From Land’s End to La Paz

MONTHLY FISHING REPORT  by Gary Graham

This month is one of the favorite months for many regular visitors to Baja Sur. It’s early enough in the developing season to avoid the summer crowds as well as the summer heat and possible storms, yet the fishing season has begun to kick in. Water is warm enough to lure marlin, tuna, roosters and other favorite exotics back to the area.

This year, thus far, the descriptive word used by most of the local captains is “normal” for the first time in several years. Sardina, (actually flatiron herring), the small, frisky baitfish that is one of the fundamental cornerstones of a successful fishing trip, have returned to the local inshore waters – from Loreto to the tip of Baja.

They are attracting swarms of hungry yellowfin tuna of all sizes, from football-size to OMG-size exceeding several hundred pounds, as well as many other species to the delight of first-timers along with expert anglers.

The tuna are often traveling with porpoise making them easy to spot. The porpoise leap high into the air, and the seabirds – from small terns to huge frigates – follow along, swooping down to the water’s surface to snatch the injured baitfish left behind by the feeding mammals and tuna.

Often, anglers hook billfish, dorado or wahoo from the same school providing some exciting surprises. Imagine a striped marlin longer than the angler is tall suddenly appearing in the wake as it snatches one of the lures and greyhounds across the surface! Imagine a wahoo, one of the ten fastest fish in the ocean, fleeing from the boat at 50-mph; or a dorado leaping high into the air just a few feet behind the transom with the bright Baja sun glistening gold off its colorful body.

A sunny day, along with fresh-caught yellowfin tuna for Sheila Verduzco and Judith Ruiz, Los Barriles, BCS, aboard Matt Clifton’s El Regalo is a sure sign spring is here.

And that’s just part of the story.

If you prefer to remain in sight of land, there is the inshore that offers some equally exciting sportfishing with more exotic species to entertain you and your family.

Most popular, especially for the fly anglers, are roosterfish, often referred to as the Punk Rockers of the sea. With their distinctive rooster comb-like dorsal fins and their gray and white striped bodies, they are tough fighters, but because they taste horrible, they are almost always released. Also, a couple of other critters found in the same neighborhood are jack crevalle, generally referred to as “toro” by locals for their bull-like tenacity. They are not quite as dramatically colored, but are equally as tough an adversary and are just as terrible tasting. The third fish in this group is the sierra with sharp teeth that will cut through almost any line but wire; however, unlike the other two, their fillets are delicious in ceviche.

From Land’s End, Todos Santos to the north on the Pacific side, into the Sea of Cortez all the way up to Loreto, all sorts of unusual, exciting fish can be found lurking in the depths around rocky points and pinnacles scattered along the coastline.

A couple of seasonal favorites are yellowtail and there’s always a possibility for a shot at a snook – not too different from those caught in Florida. However, techniques vary by region; here in Baja, many are caught in deeper water mostly using live bait or various artificial lures. When hooked, the trick is to keep enough pressure on to prevent them from cutting the line on the sharp rocks. Anglers who persevere and meet the challenge, experience a catch of a lifetime … in addition to enjoying some excellent tasting fish.

Around the corner, up into the Sea of Cortez outside of Puerto Los Cabos, the Gordo Banks are great hunting grounds for both surface and bottom fish. Including all those mentioned above, there are also grouper, cabrilla, barred pargo, red snapper, yellow snapper, pompano and the prolific triggerfish, always a popular candidate for the ceviche bowl.

Another big plus now is that the winter North Wind, that often puts a dampener on the fishing in the Cortez, has mercifully subsided. Good news for the East Cape and Los Arenas areas where yellowfin tuna and striped marlin are the best targets offshore, while inshore dorado, pompano, amberjack, roosterfish, and jacks are keeping clients happy.
At La Paz and Loreto, yellowtail, grouper, cabrilla, and pargo are keeping locals and visitors busy while they hope for an early arrival of the popular dorado.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Baja sportfishing.