All blown out today! Gale warnings are posted for most areas north of Dana Point, while to the south there are Small Craft Advisories. The seas are very rough and nasty everywhere. Not a great way to end the month, but hopefully signaling the end of a long fierce winter, particularly on the Pacific side of Baja all the way below Cedros Island.
In between the up and down weather, the Coronado Islands have had a few fishable days with most boats opting to head offshore farther in search of tuna. Those that toughed it out were lucky if they caught anything more than a few rockfish and even fewer surface fish.
This hand-written chart will help identify the areas below the Coronado Islands and outside of Ensenada. Most boats pounding the banks report small yellows under the kelp paddies; no bonanza though. In open waters there are a few foamers of tuna that are difficult to get on. The bluefin are mostly in the 20- to 40-pound range, but there have been some bigger fish caught … all the way up above 200-pounds.
Ensenada action has some good surface action with barracuda boiling on the surface that will jump on artificials or bait. Not many, but always a chance for a yellowtail for the lucky, or is the skilled ones? When the feeding frenzy ceases, drop an artificial or bait down to the bottom for a rockfish or a lingcod.
San Quintin – Confirming recent reports up and down the coast, the local fishermen found mid-50 degree water temps in the bay and not much warmer water out in the open where there was no bait except red crab. Catches were minimal, consisting of a few whitefish and a couple of sand bass; all of the fish that were caught on the bottom were paler than usual indicating the cold water was consistent from the surface all the way down to the bottom.
The conclusion is that there was no yellowtail action at all and that until the water rolls over and temperatures begin to climb, fishing will remain less than ideal.
From Cedros Island there was the following appeal to locals and visitors alike: If you know the person or persons stealing the plants (endemic species) of the island, and you can take pictures, please send the reports immediately to 646-136-6734. This is the number of Profepa. The inspectors, you know, are after them and any assistance will be helpful. The people who are stealing the plants are destroying the island and its unique species. That affects us all … Jose Angel
Magdalena Bay has bid the last of the whales farewell and turned its attention back to fishing the esteros with modest results. Small jacks, pargo and cabrilla are rounding out the catch.
The upper portion of the Sea of Cortez continues to endure north winds (10- to 12-mph), and, along with the chilly water (62 degrees), continues to hamper the fishing from below San Felipe all the way down to south of Gonzaga Bay.
Normally the yellowtail, cabrilla and grouper action would be expected now; the catches reported by visiting anglers have been dismally thin. Some small cabrilla and spotted bay bass, along with the ever-present triggerfish, seem to be the common catch.
In Loreto, the recent yellowtail tournament had good weather and great fishing. For the most part, the yellowtail were small but biting. La Mision put on a great tournament that was very well organized. Twenty teams competed in the event. Julio Cesar Martinez Davis scored the big fish of the tournament, a 31-pound yellowtail caught on a Pacific Lures flying fish “Volador” pattern on the first day. This earned his team of Chris and Bob Wheaton and himself the Largest Fish plus 2nd Place overall.
La Paz area is beginning to shrug off the winter doldrums. There are lots of skipjack and bonito with some yellowfin tuna mixed in.
A few wahoo and, most important, some sargasso are being found which could mean the dorado are not far behind. It’s just a hope for now with a few larger ones being caught. The spring fly-fishers also have arrived and are slamming the good-sized roosterfish.
East Cape was producing some extraordinarily large wahoo and a consistent striped marlin bite that has seemed to dry up. While along the shore, jacks and roosterfish have been putting on a show at the Punta Arena area. Conditions seem right and locals are optimistic for it to be early May when it happens.
Puerto Los Cabos recently has the yellowfin tuna action – fish in the 20- to 30-pound class near Vinorama, about one mile offshore. Anglers were using live sardina, which in recent days were found schooling near the Puerto Los Cabos Marina jetties. Drift fishing and slow-trolling bait worked; average catches ranged from 2 to 6 per tuna boat. Good action considering this is early in the season for yellowfin.
The snapper action continued on the Gordo Banks and on other high spots. The key was obtaining red crab for bait; also the drift was very swift at times, which made this style of fishing tougher. Still, a great option to have as these snapper are ranging from 4- to 12-pounds and are excellent eating.
At Cabo San Lucas, the billfish catches remain slow and seem to coincide with the cooler water temperatures along with the changing currents that tend to wrap the end of the Baja during the March and April time frame every year. However, for the early birds there are still a few wahoo biting.
Small yellowfin tuna are far offshore and not on many of the anglers’ target list. Football-size tuna 50 miles out!
Inshore it’s a mixed bag of roosterfish, sierra and skipjack eating chunked bait. Deeper on rocky points the catch is sheepshead, snapper and grouper plus a few better grade yellowtail.
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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.