Baja Memories: Baja Norte’s magical fish camp

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COMPILED BY PAT McDONELL

Readers share their Baja experiences over the years, and they are not all about fishing! The second in a series of remembrances and adventures as Mexico continues its isolation efforts into mid-June at a minimum… So we wait, and remember the days of past adventures.

TOM GATCH – If someone told you that they could take you to an obscure fish camp in Baja that was only a few hours south of San Diego where the fishing was still as good as it was 50 years ago, would you believe them?

Well, if not, you should.

Situated on Baja’s picturesque Pacific coast between Ensenada and Bahia San Quintin, Castro’s Fishing Place has remained a favorite destination for those in the know who are in search of world class rock cod action.

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This is one place where ‘catching’ regularly surpasses simply ‘fishing’, and offers a bountiful array of quality grade red rock cod, cow cod, lingcod along with a spectrum of other tasty bottom species.

The populations of these fish along the California coast has declined greatly over the past several decades; to a point where the U.S. Department of Fisheries has placed an annual 2 month moratorium on many of them.

Although this is certainly not the case in Baja, California, many popular fishing destinations on the peninsula are also beginning to feel the impact of increased fishing pressure.  It is one of the reasons why the catch & release movement is now being embraced around the globe.

Yet, Castro’s rural locale has helped to ensure that their visiting anglers continue to experience Baja bottom fishing that is virtually the same as it was a half century ago. Known as Pacific red snapper in local fish markets, these rockfish are prized gourmet table fare, and come from depths of nearly 500 feet.

Because of the rapid pressure change experienced before being brought over the rail of a boat, their eyes will often bulge out, and their bladders grotesquely extend beyond their jaws.  Hence, it is usually difficult for these fish to be successfully released after being landed.

Castro’s Fishing Place is located about 140 miles south of San Diego and can be reached by taking Baja Highway 1 south to the Ejido Erendira turnoff, which leads to the fish camp a few miles down the road.

While the cost of going out fishing in southern California continues to soar, the prices at Castro’s remain quite reasonable; especially when you consider that you may very well be bringing back a couple hundred bucks worth of fresh Pacific red snapper fillets in your cooler.

Pangas for up to 4 anglers are available during the week for $140.00 (US), and $175.00 per boat on the weekends.  Tips for the crew and fish cleaning are additional. There are also a few small cabins available for a nominal fee.

Reservations are highly recommended during the summer season, and can easily be made by sending an email to: castroscamp@gmail.com

Castro’s Fishing Place remains a magical fishing destination where the phrase, “…there are many more fish in the sea” is not just a euphemism; it is actually a true statement.

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