IGFA Announces 2022 Tommy Gifford Award Winners

Baja Bytes –February 8, 2022     

Que Pasa

IGFA Announces 2022 Tommy Gifford Award Winners
Honoring the Top Captains, Guides, and Crew in Angling History

Jesus Araiza

Captain Jesus

One of the longest-tenured charter boat captains in Mexico’s Baja East Cape region, Jesus Araiza held a remarkable front row seat to the evolution of Baja sportfishing stretching back to 1955. Not only was he one of the first “tag & release” captains in the East Cape area, but he was also awarded the High Skipper Award for “tag & release” 19 different years during his career.  His reputation as one of the top captains at the “Ranch” was legend, and he was so popular that he was often booked several seasons in advance. Jesus retired in 2008 from Hotel Buenavista Beach Resort, a neighboring hotel, leaving the day-to-day fishing to his sons. Today, his grandson, Tony, captains the “Retriever,” a 66-foot Viking fishing out of Cabo San Lucas. Sadly, Araiza passed away at age 79 on April 8, 2021, quietly at his home in Los Barriles, BCS, surrounded by family members.


BAJA (Norte)

Tijuana Bull Ring

Afternoon fishing is better than mornings in this area too. The water is cold and warms up just a tad with the sun in the afternoon. The warmer water, in turn, gets the fish a little bit more active.
However, the best bet seems to be the Flats area, with a fair pick on sculpin, sand bass, and halibut in the afternoon hours.
Squid is the ticket for these fish. Pin a strip or two on an 80 to 100-gram Colt Sniper or a leadhead, with or without red plastics, or the two-hook dropper loop rig with red plastics.
Any of these rigs will work well for sculpin.
There are also a lot of anchovy in the Point Loma general area. In addition, there are some sand bass and mackerel following these bait balls around. Little Colt Snipers dropped down into or next to these should get you a bite. …Fishdope.com

Coronado Islands / Rockpile

Halibut is the top story here. A few boats have made good scores drifting live sardine below South Island on the hard sand bottom in 100 to 140 feet of water over the past week. These halibut were all in the 8 to 15-pound class. There were no shorts and no real big ones either. The same zone is giving up a few calico bass and sculpin. …Fishdope.com


It’s been a while, but I’ll try to make this more of a regular thing. Weather and fishing here in Ensenada have both been pretty good. There have been lots of shallow water rockfish and some excellent bass fishing. I’ve been fishing my Parker “It’s 4 Reels” north in the Salsipuedes/Punta San Miguel area, but we also found bass in El Sauzal as well. There is no live bait available right now but cut squid and plastics – especially the Hookup Baits in purple and greens – have worked for me. We are fishing primarily in 140 to 150-feet of water, but we found bass and sheephead in 70 to 90-feet. The yellows are still south of us, but you hear of one or more caught deep every once so often. Also, we understood the bluefin commercial fleet was offshore San Quintin, and they are closing in on their annual quota, which is good news for us sport fishermen! We will try to head out before the Super Bowl. Whose House?…RAMS HOUSE!!!.… It’s 4 Reels Sportfishing


It has been sketchy yellowtail action down here this weekend.
At least four sport boats were looking around on the High Spot on Saturday, but only a handful of yellows were found or caught. Two on the “Tribute” and one on the “Relentless.” The “Legend” and “Liberty” were also here but were stuck out on the yellows. What few yellows were caught all came on big heavy yoyo iron.
ALL of the boats scored big numbers of lingcod, reds, and other quality mixed red rockfish.

For the yellowtail heavy yoyo jigs (6x or 7x style) in blue/white, scrambled egg and bird poop on 50-pound line continue to be the ticket when the yellowtail are on the high spot in a biting mood. For this yoyo fishing, you can use either mono or fluoro. It doesn’t matter as it’s a reaction bite. Many anglers prefer a longer mono top shot to provide stretch in the line, which helps prevent pulling the hook on these yellows.
The fish are located with sonar at 200 to 300-feet.
30.53.800 x 116.30.200 – Colonet High Spot

San Quintin


The first day of fishing for the three of us was a beach launch about 10 miles south of San Quintin in the community of Socorro. We have been fishing with a lobster fisherman, Fernando, for years and staying in his casita.

We started off doing the shallow water rockfish thing on this trip, which was extremely slow. We had heard about an excellent barracuda bite the day before but weren’t interested. However, we saw the birds and headed toward them anyway. When we arrived, it was yellows! … strk4


Bahía de los Ángeles – BOLA

I’m headed down to BOLA in July. Gonna’ jump on a panga and fish a couple of days. Any suggestions regarding tackle and which rod/reels I should bring? How is the weather in BOLA in July?SavageSon


Baja Sur  

Que Pasa  

new flash


Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur.

Yesterday we went whale watching. Cheng and I are in Guerrero Negro with our friends, Mark and Sherri Lucke, for my 70th birthday, which is today. And of all the things I wanted to do, I decided that I wanted to hug a whale on this day. We’d initially planned to go sight-seeing up here yesterday, particularly at the pronghorn antelope preserve, but it’s closed due to covid. So we went whale watching instead. Oh man, what a day. After breakfast at the whale camp, we got on the boat, motored out into the lagoon, shut off the motor, and within about a minute, we had a visitor – a young female we named Betty White because the skin on her head was so white. She stayed with us the three hours we were out there, and after a while, another whale and then two more joined her. We had whales coming and going the whole time, but Betty White never left our boat. I think she likes us! At times, she or one of the other whales would swim underneath the boat and scratch their back, sea lice can’t be much fun, and they all appeared to have them. Once, one of them was swimming under the boat carrying us on its back – so much so it was leaving a mild boat wake! Several times they approached nose up to the side of the boat and pushed us sideways as we were reaching over to pet or hug them. Being this close and mutually friendly with these gentle giants is a unique experience. We had so much fun, we’re heading back to do it again today!! …Bob Bailey

Bahía de la Ascensión   

yellowtail catch

It is early February, and as usual here in Bahía Ascensión, the fishing season is winding down. At least for yellowtail, which I predominantly fish for when there are no exotics around. I’m not sure where the yellowtail go or what makes them leave the area; there are no significant changes in water conditions as the water temps remain in the low to mid-60s. In addition, there is plenty of bait around to keep them here, but like clockwork, the yellowtail become hard to come by from February to late July.

I did manage to land three beauties at San Pablo yesterday. It was a beautiful warm, flat, calm, no wind day. And it was wide open throttle on the 13-mile run to San Pablo. On the first jig drop of the day, I hooked the smallest of the three fish. Then it was a couple of hours of grinding with no results other than bonito. Next, I decided to troll a couple of Xraps in shallow water up the line a mile or so. I had a double hookup on a 60-foot rocky reef. If you hook two big yellowtail in water that shallow, the odds of landing one are pretty slim, but I managed to land both of them with more luck than skill. It is hard to get perspective with the photo, but the largest one taped out at 36 pounds.

The San Pablo area was teaming with whales yesterday. I probably saw close to 30 of the Gray Whales and three or four Humpbacks. About a third were headed South, a third North and the rest were meandering in the area, feeding on what looked like a layer of krill at about 50-feet in the water column.                                                         

There has been an excellent halibut bite from the beach in my area, so I decided to cruise to the San Raphael area and work the 1 to 7-fathom sand with a bait rig and Gulp grub a couple of times this past week. Decent bait was hard to come by, but I got a couple of sardine and some greenback Mackerel that were a bit too large for the job. I managed two halibut each day, all on the Gulp grubs. Several halibut raked the baits but couldn’t get anything to stick on the bait rig. …Ross Zoerhof


We have had more wind than fishing this past week. However, mackerel, yellowtail, and all the typical bottom fish are biting when one’s will permit. The big winter secret of Baja fishing in January and February has played out for generations.

Specifically, working around the weather, the cold north wind is the key. Yes, big fish and great success can occur at any time, but the big yellowtail rush happens toward the end of March. Presently, the focus is packing international tourists on boats to see the whales while the blues and humpbacks are nearby.

Back on land, the biggest action is happening in the boatyard. Deferred maintenance from fiberglass and paint to motor servicing is nonstop. So, we get the fishing fleet ready for another season, another year, while the whale tours are paying the bills!

Spark plugs, water pump impellers, oil changes, and the list goes on. Winter is as busy as any season in Baja. Fishing and fish catching slow down and balance everything else that life demands!

A calm week is forecast after a rogue wind gust this afternoon (34-mph). Maybe we light weights can get back out to the sea monsters without getting cold and wet. …Rick Hill, Click Here

Magdalena Bay

I got my first taste of Mag Bay Inshore. Fished the estuaries for four days, four different spots, and found active gill netters in three of the four spots. The fourth spot had an active fish camp nearby. I put in miles on the paddleboard with another friend for unlimited spotted bay bass, three golden trevally, and a few small grouper.

If it wasn’t for the gill nets, this place might be the best inshore fishery around. It wasn’t on camera, but a gillnetter told my friend and me that we needed to leave! He dropped nets right where we were and started banging the boat and dropping anchor to scare the fish into the net.


La Paz    

Keith Williams got himself a nice yellowtail while fishing out front of El Sargento towards Cerralvo Island.  He also got several bonito and large cabrilla. 

Folks think that if there’s crazy weather in the U.S. that somehow it stops at the border.  On the contrary, the weather doesn’t stop at the border.  If things are happening in the U.S., it affects things in Mexico.   Accordingly, winds continued from the North, although there were some spots here and there where the winds gave us a break and allowed a few moments of fishing.  However, they were rare, and you had to pick your spots. 

In addition to the usual inshore species like snapper, cabrilla, and jacks, some beefy yellowtail started to show.  The usual spots at the north and south ends of Cerralvo Island and off Punta Perico held some nice fish in the 15 to 25-pound class.  The fish were willing to chew sardine and mackerel, plus yoyos and knife jigs.  Slow trolled mackerel-colored Rapalas also kicked in a few bites.  Unfortunately, some larger fish were lost, insofar as they are around structures such as rocks and reefs, and after a slamming strike, they would freight-train back to cover – easily busting and cutting lines.

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of an excellent yellowtail season if the winds give us more breaks.  This coming week looks like the winds will dial back a bit.  Not ideal, but more fishable than it has been for any extended period. … Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter Sportfishing

East Cape  

It has been cooler than normal weather, with mid-day temps at 59 degrees and 15-mph north winds, causing some white capping. Although sea temps held at 70 degrees, the water was choppy with surf pounding. 

Hopefully, there will soon be a lull in the north winds that have howled continuously recently, much to the kiteboarder’s delight.

A lull would allow a few boats to get out for at least a few hours to fish along the shore, or a few miles offshore, where there might still be a few dorado and skipjack to pull on.

Puerto Los Cabos   

Friedman Adventures in Mexico with skateboards, sporting equipment, and more gifts for the poor barrió.

Gordo Bank dorado

It is the start of a new month. The weather in February is always known to be exceptionally unpredictable. Although typically, it can be the coolest month of the year, and we have seen some of that already as we recorded a seasonal low temperature of 50 degrees one early morning, the days have been sunny with highs up to about 74 degrees. This temperature feels cool for this area, but it is quite pleasant and very comfortable compared to much of North America. Crowds of tourists are light now, as political issues, covid threats, etc., contribute to fewer visitors than we would generally expect.

Ocean temperatures range from 70 to 73 degrees through most of the region, although green cooler water is found farther north past Punta Gorda. Bait supplies remain steady for caballito, ballyhoo, and some mackerel, though there are no reports of anyone finding a new source of sardina. Most local fishing action has ranged from Red Hill, Santa Maria, and north to La Fortuna and Iman. 

Striped marlin action continues to be the most productive action found daily, spread out through a wide zone. The mainly striped marlin averages 70 to 120-pounds, though a couple of larger blue marlin were landed near Cabo San Lucas in the last couple of weeks, so you never know what might strike on a given day. The striped marlin are striking lures and slow-trolled or drifted baitfish.

Dorado has rebounded some but now and again have become more scattered. However, we see some almost every day. Most boats have had chances at one or two, in sizes ranging over 20 pounds. Everyone is still talking about one large bull around 55 pounds that was taken off of the Gordo Banks by a local commercial pangero.

Only a few smaller wahoo were reported, though there is still a chance of hooking into one of these speedsters.

Bottom action had started to show better signs of improvement, as some nice cabrilla, snapper, and amberjack were found off the high spots. However, recently this bite came to a standstill, and bonito was the main fish taken from the area. In addition, the pelagic red crab, which had been showing on the surface, have not been around again, and the commercial fleet is waiting for more to be spotted so they can get back into the snapper action.

Mostly smaller-sized juvenile sierra and roosterfish have been taken along the shoreline, but they are fun sport on light tackle. Please remember to release these roosterfish. They are prized game fish and not known to be good eating. It’s much better to let them grow and help reproduce depleted stocks. …Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas   

Cabo San Lucas    

Boat bedazzled flags

Striped Marlin Bite continues!

Pisces 28′ Adriana: 3 Striped Marlin Released, 8 Sierra Mackerel, 1 Thresher
Pisces 28′ Andrea: 8 Striped Marlin Released, 2 Sierra Mackerel, 1 Jack Crevalle Released
Pisces 31′ Rebecca: 10 Striped Marlin Released
Pisces 31′ Ruthless: 15 Striped Marlin Released
Pisces 32′ Bill Collector: 8 Striped Marlin Released
Pisces 35′ Valerie: 8 Striped Marlin, 2 Dorado
Pisces 35′ Bill Collector 2: 10 Striped Marlin Released
Pisces 37′ BBII: 20 Marlin Released 💥
Pisces 42′ Hot Rod: 12 Striped Marlin Released

LOCATION: The best fishing locations have been the Finger Bank, Golden Gate Bank, Gasparino, and Cabo Falso.

WEATHER CONDITIONS:The sea temps have run from 72 to 73 degrees, with clear skies. The ocean has been calm with 3 to 5-foot swells and 4 to 5-knot winds.  Air temps have been from 68 to 72-degrees.    

BEST LURES:The best bait has been alive or dead mackerel, kites, Rapala, blue and white marlin lures, sardina, and ballyhoo. 

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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