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Baja Reports - by Pat McDonell

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Thursday, April 12, 2018
Baja warming up!
Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Tuna action spreads out in Cabo region


Tuna time begins in Cabo
Stripers go one the wane but when winds let up, boats scored solid tuna close to 100 pounds 12 miles out, signaling a change;
Wind was a factor throughout Baja,
but when it let up, action was excellent


CABO SAN LUCAS — It was a matter of time before the tuna went off, or got close enough and big enough for the Cabo San Lucas charterboat captains to target for customers. This past week the yellowfin went off as the season officially opened on the better grade of tuna that led to an epic summer and fall bite. It was that long stretch of action in 2017 that culminated in the best two days of fishing in the nearly two decades of the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot has been held each November.


Will we again see a bite like that again, the kind that produced the best cow and super cow action in the history of the tourney? The action was topped by the 338 pounder caught by the champs, the Estrella Del Norte team as several 200 pounders were weighed, and there were two other huge tuna including a 300 plus pounder that were caught and weighed but could not be brought to the scale by the weigh deadline. Epic big tuna fishing.


There is no question the 20th version of the tourney is a tough act to follow Nov. 7-10 when it comes to duplicating the excitement and the parties and big fish of the 19th annual edition. Last year was an incredible tourney, with nine money winners, 147 teams, $677,000 in prize money and 11 events for anglers and guests to participate in. Also, anglers, sponsors and staff raised $20,000 for Smilesinternationalfoundation.org.


The tourney features two shotgun starts, drawings at three nightly parties, an awards dinner for 800 anglers and guests, two weigh-ins, a fantastic team check-in at the Tesoro on the malecon with all the sponsors and staff attending to start it all off.


For details on this event, go to the official website for information at www.loscabostunajackpot.com .


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TUNA TIME IN CABO — The yellowfin tuna action busted loose for quality yellowfin, reported Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing, with fish 60 to 80 pounds among the 400 tuna landed by Pisces Boats put for Cabo this past week.


So what was the action like in Cabo this past week? It was a good start. Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces said it was clearly “tuna time” at Lands End. So, while striped marlin action at the Golden Gate slowed, winds picked up to keep the water temps down at about 71 degrees, but the tuna emerged as the No. 1 target, kicking out smaller fish as close as 12 miles and the bigger grades as far at 40 miles.


“Small-game numbers have gone down, but that was due greatly to the amount of tuna that showed up,” said Ehrenberg. “Over 400 tuna were caught this week among all Pisces boats. This week’s top tuna boat for us was, without a doubt, the Tracy Ann where the only day they did not catch upwards up of 15 tunawas the day they did not leave the dock. The Tracy Ann alone caught 101 yellowfin tuna this week!


“Day after day, Captain Julio and mate Martin impressed. Anglers Bryan Wadson, Murray Ferg and Steve Crowley, all from Canada, caught 28 yellowfin tunaranging from 8 to 18 pounds each, all of which hit on feathers and cedar plug lures at 28 miles out for the Old Lighthouse. The next day the boat caught 30 yellowfin, of about the same size, this time near San Jaime for the English family from Charlevoix, Michigan.”


The largest of the yellowfin caught this week was not by the Tracy Ann, though, it was the 35-foot Knot Workin and anglers Andy and Cheryl Lawrentz and James and Maureen Frieze who caught tuna of about 60 and 90 pounds. The fish slammed hoochi lures about 12 miles out from Los Arcos.


The Pisces Rebecca also had a great day with anglers from New York catching 30 yellowfinof about 5 to 12 pounds each on feather and cedar pug lures at the 220 Spot. They also landed (and released) anice striped marlin of about 180 pounds on mackerel.


“For the most single day marlin, the Ruthless was our top boat, with 3 striped marlin caught and released at Golden Gate on mackerel by Kimberly Rheppard and Lisa and Steve Reynolds.


The top single day catch of all the boats? Pisces’ Yahoo caught all three of the most sought-after species: marlin, tuna and dorado last Friday. It caughta pair of 10-pound class dorado, 2 striped marlin and 15 tuna for anglers Ed and Peggy Lyon, and Jimmy and Susane Rotat who caught and released the 2 striped marlin found outside the San Jaime Bank. The football sized tuna hit on cedar plug lures 42 miles out.


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CHUCK TOENISKOETTER AND son, Adam from Los Gatos, CA try to come down to La Paz at least once a year to fish and did relatively well despite tough conditions while fishing, once again, with the Tailhunter Fleet. This one-day rack of fish shows an incredible variety including yellowfin tuna, a big yellowtail, a nice cabrilla, white bonito, pargo mulatto and a red snapper.


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BAJA PIRATES ANGLERS scored some serious tuna. In these photos Michael Flewelling, Cristen Boulden, Brian Burger and Theresa Burger from Washington caught these tuna on live sardines using Avet LX reels, Ugly Stik rods, 40-pound Izorline and 2/0 Mustad hooks. In the second photo, Thane Berry and Glenn Davis from Boise, Idaho are pictured with their tuna, and the final photo, Tommy Grossnickle from Oregon is with his hefty yellowfin.


LA PAZ — Baja Pirates fleet anglers scored some serious tuna at the El Bajo seamount, said Leonard Phillips. He sent some great shots to WON over the weekend. In one photo Michael Flewelling, Cristen Boulden, Brian Burger and Theresa Burger from Washington show off some bigger tuna on live sardines using Avet LX reels, Ugly Stik rods, 40-pound Izorline and 2.0 Mustad hooks. In another photo, Thane Berry and Glenn Davis from Boise, Idaho are seen with some big yellowfin, and in another shot Oregonian Tommy Grossnickle stands next to a 100-pound class yellowfin.


The Baja Pirates Fleet is offering some great packages this year, with transportation in vans from Cabo, a choice of three hotels, and your choice of eating each night at any of the 15 best La Paz restaurants, along with top fishing boats and captains for inshore and offshore action.


Winds were an issue last week, though. It’s that time of year when the length and frequency of the blows start to wane. But… it is still spring in Baja Sur.


“Just when we thought it might be mellowing out, those winds came back and hit us again this week,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter which runs pangas out of La Paz in town and also out of Muertos Bay. “In fact, one day the northerns were so bad, there were surfable breakers in our normally calm La Paz Bay and the port captain closed the port for any boats leaving. So, it wasn’t the greatest week for fishing. “


Roldan added, “There was some variety, but not much for quantity although some days there was some great action on some pig bonito. Not only good fighters, but these are “white bonito” (Bonito Diente). They have teeth, but also have some incredible white meat for table fare. Most folks would not be able to tell it from tuna.”


In addition they had some 15- to 30-pound yellowfin tuna show up around Cerralvo Island and some larger that were lost after long battles.


“But, the issue is getting across the channel to the island. If there’s wind and rollers happening then getting across to the island (and to get sardines) is pretty futile,” said Roldan. “But, inshore offered alternatives like several species of pargo including pargo mulatto (barred pargo); pargo liso (mullett snapper); cubera snapper (pargo perro / dogtooth snapper) as well as red and yellow snapper (huachinango). We also got some action off cabrilla (seabass) and some decent triggerfish and jack crevalle.”


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ACTION OUT OF San Jose Del Cabo with Gordo Banks Pangas took a side turn with cold currents from the Pacific moving in, but there are always chances at some action on the local banks.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas at Puerto Los Cabos Marina said crowds are lighter, the weather cooled off starting a week ago, and green-colored water moved in off San Jose Del Cabo and dropped the water temperatures into the 67 degree range.


“Of course this did not help the surface fishing action much at all, basically shutting down the tuna and marlin bite, though the all-around climate was nice, lows of about 60 degrees and highs up to 80 degrees. Typical spring time conditions during this transition period,” he said.


“Anglers found that sardinas were scattered as well, some of the clear type of sardinas which are used for dead baits, also some rigged ballyhoo, a few caballito. The best action found was for shallow structure species, using various baits, as well as more fish starting to strike on yo-yo jigs, particularly the bonito and leopard grouper, a few amberjack and yellowtail.


“Last Sunday the yellowfin action was very good north of Vinorama and a few were caught on Monday as well, these were fish in the 30- to 60-pound class. Since then the cold green water has shut this action down and now we are waiting patiently for the conditions to rebound. In the meantime the best bet has been to concentrate on bottom species over the various rock piles. The red crabs also were less active, but the fish were starting to strike the yo-yo jigs better. Several yellowtail up to 30 pounds were accounted for, a handful of amberjack, a variety of snapper and pargo and quite a few leopard grouper in the 5- to 18-pound range. All very good eating fish.”


Brictson said that along the shoreline there were sierra, jack crevalle and an occasional roosterfish, this action was spotty though, but if you were at the right place at the right time there were some nice fish found.


“Billfish, dorado, wahoo were not in the picture at all, with the exception of a few striped marlin and dorado early in the week before conditions completely changed,” he said.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 66 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 2 striped marlin, 5 dorado, 18 yellowfin tuna, 32 yellow snapper, 20 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 42 huachinango (red snapper), 125 bonito, 7 amberjack, 9 yellowtail, 22 barred pargo, 6 roosterfish, 10 jack crevalle, 35 sierra, 1 halibut, and 200 assorted bottomfish.


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OUTPOST CHARTERS IN Loreto on the Cast N Reel turned up the yellows for their customers at the north end of Catalan Island on runs out of Marina Puerto Escondido.


LORETO — Yellowtail season is on here. Jay Yadon, captain of the 40-foot Cast N’ Reel and owner of Outpost Charters out of Marina Puerto Escondido, said his anglers wore “smiles from ear to ear today (April 10). I think they might be sore tomorrow!” Much of the action took place to the north of Catalan Island with surface iron and flylined macks and yo-yo iron and dropper loops getting the big forkies.


To the north, in town, Rick Hill of Loretotours.com reported, “Fishing remains unchanged for the most part with little action north of Coronado Island. Yellowtail are being caught around Carmen and Catalan with some mega-boils of yellowtail on huge balls of sardinas. Bottom fishing is consistent for the smaller year round resident fish: reds, snappers and hauchinango.”


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FLYING DODO — The East Cape tuna bite was on, then simmered and cooled off with winds for a few days, and by the weekend the water was flat calm and the bite on tuna, marlin and dorado was on once again. PHOTO BY MARK RAYOR


EAST CAPE — John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero reported to WON that the seas were flat calm Saturday and Sunday, the water was 73 to 74, the morning air cool, and the daytime temps in the low 80s. As they say in the U.S. they enjoyed “Chamber of Commerce” weather.


But what about the fishing, which took a plunge when the winds hit — and split — during the week?


“It’s a mixed bag this week,” said Ireland. “Good fishing but not as consistent a bite as the past couple of weeks. Early in the week, the area off the white cliffs south of Frailles was producing limits of nice yellowfin. As the week progressed most of the tuna taken were under porpoise. Some nice yellowfin to 60 pounds on live sardines and chunk squid working best.”


Ireland said there were a couple of keeper dorado hitting the fillet table at the hotel, and skipjack are everywhere.


As usual this time of the year, the striped marlin are abundant and anglers targeting billfish are scoring, with slow-trolled ballyhoo working best.


“The inshore and bottom fishing is good!” said Ireland. “Lots and lots of small roosterfish have the marina jetty entrance literally covered. Hungry little pez gallos! Barred pargo, dog toothed snapper, cabrilla and some nice amberjack are coming off the bottom. Squid and chunked skipjack are the bait of choice.



On Saturday, Capt. Mark Rayor weighed in from Jen Wren Sportfishing at Los Barilles on Saturday morning. That was before the tuna and marlin bite both perked up.


“The spectacular tuna and marlin bite has stalled,” he said. ”Early in the week a cold current with green water invaded Los Frailes and high spots further south to shut down the tuna bite. Offshore the water is still blue and clear. Porpoise schools have not been hard to find but the yellowfin have descended to 100 to 120 feet. We can see them in our fish finder but they don't want to come up to feed. Previous weeks we could see them in 30 to 60 feet, and when trolling over them it was game on.”



Rayor said in his weekly blog that striped marlin seem to be scattered everywhere.


“I believe they are plugged with squid and that is why they are not interested in the fin bait or lures we are using,” said Rayor. “My friend Arturo baited ten fish the other day but could only get one to go. It is no surprise and always the case when the marlin are fine dining on calamari, they don't want any part of our offerings. It is like having a choice between steak and lobster or a Spam sandwich.”



Dorado, he said, seem to be the only fish around showing aggression. The difficult thing is they haven't schooled up and are not that plentiful. The fish they are finding have been good quality and bending the rod.



“My personal feeling is the outlook is better than just good. The conditions we are experiencing are not unusual. It happens every year and will turn around. The fish are here and so is a huge volume of bait. The stage is set for the bite to pop again.”


Which it did on Sunday.


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THOMAS ARANDA OF San Diego with his leopard grouper from Gonzaga Bay last week.


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GONZAGA BAY IS pretty fun these days, says guide Juan Cook, who said fishing is good all over with a lot of bait, featuring action on cabrilla, big sierra, corvina and yellows.


GONZAGA BAY — Thomas Aranda of San Diego posted on Facebook Saturday the following about Gonzaga Bay.


“Had a phenomenal time this week with @c_lo_baugh down in Gonzaga Bay!! I'll be posting more pics throughout the next week of the trip or cruise out to Day at the Docks in Point Loma today and stop by the #cousinstackle booth to hear more of the story. Final fish count for 2 days was 24 species including 120+ leopard grouper to 20 pounds, 100+ sierra mackerel up to 10 pounds, 12 yellows, and many many more.”


* * *


Baja and mainland Mexico reports from readers are appreciated when you return from your trip, or during. Just send any information or attached photos to Baja@wonews.com . Reports for the paper and wonews.com should be sent by Sunday mornings.


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