Baja California, Mexico



July 19, 2006, John Gilkerson, Baja California, Mexico:

We just returned from a 10 day Baja trip that started in San Lucas Cove and finished in San Quintin.

Fishing on my 21 foot Bayrunner A-SALT-WEAPON were Matt Bentley from San Luis Obispo, Jim Bentley from Garnerville, Nevada, and myself, John Gilkerson, from Cypress California.

San Lucas Cove, Baja California Sur, Mexico, summary:

Air temperature hot, high 80's at night and high 90's to low 100's during the day with high humidity all the time. Water temperature too warm at 87 to 89 degrees everywhere. Fishing was good for the yellowtail which are starting to move deeper, great for the grouper at Tortuga, and poor for dorado and billfish.

We arrived in the RV Park at San Lucas Cove on July 7, 2006, and started fishing the next day. Bait was easy outside the cove in 20 to 50 feet of water with lots of mackerel and caballito. We fished the 110 Bajo on the outside in about 140 to 160 feet of water with a few other boats and had a great yellowtail bite. There were two classes of fish, the 20 to 30 pounders and some that were smaller at about 12 to 15 pounds. After putting 6 of the bigger class fish in the boat and a couple of nice cabrilla we headed outside of San Marcos Island looking for Dorado and billfish. No weeds, no fish, nada, so we headed in for some fine snorkeling in the 87 to 89 degree water.

The next day after making bait and doing a couple of drifts on the 110 for a few more catch and release yellowtail we headed out to Isla Tortuga. Saw one marlin jumping on the way over, but could not get it to take a bait. Again, no weeds, no dorado. We started drifting the grouper hole in 200 to 250 feet of water, and the drift and conditions were perfect. We ended up with five large sawtail grouper and 8 big cabrilla in a couple of hours fishing. We also caught and released some more big yellowtail in the 30 pound class. Awesome fishing at Tortuga.

On day three, we decided to go to Punta Prieta north of Santa Rosalia, a bad idea. We should have gone back to Isla Tortuga. This spot is either on or off depending on the direction of the current, and on this day the current was running up hill and fast, not good for fishing the drop-off on the outside. We made a few drifts but could not keep our baits on the bottom even with 16 ounces of weight. After a couple of unsuccessful drifts we called it and headed off shore looking for dorado and billfish. We finally found some weed lines off the gypsum mine north of Santa Rosalia. We managed to catch and release our only two dorado of the trip. Small females in the 12 pound class. We headed back to camp with a strong wind starting to blow out of the southeast.

The wind howled all night long, but settled for a moment in the predawn hours so we got in the boat, made a load of bait in the increasing breeze and started out hoping to go back to Isla Tortuga. A steep nasty chop stopped us at the 110 bajo. We made a few drifts, using the motor in reverse to slow us down, and managed one big yellowtail before we headed towards the west light reef. A few drifts here produced not much other than some nuisance Humboldt squid. The water at the west light reef was very clear and you could see the pinnacle that comes up to 30 feet. The water was so clear in this area that I found another pinnacle that came up to about 25 feet that I located by sight. This new spot was about 1/2 mile north of the west light house reef and about 1/2 mile off the island. We did not catch anything off the reef on this trip, but the structure looked promising. This one is now saved on the GPS and will get looked at again on the next trip.

When we got back to camp the wind was howling again, and the prediction was for a few more days of it, so we decided to break camp and head for San Quintin on the Pacific side of Baja.

San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico, summary:

Air temperatures nice, high 60's at night and mid to high 70's, when the sun came out, on the water during the day. Water temperatures 64 to 67 at the 240 spot and San Martin Island, and 58 to 62 at El Socorro. Great fishing at San Martin Island for yellowtail and calico bass. Good lingcod at the 240 spot.

We arrived in San Quintin on the Baja California Pacific coast where it was sunny and warm with calm winds. The new launch ramp is still under construction, so we put the boat in on the old sand ramp and started out of the bay. We made excellent bait at the usual location at the mouth of the bay. Wide open full bait rigs of mackerel. We ran out on smooth seas to the 240 high spot and tried a few drifts for lingcod. Caught a few, but the current was a little fast so we headed for San Martin Island. Took a quick look on the way at Ben's Rock for nothing. Ended up off the west side of the island with one other boat working open water and surface yellowtail. It was wide open all you wanted on the flylined macks. We did this for a couple of hours and ended up keeping about 6 yellows to 25 pounds. After we got our fill of the yellowtail, we anchored up by the kelp on the south side of the island over some structure and started catching nice calico bass and a big sheepshead. Great fishing at San Martin Island.

On day two, our last San Quintin fishing day, we decided to try El Socorro to the south, where we had heard that the white seabass had been biting. We arrived in the area and found cold green water and dense fog. We tried a few spots for a couple of very hungry sand bass. I actually caught two at one time, one on the hook and another holding on to the bait that had slid up my line. A few other bottom fish, but no white seabass, and the conditions were poor, so we cranked it up for the 240 spot. On the way we came across an area of feeding finback whales and big bonito in the 10-plus pound class. We had some fun with the bonito and then finished the run to the 240. Conditions were good and we put a load of big lingcod on the boat before heading back to the Old Mill.

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