By Gene Kira, Sept. 7, as published in Western Outdoor News:
It's hardly an accident that the "big tournament season" in southern Baja California, Mexico, fishing waters comes during the fall months of October and November. Fall is the only season of the year when you are practically guaranteed warm water temperatures, and it's the time when you have your best shot at the big fish of a lifetime. Spring seasons are fickle and notoriously "late" on both the Cortez and Pacific sides of Baja. Even at Cabo San Lucas, summers can be plagued with cold, green water and spotty fishing conditions (did anyone say "summer 2002"?). But in the fall...ah yes...in the glorious fall, the water is almost always clear and bathtub warm, and it's the season of big tunas, big dorado, and gigantic blue and black marlin nudging the 1,000-pound benchmark.
This year, Western Outdoor News' red-hot Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament is scheduled on November 6-9--right in the middle of this fall high-season--and it looks to be perfectly synchronized with the arrival of the 200-pound-plus gorillas that everyone has been waiting for all summer. In Cabo, the other big Baja fishing tournaments scheduled for this same fall period include the famous Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament on Oct. 15-19, and the big Los Cabos Billfish Tournament on Oct. 29-Nov. 2. If monster fish are your game, fall is your season. No doubt about it.
In other parts of Baja, fall is a peak fish-camping season. All along the entire Cortez coast, from East Cape north to San Felipe, there is a sharp temperature break each year about September 15. Before that, it's blazing hot on the beaches, way too hot for comfortable beach camping and launching for anyone but true Baja desert rats, gila monsters, and rattle snakes. But in mid-September, temperatures drop a significant, precious notch, and a beautiful "Indian Summer" comfortable period begins that will last until the first serious winter winds arrive in late November. All along the Sea of Cortez, it is most often during this magical fall season that you can enjoy the perfect combination of super-warm, flat water, comfortable days and nights, and plenty of resident and migratory fish to fill the frying pan.
On Baja's northern Pacific Coast, especially from Guerrero Negro north to Ensenada, fall is the time when the seas are usually nice and calm, and the prevailing San Francisco-like fog, wind, and overcast dissipates for days at a time. During this warm, sunny period you can enjoy the good camping conditions that often elude you at all other times of the year. In locations such as San Quintin (especially), Puerto Santo Tomas, El Rosario, and Guerrero Negro, fall is best time of the year, when pleasant conditions, good bottom fishing, and good runs of yellowtail, tunas, and southern exotics such as dorado are often available.
Speaking of dorado fishing, the fall of 2002 is shaping up to be an epic season for those seeking to catch a really big one off southern Baja. This fish can grow at a rate of about 30 pounds per year, and this summer, many have been caught in the mid-60-pound range, and into the mid-70s, and even the low-80s. With these fish growing several pounds per month, there is a realistic potential for a world record 90-pounder to be caught off Baja this October, November, or early December (the current all-tackle record is 88 pounds).
Off Baja's southern Pacific coast, fall is also the time for fishing the majestic Thetis Bank fish pile-up that peaks from about November 15 to about December 15 around the Thetis Bank itself and the series of Pacific high-spots known as The Ridge. Here, you can see remarkably high concentrations of offshore glamour fish including tuna and wahoo, but for striped marlin, this fall fish pile-up can go totally berserk. During this fall event, about 18 miles outside of Magdalena Bay, you can see marlin swimming in schools of dozens of fish, and it is possible to raise triple-digit numbers to the pattern in a single day. Due to the occurrence of this one incredible offshore phenomenon alone, fall would have to be considered an outstanding season in Baja.
In days of yore, September was a fantastic month for mind-boggling surface runs of yellowtail and yellowfin tuna in Baja's Midriff Area, roughly from San Francisquito north to about Gonzaga Bay. Although those runs are no more, and tuna especially have pretty much disappeared from the Midriff, fall is still an excellent season for deep yellowtail, cabrilla, grouper, various snappers, occasional dorado, and a horde of various bass species. Water temperatures are still warm, the fish are active, and the threat of killer summer heat and September chubasco's is (hopefully) behind you. The brief intermezzo weeks between "hot and stormy" and "cold and stormy"--from about October 7 to about November 7--offer a beautiful fall window of opportunity, especially for the four Midriff panga motherships that operate out of San Felipe. This is a perfect time to go down to the Sea of Cortez.
And so, from Ensenada, all the way down Baja's Pacific coast, to the big tournaments of Los Cabos, all the way back up the Sea of Cortez, fall is a great time--maybe the best time of all--to fly down, drive-and-camp, shore cast, trailer your boat, or sign up for a big-buck mega-tournament, and go for the gold! In beautiful Baja, fishing in the fall has it all.
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")