Soggy weather yielded a high percentage of unfishable days throughout January, although it didn’t discourage the hard-core anglers. Seasoned fishermen simply chose their days carefully and were rewarded with some nice catches.
While the Coronado Islands had little traffic most of the month, the few boats visiting settled for decent bottom fishing at North Island and the Rockpile below South Island. Though not a bonanza, there were still enough rockfish, ling cod and an occasional yellowtail to make it worthwhile.
Other anglers stayed even closer to shore along the Tijuana kelp for their “fish fix”; Lori Heath found a mix of sculpin and sand bass using a red lead-head with strips of squid.
Farther down the Baja coast out of Ensenada, the bottom fish theme offered limits of rockfish for the intrepid fisherman willing to wait out the wind and rain.
Offshore at Colonet, San Diego sport boats made the trip in hopes of scoring big only to settle for hit and miss for both yellows and rockfish. The action continues to come mainly on the larger yoyo iron … the Salas 7x and 6x heavies are ideal.
A dropper loop sardine or mackerel rig was best for reds, whitefish and a fair-to-good number of lingcod. Although there were some bluefin tuna reported seen, none were caught on any of these trips.
At San Quintín, the increased amount of rain has locals musing about the effects it may have as the summer season develops. Currently, the conditions and fishing are similar with weather dictating the bite or on the ability to get out where the fish are found.
Yellowtail are expected to remain a viable target along with sheepshead, rockfish, lingcod and whitefish until the March windy season. In addition to the lures mentioned above, add Butterfly Flat-Fall Jigs.
There is very little fishing news from Cedros Island now as most operations are closed. Bahía Asunción has reported mostly poor weather and high surf recently.
Julio Meza, along with some of his friends, towed his 37-foot SeeVee down to La Bocana in search of “grande” groupers. While not wide open (by his description), the quality of the catches was impressive. He commented that they had brought several to the boat that would have broken existing IGFA world records; however, he added that they released all the fish as the local regulations require.
At Magdalena Bay, both Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos by all accounts are having successful whale watching seasons to the delight of the many tourists visiting the bay in search of their own whale photo ops.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side from San Felipe, Bay of LA has been windy with occasional light rain. Fishing has not been ideal due to the wind, but the weather is still beautiful. Local residents and visitors confirm that with all the recent rains, although cooler, the desert is greener than ever and the ocotillo and Adams trees are in bloom.
In Loreto, as in most places on the Sea of Cortez this time of year, North Winds are the thing … then along comes an ideal day with clear skies, no wind and no current, allowing boats to scatter in different directions and return victorious for a photo.
In La Paz, the local panga fishermen who are going out have seen some breezing tuna around along with the occasional dorado, but most of the few visiting anglers who went out caught snapper, cabrilla (sea bass) and some smaller pargo as well as bonito and jack crevalle. Also, right in La Paz Bay, in the shallow water in front of town, the whale sharks can be seen.
At East Cape recently the tides have been extremely high making it difficult for the tin-boaters attempting to launch. There have been rumors of some billfish and even a dorado spotted by the few fleet boats going out, while inshore sierra are the primary target.
Drift fishing for yellowfin tuna seemed to be working at San José del Cabo, using various baits, but sardina were the favorite if you were able to obtain them. The yellowfin ranged in size from 15- to 40-pounds with average catches from one to six or more. Anglers were also scoring a mix of bottom species, though in no significant number, except for triggerfish. A few nicer-sized amberjack were also caught in the 50- to 60-pound class along with a handful of red snapper and leopard grouper.
At Land’s End outside of Cabo San Lucas, the large-sized tuna and numerous stripers had pretty much thinned out from the high number caught last month.
Currently, inshore action has moved to the forefront, providing a variety of species this week. There were many of the popular sierra, jack crevalle, and roosterfish which are prized for the fight that they pack for their sizes. Some boats even landed some decent-sized grouper.
January certainly provided a reality check on the sportfishing front confirming that even Baja has a winter of sorts. If you are planning a trip, don’t worry about booking ahead of time. Wait until you arrive and see what the weather is doing. If it’s cooperating, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a charter. Keep bundled up and I promise you will be shedding layers in no time at all.
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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.