November 2018 Baja Fishing Report

Baja Fishing Report Gary GrahamWith all the offshore yellowfin and bluefin tuna, along with dorado and an occasional striped marlin to spice things up offshore, the Coronado Islands have had little traffic. That said, the weather side of North Island and the Gun Site area have had decent numbers of big bonito, but boats haven’t seen any signs of yellowtail.

As for rockfish, the spot just NE of North Island and the area SW of South Island are your best.

Winter fishing is on the horizon; sea temps are falling as the pelagics begin to slide down the west coast of Baja.



The kelp beds from the Bull Ring all the way to Ensenada are producing some good calico catches plus the expected good bottom fishing for lingcod, reds, whitefish and other mixed red rockfish.

There’s still surface action for the fleet at Ensenada for small yellowtail, barracuda and bonito with an occasional white seabass, with more of the same all the way to San Quintín. There are still some yellowfin farther offshore according to private sport fishers transiting up and down the coast.

For the most part, the sportfishing operations at Cedros have closed for the winter.



The Vizcaíno Peninsula is enjoying an extended fall. A few wahoo and yellowfin tuna are the buzz.

The “billfish pileup” that Gene Kira wrote about years ago is underway once again at Magdalena Bay with double-digit releases being common, plus enough wahoo and yellowfin tuna to keep everyone in ample seafood dinners during their visit.

Farther down, there’s excitement at the Finger Bank, 50 miles above Cabo San Lucas, where billfish catches are happening several months earlier than usual.

Not much is heard from San Felipe; however, Bahía de los Ángeles is enjoying some late fall dorado that are sliding as they follow the receding warmer water.



Punta Chivato part-time residents, Craig and Theresa Cove, reported that in a recent two-week stay, wind kept them off the water most days. When they made it out, they were disappointed by the lack of dorado or marlin. A honey hole near shore produced a handful of different species including skipjack, jack crevalle, cabrilla and grouper. On the windy days they had a blast fishing with light spinning tackle off the beaches and caught a variety of fish.

At Loreto there is plenty of nice, warm water and a sprinkling of dorado. The problem with the dorado, however, seems to be where they surface on any given day.



The rocky points all around Loreto are home to cabrilla, various snappers and pargo. Chumming up the points with sardina got the water boiling with swirling tails and full-blown aerobatics! Shallow-running hard baits like the Rapala X Raps produced a click more hooked fish than live sardina.

The four-inchers did the trick on light line cast almost on the rocks. The recent hot color was pink mackerel! Roosterfish and sierra are the best catches along the shore lines with a few toro mixed in.



La Paz continues to deliver an impressive variety of wahoo, pargo, and roosterfish still as the North Winds begin their sporadic return and will be in full force by next month.

At Los Barriles, yellowfin tuna burst into the spotlight just in time for the popular Van Wormer Tuna Shootout at the end of October where 46 teams/160 anglers competed for $55,955 in prizes. The winner was Victor Locklin (w/ Luis Beltran and Juan Amudor) with his 76.7-pound yellowfin tuna that earned him and his crew $15,750.



Honorable Mention was Team #19 fishing on the Mako. Anglers Marty Satow, Robert Tybor, and Jason Coniglia brought in a 305-pound tuna just under an hour after the scales closed.

In Cabo San Lucas, there were several more tournaments featuring billfish, dorado and yellowfin tuna.



Team Sea Angel won the 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament. Thanks to their 28 striped marlin releases and one blue marlin release, the “Sea Angel” won $113,500 plus an invitation to the 2019 Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica. This first time in the history of the LCBT that a winning team won without killing a fish.

The Los Cabos Offshore Tournament, formerly the “Baby Bisbee,” also made history in October. Only five black and blue marlin were brought to the scale out of a total 150 billfish hooked during the two-day event. Not one billfish was brought to the scale that didn’t meet the qualifying weight of 300-pounds — somewhat of a record. And added to that is the fact that 145 billfish were released in the two-day event.

Wayne Bisbee noted. “Seven tournaments throughout the world have broken through the Million Dollar ceiling. The Black and Blue was the first to ever do it back in the ’90s! However,” Bisbee announced, “now the LCOT has achieved a payout of more than One Million Dollars making it the 8th tournament in the world to crack that Million Dollar ceiling!”



And finally, the 38th Annual Bisbee Black and Blue was plagued with slow fishing blamed on Cat-3 “Willa” that passed by to the south. The 3-day event with 114 teams weighed in only two black marlin and one blue marlin. The first-place award was the second largest amount ever paid out in the history of Big Billfish tournaments in the world.



$3,004,900 High Team – Chinito Bonito, angler Charlie Lee and team aboard the “Chinito Bonito” weighed in a 510-pound black.

$544,250 Second Place – 395-pound black marlin, Team 4 Yahoos, angler Max Briggs, Frank Halcovich, Scott Kincaid and Walter Neil on the
“Reelin & Deal’n.”

$44,175 Third Place – Boat “True Grit” – 308-pound black marlin, Team True Grit, angler Jim Putman, Rey Aguirre, Kai Hoover, Bret Miller and Kevin Nakamaru.


Gary Graham, That Baja Guy

Questions and comments are welcome.


gary grahamWith 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.




One thought on “November 2018 Baja Fishing Report

  1. chris allick says:

    hey gary,
    im heading to La Bocana in november. its on the pacific side of baja directly west of punta chivato.

    im a fly guy and curious what i might be targeting. i think most people are using conventional tackle.

    any tips or suggestions i can make to the guides?

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