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Baja Fishing Report - Summer 2024
by Tom Gatch

Baja Fishing Report - Summer 2024

By Tom Gatch

Baja Fishing
You know that summer has arrived when the big yellowtail begin attacking just off the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula. This season has been particularly productive for fat, home-guard forktails weighing up to 30-pounds or more. (Photo – Vonny’s Fleet Sportfishing)
Baja Fishing

Coastal residents of southern California and Baja Norte have long been aware of the yearly phenomenon known as ‘June gloom’. It is a reference to the foggy, morning marine layer that often dominates the region during the early months of summer. This seasonal occurrence is triggered when inland temperatures begin to rise and create an onshore flow of misty moisture off the ocean that often may not burn off until mid-day.

The good news is that, although these events may dampen the enthusiasm of sun seekers, they don’t necessarily discourage intrepid anglers from getting out on the water as the seas begin warming and a wide variety of popular gamefish start viciously attacking baits and lures.


Ensenada

Party boats working out of the downtown Malecon are still experiencing light loads compared to the burgeoning number of clients that will be booking trips in mid-summer and early fall. Nonetheless, those going out over the past few weeks have been doing well on species such as ocean whitefish, johnny bass, salmon grouper, and miscellaneous rockfish.

At the southern end of Bahia de Todos Santos, clients of Vonny’s Fleet Sportfishing have been benefitting from steady action on big, home-guard yellowtail, some of which have tipped the scales at over 30 pounds. Their panga anglers focusing on other species have returned to shore with solid catches of calico bass, rock cod, and California halibut.

Although they are arriving a little later than last year, the offshore fleet has recently begun seeing an influx of big bluefin tuna weighing over 100 pounds that they are picking up just 15 to 20 miles out of Ensenada.

San Quintin

Those fishing out of Bahia San Quintin may not have been seeing much yellowtail action lately, however, there have been many large Pacific bonito patrolling the inshore waters that never fail to put up a memorable battle for those who inadvertently hook one.

A few nice yellowtail have been taken around the Isla San Martin kelp line, and the bite will likely get better over the next few months. As always, fishing around the oyster beds near the Boca using live bait can be extremely productive for California halibut in the 5 to 15-pound class.

Baja Fishing
Although the seasonal run of big bluefin off of Ensenada has been a bit late this year, it looks like things are finally starting to take off when big tuna like this start attacking trolled baits offshore. (Photo – Mara Sportfishing)
Baja Fishing

Cedros Island

A few hundred miles south of San Quintin, just off the Pacific coast of central Baja, Cedros Outdoor Adventures has begun their 2024 fishing season, which generally continues into early November.

Cedros Island has a reputation for consistently offering visiting anglers an opportunity to experience world-class fishing for a wide variety of popular gamefish including huge, feisty yellowtail, white seabass, halibut, and trophy-sized calico bass.

Los Cabos

Pisces Sportfishing out of Cabo San Lucas reports, “Although the various species continued to be special crowd-pleasers for many of our visiting anglers, others were eager to have a shot at the opportunity to run up a double-digit score of billfish releases in a single day.

Elijah Pirnie and James Pirnie from Grand Island, Nebraska, chose the "TIBURON," a 31-foot Bertram with well-known local Captain Rosend Gomez at the helm and Mate Carlos Santos running the cockpit. They were having a very good week at the 1150 Bank and Punta Gorda up inside the Sea of Cortez."

Elijah and James found what they were looking for on the banks. The bite was steady, and between the two, they managed to catch and release ten Stripers in the estimated 60 to 120-pound class on fresh Ballyhoo and caballito.”

Pisces concluded their report by adding, "Over the weekend, some of the Pisces fleet headed north up into the Sea of Cortez to compete in the 5th annual Marina Puerto Escondido Tournament – a two-day event featuring Yellowtail, Dorado, and a Billfish Release Category. Team Anaya took First Place in the Billfish Release Division, earning over $239,000.

The following boats from our Pisces Fleet all placed in the MPE Tournament: Team Anaya, Sneak Attack / La Chingona 40, La Chingona, Reels n Dirt, Sea Señora, and Will 2 Win all scored in the Billfish Release Division."

San Jose del Cabo

Just around the tip of the peninsula in San Jose del Cabo, Brain Bricston at Gordo Banks Pangas reported an early showing of wahoo.

"The main target this week was wahoo. We had a decent wahoo bite throughout the week. Surprisingly, most of the wahoo caught were later in the day as only a few were picked up first thing in the morning.

Baja Fishing
Wahoo was the word as the ‘tigers of the Sea’ showed up off San Jose del Cabo, providing hot action for the many intrepid anglers who were out on the water pursuing one of the world’s most popular gamefish. (Photo – Gordo Banks Pangas)
Baja Fishing

According to multiple reports, most of the bites came after 10 am. A few lucky anglers were able to land 3 in one day, while losing a few more strikes. Most of these wahoo were averaging 20-35 pounds, though we did have a handful in the 40-pound club. Most of the action came from fast trolling rigged ballyhoo.

A few wahoo were also landed on the XRaps and Nomad DTXs. The best areas for wahoo this week were the grounds from La Fortuna to Cardon, with most caught at our 25 spot. The biggest wahoo caught this week was a 76-pounder caught at the Outer Gordo while looking for marlin with rigged ballyhoo."

He added, "The yellowfin tuna bite is now extremely slow, lucky if you get one bite all day long. We only saw a handful of tuna this week; these were quality fish as most of them were averaging 60-80 pounds. It has been hard to efficiently target these yellowfin as the needlefish are a nuisance on most days. The few tuna that we saw were caught on live and dead sardines.

We currently have a good striped marlin bite going on, 15-20 miles out from our marina. Many boats have been spotting marlin schools throughout both Gordos. There is a good chance of landing a few nice fish on different lures and ballyhoo.

Closer to shore and rock structure, we continue to catch good numbers of yellow snapper, amberjack, and grouper. A few reports indicate that Palmilla Point has been producing the best action. Cardon is also one of the favorites spots."

Bricston concluded by saying, “We are starting to see some nice Roosterfish being taken along our shoreline on live sardines and mullet. The best action came from La Laguna as one of our boats caught and released 9 throughout the morning, while losing a few more. They also landed some small dorado and big Jacks."

Up the Cortez coast a bit, sportfishing operations in Los Barriles on the East Cape are reporting that the dorado are showing up early this year, with fish up to 20 pounds or more being taken.

La Paz

Baja Fishing
Family fun turns into a fishing bonanza off of La Paz as a wide variety of popular species make themselves available for visiting anglers. (Photo – Tailhunter International)
Baja Fishing

Jonathan Roldan from Tailhunter International reports, "Not a bad week at all. Everyone got fish and everyone who wanted to take home fish took home fish! Mornings are a bit chilly, but daytimes are warm and sunny and humidity is starting to come in too. Overall. its just a good week on all levels.

Someone might come back and tell me it was slow or bad. I then talk to the captain who tells me they lost about 5 or 6 nice fish. That’s good fishing, but bad catching. And, understand that some of these fish are not only big, but tough and if you’re not used to it those fish will beat you up!

All-in-all, there was a lot of variety once again. Maybe over a dozen different species hooked including: yellowtail, roosterfish, rainbow runners, barred pargo, pargo liso, yellow snapper, tuna (big), cabrilla, sierra, skipjack, bonito, jack crevalle, sheephead, triggerfish and even a few wahoo. But that’s what makes it fun. You really never know what’s going to bite right now if you put a bait in the water.

The highlights included some good-grade yellowtail up to about 30 pounds. Some dorado in the 15-20 pound class as well as some trophy-sized pargo showed up. Really encouraging were the larger roosterfish that finally showed up in the 50-80 pound class. About time!

The dorado are scattered right now and you need to fine the warmer water. The yellowtail are on the surface around Espirito Santo Island.

Roldan concluded by saying, "The best deal is to catch live mackerel under the big oil tankers in the bay, then head out and drop a live mackerel into the current! The tuna and wahoo have been hooked at the south end of Cerralvo Island, and the bigger roosters have been caught near Punta Arenas in what we refer to as ‘roosterfish alley’. There have been a lot of smaller roosters in the 5 to 10 pound class along many of the beaches right now."

Upper Cortez

Captain Juan Cook, who normally works out of his home port in Bahia San Quintin, regularly spends the months of late spring and early summer taking his clients over to the Sea of Cortez to fish the rich waters off Bahia Gonzaga and the Islas Encantadas.

Baja Fishing
Capt. Juan Cook has been taking and his clients to Bahia Gonzaga in the northern Sea of Cortez over the past few months to take advantage of the outstanding fishing for big leopard grouper and other tasty species that dwell around the deep, rocky outcroppings. (Photo – Capt. Juan Cook)
Baja Fishing

Most of their time is spent fishing around deep water pinnacles for tasty species like leopard and snowy grouper. They can also take advantage of some stellar fishing for quality yellowtail that the region is known for. Sometimes, however, there is a brief lull in client activity and Capt. Juan is provided with an opportunity to further explore and meander around those turquoise waters in a more leisurely fashion.

He reports, "I didn’t have any clients booked last week, so I invited a friend of mine from San Quintin to come fish with me. ‘Can’t make it’ he said, ‘too busy’. Then I called a friend in San Felipe. ‘Sorry, Juan, not this week’ he said, so I decided to just go out by myself."

Cook concluded, "For me, it is a great way to relax and think things out more clearly; it makes for better fishing for me since I can devote all of my time to what I’m trying to do. It also allowed me to take the time to visit all six of the ‘Enchanted Islands’ and take in their varied geology...as well as to look for new structure to fish on my next trips out with my clients."

Summer is just beginning and there will be many more prized fish to be caught in Baja before it ends. Now is the time to start making your plans and your reservations while openings are still available.


About Tom
Over the past decade, Hooked on Baja author, Tom Gatch, has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and columnists focusing on outdoor, travel and culinary topics in Baja and southern California. His company, EL PUERTO Creative Consultants S.A. de C.V. also provides professional copywriting and creative support for business entities on both sides of the border.
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