Massive schools of bluefin tuna are in easy range below the border, providing anglers with incredible early season action.
Near-limits to limits are the norm for those heading offshore. These quality fish range from 60- to 150-plus pounds and are in range of private boats out of Ensenada as well as San Diego.
At the Coronado Islands, yellowtail from about 7 or 8 to 18-pounds (with the vast majority somewhere in the middle) are being caught. As for bonito, there are some 2- to 3-pounders along with 7- to 10-pounders, plus a few monsters up to 17-pounds. Occasionally, the big ones are winning the jackpots on the sports boats.
Watch for big spots of birds sitting on the water. They are often on top of red crab and there are yellowtail and a mixed-grade of bonito very likely close by.
The yellows are being caught on yoyo iron, surface iron, dropper loop sardine/mackerel, and the fly line, or with a small slider added. Private boats are also doing well with the slow-trolled sardine/mackerel; some are scoring while trolling the Rapalas and Nomad plugs, too.
At Ensenada, the mainstay bottom fish have been joined by yellowtail, barracuda, and bonito, providing visiting and local anglers with several choices. There have even been a few trophy-sized white sea bass added to the growing list of spring species.
It appears that San Quintín is finally beginning to heat up as well. Limits of yellowtail are common with a nice mix of calico plus a healthy list of bottom grabbers including enough lingcod to round out the catch.
Some say that silence is golden; however, for me, it indicates that below San Quintín along the Pacific Coast to Magdalena Bay folks seem to be catching their breath after a banner whale-watching season. Little or no word from Bahía Asunción aside from a report of sea-temps in the high 50s and a mix of calico bass, sheepshead and white fish taken by local anglers according to Shari Bondy. This information is probably similar to that in reports from La Bocana to Abreojos and down to Magdalena Bay.
On the Sea of Cortez side, as north winds seem to be in the last gasp stage, Bahía de Los Ángeles has been silencio for several months with few scraps of fishing news.
Most fishing news for the upper area has been from the Gonzaga neighborhood. That makes some sense as it is much more accessible to the BOLA. It seems to have become a favorite “go-to spot” for those San Quintín captains and other residents who are not interested in off-road biking and need to scratch their sportfishing itch.
By all accounts, a steady stream of anglers has been rewarded with some spectacular fishing, producing trophy-sized gulf grouper, cabrilla, snapper, and other assorted rockfish to fill their ice chests.
While the north wind was a factor that might dictate staying close to shore or fishing “morning’s only” for a few days, there were ample days of slick, calm weather (at least for the mornings) to delight visiting anglers who were surprised to find good yellowtail action as well as some corvina on the surface.
Loreto also managed to offer visitors some quality mossback yellowtail up to 40-pounds or so, along with good cabrilla around the islands and along shore outside of town.
La Paz and Muertos Bay seem poised for a quick start as May slips in. The areas are already producing a few nice-sized yellowfin tuna and fantastic inshore fishing including trophy-sized cabrilla and pargo (big mullet snapper and barred pargo) as well as yellowtail, yellow snapper, several species of bonito and jack crevalle; most were caught either with live bait or by slow-trolling Rapalas over the shallow rocky areas close to shore.
Also, of note are the results some of the fly fishers are having with Gary Bulla – they are reporting big roosterfish.
As well, was the remarkable catch of not one, but two wahoo taken on the fly in the space of one hour while the anglers were targeting roosterfish and jacks. Now that’s a bucket list catch!
Additionally, blue water species like dorado and wahoo also bit and one angler nailed a 108-pound yellowfin tuna (he had a scale) on a caballito that he fought for two hours.
Following that theme, East Cape is just beginning to heat up with a few tuna, wahoo and several large roosterfish landed from shore on the fly.
Below there, at Marina Puerto Los Cabos and Cabo, the recent off-color and cooler water has dampened the offshore action for billfish. Though of some note, there was a fish caught weighing 814-pounds, measuring almost 15 feet long and nearly 6 feet around – the largest fish seen in several years!
Inshore at Cabo, a few dorado were sprinkled into the catches of sierra, roosterfish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and yellowtail.
With May’s arrival, conditions indicate that Baja sportfishing is just about ready to bloom. Hopefully, this year’s season will live up to the glowing predictions from various locals up and down Baja’s Peninsula. Stay tuned…
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.