While Southern California anglers content themselves with deep-drop swordfish, added to the always popular winter bottom-fishing scene, one of the most remarkable bluefin tuna years on record below and above the border has finally begun to fade as winter sets in.
Sportfishing continues to shine from the border south down Baja’s West Coast, from Ensenada to San Quintín, offering exciting calico bass action along with some productive bottom fishing including a wide variety of reds, sheepshead, and halibut if your goals are to stock up and fill the freezer. Plus, there’s yellowtail in the mix.
Some lingcod on steroids are even attracting a few of the sports boats from the San Diego fleet along the coast instead of the usual banks farther down the coast.
At the Vizcaíno Peninsula, the winter season has broken wide open! Visiting and local anglers at Bahía Asunción are finding huge mossback yellowtail in the 30- to 40-pound class putting on a seminar, demonstrating how fast they can break off from the rocky bottom. The average seems to be about one landed for every four or five bites. Remember to bring lots of lures!
At Punta Abreojos, it’s the same story, just different species as the grouper bite has exploded. Known for their tenacity, once again, be prepared to be schooled in the art of getting them into the boat.
And finally, offshore at Magdalena Bay fall has once again provided extraordinary striped marlin fishing with double-digit releases being common on tackle ranging from fly to conventional. Plus, it’s wide open on dorado, wahoo, and even some cow-sized yellowfin for anglers looking for variety as well as a street fight on the high seas.
While the offshore has begun its seasonal slowdown, inside the Bay, the small game fishing variety has been exceptional producing an impressive list of fish to target, from the elusive snook to the broomtail grouper and everything in between.
Over on the Sea of Cortez side, up north at Bahía de Los Ángeles, the late season bite has continued through October. There has been great snapper, pargo, and grouper action for the few who took advantage of the good weather window. The yellowtail also cooperated. There may be some weather opportunities in early December if one is looking for a final Baja Adventure in 2020.
At Loreto, the 90-degree, sweltering hot days are gone. The angle of the sun has decreased, and the winter’s north winds are on the horizon.
Fishing action is from good to very good with bottom fishing at all the usual spots and some great surface action between Danzante and Carmen’s southern tip.
An excellent mix of snapper and pinto bass catches continue with fair catches of yellowtail in the rock piles close to town. Fifteen-pound yellowtail are the most common at the fillet table. No word from anyone going to Pulpito for the bigger yellowtail.
The channel between Danzante and Carmen has been boiling with every local and visiting fish school possible. Live sardina are doing the number on dorado as expected, but roosterfish, firecracker yellowtail, and jacks are in the same area. Bonito are also hitting trolled lures for anyone looking for something to pull on.
The water temps are still in the high 70s and the faint, green-colored water is slowly reappearing.
La Paz still has ideal sea conditions and up to 20-pound, hungry dorado, that were easy to find and catch, spread over several areas. When found, you would not have to look any farther to catch limits. Quite a few smaller fish were released. Some of the commercials have reported big tuna breaking at the north end of Cerralvo Island, but no one could get them to bite.
As the skies became hazy and north winds gradually increased, dorado were a bit harder to find so the fleet moved inshore where cabrilla, pargo, snapper, jack crevalle, and sierra took center stage.
However, now that the winds are beginning to blow strong enough from the north, with gusts up to 20 mph, causing white water and a surge creating rideable small waves over La Paz Bay, occasionally, the port captain for safety reasons shuts down all water activities. No fishing. No snorkeling. No diving, etc.
East Cape’s focus seems to be more on kiteboarding than sportfishing as the north winds begin their seasonal visit to the area. Most of the hotels are operating at minimum staff due to Covid-19 protocols.
At Gordo Banks, the big news recently was a super-cow tuna landed after a grueling 3-½ hour battle aboard the 22’ Panga “Nicole,” captained by Eduardo Aripez. It weighed 365-pounds!
Most of the fleet had to be satisfied with a moderate scattered dorado bite, though again, most of the dorado were under ten pounds. Wahoo action was found on the grounds north of Punta Gorda, to Vinorama, but the action was spotty, and mixed sizes of fish were taken, from four-pound sierra to trophy-sized tournament-contending wahoo up to 60 pounds. They were hitting Rapalas, sardina, and yo-yos and more anglers tried their luck with chihuil rigged with trap hooks for trolling.
At Cabo San Lucas, the wahoo and yellowfin are still going strong plus some stripers showed up on the Pacific side, while jacks, roosterfish, and sierra dominated the inshore from Lands End to the Cabo Falso Lighthouse.
Gary Graham -That Baja Guy
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.