Even in early December, bluefin tuna and white seabass are stealing all the thunder in Southern California as anyone who ventures far enough offshore to the Tanner Bank will attest. Meanwhile, just below the border at the Coronado Islands, the few boats fishing there are seeing red with rockfish and sheepshead (goats) the most likely catches with a few bonito and an outside shot at a yellowtail as the sea temperature averages plummet.
In Ensenada, the bait receiver closed for the winter, underscoring that the summer and late fall bites have ceased. This is the time of year when scratching that ‘fishing itch’ may require thinking outside the box.
San Quintín reports include photos of FAT triggerfish displayed by Captain Kelly Catian. Admittedly, not exactly at the top of many folks’ bucket lists, but their flesh will spice up a batch of ceviche or a platter of fish tacos.
Adding to that report is the breaking news that the corbina are biting ghost shrimp along with surf perch inside the bay proper — exciting news for the angler who doesn’t have access to a boat or just prefers remaining on solid ground.
Jeff Mariani, Cedros Tackle, checked in after a recent Thanksgiving trip to Cedros Island. His glowing account of calicos to 5 pounds, one mossback yellowtail weighing 35 pounds, bonito and barley, along with legal white seabass (all released) plus yellowfin tuna above the Island’s north tip — concluding that overall it was a great trip with lots of action going on all around the Island if one worked at it and accepted what the fishery offered and not what the angler expected…
Vizcaíno Peninsula is truly the transition zone for the west coast of Baja extending from Turtle Bay to Puerto Abreojos. At Bahía Asunción, a mixed bag of yellowtail, goats, halibut and a few impressive grouper were caught.
Farther south at La Bocana, yellowtail, grouper and still a chance for a late season wahoo are enough to excite the locals.
At Magdalena Bay the flotilla of sportfishers has begun to diminish as many return to their Southern California home ports while others head south to follow the bite. By all accounts, the fall of 2016 will go down in the history books for record catches of striped marlin, (most released), along with incredible wahoo action for most visiting sportfishers.
With whales already being spotted traveling down the west coast, by January most of the usual spots, Magdalena Bay, San Ignacio and Guerrero Negro will be in full whale watching mode.
On the Sea of Cortez side, the North Winds have arrived on schedule, dictating a wait-and-see approach to sportfishing from Bahía de Los Ángeles southward to East Cape. The trick is to look for the wind line. Often it will be far enough offshore to allow at least a few hours of fishing before it slams ashore.
At BOLA and Gonzaga Bay, the best fishing has been deep in the water column for yellowtail and grouper and inshore, the usual spotted bay bass.
Farther south at Loreto, fishing has shifted into a winter mode with local Captains struggling to fit a few trips in the relentless North Wind. Candeleros and the San Bruno high spots were producing good catches of yellowtail and pargo. Recently it has been all whitefish and reds. Punta Lobo and the 50 Spot had a bigger area to work over and got a better grade of yellowtail and cabrilla in the fish box.
Fishing in La Paz, well, it’s usually sunny, but winds can make it bumpy and/or limit the areas to fish and the types of species targeted. No big pelagics to report for the first time all season. No dorado. No tuna. No roosterfish. No billfish. So, maybe the warm-water season has finally ended. It’s definitely a transition time right now with some pargo, cabrilla, sierra and bonito. Pretty much inshore species.
With good days and bad days, there are still plenty of varieties to shoot for at East Cape. Just pick the right day.
Then at San Jose, wahoo is the main species being targeted closer to shore, from Cardon to the Iman Bank with good numbers of these prized fighting fish being accounted for.
Yellowfin tuna action was good until the increased wind made it tough to drift fish on the Outer Banks, but some quality-sized tuna — quite a few to 100 pounds and at least a half-dozen over 200 pounds — were accounted for.
More and more striped marlin arriving each day on the Finger Bank on the Pacific side nearly 50 miles north of Cabo San Lucas — a great sign for December, first time in several years that they have shown in this quantity.
However there was also a pretty mixed bag of smaller inshore game with sierra mackerel, skipjack, grouper, triggerfish, pompano and roosterfish all landed recently for those looking for excitement without traveling far.
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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