SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS) — It’s been a long spring-to-summer water transition this year but it looks like the water is finally starting to warm up. Areas such as La Paz, the East Cape and here in San Jose finally had an increase in marlin willing to bite, and if the west winds would just stay down, we should all be “good to go.”
The month of May is over and the major variances in weather patterns and accordingly changing ocean conditions finally appear to be firming up. “As the new month begins, we are seeing a warming trend once again for both air and water temperatures,” said Eric Brictson from Gordo Banks Pangas. “Daytime highs reached 90 degrees, variable winds were moderate except for the end of the week, and warmer currents moved in a southern direction from Los Frailes.
“Ocean temperatures are warming back up and averaging 75 degrees or more through most of the areas in the direction of the Sea of Cortez, while the Pacific currents have been much cooler,” Brictson said. “For this reason, most sportfishing fleets are targeting fishing grounds such as the 95 and 1150 high spots and north towards the Gordo and Desteladera Banks.”
Brictson said the swift currents moving back from north of Los Frailes were warm, but also murky green. “Progressively these currents have become cleaner with each passing day,” he said. “This pattern should continue as long as west winds do not pick back up and push more Pacific waters in.
“Commercial pangeros found it difficult to net sardina due to higher surf conditions, though,” Brictson said. “But there have been caballito, moonfish and mullet available; also limited supplies of fresh dead brined sardina coming from beaches towards the East Cape in the afternoon. More schooling mullet are migrating into local waters and this has attracted larger-sized roosterfish. Every day roosters weighing in the 10- to 60-pound class have been hooked. Slow trolling larger live baits close to the shoreline has been the best bet from charter boats, while off the beaches, hard core surf anglers are hooking roosterfish while casting and rapidly retrieving surface popper-type lures. It is that time of year, where new options can open up daily.
“Anglers have faced a few tough weeks offshore, but things have turned around in a hurry,” Brictson said. “Anglers are once again finding good numbers of striped marlin readily striking on lures, as well as various baitfish. Most of this action has been found 5 to 15 miles offshore. Nicer-sized stripers were accounted for; the majority of fish were in the 100- to 140-pound class. Cruisers as well as panga charters were getting into this billfish action.”
Brictson said dorado action rebounded, as well, although most of the dodos taken earlier in the week were very small. “Later in the week, the big bulls returned, particularly near the buoys located off the San Luis area,” he said. “Bolito were found schooling in this region and were particularly effective baits for the larger bull dorado. No wahoo were heard of in recent days, but we expect we will hear reports in the near future as conditions become even more favorable.”
It was the same old deal with yellowfin tuna. “We keep hearing stories of lots of tuna being found out of our range, outside of Los Frailes, so it’s only a matter of time before these fish follow the shifting currents and food sources in the direction of the Los Cabos fishing grounds,” Brictson said.
Inshore action improved in recent days, along with larger-sized roosterfish now being hooked daily. Brictson said there have been various grouper, cabrilla, dogtooth snapper, yellow snapper, barred pargo, amberjack, yellowtail, jack crevalle, sierra, pompano and even a run on sheepshead.
“This is the time when a wide variety of species can be encountered on any given day,” he said. “Much of this action has been found while trolling baits over shallow water structure, and many of the largest fish being hooked are breaking line off on the nearby rocks. We did receive one confirmed report of a 150-pound gulf grouper being landed from a private boat based out of Puerto Los Cabos; this monster hit on a live caballito, I believe near the Iman Bank.”
The combined panga fleets launching from La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out 80 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of 12 striped marlin, 29 dorado, 13 amberjack, 7 dogtooth snapper, 16 barred pargo, 66 yellow snapper, 8 yellowtail, 11 grouper, 25 cabrilla, 68 roosterfish, 15 jack crevalle, 7 pompano, 3 sheepshead and 9 sierra.
TIME FOR A CHANGE — Southern California anglers Jerry and Yutaka both caught somewhat unusual species of sheepshead. Yutaka's catch had the solid male coloring, while Jerry's (shown here) seemed to be starting the phase of changing to female. Note how quickly the resort is going up in Puerto Los Cabos Marina in the background. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS
In other Baja fishing action:
— CABO SAN LUCAS: Changing water conditions plagued the Cabo fishing grounds, like so many areas this past week, and dirty water back down into the 70s was seen. As the week progressed, conditions improved until the winds picked back up.
Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said there had been no concentration of fish over the past couple of weeks and the boats have expanded their travels in search of anything that will help their fishing day. “It was very slow fishing for billfish as the Pacific cool water came whipping around the lower end of the peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez,” he said.
“Now, we are seeing some reverse to the cool water currents from the Pacific side, and starting to push out of the Sea of Cortez, the water temperatures are escalating by the day,” Edwards said. “All we need are just a few days of stability and the fish will return to the regular areas; we may even begin to see a few blue marlin in the mix with higher water temperatures.
“If this push continues, and we think it will, the temperatures should expand throughout the lower Baja and begin to attract the billfish and dorado back into the area,” Edwards said. “So, we are keeping our fingers crossed and waiting for the influx of big game fish. The current fishing reports for 11 charters only included 2 stripers released, 12 roosterfish (smaller fish in the 10- to 18-pound range), 12 sierra and 2 yellowtail.”
— EAST CAPE: Just as it looked like things were going to take off here on the East Cape, the water turned over, cooled off some and turned to an ugly green color.
John Ireland at Rancho Leonero said there was a consistent marlin bite early in the week that slowed towards the end of the week. “Jack Nilsen from Accurate fished exclusively for marlin on the Jen Wren, and in four days he hooked 18 stripers and had many more opportunities,” Ireland said. “There were lots of tailers and the bite was spread both north and south, very close inside within 5 miles of the beach. Dead ballyhoo has been working best.
“It was by far our best dorado week of this year,” Ireland said. “Some big bulls were taken, mixed with the marlin to 50 pounds. The shark buoys north of Pescadero are producing smaller schooling fish in the 10- to 15-pound range and it’s still not wide open, but definitely an improved bite.”
Ireland said there were also some huge roosters this past week, with lots in the 50-pound range and one released that was probably 100 pounds. There are photos of the beast, but as you can imagine, it’s pretty tough to get a fish that large to hold still for a photo so none were good enough to include.
“There were a few wahoo, and our first swordfish of this season came to the cleaning table this past week,” Ireland said. “There were also some big amberjack mixed with big pargo being taken daily inside on live caballito. But the water turned green toward the end of the week, slowing the bite.”
LUCKY GUY! — Fishing with Accurate’s Jack Nilsen, one of the luckiest anglers around, brought local Los Barriles resident Bob Tilley good luck in a not-so-stellar fishing week as he was invited to test new prototype Accurate reels on the Jen Wren III. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEN WREN SPORTFISHING
— ENSENADA: Boiling and biting yellowtail were the norm, when anglers could get to them here in Ensenada.
“Yellowtail fishing has been very good the last few days as fish were showing up midway between Ensenada Harbor and the north end of Todos Santos Island, but we couldn't get them to go due to the poor sea conditions,” said Louie Prieto from It’s 4 Reels Sportfishing. “We finally found an area of fish boiling off the south end of the island in slightly better conditions. Fish were feeding in big schools and were eating the Candy Bar jig in blue and white. Casts into the feeding frenzy were instant hookups after two or three turns of the handle.
“We ended the day with 4 fish and would have caught more but the port captain had closed the harbor until 7:30 that morning so we got a late start,” Prieto said. “Also, wind and waves were pretty bad which also cut our day short. Water temperatures were cool, at 60.1 to 61.5, degrees and green.
TAILS FROM TODOS SANTOS — Boiling and biting yellowtail were on tap for the few braving the water and wind conditions. Here’s one caught by Louie Prieto. PHOTO COURTESY OF IT’S 4 REELS SPOERTFISHING
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