We’ve had typical January weather, unsettled with some welcomed rain and even an unusual snowfall or two in Baja Norte. However, it didn’t deter the promised winter yellowtail bite that ran from the Coronado Islands below the border along the Pacific Coast all the way down to Vizcaíno Peninsula. Adding to the remarkable action in January, February might also offer some unusual opportunities if the weather holds.
Both around Coronado Islands and the area off Ensenada, there are scores of mixed bocaccio, vermilions, coppers, and whitefish taken on live sardines and fresh dead squid, with an occasional yellowtail scattered around some of the usual spots. Sports boats from San Diego are also scoring yellowtail at Colonet on weekend trips.
Locals at San Quintín are enjoying some wide-open yellowtail action at Breakers’ Reef off San Quintín during a break in the weather, as well as limits of bottom fish, including a few sheepshead and lings mixed in with rockfish and reds.
At Laguna Ojo de Liebre, it’s “Whale Ho!” as gray whales settle in for a couple of months in all the lagoons and bays down the coast to Magdalena Bay, much to the delight of the visitors arriving from around the world for their own selfie with mama’s and their calves.
At Bahía Asunción, at least one local angler reminded us that you never have to go farther than along a beach in Baja to scratch your fishing itch. Dig up a sand crab or pull out an artificial lure (white 3.5 Gulp split tail on a 1/- oz. leadhead, for instance) and take a walk. Not only do you get some exercise, you may also find a halibut, corbina or some other candidate for lunch or dinner.
Although it seems a tad late (or early) for a white sea bass this size, this one was landed at Bahía de Los Ángeles recently, so who knows. Wait for a calm day when the North Wind takes a breather and give it a shot. Ya never know!
Even though the North Wind is a common visitor up and down the Sea of Cortez, news from Punta Chivato, Santa Rosalía, and Loreto is that the yellowtail are already making a good showing for the anglers looking for something to tug on; not much surface action, mostly fishing close to the bottom with either live or fresh dead squid and sardina or lures.
At La Paz and East Cape there are a few hard-core anglers among the many wind-surfing visitors. However, the few anglers that were fishing were not disappointed as inshore action on lighter tackle yielded a wide range of species that included a few dorado and even some small roosterfish that were all released.
Over the reefs and rocky areas, there are cabrilla and yellow snapper plus bonito, sierra, jack crevalle and some smaller yellowtail and amberjack.
At Puerto los Cabos, the Gordo Banks has been producing a quality-grade of yellowfin tuna, with a few fish brought in weighing almost 100 pounds. The offshore action for the tuna associated with the porpoise moved out beyond 30-miles offshore, out of range of most local boats.
The billfish action has been scattered, and although they are still being found, they are not in any frenzy like past months. Despite cooler waters, there were even a couple of sailfish hooked into, though the striped marlin averaging 60 to 100 pounds has been most common.
There have also been a few wahoo landed from the La Fortuna area; squid and chihuil were the main bait being used.
In addition, there’s been an occasional smaller-sized roosterfish, sierra, or miscellaneous snapper with a chance of finding a stray dorado close to shore.
The striped marlin fishing continues to produce excellent results overall on the Pacific side with fishing continuing to concentrate around the Lighthouse as the newer center of activity. The fleets reported exceptional counts with most boats averaging 2 to 3 fish per day.
The yellowfin were again showing in the 25- to 30-mile range to the south and southwest and off the Golden Gate – the key is to find the pods of porpoise with most averaging in the 30- to 100-pound range. The dorado fishing softened a bit, but still plenty of flags are flying.
Inshore fishing has continued to produce nice catches of smaller dorado and schools of skipjack with the sierra showing from Solmar to El Arco. Roosterfish are occasionally showing in the surf from Solmar around the point at the Lighthouse and in the Palmilla area.
All-in-all the strong showing throughout January seems to point to another favorable month of sportfishing, both on the Pacific coast and up into the Sea of Cortez. Might be a good time to replace last year’s line on your reels and leaders on your lures!
Gary Graham, That Baja Guy
Questions and comments are always welcome.
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.