FROM LORETO TO LAND’S END
By That Baja Guy – Gary GrahamUnlike early 2018 when the season predictions were glum as the primary baitfish – sardina – had unaccountably taken a powder and dorado – considered to be the holy grail of Baja sportfishing – had followed suit, 2019 began with almost unbridled optimism.Both locals and visitors predicted that 2019 was going to be a season to remember – one that was fueled basically by “good to WOW!” fishing for two species – striped marlin and LARGE roosterfish – while those good-eating table fish – dorado and tuna – weren’t exactly off the charts.Now, with winter and spring in the rearview mirror and with summer looming, knowledgeable locals and visitors who often frequent the area are predicting a spectacular summer followed with a frantic fall tournament season.In Cabo San Lucas, the action has shifted somewhat. With warmer currents moving up into the Sea of Cortez, most of the billfish are following the warmer water. However, even with the move, the billfish release numbers per boat have continued to reach double-digits, and remarkably for the fleet, they often number in the triple digits.As for those targeting roosterfish, they are still catching plenty. The odd thing is the large number of reports of ‘personal bests’ by both seasoned and inexperienced anglers using either conventional, spinning, or fly tackle.For the “I want something I can eat” crowd, the missing tuna have returned! There are plenty of football- to respectable-sized fish along with a few of those cow-sized monsters showing up occasionally. Even more good news is that there are more trophy-sized dorado showing as well, and they are mixed in with the “dinks.” So, when you catch a little one, let it go instead of wasting your five-fish limit. Wait for the larger fish. They are out there this year.There are also plenty of inshore pargo, grouper, cabrilla and still a few yellowtail waiting to be caught.At San Jose del Cabo, the season is just catching up as the billfish and tuna filter in as sea temps rise, and water clarity improves. There has also been an increased number of Almaco jacks on the high spots and pinnacles. These are tough customers, providing anglers a battle to remember, as well as a fantastic main course for dinner. Add plenty of roosterfish, from small to exceptionally large, cruising along the beaches.After a slow start, East Cape is hitting on all cylinders now. Boats leaving early from the hotels are often finding billfish only a few miles offshore, which is evidenced by the many photos posted on social media of jumping fish with the shore and hotels in the background. Farther offshore, the porpoise schools are holding yellowfin tuna up to several hundred pounds. Some better-quality dorado are also mixed in.Inshore, both anglers fishing from boats and those preferring to explore the beaches on foot are scoring roosterfish and jack crevalle as well as some chunky pompano to pull on.For the past several months, Muertos Bay has been on fire for larger roosters on both fly and conventional tackle. Plus, wahoo and tuna have been in the mix as well as an occasional striped marlin that has been showing up around the pangas close to shore.Another bonus is that both at Muertos and north of La Paz, the larger dorado have reappeared; and as in other locations, the key to success is remembering to release the smaller dorado and keep the larger ones for those fresh fish dinners at your hotel or favorite restaurant.The new Marina Puerto Escondido at Loreto had their grand opening in November. At that time, Enrique Salcedo, MPE manager, announced that they would have their first Robert Ross Big Game Fishing Tournament in May. The event attracted 28 local and visiting teams. Yellowtail and dorado were caught, and more than 100 striped marlin were released during what was considered an excellent first-time event! It has already been scheduled for May 15-17, 2020.During the 4th Annual Gran Torneo de Pesca Gastronomico, in conjunction with Seventh Festival Gastronomico de Almeja Chocolata in Loreto on June 1, 43 teams registered and most found the mother lode of yellowtail. Thirty-one teams made it to the scale before the 3:00 pm deadline with yellowtail weighing in the mid-teens to 32-pounds. One cabrilla tipped the scale at 28 pounds.Locals are predicting – or is it hoping – that the few larger dorado caught recently are a good sign the normal summer dorado bite will build from there, and the larger dorado will stick around.Judging from the recent results, it looks as though this is the year Baja fishing will be easy; but on the other hand, to quote some wise person, “A bad day of fishin’ beats a good day of anything else!”And from my viewpoint, “Any day in Baja is a day spent in paradise.” I’ll see you in Baja.