From the California border to the tip of Baja, hot weather mixed with periodic rain squalls are to be expected throughout August, and along those same lines, the fishing will also be sporadic.
Currently, the Coronado Islands, North Island, Middle Grounds, and Ribbon Kelp are basking in a warm water bubble of 68- to near 70-degrees, while the rest of the area is suffering unseasonably cool temps in the low 60s. Most of the fleet is pounding the warmer water searching for yellowtail, barracuda and a few hefty bonito with favorable results.
Offshore, outside of Ensenada, the water is warm and filled with both blue and yellowfin tuna from the smaller variety in the 20-pound range to OMG-sized fish over 100 pounds that are found foaming on bait balls scattered on the horizon.
The inshore fleet is still cranking out limits of bottom fish and a mixed bag on the surface including yellowtail and a white seabass or two now and then.
A sure sign of summer, the striped marlin are making their northward journey to Southern California. Another promise of things to come as fall approaches has been the rare sighting of a black marlin on the surface offshore from Ensenada.
Plus, the bluefin that were only up west as far as San Quintín are now showing up in the counts for the more ambitious fleet boats out of Ensenada. It must be a good-size body of fish since boats out of San Quintín are also bringing in limits of the mighty tuna. “Charlie” is showing for the fourth straight year after being absent in any quantity for 100 years.
As summer settles in, reports from Cedros Island are encouraging. Yellowtail like this 42-pound mossback along with dozens (or hundreds) of quality calicos released have been an awesome experience for visiting anglers.
On down the West Coast to Magdalena Bay, a fair number of marlin and tuna – both yellowfin and bluefin – have been reported. Meanwhile inshore, the patient anglers at Bahía Ascensión, La Bocana, and Abreojos are reporting yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, and some nice-sized grouper by those who are targeting them.
Closer to Magdalena, the buoys are holding a few dorado, mostly smaller ones with an occasional keeper. Inshore fishing has been good for snook, with pretty good grouper fishing on the outside rocks. Some nice bonito-sized tuna should not be far behind.
Bahía de Los Ángeles is hot, but the yellows are still biting. Haven’t heard much about dorado except the smaller variety at Punta Chivato and Loreto. The pargo, grouper, and cabrilla are always a good backup if the surface action slows.
Loreto is still hoping for a big dorado bite to materialize. Most visiting anglers are settling for a mix of cabrilla, 24-inch dorado, plenty of hookups on 20-pound class toro and a sprinkling of roosterfish.
Marlin and sailfish are hitting some trolled lures with live bait hookups on sighted fish.
La Paz fishing fleets have had some good days for dorado. However, the bite remains inconsistent from day-to-day. The Las Arenas fleet is now picking up the slack with limits of dorado by mid-morning, most of which are in the 10- to 25-pound class. Other catches were bonito, skipjack, jack crevalle, and rockfish like cabrilla and snapper.
The exotics like wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and billfish were fewer with more lost than landed.
At East Cape, the popular “Dorado Shootout” hosted by Van Wormer Resorts was in its 15th year. It was won with a 25.1-pound fish, topping the 14 dorado brought to the scale by the 125 teams participating.
The billfish action overshadowed the dorado along with the yellowfin tuna that are plentiful outside under the porpoise as well as some larger ones off Rincon.
There has also been excellent fishing from the beach for some huge roosters – some of the best in terms of quantity and quality in several years.
At Puerto Los Cabos, more open water trolling is being done offshore, with blue marlin strikes being reported daily, particularly around the 1150 Spot; also, some striped marlin and nicer-sized dorado, to over 40-pounds. There were chances of finding porpoise with associated yellowfin tuna, though nothing consistent for tuna now. Some locals found yellowfin to 60 pounds north of Vinorama.
Closer to shore from Cardon to Vinorama, there were smaller school-sized dorado under 10-pounds, some very small – remember catch-and-release on these small dorado! Limits are two per license. As clean water moves closer to shore, locals are predicting some of the larger bulls will move in; now, most of the larger dorado reported are out on the marlin grounds.
There was also a handful of wahoo landed while trolling offshore. Those looking for surface action now will have to settle for triggerfish and an occasional snapper or Almaco jack off the bottom. Along the shore, there were still roosterfish and jack crevalle, though that action became less consistent and more anglers are opting to target the dorado, the main bite for local charters.
At Cabo San Lucas, billfish fishing increased this month with numerous offshore boats scoring multiple releases per day. Action generally included a mix of blue marlin, striped marlin, and sailfish – averaging two to three per boat. The blue marlin were estimated to be in the 200- to 250-pound range, while the striped marlin averaged 110-pounds.
Dorado numbers have stabilized and were the best so far this year, finally making it feel like summer fishing had arrived. While there were some smaller, of course, there was one 44-pounder, followed by one weighing over 50 pounds.
Add to that a few nice wahoo and yellowtail. Tuna numbers were also good, although not many boats went in search of them. Inshore fishing offered jack crevalle, sierra mackerel, a few red snapper and there are still some nice roosterfish around, including several in the 50-pound range that were tagged and released.
With all of the above, August is shaping up to live up to its reputation as one of THE BEST of the Baja months… if you can stand the heat!
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.