Baby, it’s cold (and wet) outside! This certainly seemed to be the theme for northern Baja in February. Still, the sand bass bite down at the TJ Bull Ring is going good, weather permitting. Fresh dead squid pinned on a 1.5- to 2.5-ounce leadhead is scoring legal-sized bass up to 7- and 8-pounds along with some nice calico bass and sculpin outside the kelp line.
Outside at the Coronados the water is dirty and cold at 56- to 57-degrees. Best bet right now is rockfish. The fishing for quality reds continues to be very good to the north and northeast of North Island in 300- to 450-feet of water. The Lower 9 is working as well. A small number of 10- to 20-pound lingcod are being caught too.
Best bait for the larger reds and lingcod is a hot, live sardine or mackerel fished on a single dropper loop rig with a long 3- to 6-foot leader. Squid is working as well for the rest of the fish.
Same story and technique at Ensenada with bottom fish dominating the catch and with an occasional yellowtail or bonito mixed in.
San Diego sport boats found pretty good fishing off Colonet for 15- to 25-pound yellowtail on yoyo iron at the High Spot. Along with the yellows, the boats found large schools of big bonito chasing bait and all scored limits of big reds and another mixed red rockfish, along with a few 10- to 20-pound lingcod.
At San Quintín, the beat goes on for limits of yellowtail along with good bottom fishing.
If “Whale Watching” is still on your bucket list, now’s the time! All the bays beginning at Guerrero Negro and stretching all the way down to Magdalena are reporting great conditions and plenty to see.
At Bahía Asunción, recently, there have been mossback-size yellowtail for the locals who can enjoy the luxury of dallying a day or two until the right weather comes along.
On the Sea of Cortez side, from San Felipe all the way to Bahía de Los Ángeles, chilly north winds punctuate the few reports coming from the area. The good news is maybe next month it will warm back up and the locals and the few visitors can get back out on the water.
At Loreto, the chill is less, and the northers come and go. More boats are out looking for the big blue whales than boats that are hunting the big yellowtail.
It’s that time of year in Loreto and lots of people come from far and wide to get close to blues, fins, and humpbacks.
Fishing has been consistent for yellowtail at most of the expected rock piles and high spots. Not “limit action” yet, but things are looking good for a solid late-winter/early-spring explosion.
Magdalena Bay is mostly “whale watching” for the crowds visiting. However, anglers rejoice with lots of action on a variety of fish including pargo, cabrilla, snook, and corvina.
More wind in La Paz with only a few out fishing on the two decent days. There were bonito along with small roosterfish and even dorado and tuna which are unusual during the colder, windier months.
Down at East Cape, poor conditions persisted for most. Best catch of the week with a photo to prove the rumor that there were some nice-sized yellowtail that have been scarce so far this winter.
At Puerto los Cabos, the Gordo Banks’ Fleets have been fishing from Chileno, Palmilla, Gordo Banks, Punta Gorda and north to Iman Bank. Water temperatures cooled off some, down to the 70- to 72-degree range, and clarity has remained good. The most constant action was found closer to shore.
There have been encouraging signs of yellowtail action; the inshore areas off Chileno and Santa Maria were producing good numbers of smaller-sized yellowtail with trolled hoochies and smaller-sized Rapalas with most of these fish in the 3- to 8-pound class.
There was decent wahoo action close to shore off Punta Gorda and the Iman Bank where fish ranged up to 40 pounds. They were striking on slow-trolled bait and yo-yo jigs. Dorado action was very good. Same deal. More dorado ranging up to 15-plus pounds were found closer to shore and many boats scored as many as three to five dorado which must be considered very good since this is not the normal season for them.
Inshore action also produced a few roosterfish to 15 pounds, jack crevalle to 20 pounds, sierra, bonito and needlefish. Deeper, the fish have been smaller-sized red snapper, hogfish, triggerfish and an occasional leopard grouper or amberjack.
Small game catches have filled the gap as billfish action slowed recently. The sierra mackerel have made a strong showing, along with roosterfish and some yellowtail too. Other catches have included amberjack, skipjack, red snapper, and triggerfish. Dorado have also made a little bit of a comeback, compared to previous weeks where percentages of dorado caught were slim.
February threw us some curves, for sure. I can’t remember a month that I received as many photos of snow in Baja. Predictions seem to indicate the return to normalcy in the upcoming weeks. I don’t think the fish are gone—just down. Tight Lines and maybe I‘ll see you at Fred Hall.
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.