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Baja Fishing Report

Fishing in Cabo — 2013 a year to remember

BY ROBIN WADE/WON Staff WriterPublished: Aug 16, 2013

CABO SAN LUCAS The success rate in Cabo San Lucas continues to be near perfect, if not perfect, with anglers being reminded once again what a great fishery this is.

With a 100 percent overall catch success rate of all species combined this past week, Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing said she wanted the whole world to know how fantastic fishing is in Baja California Sur right now, not just Cabo, but the East Cape and La Paz, too. “Surely this is the best fishery in the world; year-round catches, incredible numbers of game fish, perfect weather and some of the best crews on the planet… We would be hard pressed to remember a slow week in 2013.

“This period was no exception, with a perfect score; every boat out caught fish,” Ehrenberg said.“This past week, we had a great catches of striped marlin and quite a few sailfish, but as well as releasing a billfish or two (or more), boats loaded up on dorado and tuna, so they had plenty of eating fish to bring back, too. We had some exceptional catches, such as those aboard Pisces Tracy Ann. Anglers onboard had an amazing fishing day over a wide area starting out just 3 miles off of Land’s End and ending up 25 miles offshore.


AS GOOD AS IT GETS! The Pisces Fleet out of Cabo San Lucas continues toprovide anglers with one of the most constant experiences for marlin, as well as dorado, tuna and more. This past week every boat caught fish — a 100 percent catch rate. PHOTO COURTESY OF PISCES SPORTFISHING

“The day started off well when they caught an approximately 250-pound blue marlin, followed by a striped marlin and sailfish, before heading out to the tuna where they managed to land 5 football-sized fish,” Ehrenberg said. “The blue marlin took a petrolero-colored lure. Pisces 70-foot Petrolero had a fabulous day, with anglers releasing 6 striped marlin up to 120 pounds and landing 5 dorado and 6 white skipjack (the kind you can eat). Another hot boat was Pisces Adriana with 6 marlin 9 miles off of the lighthouse.”

Ehrenburg said a nice mixed day was had by anglers on the La Brisa, with 2 striped marlin and a sailfish released, 2 tuna, 3 dorado and a wahoo. “Ninety-one percent of our boats caught billfish this past week, giving us a total of 110 fish, breaking down to 100 striped marlin, 8 sailfish and 2 blue marlin.

“Dorado catches are definitely starting to climb, with 73 percent of our charters catching between 1 and 8 fish,” Ehrenberg said. “Ruthless seemed to have a knack for finding this species, with several days of half a dozen or more caught. One of the better days for this boat was when anglers caught 8 and released 1 striped marlin, as well. Our total catch was of 157 dorado.

“Yellowfin tuna started to show up in numbers towards the end of the week, with big schools found at San Jaime on the Pacific and at the Herradura,” Ehrenberg said. “Again, Ruthless was one of the top boats; catching 25 tuna up to 25 pounds, plus a 40-pound wahoo, a small dorado and also releasing a striped marlin. Thirty-five percent of our boats caught tuna, with catches of 1 to 20-plus fish in the 15- to 30-pound class. Our total tuna count was 173 fish.

“And it was nice to see some consistency on wahoo this past week, although, when caught, it was always a single fish and no bigger than 50 pounds. A prized catch, always make sure you take this fish, even if you don’t want to take it home, have some cooked during your stay in Cabo. This is one if not the best-eating fish there is.

“Inshore and from the surf, roosterfish could be caught in the 20- to 40-pound category, as well as some cubera snapper, jack crevalle and both black and white skipjack,” Ehrenberg said. “Remember the white ones are the good-eating kind, the black should be released.”

Reporting for the Gaviota Sportfishing Fleet and Fish Cabo Fleet, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said it was another bonanza fishing week from Cabo San Lucas, as the striper action continues in ultra-high gear. “In talking with Capt. Roberto Marquez Thursday morning, he said the bite has been phenomenal.

“Stripers are in every direction out of the bay and they are eager to bite both artificials and live bait and even rigged baits,” Edwards said. “You have to be ready to get bit from the moment you get into the open waters. We fished five days on Tuna Time and released 18 stripers and landed 25 dorado. On the Fish Cabo, we also fished five days and landed and released 20 stripers, keeping 9 dorado and 4 yellowfin tuna. The combined fish count for a total of 38 charters fished included 66 stripers with 62 released, 2 sailfish released, 21 yellowfin tuna and 63 dorado.”

In other Baja fishing action:

— ENSENADA: Here’s a motivating story: never give up! Fishing here continues its upward click with more bluefin in the mix.

“Paul Hardy and his family set out towards the northern tuna pens in Ensenada with almost no bait,” said Mariana Hammann from the Coral Marina Store. “Watching everyone taking bluefin hits around them, they were frustrated and just about to head back up north when they looked in the bait tank one last time and found a single sardine with no nose.

“Hardy set it up and went down to get some coffee when suddenly he heard the reel zipping,” Hammann said. “He ended up getting the prize of the week, catching a huge 50-pound bluefin tuna with his boys Jacob and Matthew Hardy at his side on their boat the Aiden N Abettin. “This made them decide to come back to Ensenada and try to get some more live bait from other boats that were in the vicinity as there was no bait in Ensenada until Monday.

Pole Dancer with Peter Harms and Kenny Rangel onboard did well on bottomfishing near the San Miguel Reef and south of Salsipuedes,” Hammann said. “They ended up with 2 nice lingcod, 3 sandbass, 1 calico and limits of rockfish on jigs and plastics.

“The Schuck twins on the Kryptonite went out to the 238 Saturday and caught 2 nice 35-pound yellowtail, 1 yellowtail at 25 pounds and two at about 20 pounds on live bait on the kelp patties,” she said.

Hammann said as far as bait was concerned, anglers who get bait at the Marina Coral should check in and make an appointment during their shop hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day if they need special appointments, have more than one boat, or are purchasing more than one scoop. “The price is $35 a scoop at the marina,” she said. “Make sure that if you make an appointment you keep it because the bait barge manager's policy is to deny future services to no shows.”

— SAN QUINTIN: Waters are warming back up and so is the fishing as the bluefin make a showing. “Water temperatures that dropped down here to 57 degrees earlier in the week crept back up to 67 degrees as of Wednesday,” said Joe Martin from Don Eddie’s. “As a result, Capt. Juan Cook got 2 bluefin tuna estimated in the 30-pound range. Two bay-area anglers staying here at Don Eddies fished with Capt. Alfredo and put two more bluefin in their boat in the 70-pound range. They were big, fat fish stuffed full of squid they had been feeding on.

“These same anglers caught two 30-pound yellowtail and 10 smaller yellowtail around 10 pounds,” Martin said. “My wife Bev and I fished with Capt. Pedro from Tiburon’s Pangas; catching 10 lingcod at Ben’s Rock and then fishing in the bay I caught 2 halibut, one at 10 pounds and one at 8 pounds. Bev scored 1 halibut around 5 pounds and Pedro caught one around 5 pounds. We practiced our ‘ranchero’ skills on at least five more.

“Fishing at El Socorro and San Martine Island continues to be good for sand bass and calico bass,” Martin said. “Barracuda are making a showing in the catches, and, of course, the general bottomfishing is excellent.”

— BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES & SEA OF CORTEZ MIDRIFF: No report this past week.

— CEDROS ISLAND: No report this past week.

— BAHIA ASUNCION (Just south of Guerrero Negro): Bahia Asuncion is busily preparing for the Traditional Fiestas this weekend from Aug.15-18, which includes their annual fishing tournament.

“There are lots of fun events like a rodeo, horse rally, horse races, car and moto races, beach events, a midway with rides for the kids, food booths, dances every night with two live bands and the fiestas finish up with the Sport Fishing Tournament on Aug.18th,” said Shari Bondy of Campo Sirena. “There will be a shore fishing contest, and this year the panga fishing will only be for yellowtail.

“The ocean is warming up and yellowtail are being caught off San Roque Island,” Bondy said. “Shore anglers and spearfishermen are happy with the halibut they are getting.” For details on the tournament, go to

— SAN FELIPE & NORTHERN SEA OF CORTEZ: Tony Reyes just returned from a 6-day trip, having another great adventure with nice weather.

“The water temperatures were from 75 to 85 degrees,” Said Tom Ward from the Longfin. “Bait was tough again, but jigs were working very well as the fish are very aggressive and hungry. Anglers need to bring more medium-size jigs like the Tady and Salas 6X Jr. sizes in various colors, with blue and white being number one, followed by green and yellow and scrambled egg.

“The group had good action at San Esteban Island and the San Lorenzo Reef, with yellowtail up to 30 pounds,” Ward said. “Broken lines were the calling at Snake Island where the grouper fishing was excellent, but anything under 100-pound test was won by the fish and the rocks.

“Dorado were biting trolled feathers on El Diablo Point, with red and white being the most productive color,” Ward said. “The last day they fished Enchanted Islands with moderate success and many more broken lines. Anglers should be sure to bring fresh line of the correct size to do battle with these very strong fish. You’ll need 40-pound test for cabrilla fishing and making bait, 60-pound for yellowtail fishing and 100- to 125-pound for grouper fishing and trolling.”

This most recent trip produced 215 yellowtail to 31 pounds, 120 cabrilla to 12 pounds, 5 broomtail grouper to 27 pounds, 12 sheepshead, 276 bass, 10 red snapper to 15 pounds, 20 amberjack to 20 pounds, 5 gulf grouper to 130 pounds, 25 dorado to 15 pounds and 318 released and miscellaneous species.

— SANTA ROSALIA: Billfish continue to be very rare in the area, but dorado have made up for it in spades.

“It does not take a lot of talent to find a weedline or current line which all seem to be loaded with dorado,” said local angler Jim Anderson. “The size is slowly increasing, so hopefully there will be some bigger fish showing in the next few weeks. The Santa Rosalia Hunting and Fishing Club is having their annual dorado tournament this coming weekend on the 17th and 18th of August. Entry is only $1,000 pesos and there are some great prizes. This is a fun tournament and is totally organized and run by local businessmen from Santa Rosalia. If you are in the area, be sure to check it out.

“Bait is a real problem this time of the year,” Anderson said. “Green mackerel have moved to the deeper water and if you bring them up from 300 feet and put them in your bait tank, which is pulling 85- to 90-degree water off of the surface, you can expect your bait to last about one hour at the most. Caballito or big-eyed scad are available at the marina in Santa Rosalia and are easy to catch at first light in the morning. They stay alive and look healthy in the warmer water and the fish I throw back at the end of the day are still very active and alive.

“We are having a great year with Humboldt squid and the local fishermen are out every night catching boatloads of these denizens of the deep.” Anderson said. “They catch them on a small squid jig at night and it looks like a small city between Santa Rosalia and San Marcos Island. The price is very good this year and fishermen are having a bonus year.

“Yellowtail and large red snapper are coming aboard at the bajos of San Marcos Island,” Anderson said. “Most anglers are using squid innards but there are some being caught on live bait, as well.”

— MULEGE: No report this past week.

— LORETO: Fishing remains consistent for dorado all around the Loreto area. The best bite seems to be early in the day with several areas being worked over every day.

“Bait has been available at the marina and it is a good mix of mackerel and big-eyed jack,” said Rick Hill of Loreto Sea and Land Eco Tours. “Sardines are being netted to order inside the marina if you need chum for fly fishing or you just prefer smaller baits. All the baits have been producing limits, but don't be surprised when your big bait gets inhaled by a 24-inch dorado. Try out some sardines if you get a chance. They are big shouldered 6- to 8-inch brutes that get hits from the big dorado and everything else, as well. Small hammerhead sharks are still showing up among the feeding dorado, as well.


SURPRISE CATCH Battling a 3-pound bonito on a small tuna fly, which this 89-pound grouper inhaled, became Loreto Capt. Hector Orozco’s dinner instead. PHOTO COURTESY OF LORETO SEA AND LAND ECO TOURS

“Close to shore, in the area known as Candeleros, Capt. Hector Orozco couldn't keep his little yellow Zuker tuna feather dry,” Hill said. “While trolling around the north side of the island, he hooked up with a small, 3-pound bonito, and while he was battling it back to the boat, a true giant of the rocky bottom came up grabbed the bonita, turned and tried to return to the rocks.”

Hill said his clients, two of which were under 5 years old, got to see a battle that must have looked like something like “the old man and the sea.” “With 30-pound line on a dorado stick, a tuna feather, an 80-pound leader and a 7/0 double hook against 89 pounds of fighting grouper, the exciting surprises just keep coming.

“There are also lots of dorado at the usual spots,” Hill said, “from Punta Lobo on Carmen, the west side and north of Coronado, all the way up the coast from San Bruno to Misioneros and San Basilio. There hasn’t been much action on the billfish scene; everyone is here for the dodos.”

Arturo Susarrey of Arturo’s Sportfishing said the best fishing spot for dorado was north of Loreto, 20 to 30 miles out. “It’s not too far and they continue to find good numbers of dorado,” Susarrey said. “For the most part, they were from 8 to 16 pounds, but there were some weighing 35 to 42 pounds.

“Recently we had a fishing tournament with 30 boats going out, and most from southern Baja,” Susarrey said. “The biggest dorado weighed 46.2 pounds; 37.4 pounds took second and 26.4 pounds was third place. You can also still find striped marlin and sailfish at Carmen Island and north of Loreto San Bruno Reef.”

MAGDALENA BAY: The fishing and reports are finally picking up here with big yellowtail, lots of marlin and grouper inside.

“There are lots of marlin now and lots of bait, as well,” said Bob Hoyt of Mag Bay Outfitters said. “There are yellowtail on the banks and the commercial guys are getting a lot of grouper in the bay.”


MAG BAY HEATING UP — Brad Ellis shows off one of the nice ‘tails he caught while fishing with a new charter service out of Mag Bay called Mag Bay Sportfishing. He later went on the target big grouper inside. PHOTO COURETY OF FLYFISHING GUIDE LANCE PETERSON

Fly fishing guide Lance Peterson sent in a report from his recent trip to Mag Bay: “Veteran Lopez Mateos, Capt. Sergio Garcia and his son, Roddy, have christened their growing operation, Mag Bay Sportfishing, and they added a new panga to their fleet, a 25-foot super panga,” Peterson said.

“We booked a day and headed out into the Pacific to find some action,” Peterson said. “After joining a few commercial pangas on a hot yellowtail bite, we quickly boated a limit. We then switched gears for grouper fishing and were rewarded with a double on quality-sized gulf grouper. The Garcia’s are excellent captains and gracious hosts. Their extensive commercial fishing experience on their home waters gives their guests a big advantage when it comes to getting on fish.”

LA PAZ:The fishing week started out oaky, then fish got kind of picky, but everyone still got fish.

“It was just one of those weeks where a boat would get 1 or 2 fish and the next boat got 4 or 5 fish for no rhyme or reason,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International. “Or you would go fishing and put one in the boat, then an hour later another fish, two hours later 2 fish, two hours later 1 fish, and the day would go on like that. And you would think, ‘Geeze, the fishing is slow!’ Then you would look in the fish box or get back on the beach and realize you had nearly a limit of fish.

“It might have had something to do with some strange cooler and greener water that showed up mid-week,” Roldan said. “We didn't have any storms and there were no strong winds. There was nothing that would tip the hand to show why patches of great blue water suddenly went dry on us. Conditions were otherwise great; with flat, glassy seas; brilliant Baja sunshine, decent bait and patches of sargasso. But strangely, very reluctant or absent fish; you really had to work to find them.

“I made it out one day and we got a limit of nice dorado, but we must've put 50 miles on the panga going up, back out, in, around and covering a lot of water,” Roldan said. “By 1 p.m. we had only 3 fish in the box. But, as our captains often do, our fleet hung out there, and at 3 or 4 p.m. the fish started feeding. We put another 5 nice-sized dorado in the box that topped out the day.

“That is one big difference with us, especially for our La Paz fleet,” Roldan said. “We're out on the water at 6 a.m. to get live bait. We see some of the other fleets not even getting out on the water until 7 or 8 a.m. when the sun is already up blazing and you can't get bait that late. Then, they're back on the beach at 1 or 2 p.m. when our guys are still out there pushing to keep finding fish. It really makes a difference when the fishing is picky. And it often means the difference between 1 or 2 fish and a limit of fish by having live bait and staying out the extra time.”

Roldan said the nice thing was that as the week went on, they got a great charge of fish at the end of the week.

“Our La Paz fleet started finding better spots of dorado in the 10- to 20-pound class, with some larger bulls to 30 pounds,” he said. “Using the bait we caught (caballito and mackerel) and then some sardines as well as fresh-caught bonito, we had several options most days for offering to the fish. The larger baits were also the reason we got as many sailfish and marlin hookups as we did this past week, with all fish being released.

“For our Las Arenas fleet, it was also scratchy early-on, with just a few dorado per boat, but all of them were decent to monster bulls,” Roldan said. “So, what we lacked in quality, we made up for in quantity. However, later in the week, the fish turned it up a notch and we not only got into dorado, but also had some wahoo hookups, some billfish hookups and even a big 60-pound tuna found way outside.

“The difference at Las Arenas was the giant squid that finally came up out of the deep trenches,” Roldan said. “We started catching these beasts, which are not only great for eating, but cut up in chunks are good for chumming up dorado around the buoys and chunking for tuna. Hopefully, they'll stick around. Historically, when the big squid come up from the deep, the tuna often follow them up, as well.”

— EAST CAPE: It was another good fishing week again. There were a few slower days mid-week, but overall, the fishing has been outstanding.

“There are lots of Humboldt squid in the bay,” said John Ireland from Rancho Leonero. The commercial squid boats are fishing every night, right in front of the hotel, and are keeping the fish close.

“The yellowfin are abundant under schools of porpoise,” Ireland said. “There were also bigger fish, with lots of 40 to 50 pounders and even a few in the 100-pound range. Boats staying with huge, very spread-out schools of porpoise are scoring limits of tuna.


EAST CAPE GOOD BITE CONTINUES Staying at Buena Vista Beach Resort, WON readers Steve, Debbie and son Michael Tovar of Norco show off a day’s catch that included young Michael releasing a nice striper. PHOTO COURTESY OF WON STAFFER ROBIN WADE

“The billfishing leveled off, but most boats targeting billfish released at least 2 stripers,” Ireland said. “And it was another big blue week, as all the hotel fleet has been releasing a few each day. Plus, there were big bull dorado again this past week. The smaller schooling fish weren't around last week. Bigger bulls than we have seen all year are hitting the beach, and 50 pounders were coming in daily. Most were taken on trolled marlin lures.”

“Inside, the roosterfish were normal for this time of year,” Ireland said. “Big gallos in the 40- to 50-pound range were common; the lighthouse has been very productive.”

This past week, Buena Vista Beach Resort anglers had a variety of keepers, but not as many releases as the good bite continues for billfish but they were not as cooperative. Felipe Valdez said Spa guests got into the roosters, which were still just off the resort’s beach, and squid were also brought in.

“Bryan Myers of Houston, Tex., couldn’t get the big guys to go, but even the smaller roosters put up a great fight off our beach and it was his first one ever,” Valdez said.

“Whether you were looking for some bait or dinner, it wasn’t hard to find; just look for the squid boats still anchored off our waters,” Valdez said. “In a lot of cases that’s where the other fish were, as well. Those not working the boats found action close in, just off the lighthouse. WON readers Steve, Debbie and son Michael Tovar of Norco are 6-year vets of Buena Vista Beach Resort. Releasing yet another billfish, young Michael has another photo to hang on the wall back home and 3 more snapper, 2 dorado and 1 amberjack to add to their growing bag of fish in the freezer.

“Finding the tuna, though, meant chasing down the porpoise, which was not always an easy task,” Valdez said. “But it helps when you have the winning captain of the Bisbee Offshore as your guide,Alejandro Castro of the Eclipse.”

— SAN JOSE DEL CABO (LOS CABOS): This past week more snook were accounted for and the action was closer in.

According to Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas, bait supplies for caballito, mullet and moonfish remained sufficient, though they were not as numerous as earlier in the summer. “More bolito are now schooling on the fishing grounds and are being used for offshore trolling baits,” he said. “The bolito are readily striking on small hoochies early in the day, but as the sun rose higher in the sky, these great baitfish became hard to catch. There has been a long absence of schooling sardina for the La Playita panga fleets. This past week, the sardina were starting to move in along the beach stretch just to the north of the Puerto Los Cabos Marina Jetty. There was not a sufficient quantity to supply the fleets, but at least this is encouraging we are seeing these baitfish back in our area.

“Some locals have been able to net these sardina from the beach and were using them to catch some very impressive snook,” Brictson said. “Quite a few of these normally-elusive fish have been landed, weighing in the 20- to 45-pound class. One snook estimated to be at least 60 pounds was landed; this could have been a new IGFA world record, as the all-tackle record for snook is now listed at 58 pounds. But the local anglers just hauled the catch off to their home, not wishing to go through all of the record applications, etc.

“Anglers are finding good numbers of late-season roosterfish early in the day in the vicinity of the marina channel,’ Brictson said. “Still, some roosters to 50 pounds are in this area, striking on slow-trolled live bait. Not much action was found off the bottom rockpiles, as there has been a persistent strong current running. This appears to be slacking up some now, and in recent days, some nice huachinango were being hooked into on yo-yo jigs on the rockpile near San Luis Bank.”

Brictson said the most consistent game fish action is now being found offshore, anywhere from 3 to 15 miles out. “It has varied from day to day. Earlier in the week, the best bite was found off San Luis, then later in the week, that action slowed and the bite was better straight out front of San Jose del Cabo and towards the Gordo Banks,” he said. “Striped marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, dorado, yellowfin tuna and a handful of wahoo were all being found. Anglers used a combination of trolling lures and various baitfish, including slabs from giant squid, which were being sold at the dock area in the morning.

“Most of the yellowfin being encountered were on the grounds from Iman to Vinormama, not associated with porpoise, on blind strikes,” Brictson said. “Trolling hoochies, cedar plugs and small feathers, their sizes ranged from 8 to 15 pounds. Dorado ranged from small juvenile fish to trophy-sized bulls, close to 50 pounds. The action was scattered, some charters reported never seeing any dorado, while others accounted for 3, 4, 5 or more very impressive fish.

“Billfish were also hit or miss, though some incredible action was encountered,” Brictson said. “One cruiser charter out of La Playita accounted for 2 blue marlin, a striped marlin and sailfish, as well as tuna and dorado all in one morning.”

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita and Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out 85 charters for the week with anglers reporting a fish count of 5 blue marlin, 9 sailfish, 28 striped marlin, 96 yellowfin tuna, 110 dorado, 3 wahoo, 38 roosterfish, 15 jack crevalle, 22 huachinango (red snapper) and 13 cabrilla.

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