The recent visit of Tropical Storm IVO is a reminder that September is the peak of hurricane season in Baja, often altering the fishing prospects along the Pacific Coast of Baja briefly. It’s worth noting that Hurricane Odile in September of 2014 rewrote the record books, as it was the most powerful tropical hurricane to ever make landfall on the Baja California peninsula.
Major hurricanes very seldom make landfall on the Baja peninsula; Odile was only the third since 1948. That said, much more common are the near misses that can play havoc with the fishing conditions.
After a better than usual couple of weeks, the Coronado’s are plagued with streaky, cold green water. Hopefully, that will change as IVO recedes farther in the rear-view mirror.
Offshore, below the border, all the way to Cedros there have been yellowfin tuna with some 20- to 50-pound bluefin mixed in, and no reason to expect it to end until later in the fall.
Inshore along the Pacific Coast, the rockfish dominate the Ensenada fishery with limits being the norm. However, farther down the coast, locals at San Quintín are predicting exciting fishing as fall looms.
The fleet has been finding tuna offshore, plus a few white seabass, calico, and some bucket-mouthed-sized ling cod. One angler, fishing the bottom, hooked into something that seemed heavier, that took a while to bring to the surface. It turned out to be a black sea bass estimated to weigh around 160 pounds.
Over at Bahía de Los Ángeles, as you might expect, almost every conversation begins with “It’s Hot!” The good news is that the mackerel are thick and close to the ramp. Always a good omen this time of year – actually any time of the year.
According to visitors and locals alike, there are ample yellowtail and dorado, plus the bottom stuff that will make you feel like the 30 minutes spent making bait was worth it.
Loreto is also dealing with heat after the IVO rains. The fish, mostly short dorado, are thick and close to town. Dorado, typically, are in the 24- to 32-inch range, and this has been consistent for four years or more, leading some to suspect the area has become a dorado nursery. Skipjack and marlin are in the mix for anglers lacking the patience to sit and soak sardina in the hot sun at the nursery school.
Another option is catching roosterfish either with artificials, poppers, or even flies for the daring. The other option is drifting a cabillito for the larger roosterfish or a sardina for the smaller ones.
Over at Magdalena Bay, prime time is still a few months away, but the teasers are already out. The few boats fishing offshore are scoring limits of dorado and wahoo for starters. Add an occasional striped marlin and a few yellowfin tuna to the list to complete the early season tease.
Inside the bay, there have been a few snook caught, and in most cases, released, which might be a tad earlier than usual, but there seems to be a lot of bait in the bay and offshore. This is an encouraging sign of things to come in the next few months.
Down at Los Cabos, there have been some yellowfin tuna weighing over 200 pounds that have been landed. Some larger dorado are in the mix, not like the good old days, but enough to be interesting.
Many of you don’t share my fascination with billfish, but some of the recent back-to-back catches of blues, blacks and multiple stripers around the tip of Baja have been impressive which is a good omen for the various tournaments held in October and November.
The year 2019 has already established itself as the year of the huge roosterfish estimated to weigh well over 50 pounds — from the Pacific side up to Muertos Bay on the Sea of Cortez side; the catches and releases of the larger roosterfish have been incredible from both the shore and boats.
Speaking of Muertos Bay and La Paz, after a summer of the better grade of dorado being a no show, suddenly they arrived! The volume and size have been exciting. The fish are decent-sized from 8 to 20 pounds — mostly with some even larger up to about 25 or 30 pounds. Plus, the fleet at Muertos has discovered some quality 20- to 40-pound yellowfin near Cerralvo in addition to wahoo in the same area.
The bottom line is that September is shaping up to be unique! Keep an eye on the fishing and weather reports and choose your trips and destinations for what may be a September to remember.
Gary Graham, That Baja
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.