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Baja Fishing Report

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Baja’s spring approaches as Fred Hall show packs ’em in
Just about every major Baja fishing hotel and charter business is exhibiting March 7-11, such as Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Tailhunter and Rancho Leonero; Meanwhile, yellowtail hit off Loreto’s Catalan Island, and tuna footballs to 93 pounds were caught off San Jose del Cabo as the spring season approaches


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WATERS OFF LANDS END for the Pisces Sportfishing charter fleet saw an 89 percent catch rate with 55 percent of the fish being striped marlin, dorado at 13 percent, tuna making up just 2 percent and the rest assorted catches of sierra, roosters and bottomfish.


CABO SAN LUCAS — Baja’s winds picked up during the week and then settled out for the weekend, and spring is quickly approaching. But first things first, as the show season is finally here in SoCal, as the iconic Fred Hall Show runs five days in Long Beach, from Wednesday, March 7th to Sunday the 11th.


Baja’s best hotels and charter companies will be displaying, and it’s a great time to book a trip and buy the tackle for it.


In terms of Baja fishing, waters off Lands End for the Pisces charter fleet saw an 89-percent catch rate with 55 percent of the fish striped marlin, dorado at 13 percent, tuna making up just 2 percent and the rest assorted catches of sierra, roosters and bottomfish. Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet said that while the wind did pick up a few days this past week, the weather was fairly moderate for winter and the season is transitioning slowly to spring. The weekend saw warmer air temps for anglers while the water remained in the low 70s, typical or even a little warm for this time of year. The main area fished out of Cabo on the Pacific side was the Golden Gate Bank, while inside waters were also productive.


“With weather conditions this week being a bit more difficult, not many boats went out searching for tuna and anglers preferred to place their bets on marlin or stay closer to shore and fish for small game, which has been a lot of fun lately,” said Ehrenberg Sunday evening. “This strategy paid off well, with the fishing being split pretty evenly between marlin and small game, plus a few scattered dorado.”


She said the 61-foot VikingTag Team was their number one boat this week for most marlin caught in one day, with a great team of 5 anglers celebrating Thomas Wetlauffer’s birthday (numero 60) by catching one marlin each! Five striped marlin of 90 to 120 pounds were caught to the north at the Golden Gate Bank on live mackerel, and all five were released.


Pisces’ 31-foot Bertram Rebecca also had a great marlin day on the 24th, with anglers Hatch McCray and Steve Haynes catching and releasing 4 striped marlin, also out at Golden Gate on mackerel. The largest marlin was about 160 pounds with the others being quite small, between 60 and 80 pounds.


“Our 42-foot boats did well this week too, as the Hot Rod caught and released 2 striped marlin between 100 and 120 pounds again at Golden on mackerel, and our 42-foot Yahoo also caught and released 2 striped marlin around the same size. Anglers also landed a nice thresher shark, which they released, of about 170 pounds,” said Ehrenberg.


The Valerie also landed a shark, but this one was a smaller, a mako under 100 pounds, caught out at Golden on mackerel, along with a 100-pound striped marlin, both of which they released. Later in the week, the Valerie had some fun landing smaller game fish along with 1 striped marlin caught and released at Golden Gate. Anglers Bill Peterson and the Jennings family from Washington also caught 1 red snapper, 10 triggerfish and a small yellowtail by chumming closer to shore at Golden Gate.


The 28-foot Andrea also went for smaller game and was successful, finding 3 sierra, 1 grouper, 3 red snapper and 15 triggerfish. Lone angler Jeff Robl also landed 1 dorado of about 12 pounds on a feather lure outside of Golden Gate. Small game was found at La Palmita area by chumming. Just the next day, the Andrea again found dorado, this time slightly larger, about 18 pounds a little closer to shore at Golden Gate. Anglers Bert and Lori Holt and Linda and Peter Lassing also chummed for smaller game and landed 2 grouper, 4 red snapper and 4 triggerfish by chumming.


“Panga fishing was also fun this week, with our 24-foot panga Pichurro catching 20 sierra, all about 3 to 4 pounds each, which hit on hoochie lures close to Migriño, as well as 2 roosterfish of 15 and 22 pounds that were caught and released at the Cerros de Arena area. Anglers were Jessica and Jeremy Remily from Bismarck, Nevada.


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SAM NARAMORE FROM Boise, Idaho shows off a nice yellowtail caught outside of Bahia de Los Muertos with Captain Armando of the Tailhunter Fleet. He also lost another yellowtail and caught a nice batch of bonito that were released.


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MEETING AND GREETING. A big female grey whale gives Amy Kasper of Wyoming a fun moment in the calm waters of Bahia Magdalena, where whale watching season is in full swing. She booked with Tailhunter Sportfishing in La Paz.


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ON A CROSSOVER trip now being offered through Tailhunter International in La Paz, Outdoor hostRick Kasper and wife Amy fished Bahia Magdalena for corvina, cabrilla, snapper and snook in the shallow waters with live shrimp among the mangroves.

LA PAZ — For the third week in a row, fishing off La Paz took a hit from winter winds and strong currents.


“There were a few windows of fishing, but overall it was picky at best,” said Jonathan Roldan, who will be exhibiting this week at the March Fred Hall Long Beach Show at the Tailhunter International booth. ”Most of the time, it was simply frustrating. This is the reason it’s called the 'off-season.' The weather is a major factor. It affects getting bait. It affects being able to fish. It affects where and how we fish. Honestly, some days, it was barely worth going out, which is why we warn out anglers how it can be this time of year.”


He added, “We did get a few yellowtail.”


Sam Naramore from Boise, Idaho got away from the snow for a first-time trip to La Paz and had three days of tough fishing in the windy weather, but was able to pick up a nice yellowtail outside of Bahia de Los Muertos with Captain Armando of the Tailhunter Fleet. He also lost another yellowtail and caught a nice batch of bonito that were released.


“Our action on the Pacific side was a bit better,” said Roldan. “Fishing from Lopez Mateos, there was some excellent inshore action for snook, dogtooth snapper, corvina and cargo using live shrimp. Also, we had some good days of whale watching with numerous whales spotted and approached.”


Outdoor Television host and hunting guide, Rick Kasper and wife, Amy, from Wyoming fished at Bahia Magdalena for corvina, cabrilla, snapper and snook fishing light tackle in the shallow waters with live shrimp among the mangroves. Details on this optional trip now offered by Tailhunter can be obtained on their website and at the Halls shows in Long Beach and Del Mar.


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THE BAKER FAMILY visited the island in 2018 and stayed with Cedros Outdoor Adventures and scored white seabass, big calicos and yellowtail. It’s a great place to take the family, safe, and comfortable. Get a $50 discount on any trip by booking at the Hall shows, and a get a free Mexican license, too.


CEDROS ISLAND — So, what is a must-do for you this year?


Well, I would suggest a trip with Cedros Outdoor Adventures, and the Fred Hall Show is coming to the Long Beach Sports Arena and Convention Center this Wednesday through Sunday, March 7-11, and every major Baja sportfishing business will exhibiting. Be sure to look them up with the official show program and exhibitors list and map. And among them is Cedros Outdoor Adventures, which 12 years ago came on the scene to introduce sportfishing at the island to the average fisherman.


There are now four companies taking anglers to the island 300 miles south of Ensenada in search of big yellows, calico and sand bass, dorado and tuna and halibut and white seabass. The main targets for anglers flying out of Ensenada (and in some cases Brown Field in the U.S. as an option) are personal best calico bass up to the 10-pound class, and 20- to 40-pound yellowtail. A prime asset of Cedros is the weather. The fishing grounds are close by the lodge and marina on the lee side of Cedros, and because it is offshore, the heat in the Baja summer is not a factor. It is 80 to 85 degrees at the most, and the protected lee-side fishing grounds are almost always calm.


It is an adventure, and the creation of the Baja Dreams Lodge by Melanie and Jose Angel Sanchez, adds a special feel to the trips. It is a lodge on a bluff, with a view of nothing but the Pacific and the isolated coast to the west. Rooms for two or three anglers are spacious, and a deck is a perfect spot outside your room to read, smoke, have beers and look at the ocean. Yes, it’s pure bliss, but you’re tired, because catching fish all day will wear you out. But who’s complaining? If you book at the Halls shows in Long Beach and Del Mar you get a $50 discount ion the price, and a free Mexican fishing license for the trip, a $40 value.


As a reminder, WON has its 2018 hosted charter going to the island, Sept. 14-17, and the cost is $1,720, which includes all transport to and from the lodge, meals, fishing and filleting. For booking that trip, contact Kevin@wonews.com. For all other trips, check their website at www.cedrosoutdooradventures.com and call them at (619) 793-5419, or stop by the COA booth at the shows and book the best dates and get a free Mexican license and a $50 discount.


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EAST CAPE DORADO are still around, and likely never really left, as Ken Taylor of Eastcapecharters.com and the boat Fish-On found out on a trip in early February. Captain Oscar Ochoa is on the left, client Kenneth Taylor is on the right.


EAST CAPE — Since there is not much coming out of the East Cape in terms of reports, we will offer up an older report from earlier in February. And of course, mention that the resorts of the East Cape like Hotel Rancho Leonero will be exhibiting at the Fred Hall show this week, March 7-11. It’s a great place to meet John Ireland and this staff and look at some of the dates available. It will be a busy season after an epic 2017 for tuna and especially roosterfish and wahoo.


So, for the older report, provided by WON reader Ken Taylor, who fished with Eastcapecharters.com. The report was delayed while WON requested a few more details from Taylor, but it shows that winter dorado are still around.


He wrote: “Feb. 2, we launched out of La Ribera as the beach waves was too heavy for a tractor launch. The wind had whipped up the waves pretty good. Started trolling right outside the harbor, but with little success, were hoping for some sierra for ceviche. Kept trolling up to Los Barrilles as there had been dorado around the whole area, nada. One miss around Rancho Leonero, probably a rooster.


“As we were trolling past Palmas, our captain Oscar Ochoa saw a nice bull dodo jump by the moored fleet. So we trolled right down the middle of the of the boats. And bingo, a triple header. All came to boat, one smaller female released. Picked up two more while trolling the area, a great day in spite of bad weather, rain and waves. A successful charter for Ken Taylor, with Eastcapecharters.com on the Fish-On.”


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ACTION OFF PUERTO LOS CABOS saw smallish tuna but some were in the 50-pound class and one 93 pounder was caught. The fish were fairly line-shy for pangas, said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas based in San Jose Del Cabo said March should bring more predictable weather to the region, with warmer days, but at the start of the week, winds hit the area and it cooled off what had been a solid bite on the yellowfin.


“High temperatures were barely reaching up to 70 to 74-degree mark; early mornings were chilly, down in the 50s,” said Brictson. “Crowds of tourists appeared to be lighter than usual, but with spring break just around the corner, we should see more people arriving.”


Ocean temperatures were ranging from 70 to 74 degrees, with the warmest area now being around the Jaime Banks off of Cabo San Lucas. Waters off San Jose del Cabo and to Los Frailes the water averaged 70 degrees, and despite strong north winds earlier in the week the water still was fairly clean.


“We are now also in the full moon phase and this can often impact feeding habits of certain species of game fish. The main baitfish now being used has been sardinas, as the bait netters had been finding these off of the stretches near San Luis, but higher swells made this tougher and once again the majority of the bait is being found along the rocky shore line from Palmilla to Cabo Real, but they took longer than usual to obtain enough bait to supply the fleet sufficiently. But it was worth the wait, because these sardinas are what the yellowfin tuna are hitting on.”


The bite for the smallish tuna has mainly been off of Vinorama, and some fish were also found on San Luis Bank and near Iman. Last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the action was good for fish averaging 20 to 50 pounds with one yellowfin tuna of 93 pounds weighed in.


“Fish were finicky and line-shy at times, and anglers were using 30- to 40-pound line with best success, sporting tackle for tuna of this grade. The gusty weather shut the action completely down on Wednesday and Thursday before the bite rebounded on Friday, with charters averaging two to five tuna each. Considering this is now off season for yellowfin tuna, this action has been a welcome bonus.”


Billfish action was limited to sporadic action on the Pacific, and there is no striped marlin now on the grounds off of San Jose del Cabo. Dorado continued to be found daily, though in fewer numbers and most of these fish are small juveniles in the 5 pound range, with a rare 10 pounder mixed in.


“When the ocean temperature dips down near the 70 degree range, species such as dorado generally head on a southern migration, following the wahoo, which have already moved out of the area,” he said.


With most charters waiting a longer time in order to obtain sardinas and then heading far north towards Vinorama to target the tuna, there was not a whole lot of bottom action even being targeted. With the colder water they did not find any roosterfish or jack crevalle either. Still plenty of whales in the region, and they should be around all of this month.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 74 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 105 yellowfin tuna, 112 dorado, 1 wahoo, 2 broomtail grouper, 16 yellow snapper, 19 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 26 huachinango (red snapper), 16 bonito, 32 sierra and 26 triggerfish.


LORETO — Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing and loretotours.com reported that the yellowtail are starting to “bust into the mode of spring, finally!”


He added, “The only hot action has been down south at the extreme range of many boats. 'Many' yellowtail from 12 to 24 pounds were hitting baits and iron at Isla Catalana or as the gringos say,’Catlan’.


“No word from up north at Almeja or Pulpito because most of the Loreto boats are doing whale watching. Give that a few more weeks and the scene will shift back into putting some big yellowtail on the barbecue.”


As for weather, Hill said the Loreto area did the “Baja extremes." with some wind and rain (sprinkles in Loreto) “but we are back to sunshine and warmer days!”


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Baja and mainland Mexico reports from readers are appreciated when you return from your trip, or during. Just send any information or attached photos to Baja@wonews.com . Reports for the paper and wonews.com should be sent by Sunday mornings.


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