Based only on reports from the San Diego sportfishing fleet that have concentrated above-the-border searching for the bluefin tuna schools, it would be easy to despair. However, considering the latest spotter plane info, there is still plenty to fish for all the way down the Baja Coast on the Pacific side.
At the Coronado Islands there was at least one bluefin caught recently by the fleet that was focusing on the excellent yellowtail fishing. The main zone has been around the lighthouse and into the lee side of South Island, but there are yellows spread up and down both sides of South Island and down the South Kelp Ridge. Most of the fish are cookie-cutter eight-pounders with an occasional 12- to 14-pounder mixed in, along with a rare 20-pound fish.
The yellows are eating live bait very well, and when you are on a meter mark you can often load up on yellows using surface and yo-yo iron. You can also watch for birds working an area and drift or slow-troll with live bait, or troll Rapalas and stop for jig strikes or meter marks, or you can anchor up on a structured spot and let the fish find your chum line (beware of sea lions with this last method, though).
Offshore, both on the high spots and in the open water, there are still ample bluefin strung out all the way to Cedros Island. Watch for the usual signs: bird schools, foamers, or even under kelp paddies. As sea temps continue to climb, expect to see dorado, yellowfin tuna and, of course, the striped marlin that usually arrive during July.
While reports are scant, the Ensenada fleet is filling fish boxes with yellowtail, white seabass, halibut, and barracuda along with lots of bonito around Todos Santos Islands, as well as with the expected good bottom fishing.
While San Quintín has been a slow starter thus far, action will increase as sea temps rise. Down at Cedros Island, the calico bass and yellowtail bite for which the island is famous has begun with remarkable volume and quality.
Below there, Asunción is typically slow getting started – which seems to be the case all the way down to Magdalena Bay except for the esteros, including La Bocana, Coyote, and inside of Mag, where the variety has been exceptional.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, the fishing is mixed but promising. Not sure if Tropical Storm Bud, a weak storm packing a lot of rain but little wind, is partially the cause.
Bahía de Los Ángeles has been plagued with “red tide” recently, but by most accounts it is finally beginning to fade. The good news is bait is around, a welcome change from the past few years. While the yellowtail are sketchy, the bottom critters, grouper, cabrilla, and others, including pargo, are big and biting all the way down the coast past Loreto.
At Punta Chivato, the popular “Bulls Only” tournament was delayed because of bad weather. However, it went off Sunday, June 24th as 14 boats gathered for the flare-gun start, even though the dorado haven’t been wide open. According to Craig Cove, a local homeowner, the three top dorado were: 1st Place with a 38-pounder, Mike Bower; 2nd Place, Don Arnold at 19 pounds; and 3rd, Phil Davis with an 18 pounder—a refreshing change from the glut of small dorado in the Cortez for the past few years.
At Loreto, the yellowtail and the bottom fish have dominated the local fishing with an occasional large dorado to whet the appetite of both local and visiting anglers which should be good news for the “Fishin’ for the Mission” tournament held in Loreto July 5-7.
Jumping ahead, the “Dorado Shootout” will be held later this month at Los Palmas Hotel on July 21 in Los Barriles, BCS.
As we move down the Baja peninsula, the remnants of Tropical Storm Bud are still a factor. At La Paz, as well as Muertos Bay, the quality of the bite can change from day-to-day. Photos of roosters weighing over 50 pounds caught and released all the way to the tip of Baja, are not uncommon. This epic roosterfish bite is one that will probably be talked about for years to come.
Quality yellowfin tuna weighing upwards of 100 pounds are being landed, and of course, there are still plenty of smaller ones as well.
The striped marlin action has included double-digit releases for many serious anglers enjoying the opportunity to hone their fish-fighting skills.
The recent “catch and release” numbers of blue marlin at East Cape and Los Cabos is a good sign that the water is cleaning up and the temperatures are rising.
With the return of the sardina that have been in short supply for the past several years, along with climbing sea temperatures, July is shaping up to be the beginning of a phenomenally HOT Baja summer season for anglers.
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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.