From the Border to San Quintín, recent conditions have been cold and rainy, with dirty water everywhere.
However, before the weather went sideways, some interesting tidbits had been found here and there.
For example, in all the years I’ve been writing about Baja, I have never received a report of a yellowtail landed from the Rosarito Beach Pier until recently!
Before the weather became cold and rainy at Ensenada, big bonito between 6 and 10 pounds were reported. Good to excellent surface action was found under birds feeding on baitfish about five miles from the Island coming out of the Ensenada Harbor. In addition, there was good fishing for reds, chocolates, and calico bass from 2 to 5 pounds. Note: Three bait boats were wrapping bait, all within five miles of Erendira.
At Colonet, the boats saw no signs of yellowtail. However, they did see a significant quality of reds and lingcod.
San Quintín, Gonzaga Bay, and BOLA all continued with the theme of the stormy weather.
Farther down the Baja Peninsula, below Guerrero Negro, the whale watching season is underway from Magdalena Bay down the Pacific Coast of Baja Sur to Cabo and back up the East Coast of the Sea of Cortez to Loreto where the blue whales have been frolicking.
Locals report that the fishing has improved immensely for yellowtail and various bottom fish!
Lopez Mateos/Magdalena Bay
While whale watching remains the primary focus in all of Magdalena Bay, fishing in Puerto San Carlos and Lopez Mateos continues to be off the charts for the few anglers who would rather fish than watch.
At Cabo San Lucas, the phenomenal billfish bite remains the highlight. Some boats continue to rack up double and a few triple-digit releases in a single day. In addition, an excellent dorado or occasional yellowfin tuna bite can also be found offshore. While inshore, look for dorado, sierra, and even yellowtail.
Puerto Los Cabos
The most common catches now are dorado, striped marlin, and a mix of bottom species, and for a few fortunate anglers, a handful of yellowfin tuna found near the Iman Bank. The dorado have been spread out, from inshore to offshore. No large schools, mainly single fish with sizes up to 20 pounds, are striking on trolled lures and various bait. Striped marlin have also been found spread out, seen tailing on the surface, or hooked on blind strikes while trolling. There have not been large concentrations of bait schools to create surface-feeding frenzies, as many of the local Cabo San Lucas fleets are now fishing on the same grounds off of San Jose del Cabo.
The best chance for yellowfin tuna was to concentrate all efforts on the Iman Bank, chumming and drift fishing with squid strips. Though the bite was tough, a lot of patience was needed. Plus, a sufficient supply of squid was also required.
Some days the bite was early, some days late, or on other days never happened at all. The yellowfin we saw accounted for ranged from 25 up to 75 pounds.
Not much consistent bottom action was found. The highlight we saw was one 37-pound amberjack, mainly bonito, smaller-sized pargo, leopard grouper, whitefish, and triggerfish.
At East Cape, it’s been a windy winter! However, the Sea calmed down a couple of weeks ago. Both local and hotel boats were out on the water, taking advantage. They’re being rewarded with excellent fishing for this time of year!
The close inshore drop-offs from the hotel south to La Ribera have produced quality yellowtail from 20 pounds. Some nice dorado are also found very close to shore, and striped marlin are around and biting as usual.
Live bait has been hard to get or make, so almost all the fish were taken on ballyhoo, iron, or trolled lures.
Still, no one is fishing because of the stormy weather. However, our whale-watching season is well underway as we take clients out to the Pacific side at the north end of Bahía Magdalena. Lots of whales this year, and clients are having a great time!
Blue whales, blue whales, blue whales! Almost every tourist boat has been hanging out with the giant creatures this week.
Yellowtail fishing has been fair for the local captains. Lobo and San Bruno are the action spots.
Captain “Gali” is calling that the “start of the serious action won’t begin until we slide out of February.” Warmer water and calmer winds will be a welcome change!
The surface action that has been happening all over the area revolves around feeding baitfish. When the water flattens out, you can see 2-inch long, foaming “Sardina swarms” that go on for acres.
Mulegé and Conception Bay
Recently, yellowtail have been eating smaller bait. They have scattered from high spots in deep areas. As a result, they are being caught close to shore and in boils.
Laguna Ojo De Liebre is closed for dangerous wind conditions…dang it! This shuts down whale watching temporarily.
Looking forward to March, the unusual winter weather will hopefully fade as a bad memory, and the Baja sun will return and warm up the fishing.
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.