Gazing in the rearview mirror for a moment, the 2017 memories are grand. If you made it to Baja you probably have a fish tale that you’ll tell and re-tell for many years to come. The anticipation for the upcoming year must be influenced by the marvelous Baja fishing experienced last year.
Usually, the January report is filled with expectations of the upcoming season. However, for 2018, beginning at the border, Coronado Island offers the customary mix of winter bottom fish and limited surface action for good-sized bonito. But the real action is before you ever get there. On the flats southwest of the Whistler Buoy outside of Point Loma, the yellowtail have been going crazy on slow-trolled Rapalas or on the drift with live sardines plus a few on jigs as well.
It is reasonably safe to suggest that Isla Todos Santos is offering similar conditions. There just aren’t many anglers who want to fish the area these days, according to the local panga fleet.
A few private boats traveling along the coast have reported yellowtail on the high spot outside of Colonet as well as scoring on bluefin tuna up to 40 pounds in the 330 area which is roughly 105- to 120-miles from Point Loma. Water temp in the area is still warm at 65.5 degrees. The yellowtail were chasing micro bait and biting sardines fished on 30- to 40-pound fluorocarbon leaders.
Still receiving outstanding reports of good weather and good fishing as the red crabs showed up at San Quintín, the few visitors fishing there found yellowtail and bonito on the surface along with a good mix of bottom fish.
Cedros Island is closed for the winter; however, locals are reporting good yellowtail and calicos.
Down farther at Bahía Asunción on the Vizcaíno peninsula, recovering from a stretch of cold, windy weather produced sporadic yellowtail catches for visitors and locals alike as weather improved.
Another positive report was both offshore and in the mangroves at Magdalena Bay. Again, boats returning from Cabo reported finding herds of striped marlin on the usual high spots above Cabo San Lázaro on some of their year-old numbers.
Inside, it was wide open for the usual pargo, grouper, and corvina. Plus an excellent golden trevally (locals call them palmetta) bite reported by several groups camping on the Barrier Islands.
This month, the whale watching season gets underway and will take center stage as locals greet thousands of tourists visiting the various areas around the bay for photo ops with whales and their offspring.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, the dreaded winter north winds have arrived, reducing sportfishing opportunities dramatically. Not to imply there are none. It is just a matter of picking the right day when the winds back off which usually happens every few days. Most days there may be an early window of opportunity until mid-morning before the wind picks up.
As an example, in Loreto locals choose spots closer to the marina and their clients are usually rewarded with some “line in the water” buy accutane accutane online time. Coronado Island and a few spots off the north side have gotten most of the attention with a mixed bag of smaller yellowtail and assorted bottom fish. Amazingly, there are even still a few small dorado lurking about.
Even farther down towards the tip of Baja, the north winds dictate the fishing in La Paz as well as East Cape and farther down below Los Frailes.
In La Paz, most looking for sportfishing action will head out to fish with the fleet out of Las Arenas/Muertos Bay Area. Fishing at the north and south ends of Cerralvo Island (wind and waves permitting) and closer to shore near Punta Perico and the old hotel Las Arenas.
From the island, some wahoo hook-ups (and some lost) plus some yellowtail on live bait when it’s available, or on the same Rapalas used to slow-troll for the wahoo. Closer to shore, scattered dorado up to about 10- or 15-pounds are still hanging out. Along the rocks, the pargo, cabrilla, sierra as well as jacks – the most typical cold-water catches – are getting more prevalent along the deeper drop-offs.
While farther down at East Cape, aside from the local tin boat fleet focusing on sierra when the North Wind allows, wind surfers will dominate the beaches as the wind prevails through the month.
At Puerto Los Cabos, yellowfin tuna action rebounded on the Gordo Banks. It was still a bit of hit or miss action and there were sharks to deal with as well, though for one group of anglers who were on these grounds at the right time, one whopper they caught on Christmas Eve weighed 282-pounds.
Inshore, closer off Punta Gordo, was one of the best areas producing dorado; a few wahoo were in the mix, as well as a variety of excellent-eating bottom species: yellow snapper, barred pargo, African pompano, triggerfish, leopard grouper and amberjack.
Billfish remains the best on the Pacific, where boats reported fair action for striped marlin.
Whales continue to move into the area. The next couple of months will be the peak season for the activity of both gray and humpback whales, which migrate from their northern summer feeding grounds seasonally.
Happy New Year!
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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.