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Baja Fishing Report

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Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tuna time begins in Cabo


Baja warming up!
Winds abate with small yellowfin tuna producing limits;
Loreto yellowtail action spreads out;
Pisces Valerie scored a rare golden grouper

LA PAZ — Baja Sur is seeing longer stretches of calm water, and that has meant easier access to offshore pelagics, especially for La Paz, Cabo and East Cape boats nailing yellowfin tuna limits. Sashimi time!


Indeed, the U.S. families are back home and the kids in school after spring break, and that means great weather and fewer crowds, the perfect time to head south.


“It looks like the weather is clearing up just in time for the season to kick off with a lot more of our fishermen now arriving in La Paz,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International. “There’s still some wind on tap for this coming week and indeed we had some this past week, but overall, a big improvement in not only the weather, but the fishing, catching, and variety! Each week seems to get a little better as things warm up! It’s all about the winds. If the winds are gone, there’s fish starting to bite.”


Roldan said that all signs are especially encouraging to the south of La Paz.


“South of us along the East Cape, things are already starting to go off with the fishing, so those conditions are moving north towards us!”


Here is a Baja rundown for the week:


LAS ARENAS/ MUERTOS BAY/ SUENOS BAY — It’s not crazy good… yet, said Roldan of Tailhunter International, “but the fishing is more like May fishing with lots of different variety in the water. Inshore, pargo liso (mullet snapper), pargo per (dogtooth snapper) and pargo mulatto (barred pargo) are biting along with several types of snapper, jack crevalle, bonito and cabrilla.”


He added, “In the deeper water but not far off, dorado are around between 5 and 20 pounds although not in great numbers, plus yellowtail up to 25 pounds. Plus we found some tuna over at nearby Cerralvo Island although, again, not in great numbers. Some wahoo were seen, but didn’t bite and commercial guys said billfish look like they’re moving into the area.”


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FROM HUNTINGTON BEACH and fishing La Paz for the first time, young Ben Fox found nice early-season yellowfin tuna at Cerralvo Island while fishing with the Tailhunter Fleet and his dad, Steve Fox.

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WHOA! JUST OFF the rocks, Jeff Brown and his son, Cole, were with Captain Joel Martinez from the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz catching smaller snapper, pargo and cabrilla when this big grouper gulped Jeff’s live bait in shallow water and they were able to winch it away from the rocks! Jeff and Cole are from Minnesota and come down every year to La Paz for sunshine and fishing!

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BEN FOX FROM Huntington Beach shows off a nice snook he caught light tackle fishing inside the shallow waters of Bahia Magdalena with Tailhunter Sportfishing. He and his dad caught snook, snapper, pargo, cabrilla and other species using live shrimp and spinning gear.


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RON UNDERSTALL, ALAN Medville and Jeff Erickson show off a good mixture of yellowfin and yellowtail caught today at El Bajo seamount on a trip with Baja Pirates out of La Paz. In the other photo, Captain Paul and Captain Sully from Eagle Charters hang a 5-pound yellowfin caught on 40-pound Izorline and a No. 1 Owner hook. It took 45 minutes with the Avet LX reel and Ugly Stik rod. And, Paul Brown Lebanon, Oregon scored a hefty pargo.


LA PAZ — For the first time all year, Tailhunter pangeros had some consistent fishing on bay/island runs. “Normally,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter, “with the winds blowing in from the north, it’s just often too rough to even get out of the bay or, when you get to the spots, it’s hard to fish the areas.”


He added, “However, with some pretty good post-Easter conditions, I was blown away by the variety of species that ended up on the hook! We didn’t find quantity of fish, but the variety was remarkable especially for inshore species. This included several species of pargo, snapper, cabrilla, grouper, jacks and bonito. As well, we hooked some yellowtail up to about 20 pounds and even got a tuna about 50 yards from the rocks!”


As for the action on the outside of the bay, beyond the islands, yellowfin tuna were targeted by the Baja Pirates Fleet. On several trips, anglers scored quality tuna to 70 pounds. In one photo sent to WON by Leonard Phillips, owner of Baja Pirates, Ron Understall, Alan Medville and Jeff Erickson showed off a good mixture of yellowfin and yellowtail caught last week at El Bajo seamount.


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ROBERT WEIMER, LARRY LEVY, and Rob Coldren of Newport Beach with a pair of big yellowfin and one amberjack (on the left) after a trip with Hotel Rancho Leonero on the East Cape. The fishing has been outstanding, limit-style, on the porpoise schools.


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MATTHEW CLIFTON AND Sheila Giovanna Verduzco show off a yellowfin caught last week at the East Cape with Scorpion Sportfishing.


EAST CAPE — John Ireland at the Hotel Rancho Leonero said the spring weather is perfect, cool in the mornings and near 80 degrees in the day, and the water has been 74 to 75 degrees and flat all week, and that has meant easy access to offshore yellowfin.


“It's been all about the yellowfin this week!” said Ireland. With the exception of one day, almost all anglers are limiting on quality tuna in the 20- to 60-pound range! With such a wide-open, consistent tuna bite all anglers are targeting the yellowfin and striped marlin are being released daily and a couple of dorado a day are being taken. The tuna, however, are receiving all the attention.”


A few anglers fished inside and caught some big barred pargo and 30-pound plus amberjack. As for bait, sardines have been available all week, he said.


“Pods of porpoise moving around outside have been holding nice tuna in the 20-pound class, mostly to the south. Some are being taken on hoochies, most on chunk squid and live sardine inside 1/2 to 1 mile directly off the white sand cliffs, south of Frailles. This area consistently has been producing free swimming tuna with limits for anglers most days.”


Dorado? Ireland said a couple of nice bulls were taken this past week, said Ireland.


As for inshore action, barred pargo and a couple of big amberjack came in during the week, although with the tuna going off, there’s not much pressure on them.


In other East Cape reports, Scorpion Sportfishing’s Matthew Clifton said, “We had a good week of tuna fishing as well as some marlin and dorado action too! Fishing season is already in full swing on the East Cape! On one trip last week, Matthew Clifton and Sheila Giovanna Verduzco had great fishing for yellowfin tuna.”


Finally, the Van Wormers sent out some pictures of the revamped Playa Del Sol Hotel that is just north of the flagship hotel Palmas De Cortez. It shows a pretty impressive revitalization of the property’s common area and the rooms. Check their website for details.


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OUTPOST CHARTERS OF Loreto scored some quality yellowtail in high spots off Catalan Island for clients of the 40-foot Luhrs Cast N’ Reel last week. The best action for them has been the north side of Catalan, on mackerel.


LORETO — Good news for the yellowtail fishing crowd. While fishing for the forkies has been good in some outlying spots from town to the north and south of Catalan, the local reefs have been slow to kick in with fish. That changed last week. The close-in spots were kicking out some nice limits of 20- to 24-pound yellowtail, reported Rick Hill of Loreto Tours.


“Sardinas got hammered more than the mackerel but more good fish were caught with the big baits,” said Hill. “Pargo and cabrilla were also in the mix with most of the fish caught between Isla Coronado's southeast tip and all the way south to Carmen Island's La Cholla.”


He added, “Yellowtail and some cabrilla are also getting landed around Catalan Island the same as been happening for the past three weeks. We still aren't wide open but it is getting better every week!”


Jay Yadon at Outpost Charters based in Marina Puerto Escondido said “Loreto fishing is on fire!” The best fishing has been on mackerel he said, on the north side of the island. He added that the tuna on El Seco have not shown up yet. The big fish that showed up this winter at the seamount off Catalan Island topped by a 424.6 pounder by Jorge Lazo of Tijuana, has been submitted to the International Gamefish Association (IGFA) for the 50- or 80-pound line class yellowfin record. It depends on the breaking test of the 50-pound line submitted. It will take 90 days for the record to be approved or denied.


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PISCES FLEET BOATS caught 522 fishthis week, out of which 29 were billfish, 5 were dorado, 267 were tuna and 221 were other fish such as grouper, sierra, wahoo, etc. Among the catches was rare 25-pound golden grouper.


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Pisces fleet found success on 89 percent of its charters through April 6, the action based on 29 percent of the catch marlin, tuna 37 percent, dorado 8.5 and assorted other fish 32 percent of the catch. How did that break down? Pisces boats caught 522 fish this week, out of which 29 were billfish, 5 were dorado, 267 were tuna and 221 were other fish such as grouper, sierra, wahoo, etc.


The action was based at the Golden Gate Bank for the most part, out 20 to 40 miles, as well as the 240, 210, and 110 spots. Weather conditions saw little wind early in the week but midweek the winds picked up until the weekend. The water temp averaged 71 degrees.


SaidPisces Sportfishing Fleet’s Rebecca Ehrenberg, “This week we experienced some weather here in Cabo. Wind picked up midweek and a bit of a south swell showed up towards the weekend. But even with these conditions, Pisces boats impressed with 89 percent of boats catching fish. They went the distance to find anglers the fish they were looking for and tried keeping out of the wind which was stronger in certain areas of the Pacific side.”


Tuna was the top catch this week, with those looking for marlin still finding numerous fish as well, the most impressive catch by the Valerie.


“Anglers Patrick Johnson and Diane Lapp caught a very rare golden grouper, actually a leopard grouper (or cabrilla grouper), but in its ‘golden phase,’” said Ehrenberg. “This is believed to occur because of a mutation in the fish’s genes and only occurs in about 1 or 2 percent of this species of fish, making it truly a once in a lifetime catch for the pair.”


The fish weighed about 25 pounds and was caught out at La Palmita area on the Pacific side by chumming. The group also landed 10 nice sierra mackerel, between 6 and 7 pounds each, 1 grouper, 2 red snapper and 3 triggerfish.”


“Anglers that braved the weather were rewarded this week, such as David Ross, and David, Rose and Sunny Hong who caught and released a striped marlin each on the Tiburon, totaling 4, out at Golden Gate. The fish hit on mackerel bait, and weighed about 80, 100 and 120 pounds each.”


Captain Nicolas and mate Pablo of the Pisces 28-foot Adriana and sole angler Tom Wallace did very well to catch and release 3 striped marlin of about 130 pounds each out at Golden Gate on mackerel bait.


The Ruthless also did well this week, with 3 striped marlin caught and released by anglers Cameron and Connor Buckingham from Yorba Linda out at Golden Gate Bank on mackerel. The fish weighed between 130 and 160 pounds each. Later on in the week the Ruthless caught and released 2 striped marlin of about 110 pounds each for anglers from New Mexico. These anglers also caught 3 sierra mackerel on hoochie lures closer to the shore at Golden, as well as an estimated 20-pound roosterfish they released.


“Our top boat for tuna this week, was without a doubt, the Pisces Tracy Ann, catching 45 yellowfin in one day. Anglers were the Delgatty family from Colorado, who went way out towards the 110 and 120 Spots at about 41 miles to find their fish! Captain Julio Castro and Mate Martin Gonzalez put out feather lures and cedar plugs and hit the jackpot. The tuna were all football sized.”


The Rebecca also did well with tuna this week; the Gleason family caught 24 tuna in total, again quite the distance, at the 240 Spot 30 miles out. The tuna hit on cedar plugs and ranged in weight from about 10 to 25 pounds each. And finding luck a bit closer in, the fleet saw the 38-foot BajaMark and its anglers from Maryland catch and release 16 yellowfin tuna of about 15 to 25 pounds each, at about 12 miles from the Old Lighthouse.


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GORDO BANKS PANGAS reported that red crabs have been on the surface and used for bait, including the huachinango ranging in sizes up to 12 pounds.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson said in his weekly report with Gordo Banks Panga out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina that the time to visit is now. Lighter crowds after spring break and great spring weather, cool mornings, light winds, days in the low 80s.


As for the fishing, most local sportfishing charters are now concentrating on the fishing grounds from La Fortuna, Iman Bank and towards Vinorama. Supplies of sardinas have become more scattered, with the other type of clear sardina being more common, these do not stay alive well, but do work dead for the yellowfin tuna and other species.


“In recent days the yellowfin tuna action was very spotty around the Iman Bank. The tuna could be seen often breezing and feeding on the surface, but were very finicky, the few yellowfin that were actually landed weighed in the 25- to 50-pound class,” said Brictson. “There were some new reports of some charters heading further north, past Vinorama and finding some more cooperative tuna on those grounds.”


He added, “Dorado were also much scarcer this past week, though we did see a couple of fish up in the 20-pound range. The water temperature was averaging about 73 degrees and clarity was up and down, with very strong currents moving through. One day it could be more greenish, and then it would clear back up on others.


“Striped marlin were still being found, but they have moved further offshore searching for their favored food source. Rigged ballyhoo, lures and skipjack were being used with varying results.”


Perhaps the highlight of the week was the pelagic red crabs making a strong showing on the local grounds, from the Gordo Banks to Iman Bank. Appearing on the surface in masses and being scooped up and in return used for baiting up the red snapper, or locally referred to as the huachinango, prized eating, the true Pacific red snapper, ranging in sizes up to 12 pounds, scrappy fighters on light tackle as well.


“A very popular and valued commercial species, so everyone is now out in force taking advantage of this event as long as it continues. This is a deal that can end on any given day,” said Brictson.


Other bottom action included a mix of amberjack, leopard grouper, yellow snapper, barred pargo, surgeon fish, bonito and triggerfish.


“More reports of action being found on yo-yo jigs, as well as drift fishing with bait. Though strong currents made this type of fishing much more challenging; it will be much improved when these swift currents slack up. Inshore action was limited, not many sierra and a few mostly smaller sized roosterfish. No sign of the annual migration of mullet yet, still a little early in the season for that.”


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 81 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 18 striped marlin, 13 dorado, 68 yellowfin tuna, 22 yellow snapper, 23 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 310 huachinango (red snapper), 95 bonito, 14 amberjack, 4 island jack, 9 surgeon fish, 15 barred pargo, 4 broomtail grouper, 14 roosterfish, 16 sierra and 155 triggerfish


BAHIA MAGDALENA — Tailhunter International of La Paz reported that on their special runs over to the west coast they scored big. “We had anglers fishing our inshore waters with light tackle again and they scored great,” said Jonathan Roldan. “Using live shrimp for bait, they rocked snook, cabrilla, corvina and several kinds of snapper working in the shallow waters and in the eddies and back bays and sandbars among the trees.”


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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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