January would typically offer a challenge because it is in the middle of winter, but the sea temperatures are holding so far, and the weather (wind and rain) has been minimal.
Imperial Beach Pier
(including the 9 Mile Bank and the Coronado Islands)
Both yellowtail in the 20 to 30-pound range and 5 to 8-pound bonito are biting surface iron. These fish have been popping up on bait balls but stay alert for birds and any other surface activity and watch for sonar marks down around 75 to 200 feet. Also, you might try slow-trolling a couple of live mackerel – one on the surface and the other with a 16-oz. torpedo sinker. Also, having a surface iron rig and a yoyo iron rig ready for immediate use is an excellent idea.
There has also been excellent rockfish action on the 9 Mile Bank. The best technique is to drop into 400 to 700 feet of water, producing lots of bocaccio, Mexicans, bank perch, green spots, and sheepshead.
If whitefish is your target, try Buoy#3 or the Whistler. You want to use squid strips on little hooks as whitefish have small mouths. Some sheepshead are here for anglers fishing with shrimp.
Local pangas are catching large 5 to 10-pound bonitos by trolling DTX Minnows and Rapalas around Punta Banda and down the coast to Santo Tomas. Although they have been at the top of the dwindling catch list, this area also offers good fishing for red rockfish and other deep-water species.
Boats are catching more bonito in this area, with chances for an occasional yellowtail or some calico bass taken on the surface. And halibut below. (Use brown and orange bait).
Bahía de Los Ángeles
A run of late-season yellowtail may carry through into January. Other catches of note recently were 20+ pound white sea bass.
There have been recent reports of quality-sized white seabass caught, plus a huachinango earned the area a place in this month’s report. In addition, whale watching began in early January.
Remarkably, although fewer, the dorado was still active through December, and there seem to still be a few around for the few anglers visiting the area.
Magdalena Bay (López Mateos)
While the offshore action for billfish dwindled, dorado and wahoo continued through December. The mangrove action produced some of the largest black snook we have ever seen, along with various halibut and pargo. Hopefully, the bite will continue.
Cabo San Lucas
Water temps are still around 78 degrees F. Striped marlin remain close, and there are many limits of decent-sized dorado around, including some 40-plus pound bulls!
Boats targeting yellowfin tuna are catching limits with some up to 80 pounds. PLUS, the 20 to 40+ pound wahoo are still biting, and the boats fishing closer to shore release roosterfish and catch sierra mackerel.
Puerto Los Cabos
It is an ideal wintertime climate with little wind and a few cloudy days. Ocean water temperatures now range from 76 to 79 degrees, and we still see excellent action for some of the most popular pelagic gamefish species.
The main target species continues to be dorado, although there is a good chance of catching yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Some fortunate anglers are catching a grand slam of all three during one outing.
Most of our charters focus on the inner Gordo and Punta Gorda. Many boats began their day at Punta Gorda trolling Rapalas and Ballyhoo to catch a wahoo. While some came in empty-handed, a few boats caught wahoo using this technique. The wahoo bite slowed down recently, as we only saw a couple on some days. Usually, after a few hours of trying for wahoo, the boats moved towards the inner-Gordo for dorado and tuna.
Visiting anglers and locals alike have reported good billfish action for sailfish, released striped marlin, dorado limits, and some feisty bonito for most boats to play with.
Inshore sierra, jack crevalle, and roosterfish are options that should continue as long as sea temps remain in the mid to high 70s.
Crazy dorado fishing!!! It’s hard to believe this is “off-season.” School-sized dorado around “10-pounds.” But larger 20 to 40-pound fish are still running around as well. Then, late in the period – sailfish? Yep! Inshore, sierra, bonito, jacks, cabrilla, and a few yellowtail also appeared in the boxes.
Bait stocks have been good when the wind isn’t blowing—nice sardina for live bait.
OUTLOOK: Winds will be coming back, but there are a few windows here and there.
High winds and big swells are common this time of year. However, yellowtail, pargo, and cabrilla, as well as other bottom fish, are all on the menu – weather permitting!
A wonderful day for the yellowtail and bull dorado using Long Milf Knife Jigs, except one.
The bull dorado hit a knife jig, and when it was time to gaff, we saw his partner swimming with him. We threw a Chrome Tady and Hook Up!!! It was a fun day with a better grade of yellowtail! A few were lost to the rocks when we tried to pull them off the bottom.
That’s a wrap for the January prospects, weather permitting. Plenty of action and some trophy-sized fish for the patient angler to hang in there until the right one comes along. Suerte…
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.