Baja Spring Sportfishing Begins

Baja Bytes – March 16, 2021     

Que Pasa

With gale warnings in effect at the border, there isn’t much to talk about on the West Coast of Baja untilyou get to Bahía Asunción. There, our buddies Ross and Daniel joined forces and found only a few chunky calico bass for their efforts.

Meanwhile, on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula, Spring seems to have arrived a tad early. From BOLA and Gonzaga, there were impressive catches of good-sized yellowtail and big grouper.

Farther down at Loreto and Marina Puerto Escondido, yellowtail and cabrilla dominated the scene. Although it is late in the season, the behemoth blue whale show continued but will soon be over. It’s the same story with the gray whales on the Pacific side.

Be sure to check out Gabe Erivez’s fascinating dissertation on the Mangroves of Baja in the Lopez Mateos section.

Down La Paz way, despite the north winds, the yellowtail bite has been awesome. “Best in 25 years according to La Paz Guru Jonathan Roldan. It must be good as boats from as far away as Los Barriles are making the run north to Los Muertos to get in on the action.”

Speaking of East Cape, be sure to check out East Cape Tackle’s (Cindy Kirkwood) first Zoom Report, topping off Rancho Leonero’s (John Ireland) first report of the upcoming spring season – and Scorpion Sportfishing’s (Matt Clifton) second report. East Cape is getting an early spring start!

At Los Cabos, the stripers finally started showing again after disappearing for a week or two.

Tijuana Bull Ring

A few boats got out early before the weather arrived and did okay on rockfish at the Whistler’s hard bottom until the wind and rain drove them off the water around 11 a.m.

Coronado Islands/Rockpile

Yellowtail were located yesterday in the deep water on the flats. There were good numbers caught on the “San Diego” by guys fishing the heavy 6x-size and 7x-size yoyo irons.
To give these a try, the best bet would be to cover areas like the Flats, Descanso, and the Rockpile in 200- to 300-feet of water. Keep the fish finder focused down deep and keep moving, or maybe even slow troll a sardine while searching for a school to show on the meter. Have a yoyo iron tied on and ready to go as there will only be a few seconds to drop down to the fish for a chance at a bite before they move on. It’s not easy fishing but it can be productive. There will be better fishing away from the sport boats as competing with their chumming capacity is almost impossible for the smaller boats.
There has been no word of any surface signs of yellowtail nor have there been any signs of bonito and barracuda.
Rockfish, however, were biting great and boats were scoring limits of quality reds, whitefish, some lingcod, and some sheepshead at SKR and the Rockpile.

Coronado Canyon / 226-302 / 230 / 371 / San Salvador Knoll

No news coming out of this area over the past few days.
This triangle is where most of the bluefin signs have come from over the past month or so with the focal point to the SW around the 371. The water is cold here so expectations should remain low until things start warming up a bitFish Dope


Rough and windy weather made for tough fishing today. But CJ and his crew did manage to pull in some quality reds and calicos. We fished primarily off Salsipuedes…It’s 4 Reels Sportfishing

Lower 500 / Outside of Colonet
Old Glory made it down to this area on Saturday. They reported finding multiple schools of bluefin and some of them did respond to chum, but they just simply refused to bite anything with a hook in it.
They did, however, find good-sized yellowtail on kelp in the 10- to 15-pound range, which is pretty encouraging, and sounded like they are biting pretty well…Fish Dope

San Quintin

Despite the grumpy weather, bottom fishing has continued to fill the coolers of the visiting anglers according to Garcia’s Pangas.

Bahía Asunción

We had a good morning on chunky calicos with Ross. It was a slow pick for here, albeit mostly quality fish in the 3- to 6-pound range. We saw a couple of whales heading back north, and a ‘thundering herd’ of dolphins came and said hello on the way in. We were hoping for a sheepshead or two, but only caught the one that was in a bass’ belly. It was a cold morning, but it certainly felt good to get out on the water; it’s been a whileDaniel Powell.

Gonzaga Bay

Finally got down to Gonzaga Bay after a year of Covid and Baja travel restrictions and we got three gulf grouper to 80 pounds, and two yellows to 20 pounds on the Pacific Lures on the yoyo iron. Fished with buddies Chris Wheaton, Gary Puls and were with our guide, Capt. Juan Cook. Beautiful spot on Sea of Cortez. Tonight, we are getting our fish cooked at Alphonsin’s where we are staying, beachfront. Old-time Mexico at its best…Pat McDonell

Bahía de Los Ángeles

We just stopped for a day of fishing in Bahia on the way up from East Cape and had an amazing day with Capt. Ishmael with Guillermo’s Sportfishing. It’s off-season and not automatic limits of yellowtail like our trip down, but Ishmael worked hard and put us on a great mixed bag of fish including yellowtail and baqueta. I learned a ton about the area and am looking forward to another round when we bring the boat back up in July…Tecateando

Baja Sur-Que Pasa

Following almost a year of being unable to sell their trinkets on popular beaches like Medano in Cabo San Lucas, the beach peddlers are back. Everywhere. They are now seen on Chileno, Santa Maria, and Las Viudas beaches, among others, throughout Baja Sur. They need the money and are a Mexican attraction for many tourists who buy their trinkets, bogus Cuban cigars, and arts and crafts…Gringo Gazette.

Guerrero Negro

Whale watching a video with a family on Laguna Ojo de Liebre! It was so much fun watching the children connect with friendly whales…Shari Bondy Whale Magic Tours.


As far as fishing goes, both the cabrilla and yellowtail are biting.

One afternoon we had quick limits of yellowtail from 15 to 30 pounds on iron. The boat checked out a usual hotspot at Puerto Almejas with no response. An hour later a recheck of the same spot proved hugely productive. I guess midafternoon bites are a regular happening, but they do coincide with the happy hours back on dry land.

Harvesting a few cabrilla along the coastline is a regular Loreto enthusiast – Seal Beach Joey.

Cabrilla have been hitting both live bait and Rapala-type trolled hard baits along the coastlines. Lobo has been good for the boats using the deep-troll method. Yellowtail have been hitting live bait slow-trolled with a 12-ounce sinker. With the current in that area, it might be more accurate to say suspending a bait in the current with a little help from the four-stroke motor.

Things are going to start popping soon.  Both cabrilla and yellowtail have been crashing bait schools on the surface and that’s a good indicator of a super spring bonanza…Rick Hill, Pinchy Sportfishing

The blue whale crowd with some heavy-duty lenses within 100 feet of a beast.  Maybe they are doing barnacle research!

Lopez Mateos

Mangroves are trees that have evolved to survive in flooded coastal environments. Where salt and lack of oxygen make life impossible for other plants, these trees prosper, providing shelter and food to numerous other species. Mangroves are enigmatic and silent microcosms that extend from dwarf trees in the deserts of Baja California to 40m giants in the coastal forests of Chiapas.

Mexico is one of the countries with the most mangroves in the world. For years these ecosystems were considered unhealthy breeding grounds for mosquitoes, holding no value for society. Today, we know this fragile tangle of life generates valuable ecosystem services. One hectare of mangroves (2.471 acres) can produce 20 tons of leaf litter in a year, a larger yield than that of the most productive pasture lands. The excess leaf litter accumulates in the root network where it forms a carbon reserve 50x larger than that captured by tropical forests. This organic material serves as food for some of the main fisheries of Mexico such as shrimp, blue crab, snapper, and snook, which find refuge during their juvenile phases, in the mangrove root system. These roots, firmly anchored to the mud, absorb up to 90% of wave energy generated by hurricanes which can devastate coastal and ecological communities.

Mangroves are a giant biological filter that purifies water in estuaries. They retain nutrients and sediments from rivers creating habitats for other species that ultimately support the ecotourism industry, a successful development model for many (but not all) coastal communities. These ecological services can reach an annual value of $100,000 USD per hectare! Yet thousands of hectares are still being destroyed to be replaced with mega-developments and agro-industrial plants. Reforestation initiatives have been proposed as a remedy to this habitat loss but restoring a single hectare of mangrove costs thousands of dollars, and centuries are needed to return its services to full capacity. In 25 years, close to 50% of Mexico’s mangroves will have been lost. Is it really necessary that our idea of progress should imply the destruction of natural ecosystems?…Gabe Erivez

La Paz

MEXICAN MINUTE LA PAZ FISHING VIDEO REPORT from Tailhunter Sportfishing for Mar. 1-9, 2021

East Cape

An up-to-date overview of local fishing from Cindy Kirkwood at East Cape Tackle.

The north winds abated for a couple of days at the beginning of the week allowing us to get out to fish.  Once again, we headed north to Isla Cerralvo (aka Jacques Cousteau Island) where the bite has been hot the past few weeks. 

The yellowtail bite that had been en Fuego has somewhat slowed from all the pressure.  Despite that, we were able to get quite a few nice yellowtail on both days.  Knox, age five, was stoked on his first yellowtail which was almost as big as he was!  And his dad, Doryan, is so happy that he now has a new fishing buddy for life.  It is always such a great experience to be part of those special family memories.   In addition to yellowtail, we were able to come away with a variety of fish, including white bonito, pargo, cabrilla, and a ton of hard-pulling skipjack from the same area. 

Dorado have also become more frequent catches in the past week.  Most have been caught on live sardina while fishing for yellowtail, but we also found some outside.  While cruising home on a flat calm day, we found several tailing striped marlin.  Even though the marlin wouldn’t bite, we found schooling dorado in the same area willing to take the trolled ballyhoo.

Outside of Punta Arena, several boats in the area released striped marlin and spotted tailing wahoo.  There were also a couple of tuna caught on live bait in the area.  The water temps have begun to creep up and with the warmer water, the pelagic fish have started to move into the area…Matt Clifton, Scorpion Sportfishing

Yellowfin and yellowtail were taken on a Super Panga off the lighthouse by Rick and Dennis Owen, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Montrose, Colorado.

Water- 68 degrees. Clear and flat early in the week, with some wind starting on Thursday.

Air- Beautiful weather!  Cool mornings in the 50s.  Midday was in the mid-70s with clear, blue skies.

Most of the fishing this week has been close to the hotel. As many as a dozen boats are trolling daily for sierra off the ranch’s reef at very first light. Lots of fish were taken but the bite usually lasts for no more than an hour. The high spots are a mile off the front and are producing nice yellowtail to 50-plus pounds.
A couple of ranch boats fished the lighthouse and scored big.  Fishing live caballito and bouncing jigs no more than 100 yards off the beach, they took yellowtail from 15- to 45-pounds; a nice yellowfin around 70- to 80-pounds and a very early roosterfish around 15-pounds.

Wide-open yellowtail bite off Cerralvo Island this past month. The fish have moved South and are plentiful close to the ranch. The 15- to 20-pound sizes are abundant, though big 40- to 60-pounders are in the mix. Live mackerel and caballito are the best baits, but iron off the bottom is also working.

Some big solitary yellowfin tuna are being taken very close to shore and they are mixed in with the yellowtail – nice big fish, though not many. All are taken on mackerel and caballito.

There have been lots of 3- to 8-pound sierra caught right off the hotel with fishing wide open for the first hour of sunlight. Trolled hoochies and feathers are working best.

A few nice pargo are being caught mixed with the yellowtail. We are seeing quite a few roosterfish up and down the beach with one 15-pounder being released…John Ireland, Rancho Leonero

Puerto Los Cabos

We are still seeing light crowds of tourists, though people do seem to be showing more interest in making travel plans during the coming spring season. The weather has been in transition, although another cold front swept through over the weekend, with strong gusting winds from the north. Ocean temperatures are in the 68-to-70-degree range. Water clarity is spotty greenish, starting to clear up some around the Iman Bank, though this recent cold front did not help stabilize conditions. This entire winter season it seems we have dealt with more wind than usual. Typically, with the arrival of spring, we also see progressively warmer and calmer conditions.

Anglers were using some caballito and various sardina species for bait, but we have been seeing a lot of action off the bottom structure that has come on yo-yo jigs. Charter fleets have been fishing areas from Chileno to the Iman Bank and even as far north as Vinorama when the weather allowed. With the cooler conditions, the most productive action was found down over rocky high spots, up to 200-feet deep.  There was a wide variety of quality eating species found, though none of them in great numbers except for the bonito. Highlights were some nice grouper, amberjack, red snapper, and an occasional yellowtail.

Inshore there was good sierra action found near Chileno, but also a lot of boat pressure, as this was one of the main options going, especially on windy days; sierra were nice-sized and there were chances at pompano, pargo, triggerfish, and jack crevalle as well.

Early in the week some of the commercial pangeros and private boaters landed some yellowfin tuna near the Iman Bank.  These were quality fish in the 70- to 90-pound class. The private boaters were experimenting with the kite and helium balloon techniques, using the gummy flying fish, and with the lighter boat pressure, they got into some nice fish. Though as the weather turned, the action faded out later in the week.

Still, quite a few whales in the region, though this is normally the final month we see any numbers of these mammals before they head back on their northern migration…Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas

Cabo San Lucas

Stoked to see some marlin flags flying! Leave it to Captain Julio Castro aboard Pisces 31’ “Tracy Ann” to find them. Four were released total along with 2 skipjack tuna. Inshore, Pisces 31’ “Ruthless” had a great day also with 10 sierra mackerel, 6 roosterfish released, and 2 bonito.

Photo Griselda’s Smoke House

LOCATION: Rancho Migrino, 20-miles SSE, the Lighthouse, and the Golden Gate. 

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Mostly sunny with calm, two- to three-foot swells.  The weather was mostly sunny, with temps in the 70-degree range, and winds in the afternoon ESE at 11-mph.

AVERAGE WATER TEMP: Sea temps were from 67- to 69-degrees. 

BEST BAIT AND LURES: The best bait was either live or dead mackerel, sardina, feathers, and Rapalas.

That Baja Guy-Gary Graham

Published by That Baja Guy - Gary Graham

That Baja Guy...Gary Graham Gary Graham turned his passion for all things fishing into a profession. Whether its boats, destination travel, adventure experiences, vehicles, tackle, methods or just the spinning of a good outdoors tale, Graham has evolved into the go-to guy.

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