Above the border, anglers in Southern California are trembling with excitement. There is lots of action for everything from nearly 300-pound bluefin pouncing on yummies trolled beneath kites, to extraordinary kelp bed fever along the offshore islands and coast for calico, yellowtail, and white seabass.
All of this while Northern Baja anglers fishing the Pacific side are discouraged by the slow-starting season that seems to be about six weeks behind.
Although yellowtail and bonito are scarce at the Coronados, there are herds of barracuda to play with until the off-color water cleans up and surface action follows.
There are a few halibut in the flats; while kelp beds from the Bull Ring south are producing calico bass catches.
Quality reds and lingcod are being taken on the various high spots outside the Salsipuedes Tuna Pens. BTW: There are recent reports that some anglers are not only fishing too close, but are tying up to them as well. This is ILLEGAL! Anglers must stay at least 250 meters (820 feet) away or be at risk of losing boats and landing in a Mexican jail.
The small yellowtail bite has been excellent from two to three miles inside the south end of Todos Santos Island, along with bonito to seven pounds and an occasional white seabass. The fish were being caught on iron and 2- to 3-ounce Promar Live Deception jigs in anchovy and sardine pattern. Birds and breaking fish were everywhere. Live sardines can be purchased at the bait barge in Ensenada Harbor.
Although few are fishing offshore, the exotics are filtering in as the water warms and cleans up—tuna (YFT and BFT) along with dorado. It’s not often there are 15- to 30-pound yellows on kelp and that’s what 95% of these fish are. Plus, more striped marlin are showing every day.
The Pesca La Baja tournament at San Quintín registered 180 anglers aboard 42 boats. While they experienced slow surface fishing with mostly smaller yellowtail, bottom fishing was much more productive, as well as a good halibut bite.
On down the west coast to Abreojos, cooler sea temps and off-color water persist. However, local observations would indicate that the six week late window is about right.
At Magdalena Bay Barrier Island, action lit up for grouper, small yellow and big pargo using live bait trolled close to shore. Out at Thetis Bank, there was streakier, off-color water with some areas of blue 73-degree temp holding 8- to 20-pound yellowfin which were hooked when dropping yo-yo iron down and retrieving while others hooked the fish trolling.
Out at Cedros Island there are large yellowtail biting on surface iron and stick bait at both the north and south ends of the island.
Over at Benitos, offshore water was perfect, blue and clean; yellows were up and boiling along with some dorado in the mix.
According to locals, the calico bass bite at all three islands, Cedros, Benitos, and Natividad, is world class with quality 5- to 7-pounders and 50 fish per rod.
White seabass also made an appearance at several locations around the island with a handful of fish taken on live macs and swim baits.
Finally, Bahía de Los Ángeles is getting high marks from returning anglers with flat, calm weather and little wind! They get a good grade for 30-pound yellowtail and the late arrival of dorado, some weighing in at 25 pounds or so. Plan on some heavy gear for the yellows, plus lighter gear for more fun with the dorado.
DON’T FORGET YOUR PAPERWORK FOR YOUR BOAT AND LICENSES. THEY HAVE BEEN CHECKING.
Recently, there have been reports from Gonzaga and Punta Chivato that striped marlin are being caught and released along with a smattering of dorado at Chivato.
Loreto’s dorado have been much better than the past several years. However, the best fishing was 20 miles offshore. Striped marlin have been putting on a show in the same area.
We reported on the huge yellowfin tuna caught on El Seco Bank in early January… well, Robert Ross, from Playa San Cosme, aboard his 37-foot Boston Whaler Rampage, found another one! Frank Kavanaugh, Newport Beach, hooked a monster—the largest fish he’d ever encountered—that took four hours to land. The enormous fish required six men to carry to the IGFA Certified scale on the beach at Playa San Cosme where it weighed-in at an astonishing 302-pounds! This underscores the variety of enormous fish that seem to show up on the outer banks off the Loreto Coast.
La Paz is in full summertime mode as yellowfin tuna exceeding 100 pounds intimidate unsuspecting anglers. In addition, this is one of the best roosterfish seasons in years plus dorado, MIA in the past few years, have returned.
In Los Barriles, the recent Dorado Shootout attracted 145 teams, the largest number in its history!
Total of 9 Dorado weighed in
Total of 2 Tuna weighed in
Total of 2 Wahoo weighed in
Total of 144 Teams
Total Jackpot Money $127,840.
The Bisbee East Cape Offshore Tournament is next up in early August and by all accounts there should be plenty of billfish about. The trick will be to find one that weighs more than 300 pounds.
From La Paz to Lands End, big roosters frolic along the shore, while wahoo tease anglers farther offshore, adding to the excitement of the large number of school-sized tuna found offshore.
Many elated anglers, both local and visiting, are saying the good old days are back, but most don’t have time for chit-chat. They’re fishing!
Questions and 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.