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Discovering the Puerto Santo Tomas Trail


Photo of Puerto Santo Tomas, Baja California, Mexico.

Puerto Santo Tomas, just south of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.


By Gene Kira, Sept. 23, 2002, as published in Western Outdoor News:

I had one of those little epiphanies of life two weeks ago after a very frustrating day of "fishing" out of Sam Saenz' remote-feeling Puerto Santo Tomas Resort, just south of Ensenada.

The action had been lousy, due to a huge southwest swell that was the lingering aftermath of Hurricane Hernan, very far away, but powerful enough to really mess up the water. In fact, the approximately thirty-five commercial sea urchin pangas of Puerto Santo Tomas had not worked for ten straight days. All night, I listened to the surf crashing below my snug cliff-top cabaña, and at first light you could see that the water was stained brown out to a hundred yards from the beach. Offshore, the water looked like the inside of a washing machine doing a new pair of Levis. Just plain nasty.

But I wanted to check out some spots and get a couple of GPS numbers, so Sam and one of his top guides, Marcos Juarez Vazquez, jumped into a panga at the base of the low cliff and we ventured out. Only three commercial pangas joined us.

Conditions were not bad once we got outside. There were times when the wind died down, and the swell was quite tolerable, as long as we went no faster than trolling speed. We checked out the deep bajos offshore from the huge Punta China cement plant to the south, with little to show for it but a couple of small rockfish, some whitefish, a small lingcod, and a couple of mackerel.

Then we headed north to the bajos of Bahia Soledad and Maximino Reef.

These excellent fishing spots, well-known to the Ensenada party boat fleet, were very swelly and mixed up, but we made a few drops while keeping an eye out for rogue waves that were threatening to surprise us. Again, the fishing was slow, but we did get a few decent fish--some nice olive rockfish, and a medium lingcod that hit a Luhr Jensen Stinger about 50 feet deep. (Under normal conditions, these spots crank out prize fish with machine-like regularity.)

On the way back to Puerto Santo Tomas, Marcos decided--against my better judgment--to take the panga inside the kelp beds.

This brought us very close to the cliffs (along this stretch of the coast, the kelp beds grow almost to shore). To my amazement, the water right at the base of the cliffs was actually quite calm, and Marcos explained that it is very deep here along the shore north of the resort. The waves crash directly against the cliffs, but don't swamp a boat sitting only a few yards away from them.

Later, I climbed the 500-foot-high ridge that separates Puerto Santo Tomas from Bahia Soledad to the north and studied the panoramic view of the resort, the coastline, and the places where we had fished that day.

And that evening, while enjoying a fantastic crab and lobster dinner with Sam and his wife Juanita, I kept thinking of that view, trying to remember what it reminded me of. In the middle of the night, it finally came to me. Those calm little coves, right next to the low cliffs, are just like the system of coves on the north side of Morro Santo Domingo that are such productive shore casting spots for halibut, croaker, and so forth. (Former W.O.N. Baja editor Tom Miller introduced this special spot to Neil Kelly, and it is featured in The Baja Catch.)

But unlike Morro Santo Domingo, the shore fishing going north from Puerto Santo Tomas Resort is easily accessible by a trail that Sam says goes right along the low cliffs for a couple of miles and provides many places to cast from. This was, he explained, where Dennis Spike's group of Coastal Kayak Fishing anglers had a very productive trip recently, and where they would be fishing again this November.

These little epiphanies don't really happen that often with spots as close and easily accessible as Puerto Santo Tomas Resort--only about 130 miles south of the border crossing at Tijuana. I think this trail is going to get a thorough check-out this fall, when the swells will be gone, and the water in these little coves should be flat and gin clear.

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