Baja California, Mexico



April 20, 2005, David Leer, Baja trailer boat fishing, Baja California, Mexico:

I just got back from a month of fishing in Baja. March 17, 2005, to April 17, 2005. The annual Baja California trip was awesome as always. Weather in Baja was overall windy but we still managed to get some great fishing in. Yellowtail fishing north of Mulege was awesome. We spent some time fishing Punta Chivato and got into several yellowtail, the largest being 51 inches!

Then we headed to the East Cape sportfishing area of Baja and fished a red hot striped marlin bite off of La Ribera. There were five of us fishing in two boats. Over two days we all landed a marlin each and hooked up with several others! What an amazing experience catching fish almost half as long as my 16-foot Klamath.

After fishing at La Ribera, we headed back up north and fished out of San Lucas Cove for about a week. Yellowtail fishing off the north tip of Isla San Marcos was excellent and we landed 15 or so in 4 fishable days.

Traveling went fine in Baja. There are cops with radar around Catavina and Guerrero Negro but we didn't get stopped. Also there are large potholes in a few places, most notably just south of Mulege.

While fishing at Punta Chivato we camped on the beach a mile or so north of the hotel, at $10 per car/night. While fishing on the East Cape we stayed at La Capilla again this year, at $10/night for all vehicles. While fishing at San Lucas Cove we camped at San Lucas RV park, at $7 per car/night minus 10% Vagabundos discount.

I towed my 16-foot Klamath EXW down and one of my friends brought his 18-foot Gregor Seahawk down as well. We're set up for Baja beach launching so boat ramps were nice when available (San Lucas RV Park) but not necessary.

As for fishing, we fished bait and iron, 1-4 ounce, pretty much everywhere.

While fishing at Punta Chivato we were able to jig bigeye and Pacific mackerel on sabiki rigs. We would head out in the dark and try to make bait before sunrise, usually worked pretty well if the weather was decent. Best place was off of Punta Santa Ines in 25-40 feet of water. Also in front of the hotel in 15-20 feet was productive.

At La Capilla, we bought live Pacific mackerel from pangueros in the morning. It was $2 per bait but definitely worth it for the chance to hook a striped marlin. I think that it would have been relatively easy to jig our own bait here also but our stay was short so we just bought bait the two mornings we used it. This was definitely the way to go while we were there. I hooked one marlin trolling the first day then we hooked 8 or 9 over the next two days flylining live mackerel! I also caught a couple of jack crevalle out of boils while marlin fishing. When the boils came up I tossed a light iron jig, 2 ounces, in and it was pretty easy from there.

At San Lucas Cove we went back to fishing for our own bait. Not too tough for most of the days. We again jigged sabiki rigs for black and Pacific mackerel. Mostly off the cliffs about 6 miles north of camp in 120-180 feet of water. A couple days we had to go out to 280 feet just to make bait! Once we had bait then fished the north tip where most of the action was on bait with 1-4 ounces of lead. I caught a few fish on iron but wouldn't even make the run across the channel without bait if I could help it.

Our total species list was probably less diverse than normal because of poor ocean conditions over much of our Baja trip that didn't allow for much reef fishing. We did manage to find: blunthead, finescale, and orangeside triggers, leopard grouper, flag cabrilla, Cortez and wavyline grunts, barracuda, yellow snapper, ladyfish, sierra, Pacific creole, mutton hamlet, goldspotted bass, a few small to medium sharks, one hammerhead, jack crevalle, yellowtail, striped marlin, Cortez halibut (small ones while jigging bait), ocean whitefish, bigeye scad, Pacific mackerel, black mackerel, Mexican halfbeak, barred pargo, a dark pargo that I've never seen before, spotted rose snapper, bigeye (deep water red fish), Mexican hogfish and probably a couple of others that I'm not remembering.

Most of the diversity we encountered was at Punta Chivato because it seems relatively easy to find less disturbed reefs there. Also the weather did not allow us much prospecting time while fishing at La Capilla or San Lucas Cove.

As for Baja fishing weather, viento is the word. This is the fourth year I've been fishing in Baja during mid March to mid April and this was by far the windiest trip I've had. Water temperatures were considerably cooler than I've usually encountered during this time of year, 64.5-65 degrees at Punta Chivato and San Lucas Cove, to 67.5-69 degrees at La Ribera. I have a feeling this is due to increased mixing of the water because of all the wind.

Also we saw less whales than normal in Baja. We did see a few humpbacks and a couple of sperm whales but no fin whales and nothing like last year. There were far less dolphins on the East Cape this year as well but we encountered hundreds of common and bottlenose dolphins while fishing Isla San Marcos. Excellent Baja birding as well, I even found two red-billed tropic birds sitting on the water!

One additional interesting thing was the number of Mexican Navy ships we encountered, in fact we had two of the PT boats drive right up to us on different occasions. This was a first for me but neither encounter lasted more than 30 seconds or so. They seemed to want to say hi more than anything else, still a PT boat on full step bearing down on a 16-foot aluminum is quite a sight.