By Gene Kira, September 6, 2004, as orginally published in Western Outdoor News:
Fishing at the tip of Ensenada's Punta Banda was actually slower than normal last Wednesday morning, but it was nice and steady, and by the time our panga returned to the beach at Campo Villarino, our ice chest was so full of about 10 species of fish it had heads and tails sticking out of both ends.
Our Ensenada fish count included lots of lingcod to about 12 pounds, one yellowtail of 14 pounds, one white seabass of 18 pounds, numerous bonita to over 8 pounds, ocean whitefish, rockcod, and various mixed Sebastes bottom species. With four anglers in the boat, we could easily have brought back our 40-fish group Mexican limit, but we only kept about 25 of the best fish, and released the rest.
This was a "different" kind of Vonny's Fleet Ensenada fishing trip for me, because instead of the usual frozen squid and anchovies, we used live mackerel and sardine bait caught right against the rocks near the Three Sisters rocks, about three-quarters of the way out to the point, on small Sabiki "Lucky Joe" rigs. Our Capt. Beto Zamora kept these baits alive in a five-gallon bucket, and we returned twice to this spot for more, easily caught in a couple of minutes, right beside the panga in crystal clear water, so close to the cliffs we could have reached out and scratched the rocks with our rod tips.
We started out the Ensenada fishing morning at the picturesque, fog-bound Punta Banda boiler rocks, and used up a whole bucket of bait in 60-foot deep water on straight lingcod, which varied from about 4 pounds to over 12 pounds and were so numerous we weren't counting the releases. At this point, I stopped using bait myself, and fished with nothing but small Luhr Jensen Stinger jigs. No problem at all.
But about 10 a.m., the bite turned into mixed lingcod and bottom fish, which got smaller and smaller, so we returned to Three Sisters for more macks, and headed about a mile outside the boiler rocks. The sun was just beginning to burn off Ensenada's typical morning fog, and there were hot areas of birds working in pods spaced about a quarter-mile apart, as far as you could see in all directions.
We got into a fun routine of chasing down a pod of birds and launching our jigs at it for a couple of highly variable, dink-to-huge sized bonita, and then running to the next pod for a repeat performance, keeping this up, and keeping only the "biggies," until everybody had sore arms on medium or light tackle.
But we were somewhat disappointed that our Ensenada fishing day hadn't yielded a single yellowtail, even on the kelp paddies, despite a fair amount of trolling and jigging around the numerous, very small bajos located around the Punta Banda boiler rocks, so Capt. Beto decided to run back inside for one last try.
We entered the small, semi-open "channel" that separates the two main groups of boiler rocks, and started trolling Rapalas in hopes of saving the day. This produced nothing but zilch for us, but suddenly, Beto grabbed a rod and threw a blue-white Salas 6XJr. ahead of us and about 40 yards to our right.
I don't know what Beto saw in the water (I rarely do when fishing with him), but he got hit instantly, and he yelled, "Yellowtail!" About three seconds later, his eyes bugged out and he yelled, "White seabass!!!" This croaker hit in 71.5-degree water, right on the surface, on September 1, at Ensenada. Go figure. Anyway, it was a nice, nice fish, and we started launching Krocodiles, jigs, and bait in all directions, and we trolled the area to a froth, but nope, that was the only "crazy" white seabass at Punta Banda for us that day.
However, we were still without a doggone yellowtail, as we called it a day and headed back to our Campo Villarino launch spot, stopping for a while to watch the bluefin tuna being fed at the "tuna ranchos" on the north side of the punta. As we chugged in toward the beach, Capt. Beto suddenly yelled out "Rapalas!" at a decidedly unpromising looking, very dirty water spot, just inside of Three Sisters, and guess what? Bingo! A nice yellowtail after about 30 seconds of trolling. Thanks Beto. You did it again. That was the end of a perfect Ensenada fishing day.
(Related Ensenada articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Ensenada information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Ensenada area in "Mexico Fishing News.")