At our home overlooking Lake Elsinore, December is fading with the coldest temperature along with the most rain since 2007. It could be it’s an omen of what’s in store for anglers for the next month or two in northern Baja.
Plagued with recent small craft warnings, most boats and anglers chose to sit out the holidays, making it difficult to gauge just what’s going on with the fishing. The usual spots below the border – the Coronado Islands, Ensenada and extending down the Baja coast to San Quintín and even beyond to Cedros Island – all have been pretty quiet.
Careful planning and paying attention to local weather reports will be essential to the success of early 2017 trips. That said, there will be good days when the bottom grabbers will be willing to play. Sheepshead, rockfish, lingcod and whitefish are always welcome guests in the bottom of the cooler.
Plus, there will be the occasional home guard yellowtail that seemingly shows up out of nowhere creating a memory that will last forever.-photo Captain Kelly Catian
Along the Vizcaíno Peninsula, even with the recent stormy weather and high surf, locals and visitors alike experienced some spectacular fishing at both Bahía Asunción and farther down the coast at La Bocana.
After the big rainstorm, things calmed down enough for anglers to fish with some local amigos. They finally found and boated nine decent ‘tails, lost a couple, caught a whack of bonito and saw a migrating gray whale … a good day all ’round. It was sunny, around 75 degrees with no wind – perfect! –Shari Bondy
Juanchy’s Aguilar’s recent success inshore and in the Esteros at La Bocana was just the right incentive for Julio Meza to get fired up enough to make his first trip of 2017 in early January.
At Magdalena Bay, both Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos having just completed one of their best offshore seasons for billfish, wahoo, dorado and yellowfin tuna in a decade, are both preparing for an equally successful whale watching season as the earliest of the early arrivals fill the bay.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, from San Felipe down to Baja’s tip, the usual winter north winds dominate the fishing news … or lack of it.
One exception is Loreto where hard core ex-pats and locals alike pounce when those pesky winds vanish for a few days. They are often rewarded with not only the expected quality cabrilla, grouper and other Baja denizens of the deep, but surprisingly a few wahoo and tuna along with a striped marlin or two, and even a quality dorado, which had been strangely absent this season. –photo Rick Hill
The old adage “the farther south you go the fish will open their mouths” sure seems appropriate this time of year. In La Paz, Rick and Amy Kasper from Wyoming hit a nice day of action boating 3 nice tuna on squid and losing another … plus having their hands full on 8 or 9 bonito. –photo Jonathan Roldan
At East Cape, Captain Grant Hartman, Baja Anglers, reinforced the above adage. Fishing from the beach for roosterfish, he commented, “This last week, I had the experience of a lifetime; something I haven’t seen in over 20 years. A giant school of roosterfish, right next to the beach, with light winds with small waves. It was heaven for sure. Huge combs would come out of nowhere and the fish would jump on the fly. It was crazy fishing. Most of the fish were 20 to 35 pounds but some went up to 50 pounds. We would hook up, and the fish would run and take a bunch of line off our heavy drags; then we would walk back out of the waves and release them, then run back into the surf to do it all over again.”
Capping off what locals claim is the most extraordinary yellowfin season December produced remarkable catches in terms of quantity and quality.
The nod for quantity with four more days to go is Captain Gonzalo “Chalo” Castillo aboard “Jaqueline” with his team fishing out of Puerto Los Cabos which has already landed 7 yellowfin tuna weighing from 150 to 250 pounds this month.
The undisputed quality award goes to David Brackmann aboard his boat “Caliente” with his 348.5-pound yellowfin tuna caught this month while casting a mackerel meant for a striped marlin.
Wrapping up the billfish scene – There are still a remarkable number of fish being caught and, for the most part, being released. The billfish bite includes sailfish with an occasional striper at East Cape and on the Pacific side, double-digit stripers with an occasional BIG blue marlin in the mix; one that somehow ended up at the scale weighed over 700 pounds.
It was certainly a big finish to an extraordinary year in Baja and hopefully 2017 will be more of the same.
Happy New Year! When you catch a big ‘un, send me the photo and story.
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