As another bonanza fishing month fades, it is difficult to accept that we have reached the final chapter of one of the most memorable fishing seasons Baja has experienced in many years. December expectations remain high, however, as improbable as that seems.
Offshore, just below the border, the trophy-sized blue and yellowfin tuna still frolic to the delight of the Captains and crews of the San Diego mid-ranged sport boats.
Not to be left out, one private boat reported they were on anchor below the tuna pens south of South Island catching a mix of big bonito and rockfish when bluefin suddenly appeared.
At Ensenada and all the way down the coast to below San Quintín, anglers seem to be conflicted. Historically, December is when bottom fishing becomes the best, and usually the only, option. But not this year. Yellowtail, bonito and barracuda remain active, confounding old timers as limits continue to be the new normal which is encouraging endless discussions among anglers and the scientific community as to the possible cause.
My personal recommendation is save the chatter for later when the fish has quit biting!
Farther down the Baja west coast even though most of the outfitters at Cedros Islands have shut down for the winter, the anglers are still enjoying summer-like conditions with reports of a few exotics plus yellowtail and calico bass.
Still farther down along the Vizcaíno Peninsula, from Bahía Asunción to Abreojos, there were glowing reports for yellowtail along with skipjack and still a few wahoo on some of the local high-spots.
Magdalena Bay offshore produced triple-digit catches (released) of billfish along with ample wahoo, dorado and tuna. Inshore both inside and outside of the huge bay, the Robolo (snook) and various grouper, plus the pargo, have been outstanding for visiting and local anglers alike. Both Lopez Mateos and Puerto San Carlos are gearing up for the upcoming Whale Watching season.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, Bahía de Los Ángeles is still hanging in there with beach fishing for spotted bay bass on artificials as well as fishing for yellowtail and grouper around the surrounding Islands, according to visitors over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Santa Rosalia dazzled recent visitors with an early morning bite on yellows. Almost every boat in the fleet brought in ~30-pounders off the North end of San Marcos in about 90-feet of water. Live macs were the most effective bait.
Reports included great action on a few nearshore reefs to fill the cooler with cabrilla and a few pargo.
Plus, an extraordinary showing of late-season dorado when one of the Captains spotted something feeding on the surface and switched the anglers to Rapalas; it did the trick for at least one grateful angler.
Down Loreto way, after a disappointing summer season, the late fall produced a few billfish, wahoo and limits of yellowfin tuna to the surprise of most of the few boats still fishing this late in the season. Locals feel that it will continue until the seasonally late North Winds finally kick in.
For some reason, La Paz has already been impacted by North Winds and all the fishing has been with the fleet out of Muertos Bay. Still surprisingly okay fishing for blue-water pelagic species right now given how late in the season it is. It’s a simple formula. If the winds are blowing and it’s rough…as can be the case this time of year…it’s gonna’ be tough to fish. Or impossible. Or dangerous.
The East Cape area has been enjoying summer-like conditions except for an occasional windy day to remind everyone the season end is close. Meanwhile all boats recently limited on dorado and tuna and most were home by noon.
Those who targeted billfish were rewarded with striped marlin which were taken on the way to Los Frailes or on the way back. Caballito dropped back in the pattern worked best.
Tuna were caught just south of Los Frailes. Chummed sardina brought hungry tuna to the top… mostly football-sized to a little larger. Great for filling the cooler. The dorado were mixed in with the tuna. Easy to pick and choose. Lot of smaller fish released with the biggest in the mid-20’s.
This is always a good time to fish for rooster. Lighthouse beaches and marina areas are the best. Even the breezy days produced fish, but the feeling is that it’s just a matter of time ‘til season is over as the sea temps have begun to fall.
Out of Puerto Los Cabos there have been plenty of yellowfin tuna off Palmilla Point, hitting mainly on the sardina and ranging from 10 to over 20+ pounds. The action for the larger-grade yellowfin that had been happening on San Luis and Iman Banks, slowed way down after the flurry in mid-November. Dorado are scattered, not being found in any particular area; best chances were in the same area where the tuna were schooling and there have been a few dorado up to 20 pounds.
Down at the tip of Baja, the striped marlin have dominated the billfish catch with most released almost exclusively on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas. Also a few yellowfin tuna and mostly small dorado with a few keepers mixed in have been reported.
Regardless of your location, the best advice for December is fish early in the month as it is fairly certain that weather and fishing conditions are about to change, particularly in the northern part of the Baja peninsula.
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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.