Like Baja wildflowers, the fish of Baja come and go at their own pace. Of course anglers are an impatient lot who insist on trying to “will” the bite to begin, more often than not ending in frustration and disappointment.
Offshore the bluefin, mostly in the 20- to 35-pound class with several spots of the larger variety weighing up to 100 pounds, along with a very few 30- to 40-pound yellowfin, are beginning to show and as sea temps settle down they are becoming more aggressive… a very promising sign for an exciting summer.
The smaller bluefin are most willing to eat fin-bait, with either a sardine or anchovy on 20-, 25-, or 30-pound fluorocarbon with a #2/0 to #1/0 hook your best bet. The larger bluefin have been caught primarily on the bigger 200- to 250-grain Flat Fall jigs on 80-pound spectra with a short 80- to 130-pound fluoro leader.
Looking forward, there are promising signs for the upcoming month. The cranky weather that has plagued the northern sector on the west coast of Baja finally seems to be fading. At the Coronados, yellowtail, bonito and calico are beginning to bite for the few anglers visiting there. Not over the top yet, but encouragingly improving.
Slow trolling with Rapalas or sardine outside the weather side of North Island and through the Middle Grounds are producing yellowfin to 25 pounds. Farther south, the Lighthouse area at the south tip of South Island has good schools of fish moving through along with the South Kelp Ridge and even farther south at the Rockpile.
Along the coast inshore from La Salina all the way down to Todos Santos there have been consistent limits of rockfish, lingcod and whitefish with yellowtail, barracuda and bonito on the surface. Below there to San Quintin, action has been sluggish. However, the local anglers are expecting improvement as the winds abate.
Flipping over to the Sea of Cortez the first of the “La Pesca Baja” events was held in San Felipe and 138 local and visiting anglers entered this popular event. Chris Wheaton, IGFA Representative and frequent participant, commented, “Live bait was difficult to come by and those who had it were the winners.”
The three winning fish in the bottom category were sea bass and grouper; 74.2-, 50.3- and 24.2-pounds and in the surface category white seabass and yellowtail were the winners; 19.4-, 14.5- and 13.8-pounds.
The second event will be held at San Luis Gonzaga on June 16-17, and will be based at Hotel Alfonsina’s, followed by the third at Bahía de Los Ángeles, on July 21-22 at the local launch ramp.
After a lethargic start this spring, Bahía de Los Ángeles is playing catch-up. Although the few visitors are being treated to limited surface action for yellowtail, the bottom fishing has come to life. With the sea temps climbing, there is hope that there may be a dorado and yellowtail early summer show soon.
Captain Juan Cook and friends scouted San Luis Gonzaga before fishing the San Felipe event and reported that Golden reef, Consag Rock and the Coast below there, along with a few of the islands, produced some memorable catches — a good omen for the upcoming tournament on June 16-17.
Loreto is rejoicing about the sardina that is conveniently right in front of the Malecón. Also a good omen as the yellowtail and a few dorado continue to top the catch list which includes needlefish, sierra, cabrilla, grouper and a few trophy-sized roosterfish.
The visiting anglers camping on some of the islands and fishing out of Hobie Kayaks are raving about the experience.
At La Paz, a season slow getting started has begun to redeem itself as some large jack crevalle, roosterfish and pargo, with even a few wahoo, dominate the catch at Las Arenas. Out of La Paz there have already been a few dorado to spice up the catch of grouper, snapper and cabrilla caught around rocky out croppings.
After an early spring bite in at East Cape, the bite suddenly shut off for several weeks. However, it turned back on and hopes for a banner June are high. Limits of tuna, dorado, wahoo and a growing billfish bite, along with roosterfish and jacks prowling the beaches, suggest they may be right.
Oddly enough, the closer to Baja’s tip, the slower the fishing with a few exceptions; Puerto Los Cabos has been experiencing mostly sporadic yellowfin catches concentrated from the Iman Banks, San Luis and Vinorama areas. Most are being caught slow-trolling live bait in no significant numbers and most of the fish caught are in the 25- to 35-pound class with an occasional larger one.
Farther down at Cabo San Lucas, the fleet is still waiting for the usual billfish bite that occurs this time of year — taking up some of the slack is an extraordinary wahoo bite that has remained consistent throughout the spring season.
Large roosterfish are another bonus recently and the good news is they are just a few miles outside of Cape Rocks. And there are jacks, sierra and large skipjack mixed in with them.
Lastly, equally odd is this huge yellowfin tuna caught on the Pacific side in front of the Old Lighthouse. The Dlouhy’s from Nevada landed this monster 241-pound yellowfin tuna on 40-pound test line aboard the Pisces Valerie, captained by fleet veteran Roberto Sandez and his deckhand Salvador.
With some areas already up to speed as they begin the much awaited summer season, others are catching up fast.
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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.