Goodbye to winter, which is best seen in the rearview mirror. Below the border, Coronado Islands had an ugly month with green, cold water, but it did leave a handful of special memories. One of the better stories was a recent kayak outing.
Andrew Deems was fishing on his Malibu Ocean Kayak out of the El Pescador camp near Puerto Nuevo when he headed out to catch some yellowtail. He was armed with nothing but a couple of jigs (and a Sabiki rig to catch bait).
Heading into a strong headwind, there was plenty of bait in the water, but nothing wanted to bite, and suddenly the bait disappeared; he had a hunch something was chasing them.
Grabbing a rod, he cast, and it was on. The first run, his drag was too tight and if he hadn’t been on a kayak, it would have broken off; instead he was pulled into deep water. The subsequent tug-of-war lasted more than a half hour before he gaffed his 50-pound fish! Thanking it first, he then screamed at the seagulls flying overhead, ‘I just caught the largest yellowtail of my life!’
Another bit of news that has electrified the sportfishing and yacht fleet is the bluefin tuna bite developing well in reach of the one-and-a-half-day boats out of San Diego. Like the tuna to the south, these bluefin are mixed in size, running from about 25- to well over 100-pounds. However, these fish are not biting well, and the boats are seeing many more than they are catching. Flat-fall jigs seem to be about the best tactic to use right now as the fish are deep, from 10- to 40-fathoms down.
There are also kelps around… mostly dry, but a few are holding yellowtail.
Inshore at Ensenada, the water is ugly, green-to-brown. No yellowtail, barracuda, or bonito—just rockfish out at the San Miguel Reef.
A sure sign that things are looking up is that the bait barge is open daily, and they have anchovies for sale.
The Pacific inshore down to Magdalena Bay is also off-color and cold with little activity. The month of May should make a difference and the water should improve soon, becoming cleaner and warmer. Recent reports from locals are that a few striped marlin are already being seen at Magdalena Bay, and they expect that the seasonal shark fishing ban that is being implemented soon should also help.
On the Sea of Cortez side, spring is in the air. There is still some sporadic wind that seems to be diminishing rapidly.
There is plenty of variety when you pick the right day—grouper, cabrilla, as well as a few yellowtail and corvina to fill the coolers. Bahía de Los Ángeles is also producing similar catches.
Punta Chivato seems to be more “color me red” for recent visitors fishing from shore on a recent quickie fly-in/fly-out trip.
Several encouraging news flashes: First, the Sargasso has been in very short supply for the past few years, but for 2018, it is in full bloom and, hopefully, the dorado won’t be far behind. Wouldn’t that be a welcome change?
The reality of the green stuff recently is a signal of the changes that bring the cabrilla to shallow waters. Yellowtail have come out of wherever they have been hiding with huge appetites for anything “mackerel!”
Soon to start will be the sizzling action at most of the hot spots around the local islands. Out in open water, there have already been feeding frenzies on schools of sardina.
That’s right sardina, bait that have been in short supply for several years are available from Loreto to Cabo San Lucas… a welcome return that increases the prospects for the entire region.
Below La Paz at Las Arenas, 10- to 20-pound yellowfin tuna along with some free-swimming dorado have exploded, dazzling early arriving fly-fishing groups. Inshore, there are snapper and pargo including barred pargo and dog-tooth as well as a few mullet snapper (pargo liso) plus white bonito, jack crevalle, and a few pompano.
East Cape is also enjoying early YFT plus a solid billfish bite offshore along with an early show of roosterfish and jacks closer to shore.
More tuna news at Puerto Los Cabos is that there are many more yellowfin sprinkled in with a few dorado. Added to the “how big” category is a monster 348-pound yellowfin caught at the Gordo Banks by a local crew out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina. It is the largest this year!
Down at Cabo, there’s more fun stuff! With yellowfin tuna quite far out, at distances upwards of 20 miles offshore on some days, it has made for a true offshore fishing experience for anglers. Marlin have slowed considerably, but the few persistent marlin hunters have been able to find them. Small game—sierra, roosterfish, grouper, and triggerfish—have also been great fun for those looking to stay closer to shore.
Rereading the above, it sounds like spring has sprung, so go get ‘em!
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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.