“September might become the 2022 sportfishing month to remember!”
Over the past five years, dorado caught on the West Coast of California, and all of Baja have been smallish, to say the least. Well, it seems that the drought is over! The number of dorado caught and released this season has been extraordinary. So, don’t be greedy!!! Keep one, and let the rest go for brood stock!
The final event of “The Copa de Baja” tournament – the Grand Finale – will be on September 23 and 24, 2022. Ensenada will be hosting the winners of the three previous events held in Bahia de Los Angeles, Gonzaga, and San Quintin. The weigh-in is always entertaining if you are in the Ensenada neighborhood!
During the recent The San Quintín “Copa de Baja,” reports focused on yellowtail, lingcod, white seabass, and halibut. Which should bode well for the coming month.
The season is in full swing at Cedros Island, with plenty of trophy-sized yellowtail dominating the catches with excellent calico bass and halibut, according to several operations.
At Lopez Mateos, the Fall Mangrove action for snook, sierra, and fat triggerfish are crowd pleasers for recent visiting fly anglers, while dorado action provides limits for many offshore.
As summer settles in, Bahía de Los Ángeles is hot in more ways than one. According to Captain Pancho at Daggett’s, yellowtail lead the way with backup from grouper and other bottom fish, including a halibut or two.
Santa Rosalía and Mulegé have been quiet. Maybe the August heat forced locals to remain in the AC range.
At Loreto, dorado continue to dominate the catch for locals and visitors alike. If you want to catch dorado, you have to get sardina (plenty of bait is available) and head in any direction out into the Sea.
There must be some crazy action out in the deep blue water, but everyone seems content with picking away the local hordes of medium to 12-pound fish as close as Coronado Island.
At La Paz, the dorado is 98% of the catch with a few 20 to 30-pounders in the mix. You can pick up fish here and there or fish in a wide area all day. Or you can hit that one school and have dorado mayhem until your bait is gone and the fish box is full. Many smaller fish are getting thrown back.
Not much else is showing up in the reports. There are a few marlin and wahoo hookups, but nothing landed, and most bites were incidental. The few times that folks fished the rocks, they found pargo, cabrilla, and even some pompano.
The Bisbee East Cape Offshore had an impressive 97-team turnout, and the 2022 season began with a MILLION-DOLLAR-plus winner!
Team Stella June’s 375-pound black marlin caught on the second day of the 3-day Bisbee East Cape Offshore event earned the Team an enormous $1,286,385 payday.
“We were excited to get back to normal this year after two years of COVID restrictions, and judging by our turnout, so were our Teams,” commented Wayne Bisbee, Tournament Director.
This year’s 97 ECO Teams competed for a record-shattering $1,614,425 in cash prizes.
The 2022 Van Wormer Wahoo Gold Cup had 43 teams with 137 anglers searching for a prize-winning wahoo to take to the scale. By the time the scale closed late in the afternoon, six qualifiers were weighed in.
Congratulations to Team Pinche Aviles! They brought the largest wahoo for weigh-in – a 42.4-pounder. That was enough for Tournament Director Kit McNear to declare them the Official winners of the 2022 Wahoo Gold Cup. The Team took home a 2022 Volkswagen Polo, in addition to $50,000 USD, which included all four jackpots.
During September, visitors expect billfish, dorado, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and roosterfish from or close to shore.
At Gordo Banks, anglers will find a similar catch list to target. But, again, light crowds of anglers rely on sporadic supplies of sardina and slabs of squid, plus ballyhoo, for available bait sources. The center of fishing action has been from Cardon and the Iman Bank. The highlights were the finicky yellowfin tuna schooling on these grounds.
Most of the tuna have ranged from 40 to 115-pounds. The tuna were too shy to strike leaders any larger than 60-pounds. Some charters used 40-pound leaders to increase chances, though larger fish were also lost due to light leaders.
Mostly small dorado that should be released, still a handful of large bulls to 40-pound being caught, just not like the epic action early in the month.
Wahoo were scarce, sluggish to bite in the warm 86-degree water. Nevertheless, a few wahoo were caught every day, most striking Rapalas or ballyhoo. Weights ranged from 15 to 35-pounds.
Most anglers spent most of their time targeting the yellowfin tuna, as lots of patience and persistence were needed.
Not much action was found off the bottom. There were more triggerfish and bonito than anything else – along with a few cabrilla, amberjack, and snapper.
Some bull dorado in the 20 to 45-pound class were mixed in with the smaller dorado, along with some nicer-grade of tuna. Also of note was a 388-pound black marlin on the 28′ Andrea from the Pisces Fleet.
The striped marlin bite has picked up again at the Golden Gate after a week or so lull, mostly on cast live bait. The top boat this weekend was Pisces 37′, BBII, which released 13 striped marlin, and landed 5 dorado! Another vessel, Pisces 60′, Happy Ending, released 16 marlin in two days – plus (dorado) Mahi, too!
Angler Billy Morris, along with angler Frank Stathos and Capt. Jaime (Tonchy) Gonzalez, JR., at the helm (father and son duo), aboard Tonchy’s vessel, a Sea hunter Center Console, “Cabo Commander,” headed out and fished live skipjack in search of the prized billfish! And although Billy had always dreamed of landing one black marlin, as his luck would have it, they landed two on the same day!
Tonchy estimated the largest fish at 650-pounds and the other at about 380. Both were successfully released!
This Baja September seems promising to be the one to remember!
Gary Graham-That Baja Guy
Cellular (760) 522 3710
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.