By: Gary Graham-That Baja Guy
The 2019 Big Money/Big Fish tournaments are over, but there were some exciting highlights.
Turnout for all of this year’s events – in late October and early November – had excellent team numbers, as well as some exceptional payouts. A Bisbee Black and Blue tournament record of $4,584,450 was paid out to the top eight team winners. Three teams received daily payouts of over $1 million per day.
Day 1, Paul Beaullieu, aboard the Wild Hooker, landed a 466-pound black marlin earning his team $1.75 million. Day 2, Team True Grit’s owner, Jim Putman, brought a 498-pound black marlin to the scale for $1.29 million and Day 3, Team Tranquilo, angler Bill Pino caught the largest blue marlin landed during the three days at 577 pounds worth an impressive $1.41 million for the team.
In early November, the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot paid out over $1,000,000 to teams catching the largest yellowfin tuna, wahoo or dorado. Los Cabos resident John Domanic, Team Sirena, weighed in the third-largest yellowfin tuna ever caught in the event’s 21-year history earning his team $420,235 – the highest amount ever paid out in the event for a single tuna.
With most boats heading out on the Pacific side where a few VW-size yellowfin tuna lurked, as evidenced by those brought to the scale during the WON Tuna Tournament that yielded 30 tuna over 100 pounds with 12 of those exceeding 200 pounds.
Most people come to the Los Cabos area to avoid the looming cold winter back home, and are probably interested in fishing, so our area is a welcome fishing paradise wrapped in what many would consider spring-like weather.
Here in Cabo, the striped marlin are frolicking a few miles offshore around Land’s End to the north on the Pacific side in front of Cabo Falso. Mixed in are dorado, yellowfin, roosterfish, jack crevalle, and even a few sierra. That’s a catch list to envy!
The landlubbers who prefer fishing the beaches with sand between their toes may find themselves dragging a nice-sized dorado or an occasional roosterfish or sierra to the shore when the surf lays down a bit.
Or, for those who head north into the Sea of Cortez to fish, the highlight has been on the wahoo found near Vinorama, most of which were landed on slow-trolled bait, mainly caballito. Numbers have been limited, but they are more common than dorado, tuna, or any other gamefish being found. The wahoo have been mostly in the 20- to 35-pound class, with the largest being 43-pounds.
At East Cape (Los Barriles), the weather is changing as the north winds of winter begin to make their presence known. Savvy locals attempt to pick the in-between days when the dreaded winds back off early in the morning. They stay close to shore and hope for a late-season wahoo or larger dorado. Then, the tin-boaters slide into the calmer water and troll the sandy beaches in search of sierra or if lucky, a left-over smallish dorado or two … all the while looking over their shoulder for a wind line approaching from offshore.
There are blustery days, but there are beautiful days, too. The problem is no one is fishing! Snowbirds have started to descend on La Paz to enjoy the sunshine and the new malecon, but the off-season has begun, and not many are fishing because the winds are sporadic.
However, some folks go out, and on the days it isn’t bumpy, there are fish to be caught.
Most surprising have been the big tuna hung on the south side of Cerralvo Island. Go figure. Everyone leaves, the fishermen are gone, and the big tuna show.
These are tough critters ranging from 60- to 100-pounds, and though there weren’t many, those that do bite, only bite lighter line, which raises the bar when a powerful tuna crunches the bait. These fish demand 3- to 4-hours of backbreaking battle to get them to the boat.
There’s still some decent dorado running around – 10- to 15-pounds or so, enough to keep it interesting. Mix in some bonito, jack crevalle, a few pargo and snapper, the occasional little roosterfish, and it could be a fun day.
Traveling farther up to Loreto, the north winds seem to be more consistent, putting a dampener on the waning winter fishing. Oddly enough, there are still a few dorado to be found at Coronado Island.
While the commercial hand line fishermen are working "Lobo" and landing yellowtail consistently, it and the nearby rock piles are the centers of the cool-weather fishing attention. When the fish are biting at Lobo, the boats will spread out to the "50" Spot and any of the ten other bumps in between. Pargo, cabrilla, and baqueta are candidates for fillets for the cooler in this same area.
For several weeks, many boats have been fishing the shoreline of Danzante. The bite was good enough to draw interest away from the small dorado still lurking offshore. The Danzante zone was boiling over with roosterfish and cabrilla pushing the bait schools to the surface where the birds did their dive-bomb routine.
Sierra have begun chasing the schools of sardina out of Honeymoon Cove around the north point of Danzante.
There are ample “Fishy” spots along the shores of Baja Sur to bend an angler’s rod and put a smile on their faces as the colder weather back home becomes just a faded memory for the moment.