“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,”an old Dean Martin favorite, certainly describes the weather conditions in Baja (Norte) recently. However, the enthusiastic Baja anglers refuse to be deterred.
In early February, on a Facebook public group, CLUB DE PESCA TIJUANA-ROSARITO-ENSENADA, Victor Hugo Barraza posted the remarkable achievement of a bluefin tuna caught from the shore near La Bufadora –the first that I’ve ever heard taken from a beach in Baja.
Below the border from the Coronados to Ensenada, anglers enjoyed more fishable days than usual this time of year, yielding limits to fill the freezers along with a few yellowtail, calico bass, and large bonito.
At San Quintín, erratic weather and lack of clients made it difficult to assess the local fishing. That said, the few trips made by local fishermen seemed to confirm that there has been some home-guard yellowtail adding to the dependable bottom fishing, producing gangions of hooks filled with red rock cod with some trophy-sized lingcod. There has also been decent halibut fishing in the bay.
The seasonal north winds have prevailed in the northern section of the Sea of Cortez. The few anglers fishing in the Bahía de Los Ángeles area reported catching home-guard yellows as well as limits of bottom fish. As one BOLA local observed, “There has been a lot of wind this month. However, when the weather improves, the fishing will be good.”
Gonzaga Bay, Santa Rosalía, Punta Chivato, Mulegé, and Bahía Concepión are still pretty quiet as the North Wind does its thing!
However, farther down Mex 1 at Loreto, local and visiting anglers are playing “hide and seek” with the dreaded north wind, lured out by tales of tails – yellow that is, in the 30 to 50-pound class. They are serious tackle breakers, reminding anglers that not every hookup ends with a fish in the boat.
There were some raised eyebrows when a few hard-fighting, prized monster Almaco jacks were muscled up to the side of the panga. All in all, locals and visitors declared the February fishing this year some of the best in recent memory.
As a side note, Marina Puerto Escondido, a few miles farther down Mex 1 from Loreto, opened registration for their May 13 to May 15 Billfish Release and Gamefish Tournament. https://www.mpefishingtournament.com/
Whale watching at Puerto San Carlos and Lopez Mateos has begun to be quietening down after an exciting 90-day run. The grays and their young have started their annual northward journey to Alaska along the Pacific Coast of Baja, California, Oregon, and Washington to Alaska.
Lopez Mateos was buzzing with the great news ricocheting through town that several boats targeting black snook hit the five-fish limit jackpot for their clients three days in a row using live sardines!
In addition to an extended season this year where billfish, wahoo, tuna, and dorado were still cavorting around offshore at Puerto San Carlos, anglers preferring to fish the mangroves continue to score on a mixed bag of fish, which is something to consider for next season.
The north wind dictated the days to fish in the La Paz area. Fishing on the calm days was productive. Yellowtail up to about 25 pounds were feeding off the high spots south of Cerralvo Island and then north around La Reina and La Reynita.
Plus, a few dorado, averaging about 10 pounds, crept into the counts as patches of surface water warmed. Inshore fish, sierra, pargo, lots of Pacific and white bonito, snapper and cabrilla were caught by the few willing to wait out the seasonal winds.
Although a different place, at East Cape, it was the same story! A typical north wind-driven February with kiteboarders grinning more often than the fisherfolks. Some almost spring days lured a few out on their boats, or in some cases, on foot, combining exercise while carrying a fishing rod as they marched up and down local beaches. They were thrilled when their determination was rewarded with a ladyfish, a small jack, a roosterfish, or perhaps a sierra that might end up in the Ceviche served later at the afternoon cocktail hour.
At San Jose, the crazy, unpredictable, cold, and windy month is coming to an end. Springtime is just around the corner, a favorite time of year for locals.
Striped marlin have been found straight out 3 to 5 miles off San Jose del Cabo, as well as around the Gordo Banks, producing multiple catch and releases. Also, dorado are found even closer to shore in the same area. Trolling bait is the best bet, producing limits for many, with sizes ranging up to 15 pounds; a couple of fish were over 30 pounds. There also was a mix of yellow and red snapper, a few Almaco jacks, leopard grouper, white fish, triggerfish, and bonito.
Despite the colder water, there are a few wahoo, mainly from the Punta Gorda area, smaller fish, up to 20-pounds striking bait, and cast jigs. However, they were more of a panga deal than a cruiser; these fish were spooky, often being seen but finicky. Nevertheless, several lucky anglers were still able to catch their five-fish limit.
At Cabo San Lucas, striped marlin continued to be the prime catch and release target, with many boats enjoying double-digit release days.
The dorado are still around and are always fun to catch. If you’re willing to go out 15 to 20 miles, you can find some nice big yellowfin tuna in the area.
The inshore fishing for roosterfish, jack crevalle, and sierra mackerel were outstanding. There were many shots at big roosterfish, and when the rooster fishing was slow, the sierra and jack crevalle kicked in to make the days entertaining.
Hopefully, March will bring an early spring and less north wind. If so, current conditions regarding the different species seem excellent, and there seems to be plenty of forage fish for the pelagics.
Tight lines and send pictures!
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.