Baja Fishing Report - Spring 2016
By Tom Gatch
Its 4 Reels Sportfishing out of Ensenada scores again with a brace of
quality grade yellowtail that were taken just outside of Bahia de Todos Santos. Photo: It's 4 Reels
Although the very beginning of 2016 was ushered in by chilly rain and thunder
storms, it was not long before warmer weather once again prevailed over southern
California and the Baja California peninsula, bringing with it better fishing for those
Over the past few months, the yellowtail bite off the Pacific coast of northern Baja
has continued to improve, as local and visiting anglers also take advantage of the
region’s excellent fishing for popular bottom species like lingcod and Pacific red
Capt. Louie Prieto at Its 4 Reels Sportfishing in Ensenada has been hooking his
clients up with quality grade yellowtail in the 20 to 35 pound class. Many of these
fish have been showing just outside Bahia de Todos Santos, and have been taken
At the southern end of the bay, Ivan Villarino reports that Vonny’s Fleet pangas
fishing near the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula have been catching a variety of
bottom fish and calico bass, as well as an occasional yellowtail in the 15 to 25
pound class. Because of the season, however, the overall surface bite has been
spotty if not totally non-existent along most of Baja’s northern and central Pacific
coast. But with the coming of spring, that situation is rapidly changing.
Busses carrying hordes of whale petting visitors to Baja Sur’s famed lagoons, as
well as the whales themselves, have all headed north and the water is already
beginning to warm. The year after an El Niño event generally offers even better
fishing than the previous one, and judging by the signs that are notable so far, this
year seems to be following that tradition.
Fritz Weiss aboard the Pisces Fleet’s 31ft “Tracy Ann” with an unusual looking tropical sheephead,
which was promptly released after this photo was taken. Photo: Pisces Fleet
The water temperature in Bahia Magdalena is a degree or two higher than it was at
the same time last year, which bodes well for the coming season possibly
developing into a banner year for popular gamesters like yellowfin tuna, dorado and
wahoo. The waters inside Mag Bay’s estero are already producing an increasingly
good bite for corvina, small halibut, cabrilla and even a few snook.
Further south, Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas indicated that the action for
striped marlin has been getting better each week, adding that their 42’ cruiser,
yahoo, just caught and released one with an estimated weight of 130 pounds that
was taken on a live mackerel. Most of the stripers being caught by their clients
have averaged between 100 and 140 pounds.
One of their most productive catches recently was accomplished by the 35’ cruiser,
Valerie, which had a great day that resulted in the catch and release of a 140
pound striped marlin, as well as 12 ladyfish, 12 babosas and 4 grouper weighing
between 6 and 8 pounds.
Just around the corner in San Jose del Cabo on the eastern side of land’s end, Eric
Bricston at Gordo Banks Pangas says that this year’s Spring Break has brought an
increasing number of families to the Los Cabos area, many of them interested in
doing a little fishing while they are there.
2016 Spring Break in San Jose del Cabo provided some great family style fishing for this happy group
of anglers who caught this array of tasty bottom fish aboard a Gordo Banks Panga. Photo: Gordo Banks Pangas
Bricston indicated, “The majority of our charters are now concentrating on the
fishing grounds north of Punta Gorda; namely, La Fortuna, Iman and San Luis
Banks. This is where the best opportunities for a variety of species has been found.
Drift fishing over rocky structure has been the favored technique, using various
baits and yo-yo jigs. Snapper, pargo, amberjack, cabrilla, triggerfish have been
most common catches. No huge numbers, but some quality eating fish are being
accounted for. We did see one 70 lb. class amberjack, the majority of the bottom
species are in the 5 to 15 lb. class.”
“The action for dorado, wahoo or yellowfin tuna has been very limited, only an
occasional wahoo or dorado being reported. Tuna are still being found on the Iman
Banks and towards Vinorama, drift fishing with strips of squid. This action was very
hit or miss, though a handful of yellowfin have been landed each day, including fish
to over 70 lb., most common sized tuna was more in the 15 to 25 lb. range, anglers
were fortunate to land one tuna in their combined catch. Best bet to catch fish was
to try off the bottom.”
Bricston concluded by saying, “There has been some inshore action on jack crevalle
and roosterfish, limited as it was, and we did hear of a couple of larger sized
roosterfish hooked into off of the San Jose del Cabo hotel zone; but it is still quite
early in the season for these popular gamefish.
Los Angeles residents. Butch Tropez and his family, enjoyed a great day out on the water while
catching a variety of popular gamefish on a trip out of Las Arenas with Tailhunter International. Photo: Tailhunter International
Quite a few whales still being sighted, though this is usually now the tail end of the
annual migration for these mammals. Last week’s total fish count included 6 striped
marlin, 2 wahoo, 3 dorado, 29 yellowfin tuna, 5 pompano, 17 amberjack, 23
leopard grouper, 32 huachinango, 45 yellow snapper, 16 barred pargo, 9 island
jack, 18 sierra, 16 jack crevalle, 8 roosterfish, 8 bonito, 18 black skipjack and 95
Up the Cortez coast a bit at Rancho Leonero, Owner John Ireland says that there
are not a lot of boats going out right now because of the changing seasons, but he
expects a steady influx of anglers over the next few months. The water
temperature is now gradually inching up from its present 73F degrees, and the local
bait boats are now producing plenty of quality live bait, including caballitos and
In recent billfish action, visiting angler Dean Stella and his son, Nino, boasted a
catch of 3 striped marlin that they took from a panga while leisurely soaking baits
off of La Ribera.
Ireland reports, “We are still picking up a few yellowtail and amberjacks on the
bottom off La Ribera. Don't be surprised if you latch onto a marlin while doing this.
There has also been talk of some tuna up on the 88 this week, but none of our
boats ranged that far north. Hopefully, we'll have an update on this soon. And if
you happen to be in need to stretching a few muscles, there have been some big
thresher sharks and Mako sharks around.”
He concluded by saying, “Sierra mackerel are also on the bite for the early risers.
Best bet is around Rancho Leonero and the marina …followed by perfect ceviche.”
Further north in La Paz, Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International reports,
“Spring and Easter week combined for an OK week of fishing. The winds largely left
us alone. The sun was out and it was a good week for all the tourists in town for
Spring Break although La Paz doesn’t come close to being like many other Mexican
destinations. Comparatively speaking it’s still a sleepy city. However, our Holy
Week, Semana Santa, is one of the busiest times for Mexican locals to travel
especially to visit families and La Paz is a great destination to get some beach time
away from the bigger cities in the mainland and the beaches can be quite
crowded much moreso than usual with campers and picnickers.”
This trophy size cabrilla was caught in late February by skipper Dain from Huntington Beach aboard the
Nordic Flyer while fishing off of Islas Encantadas in the northern Sea of Cortez. Photo: Dain/Nordic Flyer
“This is the first real week or two that we’ve had our Tailhunter La Paz Fleet out
since late October. It’s just been too windy so we’ve kept everyone fishing from
Las Arenas. However, winds are down and folks don’t want to take the 1 hour drive
with us to Las Arenas so we put out the boats. It started slowly and still hasn’t
gotten a full head of steam. Plus, some days it’s still pretty bumpy with winds.”
“However, inshore, we’re finding some decent-sized pargo and cabrilla along with
sierra and off the drop-offs there’s some big yellowtail starting to poke up. But,
finding the spot is still hit-or-miss. Somedays we find ‘em or one boat finds them.
Other days it’s a miss.”
Roldan added, “The surprising bite is that we’re getting some nice schools of
firecracker-sized dorado. With all the families and kids in town, this has been a
hoot. The fish are 5-10 pounds max and can be very voracious if you hit the spot.
Some days, there’s limits to be caught with the best spot being off Espirito Santo
In regard to the fishing nearby Las Arenas, Roldan reports, “No doubt, there’s still
wahoo in the area with some decent 20-30 pound fish falling to the darker Rapalas
and Yo-Zuri lures. As well, the big red pargo liso are schooling in spawn mode off
several spots near Cerralvo Island like Los Pilis and then also near Punta Perrico.
Bonito, jack crevalle and sierra have rounded out the catch along with plenty of
Up in the northern portion of the Cortez, northerly winds have periodically made for
rough fishing. One of the exceptions has been on the lee side of the islands within
the Midriff zone and Islas Encantadas, where stellar opportunities to catch big
cabrilla and pargo still exist.
The fishing in Baja California may be good now, but it will only get better in the
months to come. Bait up …and hang on!