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Published: Sep 07, 2010

BAJA REPORT: Prime tuna time at the Cape!


A week of “almost” weather systems but billfish and tuna still ruled!
By Robin Wade/WON Staff Writer

SAN JOSE DEL CABO— Weather was unpredictable this past week in San Jose and down in Cabo, but the bite still held. The only guarantee anyone could make about the weather was that it would be hot and humid. Tuna and marlin, on the other hand were a sure bet, as they both continued to be the mainstay.

Cow-sized tuna were fought and lost, and the marlin bite around Gordo Banks has been the best many can remember in close to 10 years. The action there included one blue just shy of 500 pounds.

This past week the surf increased to 6 or 7 feet thanks to tropical storm developments that creating disturbed seas, but it was calm enough for anglers to fish. Water temperatures still averaged 80 to 84 degrees throughout the area and a mix of caballito, fresh dead and live sardina were available most days although it was not always needed.

“The most consistent bite for yellowfin tuna has been on the Iman Bank. Many days anglers were limiting out while drift fishing with the dead bait and by the time the live bait was delivered by the commercial pangeros, they really did not even need it,” said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas. Most of these tuna ranged in the 15- to 30-pound class, as some days there was a menacing presence of skipjack in the area, other days the action was fairly exclusive for the yellowfin,” he said.

A few of the larger grade tuna were also in the same area but the best chance of hooking into a larger fish was on the Outer Gordo Banks. “There were actually more black and blue marlin accounted for than the larger yellowfin though, as several huge yellowfin tuna strikes were lost. These fish ate the larger live baits, such as skipjack or football-sized tuna.” The season for tuna and marlin, as good as it is, warms the heart of tournament anglers gearing up for the string of October/November money events, the Bisbee’s and Los Cabos Billfish event, the IGFA, and the Cabo Tuna Jackpot (Nov. 3-6).

A good example of the outstanding marlin action out of San Jose was demonstrated by Juan Castro from the Santa Barbara area, who hooked into a black marlin while trolling a small tuna on the Outer Gordo Friday with skipper Chame Pino on the super panga Killer II. “On their second morning out targeting larger marlin and tuna (the first day they did not have much luck) Castro landed a black marlin in a mere 28 minutes. Apparently the fish became gill wrapped and quickly expired during the battle,” Brictson said. Back at the La Playita weigh-in station the black was officially weighed in at 495 pounds. And on Castro third day, he battled yet another one that by the end of day was lost.

“Several other black and blue marlin were landed throughout the week, most of them weighing in the 250- to 350-pound range, and the majority of them hooked in the vicinity of the Gordo Banks.”

“We had 30 anglers participate in the one-day company tournament that shows how good it’s been despite choppy seas, and sloppy swells. It was a short tournament day with scales closing at 11:30 a.m. The largest fish for their juvenile anglers was a 55-pound yellowfin tuna and the overall winning fish was caught by Chris Garret, of Indianapolis, IN with a 135-pound yellowfin tuna taken from the 26-foot super panga Venus with skipper Javier. They were drift fishing with dead sardina on the Outer Gordo Bank.” Not surprisingly, the winning dorado was only a 12-pound fish, as they have still been running small around here. “There were also bonito, skipjack, hammerhead shark, leopard grouper and amberjack that rounded out the other species for their tournament.”

Anglers working off the bottom found a mix of dogtooth snapper, cabrilla, amberjack, yellow snapper and bonito. “Although some of the amberjack and dogtooth were impressive in size, this action was limited, with many larger hook ups reportedly were lost due to lines being cut on the rock piles.”

Pangas launching out of La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos Marina included 49 charters for the week. Angler fish counts included 4 striped marlin, 4 blue marlin, 4 black marlin, 2 sailfish, 2 wahoo, 12 pargo, 7 amberjack, 9 dogtooth snapper, 8 cabrilla, 86 dorado, 534 yellowfin tuna, 33 bonito and 332 black skipjack.

BEST MARLIN BITE IN YEARS AT GORDO BANKS--Juan Castro of the Santa Barbara landed this 495-pound black marlin this past week. Proof positive of some of the best marlin the area has seen in years. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS.
BEST MARLIN BITE IN YEARS AT GORDO BANKS--Juan Castro of the Santa Barbara landed this 495-pound black marlin this past week. Proof positive of some of the best marlin the area has seen in years. PHOTO COURTESY OF GORDO BANKS PANGAS.

In other Baja fishing action:

• BAHIA ASUNCION (Just south of Guerrero Negro): Capt. Juan Arce Marron of Campo Sirena reported excellent calico bass fishing and plenty of bonito from Asuncion Island, yielding limits up to 10 pounds of calico. “David Thornton of Los Barriles caught the biggest calico he'd ever seen and got his limit of calico and bonito, which we smoked up,” he said. Stan Stutzka from Riverside also limited out on the same.

Kayak anglers found halibut just off the beaches and bass at the island, while shore anglers hauled in halibut, as well as croaker. “The water temperatures continue to rise, now in the mid 70s, the baitfish are all over the place,” Capt. Juan said. “There have been yellowtail, dorado and even a marlin seen, but fish are so full of bait that they haven’t been interested in lures yet.”

BIG BASS AT ASUNCION ISLAND—This past week there was excellent calico bass fishing at Asuncion Island, yielding limits up to 10 pounds for the smoker. Shari Bondy holds up one of her offerings for the fire. PHOTO COURTEY OF CAMPO SIRENA.
BIG BASS AT ASUNCION ISLAND—This past week there was excellent calico bass fishing at Asuncion Island, yielding limits up to 10 pounds for the smoker. Shari Bondy holds up one of her offerings for the fire. PHOTO COURTEY OF CAMPO SIRENA.

• CABO SAN LUCAS: Billfish catches are on the rise and with a darker moon, the marlin were hungry again this past week. They were in fact the number one catch for Cabo. One of the best billfish reports was that of Chic McSherry from Scotland, fishing on the Valerie, who scored the first double black marlin day of the year for the Pisces Fleet.

“They were on the 11.50 spot and early in day hooked a 120-pound striped marlin on live bait,” said Tracy Ehrenberg for the fleet. They put the lures back in after the release and next up was a black marlin which took an outrigger lure. “Within a half hour the estimated 250-pound fish was released and the lures went back in again. This time they hooked a striped marlin, which came off, and out went the lures,” she said.

“This time they were slammed on the center lure by another, more aggressive black marlin. After about 25 minutes they had the fish to the boat, but the lure had double hooks which had sandwiched both the bottom and top jaw, making it very difficult to remove the lure. They struggled for 10 minutes to release the fish, and when they managed to get one hook out, the fish lunged and cut the deckhand’s arm with his bill, prompting them to take the fish before anyone else was hurt,” she said. Back at the dock the fish weighed in at 200 pounds.

On a multi-day trip the Shambala releasing 2 striped marlin and a 250-pound blue marlin at Destiladeres as well as boating 5 dorado up to 52 pounds. Other catches during trip included 2 striped marlin one day and a 250-pound blue marlin plus one more striped marlin. “Eighty -nine percent of our charters caught billfish,” Ehrenberg said. “Pisces anglers caught 12 striped marlin, 6 blue marlin and 2 black marlin this past week but until more anglers come to fish the counts won’t look as impressive.”

Dorado catches were the second most likely catch for the fleet with 45 percent of anglers catching from one to six fish. “Most of them were in the 20- to 35-pound class but we also had hook ups on large fish like the 52 pounder. The Rebecca released 3 dorado and kept 3 between 20 and 25 pounds and also caught a nice 44-pound wahoo 6 miles out from Migriño.”

It was a little slower for tuna catches, with 23 percent of her charters taking between 1 and 5 tunas. “The Rebecca had another a great day catching a 70-pound yellowfin tuna on a green/yellow lure, a 30-pound dorado and releasing a blue marlin 7 miles south of the Jaime Banks.” Johnny Mac Powers boated 4 nice yellowfin tuna between 40 and 50 pounds on sardines. The only other species caught by the fleet were a few wahoo.

Fishing remained pretty good this past week for the Gaviota Sportfishing and Fish Cabo fleets, and while they had no black or blue marlin caught, there were a few early releases and about 75 percent of the boats reported the landing of a billfish.

“The Gaviota IV, skippered by Capt. Octavio Castillo, had a 3 striper release day on Wednesday, fishing in the 1150 Fathom vicinity,” said Larry Edwards for the fleets. “The Gaviota III, with Capt. Manuel Castillo at the helm, had the only sailfish release for the week and Tuna Time, skippered by Capt. Christian Lopez reported the only wahoo,” Edwards said.

Overall combined fish counts for the fleets and 11 charters included 1 released sailfish, 7 stripers released, 1 wahoo, 3 yellowfin tuna and 23 dorado.

Edwards reported temperatures on the Pacific side ranged from 82 to 83 degrees and wrapped around the Cape to the Gorda Banks and then rose to 86 and 87 degrees. “It was good, blue water and fishable in all areas,” he said.

The 1150 Fathom spot was the best for stripers but overall, from Cabo Falso to Migrino provided the best action. “Live bait best for the billfish, albeit, several were attracted to the mackerel colored artificials. Dorado were scattered about but close to shore on the Pacific side and bit lures as well as live bait.” Live bait consisted mostly of caballito at the regular $3.00 rate.

• EAST CAPE: Few boats were out this past week, due to lack of anglers but WON reader, Jim Stock from Ventura sent in this report, having just returned which gives good insight into conditions.

“This is a regular trip for this group that consists of Bob Michener from Oxnard, Alan and Dan Holmes and myself, we’re all from Ventura,” Stock said. “This has become an annual boy’s week that we coordinate through Lynn Rose Tours, staying at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez.”

“We fished five days on the boat J & B with Capt. Alberto and his son Dan and by the end of the trip they had filleted and vacuum packed 350 pounds of fish for us.” Their catch included 1 yellow fin tuna weighing 175 pounds, 1 125-pound tuna, 15 yellowfin from 40 to 60 pounds, 2 wahoo, 4 pargo weighing 30-plus pounds, and 4 released roosterfish that weighed between 40 and 60 pounds.

Reporting for the Palmas Resort and the rest of the Van Wormer properties, Eddie Dalmau said they were still seeing nice yellowfin tuna and they were close in. “Some of the best fishing this past week was right in the Bay of Palmas, directly in front of most of the East Cape resorts,” Dalmau said.

Anglers could find schools of dorado, yellowfin, pargo, pompano and bonito just a few miles from the dock. “As most know, that is not usually the case, but for several days this week anglers enjoyed a short boat ride to the fishing grounds. But not all the fishing was close enough to see land.”

“The marlin and sails were tougher than usual this past week. We did see some nice striped marlin and sailfish out there, but with the inshore action being as good as it was, many decided to stay close,” he said.

“Near the beach at Punta Colorada we are still seeing some nice roosters, with the biggest this coming in at 45 pounds. The squid have finally moved on and most anglers are now using sardines, mullet, frozen ballyhoo, and lures.”

“Fishing has been good still for yellowfin tuna, smaller though, but anglers are still catching their limits,” said Marisol Verdugo from Verdugo’s Beach Resort. Verdugo also reported a few dorado still around weighing 15 to 20 pounds.

“Bait has not been a problem, some days it was windy, but still able to fish. We have been sending 1 to 2 cruisers and also a super panga,” Verdugo said.

TUNA STILL TOPS—WON reader Dan Holmes from Ventura shows off his 175-pound tuna caught on a recent trip with a few friends that produced a total of 350 pounds of fillets of tuna, wahoo, pargo and more. This past week tuna weren’t quite as larger but it was a windy week to be offshore. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM STOCK.
TUNA STILL TOPS—WON reader Dan Holmes from Ventura shows off his 175-pound tuna caught on a recent trip with a few friends that produced a total of 350 pounds of fillets of tuna, wahoo, pargo and more. This past week tuna weren’t quite as larger but it was a windy week to be offshore. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM STOCK.

• LA PAZ: Like most of us in Baja Sur, Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International spent a good part of the week keeping an eye on the computer, wondering if a little "disturbance" about 600 miles south of La Paz was going to turn into a storm with a name. The other eye was kept on the fishing. “Both turned out well,” he said.

“The storm turned into nothing but some grey skies in the morning. The fishing turned into some of the best fishing we've seen. Yes, if you've been following the reports this summer, you know we've had some stellar fishing. It actually got better this past week,” Roldan said. “Anglers were getting limits of tuna so early that they spent the rest of the day releasing fish or chasing wahoo, pargo or big roosters.

“It was almost like fishing with a shopping list, anglers could almost pick out what kind of fish they wanted. The tuna were nice and manageable 10 to 25 pounders or if you wanted you could "man up" and go for the big boys that kicked your behind for 1, 2 or 3 hours before you lost the fish. They are still eating the chunked giant squid we're getting or big caballito, cocinero or sardines.”

There were plenty of 10- to 15-pound dorado, but more in the 20- to 30-pound class that have not been seen most of the season. “It’s really encouraging to start seeing larger mahi,” he said.

“Several of our pangas caught multiple marlin with most fish being released. The largest was about a 300-pound blue marlin caught with our La Paz fleet.”

“One day this past week may have been the best day for big roosterfish we've ever had this year. Every panga that we had fishing Las Arenas that day hooked 2 to 5 roosters, with the smallest being in the 30- to 40-pound class and the largest in the 60- to 70-pound class. All roosters were released.

“As long as the weather holds, we're just now coming into the high part of our season. Weather has been very tropical for the last 2 or 3 weeks with little showers almost a daily occurrence and some great evening lightning and incredible sunsets. So far, we've been lucky with no big storms.”

“All season, we've been talking about how the waters and weather are cooler than normal but that very phenomenon has kept the big storms away. As the storms come up from down south, they need the warm waters to keep them fueled. Instead, they are hitting the cooler waters of Baja and dissipating, fingers crossed,” he said.

• LORETO: Earlier in the week, locals Rick Hill and his fishing buddy Louie made a run from Juncalito, north to 5 miles above Coronado Island. “We caught one small dorado east off the airport, but Louie wanted to chase marlin. As we cruised north, halfway between Loreto and Isla Carmen, I could see many medium-sized (18 pound) dorado. "We can get them on the way back," was the song being played but I think that will be the last time I hear that tune,” Hill said.

“Up north we came across a dead sea turtle, floating on a current line. As one would expect, there were tiny fish and more medium dorado under it. A nice sailfish completed the picture. Once we found them, it was easy 2-fish limits.” A few finback whales and more dolphin than could be counted completed their successful trip.

Fishing (and anglers) has been slow this year and only 4 other boats fish were sighted on their 8-hour trip.

“The local guys are looking for the huachinango bite, sierra and toro, off the jetty and at the marina; it's been a mixed bag of fish off the beach.”

• SAN QUINTIN: Although there continues to be a good bite for the usual bottomfish found in the area, fishing offshore has been tough. Few charters have also made finding the fish a little harder.

Readers: To have your reports included in the Baja report, send photos and e-mails to

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