Welcome to flippin’ April. Normally, this is the month that everyone looks to Baja Sur for a “fish fix” after a dismal winter in the north. However, this year sea temps along the West Coast of the Baja Peninsula have remained in the low 60s.
Retired Marine Biologist Steve Crooke commented recently on the large numbers of red crab that were still being seen by sport fishers. Long range sport fishers transiting the coast below the border have already found bluefin tuna as reported last month.
Supporting last month’s discovery is the recent report that on Sat., Mar 26, 2016, 17 anglers on board Top Gun 80 had LIMITS OF BLUEFIN TUNA. Fish ranged from 15 to 25 pounds with some larger fish that were lost.
As storms ramble down the California and Baja coast, the conditions deteriorate briefly — then return to better-than-normal conditions for this early in the season, producing good if not great catches of yellowtail, white seabass and calico in addition to the seasonal bottom fishing expected this early in the year. These conditions exist from the Coronado Islands all the way down the coast.
Off Ensenada the story is the same for the few boats venturing out. Farther south near Colonet, the yellowtail action has also been good. Sportfishing boats from the San Diego Fleet have been loading up on yellowtail, ling cod and rockfish on weekend trips for several months.
At San Quintin, members of OC Spearos, Orange County’s Premier Spearfishing and Freediving Club, found marginal diving conditions with poor visibility. However, they did spot lots of smaller white seabass along with a few up to 20-pounders in the cove at Isla San Martin, an encouraging sign of things to come later this season.
La Bocana, on the Vizcaino Peninsula farther south, is also kicking out a few white seabass just outside the Boca (mouth), while the designated release only mangrove-lined Estero continues to yield a crowd-pleasing mixed bag of grouper and snapper along with a few smallish snook for visiting anglers.
According to Bob Hoyt, Mag Bay Outfitters, the sea temps in and around Magdalena Bay are also higher than normal, attracting schools of football-sized yellowfin tuna outside the Boca in the Pacific. Inside the Bay, corvina, cabrilla, grouper and an occasional snook are on the catch list.
Over on the Sea of Cortez: The North Wind continues to be disruptive. Every time it cranks up, both fish and anglers duck and cover. When the wind ceases, the action resumes.
Up near San Felipe, there were a few nice-sized cabrilla like this one for a few lucky anglers.
Bahia de Los Angles has been quiet recently. However as the winds begin to subside, expect the yellowtail to explode. Locals enjoying the advantage of waiting out the wind have had reasonable scores of yellowtail and rockfish.
Below there, fishing out of San Lucas Cove, in addition to the yellowtail here and there, there was at least one amberjack in deep water for a persistent angler aboard The Viking.
At Loreto the reports were similar . . . when the wind blows the fish go down or boats don’t go out, take your pick. On the good days (no wind) there are good catches of yellowtail, cabrilla, grouper and other bottom dwellers.
Sounds like Baja Sur is finally shrugging off a slow winter season that saw more rain and even an unexpected snowfall.
The Tailhunter, La Paz Fleet recently found small firecracker-sized dorado and pargo off Espiritu Santo Island — a good omen for the upcoming month.
Around the corner at Las Arenas, a few smaller wahoo fell for darker Rapalas and Yo-Zuri lures — another hint of the month to come. Plus the big red pargo liso are spawning near Cerralvo Island.
Scotty McNeil and a super, sweet “early” beach roosterfish on the fly!
East Cape and San Jose, while both were plagued by the relentless wind, still had higher sea surface temperatures in the low 70s. Striped marlin and even odder sailfish have been hooked and released since the first of the year. Roosterfish, jacks and sierra have been a common catch during the same period.
“We finally had some pretty good fishing, as our fishing has generally been tough for most of February and March,” lamented Renegade Mike Tumbeiro recently.
Northern Baja is enjoying spring-like conditions with unusual surface action enhanced by the early arrival of bluefin tuna, while Baja Sur seems to have finally begun to play catch-up. With less and less wind, the next month’s fishing should be interesting for the entire peninsula.
Good Luck and Tight Lines…
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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.
Contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org