Over the past 90 days, COVID-19 has settled throughout Baja, and the port closures have been abrupt and far-reaching. Although most of us have agreed that the decisive actions were unavoidable, we were all saddened when our favorite fishing holes were suddenly off-limits and we eagerly await a rapid resolution to the problem that would allow us to return to Baja. Only local residents, fishing for food, on certain days are permitted to be out on the water.
As it has turned out, the dates of the proposed reopening, seemed like the “Lucy and the football” gag. In April, talks of a May 1 opening began to circulate; this was rapidly followed by a series of revisions as the announced dates crept closer – now June, possibly July, and maybe sometime in the fall, etc.
At the Coronado Islands, schools of log barracuda, bonito, and yellowtail have seemed to thrive and enjoy the Pandemic.
Farther offshore, the bluefin tuna frolic! In addition, the school-sized 15- to 30-pounders, and even some 200-plus pound monsters are coming over the rails.
From Ensenada down to San Quintín, the few boats fishing for food are reporting great bottom-fishing for rock cod, plus yellowtail and calico bass.
It looks like spring is underway at Cedros Island already. This monster white seabass weighed in at 61 pounds! Plus red crab by the millions seems to have improved the calico bass and yellowtail fishing for many of the locals.
Because the fishing is limited to “subsistence fishing” only down the west coast, the reports are mostly limited to word of mouth; however, the volume of both bait and fish has increased all the way down to Land’s End.
Boats fishing on the Pacific side out of Cabo have been scoring limits of yellowfin tuna, and San Jamie and Golden Gate as well, although they are seeing quite a few striped marlin.
On the Sea of Cortez side, beginning up at Bahia de los Angeles, several Baja families elected to shelter in place by camping on the beaches.
Reports of a lot of bait, followed by the early arrival of the seasonal yellowtail, enhanced what was already being described as great bottom fishing for lingcod, pargo, snapper, and some nice-sized grouper.
Farther down the coast at Punta Chivato, there have been reports of an early dorado show that has the residents excited, though it sounds like their annual “Bulls Only” tournament may be postponed. They will post their decision on their Facebook page June 3rd.
At Loreto, sea temperatures are climbing and the striped marlin schools are settling in. Last week’s bunch of billfish have been joined by some others, bringing the total to what one captain described as, “tons of marlin and sailfish.”
These billfish have been hanging out close to town and the big assumption is that there are dorado out in bluer water as well.
Not much talk about triggerfish and pinto bass. Yellowtail and cabrilla are another mystery “blowing in the wind,” at least this week.
According to locals, the current “maybe” date for the launch ramp to open is not really an “opening” date at all, just chatter about “sometime in July.”
At La Paz, the stories of big roosterfish cruising close to shore along the Malecon are tantalizing. Over on the Muertos Bay-side, limits of yellowfin tuna dazzle locals fishing for dinner, along with some dogtooth snapper that were a special treat for many families.
Then at East Cape, a few of the hotels sent out boats to catch some yellowfin tuna for the employee’s families and friends.
There, most of the tuna action took place from Punta Arena down to Rincon, a few miles below the lighthouse close to shore – in fact, so close that at least one of the nice-sized tuna was landed from shore.
A positive sign reported in the area was that the Van Wormer properties were starting their reopening procedure by training their staff. However, again, let me emphasize, no date has been announced.
The beaches at Puerto Los Cabos, have been remarkably productive for the few fishing there. Their catch included sierra, halibut, totoaba, and jack crevalle.
Offshore there were yellowfin tuna plus a few striped marlin, but there were no boats out.
Down at Cabo San Lucas, the boats were having a lot of difficulties acquiring the necessary permits to even catching “substance fish” for their families as they were being limited to only one trip per week.
When they did receive the permits they needed recently, the wind on the Pacific side was brutal. However, the bumpy run up the banks produced more limits of yellowfin tuna.
As promising as all the above was, there is a silver lining of sorts in all of this. Recent whispers and reports seemed to indicate that both sides of the Baja Peninsula, Mother Nature, and her resources have been invigorated by the lack of pressure on the fishery.
This 90-day breather has allowed a remarkable resurgence of large schools of sardine, sardina, mackerel, and caballito into their respective areas which have attracted huge schools of a variety of fish.
Light fishing pressure has allowed the fisheries to blossom everywhere in Baja waters. Above is a screenshot of jacks feeding in the IGY Marina this past week.
The actual video may be watched at the link below:
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.