By Gary Graham — That Baja Guy
Baja California, Mexico
Formally, there have not been any Mexican State Government decrees or restrictions regarding sportfishing here in Baja. The Marinas at Ensenada were closed and fishing was limited to subsistence for food only.
While the U.S. and Mexico did extend the border closure until July 22, it doesn’t apply to travel by air, water, or rail. All areas in the state are reporting that sportfishing is permitted. And according to most forums, visitors are allowed to drive to the various areas. For latest updates click here. And be sure to purchase your Mexican fishing license prior to departure.
The San Diego Sportfishing Fleet is now running trips below the border both inshore and offshore. The Tijuana Bull Ring is producing calico bass along with a chance for barracuda plus a few yellowtail.
At the Coronado Islands and the Rockpile, the hot yellowtail bite has slowed down. However, there are still a few to be caught.
Offshore from below the Coronados to Ensenada, local fleet boats from Ensenada willing to go the distance are finding bluefin, yellowfin in open water, plus dorado, and yellowtail under some of the kelp paddies.
Other fleet boats are staying closer to shore to exploit the surface action for calico bass and yellowtail, plus limits of bottom fish.
San Quintín is also enjoying good fishing, both inshore for grouper, and lingcod, as well as maybe a yellowtail or two. While offshore the bluefin are well within range for some of the SQ fleet.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, Bahía de Los Ángeles has enjoyed a great spring. Recent visitors have found excellent fishing for grouper, and snapper, as well as some late spring yellowtail to round out their catches.
COVID-19 closures in Baja Sur were lifted mid-June with restrictions for sportfishing and as expected the beach, inshore, and offshore, have produced spectacular results in most of the fisheries on both sides of the peninsula, from tip to the northern border of the state at Guerrero Negro.
Unfortunately, farther down the coast at Bahía Asunción on the Pacific side, the sea temps are frigid by Baja standards.
“Sea surface temperature at the north end of Vancouver Island is 55.7 degrees. Sea surface temperature on the beach in Bahia Asuncion is 55.6. Come on man!!!!” Lamented a local recently. “Several recent trips yielded fat sheepshead and nothing else.”
At Punta Chivato on the Sea of Cortez side, the popular “Bulls Only” tournament that had been canceled, was reinstated at the last minute for a small fleet of ten boats with thirty-one anglers participating. Fortunately, the dorado cooperated, and the two largest fish weighed in at 19- and 20-pounds, respectively.
At Loreto, eager anglers were delighted to find similar action offshore for dorado, and reported seeing both striped marlin and sailfish. However, a few days later the wind howled for several days which forced them to focus on the schools of roosterfish weighing up to 20-pounds and some excellent grouper and snapper action around several different Islands.
At Bahía Magdalena, the Estero fishing has been phenomenal for locals at Puerto San Carlos. Several employees from Mag Bay Lodge reported good catches of snook, grouper, and pargo on a recent exploratory trip.
La Paz captains working north from La Paz Bay, reported yellowtail, pargo and amberjack at the reefs and more dorado are being found including some bulls as sargasso begins to form along the current lines.
At Las Arenas they are finding lots of live bait and good spots of roosterfish between 20-80 pounds. Plus jacks, bonito as well as decent action over structure for barred pargo, dog-tooth, red and yellow and big mullet snapper along with cabrilla. Some small spots of dorado between 5 and 30 pounds also in the mix.
There were big yellowfin, big dorado, whopper roosterfish, and lots of good-sized striped marlin at East Cape.
A 222-pound yellowfin, and a 52-pound bull dorado were taken opening week using caballito, ballyhoo, and squid.
There was also plenty of tuna around, a consistent bite inshore off the lighthouse, and in Rincon Bay in the 20-pound range, within a mile of the beach. They were taking mostly squid.
Outside 20 to 40 miles, schools of porpoise were holding tuna from football-sized to gorillas! The 222-pounder was taken with a kite along with limits of fish from 7- to 40-pounds taken on cedar plugs, Rapalas, and quite a few were taken on squid – the huge one was on caballito.
Big bull dorado was taken recently at the shark buoys off Punta Pescadero. There was light pressure, and the first anglers on the scene were scoring big fish to 52-pounds.
Striped marlin concentrated off La Ribera with some boats releasing as many as seven.
A couple of roosters in the 50-pound class were released off the lighthouse, as well as large roosterfish cruising most Palmas Bay Beaches.
At Puerto Los Cabos Marina, only a handful of boats have been out since the opening, mainly regulars. Best action was found north of Iman Bank, near San Luis and Vinorama; where cleaner water was found in the upper 70s, and caballito, mullet, and ballyhoo were available for bait.
Catches included red snapper (huachinango), amberjack, various cabrilla, dogtooth snapper, bonito, wahoo, dorado, and striped marlin. Most numerous were the red snapper, biting best early in the day. Only a few wahoo were reported. Other strikes were lost, including dorado. Striped marlin action remained steady, but not wide open like in past weeks, and the fish were a bit more finicky.
Although there were only a few boats that went out of Cabo San Lucas, there were still enough fish for everyone. Marlin picked up, and then slowed, only to return with multiple releases for most.
Captain Ty Valli on the 64-foot Chupacabra reported 17 for 26 on striped marlin released, all hitting on ballyhoo; and the custom-built 77-foot Merritt, Artemis, which just arrived in Cabo, went 16 for 23 released. The Pisces 45-foot Chasin’ Tail 2 landed 17 yellowfin and released 4 striped marlin as well. Most tuna averaged from 10- to 35-pounds.
In our “Other” category, we have had some BIG roosterfish (around 40-pounds), with a few sierra mackerel and yellowtail.
Plus fishing from shore has been productive along the beaches as well as inexpensive.
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.