By Tom Gatch
The foggy May gray and June gloom weather that traditionally descends upon the coasts of southern California and Northern Baja did so again this year; but this time it looks as if Baja California’s early summer fishing season has already decided to hit the ground running.
Seaforth Sportfishing in Mission Bay reports that their boat, the San Diego skippered by Captain Cameron, recently took 33 passengers across the International boundary to fish Islas Coronados and, much to the delight of all onboard, encountered outstanding fishing for yellowtail and calico bass.
Most of these fish came on fly-lined live baits, with a few being taken on surface iron, and ranged between 8 and 20 pounds. By the end of the day, the San Diego returned home with 109 forktails, 35 calicos and 33 broad grins.
Sergio’s Sportfishing out of the Ensenada marina indicated that the vast majority of their customers have been choosing to fish the bottom around Islas Todos Santos for a variety of rockfish species. Although they only connected with a handful of yellowtail on surface iron, those who dropped deep with cut anchovies and squid caught a bounty of reds, Johnny bass, salmon grouper and whitefish.
At the southern end of the bay near Punta Banda, Vonny’s Fleet pangas have been catching lingcod, rockfish and a few yellowtail, but the biggest catches have been made over the sandy inshore bottom that exists a mile or less from shore.
California halibut seem to be particularly hungry this year, with a number of fat flatties recently being brought over the rail by happy panga anglers. The largest so far this season weighed in at just over 44 pounds.
Castro’s Fishing Place, also referred to by longtime Baja anglers as ‘Castro’s Camp’, has remained a favorite destination for those in search of world class rock cod action for years.
Originally founded by Fernando Castro and his family decades ago, this is one place where ‘catching’ regularly surpasses simply ‘fishing’ with a bountiful array of quality grade reds, cow cod, lingcod and other tasty bottom species.
While fish populations in many areas are feeling the impact of increased fishing pressure, Castro’s rural locale has helped it to ensure that visiting anglers continue to experience Baja bottom fishing that is virtually the same as it was a half century ago.
Bahía San Quintín
Capt. Kelly Catian from K&M Sportfishing says that the late spring fishing for surface yellowtail and inshore white seabass has been productive on calm days, but can turn off like a lightbulb when the winds come up.
Fortunately, when you are fishing in San Quintín you can always switch your rig and drop down for a few lingcod and reds.
Their most impressive recent catch, however, took place when Capt. Christian decided to take a busman’s holiday and do a little shore casting off of a rocky point near the mouth of the estero.
Suddenly, while diligently tossing and retrieving his plastic swimbait, his lure was inhaled by a hungry grouper; a species that is generally found hundreds of miles south of there. This was an extremely rare occurrence for an onshore angler to experience while fishing in this region, and definitely qualifies as a bucket list catch.
Jose Angel at Cedros Outdoor Adventures reports that their fishing season has just begun and will continue through the first part on November. Nonetheless, the yellowtail inshore have already been bending the rods of his visiting clients.
He concluded by adding, “We have been having 65 to 75 degree air temps and almost no wind, which is not the case around the corner on the other side of the island. One of the many advantages of fishing on this side is that 99% of the time there is a good chance that we will go out to fish....and that fishing so far has been awesome!”
Down the coast in Baja Sur, Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas says, “We are starting to get excited about the June season here in Cabo. Things have really picked up in the last few weeks and this week’s catch success amongst boats has climbed to almost 90%.
The majority of our boats have been heading out for striped marlin, with up to six striped marlin caught per boat in one day; but tuna and other smaller game catches have been equally good.”
They added, “The roosterfish inshore are definitely here, and are making for a lot of fun fishing, with some boats catching up to nine of them per outing! Jack crevalle, amberjacks, grouper and sierra mackerel have been the majority of the other species we have been catching. Our biggest catch, however, was a recently caught 700 pound black marlin.”
San Jose Del Cabo
Just around the corner in San Jose del Cabo, Eric Bricston from Gordo Banks Pangas reports, “Our weather has been ideal and is becoming progressively warmer, but is still within a comfortable temperature range.
The sardina supply has remained sufficient, although this is the time of year when these smaller baitfish migrate out of the area, so that could happen very soon. The striped marlin bite on the Desteladera Bank had been a bit scattered, but is now back on track because this is where concentrations of baitfish are congregating.
The yellowfin tuna seem to have moved from La Fortuna and Iman Bank to the Vinorama area, which is a long ride north for our local fleets. The fish are being located within a mile or so of shore, and are hitting best on live sardinas. We have also been seeing a lot more dorado; but they have been very spread out and most of them have been weighing in at under 10 pounds.”
Bricston concluded his report by adding, “Our other action has included a mix of shallow water structure species, more pompano were seen, as well as yellow snapper, amberjack and leopard grouper.”
Further up the Cortez coast in La Paz, Jonathan Roldan from Tailhunter International indicated, ”It’s getting a lot warmer down here, the water is getting bluer and the fishing is getting more consistent. We still get an occasional bout with wind and waves, however the improvement every week is noticeable in regard to both weather and fishing conditions.
We may not have been catching a huge number of fish, but quantity has been surpassed by quality. The fish caught have generally been larger and feistier. Our largest fish recently was a big, early season yellowfin tuna that weighed in at well over 100 pounds.
Our clients have been catching large roosterfish running between 30 and 80 pounds, and wahoo in the 20 to 50 pound class. There have also been a lot of peanut sized dorado as small as 8 pounds swimming around, but we have also tied into some nice bulls in the 20 to 30 pound range.
For variety, our anglers have been getting a nice mix of pargo and cabrilla, as well as jack crevalle, bonito and even some holdover cold-water species like amberjack and sierra.”
Roldan added, “But if you are just looking for a day of hot action and getting your rod bent, it has been hard to beat fishing around the islands north of town. In addition to great action on snapper, several species of pargo and some really fat cabrilla, you can also pick up an occasional tuna, and a few 10 to 25 pound dorado. You end up with an unbeatable combination having of a fun day out on the water along with some great fillets for the cooler.”
As you can see, it’s definitely time to hit the road south. No matter where you happen to be on the peninsula, summer is one of the most productive times to go fishing in Baja.
It is the one place that you can go where the statement, "...there are many more fish in the sea” is not just a euphemism; it is a true statement.