Ensenada turns up 52-pound halibut; waiting game for northern Baja pelagics moving up the line
CABO SAN LUCAS — As battleships began cruising the Sea of Cortez; enforcing the restricted zones for the G20 Summit meetings, getting to the docks with all of the road restrictions wasn’t an easy thing to do either. It’s no wonder few anglers bothered to fish this past week; basically all you could do were bay cruises, go to the Pacific, which was no good or make the long haul up to the 11.50 area, if you stayed five miles offshore.
“For months now we have been listening and watching in the news about the G20 Summit and it’s finally here,” Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing said. “We are very excited to have Los Cabos as the host of such an important event. This past week the water temperatures dropped down a bit and the catch rate slowed down; a few captains thought it had something to do with the major battleships cruising around causing the fish to move. Due to the G20 Summit, there are also restricted areas from Punta Ballena to Punta Gorda and 5 miles from shore.”
“As for fishing, there were a few nice catches though,” Ehrenberg said. “The Tracy Ann released 2 striped marlin and again released 3 more on another charter. This past week 60 percent of our anglers caught striped marlin, a total of 20 marlin were caught, all of them released.”
“There’s still not a lot of action on the small game, however we saw a few hammerhead sharks, averaging of 45 pounds, Spanish mackerel are back and although the season is not quite in yet, 21 percent of the boats caught dorado, most of them with pink lures, all between 10 to 20 pounds,” Ehrenberg said.
Capt. Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing explained the water conditions this way. “The water is still in transition between the cool winter conditions and the warm, blue summer status we so look forward to,” he said. “Some years this event only takes a few weeks to settle. This year it appears we are in for a slightly longer event, perhaps a six week transition time, a bit longer than normal but not rare.”
“When this happens we get dirty brown, red and green water that is warm and sometimes mixes with the cool blue water, the reverse of normal conditions,” Landrum said. “A strong sub-surface current may swing against an underwater shelf and force up cool/warm water in an area that has been experiencing the opposite conditions, or the surface currents can change directions and strength overnight. Both of these events were seen this past week and the result was unpredictable conditions for fishing.”
“When these types of events happen fishing becomes a hunt; you have to cover a lot of water to find any fish,” Landrum said. “Where they may have been found the day before is no indicator of where they will be the next day.”
Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said it was another week of very difficult fishing, with reports from the skippers of limits of off-color and dirty water in all directions for at least 20 miles or so. “Lots of current changes and upwellings throughout the area are keeping the billfish catches at a minimum and everyone is waiting for conditions to improve,” he said. “Still, as poor as the water conditions are, the few boats that did fish reflected a near 50 percent billfish catch rate that I found remarkable. The overall catches for 13 charters included 6 stripers released, 5 dorado and 3 sierra for their efforts.”
In other Baja fishing action:
— BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES & SEA OF CORTEZ MIDRIFF: If you’re in the area, the fourth annual Padre Lucas Fishing Tournament is coming up on June 27-29.
“We are holding it again in honor of Vagabundo Padre Lucas, one of the original yellowtail fishermen and legends of the area,” Jay Hammer said. “Padre held the first Vag Yellowtail tournament in 1974 out of the Papa Diaz Hotel. Mama Diaz would charge $4 per person for dinner and margaritas. After the number of yellowtail we caught last year, we are returning for another bout.”
“BOLA now has two Pemex stations and electricity, many places to camp and stay plus outstanding fishing this time of year,” Hammer said. “The tournament will be a three day tournament with awards each day. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the local clinic with supplies. To get on the tournament list or ask questions email Jay Hammer at firstname.lastname@example.org, call his cell at (951) 452-6265 (good in Mexico, too) or call the Vagabundos office at (800) 474-2252.
— EAST CAPE: We’re still doing the ol’ merry-go-round thing here as water conditions have not settled into summertime conditions. Just as in Cabo and San Jose, one day the fish are there and the next who knows.
“On Tuesday the cruiser El Tio got into a nice tuna bite and came home with 14 tuna, the largest weighing in at 132 pounds,” Eddie Dalmau of the Van Wormer Resorts said. “But it was not until today (Friday) that any other boat came in with tuna. Today we had 10 boats return with some onboard. All were from football size to 70 pounds. The tuna bite as been out about 25 miles from Pescadero.”
“We are seeing boats coming back with nice dorado each day, some weighing 35 to 50 pounds, the marlin bite seems to be making a turn around and roosters are also being landed by those fishing inshore,” Dalmau said. “The nice big roosters have been landed a few miles offshore and on larger bait like ladyfish and small jacks but the hot spot seems to be from La Ribera down to Lighthouse Point and then straight out a few miles.”
“Finally it looks like things are getting back to normal,” John Ireland at Rancho Leonero said. “Water temperatures are in the high 70s to low 80s, with flat calm seas and balmy days. Boats have been ranging far and wide in search of porpoise; a few schools have been found and a few tuna picked off early in the morning. Sardine remain scarce but we have bigger baits in the form of caballito, forelito and mullet (lisa). Most captains have been jigging fresh bait throughout the day. If you are coming down soon bring some bait jigs.”
“Most of the marlin have been taken with the bigger live bait, the fish are spread all over the East Cape fishing area,” Ireland said. “About 20 miles straight out are some shark buoys which are loaded with schooling dorado. Some of these fish are extremely small but there were bigger fish around. We hosted the Let's Talk Hookup tournament and the big dorado of the week and event was 52.5 pounds although there were also lot of 30s and 40s weighed in.”
Ireland said the roosterfish action can only be described as spectacular. “Fish weighing 50 to 70 pounds are the rule rather than the exception,” he said. “Most of these giants have been taken by the light house with forelito the best bait. The fish are lurking in the deeper water sometimes quite far offshore. While other anglers focused on bottomfishing and got barred pargo up to 18 pounds.”
Over at the Buena Vista Beach Resort, the dorado count was 162, although later in the week they were smaller. They also released 5 sailfish along with a dozen or so marlin, brought in their share of tuna, albeit small and had an assortment of other species including some tasty triggers, snapper and plenty of released roosters. “The water has still been bad but conditions can change, even in a matter of hours and it is warming up,” Operations Manager Felipe Valdez said.
Martin Verdugo at Verdugo Beach Resort said fishing was a little better for dorado for them, finding them 15 to 25 miles north, using camiseta or ballyhoo for bait. “They go all sizes from little ones up to 50 pounds or more, but marlin fishing has slowed down a bit,” Verdugo said.
Also frustrated by conditions, Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing said the water has been a horrible off color with strong currents and unstable temperatures. “Live bait has also been hard to come by,” Rayor said. “Most of the 30- to 50-pound dorado we enjoyed early in the week have disappeared. There are still lots of dorado out there but most are the smaller schoolie variety.”
“Spinner and spotted dolphins were located a few days ago but only a handful of tuna were landed,” Rayor said. “I believe not having live sardine or fresh squid is not helping our situation. On a bright note, 3 broadbill swordfish were sighted Saturday.”
— ENSENADA: Looks likes it’s a waiting game, but the first kelp yellowtail catches from sportboats are being reported 60 miles from Ensenada, while buefin are being reported a bit past Colnett and look for it to move north. For local boats, the bite for yellows slowed and switched to bottomfishing this past week. But one of the fish was a beast.
“Capt. Tom Martino on the LaLaine, with crewmate Mark Hammann were trolling on the surface to no avail so they decided to go deep at San Miguel Reef,” Edgar Sanchez from the Coral Marina Store said. “Using live bait (pargo) they caught a 52-pound halibut that didn’t even put up a fight. The captain said he hadn’t caught a halibut that big in years.”
Sanchez said with a nice weather and lots of bait around, they had the whole, place to themselves. Keep the dates of July 27-28 on your calendar for the WON Saltwater Championships out of Marina Coral. The predication is that the bite in midsummer will be outstanding given the offshore conditions.
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ENSENADA PICKING UP SPEED — Capt. Tom Martino on the LaLaine took one of the largest halibut he’s seen in years off San Miguel Reef weighing 53 pounds as the action heats up! Deckhand Mark Hammann, shown here was on hand for the assist. PHOTO COURTESY OF CORAL MARINA STORE