While the media bandies about “El Niño,” its affects both present and future, Baja anglers smugly shrug their shoulders, smile, nod and announce, “It is what it is!” Looking backward so far it has been a “WOW!” And looking forward to November? It seems it will be more of the same.
Before I jump into the fishing, some good news is that an old Mexican, 220-foot patrol boat, the Uribe, will be sunk in 90 feet of water off the coast of Rosarito Beach on Nov. 21 creating an artificial reef for the fishing and diving community.
With the exception of Coronado Islands, Baja Norte is going off like firecrackers — wahoo, dorado, yellowfin tuna and marlin (of all kinds) are being reported all the way down the West Coast.
Underlining the strangeness of it all was Captain Kelly Catian’s comment, “Recently we have been seeing manta rays in the San Quintin Bay.”
Roy McDennon, Sr. caught a blue marlin a mere mile from the 240 Rock last weekend.
Similar reports are echoed all the way down to Magdalena Bay. Juanchys Aguliar in La Bocana has reported remarkable wahoo catches for several months.
Julio Meza and Carter Andrews, star of The Obsession of Carter Andrews, found wahoo action just as Juanchys had described it.
Although lots of folks are trolling for wahoo these days, bites are relatively infrequent; therefore, you really want to make the most of your opportunities when you do have one. Many anglers are having short bites or are losing lures –here are several tips to increase your success ratio:
- Sharpen your hooks to sticky-sharp.
- Use 175- or 275-pound wire on all lures, especially marlin lures.
- Use heavy 80-pound gear and button down your drag. You need tight drag pressure to drive the hook home in their incredibly tough, bony mouths.
- Keep the boat moving at trolling speed for about 10 seconds after a strike! The forward motion, combined with the fish running against a tight drag, helps set the hook. Other rods may also load up as wahoo often cruise in small packs of 2 to 6 fish, turning singles into doubles or triples.
- Keep the rod tip down and just wind, wind, wind. Don’t pump the fish as each release of pressure gives it an opportunity to shake the hook, especially with heavy lures similar to Marauders.
- Fight the fish with the boat idling forward. This keeps the head of the fish pointed toward the boat with steady pressure. A 45-degree angle off the stern corner is ideal, keeping the fish controlled and away from the prop.
- If the line goes slack suddenly, keep winding! Wahoo like to turn and run right at the boat; you must pick up this slack quickly or the fish can shake the hook or bite through the belly of slack line, even with a wire leader. Leaving the boat in gear helps, too.
Bouncing over to the Sea of Cortez side, Bahia de Los Angeles is hanging in there in spite of some rain and wind. The yellowtail continued biting throughout the summer with a few dorado and an occasional billfish to keep it interesting.
From there all the way to La Paz, although dorado have been sketchy, yellowtail continues to be caught along with cabrilla, grouper, other bottom fish plus a few roosters.
North of La Paz, small dorado which have been the bread and butter fish most of the season, are winding down forcing anglers to head for Las Arenas for their fishing fix — yellowfin tuna, roosterfish, sailfish and striped marlin.
At East Cape, billfish are at the top of the catch board with few tuna or dorado to add. After a lengthy absence the roosterfish have returned.
From San Jose to Cabo and around the tip into the Pacific, billfish action has been slow. Recent tournaments produced few notable catches.
While not the largest fish, the team aboard the “Tranquilo” snagged the third largest payout in the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournament’ thirty-five year history.
In the tuna department, there were a few larger ones to add to the more common football-sized.
By any yardstick, this has been one of the most unusual seasons I personally can remember … particularly in the northern portion of the state. Unprecedented, seldom-seen catches of many species of historical significance were taken from Turtle Bay to the border. With that in mind, November may be another one for the record books!
Good Luck and Tight Lines…
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