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Baja Fishing Report

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Good conditions critical for success
Cabo marlin pop for international tourney anglers; a pair of yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds off Cabo; East Cape, La Paz wahoo adding to a great mix; San Quintin offshore bluefin are biting for K&M boats

CABO SAN LUCAS — Amid reports of two yellowfin tuna of 234 pounds from an East Cape Palmas sportfishers and a 257-pound pounder caught Saturday on the Retriever, a well-known tournament-tested sport yacht out of Cabo San Lucas, it appears the pelagics have arrived as the weather has settled.


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TAYLOR WALKER AND her husband caught and released 5 striped marlin on the Karina on Thursday while fishing with the Pisces Fleet off Cabo. The bite for every species had really turned on in the last week with marlin, tuna, dorado and bottomfish, and a big tuna over 200 pounds off Cabo and another cow tuna taken in waters off the East Cape.

At press time, there were no pictures of the two big tuna, but the fish were confirmed by two WON sources, Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces in Cabo and Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing in the East Cape. This is not the traditional big tuna season, that coming in September and October and November during tournament season, but it is an indicator that Baja Sur is firing up as the weather and water conditions have improved in recent weeks. Gordo Banks Pangas’ Eric Brictson confirmed that that San Luis Bank has produced some bigger fish, 40 to 100 pounds. It is not known where the Retriever’s big tuna was caught.


There were also some huge dorado caught on the East Cape, a 50 pounder by a Palmas sportfisher, and a 48 pounder by the Jen Wren fleet’s 35 Cabo Vaquero. That is fantastic news for the local fleets as tourney season nears for that area.


In other Baja news, Cedros Island’s season for big calicos is going on, wahoo are showing among a real assortment of gamefish off La Paz, and in the northwest side of Baja, yellowfin are being taken off San Quintin 150 miles below the border as the tuna are mixed in with their bluefin brethren as water warms.


In related news of those boats going into Mexican waters, a Mexican official confirmed that in addition to the FMM, fishing licenses, passports, registration (and wristbands for the biosphere Coronado islands), private boaters are required to obtain a Temporary Important Permit (TIP) a 10-year private vessel document for $100. The Mexican fisheries official confirmed that on Let’s Talk Hookup during a live broadcast in Loreto in conjunction with the Sportfishing Association of California.


For more information on obtaining the document by mail (only) or any Mexican port office, see the SAC website at caliliforniasportfishing.org. It was previously believed that the TIP document was required only of trailer boaters and those boats that make land into Mexico. It is required of ALL boats in Mexico waters.


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Let’s get to the more fun stuff in Cabo San Lucas. Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet reported the top spots for a surging marlin bite were the 1150 Spot, Cerro Colorado, Chileno, and the San Jose areas. For inshore action, it was the Pedregal and lighthouse beaches before the wind became an issue to the north. Best lures were live cabbies, ballyhoo, green and white feathers and green hoochie lures.


Weather conditions were windy on the Pacific past the lighthouse from the harbor but the Sea of Cortez was calm and warmer with 2- to 3-foot swells at the most. Water temperatures varied from the Pacific to the East Cape side, 82 degrees on Sea of Cortez, Pacific as cold at 68-70 degrees.


The marlin fishing, said Ehrenberg, was amazing, with 261 marlin released by the fleet boats this past week. That is twice the number of last week.


Part of that can be attributed to the light tackle ILLTA Tournament and the start of a Pelagic tournament Saturday. The Day 1 ILTTA tourney, a two-day event featuring teams from around the world, saw 119 marlin released. (Full results were not available at press deadline.)


One of those boats saw 9 marlin released by Wayne Six, Roger Galindo and Diego Menéndez on the Pisces 42-foot Yahoo in the kickoff day of the 79th Annual ILTTA Tournament (International Light Tackle Tournament Association). Pisces has four boats in the event.


“The All Release Tournament came into being in 1946, founded by Dr. “Doc” Roy B. Dean,” said Ehrenberg. “At inception, the tournament was met with some trepidation in view of the fact that tournaments in that day and time were all “on the dock” or “kill” tournaments. Doc’s idea was to have competition between teams of three individuals representing clubs all fishing under IGFA rules. These three-man teams would fish separately; changing boats and partners each day of the tournament. It obviously was a superb idea since it is still going strong.”


Organizing the tourney has been Minerva Smith Saenz of Minerva’s Tackle in Cabo who feels that while Cabo is known for its great sportfishing and big-game money events like the Bisbee’s and the Cabo Tuna Jackpot, it lacks prestige in the catch-and-release world ever since the Rolex tourney moved on several years ago. Hosting this tournament and keeping it in Cabo, Minerva Smith said, is a big step in that direction.


The anglers’ skills are put to the test, as specific rules such as the same tackle, hooks and bait are utilized by all.


“For example, these teams are using only dead ballyhoo bait for all captures and mates are not able to assist the anglers in any way, not even baiting or hooking fish,” said Ehrenberg. “Pisces is very excited to be a part of this tournament, which has not been held in Cabo for several years now.”


In terms of great days on the water for average anglers, the 31-foot Bertram Tiburon captained by Rosendo Gomez caught 5 striped marlin on live cabbies at the 1150 Spot for Liam Walsh, 12, and his father Rick who live in Cleveland. Steve has fished with Pisces with 25 years and wanted to take his grandson out, and he did pretty well, you might say, with all 5 marlin hooked, landed and released.


Santa Rosa anglers David Pajon, Efrain Lomeli, Jessica Lomeli, Keri Pajon and Patrick Crozat fished on the 33-foot Berram Valerie and scored five striped marlin, 70 to 120 pounds, while working the Cerro Colorado area with live and dead cabbies.


In other Baja action:


ENSENADA — Edgar Sanchez of the Hotel Marina Coral marine store said the Reel Adventure, a private sport yacht owned by Wes Price, was scouring the area for gamefish in Todos Santos Island where they managed 2 yellowtail around 14 pounds using live sardines. Barracuda were also in the count with 5 aboard. On the bottom the Reel Adventure gang fished for red snapper, groupers and boccachio between 5 and 8 pounds. It was a decent day for them on Saturday with sunny afternoon skies, and flat seas.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson sounded a little more optimistic this week as his Gordo Banks Pangas out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos saw more anglers arriving, greeted by great ocean conditions and improved fishing.


“Most all of the fishing action is now in the direction of San Jose del Cabo and to the north,” said Brictson. “The striped marlin bite came on strong this week, as these fish were found spread out throughout the zone, anywhere from two to 10 miles from shore. Bait supplies consisted of mainly moonfish, ballyhoo and some caballito, with lots of smaller skipjack and some bolito found schooling on the fishing grounds. The majority of the marlin were striking on various baitfish, though they would also hit trolled lures, the stripers were weighing in the 70- to 120-pound range.”


Dorado, he said, are now in the mix.


“After a long absence we were now hearing of more reports of dorado being seen, some landed, most were smaller, but we did hear of a couple of nice fish found further offshore that were in the 20-pound class. We do expect to find more of these gamefish moving in, as water conditions are now more favorable. No reports of wahoo, though the way the water shaping up, something could develop on that at any time.”


Many charters are still working the yo-yo jigs off of the rocksy high spots for Mexican bonito, red snapper, cabrilla and amberjack, though this action is providing some quality eating fish, most of these fish were under ten pounds, he reported. Inshore, there were jack crevalle, a few pargo and roosterfish to over 30 pounds though the annual migration of the mass schools of mullet has yet to appear.


“Mullet is what normally will bring in the main run of the quality roosterfish, but everything seems to be running a bit later than normal this season, included this marlin bite that now is happening,” he said.


On the San Luis Bank anglers were finding chances at quality yellowfin tuna up to 100 pounds with no big numbers yet, “But every day we have seen these tuna brought in and all of them seem to be at least 40 pounds with the majority being over 70 pounds striking mainly while drift fishing with strips of squid. A handful even hit on yo-yo jigs. Some days were better than others, the factors of sea lions, sharks and crowds came into play. But this week we saw more tuna action than in the past couple of months, so that is a promising sign.”


He said this is the time when they should start seeing more amberjack and dogtooth snapper close to shore during June and July, before moving further offshore to the high spots as summer progresses


The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 98 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 9 dorado, 44 striped marlin, 19 yellowfin tuna, 4 dogtooth snapper, 15 leopard grouper, 210 Mexican bonito, 70 red snapper, 12 amberjack, 45 roosterfish, 12 jack crevalle and 90 triggerfish. 


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DOUG AND PENNY NUFFER from Utah with Captain Gerardo scored these two big pompano plus the huge dogtooth that Penny hooked and battled and pulled from the rocks while fishing with Tailhunter International in La Paz.


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JOHN EHLERS FROM Aurora, Colorado fishes several times of year with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz and was just outside of Muertos Bay when he got this huge cabrilla to jump on a yo-yo jig in shallow water.


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HIS FIRST ROOSTERFISH is a big one for Dave Waite who was fishing with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz. The roosterfish hit a big ladyfish that was being slow trolled just off the rocks at Punta Arenas and after a tough battle the fish was released strong.

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HE ONLY HAD one day to sneak in to fish, but Colton Matson from San Diego snuck in a day with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz and came back with two legit dorado plus an assortment of other fish.


LA PAZ — “The size of the pompano this year is incredible,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter. “Doug and Penny Nuffer from Utah with Captain Gerardo caught two big pompano plus a huge dogtooth that Penny hooked and battled. She pulled it from the rocks and refused to give up the rod to Doug who really wanted to take the rod from her!”


Roldan said the fishing is still erratic. You just never know what you are going to get each day.


“I have come to the conclusion that given the present conditions of the way fishing has been the last two months, it’s not June or summertime fishing. What we have is really early springtime fishing. This is more like April fishing than June fishing. The reality of things is that, air temps are cooler. Water temps are cooler than normal as well. The winds are taking their time in getting the heck out of town and keep being pesky while turning up waves and clouding up the water. But, don’t get me wrong. There’s no lack of sunshine or action.”


He continued, “On the water, everyone is catching a variety of fish. But, like the weather, it’s erratic. Good, but erratic. Everyone is getting bent but from day-to-day, it’s hard to know what’s biting. One day there’s dorado and tuna. The next day it’s big pompano or snapper. A hundred yards away, a panga gets yellowtail and sierra… cold water fish. One day there are big roosters popping up and the next day, the same area is inhabited by voracious bonito and jack crevalle. Wahoo come and go. I think this past week, I counted more than a dozen different species of fish. No one is not catching fish. It’s just hard to tell anyone what they will catch.”


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THIS BULL DORADO of 48 pounds on the Vaquero was not the only big slug to come out of the East Cape. Three other big dorado and two 200-pound tuna also came to the scales, it was reported by Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing. JEN WREN PHOTO


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KEVIN SULLIVAN SCORED a 48-pound bull dorado on the Vaquero while fishing with the East Cape-Los Barilles-based Jen Wren Sportfishing fleet. JEN WREN PHOTO


EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing via his weekly blog sent to WON on Saturday reported calm seas continue to prevail but they are starting to feel more humidity in the air.


“Water temperature has crossed into the 80s and conditions couldn't be better,” said Rayor. “Striped marlin and yellowfin tuna have been providing most of the action but dorado and roosterfish are also getting in the game. Noticeably absent for a time have been wahoo but not many have noticed or had time to miss them.


“Last week two tuna over 200 pounds came to the scales. One fell for a cedar plug and the other came to a skipping a Yummie Flyer. Skipping baits from a fishing kite is one of the most effective ways I know to catch cow tuna. For the cows we turn to the kite. When there is no wind the AFTCO kite with a helium balloon works well. When there is a stiff breeze I like the Boston sled kite. Over the last few weeks we have had some monsters crash on the bait and miss. It is a heart stopper to watch it happen but so far we have had to settle for the schoolie 20 to 30 pounders. We will keep skipping 'em and I know there will be a cow in our near future.”


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FRED KNILANS CAUGHT some big calicos with his group while fishing last week with Cedros Outdoor Adventures. The season is starting off strong with the calico bite going off.


CEDROS ISLAND — Tom Gatch sent in this report to the Cedros Outdoor Adventures web page, and it’s a clrear indication that calico fishing that has been legendary at the west coast Baja Island is back on track, in a big way. The lodge is open and groups are flowing through the operation, taking advantage of the direct flights from San Diego/Otay Mesa’s Brown Field to the island.


Reported Gatch, “The coast of Southern California was engulfed in a gloomy fog during the first full week of June. However, the lucky anglers visiting Cedros Island were enjoying banner fishing while drifting aimlessly under sunny skies during the opening week of our 2019 fishing season. The primary focus so far has been on calico bass, which have been readily inhaling artificial baits, including plastics, hard baits, and flies.


“Saltwater fly fisherman, Jordan Cavanaugh, from Fountain Valley, was on trip number 7 to the island; having become habituated to the fantastic fishing at Cedros many years ago. During his several days of fishing with a 9-weight fly rod and a variety of orange and red streamers, he ended up catching and releasing enough calico bass up to 5 pounds to wear his arms out by the time he got back into port each day. Cavanaugh also reported catching several small halibut on white streamers, which bodes well for the months to come as the water continues to warm.


Gatch continued, “SoCal fishing buddies, Jim Petrella from Palm Desert, and Fred Knilans of Orange County, were throwing some of Knilans’ hand-poured plastic jigs and hard baits to hook and release nearly 150 calico bass on Wednesday that ranged upward to a whopping 7.5 pounds. Petrella indicated that the sea was blanketed by hordes of red crabs, which often will impair the bite after many of the fish become glutted with them. Nonetheless, the intrepid duo scored incredibly well; and also fished off of nearby Natividad and Benitos Islands where the red crabs were less prevalent, and they brought even more fish over the rail.


“Even though we are barely into June, 2019 appears to be full of promise, especially as the months progress and larger pelagic species behind that multitude of red tuna crabs begin to move into our region.”


Go to Cedrosoutdooradventures.com for more on the island and the operation and the latest fishing reports.


LORETO — Rick Hill at Pinchysportfishing.com said the yellowtail are thick on the high spots near shore and the off the islands, and the cabrilla are also on the bite, from top to bottom and nearshore. It’s game on.


“Acres of yellowtail and some huge cabrilla are all of the story for this week,” said Hill. “Catching the 'tails is still a little tricky as usual. The scuba guys are seeing tons of them. The big cabrilla are in the rocks out at Punta Lobo and along the back side of Carmen Island.


“Out at the fringes of our easy fish zone are schools of small dorado. I think everyone is waiting to see if the dodos and billfish come in closer before we start seeing fillets at the cleaning tables.”


There is plenty of time to get in on the fun with the 29th annual Fishin for the Mission Charity Dorado Tournament held at La Mision Hotel July 11-13. Signups are at La Mision Hotel on the malecon the evening of Thursday, July 11 on the second floor patio near the bar. Fishing is for two days, Friday and Saturday with the combined weight of the 2 biggest fish per team determining the winners in both the Dorado Class and Other Species Class. Entry is $250 per team and that gets you a tournament bag with various giveaways as well as 4 performance tournament shirts, 4 dinner banquet tickets at La Mision Saturday night, July 13, and 4 raffle tickets. There is also free beer and water provided to the participants at the signups, both days of the weigh in, and at the banquet. It is a great tournament with a long history of helping the town of Loreto. A discounted room rate at La Mision Hotel is also given to members of the tournament that week.


For more information about the tournament, there is a Facebook Group- Fishin for the Mission with up to date information or you can email tournament director Chris Wheaton at luhrs32reeltime@aol.com


MIDRIFF The boat Tony Reyes just returned from 4½ days of fishing in the Midriff Islands area in the Sea of Cortez with a chartered trip from Phenix Rods, reported Tom Ward of the Long Fish Tackle shop in Orange,


“Weather was nice and fishing was great,” said Ward. “Fish were eating jigs both casting and trolling. Blue and white seemed to be the best color for casting and the pink and the mackerel MR111 Mirrorlures worked best for trolling.


The count was: 256 yellows, 75 bass, 11 pargo, 11 sheephead, 206 lingcod, 20 grouper, 1 black seabass, 1 halibit, 7 cola escoba, 8 sierra, 1 golden cabrilla and 284 assorted fish released.


Tony is running trips through the first week of November out of San Felipe and then he will be fishing from La Paz during March of 2020. For information go to www.tonyreyes.com or www.thelongfin.com .


SAN QUINTIN — K&M Sportfishing, featuring the Catian family and chartered 25-foot Parkers, got into the bluefin for the first time this season. They posted a deck awash with tuna on Sunday. They were hitting the red iron, reported Kelly Catian. For information visit www.kmfishing.com or call 011521(616)109-1869 or email capitanm2@yahoo.com.mx.


L.A. BAY — For the full report on the trip, go to bajafishingconvoys.com and see all the great photos and descriptions of the food, the travels and great times made possible by Baja Fishing Convoys. Orchid Martinez said Baja Fishing Convoys have two more trips for BOLA this year. While the Aug.1-5 trip is full they have space on the Sept. 24-28 trip. Give Orchid a call at (619) 483-7315 or email her at orquideaviaja@gmail.com.

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Get your report in WON. When you get home, send in reports to WON at baja@wonews.com. Deadline is Sunday morning.


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