LA PAZ — In southern Baja and here in La Paz this is the time when we should be sticking dorado like crazy as well as marlin, sailfish, tuna, wahoo and other warmwater species. However, water temperatures in the Sea of Cortez and other southern Baja fishing “hot” spots, traditionally on fire this time of year fell off the charts.
WON reader Paul Montgomery of Vista, CA spent 10 days here during this transition time, joined by his brother-in-law Stan Clemmensen from Wolf Creek, MT and three of his friends, Pat Stibel, Matt McLauren and Bill Gilbert and sent this report in.
“The day after we arrived we fished out of Las Arenas with Efrain Geraldo and another panga,” Montgomery said. “The day started slow after making bait which we trolled for pargo. About half the day went by and the call went out that someone had spotted a school of dolphin with tuna under it. Everyone that got the call ended up with yellowfin in the 30- to 60-pound range. Unfortunately, the second boat in our group had no radio and did not get the call and came back with no fish as a result.”
“The lesson learned here was to be sure any panga you hire has a working radio onboard for safety reasons if nothing else,” Montgomery said. “This particular pangero was very hard working and friendly but was working with a handicap since his boat had an antenna but nothing attached to it. That was the last day we or anyone else saw tuna but I'm sure there are many more of them on the way.”
“The next day we saw several marlin hooked and prematurely released and a mixture of junk fish,” Montgomery said. “This went on for a few more days until finally on the last day with only Matt McLauren and I fishing, we started the day with a few roosterfish; one of them in the 60-pound class. We moved out to the south end of Cerralvo Island then and were rewarded with three, very nice jack crevalle to about 40 pounds. It was pretty typical fishing for this time of year with things changing almost every day. We all had a great time and are planning our return in September when the weather is hot and so is the fishing.”
“Instead of 80-degree water temperatures, anglers have been facing cold, green, dirty, cloudy waters down in the 60s,” Jonathan Roldan from Tailhunter International said. “And on top of that, getting bait has been like finding a needle in a haystack. Needless to say, like many areas, the fishing around La Paz has been less than stellar.”
“Using lures, larger baits like live and dead mullet, mackerel and other species, we’ve been able to scratch up roosterfish, some jacks, the occasional dorado and a few other species but that’s been it,” Roldan said.
“Earlier in the week, for our Tailhunter Las Arenas Fleet, we got into some nice jags of wahoo at the south end of Cerralvo Island,” Roldan said. “We also got some quality roosterfish up to about 50 pounds plus some pretty decent pargo and cabrilla. We also hooked a few striped marlin as well. Still not up to snuff, but surely way better than what we had been doing most of May and early June.”
Roldan said with waters still cold, green and cloudy and no warmwater fish around, instead, he had a late week eruption of 20- to 50-pound yellowtail. “This is crazy, yellowtail season is March and April,” Roldan said. “We haven’t seen yellowtail in over a month. But this past week for our Tailhunter La Paz fleet, they not only got into yellowtail, they had some of the best snaps of yellowtail we have ever seen.”
“Boats were coming back by 10 or 11 a.m. with limits of 10 big slugger yellowtail,” Roldan said. “Captains would tell me they could easily have taken 20 or more yellowtail. The fish were eating in about 40 feet of water and taking the larger cocineros and live mackerel we were catching in La Paz Bay.”
“Folks didn’t know what to do with so much fish,” Roldan said. “When you have 10 fish that are 40 pounders, you suddenly find yourself with about 150 pounds of fillets. But it was a good problem; especially when many were ready to scratch for any fish at all and found that by 10 a.m. they were too tired to pull on another fish.”
HERE’S A WON SCORE! — Despite the ongoing tough water transition, WON reader Paul Montgomery of Vista, CA managed some nice fish, including this nice jack. His group also caught roosters, yellowtail and tuna. PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL MONTGOMERY
In other Baja fishing action:
— LORETO: Bottom fish, yellowtail and now dorado and billfish; looks like this might be the summer that gets Loreto back on the map!
“Fish are everywhere you look,” Rick Hill of Loreto Sea and Land Eco Tours said. “Roosters are chasing bait schools on the beaches and there’s big fish out in the big water.”
“At the north tip of Carmen Island we have a few high spots and they have been kicking out limits of yellowtail with amberjack to 41 pounds this past week,” Hill said. “A few miles east of that point, has been producing the first good dorado bite. We have been seeing dorado between 15 and 19 pounds coming into the marina since Wednesday. The dorado are just in time for Tripui’s all charity Dorado Tourney on June 22, 23 and 24.”
“On Sunday's multi tasking family trip to Danzante, we stopped at the six-mile reef and caught 9 nice-sized reds (huachinango) before moving on for some paddleboard and snorkeling fun. These fish are very seasonal and very delicious,” Hill said.
Arturo Susarrey of Arturo’s Sportfishing reported very good yellowtail fishing at the San Bruno Reef 12 to 15 miles north from Loreto and east of Carmen Island at the Perico Reef. “You can also catch both cabrilla and snapper in these areas,” he said.
“Some days you can catch limits of yellowtail, but minimally anglers have been catching 6 to 8 per fishing boat weighting from 18 to 24 pounds,” Susarrey said. “Dorado, finally reached Loreto and there are some very nice sizes. They have been outside of Punta Lobos Carmen and 8 to 15 miles out off the Island Carmen. Some fishing boats caught 4 and 6 each. There are also sails and marlin in these areas.”
— MAGDALENA BAY: The weather is starting to warm and hopefully the normal winds of May is over.
“The tuna are still outside but not as concentrated as before,” Bob Hoyt of Mag Bay Outfitters said.
“The bay fishing remains good for cabrilla, halibut and a few pargo,” Hoyt said. “But the good news is the government has closed the bay for this month for all nets. The bad news is, it is not being enforced.”
— MULEGE: The San Lucas Cove Yellowtail tourney was a great success and everyone at least hooked up with a fish, getting them in the boat was another story.
“How could it have been any better, everyone at least hooked into the fish of a lifetime and some did manage to get them into the boat,” Jim Anderson, who fished the event said.
First place went to Sergio Osuna with a 31.d-pound yellowtail, second went to Brenda Goodson with a 29.91-pound fish and third went to Stuart Otto with a 29.05 pounder. The Calcutta Auction was the big money maker, with the winners, Lorenzo Ruiz, Sergio Osuna and Raymundo Lopez, managing 57.29 pounds to take home $15,600 pesos.
— SAN FELIPE & NORTHERN SEA OF CORTEZ: Wide open action was the report from the Tony Reyes, which just returned from a six day trip fishing in the Midriff Islands.
“They had wide open yellowtail and cabrilla between La Rasa and Salsipuedes Islands,” Tom Ward from The Long Fin said. “Yellowtails were boiling on the surface eating bait. Light jigs casting on the surface were working very well. In the San Francisquito area they spent two days fishing there because the fishing was wide open.”
“They had nice calm and cool weather, with occasional fog which is normal for this time of year,” Ward said. “Live bait was tough to catch but cabrilla are still biting on jigs like the Salas DX, with green/yellow the best color. MirrOLures in orange, pink and blue were also working very well.”
Ward said that overall it was a very good trip. “The road from Mexicali to San Felipe had some construction,” Ward said. “Anglers are reminded though, to obtain a free seven day visa at the border prior to the trip.”
Limits of yellowtail up to 35 pounds were taken as well as 350 cabrilla up to 20 pounds, 201 bass up to 4 pounds, along with a few pargo, sheepshead, whitefish, grouper to 45 pounds and a few golden cabrilla were released as well as 232 miscellaneous other fish.
— SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS): The big news here was more about final preparations for the big G20 meeting, as the Los Cabos area is now busy reinforcing infrastructure with a heavy military presence as many of the world's leaders will be holding talks in the newly constructed San Jose del Cabo Convention Center.
“We must all bear with the inconveniences of road closures, military check points and additional delays, closed ocean zones etc. as authorities are working around the clock to make sure this event is secure and progresses smoothly without incident,” Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said.
“It’s been hard to predict or even keep track of the ocean conditions recently, as it has been changing rapidly from day to day,” Brictson said. “It’s been as cool as 60 degrees on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas to almost 80 degrees off of Los Frailes. That’s a dramatic variance within 50 miles of coastline.”
“The current is sweeping back and forth, stirring up algae concentrations and even changing oxygen levels; at the present time water temperatures are in the mid to upper 60s off Cabo San Lucas and towards San Jose del Cabo and to the north, the ocean has been ranging from 74 to 77 degrees,” Brictson said. “This warming trend continued through the week, but despite more favorable temperatures, the current remained dirty green and even brown in some areas; not what you want to see when targeting offshore pelagic species.”
Brictson said earlier in the week there was great roosterfish action found, at times epic as feeding frenzies were encountered. “In the less pressured areas in the direction of Los Frailes, fish to 40 or 50 pounds were reported during the week, but the current progressively turned brown and this slowed inshore action,” he said. “There were also jack crevalle up to 30 pounds encountered and lesser numbers of roosters still though, with some late season sierra in the mix.”
“Striped marlin action off of San Jose del Cabo slowed way down, but everyday there were a few marlin hook ups reported and an occasional dorado found as well,” Brictson said. “But most of this was further offshore and in the direction of the Sea of Cortez. A few yellowfin tuna encounters were reported in the 40- to 80-pound class between San Luis and Los Frailes. These fish are ready to move onto local fishing grounds when conditions rebound and attract more of their food source.”
“So we all are waiting patiently for ocean conditions to improve and for the fishing action to back return to what it should be,” Brictson said.
The combined panga fleet out of La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out 72 charters, with anglers reporting a fish count of 3 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 12 hammerhead shark, 34 bonito, 22 amberjack, 8 yellowtail, 8 grouper, 18 cabrilla, 4 dogtooth snapper, 18 jack crevalle, 125 roosterfish, 2 pompano, 12 huachinango, 15 yellow snapper, 24 triggerfish, 18 sierra and 6 pargo Colorado.
— SANTA ROSALIA: Fishing was still a little slow for dorado and billfish, but the big yellowtail are still producing very well on the north side of San Marcos Island.
“Bait was very good when I went out,” local angler Jim Anderson said. “And while I wasted most of the day looking for marlin and dorado, I did return to San Marcos and managed a couple of big yellowtail as soon as I dropped the bait.”
“This has been a very interesting year as temperatures have been very slow to get into the 78- to 80-degree water we need for good dorado and billfish action, but the yellowtail action has been almost too good to imagine.”
— SAN QUINTIN: Great weather and good fishing (and surfing) were reported as warmer water has moved in and the white seabass have been showing up regularly south of the bay. One angler got one in the bay as well so it looks like the start of a great season!
Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Offshore Sportfishing reports calico bass fishing has been wide open out at San Martin, with fish in the double digits not uncommon. “Halibut have for sure been on the chew, with some nice sized fish near the mouth of the bay and at San Martin as well,” Catian said.
“The yellowtail haven’t showed in big numbers yet but there’s been fish here and there on the iron,” Catian said. “Rockfishing is great as always but the shallow action has really improved and a good mix of big reds, browns, rockfish, sandbass, calico and cabazon can be found very close to shore.”
Reporting in for Don Eddie’s Landing, Dana Stewart said a very beautiful and large opah, or moonfish weighing 70 pounds was caught at 400 feet deep while fishing a red lead jig for rock fish. “Also, a father/son team from Fresno have been giving the fish no rest,” Stewart said. “They caught several quality halibut in the 20-pound range and scored a 30-pound forkie on the troll late Saturday afternoon.”
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