Hopefully, the unusually harsh, stormy weather with record-setting, near freezing temps along with rain and snow in the higher elevations won’t be the norm throughout January. The good news is that the drive down the peninsula should be spectacular as the desert explodes in a profusion of greenery seldom seen.
Below the border, the same chilly weather has kept most anglers off the water as storm warnings persist. Once the weather settles down, the bottom fishing from the border to San Quintín should resume, and with a little luck, there will be some yellowtail and bonito around.
The best bet this time of year at the Coronados is for yellowtail, generally deep on the Flats or the weather side of North Island and the rockfish area just to the NE of Pukey. Yoyo iron will likely be the best bet once a school is located.
Bonito are at North Island and in the Ribbon Kelp to the South Kelp area. Anglers trolling X-Raps have had the best success catching them. Rockfish, snapper, as well as a few popular lingcod and colorful sheepshead are also in that same area.
Another option is the “Baja Coast” one-and-a-half-day trips offered on a few boats at the Point Loma Sportfishing Landing in San Diego on the weekends and during the week.
Along the Vizcaíno Peninsula from Bahía Asunción, La Bocana, and Punta Abreojos, there are still some late season yellowtail, sierra, and calico bass around as well as the bottom fishing for a variety of species.
Whale watching season has begun at Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio Lagoon.
The offshore action continues to offer billfish, wahoo, and dorado between storms. Although later than usual, it could last into February, and the same story could happen inside the bay. Also, there was the recent news that whales were spotted at Magdalena Bay at both Puerto San Carlos and Lopez Mateos.
While there are some restrictions on where non-whale watchers can go, there has been some great fishing recently, including my personal favorite — snook.
Up at Bahía de Los Ángeles, despite the north winds, the fair-sized yellows along with pargo, grouper, and other rockfish are biting well. As an alternative, fishing from shore on the windy days is producing some good catches of spotted bay bass along with a few snapper.
At Loreto, when the cold north wind blows into Baja, the fishing gets put on hold for most boats. The commercial handline fishermen brave the cold and don’t mind the bumping and rolling.
The strategy for winter fishing in Loreto is to start the day on the northern end, so if things get difficult, boats can flow with the wind back home!
Recent fishing found the northern spots productive with good numbers of yellowtail, many in the 25-pound range. Where yellowtail are found, a few cabrilla and assorted snapper are often located as well, from the north side of Coronado Island, past Candeleros, and following north to the San Bruno High Spot.
Bait supplies are great and have been all year long. As we swing into 2020, it looks as though it will be a great winter bottom fishing season. The winds will be coming and going — a few days on and a few days off is the cycle to work with when hunting big things that pull on sharp hooks in Baja!
Las Arenas/Muertos Bay, the fishing has mostly been inshore. There’s a decent bite over the rocky spots of five-pound cabrilla as well as snapper and pargo. All are great eating fish. If you are looking for more of a challenge, there’s excellent activity on 10-pound jack crevalle as well as on bonito. The key during the upcoming month will be the strength and frequency of the north winds.
Well, it is winter at East Cape when windsurfers flock to the area for the north winds. Don’t despair! Some fish remain for eager anglers when the winds cease for a few days. There are still a few marlin, tuna, and dorado plus closer to shore, sierra, jack crevalle, and maybe a leftover roosterfish to scratch the “wanna fish itch.”
Off Puerto Los Cabos, the yellowfin tuna seem to be a mixed bunch ranging from football-size to over 100 pounds. Wahoo are also lurking around the Gordo Banks, though they have been finicky; the best bet is to slow troll baitfish, either caballito or chihuil.
Dorado seemed to be a good choice for anglers, on various bait, ranging in sizes up to 20 pounds. Many anglers should be able to catch their two-fish limit and release the smaller fish. Areas closer to shore, such as Punta Gorda and Cardon, are best for the dorado; a few tuna are also found on the same grounds.
On the bottom, it’s smaller red snapper with a few larger ones in the mix. Roosterfish are along the beach, within a mile or less of Puerto Los Cabos Marina. These fish will readily hit on trolled caballito, most of them are under 15-pounds, along with a few much larger jack crevalle, plus, a handful of the sierra. Billfish are very scattered off San Jose del Cabo; surprisingly, there are more sailfish seen than striped marlin.
Striped marlin should begin to show on the Finger Banks as January is when the action usually begins to peak.
There is no reason not to expect the fast-paced dorado bite to continue right through January if the sea temps remain warm. Most of the fish are ranging from 10- to 15-pounds with a few to 30 pounds. The dorado have been from the Old Lighthouse and up the Pacific Coast until Elias Calles. They are taking mostly to live and dead bait, mackerel mainly, as well as various feather lures, blue/white lures, or green.
The yellowfin tuna are being found closer to shore in some cases under schools of porpoise only one to three miles offshore, accompanied by enough tuna to provide limits for some.
For those interested in something not so far from shore, there are ample sierra, small dorado, and football-sized yellowfin tuna plus bonito to target.
Another popular option is fishing from shore for sierra and small pompano from the beach.
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.