Dates announced for 2016 Pesca la Baja Sport Fishing Tournaments:
- San Felipe: May 13 and 14
- San Luis Gonzaga: June 10 and 11
- Bahía de los Ángeles: July 15 and 16
- San Quintín: August 19 and 20
- GRAND FINALE Ensenada: September 23 and 24
These grassroots events which are held throughout Baja are really more community fiestas wrapped around sportfishing tournaments. They offer unique opportunities for participants to explore unfamiliar waters, some in remote areas, while competing with locals from all walks of life who share a common interest in fishing. First-timers are amazed at the camaraderie and many become regulars on the circuit.
As storms drenched northern California with much needed rain and snow, February seemed like a bad hangover; while anglers fishing off the Pacific coast of northern Baja last year enjoyed a spectacular finish there and in Southern California attributed to El Nino – there they only caught the strong winds and huge swells on the outer edges of the system.
The Sea of Cortez endured what many locals are calling the strongest North Winds in years roaring down from San Felipe to Baja’s tip.
From Coronado Islands to Ensenada and farther down past Colonet to San Quintin, the weather dictated not only the quality but the style of fishing as well.
Suddenly surface action gave way to fishing deeper in the water column as surface bait disappeared. Yellowtail joined rockfish taking up residence down deep and yo-yoing jigs became the technique of choice along with dead bait.
Jig choices seem endless. Style, size, color and performance are all important. Size and weight are dictated basically by the depths fished. The deeper the fish, the heavier the lure. Color usually is determined by the bait the fish are feeding on. Sardine, squid, mackerel and red crab are among the bait that guides color choice. One of the most important attributes is performance. Depending on weight and shape, jigs swim differently. Look for one that darts from side-to-side, regardless of speed . . . like a baitfish fleeing. Or if yo-yoing, one that flutters down as it sinks. When you locate one, cherish it.
If you are like me, you have a bucket somewhere full of old iron jigs that swim perfectly; in fact so perfectly that the paint has been chewed off.
Rich Whitaker, Bait Wraps, will refurb old jigs with new wraps in any color combination you like for a very reasonable price. Turnaround time is about six weeks. Just remove the rings and hooks and sand them down before sending to him; he includes new hooks and rings. Just search his name on Facebook.
Over on the other side of the peninsula, from Mulege down on the Sea of Cortez, between days that the North Wind blows, the fishing picks up nicely.
In Mulege their recent yellowtail tournament produced a great turnout and the gang had nice catches of yellowtail, grouper and even an amberjack.
Continuing the theme down Loreto way, it was mostly yellowtail at the Islands with a few cabrilla mixed in.
At Magdalena Bay, whale-watching remains in full swing at Lopez Mateos.
Farther down at La Paz, the El Nino continues to confound as one group scored an unusual catch of both wahoo and yellowtail on the same day aboard one boat.
The East Cape had a little flurry of striped marlin and a smattering of dorado that was covered over before it really got going by the North Wind.
Seemed that the beach made some sense for locals who managed to catch a mix of sierra and jacks near the jetty at La Ribera.
All the way to the tip, action seemed slow as only a handful of marlin were reported along with an occasional dorado and wahoo. The most encouraging news was that the first swordfish of the year was caught.
Just as this report was being written, Pacific Queen, running weekend trips down the beach for the ongoing yellowtail snap, managed to land the first bluefin of the season — a 50-pound brute.
Based on the February bluefin and swordfish, maybe the El Nino just took a breather and March madness will reign.
Good Luck and Tight Lines…
Questions or comments are welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
With more than five decades of fishing experience – from light tackle and fly to offshore billfish – Gary Graham has experienced all aspects of fishing in the Southern California and Baja waters. His observations of species behavior, tackle and techniques are always from his unique perspective, earning him the respect of his peers as well as anglers who eagerly follow his Baja reports and features.
Gary maintained a home at East Cape in Baja Sur for more than 18 years and still spends nearly half of each year exploring the entire peninsula in his self-contained Roadtrek van. He observes everything Baja, from the mysteries of a tide pool on a deserted Baja beach filled with tiny sea creatures to the largest billfish in the sea.
Contact Gary at email@example.com