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Baja Fishing Report - Winter 2023
By Tom Gatch

Baja Fishing Report - Winter 2023

By Tom Gatch

Baja Fishing
Starting the year off right with a quality-grade lingcod taken on a chilly winter morning just off the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula.
(Photo: Vonny's Fleet)
Baja Fishing

The brutal winter storms, which battered the west coast of North America at the beginning of the New Year, stretched from the Gulf of Alaska all the way down to southern California and a bit beyond. Luckily, the majority of the Baja California peninsula was spared from the overall impact of that massive deluge.

This is not to say, however, that Baja has been a bastion of balmy weather. Night time temperatures have been dipping into the mid-40’s, while most of the days between storm systems have produced sunny days that can occasionally reach temperatures of 70 degrees or more.

While it has been relatively warm near the southern tip of the peninsula, the much colder waters off of northern Baja’s Pacific coast have been hovering in the mid-50’s. This has set the stage for one of the most popular seasonal angling activities in the region; fishing for tasty bottom species like lingcod, reds, and the many other rockfish that live at similar depths.


Ensenada

There may not be many schools of yellowtail, bonito, and other surface fish biting this time of year, but the rock fishing has been excellent for those who have been willing to brave the occasional chilly winds and rougher ocean conditions that must be dealt with in order to achieve success this time of year.

Passenger loads have been light at Sergio’s Sportfishing working out of the Malecon in downtown Ensenada, but their boats have still been scoring solid rockfish counts out near Islas Santo Tomas.

The pangas at Vonny’s Fleet Sportfishing in Punta Banda have also been doing well fishing the deep water pockets off of the tip of the peninsula, producing good catches of quality-grade reds and toothy lingcod.

Castro’s Camp

This is also the time of year when Castro’s Fishing Place truly comes into its own. It is situated on Baja’s picturesque Pacific coast in Ejido Erendira, which is located halfway between Ensenada and Bahia San Quintin. This somewhat obscure fish camp can still offer bottom fishing that is virtually as good as it was half a century ago.

This is one place where ‘catching’ regularly surpasses simply ‘fishing’, and offers a bountiful array of quality grade red rock cod, cow cod, lingcod along with a spectrum of other tasty bottom species. This winter is no exception, and visiting anglers are already beginning to bring some of those trophy-grade reds over the rails of Castro’s pangas.

Baja Fishing
The rich waters off of Ejido Erendira have been kicking out a bevy of quality rockfish like this fat vermillion rockcod. (Photo- Castro’s Fishing Place)
Baja Fishing

San Quintin

Despite occasionally stormy weather, a few anglers continue to visit Bahia San Quintin in the hopes of hooking up with a feisty yellowtail. While some are successful in their quest, more often than not they will ultimately drop down to the bottom to try to fill their coolers with limits of the chunky red rockcod and lingcod that are far more prevalent this time of year.

One of the exceptions was a recent client of Capt. Juan Cook, who also came to San Quintin to hunt some of the wintertime Black Brant geese that the region has become renowned for. Cook reported, “The weather has been great after the rains were over. Crispy and cold in the mornings with nice, warm afternoons later in the day. My friend, Greg Wong, was goose hunting in San Quintin bay with a couple of his friends, Wendell Nagao, and Dave Kaihara.

I waited for them to finish off their hunt, which resulted in easy limits of geese. In the meantime, I made bait in the bay and once they were done, out into the breakers we went. The yellowtail fishing was slow, but Greg still managed to boat a nice one that weighed around 20 pounds.”

Capt. Cook concluded his report by saying, “After that, we dropped down and found some good lingcod and reds. We couldn’t have asked for much more, it was a flat, blue, and beautiful winter day and the catching was good.”

Los Cabos

The billfish action has been exploding off Cabo San Lucas, according to the Pisces Sportfishing fishing fleet, who reported, “The last week of 2022 was hectic here in Cabo, with the town packed with tourists and anglers alike and boats in great demand. The docks were busy morning and afternoon, and catches were good.

However, we did see the marlin move further from Cabo, so the easy multiple marlin days at Golden Gate and off of the Old Lighthouse became less frequent. However, the real, double-digit, make-your-arms fall-off numbers were at the Finger Banks.

Fishing closer to home at the Golden Gate Bank, La Brisa, a 31 ft Bertram, released an out-of-season sailfish, which was around 70 lb. Likewise, they released a striped marlin and a couple of yellowfin tuna for the Darwins from Crystal Beach, Texas.”

They concluded their report by adding, “This same day, Ruthless, another one of our trusty 31 ft Bertrams, traveled to the Finger Bank and released 25 striped marlin in the 80 to 120 pound class and also landed a total of 7 dorado for a group of visiting Brits from Hertfordshire, England.”

On the other side of the peninsula's tip, Eric Bricston, of Gordo’s Panga’s in San Jose del Cabo, reported, ”Well, another year is in the books. This past week we saw larger crowds of families arriving, many of them deciding to make late notice fishing reservations. As weather was very ideal compared to much of North America, where freezing temperatures were being endured.

Baja Fishing
The winter billfish action has been off the charts in Cabo San Lucas, as evidenced by this tailing striped marlin. (Photo – Pisces Sportfishing)
Baja Fishing

Local conditions were mostly clear with warm sunny skies, high temperatures to 80 degrees, slight ocean swells, variable winds, predominantly from the north and usually picking up later in the day. Overall, very nice winter time conditions.

Most of the fishing action has centered on the grounds from Punta Gorda, Cardon, La Fortuna, Iman and the Gordo Banks. Water temperatures continued to be on a cooling trend, now averaging in the 72 to 75 degree range, also as can happen this time of year, swift currents are pushing in some more off colored greenish waters. Bait sources have had heavy pressure, limited supplies of live caballito, ballyhoo and slabs of squid remained the mainstay for anglers.

The ocean water temperatures continue to be on a cooling trend, now in the 72 to 74 degree range. With the cooler currents we are seeing more greenish off colored areas, especially closer to shore. But the bait situation has remained much the same, not many caballito being found at all, ballyhoo and slabs of squid are always available. Also, schools of mackerel and sardines are now congregating off of the San Jose del Cabo Hotel Zone.”

He also added, “For local fleets, the main grounds now being targeted have been straight off of the Puerto Los Cabos Marina region, where mackerel schools are now congregated and north to the Gordo Banks, Iman, San Luis, La Fortuna and Cardon. Dorado have been the most common game fish being found, many charters able to fill their limits on fish up to 20 lb., average of 5 to 15 lb. Striking best on trolled ballyhoo. The wahoo action has faded out, only a few of these seen all week, as with the cooler water temperature these pelagic fish are now migrating south to preferred temperate water temperatures.

Early in the week there was some quality yellowfin tuna action encountered near the Iman Bank, fish to 60 lb. taken while drift fishing with squid. Also, off of San Luis Bank some nice tuna were hooked on yo-yo jigs where anglers were also catching some nice white bonito up to 12 lb. Later in the week the tuna were harder to entice, also winds were up some days and made these further grounds less accessible.

Bricston concluded his comments by saying, “Still not much going off the bottom rock piles besides the bonito, triggerfish and a few pargo and leopard grouper. With lack of sardines not much sierra action or shallow water inshore action being targeted. Hopefully these cooling waters will bring in some new schools of sardines, because they are always a valued bait resource for the coming winter season.

Baja Fishing
The dorado action has been great the past few weeks off of San Jose del Cabo, and now the yellowfin tuna have begun to join in the fun. (Photo - Gordo Banks Pangas)
Baja Fishing

La Paz

Further up the Cortez coast, Jonathan Roldan, at Tailhunter International, reports, “Turning the page on a new year in La Paz and grateful to everyone for the year that was and wishing blessings to all for the year just arrived. Not much happening right now on the waters except for all the winds exacerbated by storms north of the border.

There is still barely anyone fishing because of the winds and rough seas, but there were some windows of opportunity here and there in between the gusts that produced an interesting mix of fish and more action than might have been expected!

A mostly sunny week with nice temps between the mid-50’s and mid-60’s, but still not many folks on the water because of northern winds roughing up the waters. We had to cancel several trips because of it.

However, here and there, some folks got out and found some windows of opportunity to get out in between gusts. Many of the folks we do get out are locals who have the opportunity to have flexible schedules to find the better days or else tourists who have wiggle-room in their vacation agendas to avoid the windier times.

Surprisingly, there’s still some dorado around which are usually gone by October or November. That leads me to believe there’s still some warm water patches here and there. However, most catches were colder water fish like small yellowtail and numerous sierra as well as bonito, jacks and cabrilla.

Roldan finished his report by adding, ”There’s lots of live sardines around although yo-yo jigs have also been productive …if you can keep them out of the rocks.”

And there you have it! The fact that it is now winter seems to have had little effect on the fish that are actively on the chew around the Baja peninsula. As the days slowly begin to get longer and the sunny days in Baja continue to get warmer, now is the time to start taking advantage of the light crowds and hungry fish that await you just south of the border.

Baja Fishing
Although the weather has been brisk and occasionally stormy, anglers fishing off La Paz have been catching a wide variety of winter species like these nice sierra. (Photo: Tailhunter International)
Baja Fishing
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    Ryan Dee
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    Baja Bound is the easiest way to set up coverage before you head into Baja. Online, 5-mins, you're done! Simple. I insure my truck and...

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    Kyle Spahn
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    I have used Baja Bound for years. Very easy and affordable.

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    Repo and Boogies Rv Baja journal 2020
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    Day, night, while they are on vacation. Anytime. They are the best most helpful insurance companies on either side of the border!!! THE...

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    Jeff G
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    Went down to TJ June 11 2020 No problems going into TJ but the way back was a ordeal 6 hours in line to get back into the USA but no...

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    Rosemary Gomez
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    Baja Bound Mexican Insurance has been an excellent insurance company to use when you drive into Mexico. We have used them for the past 6...

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    Maria Smith
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    Easy and affordable.

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    JC Lam
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    Purchasing process was easy. First time I have bought Mexican insurance online. Before I would stop somewhere in San Diego close to the...

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    Kristina Leano
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    Michelle L. is the best Client Care Specialist! I originally purchased a policy a few months ago when we moved to Mexico. Then, my car...

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    Amy O'Neill
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    Easy to use website. We felt so much better having insurance for our family trip to Mexico.

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    len buckholtz
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    SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD. OLD GUYS LIKE THAT. WILL DEFINITELY USE IN 6 MONTHS IF STILL RUNNING AROUND THE WILDS OF BAJA.

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    Tudor Thomas
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    Baja Bound makes buying insurance for going south of the border as easy as it gets. The website is the easiest I have used and the staff...

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    Aj
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    Reasonable prices and we thought best chance to actually get results if we needed them.

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    Marc Vance
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    Easy easy easy... I have my co pilot (wife) set it all up on the drive south to the border. With in minutes we are set to cross the border...

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    Roberto Garcia
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    Easy and fast in less than 10 minutes you could have insurance for Mexico. I have used them for about 8 years already.

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    masa SAL.
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    Good seevice have use baja bound for many years good price....

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    Tiffany Sorocco
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    Super easy I just entered my info on line paid $60 for 5 days of coverage and the policy was emailed to me. I never had to use it...

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    Nereyda Torres
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    (Translated by Google) I like the insurance because you can buy it for a day and it assures you in Mexico for the time you go either up to...

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    Stvy84
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    Best Mexican Insurance Service Office, always ready to assist customers....Mrs. Yara, the best....👍👌🤝🤝

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    Tracey Easter
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    Great insurance! Bought one year but was cured in 2 days on my visit to El Sauzal de Rodriguez next to Ensenada. Not an enjoyable place to...

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    Kellye Pummill
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    Fast and easy!

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    Gary Chapman
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    Only place to get insurance 👍

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    Jeff Bunker
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    Great coverage options . Price buy and print policy , very quick and easy , highly recommend them when driving in Mexico

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    Blake Glassco
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    I will never drive south of the border without Baja Bound in my center console. I was in an accident a couple hours south of Ensenada and...

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    Susana Judd
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    Easy, quick and fair prices. Easy to deal with if needed.

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    Jermaine Coston
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    Baja Bound makes insurance for my occasional weekend motorcycle trips to Mexico easy and affordable. I can buy my previously-purchased...

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    JohnPaul Gemelli
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    Baja Bound could not have made it an easier ... also, I made a mistake and called them having to leave a message ... but, they called back...

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    Jennifer Toups
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    Baja Bound is and has been my go to Mexico insurance company. The website is extremely easy to use, keeps all your info for a quick...

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    Mehdi Fahid
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    I reapplied for my Baja Bound Mexican car Insurance yesterday and I spoke to Ms. Shauna. This lady processed my application quickly and...