in the week, John Hefty of Cabo San Lucas got this 60-pound class roosterfish with skipper Chame on the Killer II. The fish hit a caballito and there was wide open action, though most of the fish were under 15 pounds. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS
— SANTA ROSALIA: While the good yellowtail bite continued, bait was abundant off and on and there was one other problem some days, in the form of fog but nothing that a good horn couldn’t fix.
“The week was a real mixed bag, with some of the best yellowtail fishing I have seen since November and literally a wide open bite,” local angler Jim Anderson said. “The fish were very good in size and they had an appetite as well as an attitude. I watched as one pangero came in with 43 big yellowtail and he certainly had a smile from ear to ear.”
“Bait has been really good one day and the next it goes into hiding, so it was important to just put the time in on the water,” Anderson said. “When the swell switched to the southeast on Thursday, the fog came right behind the shift and we have had really thick and dense fogs in the morning hours.”
“I am sure glad I have a good horn on my boat because it is a little un-nerving when you hear a panga bearing down on you and know they do not have GPS, radar or very good brakes either if they don't see you. But they just kind of laugh and say they figured they would hear my horn when they got close.”
Anderson said there are a few scattered reports of dorado and billfish to the south but he personally have not seen anything yet. “One thing I learned long ago is, never leave fish to go find fish, so with the yellowtail biting well, it seems really counterproductive to go chase ‘phantom dorado’.”
— SAN QUINTIN: Don Eddie’s opens its restaurant and bar this holiday weekend. Stop by and see all of the improvements made to the rooms and the rest if the property!
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