Winter kayak fishing in Northern Baja is awesome in the sense that fish can still be found in multiple water columns and not just the bottom. Shortly after this red rockfish hit a krocodile tipped with a squid head at 125 feet, I yanked this calico out of the boiler rocks on a red 5" Fishtrap just several below the frothy surface. Paddling distance between where the two fish were caught, about 10 yards.
By Adam "Trout" Traubman
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a four-part series on year-round kayak fishing in all seasons by Adam "Trout Traubman, an expert kayak angler, associated with Coastal Kayak Fishing (owned by Dennis Spike). CKF offers kayak fishing schools, clinics and trips for all skill levels, as well as kayak fishing accessories. Their can be found here, and they can be reached at (818) 345-5824.]
Winter. For most anglers, 'tis the season to not set the alarm clock. It's cold, the game fish are few and far between and ocean conditions can get downright ugly. With the exception of those fishing soothsayers that manage to outfox Mother Nature's Winter antics and track down the homeguard monsters, most anglers use the season to take time off the water to break down the reels, spruce up the boat, dump the rusty hooks, organize the lead and scrape the mystery crud off the artificials. But for the folks fishin' out of the kayaks, there's only a day or two (or however long that short rain storm is supposed to last), because the season never ends. With the ability to find windows in the weather for those short-but-sweet jaunts to the kelp paddies, quick sprints to the outer sand bars, and "quickies" to our favorite inshore structure, kayak anglers are getting the most out of fishable Winter hours.
Kayak fishing this time of year is not conducive to everyone's style of fishing. I can't help there, except to recommend following the forecasts closely and picking "guaranteed" nice days. But for those that are willing to throw on a wetsuit and take that crisp morning plunge through the breakers, get ready to play skipper, deckhand and angler all at once. You are in command.
Kayak fishing this time of year is not conducive to everyone's style of fishing. I can't help there, except to recommend following the forecasts closely and picking "guaranteed" nice days. But for those that are willing to throw on a wetsuit and take that crisp morning plunge through the breakers, get ready to play skipper, deckhand and angler all at once. You are in command.
Before I go on about winter kayak fishing, I'd like to touch on the "how to" basics for those new to the sport and those that are interested in starting. To begin, fishing from your kayak can be made as basic or complicated as you choose. Whether it's one rod and a few artificials, or three rods, a full live bait tank and sonar--personal choice is the protocol. The self-teaching process can be fulfilling, but in the early stages it is highly recommended to tag along with someone that has experience. An entry-level class can take a year or two off of the learning process, does wonders for confidence and can save hundreds of dollars in lost and/or damaged gear by learning to avoid common mistakes. In either case, learning curves are different; what takes a year for some, may take a week for others. Go at your own pace. The best way to get started is to take an empty kayak out for a day in moderate surf (2-3 feet) and get a feel for what it's like. Spend time going in and out of the breakers, moving around on the kayak beyond the surf zone (i.e., reaching your hatches and being mobile in general) and practicing the self-rescue technique. If you aren't comfortable just "being" on a kayak, I can guarantee you more than a spot of trouble when attempting to hook, fight, tire, gaff and stow a 25-pound fish.
Affirm the fact that kayak fishing is a hybrid sport and if one of the two sides (kayaking or fishing) has a shortcoming, the lack of confidence that coincides with that inadequacy will take some of the fun away. Tackle those weaknesses until they have been remedied and, once the raw essentials of kayak fishing have been learned, put them to work. Exploit the winter fisheries with basic techniques such as trolling, pot-holing, drifting and jigging. Pot-holing is not an option in Southern Baja since kelp is non-existent, but this technique of tying up and fishing the gaps in the kelp canopy works wonders in the California and Northern Baja fisheries. By employing the methods mentioned above, the kayak fishing "newbie" will gain familiarity and comfort fishing from a kayak, increase hookups, and subsequently enhance and heighten skills. Cut bait, simple gangions tipped with strip bait, krocodiles, plastic swimbaits, irons, Rapalas, hoochies, etc. are all standard for entry-level kayak anglers (live bait can be filtered into the kayak fishing arsenal further on down the line).
Final "how to" thoughts rest on the subject of SAFETY, which should actually be first and foremost in everyone's mind. A few pieces of safety gear that should always be taken are: a whistle or blow horn, compass, navigational headlamp, glow stick in case of lamp failure, bright flag and binoculars. Others to consider are a GPS to help with your positioning (especially good for finding your way back through dense fog), VHF hand-held radio for communication and Coast Guard access, an EPIRB (sends a trackable signal if you are lost out at sea) and an emergency flair. Always tell someone where you will be fishing and approximately when you will return. Winter conditions demand immediate action in emergency situations and minutes count. Peace of mind equals a good time, so make safety precautions a priority.
Returning to the original subject at hand, we'll pop the question: "What's the big deal about winter kayak fishing?" For starters--you're fishing! Brief winter storms aside, this time of the year provides some of the glassiest, sunniest, most tranquil moments on the water, and since wind is the true enemy of the kayak angler, months remain before the spring gusts start deterring us from consistent fishing from the 'yaks.
Now with Baja in mind, I am regionally biased this time of year for a variety of reasons. When I rave about fantastic Baja kayak fishing in the winter, I am basically claiming the Northern Pacific region. The fact is that a lot of anglers paying attention to "Bundo's" site (www.bajadestinations.com) concentrate on the upper Upper Cortez, Midriff Islands, East Cape, Cabo, Mag Bay, etc., which are all quite different than the cold and rugged northwest Baja fishery. Not everyone, but most. Bluntly speaking, I simply don't do much winter kayak fishing in those regions because: (1) I'd prefer to wait until "the season" to spend the time/money/energy to fish them; and, (2) the Northern Pacific region (i.e., the border to San Quintin) seems to have the most action, serenity and all other components that facilitate good kayak fishing. Of course there are exceptions, but let's cut to the chase.
Albeit you won't find yourself out there without a shirt in December... the lack of crowds and abundance of rockfish, bull calicos, log-sized barracuda, big bonies and homeguard yellowtail will draw smiles from 'yak anglers all around. Once January hits, it now becomes a haven, as rockfish season closes in Southern California Fisheries (be sure to check up on the new regulations). All of a sudden those 10-pound lings, big cabs and chunky reds don't look so bad!
Once the general area is chosen, it's only a matter of launching and paddling to the spot of choice. Most hot spots can be found less than a mile away, and sometimes within a few hundred yards. I've never viewed live bait as "mandatory" in these parts, and Krocodiles tipped with strip bait, Carolina rigged fresh-dead squid and a variety of plastic swimbaits is all I've needed to get my fill. One thing I do recommend in these parts is a decent sonar for finding structure holding fish and avoiding excessive snags in those hidden, underwater kelp forests. Employing even the most basic fishing tactics mentioned previously will get you the winter kayak fishing action you're looking for and finally the elimination of those winter fishing doldrums.
So that's it. Hopefully by spring you should have a basic kayak fishing set-up (if you don't already), all the essential skills under your belt and a few good fish stories to boot. At that time, I'll follow up with Round 2 of this four-season feature, which will include a few pearls on springtime kayak fishing, additional gear, more tactics and techniques, and Motherships. You'll be able to find that piece on Gene Kira's phenomenal new Web site: www.bajadestinations.com. For the time being, here is a list of gear that will help get you started. --Suerte, Trucha
BASIC KAYAK FISHING GEAR AND ACCESSORIES
Kayak-- Many to choose from, but the "sit-on-top" style is recommended for safety, storage, ideal outfitting space and overall fishability. "Sit-inside" kayaks are used for staying dry and providing more comfort, but the "sit-on-top" kayak anglers heavily outweigh them for various reasons. Opinions differ, so try before you buy.
Paddle-- The basics to consider when choosing a paddle are its size, weight, durability, construction and purpose (i.e., you don't want a white water paddle for the open ocean). Note that paddles thrown in with a kayak in "package deals" are usually junk; the same goes for seats.
Seat-- Spend a few extra bucks here, as your comfort is crucial when spending a good chunk of the day on the water. Get a seat that handles weather well, especially the combination of saltwater and direct sunlight.
Personal Floatation Device (aka: life jacket)-- Aside from the fact that it's the law to have a PFD, it also may save your life one day.
Paddle clips-- These are mounted on the rail of the kayak in a position that is customized for each individual kayak angler. They eliminate the inconvenience and problems of wedging the paddle under a leg or balancing the paddle on the kayak, which is uncomfortable and even has the potential for disaster (lost paddle). Paddle clips allow the kayak angler to know where to place the paddle each and every time: quickly, conveniently and safely. They serve primarily as a paddle holder and are also used to store 1-2 fishing rods when launching in moderate surf conditions.
Rod holder-- There are many rod holder designs available, but all serve the same purpose: to store your rods, free up your hands, allow you to troll effectively and provide yourself with the option to "dead stick" one setup (fishing a second setup hands-off), while actively fishing another. Many apply additional rod holders to stow a net (mandatory per DF&G law) and a gaff (optional, but highly advised).
Bowline-- Yellow, high-grade braided line with brass clips is essential in the list of safety gear. It also serves as a line to attach to other kayaks or anchoring up to another object/structure. These are usually mandatory on mothership trips.
Surface anchor-- A simple accessory with "1001 uses." This nylon/elastic shock cord with loops (and optional brass clips) does the following and much more: takes the shock out of swell and/or wind chop when anchored up to any form of structure, effects the application of a folding anchor (bottom) or a drift 'chute (AKA: "sea anchor"), backs up the paddle clips when taking rods through the surf (tie-down), provides shock absorption while tied up to another kayak and helps lash down various items to the deck of the kayak.
Folding anchor-- This collapsible bottom anchor is primarily used in flat waters (i.e., bays, estuaries, lagoons, lakes, ponds). If you find a hot spot and intend to keep both hands free while staying on it, this is a must.
Deck Sheath-- This can be attached to the deck of the boat, worn on a belt or hung from a fishing vest. It is used to store a bait knife and pair of dykes/pliers, while keeping them out of harm's way. Without the deck sheath, poking or stabbing yourself while on the kayak is inevitable.
Trolling Bait Bucket-- A vital accessory for those inclined to fish with live bait. This is a ventilated bucket that can hold 3--12 baits, depending on size and specie of the bait. Water circulation is simply done by dunking the bucket on occasion. This can be a hassle, but requires less maintenance and money than a plumbed/electrical bait tank.
Wheels-- Although many Baja beaches have excellent access, there are a number of exceptions. Some of the best fisheries (and most "secret spots") are guarded by distance and/or rugged terrain (i.e., deep sand, rocks, logs); sturdy kayak wheels are required in these situations.
Rhynobar-- The Rhynobar gives the kayak angler a mounting place for rod holders, fish finders and other accessories. It is also designed to serve as a stable base for tying off larger species, such as thresher sharks.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: LILY FLEET, Ensenada, January 6, 2001, Sammy Susarrey, Reservations Tel/Fax, 5 to 9 p.m., 011-52-617-46747; Cell 011-52-618-67485. Today, the "Amigo" fished locally with 2 anglers, catching 9 whitefish, 3 sheephead, 2 lingcod, 16 red snapper, and 4 medium-sized barracudas. Also 5 sculpin at the Todos Santos reef. Nice flat day with Santa Ana conditions. Surfing at Todos Santos Islands still good with big swells. Water temperature is 58 degrees. Cool, clean water. We are still using frozen squid for bait.
January 8, 2001-- Yesterday we fished the Punta Banda or Soledad Reef and we got 18 red snappers, 3 lingcod, 14 salmon groupers, 2 bass and 13 miscellaneous. Water temperature 60 degrees. Clean water. Today we saw a lot of sea lions in the area, and big long swells or olas. We had six anglers fishing from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. We also had surfers at Todos Santos Island, nice surfing olas.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: SAN QUINTIN SPORTFISHING, San Quintin, January 7, 2001, Gene Allshouse, Reservations 011-526-162-1455. Hi Guys and Gals. We have had a great two weeks of fishing here in San Quintin. The weather couldn't have been better with absolutely flat seas, lots of sun and the fish biting on Irons, squid, and all kinds of lures. You have to work for the Yellowtail but, they're here at the 6 bank and the 15 bank. The great thing is you can drop a line or gangion over the side and hook some great bottom fish while you're throwing your irons for the Yellowtail. We are literally filling the coolers with a nice, wide variety of fillets. You can expect to catch Yellowtail, Bonita, Barracuda, White Fish, Rock Cod, Ling. Cod, Sand Bass, Sugar Bass, Calico Bass, Sheepshead and more. Those of you who only come down to San Quintin for the Tuna are really missing out on a great fishing trip for the family. Think about it! When you plan that trip in the summer, the better half may be a little more lenient! So, bring a big cooler, the family, and teach those little ones how to do it and what it's all about. Hope to see you all here. --Gene
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: BAJA ON THE FLY, San Carlos, January 6, 2001, Gary Graham, Reservations Tel 800-919-2252; Fax 760-746-7260. Temperatures: Some clouds and a 75-degree high; low 59 with stormy conditions. Water temperature: 67 degrees in the mangroves and 69-71 offshore. STRIPED MARLIN--Not much going on. DORADO--Pretty quiet this week. TUNA--Only a few caught. YELLOWTAIL--While last week produced good catches, unsettled conditions slowed the bite down. CORVINA--Good catches up toward Devil's Curve. SNOOK--Plenty of smaller fish taking dark deceivers fished close to the bottom. HALIBUT--A small olive Clouser retrieved slowly along the bottom appears to be the hot ticket. QUICK COMMENT--Stormy conditions slowed everything down to a crawl this week.
January 10, 2001-- Temperatures: Some clouds and a 75-degree high; low 57 with wind in the afternoon. Water temperature: 67 degrees in the mangroves and 69-71 offshore. STRIPED MARLIN--A few in the warm water below Tasco. DORADO--Pretty quiet this week. TUNA--Only a few caught. YELLOWTAIL--Plenty of fish at the entrances to both bays. CORVINA--Good catches up toward Devil's Curve. SNOOK--A few fish to 13 pounds. HALIBUT--A small olive Clouser retrieved slowly along the bottom appears to be the hot ticket. QUICK COMMENT--Nice daytime weather, but cold at night and in the mornings. Best action are the yellowtail near the entrances to both Magdalena Bay and Santa Maria Bay.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: MAG BAY TOURS, Punta Hughes, January 6, 2001, Brian Freitag, Reservations 800-599-8676. What's Biting--Offshore: Yellowtail are the name of the game at the Thetis, and the local high spots. Inshore: Grouper, Bay Bass, Sand Bass, Snook and Halibut. The big boys (Marlin, Wahoo, Tuna and Dorado) are still in the warmer waters to the south, out of the range of our boats. In their place a TON of yellowtail have moved into the high spots. Inshore the bass are still hot.
Action of the Week: Professional Baseball player Ryan Henderson (Pitcher--Calgary Cannons) and his fishing partner Mike Collet got into a HOT yellowtail bite, on the iron, right off Punta Hughes. Ryan and Mike also nailed a couple of 25lb. class grouper.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: PICANTE FLEET, Cabo San Lucas, January 9, 2001, Sergio Cortes, Reservations Tel 011-52-114-32474; Fax 011-52-114-35969. Fish available: Striped Marlin, Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna & Wahoo. Water temperature: approximately 71-75 Fahrenheit Air temperature: High 73 / Low 55 Humidity: 57% Wind: 8-9 Knots/Hour (Pacific); 7-8 Knots/Hour (Sea of Cortes) Fleet production (6 boats): 8 Striped Marlin, 15 Dorado, 12 Tuna & 1 Sailfish Hot spots: Golden Gate Bank (Pacific) Luckiest boat: Picante Expresso (31' CABO) Captain: Eulogio Zumaya Angler: Vaughn Clarke Production: 1 Striped Marlin 145 lbs., 1 Sailfish ( both released ).
Excellent Striped Marlin fishing at the Golden Gate Bank and also about 8-10 miles off the Lighthouse on The Pacific Ocean. Big size Dorado and Yellowfin Tuna have been caught closer to the Lighthouse. At the Gordo Bank on the Sea of Cortes, we have caught good size Yellowfin Tuna as well. Blue skies all day long, and the wind starts to pick up after 1:00 p.m.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: FLY HOOKER SPORT FISHING, Cabo San Lucas, January 7, 2001, Capt. George & Mary Landrum, Reservations Tel 011-52-117-01271; 011-52-114-87452. WEATHER: The beginning of the New Year was overcast, but by the 4th, the skies had cleared. The winds have been minimal during the morning and picking up to about 12 knots in the afternoon with gusts to 20. Temperatures have been in have been ranging as low as mid 50's to high 80's.
WATER: Temperatures continue to slowly drop. Outside Cabo the water is now in the 75-77 degree range with most on the cooler side. Just as the last report said, we still have the finger of warmer water projecting south from land's end. Pacific side water has started to chop up a bit as the winds have sifted to a more northerly direction.
BAIT: A good mix of mostly mackerel with a few Caballito right now, price is maintaining at $2.00 each. Some Sardinas have been available, but I am not sure of this last weeks prices.
BILLFISH: Striped marlin are still being caught off the lighthouse by boats soaking live bait, but the bite has been early and brief. The moon is getting full and that has caused the bite to drop a bit. A few fish are striking lures, but they have not been very aggressive.
YELLOWFIN TUNA: These were the mainstay for the week with plenty of football sized fish caught among the porpoise. Cedar plugs have worked very well. The fish have been between 10 and 30 lbs, putting up a very nice fight on light tackle.
DORADO: A few Dorado are still being found and some of them have been in the 40lb+ range. Most of them have been 10-20 pounds and are being caught near shore on lures.
WAHOO: A few of these speedsters are being found at the banks and now I have heard unconfirmed reports of a few boats finding hotspots and catching double digit numbers. Naturally, no one will say where this bite has been taking place!!!!
INSHORE: Sierra and Roosterfish close in; Tuna and Dorado a little further out and a few Marlin are being caught by the Panga fleet. Have seen some nice size Cabrilla coming in also, Snappers have been pretty small yet.
Notes: Sorry for the abbreviated report, I've been down with the "Gripa" going around Cabo and have not been up to doing much writing. Guess we'll have to start wearing shoes and socks in the a.m.. The Whales are here, and they have been starting to show for the last couple weeks and actually showing up in decent numbers lately. --Capt. George Landrum
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: FLY HOOKER SPECIAL REPORT FOR JANUARY 3RD
Today we have Rick Parsons, girlfriend Jessica and her family on board the "Fly Hooker." Rick and Jessica went out fishing last week and caught 2 Striped Marlin and 12 tuna. Now he is bringing along the rest of the family to see if they will catch the bug. He would like to get his brother-in-law hooked up to Marlin and they do!!!!. After a 35-minute fight an approximately 80 lb Striped Marlin is Tagged and Released. It is Rick's turn now and he tags and releases his estimated 120 lb Striped Marlin after a 20-minute fight. Hmmm, think experience makes a difference? And it's only 9 a.m.. So they head out for some smaller fish to take home with them. Off they go in search of the Porpoise and Tuna schools. After looking around for a while they come across the tuna and most of the people in the boat take a shot at reeling in a Tuna. After catching 6 of them, (they have lots packed up from the last trip) they go look for Dorado to get a little variety for the freezer. Juan heads for the Harbor. That's where they have been hanging out, right in front of the Marina. They catch 3 Dorado and lost one estimated about 60 lbs right at the back of the boat. They still got 3 nice 40 lb fish to take home for the BBQ. What a great day fishing. I wish fishing were like this all day long 365 days a year!!!
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: FLY HOOKER SPECIAL REPORT FOR JANUARY 4TH
Today we have repeat clients Holly Kendall and family. They headed out looking for tuna and marlin. The wind was blowing all night and the kids were not feeling all that well not long after they got out of the Harbor. So they headed back a little closer to the Harbor. Juan decided it might be wise to go after the Dorado playing close, the water won't be so rough and the kids will survive a little longer. They did manage to get a nice size Dorado in the boat before the adults took pity on the kids and made it an early day. So they have some nice fish for their Sashimi back at the Hotel and more than enough to feed everyone for dinner. I hope the kids get their sea legs by this time next year.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: FLY HOOKER SPECIAL REPORT FOR JANUARY 5TH
Don Noble and his friends Clement and Brittany are the anglers on the "Fly Hooker" today. In the past Don has waited until arriving in Cabo, then booked a boat after visiting the main dock. Because of problems in the past he has decided to book in advance over the Internet to be assured of getting the dates and the boat he wanted. Don was very happy that everything went smoothly. The objective of today's trip is to get some fillets of Dorado and Tuna to take home, plus if there is time it would be nice to T&R a Striped Marlin. Juan & Manuel headed out the Marina and turned towards the Pacific side of the Cape. There were porpoise feeding about 5 miles out, so that is where they started fishing. Tuna Galore!!! Double and Triple strikes on Yellowfin of 15-30 lbs! A lot of these fish got away, but everyone had sore arms by the time they decided there was enough tuna in the boat. By 9 a.m. they had 13 nice Tuna and Juan turned these into a cooler full of fillets. With their fill of Tuna, it was time to try for a Marlin and they joined the group of boats soaking live bait at the lighthouse. Juan says they had one hook-up that pulled loose quickly and then the action dies. They tried for quite a while for Dorado and no luck there either. It appeared as if the bite was an early one and influenced by both the moon and the tide. When the "Fly Hooker" returned to port, everyone was happy with the catch and the fact the water was beautiful. Thanks guys! We are glad you had a good experience on the Fly Hooker with Juan and Manuel. Hope to see you again next year.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: PISCES FLEET, Cabo San Lucas, January 4, 2001, Tracy Ehrenberg, Reservations Tel 011-52-114-31288; Fax 011-52-114-30588. BILLFISH: The fishing frenzy continued here in Cabo, with anglers spoiled with catches of 2 to 6 striped marlin per boat, per day. Again the action was off of the Old Lighthouse, an area rich in bait now, for almost a month. Even barrel shrimp could be seen floating everywhere in the water and the marlin were swallowing these too. All of our anglers met with success this week, giving us a one hundred percent success rate and a total of 108 marlin, all but one released and one sailfish.
I was fortunate to go out on New Year's Eve aboard "Rebecca," with my family; it was exciting to race the other boats to the bait boils and at one time we had a marlin hooked and had to pass the rod to another boat, to save cutting the line and then retrieve it on the other side. We totaled five striped marlin releases on our day out, as well as picking up a couple of roosterfish on dead bait and a needlefish, about thirty feet offshore, on the way back in. It's pretty amazing to be fishing for marlin just a little over a mile offshore!
Another angler that did really well was Bill Hernquist and friends from Boca Raton, Fl, who released six marlin on the "Rebecca" on December 30th as well as boating a dorado. Jimmy Lee form Santee, Ca also released five stripers aboard "Tracy Ann " this same day. "Karina" had more of a mixed bag, Dec. 30th, with two striped marlin twelve yellowfin tuna and one dorado. Al Riker, fishing aboard "Ruthless", also had five marlin released Dec. 30th. As we close this report the action has slowed somewhat as the moon is almost full and the water has turned a little green.
OTHER SPECIES: More tuna and dorado this week, especially for those boats, that went up beyond the lighthouse to the San Cristobal area. The sizes aren't anything to write home about, but they made a change from the constant marlin action. The tuna caught were 20 to 25 lbs and took jigs and bait, found outside of the marlin. The dorado were picked up here and there, in one's and two's, with weights around the 20 lb mark. Inshore roosterfish to 15 lbs were taken, needlefish to 15 lbs and some nice sized grouper, close to the rocks.
LOCATION: The Old Lighthouse, San Cristobal. WEATHER CONDITIONS: Partly overcast, seas calm. AVERAGE WATER TEMP: 70 F. BEST LURES: Live bait. --Based on the catches of Pisces Fleet by Tracy Ehrenberg
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: HOTEL SOLMAR SUITES, Cabo San Lucas, January 5, 2001, Renee Santa Cruz, Reservations Tel 800-344-3349. Fishing at Cabo continues to be "strong," and strongest on the Pacific side of El Arco, according to Rene Santa Cruz, fleet manager of Solmar Sportfishing Fleet. Most action has been 3 to 10 miles off shore from the Solmar Hotel north to the Old Lighthouse, with most fish taking live bait this week.
Both air and water surface temperatures were in a cooling pattern, with 70 degree air, and 70 to 72 water; however, seas were calm with slight winds. With no sailfish taken by the fleet in that cool environment, Solmar's fleet catches took another direction: 111 striped marlin (98 released), 99 dorado, 103 yellowfin tuna, 3 wahoo, and 1 mako shark (released).
Long-time anglers Sandra Bradley, Cheryl Hindsley and family, Pueblo, Co., hooked up 3 striped marlin, including a double hook-up; but dinner was provided by Hindsley's 16 year-old nephew Matthew, who boated a 20 pound tuna. The party always fishes on the 31' Bertram, "Torito."
The luck, or good fortune of first time deep sea anglers often runs in streaks. and this week was no exception for Solmar: John Harkness, Dawson Creek, B.C., Canada, scored in the early morning on the 26' San Lucas IX, boating 4 Dorado and releasing 2 stripers. Ed Harczo, Milwaukie, OR, caught his first marlin and 7 Dorado on the 28' San Lucas II.
Santa Cruz also reported that most fish were taken either in the early morning, or between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.--as did Blair Walker, Houston, TX, who raised 3 marlin in the 125 pound range. Fishing on 26' San Lucas IV, he released 2 marlin, and took home a 75 pound Dorado. All of his hook-ups were between 10 and 11 a.m. Toby Meyers, Corona Del Mar, CA., took 15 Dorado and 1 marlin around the noon hour, fishing on the 42' Solmar VIII.
Panga fishing was popular this week because of the calm waters, and close-in fish concentrations not far from home port. Philip Geist, Redding, CA, and his family sailed on the Pacific side on Solmar's 23' super panga "Vigia," with Capt. Nacho chumming sardines outside Santa Maria Bay: in a short time they boated 10 tuna and 1 Dorado, all in the 20 pound range.
Another familiar guest of the Solmar Sportfishing Fleet, and Hotel Solmar, Larry Stopper, Banks, OR, made these remarks following his very recent visit: "I fished with my family on the Solmar IX. We had a great time. We fished 3 days and caught many marlin and tuna. My 12 year old Nicole, and my 10 year old Michele, as well as my wife Vikki, all landed marlin and tuna.
"My brother Ken Wood had a great day also, on the Solmar IV. I will be back in February with my wife only, and would like to fish on the Solmar IX, with Captain Antonio again. He was awesome. If possible, extend an open invitation to Antonio to come to Oregon for a fishing trip with us."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: GORDO BANKS PANGAS, San Jose del Cabo, January 6, 2001, Eric Brictson, Reservations 800-408-1199; Fax 619-447-4098; 011-52-114-21147. The first week of the new year definitely did start out on the right note, plenty of fishing action and warm sunshine, high temperatures reaching into the 80's. The gusty winds from the north laid completely down and the seas were slick calm, with only a slight rolling swell from the south. Water temperature averaged 72 to 74 degrees and it was clear and blue until the weekend, when the current did switch and pushed in green colored water. This did slow the surface action for yellowfin tuna and dorado down, but with patience most anglers were accounting for impressive overall catches, especially considering that it is now wintertime, when the cooler water conditions directly influence the local gamefish migrations.
There were good supplies of live sardinas and caballito being netted in the area near Palmilla Point but the one draw back was that you did have to back track from La Playita to buy the bait or wait until the sun was rising for a commercial pangero to actually bring the bait to you. Anyway it was worth the effort to wait because the live bait was what 90% of the action was taken on. Daily catches for panga charters included yellowfin tuna, dorado, skipjack, amberjack, pargo and roosterfish.
While the fleets based out of Cabo San Lucas still were reporting good action for striped marlin, in the area off of the old light house, the San Jose del Cabo panga fleets have found the most consistent bite to be at either the Inner Gordo Bank or close off of Punta Gorda, the action has been switching back and forth from these two spots. Average daily catches per boat were 2 to 8 yellowfin tuna in the 10 to 60 pound class, with a couple of dorado mixed in, there would also be an added assortment of other various species.
The most successful techniques were drift fishing or slow trolling with live bait, using 30 to 50 pound tackle. The fleets were congregating close together, this way there would be more chummed bait in the water to excite the fish into a feeding frenzy. The majority of the tuna weighed around 20 pounds, but everyday they were taken up to 60 pounds.
Dorado were fewer in numbers than the previous week when the action was so hot and were again mixed in with the schooling yellowfin tuna. Most boats were landing two or three per day, averaging 10 to 20 pounds, with a couple of monster bulls up to 40 pounds accounted for. Anglers did have about equal success for the dorado on live bait and trolling lures, while the action for the tuna was almost exclusively on live bait.
Fishing closer to the bottom anglers were starting to find more action for pargo ( red snapper ) and amberjack, although it was still spotty, it showed promise for the coming months. Along the shoreline there was a mix of roosterfish, jack crevalle and sierra, trolling live bait and artificial lures both produced strikes, though it was minimal, it also showed promise that things could break loose at any time. --Good Fishing, Eric
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: BAJA ON THE FLY, Buena Vista, January 6, 2001, Gary Graham, Reservations Tel 800-919-2252; Fax 760-746-7260. TEMPERATURES: High of 73 with a low of 58; cloudy and windy; water temperature 71 degrees. STRIPED MARLIN--Fair catches out toward the 88. YELLOWFIN TUNA--Good catches up toward Muertos and Cerralvo Island if weather permits. DORADO--Up toward Punta Pescadero, Muertos and Cerralvo producing the best catches. ROOSTERFISH--Fair fishing when the wind stops. JACK CREVALLE--Still a few around. BARRILLETE OR MEXICAN SKIPJACK--Fair catches. PARGO AND CABRILLA--No one targeted them this week. OFFSHORE: Dorado and skipjack. INSHORE: Mostly dorado and a few skipjack and tuna. BEACH: From Palmas to Punta Pescadero producing best actionvQUICK COMMENT--Cold and windy conditions made fishing tough this week. George Schramm, West Yellowstone, Mont., managed to catch a few dorado and skipjack up toward Punta Pescadero.
January 10, 2001-- TEMPERATURES: High of 75 with a low of 57; cloudy and windy; water temperature 71 degrees. The last few days were flat calm with little wind. STRIPED MARLIN--A few reported in front of Las Frailes. YELLOWFIN TUNA--Good catches up toward Muertos and Cerralvo Island and down toward Cabo Pulmo and Las Frailes. DORADO--Up toward Punta Pescadero, Muertos and Cerralvo producing the best catches. ROOSTERFISH--Still a good showing of smaller roosters in front of the hotels. Lots of bait. JACK CREVALLE--Most of the action in front of La Ribera and Punta Colorado at East Cape . A few were spotted at both Bartle's Beach and in front of Rancho Leonero. BARRILLETE OR MEXICAN SKIPJACK--Fair catches. PARGO AND CABRILLA--No one we know of targeted them this week. OFFSHORE: A few billfish, dorado and tuna. INSHORE: The best bet is small roosters and sierra along with some good jacks just a few hundred yards out. BEACH: A lot of bait spotted, with roosters, jacks, and sierra chasing it. QUICK COMMENT: Mon. and Tues. (1/8-9) were practically wind-free and the fishing along the beach produced fair catches of small roosters and jacks.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: EL CARDONAL'S HIDEAWAY, El Cardonal, January 8, 2001, Eddy, Reservations 011-52-114-10040. Hola de el Cardonal´s Hide-A-Way. Shore fishing is very good with 2 to 5 pounders, mostly blancitos which is an excellent fish to eat. I asked a man what was that plack paint they were putting on the road and his answer was:¨"chapapoty" which is tar...paving is actually been done!! We now have with us a dive master, diving tanks, etc. for diving. --Happy New Year, Eddy
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: RANCHO BUENA VISTA, Buena Vista, January 8, 2001, Tamara Moyeous, Reservations 800-258-8200. Not much happening, must be winter, bring us some fisherman!!! --Tammy
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: RANCHO LEONERO, Bahia de Palmas, January 8, 2001, John Ireland and Roy Baldwin, Reservations 800-646-2252; Hotel 011-52-114-10216. Hi Gene. Reopening for season today! Will have a fish report for you this weekend. See ya--Roy
LA PAZ, MEXICO: JONATHAN ROLDAN'S TAILHUNTER ADVENTURE SERVICES, La Paz, January 4, 2001, Jonathan Roldan, Tel 626-333-3355; Fax 626-333-0115; Pager 323-349-8111; Message Pager 877-310-7734. Great Gonzo and Hot Dang! The fishing is that good, boys and girls, amigos and amigos!!!! I have no idea what's going on or why this is happening, but we are seriously in the middle of the best danged winter bite I have ever seen here! If you've been reading, you know that the tuna are just on the major major chew...like mad puppies on a steak bone...we've had yellowfin tuna up the yazoo. Sure...one or two days are off, but the rest of the week...Holy $^*#$, you'd better have your sock pulled up because this is just fun stuff! On top of it, there's dorado in the mix too and THIS IS THE MIDDLE OF WINTER!
Well, I have no idea how long this is gonna last, but this week at Muertos Bay... WHa.m.!!!! Yellowtail (not yellowfin) showed up by the bucket-load! I mean full blown- full turbo fork tails on the feed! These are healthy regulation sized 10-15 pound Baja benders, amigos! OK... so they're not our usual Cerralvo Island 40 pounders, but babeee these firecrackers can pull! Went out yesterday with my pal, Jeffrey Curtiss from the U.K. (He's James' dad!). We didn't even go out early since Jeff wanted to catch a few extra winks so we got there about an hour after the rest of the boats had pulled out. We got Victor our ace running the boat and had literally just pulled of the boat....I mean, I could see the bottom only about 20 feet below the boat and had sardines and caballito in the tank. Jeff was slow trolling a big cabbie as we approached the rest of the pangas packed in a nice tight ball only about 100 yards off the sand. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz... Jeff's clicker goes off, Jeff slams the brakes on the the rod almost gets ripped from his hand. He fights that briefly before it unbuttons, but by that time, Victor and I are both bent and I hand Jeff my rod before hooking another fish. We literally almost never moved again. Double and triple hookups for the next hour-and-a-half!!!! It was almost a slam-dunk WFO...one bait...one fish.... one bait...one fish...on bait...another fish! Yellows were jumping like trout all around us and crashing and boiling in the chum lines! We got 10 fish and released (intentionally and unintentionally) another 15 fish and 2 seagulls that were swooping into the middle of the frenzy as the forkies were causing the scared hooked bait to jump out of the water! These were all nice fish. Not a dink in the bunch.
Jeffrey was all tuckered, but wanted to check on the tuna hole so we fired up Victor's 65-hp and motored only about another 200 yards to the mouth of the bay. Didn't take much. A few well tossed sardines and Ka-Boom!!! Hook up!!! Jeff had the first of his 5 twenty-five pound yellowfin and 3 dorado (released). Some kinda bite. Basically, in two hours we were back on the beach slicing fillets and wondering which fish we were gonna have for sashimi that night at a champagne and tequila party we were invited to. (We did both tuna and yellowtail!)
Listen... it's a little cold right now. It was windy on the water and has been all week, but the conditions are still fishable...no EXTREMELY fishable. We didn't have to travel far and if I had a brain on my shoulders, I would packed a sweatshirt or jacket ! That's all you need. Surprisingly the water was actually tepid and warmer than the air! However, if you're coming down, a light jacket or sweatshirt will keep your goosebumps to a minimum and your nips from gettin' pointy, like I was shivering yesterday in only my fishing shorts, bandana and cut-off t-shirt! What a doofus!
Bottom line...fish are raging and you're sitting at home or in your office reading about it.. uh-huh... C'mon down! Happy New Year everyone! --Best fishes! Jonathan
January 8, 2001-- Not in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned what we had this week. I"ve been waiting for the yellowtail to break out. Maybe at Espiritu Santo Island. Maybe at El Bajo or perhaps at La Reyna . You know, our usual 3 or 4 fish per boat. However, what took place this week was unbelievable. I mean, we're NOT a yellowtail mecca like Loreto or Bay of L.A., but right there only a stone's throw off Muertos Bay Beach, the yellowtail went off like mad dogs! I mean, you could see the bottom only 20 feet down and it didn't matter a whit if you were flylining sardines, chunking, throwing iron or using lead. These fish were ready to chew. The sardines were plentiful and mixed with some perfect hook-bait sized caballitos and if you let one fly, before you could count to ten...WHa.m. you got raked! These weren't big fish, but they were so dang feisty at 10-20 pounds that they put on quite a show. In all my years, I have NEVER seen yellowtail tail-walk across the water when hooked or seen the schools so voracious that the forkies looked like tuna or dorado leaving the water to chase the bait! It was like they were on caffeine or something! On the one day I fished this week, it was literally one bait....one fish... one bait...one fish. As fast as you could go and it was like that for much of this week. You could have your limits in an hour then go just another 200 yards out and use the rest of your bait on tuna to 25 pounds and dorado to 20 pounds! This is by far the best winter fishing I have ever seen here. It's definitely a little blustery and you'd be advised to bring a sweatshirt for fishing, but surprisingly the water is amazingly warm... warmer than the air and maybe that's why the fish are all stacked in the bay. However, despite the chill, you really aren't going out very far. If you could throw a football...that's about how far you have to go for the fishing right now. I have no idea, in all honesty how the fishing is anywhere else....no one wants to go anywhere else!
LA PAZ, MEXICO: HOTEL LAS ARENAS, Punta Arena de la Ventana, January 9, 2001, Linda Glassman-Davis, Reservations 888-644-7376. Captain's Roman (Romeo), Fidel and Beto caught: 11 yellowtail to 18 pounds; 7 dorado to 15 pounds; 4 yellowfin tuna to 11 pounds; 2 pargo to 4 pounds. Lots of yellowtail in the area, come on down and get some! Saludos!--Linda Glassman-Davis
LA PAZ, MEXICO: PIRATES FLEET, La Paz, January 9, 2001, Francisco Aguilar, Reservations, Reservations/Fax 011-52-112-57353. Hello Gene. Happy new year amigo!! Out of La Paz we are fishing El Bajo for yellowfin tunas 25-50 pounds, little bit windy. Off Las Arenas yellowfin tunas 10-15 pounds and sporadic bites on yellowtail. Pargo, sierra and cabrillas available on both sides. Plenty of sardines (live bait) out of La Paz and a little bit harder to catch at Las Arenas side. --Best regards, Francisco
LORETO, MEXICO: EL FUERTE SPORT FISHING, Puerto Escondido, January 4, 2001, Ty Miller, Reservations Tel 714-775-6658; Fax: 714-755-3501; Loreto 011-52-113-30863. Hola Amigos. It has continued to blow off and on all week again. We were blown off the water several days, however, this didn't even faze our client, Karl Fechner when he left here a week or so ago because he is back again and wind or not he is fishing! The hard work has paid off for him and his friend, Wayne Pero, with 30-38 lb yellows and 20-25 lb Broomtail groupers! These fish were all taken off of the inside reefs at Sailfish and Perico reefs off Isla Carmen.
We were able to make it to Loreto's outside island of Isla Catalan only one day due to wind. We scoured all our hot spots and came up with only one nice Broomtail grouper. So it seems that all the fish are holding on the inner island reefs for now and are sitting right off the bottom. The fact that they are lurking in the rocky holes of the depths makes it a little more difficult to haul these toads off the structure and on up to the boat!
The most exciting news to report for our upcoming week is the continuing drop in water temperature. We are down to 64 degree surface temp and that means we should be seeing the yellows come to the top to feed any day now. We are looking forward to hooking some of these big toads on the fly line! Hold on for the ride!!
Bait is still a breeze at the Bump outside of Puerto Escondido Harbor. They are stacked from 100 feet on up and start biting just as it begins to get light, about 6:30 a.m.
As a sportfishing charter business here in Baja, we get a lot of people who are one-timers, a few people who return a couple times, and one or two people who make your work all worth while by returning on a such a regular basis that their charter days actually become a consistent part of your fish report. Karl Fechner is our "fish report maker"! He fishes when no one else will. He is the last of a die hard hunting, fishing fool. Hasta Luego!! --Capt. Juanita for Ty Miller
WATER TEMP: 64. AIR TEMP: 75. WINDS: Northerly. SEASTATE: 2-3 feet.
January 10, 2001-- Hola Amigos. Well, the Yellowtail fishing tapered down here a little last week due to some very strange local weather systems working our area. This made fishing difficult. With an abnormal northwest blow and these heavy tidal changes during this time year it was quite a chore to get down to the zone and pluck a few tails hanging off the reefs. Well enough complaining, Yellowtail 30 to 40 pounds are still sprinkling in and holding on our local reefs such as Six Mile and Punta Perico with most fish taking the live bait and a few on the iron. All the right ingredients are here with the surface temp dropping to 64 degrees which is perfect for the Tails to start hanging around on the topside. Looks like we are going to have to play the waiting game until the bulk of fish invade our territory and of course I will be the first one blowing the whistle via fish report ASAP!
Cabrilla have also decided to hide for the time being but the Pinto Bass are picking up the slack for the people who are targeting the bass family.
Bait is still crankin' at the bump outside the harbor with Caballitos between 6:30 & 7:30 a.m. Green Macks are also mixing in.
Well amigos I know this doesn't sound like a great report to kick off the New Year but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em and keep our reports as candid as possible. Every day is different down here so let's hope the waiting game is almost over and the Yellowtail flood our region soon then decide to hang around until May. I'm banking on it! I have that feeling it's going to be epic so stand by!-Hasta! Ty Miller
AIR TEMP: 78. WATER TEMP: 64. WINDS: Westy (Gusty). SEASTATE: 1-2ft.
LORETO, MEXICO: VILLAS DE LORETO, Loreto, January 9, 2001, Wendy Wilchynski, Reservations Tel/Fax 011-52-113-50586. Dear Gene. We've been having a great time fishing! The fish have been plentiful and I even saw a Dorado out at Escondido the other day and a big one at that! Everyone is very happy and we need some fisher people down here to get in on the catch! Come on down, you won't be disappointed! Bye for now, Wendy P.S. there is no wind either!!!
LORETO, MEXICO: ARTURO'S SPORT FISHING, Loreto, January 8, 2001, Arturo Susarrey, Reservations Tel 011-52-113-50766; Fax 011-52-113-50022. Variable weather, with north winds, temperature around 75 F. Surface water 67 F. The last 3 days we have had good weather. Dr. Graham went fishing at El Pulpito area, yellowtail were biting all day. There are a lot schools on the surface, around 15 lbs. We hope that the next week this weight will increase. Yesterday we caught 11 yellowtail and 14 cabrillas. We recommend to bring some jigs, medium size like 3 to 4 oz chrome or scrambled egg. BAIT: Yesterday it was scarce, the bait boats did not have it and we tried to catch it at Pulpito area but we caught only 3 pieces. Another boat at Coronado Island had better luck, they caught 24 pieces.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: CAMP GECKO, Bahia de los Angeles, January 10, 2001, Abraham Vazquez, Tel 011-52-515-19454; Fax 011-52-665-03206 (goes to Guillermo's). Warm days in the mid 70's and cooling down to the mid 50's at night. Winds not too strong, out of the north for 3 days during the last week, and a little bit of west wind yesterday. Humidity has been high, as much as 70% but no measurable rain has fallen yet. Seas very calm to moderate when wind is blowing. Water temperature mid-60's. Fishing has gone to normal for this time of the year with a lot of bottom fish available in the local islands and even some nice leopard groupers, but the yellowtail have definitely moved out of the local islands, and if you are interested in them you have to go all the way to Punta Los Machos at the Big Island , there are plenty of them in the 18-22 pound range, some days as many as 15 yellowtail per boat, all caught on the iron, but the weather has to be just perfect to be able to go there. Road conditions keep getting better. Also, the Santa Rosalillita road almost ready and lots of signs on the highway for the "Escalera Nautica" but no marina building yet in any of the sites. Gasoline $2.78 per gallon. No gray whales yet.