After being ignored throughout the summer because of the extraordinary tuna fishing enjoyed throughout Southern California, the Coronado Islands has finally begun to spring to life. A few more boats have been finding some decent-sized fish and slow-trolled sardines are the hot ticket, yielding some quality-sized yellowtail and bonito in front of South Island; plus there is always the option of fishing the bottom for whitefish and rockfish.
At Ensenada, the bait barge still seems to have ample sardines for purchase. So take advantage of it now before they close for the season. San Miguel Island still has bonito, barracuda, calico bass and yellowtail to 12-pounds.
As you travel farther down the coast, conditions are similar – with the exception of the bait — you have to catch your own or bring some fresh squid from the fish market.
San Quintín has little fishing pressure this time of year. A few locals are finding better-than-average fishing. Right place-right time can produce limits of yellowtail and calico bass, not to mention some nice-sized bottom fish.
Cedros Island is just about done for the season as the locals’ attention turns to lobster.
At Ascension Bay there are dorado on the surface and 20- to 35-pound yellowtail farther down in the water column eager to be suckered with a yoyo jig. Inshore, there are tempting tales of white seabass in the cove caught off the rocks next to Shari Bondy’s La Bufadora Inn.
On down at La Bocana, wahoo, tuna, and even dorado are in striking distance from shore. There are even a few woulda’- coulda’ stories of huge blue marlin hooked and lost.
Not hearing much about offshore except from the captains and anglers of private yachts and sportfishers transiting up and down Baja’s coast. Once they reach the ridge above Magdalena Bay where the legendary striped marlin and wahoo fall bite begins in early October, they almost sound incoherent as they breathlessly claim double-digit ‘catch and releases’ of as many as 50 billfish a day.
In the Esteros, stories of equally exciting black snook bites for those anglers venturing into Lopez Mateos boast of limits of these amazing fish that test the skills of even the most seasoned anglers.
On the Sea of Cortez, Bahía de Los Ángeles is still experiencing summer-like conditions which will probably begin to fade by Thanksgiving. Still dorado are being seen and a few caught. Yellowtail range from okay to 32 pounds, mostly caught on lures as bait is hard to find. Add in a few white seabass, pargo and red snapper — limits are easy to come by.
All the way down the peninsula’s east coast on to Loreto there is little fishing news to be had. At Loreto, the dorado season, usually the area’s bread and butter fish for the summer season, has been pretty skimpy. I think there were more roosterfish caught than dorado. As late in the season as it is, there have been a few wahoo reported. Aside from that, bottom fish have been the dominant catch.
In La Paz after struggling through September and part of October, the area still remains up and down, while Las Arenas lit-up according to Jonathan Roldan. Bigger tuna were reported in the 20- to 30-pound range while wahoo came on even stronger with 30- to 50-pound fish. Roosterfish were mostly 40- to 80 pounds. They caught a few dorado, too.
At East Cape, the weather is beginning to change as the billfish continue to bite along with a steady yellowfin tuna bite with some fish over 100 pounds. Also, there’s a wahoo bite that just won’t quit. It won’t be long before the North Wind kicks in and the fishing slows to a crawl.
At Los Cabos, the annual offshore tournaments, including the Los Cabos Billfish, Bisbee Los Cabos Offshore Charity and the Black and Blue Tournament, had a total of 266 teams among the three events with 1,734 anglers. They caught and released most of the 347 billfish along with 4 wahoo and 28 yellowfin tuna.
Remarkable numbers . . . particularly the number of teams and anglers, as well as the number of billfish released; partially because of the addition of a “release category” and the unusual number of small blue marlin that were released because they did not meet the 300-pound minimum weight requirement to qualify.
According to Wayne Bisbee, event coordinator, “That was the highest number of blue marlin releases in the 36-year history of the tournaments.”
As a footnote “Quitena” the winning team in the Bisbee Black and Blue, with a 534-pound black marlin, earned the team a $2,183,000 payday for the three-day event.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org