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Baja Report: Yellowfin of 424.6 pounds nearly an all-tackle record

BY PAT McDONELL/WON Baja Reports EditorPublished: Jan 10, 2018

Huge tuna of 424.6, 319, 212.5 pounds are caught in three days at El Seco, a pinnacle south 50 miles south of Puerto Escondido. In other Baja action, there was a Cabo yellowfin of 322 pounds on 40-pound line, plus wahoo, football-sized tuna, and dorado are still in the mix in Baja Sur with 77 degree water at the Cape; San Quintin yellows are BIG! Ensenada also kicking out yellows


THE 424.6-POUND yellowfin was caught on the third day of fishing, on Monday at El Seco, a high spot off Loreto by Jorge Lazo of Tijuana, a crewman with outpostcharters on Robert Ross’ 37-foot Boston Whaler Rampage. The day before, Lazo caught a 319 pounder.

LORETO — It’s wintertime in Baja. You don’t often see huge tuna being caught off Cabo, and you sure don’t see many big cow tuna being caught off Loreto in the news. That might be because you haven’t been paying close enough attention all these years.

This week’s report as Baja enjoys a mild winter and toasty water temps saw several huge tuna caught over three consecutive days at a pinnacle 50 miles southeast of Puerto Escondido in the Sea of Cortez. The biggest tuna over three days was a 424.6-pound beast caught Monday by Jorge Lazo of Tijuana, who the day before had caught a 319 pounder at that pinnacle called El Seco, The day before that, Saturday, a 212.5 pounder was caught by the group from Outpost Charters (

JAY YADON OF, a three-boat fleet based out of Puerto Escondido, 15 miles south of Loreto, scored this 212.5-pound yellowfin while anchored and chunking squid at El Seco, a high spot south of Catalan Island, on Saturday.

THE DAY AFTER YADON, left got his 215.5 pounder at El Seco on Saturday, crewman Jorge Lazo, right, caught a 319 pounder on a flylined mackerel in the squid chum line aboard the charterboat the Cast N’ Reel, a 40-foot Luhrs Express.

For most people, waters of Loreto are an outpost for big game fishing, the region better-known for its summer dorado fishing under floating sargasso grass and winter homeguard yellowtail action on reefs off Coronado and Catalan islands.

The reality is that Loreto and Puerto Escondido are jumping off points to some of the best big game fishing in the world. To be more specific, the playground for big gamers is El Seco, a conical mountain, a pinnacle rising from 2,500 feet deep to a mere 14 feet or less, is located about 10 miles southwest of Catalan Island. At various peak times, it attracts swordfish, black marlin, blue marlin, wahoo, and big tuna. This year the big tuna are early. Timing is everything. The beauty of the spot in terms of yellowfin tuna is you can anchor on it, and chunk frozen squid.

Jay Yadon owns Outpost Charters ( His father-in-law is Robert Ross, a Cabo native, champion motocross rider in his youth and a Newport Beach and Mexico real estate developer who is a big game sportfisherman and regularly fishes El Seco on his 37-foot Boston Whaler Rampage he runs from a quiet anchorage below a hillside home he built to the south of Puerto Escondido in an isolated town north of Aqua Verde. He picked that spot for a 10-room home overlooking the Sea of Cortez because it is undeveloped and a mere 11 miles from El Seco, and best of all, a natural estuary below provides safe anchorage.

Two years ago WON did a feature on Robert Ross when he caught a 450-plus pound yellowfin he did not weigh on a certified scale, although he did weigh it on a cattle scale after being gutted, and it weighed 430 pounds, but he measured it. It would have easily been the all-tackle record for yellowfin. He told WON at the time he has no desire to set any records. He just likes to catch big fish, and El Seco is a target-rich environment. He seems unconcerned about a secret getting out. The spot is far too isolated to be impacted by fleets and the big tuna and other big game species have their own schedule.

Yadon started Outpost Charters just after he moved to the area two years ago. El Seco is a prime charter spot for customers, and while Ross is not concerned about records, Yadon knows they are a great calling card. Thus, Yadon and Outpost Charters invested in two certified digital scales obtained through a friend, IGFA rep Chris Wheaton who directs the Loreto Fishing for the Mission charity tourney. Those scales came in handy over three days.

Anyway, when the big tuna are on El Seco, Yadon and Outpost Charters captains are alerted by local commercial pangeros who anchor on the shallow spot for smaller game. Yadon and Ross heard the tuna were on the reef late last week, the weather has been good, and he went out Saturday with Ross and crew on the Cast N Reel, a 40-foot Luhrs, one of the three charterboats based out of Puerto Escondido, a picturesque, natural harbor located 15 miles south of the town of Loreto. The bay is located 50 miles from El Seco.

Yadon and crew anchored on the spot and began chunking frozen squid, and after 20 minutes a 212.5 pounder responded, and was caught on one of the two big outfits with Okuma 50W reels and Seeker custom rods. They rushed home to Puerto Escondido, posted some pictures on FB and sent some details and photos specifically to this reporter. Yadon said that night, Saturday, that winds had picked up and while he wanted to get out there again Saturday night, he waited until morning to head out again. On the boat was Jorge Lazo, a crewman with Outpost Charters and who like Yadon, is a son-in-law of Robert Ross.

“We had set up a chum line for a couple hours with the heavier gear (Okuma Makaira 50 wide reels with 100-pound P Line and 100-pound Hi-Seas pure flourcarbon),” said Yadon, who said Lazo was looking for a big yellowtail that had been caught there recently. And after the mackerel was slammed, they thought it was a big yellow.

“Jorge got 20 cranks on it, and then the fish figured out what was happening, and took off.,” said Yadon. “He was using 60-pound P-Line on an Accurate Valiant 800 and a Seeker rod, and was flylining a mackerel with a 6/0 Mustad hook. Super light gear, and the battle went on for 2 1/ hours resulting in the 319 pounder. They thought they had a line class record, but there is no 60-pound IGFA line class for yellowfin, and the record for 50-pound line they learned from rep Chris Wheaton back in the States was 285 pounds. So Lazo re-rigged the Valiant 800 with 50-pound line and 100-pound Hi-Seas’ pure fluorocarbon leader to go after the line class record the next day.

“We are heading back out with a few hundred pounds more of squid and hopefully we will have some more big fish photos for you,” Yadon told WON Sunday night. The word was, the big fish were on the pinnacle. Huge fish. One fish on the Sunday trip was on for an hour, hooked on chunk squid on the heavy gear, the Okuma Makaira 50W with 100-pound. “It pulled off 1,000 yards and snapped the 100-pound “like it was nothing,” said Yadon. “so we knew there were much bigger fish there than the 319.”

Sure enough, Lazo hooked up with another big fish at El Seco on Monday, again using a mackerel over the chum slick to get the one he wanted for the world record on 50-pound line. The 424.6 pounder was gaffed after a battle of one hour and forty-five minutes in stand up gear. The fish was just three pounds off the all-tackle world record.

If the catch is submitted to the IGFA, it would obviously be the 50-pound line class record and would be the second biggest yellowfin ever caught on rod and reel that was weighed on a certified digital scale. The 427-pound yellowfin all-tackle record yellowfin will remain in the possession of Guy Yocum, caught in 2012 on his sport yacht El Suertudo on a multi-day trip out of Cabo.

By Monday night, the winds were cranking, and it took seven hours to get back to Puerto Escondido 50 miles northwest with the huge fish. This week the winds will blow, Yadon said. But by this Monday Outpost Charters will be back out at El Seco. The big fish are likely to still be there.

“Coming here this early, I think they will stick around a while,” said Yadon.

In other Baja action:


CAPT. STEVE BRACKMANN of the charterboat Caliente was fishing marlin out of Cabo marina last week, scoring a lot of catch-and-release stripers, and this beast of 322 pounds surprise-slammed a bait to start a 2 ½-hour battle on just 40-pound line.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The big news around the IGY Marina last week was the catch of a 322-pound yellowfin on 40-pound line on the charterboat Caliente during some epic striped marlin fishing!

Capt. Steve Brackmann on the charterboat Caliente scored 36 striped marlin releases and followed up the next day with 7 more striped marlin releases — and then a 322-pound yellowfin on 40-pound line decided to crash the party, resulting in a 2½-hour fight.

Here’s how it went down, described by Brackmann.

“Casting to a few frigates hovering over a few feeding striped marlin, made the cast with a live mackerel and Jaime from the bridge watched the tuna beat the stripers to the bait and the battle was on,” said Brackmann.

Tackle was a custom Melton International 7-foot marlin caster paired with a Shimano Talica 20 with an 8/0 circle hook, 3 feet of 80-pound fluorocarbon to a 20 feet of 100-pound wind-on to 200 yards of 40-pound mono and 400 yards of 65-pound Braid backing. In other words, a sano rig for marlin, but ultra light at 40-pound line for such a huge party crashing yellowfin.

A 300-pound tuna on 40-pound? Are you kidding?

The internet was alive with FB posts of compliments on such a fish on light tackle. One well-known SoCal angler, Jeff Jones, questioned, “Why even use the 40-pound line?”

Brackmann replied, “Jeff, we like mono for some stretch on fish (straight braid on a light wire circle could straighten the hook. Use a heavier hook with a larger diameter and the hookup rate will decrease), helps put a loop of trailing line on a marlin when it takes a pitch bait on the troll to get the circle hook in the corner of the jaw for high hookup rate, it’s easy to change out the top-shot, easier to avoid backlashes and/or cut them out for charters, doesn't cut fingers when working a bait on drop back or level-winding lots of marlin each day, and mono slides through a Black's clip in the riggers with ballyhoo so we can drop back and hook a fish out of the pin.

“Brackmann added, “We only fish braid to a wind-on on our tuna kite rig. There is only one knot where the mono connects to braid backing. Then a 3-foot double formed by a plait loop to loop to wind-on which has a small loop crimped to the end which is then loop-to-looped to the 3- to 4-foot flourocarbon fast-changeout hook rig with the circle hook snelled to the leader. We keep a couple hundred circle hook rigs at all times bagged and labeled so there’s no slowdown on getting the rig back in action after a release.”

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In a last minute report from Rebecca Ehrenberg of the Cabo-based Pisces Fleet, she wrote on Monday:

“This week we saw a more marked division among what species anglers targeted; with the fishing being a bit scattered at the moment, some opted to stay close and go for smaller game or dorado, while others went out further looking for either tuna or marlin. A few anglers made the extra effort to “guarantee” themselves their billfish, going about 50 miles up the Pacific coast to the Finger Banks. For those that did, it paid off, with boats catching upwards of 8 striped marlin each.

“Anglers aboard Pisces 38-foot C Rod did a very good job out at the Finger Banks, catching and releasing 12 striped marlin, all weighing approximately between 100 and 150 lbs. They were caught on mackerel bait by the Holmes family, Braden, Creig, John and Johnathan from Texas.”

Ehrenberg added, “Also with luck out at the Finger Banks we had Pisces 31-foot Tracy Ann and 35-foot Valerie. The Tracy Ann and anglers Bradley Holstein and Caroline Ryan from Connecticut used mackerel bait to catch and release their 8 striped marlin all between 100 and 140 pounds and also managed to land 5 yellowfin tunas at Golden Gate, on cedar plugs.”

She reported that the Valerie with Captain Roberto Sandez and the Dow family caught and released 6 marlin, all about 100 to 120 pounds also on mackerel bait at the Finger. This was after they did not get their fill of marlin a day before, when they caught and released 2 striped marlin of about 180 pounds also on the Valerie, but out about 22 miles at the 180 Spot. There they landed 7 tuna as well, which hit on cedar plugs and hoochi lures… I think it’s safe to say they got their marlin fix for the month now!

“For the only blue marlin landed this week, we had the Pisces 32-foot Billcollector catch and released a 350 pounder out from the Old Lighthouse, which hit on a green and yellow lure,” said Ehrenberg. “Anglers from Indiana also caught three nice sized tunas, ranging in size from 20 to 50 pounds, which hit on cedar plugs and feathers out at La Herradura.”

Ehrenberg said the Pisces 31-foot Tiburon and anglers Patrick and Victoria Dewey from Arizona almost had themselves the second blue marlin of the week, but they lost it during the fight, a fish thought to be about 500 to 600 poudns by the crew. They did land two dorado though of about 10 and 15 pounds, which hit on green and black lures out at Migriño.

As for the anglers looking for smaller gamefish and dorado, they found it alright. Lot’s of fish for these guys, for example, the McFall family went out on Pisces 28-foot Adriana and caught 2 dorado of about 15 pounds on mackerel and feathers as well as 1 roosterfish, also on mackerel, 1 grouper, 4 ladyfish, 1 yellowtail and 12 red snappers. These were caught out at La Palmita area. They family fished a second day aboard Pisces 25-foot panga Poseidon and caught 1 dorado of about 10 pounds, 1 yellowfin and 1 sierra on mackerel and sardines out from Solmar.

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Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters (Gaviota and Fish Cabo charter fleets) reported in as well, and said the dorado bite remains very good throughout the Cabo area along with a scattering of yellowfin tuna. The high boat for billfish catching was the Fish Cabo, reflecting 12 releases for 4 days fished with the bulk of the catch coming. From the Golden Gate Bank area. The overall catch report for a combined total of 63 days fished caught 18 stripers, (14 released) 96 dorado, 19 yellowfin tuna, 1 wahoo (taken by the San Lucas 6) 4 skipjack, 4 roosterfish and 10 sierra

Sea conditions saw water temps from the Finger Bank down to Cabo San Lucas, including the Golden Gate Bank and Jaime Bank, all at 77-78 degrees. That is super warm for this time of year. The 95 Fathom Spot was a little cooler at 75 degrees for an area that spanned about 5 miles. San Jose Point to the Gordo Banks and add about 15 miles northerly from there is all at 77 degrees. Tropical sea surface conditions were flowing mostly from the westerly directions at an average of 7.2 mph with fairly flat seas.

THE GORDO BANKS pangas hotspots have been giving up small dorado and still producing some nice wahoo for anglers out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas and his customers are enjoying a warm winter — and great fishing — while half of the U.S. freezes.

“The New Year started off with continued large crowds of holiday tourists visiting Los Cabos,” said Brictson. “…next week numbers of visitors will be much lighter … when people return to work and school classes resume. While people across North America were enduring frigid record temperatures, local weather has been very ideal considering this is the middle of winter. Though low temperatures dipped down into the upper 50s, daytime highs reached near 80 degrees. Mostly sunny skies with variable clouds, light wind and swells in recent days made for great conditions for anglers taking advantage of great late season action for a variety of gamefish. Ocean temperature were in the 74 to 78 degree range, warm enough to keep action hot for the surface pelagic species.

“With the Pacific being the best area to find striped marlin action in recent weeks, particularly towards Golden Gate Bank, though this action for the billfish is now switching closer to Cabo San Lucas and on to the grounds off of San Jose del Cabo, because the schooling mackerel, the favored food source, are also now abundant off of San Jose del Cabo. We anticipate to see the marlin bite open up in coming weeks.”

Brictson said main targets have been yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo, with the most productive grounds being from off of Palmilla, Punta Gorda and to La Fortuna, all within a couple miles of shore.

“Sardinas are being netted in the surf zones, from Palmilla to Cabo Real, and these are now the best bait for having success on the yellowfin tuna, as well as dorado, though caballito, mackerel and sardineta are also being used. The yellowfin are striking best while drift fishing baits, at times they are seen feeding and proving to be finicky, lots of boat pressure this past week, but with patience many nice tuna in the 10- to 25-pound class were being landed.”

He said the best chances for dorado were on the same grounds where the tuna were found, running in smaller sized schools, striking the sardinas and the larger baits, with slow trolling the better technique for the dorado, with fish ranging from 5 to 20 pounds.

“It’s a nice late-season bonus,” said Brictson. “Actually for the past month we have seen better dorado action than during the previous fall months. Wahoo action rebounded again this past week, though as we know, these fish are especially susceptible to becoming for finicky when there are larger crowds of boats. For anglers specifically targeting wahoo while slow trolling larger baitfish either off of Punta Gordo or Palmilla, they did well, landing as many as two, three or four or five wahoo per morning, with other strikes lost. Handful of these fish also hit on cast yo-yo jigs or higher speed trolled lures, but by far the best chance was on larger baits such as caballito, mackerel, sardineta or chihuil.”

Brictson said many wahoo weighed in were in the 10- to 25-pound range, but there were also equal numbers of fish in the 30- to 45- pound range accounted for.

“We expect the wahoo action to continue through the month, as long as we do not get blasted too much from frigid north winds. Water conditions are ideal now, as clean blue water is found within one mile of shore, with also an abundance of baitfish in the area.”

Good numbers of juvenile roosterfish moved in off of the hotel zone, but remember to release these prized fighting gamefish when possible, he said, as they are not known for their eating quality. Only limited numbers of sierra now being encountered, as water cools we should see increased numbers of these.

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 160 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of: 6 striped marlin, 72 wahoo, 15 sierra, 470 yellowfin tuna, 310 dorado, 11 amberjack, 21 yellow snapper, 17 barred pargo, 24 Eastern Pacific bonito, 35 white skipjack, 42 roosterfish, 28 cabrilla and 160 triggerfish.

DR. CARY MCDERMOTT was in town in La Paz for the Baja 1000 and had time to squeeze in one day of fishing and hoped the weather would lay down and lucked out. Fishing with Captain Armando of the Tailhunter Fleet, they got a nice yellowfin tuna and a 1/2 dozen dorado 7-18 pounds. Left to right, Mike Devine, Jim Stephenson and Cary McDermott. The group is from Las Vegas.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter said “Not a bad week of fishing. Nothing spectacular, but a nice variety of species including some genuine surprises. Not many folks fishing but everyone out did catch some fish. Still some pesky winds but mostly nice enough to fish with all of our fishing taking place out of Muertos Bay/ Las Arenas Areas where we can fish closer to shore and it’s more protected.

In addition to species we normally catch like barred pargo, yellow snapper and cabrilla, there were also some nice schools of jack crevalle to bend the rods and put on great fights although not such good eating. Still lots of fun. In addition, there were also bonito and a smattering of surprising yellowfin tuna and dorado around the bay as well. The weather for this week looks good with winds picking up midweek.



JUAN CASTO WAS fishing Gonzaga Bay with a friend John Fitzgerald for so-so action, and is now fishing San Quintin for yellows. He’s been getting a variety of bottomfish as you can see.

kelycatianandtheKELLY CATIAN AND the K&M sportfishing guys went out last week from San Quintin and scored some big forkies on the iron.

SAN QUINTIN/GONZAGA BAYWON reader Capt. Juan Cook has been on a busy run of Baja locales and provided this snapshot report on Saturday: “I'm fishing in Gonzaga Bay on the Sea of Cortez with my friend ‘rockodile’ John Fitzgerald, fishing for leopard grouper. Weathre has been summer-like, with crisp mornings and warm days with no wind, Leopard grouper fishing has been good with fish from 2 to 15 pounds. Fishing for winter yellows is very good in San Quintin, I'm expecting a great winter season there.”

Capt. Kelly Catian at H&M Sportfishing charters in SQ said, “Now's the time to get down here folks! Between now and February the yellows hunker down around the deeper reefs and if you're willing to grind the iron all day, they wanna chew!!! The K&M guys went out last week and scored some big forkies on the iron.

EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor at Jen Wren Sportfishing is enjoying a mild East Cape winter as he ponders the good life at his waterfront home in Los Barrilles, preparing his charter schedule and his three sportfishers for the spring season that he said looks real promising right now.

“Angling traffic has been very light but the few fishermen getting out have found action. Sierra mackerel, dorado and even a few striped marlin have been in the mix close to home,” said Rayor. “There has also been a good huachinango bite and scratch showing of yellowtail and amberjack on the high spots off La Ribera. The showing of yellows and amberjack this early is an excellent indicator of a great spring and I feel a whoop coming on. Also humpback whales are making more of a showing and can be seen from the beach breaching.”

He added, “Sea of Cortez water has been blue and very clear with temperatures now in the middle to low 70s. When we don't have a whole lot of excitement to talk about the topic often goes to the Dodgers or our weather. Right now the East Cape weather is worthy of conversation.

“We are going into our second week of January and I have to call this season unusually mild. Typically, fishermen are pinned down to the beach and can't get out many days of the week because of strong north wind and pounding surf. We have not experienced much of that and anglers have been able to get off the beach most mornings. Where does that leave our town full of sailors who have come to kite board, hydro-foil or wind surf? Mother Nature has been splitting the difference with calm beautiful mornings and windy afternoons.”

CAPT. LOUIE PRIETO of Its4Reels Sportfishing says the yellows are down deep, in the bait areas, and chewing the iron, and the lings have been hitting, too, in Ensenada’s deep waters areas that are holding bait.

ENSENADA — Capt. Luis Prieto of Its4Reels Sportfishing Charters said decent yellowtail and bonito fishing continues throughout the bay. It’s a great time to come down, fish a few days and enjoy the Ensenada area and nightlife.

“Locate bait, drop down a jig (6x jrs, 7x jrs, medium sized candy bars etc.) and wind fast,” said Prieto. “There are also a few decent lingcod around and reds and whitefish are being caught in deeper water as well. Bonito are nice size and the yellows are ranging in size from 4 to 30 pounds with the average being 7 to 12 pounds.” He added, “FYI the bait barge is closed for the season but mackerel can be made at different areas within Ensenada Harbor or anywhere outside that you see birds working.”

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Want your trip to be included into our Baja report, Each week over the weekend we compile reports from anglers and operations, so all you need to do is write a few notes and attach a photo of your fish and email to . Reports here are compiled from phones calls, emails, social media and personal fishing trips of WON Staff.

PV action seeing marlin, tuna and even dorado

PUERTO VALLARTA The past several weeks have seen some interesting conditions off Puerto Vallarta, said Stan Gabruk of Masterbaiters Sportfishing in PV. There has been cold swirling water mixed with warmer water temperatures that are making for ideal conditions.

“That’s perfect for this time of the season,” said Gabruk. “What this means is the warm water species are moving out, cold water species are moving in and they’re all mixed up in this fish bowl we call the Bay of Banderas. Targeting marlin and tuna at this time of the year is a diminishing prospect with chances of boating these treasured game fish dropping by the day. Having said that we still have some dorado in the area and sailfish. As the currents continue to swirl we’re also seeing species like jack crevalle move in with strong numbers and decent sizes. Needlefish are not exactly abundant, but increasing. Bonito are saving the day in the bay and even with all this “swirling” going on there are still “some” striped marlin to be had. If you’re feeling lucky try an 8-hour trip to Punta Mita. If you want more of a sure thing when it comes to action, a nice six-hour bay trip will be fun, but you won’t be targeting Moby Dick!”

He said those heading out to Corbetena and El Banco have come back mostly disappointed this week. There is still abundant bait in the area, but that in itself is a problem.

“It’s a fish smorgasbord out there with so many different kinds of baits it’s tough to get them to turn their head in the direction of your bait! Having said that we’ve seen the return of spinner dolphin which run with football tuna (at 40 pounds) as they are now. Cubera snapper are not exactly “in” but there have been some boated. Regarding sailfish and striped marlin, you’ve got a 50/50 chance, same goes for Dorado in the 25-pound range as well. Those with private boats are having fun and will catch these species but it’s not automatic and if you’re there for a few days you’ll have a great time. The guy that heads out for the day trip can find his time and fuel dollar better spent closer in.

“The area from El Morro and the Marietta Islands to Punta Mita will find conditions a little better,” said Gabruk. “Striped marlin to 250 pounds have been boated four to six miles off the point, Dorado are in the 25-pound range with sailfish locally for the lucky. I mean all these species are a 50/50 shot. Out of 10 boats, two will have come back with fish. “

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