So far as 2021 settles in, the weather has remained a factor for the few boats venturing below the border to fish during the decent weather windows. They found good calico, sand bass, and barracuda.
Offshore, along the coast from the bull ring to Ensenada at the Coronados, bottom fishing produced limits of reds and lingcod for those opting to target those due to the lack of yellowtail.
Anglers eager to begin fishing offshore had high hopes for their catches on party boats from both San Diego and Ensenada. Also, the private boats traveling west of Colonet returned with rockfish, bonito, and yellowtail as well as a large bluefin tuna. The local boats at San Quintín failed to score on the yellowtail so they resorted to lingcod, and red rock cod, along with calico and bonito at the Island.
During March, Gonzaga Bay, a popular early spring spot will begin its winter/spring season a little closer to the Border for visiting anglers. My amigo, Captain Juan Cook from San Quintín, took a short trip to Gonzaga Bay to make sure all was good. He will be based at the Bay beginning in early March through late May. He and his family spent the night at Rancho Grande Hotel (for room availability ask at the Rancho Grande Market). They stopped by Campo Papa Fernandez and had a chat with Gonio — who confirmed the launch ramp is open and so is their restaurant, though it offers take-out only.
They visited Campo la Poma where Sr. Luiz has built a new restaurant for his wife, Clementina. It’s still a work in progress but they are serving food already — Clementina’s way, and it is yummy! Campo Punta Bufeo Hotel is open. It’s a bit primitive but it works in a pinch. Bring your own lamp, but there is lots of hot water.
Meanwhile, at Bahía de Los Ángeles some large halibut surprised visiting anglers overshadowing the normal yellowtail and the bottom fish that are expected as winter begins to fade and spring begins to creep in.
At Bahía Asunción, the explosive winter yellowtail bite has slowed but it will be remembered until the yellowtail return later in the year. Locals and visitors alike are prowling the beaches in search of corbina and halibut. When found, they can draw a crowd quickly! Down a bit farther at Punta Abreojos, the target has been good-sized grouper.
At Magdalena Bay, the wide-open striped marlin is also last month’s news as the spotlights turn to the unusually late wahoo bite that developed recently. We are not sure how long it will continue. However, the mangroves in the bay are always an option this time of year.
Back on the Sea of Cortez side at Bahía Concepción, the weather is promising and the yellowtail, along with a variety of other bottom fish, are keeping anglers entertained. Just below Bahía Concepción at Loreto, some trophy-sized yellowtail arrived as winds decreased.
At La Paz, the temps are in the low 70s, with sunny skies and mostly moderate seas; the few anglers visiting were able to get on the hot yellowtail bite that’s been going on for several weeks. There aren’t many tourist anglers as this is off-season, but captains and their families, plus locals from La Paz and as far as Los Barriles (the East Cape) to the south, were enduring the long boat ride to get in on the action.
The locals suggest that it’s one of the best yellowtail bites seen in years with fish running from 10- to 25-pounds, biting yo-yo and knife jigs as well as sardina when available. Some reported they lost larger fish in the heavy structure and the waters are not especially deep.
At San José del Cabo, boats were searching the grounds from Chileno, Palmilla, Gordo Banks, and north towards San Luis. The most consistent bite was found while working the bottom. With the cold water, there was not much surface activity found, as dorado, tuna, wahoo, and marlin seem to have gone missing. During March, as the days progressively become longer and warmer once again, the sea temps should become even warmer, and the forage and surface fish should return.
In addition to one bluefin trevally, there was a 50-pound class roosterfish landed and released from a super panga trolling near the marina jetty entrance along with an unusual California sheepshead seldom found this far south. Most of the focus has been on a wide variety of bottom fish that end up on the fillet tables. Yellowtail, Almaco jacks, red and yellow snapper, grouper, sheepshead, bluefin trevally (rare in local waters), Pacific tilefish, triggerfish, roosterfish, sierra, black skipjack, spotted rose snapper, and even a couple of wahoo and dorado that seem out of place in the cooler water.
Offshore at Cabo San Lucas, fishing has been sketchy for billfish, the larger dorado, and yellowfin tuna recently. Those in search of billfish found a decent volume at the Potato Bank 50 miles to the northwest from the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Even farther up the line near Magdalena Bay, there were acres of feeding stripers with a few dorado and wahoo mixed in.
Meanwhile, most of the fleet remained local, closer to shore while picking through schools of small yellowfin and dorado to find a few larger ones to keep. Then finishing up their day fishing the various pinnacles dotting the coastline on the Pacific side, the seldom-seen, and even rarer-caught, Pacific Hawkfish was caught from shore.
While the past few weeks have been unexpectedly slow offshore, sea temps are creeping up here in Cabo as well, and local Captains are expecting a return to normal in early March.
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.