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Cabo San Lucas Fishing Seasons



Striped Marlin
Blue Marlin
Black Marlin
Jacks & Pompano
Cabrilla & Snapper

Average peak months are indicated in red, transition months in orange, off-season in yellow.
Seasons are subject to annual variations and shifting due to changing water conditions.

Cabo San Lucas Sportfishing Seasons

If the fishing seasons in the productive waters surrounding Mexico's Cabo San Lucas vacation area are among the most interesting in Baja California, there is plenty of good reason for it.

Along the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, the latitudes surrounding the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees 27 minutes north) constitute a buffer zone between the temperate waters found north of Punta Eugenia (28 degrees north) and the tropical waters found nearer the equator.

At roughly 23 degrees north, Cabo San Lucas sits near the center of this transition zone, and it's fishing seasons are therefore influenced by both temperate and tropical currents.

Also making things interesting is the fact that Baja California is located within the general confluence area of two large-scale Pacific currents, the California current coming south from Alaska, and a warm tropical current coming up from Panama. From a global perspective, sea surface temperatures along the extreme eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean tend to be compressed in a north-south direction off Baja California. Right at Cabo San Lucas itself, an especially sharp temperature break is created by the meeting of waters from the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.

An example of the resulting richness of Cabo's waters can be found in the abundance of its billfish. Here, there is almost always a very good supply of these fish--enough to power a year-round tourist industry, in fact--but they are not always the same type. In fall, about October, striped marlin that have been summering in the north, start to return to tropical latitudes for the winter, in a migration pattern similar to that of birds. By November and early December they are stacked up at the Thetis Bank off of Bahia Magdalena in such numbers that they can be raised by the hundreds in a week of fishing. By December and January, they arrive in the waters around Cabo, then scatter and continue south or sweep around the end of the peninsula. At East Cape, they peak during late May and June.

By then, however, the main pulse of striped marlin has passed Cabo San Lucas itself, and the stripers are replaced by their warmer water cousins coming from the south: blue and black marlin, and sailfish. Dorado, wahoo and tuna also arrive with warm water currents during the spring, summer and fall, after which the cycle repeats itself with the arrival again of striped marlin about December.

Other sportfishing species that also migrate into the area or become active in shallow water during the winter, spring and early summer include sierra, yellowtail, jacks and pompano, groupers, true cabrilla, and the various snapper types such as the huachinango, or true red snapper, Lutjanus peru, of which there is sometimes a good surface bite at the Gordo Banks in May when the pelagic red crabs are found in great numbers directly on top of the two bajos.

Despite this orderly portrait of seasons around the tip of the peninsula, the chances of the fish showing up exactly as described here in any given year are quite poor. In addition to the normal annual variations found in all waters, the "edge" effect at Cabo San Lucas makes things especially chaotic, in the mathematician's sense, as large-scale oceanic currents slowly undulate and swing many miles away from their median positions. As this happens, warm and cold currents eddy between the main masses of water, bringing unpredictable results. Dorado and tuna are probably the most notorious species when it comes to showing up unexpectedly, or failing to show up on schedule. Dorado, especially, can almost disappear for periods, or pile up in huge numbers when they are supposed to be elsewhere, and tuna can appear in April, August and December of the same year, with noticeable "dry" periods in between. Contributing to the marked variability of seasons in this area is the fact that "Los Cabos" is actually two different fisheries butted up against each other, the Pacific side extending up to about the Jaime and Golden Gate Banks, and the Cortez side extending up to about the Gordo Banks.

Thus, when examining the graphic fishing calendar that accompanies this article, it should be kept in mind that these are merely broad averages that can readily swing a couple of months in either direction, or be completely thrown off by large scale oceanic events such as an El Nino year. During late summer and fall, tropical storms and hurricanes also cause temporary variations in local fishing due to changes in coastal currents and temperature patterns, and the tremendous freshwater runoff following torrential rains.

Nevertheless, at Cabo San Lucas, there are so many fish almost always available that it is rare for any species to be completely absent, even during its "off" season. Catch a striped marlin in late August? Sure. You just won't catch as many. Catch a blue in February? Probably not, but at Cabo, you wouldn't want to bet your house against it. And tuna or dorado? Well, for these species, the latest fishing report, not an annual calendar, is really your best source of information.

A final note here may also be useful about seasons, not for game fish but for the bait used to catch them. The easiest times to get Pacific mackerel are from November through April; sardina all year round, with a dip in August and September; caballito more available than either during the warmer months; red crabs in May; and chihuil in October and November.

(Related Cabo San Lucas articles and reports may be found at's main Cabo San Lucas information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Cabo San Lucas area in "Mexico Fishing News.")