Monthly Fishing Report
By That Baja Guy - Gary Graham
It’s now two-thirds of the way through the Cabo fall tournament season with Thanksgiving just over a month away. Anglers have a lot to be thankful for with the big billfish, tuna, and even a few trophy-sized dorado that have been scarce for most of this year. For the record, an angler’s perception of “big” varies depending on the home waters. Down here, it takes a yellowfin tuna weighing nearly 300 pounds to raise eyebrows; a blue or black marlin has to double that.
Admittedly, many are more interested in the much smaller fish. The trophy-sized dorado in most tournaments must meet a minimum of 30 pounds. There are many smaller than that which are perfect for dinner prepared at your favorite local restaurant. Dorado, by the way, are considered sportfish and cannot be sold commercially. So, if you want fresh dorado, you must catch it! Another fish that is abundant right now is the smaller yellowfin tuna that can be served in a variety of ways, from raw to deep-fried.
In the “tough-as-nails” category are the roosterfish, and even the jack crevalle add another dimension to the outstanding inshore or beach action for trophy-sized fish.
Up at Puerto Los Cabos, expect a mixed bag. There are black skipjack with some yellowfin mixed in on the Gordo Bank, and some larger yellowfin to 70 pounds. However, as the season winds down, the dorado and wahoo seem to be the dominating species. A new school of dorado moved in outside of Palmilla Point, where limits were the rule for fish in the 10- to 20-pound class. They were striking on a variety of trolled lures as well as bait. However, be aware that inspectors are now regularly checking numbers, so make sure you don’t go over your two-fish limit of dorado. Wahoo are up north of Punta Gorda, and trolling Rapalas produced most strikes; some boats caught up to three as large as 40 pounds.
Sea temps are in free-fall at East Cape from the highs last month in the 83- to 84- degree range. Plus, the north winds that have been seasonally absent throughout summer and fall are sporadic now and will become stronger.
The dorado and striped marlin bite, with a few larger wahoo, will continue to slow as winds increase as will the roosterfish and pompano that have been consistent biters. The sardina become more difficult for the pangueros to catch.
Up La Paz way, there are two fleets to choose from – the La Paz Fleet or Las Arenas Fleet at Muertos Bay. By this time of the year, the north wind will dictate your choice. Muertos Bay is an hour’s shuttle ride from La Paz. However, it offers more protection from the north winds that are common in the winter, and fishing is often much closer to the launch area. Dorado and perhaps small yellowfin tuna will be the hoped-for surface targets as well as roosterfish, jack crevalle, and perhaps sierra – all result in an excellent ceviche and can be found along the sandy beaches. Other options are fishing along the rocky coastline for cabrilla, grouper, and pargo.
If the wind isn’t an issue, the La Paz Fleet offers fishing in La Paz Bay shoreline and around several islands as well as the east coast of the Baja shoreline, with a variety of habitats. There may still be some surface action for dorado. In-between the dorado, add a smattering of hard-fighting bonito, jack crevalle, a pargo or cabrilla, and too many pesky needlefish rounding out the day.
Farther up the coast at Loreto, the waters are cooling down. Air temps are moderate, with minimal humidity. Breezes are coming more from the north and are strengthening as winter closes in.
The San Bruno high spot is a go-to area that can provide exciting bottom fishing for some good-sized assorted snapper and some of the biggest triggerfish around.
Dorado were working the surface in this same area and filled up the two-fish limit for anyone wanting to keep these smaller dorado.
Also, north of town along the coast, cabrilla are munching sardina from Punta Colorado to Mangle, with most fish in the five-pound range.
In the same area are big schools of cocinera (a.k.a. “green jack”) which tend to be no bigger than 12- to 14-inches. Try catching a few and using them as live bait on larger hooks where yellowtail, grouper, and perhaps cabrilla or whatever else might be lurking on the bottom. Remember the adage “bigger bait ... bigger fish.”
The waters may still be warm and crystal clear. It’s a glorious time to get out and see the islands, bays, and maybe even one of the early arriving whales.
While the action around the tip of Baja remains constant this time of year, up into the Sea of Cortez, the north winds are a factor to consider when choosing your fishing days. Many times, early morning to noon is a good time to be on the water. Most operations are willing to take anglers on a half-day trip. *