Baja Fishing Report

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Storms keep anglers on their toes
Great fishing after one tropical rainstorm, but more expected this week; Cabo tuna and marlin fishing just keeps rollin’ as do the San Q forkies; big Loreto yellows debut

CABO SAN LUCAS — The RedRum Fleet’s Ryan Donovan weighed in on the type of season Cabo is having in November. Epic. Amazing. We’ll let him tell it.

“When the dorado and striped marlin fishing is as good as it is right now, people often forget about the tuna fishing. We just finished the Western Outdoor News Tuna Jackpot tournament and I can’t remember a year where more fish over 200 pounds reached the scales (including our 214-pound fish that just missed the money). The football-size fish have been mixed in with the other fish up the Pacific but the 100-, 200- and even 300-pound monster yellowfin have been schooled up with the porpoise on the outlying banks, 20 to 40 miles offshore.

As for the marlin fishing, it is as consistent in Cabo and up the Pacific as it can get, said Donovan.

THE REDRUM FLEET was fully engaged in the tournament season for big marlin and tuna and since then has been really enjoying a continuation of one of the best seasons in memory for those species off Cabo.

“The striped marlin bite at both the Finger Bank and Magdalena Bay are the best as long as anyone can remember,” said Donovan. “Chip Shafer, the captain of the private American custom yacht Old Reliable and a first ballot future Fishing Hall of Famer, has been chasing billfish from California to Ecuador and back for longer than most of you readers have been fishing. Chip was nice enough to stop by The Porch, our little bar in front of the RedRum shop, and have a chat with me recently. He flat out said, ‘Ryan, I've never ever seen it this good, anywhere....and I'm not sure it's even been close.’

“Being in the charter business I often get asked by first-time anglers or those who just don't get it if I will guarantee they will catch fish. Well, y'all know the saying, nothing in life is guaranteed but death and taxes. That being said, striped marlin fishing right now is about as close to a guarantee as I will ever give.”

Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Pisces Fleet said the boats this week were successful 98 percent of the time, billfish 45 percent, dorado going nuts at 80 percent, tuna 29 percent.

“We had an incredible catch success rates this week, even with a limited number of fishing days due to port closing Sunday and Monday from tropical storm Raymond,” she said. “On Tuesday, however, we kicked off the week with one tuna of around 120 pounds on the 37-foot Viking BBII with several released marlin, too. There were big tuna as well, five of them all between 150 and 200 pounds with 100 yellowfin total caught for the week among the boats, and 499 dorado on 82 trips, ad some boats nabbed up to 20 a day, releasing all but their 2-fish per day per person limits.

One amazing trip by the Ruthless last week saw 22 dorado caught as well as a blue and a striped marlin. The fleet managed 72 releases of billfish. Mixed into the catches were wahoo, sierra and skipjack.

If you want a full listing for the great catches, has a ton of them and pics, but one great catch over three days was by Kris Klosterman from New York with friends fishing three days aboard the BBII, a 37-foot Viking. Their total catches added up to 18 yellowfin tuna, including the 120 pounder that hit on the Yummee Flyer under the kite, 5 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, and 7 dorado. For billfish they headed close to Golden Gate and used ballyhoo bait and to the 220 Spot for tuna; the dorado hit on a mix of guacamayo and white/green lures. On Saturday, the BBII headed out for tuna once again and produced big time with one 232-pound yellowfin, a few 30 pounders and two 60-pound fish. They headed about 40 miles south and caught the bigger fish on the kite, others on various lures.


THE PISCES FLEET was in the thick of the marlin and tuna action with two big tuna caught on the Bill Collector II, and the Valerie that had dorado limits.

“Speaking of big tuna, the Bill Collector had a helluva Wednesday charter for Victoria, Texas anglers Donald Goldman, Karen Barton, Bonie and James Hunt, and Joe and Marilyn Nevlud,” said Ehrenberg. “The anglers, all in their late 60s and 70s, hooked three big tuna simultaneously and fought them all for over an hour, but one of about 150 pounds broke loose. The other two were successfully boated, the 161 pounder caught by Karen Barton, winning her Top Lady Angler in the Los Cabos Big Game Charter Classic and took 2nd place for Day Two of the tournament. The winning tuna this day (and for the tourney) was an impressive 330 pounder at the Gordo Bank. The Pisces anglers’ other tuna weighed in at 151 pounds with the fish were caught at San Jaime using squid and skipjack as bait. They also caught 4 dorado.”

Added Ehrenberg, “Many of our boats placed in the tournament, and actually the Bill Collector placed the previous day in the wahoo division with a 39.1 pounder caught by Kevin Rodgers. Anglers from Colorado also caught 1 dorado (15 pounds) and 5 small yellowfin tuna. The tuna hit at Golden Gate and the dorado at Migrino on lime green lures.

WON finally got some results on the three-day Los Cabos Charterboat Classic run last week by Marlin Mag for the hotel association. If you were chartering a boat on those two days, you were in the event (with no entry fee), and that meant 400 anglers were in on the three-day fun. It’s held right after the Cabo Tuna Jackpot.

Big tuna and dozens of dorado hit the scales at two weigh in locations including San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. There were no wahoo weighed so those cash awards were split among the tuna and dorado winners. Anglers also enjoyed a good marlin bite with release flags flying across the marinas. Cam Renaud fishing on the Cabo Playa out of Puerto Los Cabos won the tourney with a 330-pound yellowfin on the20th.

In the junior angler division Kieran McSween’s 17.60-pound dorado caught aboard Renegade Mike was the largest, giving him another top junior award. Angler Billie Finch from Hertfordshore England got honorable mention for her 12.10-pound dorado caught on Minerva III.

CAM RENAUD AND buddies scored big by winning the recent Los Cabos Charterboat Classic last week, catching a 330-pound tuna at the Gordo Bank. The tourney had no entry fee and if you chartered a boat those three days, you were in the event, with weigh-ins at both Cabo harbors.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas in Puerto Los Cabos said storms of two weeks ago and this latest one expected to run through Baja Sur early this week are rare occurrences here this time of year, a kind of one-two punch to tourism when crowds will lighten up, as they normally do after Thanksgiving and before the Christmas holidays.

“We had unpredictable weather conditions for the past month, and more north wind than usual for this early in the season,” said Brictson. “We are now following the forecast for another rain storm moving in the direction of Southern Baja.”

He added, “After the passing of the rain from Raymond last week, the all-around action seemed to slow down, which also stirred up ocean conditions, dirty water and it was a bit cooler, down in the 79-degree range, and baitfish became scattered as well. Later in the week water clarity did improve and baitfish were becoming more active. Some schools of sardinas were found near marina jetties, also some caballito, other options were ballyhoo and slabs of squid.”

The wahoo action near Vinorama vanished, though by Friday a few nice wahoo up to 47 pounds were reported, other strikes lost, so Brictson said he is “confident that these fish will remain on local grounds for another month or so.” Dorado were spread out in different directions, found more consistently towards Cabo San Lucas, with most under 15 pounds and a few exception of larger 20 pounders.

“The yellowfin tuna bite near San Luis Bank came to a halt, though the big news was that a few much larger yellowfin tuna were hooked into off of the Gordo Banks. Though more anglers were having battles with various species of sharks, there were some monster tuna now on these grounds.”

There were several very impressive catches records, including 145, 272 and 330 pounders, and this proved to be best week yet for this season on these grounds for the larger grade of yellowfin – several other cow-sized tuna were lost after long, epic battles.

Slow trolling smaller-sized skipjack was the main producer of these big strikes. Offshore and towards Cabo San Lucas there were a smaller football grade yellowfin tuna, though that was a bit hit or miss, with some charters landing 5 to 7 fish and others lucky to find one, said Brictson.

Bottom action continued to be slow, mainly triggerfish, an occasional amberjack, cabrilla, snapper or pargo. Inshore action was limited, depending on what bait was obtainable, jack crevalle up to 20 pounds a few sierra and some juvenile roosterfish up to 15 pounds.

Billfish were red hot on the Pacific grounds, but were also starting to move in the direction of the local grounds off of San Jose del Cabo. A handful of striped marlin, sailfish and blue marlin were accounted for in recent days, but nothing too large, as the stripers averaged less than 100-pounds, blue marlin in the 175-pound range.

The combined sportfishing fleet launching out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out an estimated 120 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 1 black marlin,1 blue marlin, 5 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 88 dorado, 65 yellowfin tuna, 5 wahoo, 6 yellow snapper, 2 barred pargo, 3 leopard grouper, 5 amberjack, 29 Mexican bonito, 4 sierra, 4 jack crevalle, 10 roosterfish, 4 surgeon fish, 2 rainbow runner,5 golden eyed tilefish and 80 triggerfish.


GARCIA’S PANGAS POSTED some great shots of yellowtail and bottomfish action over the weekend out of San Quintin Bay. It’s not over.

SAN QUINTIN — High spots such as the 240 and Ben’s Rock are turning up big red rockfish and some quality yellowtail for the panga fleets operating out of the Old Mill ramp in the bay. Capt Juan Cook returned to San Q. last week after spending off-charter time in Mag Bay, and then L.A. Bay before returning for charters at San Quintin, and he said that aside for the bad weather, between blows it has been good on the yellows and bottomfish. While he did not post any pics, Garcia’s Pangas did on Sunday. It looks like high quality forkies are on the bite. Still!

LORETO — Yellowtail at Punta Lobo! Rick Hill at said the yellowtail season arrived here.

“This week we saw the first good pop-up of 20-plus pound yellows off the north tip of Carmen Island,” said Hill. “Live mackerel for bait and move around to check the one acre patch of boulders has been the working ticket. More rain on the schedule for the coming week but not enough to throw off the bite, we are hoping!”

EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor of Jen Wen Sportfishing was in the U.S. and most fleets are going out sporadically between recent storms, but Rayor said Sunday night that, “Fishing has been action packed, with weather better than normal for this time of year. It’s the best dorado bite of the year and billfish are active.” In other news, Hotel Rancho Leonero is doing it’s annual “rest for a few months,” starting this week. It will open only for groups who take over the entire hotel.

DANA HOHN WAS visiting La Paz from Texas and staying with relatives but got out several days near La Ventana and put several wahoo like this one in the boat trolling Rapalas on a Tailhunter panga.

HE MAKES SEVERAL trips a year to La Paz and Kevin Shiotani from Thousand Oaks always does well. He’s on the beach at Bahia Muertos near La Paz with this big tuna estimated at 90 pounds that he took near Cerralvo Island on light tackle. He also put some dorado in the panga as well while fishing with Tailhunter International.

LA PAZ — Another storm on the heels of Raymond is forecast for early in the week, and it’s probably for the best as not many anglers were in town as the fishing season approaches the holidays, and the week started out stormy and windy, said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter Sportfishing on Sunday.

“The kiteboarders and windsurfers are enjoying this for a reason, but it’s not such great weather for fishing,” said Roldan. “There were a few days midweek that gave us a few windows of opportunity. The better fishing has been out of Las Arenas/ Muertos Bay which is at least a little more protected from the northern winds and bigger water that’s common this time of year.”

As mentioned, not many anglers were out, but those few who got out found some surprisingly nice wahoo fishing by Cerralvo Island with 20- to 40-pound fish willing to hit dark-colored Rapalas and Yo-Zuri Magnums. Multiple hook-ups were not uncommon.

“The same area also produced some hefty tuna bites with 50- to 100-pound class tuna, although most fish were lost because they would only bite light line resulting in some long drawn-out battles that usually favored the fish and beat up the angler!” said Roldan. “When we couldn’t get to the island, fishing concentrated inshore for some decent dorado, cabrilla, snapper, bonito and jack crevalle.”

LA BOCANA — Rob Reyfuss, a WON reader, commented on the recent La Bocana/Baja Fishing Convoys story in a recent WON. It seems we mixed up the grouper names.

“Looks like you guys had a great trip to LB,” wrote Refuss. “I’ve been going there for years and love it! I just want to clarify for you that in your report, page 30 of the Nov. 15 paper, you have pictures of Tyler and Tommy Barnes with groupers. Super cool that father and son are enjoying that but you incorrectly identified them as leopard grouper. The one on top is a broomtail grouper and the one on the bottom is a gulf grouper… I’m a long-time reader and avid grouper fisherman and thought you guys might want to be aware, as I believe many people including myself look to your publication not only for entertainment but also for reference.

“By the way, the reason this is fresh in my head is because very recently I was corrected when I incorrectly identified a broomtail as a gulfy and someone was nice enough to point it out to me. Anyway, keep up the great work at WON. I’ve attached a few links below from illustrating the difference between leopard, broomtail and gulf grouper.”

Thanks Bob!

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