By Gary Graham
After a practically non-existent winter, April seemed poised to fling open the swinging doors to a banner spring season. What can I say? Mother Nature pulled a gotcha!
Grumpy weather and falling sea-temps influenced the bite along the West Coast of Baja. What had become a reliable yellowtail bite convinced the crews of 13 boats to join in an informal tournament hatched by Marine store owner Wes Price at Ensenada’s Marina Coral.
Of course, the water rolled and sea temps plummeted, resulting in a scratchy bite. However, Mike Kraus and his Blackjack crew found a winner, earning them a $1,300 payout.
In San Quintin, the surface action faded while bottom fishing remained consistently good. Unfortunately, the on-going labor dispute discouraged the usual weekend fishing crowd.
As the weather improved, the local fishing co-op sponsored a tournament for yellowtail and calico in late April that was a huge success with 25 teams entered from both panga and shore at Bahia Ascensión according to Shari Bondy, La Bufadora Inn.
Captain Jesus Robles captured the winning 33-pound yellowtail on a Rapala.
At La Bocana, Juanchy Aguilar posted, “Beautiful fishing today – seven broom tail and leopard grouper … catch and release.”
Fishing aboard a 10-foot Zodiac only a half-mile outside of the Bocana.
While many enjoy the more populated places in Baja, I often hear complaints about over-crowding, too many boats and fewer fish. The Viscaino Peninsula, from Turtle Bay to Estero Coyote below Punta Abreojos is some of the best, most fertile, uncrowded fishing area left in Baja. Regardless of your boat – inflatable or tin trailer this shoreline, with a few esteros thrown in, is an excellent place to perfect your Baja fishing skills during the summer and fall.
Moving on, Loreto hosted several yellowtail tournaments late in April and by all accounts they were worth the effort.
Several encouraging signs are the availability of a decent bait supply and also that a few patches of sargasso are beginning to appear. There are already a few reports of sails and striped marlin offshore signaling that the water is warming up.
Farther down the Sea of Cortez, La Paz and Los Arenas are definitely showing signs of an emerging spring.
At La Paz, Gary Tsunoda scored on barred pargo. There were also cabrilla, amberjack and chunky roosterfish around according to Jonathan Roldan, Tailhunter International.
Beyond La Paz at Los Arenas, the roosterfish action is on fire for both conventional and fly anglers.
The prolific action is evidenced by Randall Norris’s spectacular rooster caught on a fly-fishing trip with Gary Bulla, who is spending most of May in the area.
Offshore at East Cape, fishing for billfish and thresher shark slowed significantly leaving dorado clearly the crowd please as April came to a close.
From the beach there were schools of marauding ladyfish behaving like small tarpon leaping several feet into the air when hooked. Plenty of fun to catch on light tackle with small chrome lures.
Throw the lure out as far as you can cast and let it sink with a fluttering motion, then set the hook when you have a strike. No strike? Repeat the process as you retrieve the lure. If you are looking for larger fish, pin that ladyfish you just caught onto a larger 8\0 circle hook on a heavier rig and cast it back out. Large roosterfish can’t resist an injured ladyfish. Free spool with the clicker engaged until you have a bite, and then let the fish run for a slow 10 count; just come tight to set the hook.
Recent reports from San Jose indicate that winter is in the rear-view mirror. A mixed bag including billfish, school-sized tuna along with a growing dorado bite are in the offering according to Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas.
At the tip, the sorely missed striped marlin bite has finally begun in earnest and the fleet couldn’t be happier. Still missing are the yellowfin tuna and so far the dorado action is less than normal. There are still some sierra and a few jacks and roosters for the anglers inclined to stay closer to shore. Lastly, there are the few wahoo around that seem pretty scrawny to me.
Regardless of your destination this month, there seems to be enough fishing opportunities to satisfy first timers to the hard core types that want to fish ’til they drop.
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