By Gary Graham
Local and visiting anglers alike are discovering how dazzling billfishing can be here in Cabo San Lucas. There are still double-digit “catch and releases” for those willing to travel at least 50 miles up the Pacific Coast to the Finger Bank. However, although the numbers of billfish seen are astonishing, they are matched by the fuel bill when the boat returns to the Marina.
For those who may be a bit more frugal and willing to catch only a couple, they will find enough just outside the harbor a few miles from the Lighthouse out to the Golden Gate and San Jamie Bank. There inshore and offshore action can be only a mile or two apart.
It’s not uncommon for one boat to be hooking billfish while another boat in near the shoreline, is catching roosterfish, jack crevalle, skipjack or even sierra, a popular ingredient for ceviche often served as an appetizer in many local restaurants.
Another option are the dorado, located only a few miles farther offshore; then even farther out some yellowfin tuna can be found traveling with the bottlenose porpoise. It’s also a great time to spot some of the gray or blue whales.
The seasonal migration has turned the corner following the schools of bait up into the Sea of Cortez. Stripers are reported being spotted off Palmilla and Punta Gorda and as far east as the Gordo Banks. The fleets are reporting solid counts averaging one to two fish per day, with a few boats still reporting multiple fish for their anglers. The dorado counts have been a bit spotty, but the wahoo counts have been up. Yellowfin tuna numbers were also down a bit, perhaps because of fewer boats targeting the tuna as they were almost 30 to 35 miles out. The wahoo were spotted from west of the Lighthouse to the east off Palmilla.
Inshore fishing has improved with nice catches of schools of skipjack, along with the sierra and jacks showing from Solmar to El Arco. Roosterfish have had a good showing in the surf from Solmar around the point to the Lighthouse, as well as in the Palmilla area. Yellowtail are also showing up in the most recent counts.
The panga fleet at Puertos Los Cabos had some great action just outside the marina jetty where the sardina has been schooling. The sardina were attracting schools of sierra, jack crevalle, and even roosterfish along the beach stretches. Hopefully, these baitfish will remain in the region for the coming months. Other bait options were caballito, chihuil, ballyhoo and slabs of squid.
Local pangas were venturing offshore at the Gordo Banks to the Iman Bank, and some were traveling as far north as Vinorama. The most common catch has been the Eastern Pacific bonito and red snapper (mostly smaller fish, but all good eating), striking on yo-yo jigs and various bait. Some red crabs were starting to be seen at times drifting to the surface which could develop into something if they remain. Occasional amberjack or leopard grouper were highlighting the bottom action but with no yellowtail reported.
Offshore yellowfin tuna have become very scarce recently with only a very few hooked, and only a handful caught. Those fish that were weighed in were in the 30- to 70-pound class range. However, recently a few tuna have been spotted feeding on the surface on the Gordo Banks as well as on the Iman Bank.
Dorado scattered after the inshore water changed to an off-colored green; a few anglers were lucky enough to find a handful of 15-pound dorado, however.
The striped marlin in this area were also very scattered, though every day there were a few seen. Bait schools are more spread out, so the marlin seem not to be congregating on any hot spot. With the climate continuing to warm up as the spring season approaches, we should start to see more gamefish appearing on local grounds.
At East Cape, they are shaking off remnants of cooler and rainy weather as the dreaded north winds howl. There are hints of an early spring. However, with only a few boats out fishing, it makes it difficult to get an idea on the action. So, aside from an excellent snapper bite while bottom fishing on the high spots off Buena Vista, there have been some breezing yellowtail spotted, and the sierra and jack continue to make the beach scene interesting for small boaters.
Working up the coast, both Muertos and La Ventana have had “hit- or-miss” fishing. The windsurfers and kiteboarders had fun with the continuing winds, but even on the few fishable days, the anglers who went out found it to be slow, even though they did catch some fish. However, there are some quality fish around that seem like they’re just waiting to bust loose as winter pulls away.
The coming month looks promising. Early, there were some strong winds, but then they have been dropping back quite a bit. That will hopefully kick the fish up again.
Up at Loreto, thirty or more boats were fishing in one area, and all were catching yellowtail averaging 20 pounds. Boiling bait, firecrackers and cabrilla were working the surface with the bigger boys down closer to the rocks. All of the boats were hooking the bigger fish but getting them up off the bottom was almost impossible!
The yellowtail bite was closer than many of the traditional spots. La Cholla consists of a string of boulders stretching from Coronado’s southern tip to the northwest corner of Carmen.
The bloom of blue whales that recently showed up is still thrilling many boatloads of visitors, making this busy season a success! Big yellowtail and big whales make March a “best month” for Loreto.
April conditions are a promise to anglers that there will be an early beginning to the Baja Sur fishing season which as usual will offer a few surprises.