Baja Fishing Report - Fall 2014
By Tom Gatch
Avid Baja angler, Jay Johnson and Capt. Beto Zamora show off another great panga catch. Photo: Vonny’s Fleet
When scientists predicted that El Niño conditions would prevail along the Eastern
Pacific coast this summer, they weren’t kidding. As it turns out, surface water
temperatures have been running a good 6 to 7 degrees above normal as southerly
hurricanes continue to push warm, tropical water up the Baja California coast and
on into U.S. territory. For those fishing from pangas between La Salina and San
Quintín, it has meant having periodic access to a few offshore species, such as
yellowfin tuna and dorado, which are usually beyond their range.
In Punta Banda, Vonny’s Fleet Sportfishing reports an occasional showing of football
sized yellowfin, but indicated that their clients have also been hooking up regularly
with quality grade yellowtail and large bonito, along with some chunky calico bass
and a few nice halibut. Capt. Louie Prieto, of Its4Reels Sportfishing in Ensenada
says that the offshore bite continues to be on fire, with a few big tuna over 90
pounds being brought over the rail by his customers.
Capt. Kelly Catian takes care of a quality yellowfin tuna that just came over the rail. Photo: K & M Sportfishing
To the south, K & M Sportfishing operating out of Bahía San Quintín has been
having fantastic success offshore as well. Yellowfin tuna have been their primary
blue water target, but bluefin tuna and dorado have been showing up in the catch
as well. Closer to shore, the yellowtail bite is good, as has been the fishing for big
white sea bass just off of Socorro Beach a couple miles down. As always, there
are also plenty of rockfish and lingcod available for those who like dropping to the
bottom to catch ‘taco material’.
Isla Cedros, just off Baja’s Pacific coast, is always a great place to fish during
summer; but this year the action has been particularly impressive, reports Cedros
Outdoor Adventures, who operate a fishing resort on the island. In addition to
the trophy size calico bass that the nearby kelp beds have become famous for and
the wide open fishing for big yellowtail, the unseasonably warm water recently
has sparked a bite on quality grade white sea bass, which have become a favorite
species among visiting anglers because of their gourmet quality at the dinner table.
Back on the mainland, areas between Bahía Asunción and Bahía Magdalena are
still cleaning up after being brushed by hurricane Marie back in August and later
smacked by hurricane Odile in late September. This disruptive duo of cyclones not
only inflicted substantial property damage, but also churned up the inshore bottom
so much that literally thousands of Pismo clams were wrenched up from their sandy
homes and smashed onto the beach killing most of them. It may take years for
the local population of these highly prized bivalve mollusks to fully recover from the
Down in the Los Cabos region, JC Sportfishing Charters says that the billfish action
was good after Hurricane Marie passed, and had opened back up with a great
striped marlin bite as well as a few blues being hooked before the devastation
inflicted by hurricane Odile. As fishing rebounds, live bait and trolled lures have
been the ticket, which have even produced a few fish over 300 pounds.
Just around the corner in San Jose Del Cabo, Erik Bricston at Gordo Banks Pangas
says they are now back on track and offers, “Ocean water temperatures are now
averaging in the upper 80’s throughout the region. Water clarity varied, southern
breezes will push in off colored currents, though for the most part blue water has
been found within a few miles of shore, which is normal for the summer season.
Anglers visiting Isla Cedros have been rewarded with some big white sea bass along with the usual big calicos and yellowtail.
Photo: Cedros Outdoor Adventures
The bait situation has consisted of limited amounts of sardinas; these schooling
baitfish are just moving back in to the Puerto Los Cabos Marina jetty area, small
juvenile sized, but have been the ticket to getting into the local yellowfin. The bite
for the larger grade of yellowfin tuna continues far to the north, near Los Frailes,
not within range of a normal charter from San Jose del Cabo, actually closer for the
East Cape fleets, though a handful of charters from the San Jose are making the
Dorado schools were scattered, mostly small sized fish, lots of females, good
practice to always release these juvenile dorado to give them a chance to mature,
reportedly these popular gamefish are one of the more rapidly growing fish, gaining
five pounds per month. Bottom action remains slow, with a few dogtooth snapper
and deep water grouper being found off the rock piles. The best chance at hooking
into these fish while using yo-yo style jigs has been very early in the morning, right
after the sun comes up.”
Just up the Cortez coast near Los Barriles, John Ireland at Ranch Leonero says
that they were relatively well treated by Odile, with only a single window broken at
Ireland’s home. He indicated, “Sailfish are the most plentiful at the moment. Best
area proved to be 5- to 10-miles off Cabo Pulmo. Most success was on lures with
trolled ballyhoo a close second. Some blues were also taken on jigs. The stripers
have gone quiet which is usual this time of year.
This group of anglers visiting San Jose del Cabo was rewarded with a nice catch of tasty
pargo and cabrilla. Photo: Gordo Banks Pangas
The tuna bite down south, just past Los Frailes, continues to produce fish. They are
biting exclusively on sardinas. Dead or alive the sardinas are what they want. These
are good fish, 25- to 45-pounds. Anglers can expect 4 to 8 fish per day. Kind of
slow, but patience does pay off. There are schools of porpoise holding fish outside,
but they have proved to be picky biters. The dorado are spread all over; boats
are finding schools all over the East Cape and are picking out the bigger fish and
releasing the small ones. Some better quality dorado are being taken amongst the
Ireland concluded his report by adding, “A few more roosters are showing up along
the beach near the hotel, and some really big fish up to 60-pounders have been
nailed near the new marina entrance. Some huge pargo in the 40-pound range
were taken in front of actor Scott Glenn’s house, between the Ranch and La Ribera.
Big pargo are lurking in the tree stumps and reefs. It’s tough to get them out, but
fun trying. Dropping down a big live bait is working is best. Then it's just a tug-o-
Despite brushes with inclement weather, the popular dorado is still being caught off La Paz. Photo: Tailhunter International
Despite brushes with inclement weather, the popular dorado is still being caught off La Paz.
Further north, in the city of La Paz, Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International
reports that although Hurricane Marie created a few problems as far as fishing
consistency is concerned, things seem to be getting back to normal. “Because of
the threat of thundershowers, we still haven’t been doing do much fishing around
Las Arenas. It has just been easier to keep fishing out of La Paz, where our anglers
had a better shot at good weather and more chances to get into fish, even if the
weather late in the day soured.
However, when we did fish, the fishing was fine. We got into some fat tuna!
Yes...there were some big boy tuna that showed up. Several guys hooked into
yellowfin tuna estimated at over 100 pounds, but all the fish broke off without ever
seeing the fish. The area was around the south point of Cerralvo Island.
As for other species, the fun-sized 10 to15 pound dorado have been pretty easy
to catch as well as big bonito. But the nice surprise has been our large number
of hookups on sailfish and striped marlin. Although, most of these fish either got
loose or were broken off. We have also been getting some nice rooster fish along
the beach in the 20 to 40 pound class.”
Up near the northern end of the Sea of Cortez, boats returning from multi-day
mothership panga fishing adventures with Tony Reyes Sportfishing continue to
return to port with limit catches of yellowtail along with a bevy of other species
including dorado, grouper, snapper and cabrilla.
The message is clear: fishing around the Baja California peninsula this fall should
be rewarding and productive just about anywhere you plan to go!