By Tom Gatch
From the Coronado Islands all the way around the bend up into the northern Sea of Cortez, the fishing in Baja has truly come into its own so far this summer, with impressive catches being made around the entire peninsula. Prevailing El Niño currents in the Eastern Pacific brought a multitude of red tuna crabs north; and with them a host of other prized gamesters like large yellowtail, along with bluefin tuna, and even a few early season yellowfin offshore.
Boats out of San Diego venturing south of the International Boundary to Islas Coronados have encountered solid yellowtail action, along with decent catches of quality rockfish. Further down the coast in Ensenada’s Bahía de Todos Santos, inshore anglers drifting over the bay’s sandy bottom have been picking up an increasing number of California halibut on plastics and small baitfish.
Situated at the southern end of the Bahía in Punta Banda, Vonny’s Fleet is not only uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the opportunity to catch chunky halibut, but they can also quickly whisk you off to the famed fishing grounds at the tip of the peninsula, just a few minutes away, to catch yellowtail, tasty rockfish, trophy calicos, or maybe even a big white seabass. In the past few weeks, all of these species have been readily available to Vonny’s Fleet anglers.
Castro’s Fishing Place, also referred to as Castro’s Camp by longtime Baja anglers, has been a prized resource for anglers in search of world class bottom fishing for decades. Lately, however, Fernando Castro’s boats have also been enjoying a wide-open bite on yellowtail, as well as the usual reds, lings, and chuckleheads.
Down the coast a bit in Bahía San Quintín, Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing reports banner fishing both inshore and offshore. Anglers are slamming yellowtail the first thing in the morning, then heading further out to throw surface poppers and go head to head with fat, bluefin tuna in the 40+ pound class. Anyone aboard who still has enough energy left near the end of the trip can also have an opportunity to drop down to the bottom to nail a few big rockcod before heading back to port.
The first weeks of Cedros Outdoor Adventures 2019 fishing season opened with a grand showing by the island’s legendary population of giant calico bass. The sea was reportedly blanketed by hordes of red tuna crabs, which often will impair the bass bite after many of the fish become glutted with them. But not this time.
SoCal fishing buddies, Jim Petrella from Palm Desert, and Fred Knilans of Orange County, were throwing some of Knilans ’ hand poured plastic jigs and hard baits to hook and release nearly 150 calico bass on Wednesday that ranged upward to a whopping 7.5 pounds. Saltwater fly fisherman, Jordan Cavanaugh, from Fountain Valley, was on trip number 7 to Cedros Island and ended up catching and releasing enough calico bass up to 5 pounds to wear his arms out by the time he got back in each day he was there.
Further south, in Bahía Magdalena, Oscar Barrios, his wife Cindy, and their two sons visited the Estero with their hearts set on catching a big snook; and with the assistance of Captain Chris aboard the Mar Gato, they succeeded. Cindy ended up catching a trophy size robalo that weighed in at over 25 pounds.
Down at the southern tip of the peninsula in Los Cabos, Pisces Sportfishing reports, “We’ve been seeing the most consistent inshore catches around El Tule on the Corridor, with some of the species seen being: roosterfish, triggerfish, jack crevalle, skipjack, yellowtail, amberjack, pompano, red snapper and green jacks. Offshore fishing was spread out from the Old Lighthouse all the way to Punta Gorda in San Jose and in some cases travelling many miles offshore.
Our top marlin boat last week was the Pisces Valerie, which released a total of four striped marlin ranging from 100 to 180 pounds. All fish were caught at the 180 Spot on mackerel live bait, for a group of anglers from California.
As far as eating fish go, we have been catching a lot of red snapper and triggerfish inshore. Offshore, our boat Pisces Ruthless has been doing well on dorado in the 12 t0 17-pound class, with an occasional big wahoo coming over the rail.”
Just around the corner in San Jose del Cabo, Eric Bricston at Gordo Banks Pangas offers, “Our weather patterns are progressively warming, daytime highs have been near 90 degrees, mostly sunny skies, some early morning marine cloud cover, quickly burning off. The winds have been fairly light, with strong currents pushing in the out and the water temperature has been hovering around 80 degrees.
For the past few weeks, the most consistent action has been centered around the Iman Bank, which is where most of the yellowfin tuna were schooling. However, catching these tuna was not easy. We have had our best success earlier in the morning while drift fishing with strips of squid, as well as taking a few fish on slowly trolled caballito. Most anglers were lucky to land one or two of these yellowfin that ranged in size from 20 to 80 pounds.
Billfish action seems to be more scattered as well, majority of the striped marlin are now on their annual migration north. But it is still early in the season and we will start to see more of the warmer water species, such as black, blue marlin and sailfish. A big blue marlin was recently lost after a battle that lasted 4 hours; the huge fish was estimated to have been in the 400-pound class.”
Bricston concluded his report by adding, “Our anglers fishing the bottom structure have been catching a mix of quality eating species, such as red snapper, triggerfish, and cabrilla, highlighted by an occasional amberjack up to 70 pounds. Local shore anglers are also reportedly catching some nice snook and corvina off of the beach in the El Faro region of La Playita.”
Further up the Cortez coast in the capital city of La Paz, Jonathan Roldan indicated that they had experienced a week of occasionally cold winds, choppy seas, off-color water, and strong currents that really had his skippers working hard to catch fish. Roldan explained, “It was like Jekyll & Hyde Week. It was also a week of strange fishing on so many other levels. The first part of the week, Las Arenas fishing virtually shut off the first few days. Some snapper, pargo, cabrilla, and lots of bonito. The jack crevalle helped keep rods bent, but not much else was biting.
The next week things turned around and we experienced a phenomenal roosterfish bite …maybe the best I have seen in 25 years. We had fish running 10-70 pounds. Some pangas caught, 2,3…4 fish each day and lost several others! Fish were literally schooling up like we have never seen them.
Many anglers took their first or largest roosters ever! I can’t tell you how often folks came back from fishing with big smiles but asking me for a band-aid for the blisters on a thumb or inside index fingers from reel with folks fighting a single fish from 15-45 minutes. Then doing it all over again! It was crazy!
Roldan finished off by saying that anglers were also nailing a lot of inshore snapper, pargo, cabrilla, trigger fish and amberjack. “You can have fun all day long with that kind of action. Add in a couple of the 10 to 25-pound dorado that are roaming around and getting better every week, and you can have a really full day of fishing.”
Situated on the central coast of the Cortez near the Midriff Islands, Bahía de Los Ángeles has been a prime destination for southern California anglers for decades. The only problem has been finding a dependable outfitter in the remote region that can consistently take care of your angling needs. Luckily, Daggett's Beach Camping & Sportfishing has become a permanent fixture in L.A Bay as a supplier of lodging and sportfishing services, and provides easy access to the local fishing grounds. Most recently, visiting anglers have been treated to an outstanding yellowtail bite on the surface, and impressively fat grouper near the heavily structed bottom.
But no matter where you choose to travel on the Baja California Peninsula this summer, you are bound to find hot fishing, sunny weather, and a host of enjoyable activities and unique dining experiences …perhaps, even a tasty meal prepared from a fish that you just caught earlier in the day.