Don’t miss the hoopla! March is The Ultimate Outdoor Recreation Month with Outdoor Shows featuring Fishing • Boating • Travel • Hunting filling the March calendar.
While open to all locations, many of the Baja hotels, lodges, charter operations and tours, as well as the Department of Tourism, attend the shows; talk to experts on Baja all under one roof. Whatever your questions, this is the place to get your answers.
After several years of “El Niño” and “La Niña,” 2017 is starting off different. Weather . . . will it be good or bad? Will this be a normal year? What do those in the know predict?
Just below the border at the Coronado Island a traditional go-to place, the opportunities haven’t been terrific because of unsettled conditions. To the north and to the east of North Coronado Island, there are mixed red rockfish and a ling cod or two. Recent strong currents dictate a 2-pound sinker is best if the wind is blowing and depths ranging from 300 – 400+ feet; bait of choice is squid.
Along the outer edge of the shore line, kelp beds beginning below the Tijuana Bull Ring continuing down all the way to below La Salina, local pangueros report sand and calico bass along with a few rockfish and a halibut or two. They swear by bait and the few trailer boaters lean toward plastics in pink and red crab colors in 5/8 to 1.5 ounce sizes. Others are scoring on the bass using the 3/4-ounce slider and a couple of strips of squid pinned on the 3/0 hook.
The Ensenada fleet is depending on rockfish, lingcod and sheepshead to satisfy the few customers they’ve had recently. Farther down the coast the main high-spot outside of Colonet, yellowtail are biting sporadically on yo-yo iron with a few fish up closer to the surface on bait and yo-yo iron along with the usual blue/white and scrambled egg colors. Most of the fish are in the 15- to 20-pound class.
At San Quintin, my friend Captain Kelly Catian, frustrated by sketchy offshore conditions, decided to go down to the Old Mill dock to fish and was rewarded with a keeper calico.
While most of the inshore and offshore action faltered along the Vizcaino coast, at La Bocana a few locals and visitors alike headed for the esteros and weren’t disappointed as the small snook, corvina and juvenile leopard grouper snapped up the bait and artificials presented. All catches were released in keeping with local Ejido rules.
Magdalena Bay, both Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos, are wrapping up a banner whale watching season which should come to a close in late March.
The upper Sea of Cortez is still feeling the brunt of the seasonal North Winds and aside from a few reports of small cabrilla, grouper and a few small yellowtail, most visitors are busy preparing their homes for the upcoming spring season.
In Loreto, tourists are mostly taking part in the whale watching with few anglers in the bunch who are willing to go in search of fish. The few who do are rewarded with decent catches of yellowtail and huachinango.
In La Paz it was more of that ‘blame it on the weather’ theme that seems to persist throughout the month. The two bright spots were a few quality yellowtail caught and several dorado seen roaming about — a good omen of things to come.
At East Cape amberjack and cabrilla are lurking at the dropoff outside the La Ribera Marina just a few miles for the few willing to take a shot at it. Also the tin-boaters were scoring sierra on a regular basis as they trolled hoochies close to shore along the beaches.
The biggest news at San Jose del Cabo has been an unusual appearance of larger-sized reddish crabs drifting to the surface on the Outer Gordo, averaging two to three inches . . . much larger than the more common pelagic red crabs that we see this time of year and a much rarer occurrence.
Pangueros using hand nets have been catching them and using them for bait to catch huachinango (red snapper) up to 14-pounds.
Other anglers are fishing the bottom for various pargo, snapper, amberjack, cabrilla, bonito, yellowtail and other species; there are also occasional leopard grouper, along with many triggerfish. Not much going on inshore; only a few boats are even trying for the limited number of smaller-sized sierra.
Cabo San Lucas is gearing up for the soon coming Spring Break while a cold rainstorm recently seemed to dampen the billfish bite.
Yellowtail prospects brighten for those seeking some action closer to home on some of the rocky high spots. Another option has been both roosterfish and jacks on the surface . . . or the seemingly ever-present sierra that are biting bait strips or hoochies.
Farther offshore, the yellowfin are under the porpoise schools; nothing huge, mostly the more manageable football-plus size.
If you are in the mood for a fresh fish dinner, try targeting the pompano and triggerfish that have been in the fleets’ counts recently.
Whether you do or weather you don’t. Baja once again offers a remarkable variety of sportfishing opportunities in what many locals are calling the first normal year in awhile. With spring just around the corner, optimism seems to be bubbling over.
Back to the sports shows . . . you can find me at every show in the IGFA booth. Stop by and say hello. 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.