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Baja Report: Back with a vengeance!

WON Staff Writer
Published: Jun 15, 2017

The East Cape has been off the past few years with the El Niño, but the past two weeks have been stellar inside and outside



THE EAST CAPE IS GOING OFF! Mike Miller of Newport Beach, left, with Hotel Rancho Leonero owner John Ireland, who is also pictured with his own fish at the pier, and in the other photos, a Jen Wren Sportfishing crewman leaders a frisky marlin before its release.



EAST CAPE — Pete Gray of Let’s Talk Hookup radio held his annual tourney at Hotel Rancho Leonero, and the timing was perfect.

“As many know, El Niño really took a toll on fishing in the East Cape for the last couple of years, but we can tell you first-hand the East Cape is back and better than ever!”

Before we get to the results of that event, John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero send in some late data from the region. It’s all about conditions. As of June 8, water was 81 to 82 and clear, blue and flat. Air: 80 degrees, afternoon easterly breezes, all perfect for a Corona on the patio after fishing. And it has been game on!

“You name the blue water pelagic and it's biting in the East Cape right now!” said Ireland. “We have enjoyed the best week of fishing in the past three years!”

Yellowfin, dorado, wahoo, amberjack, striped marlin, roosterfish are all on the menu. Limits of quality yellowfin from 20 to 60 pounds are mixed with the biggest dorado we've seen this year and a strong wahoo bite has made for a great week. Outside the striped marlin are abundant. Inside the boats are releasing up to 11 pez gallos (roosterfish) from 20 to 70 pounds per day!

There are limits for almost all boats in an area from the lighthouse south to Pulmo Park. The tuna are very spread with most being taken north of Pescadero to the 88.

“All the tuna are being taken within two miles off the beach. Live barracuta and chunk calamari are taking most of the fish,” said Ireland. “Dorado are mixed in with the tuna, a couple per boat per day and bigger fish this year, averaging 10 pounds and quite a few big bulls, the 54 pounder the biggest so far on trolled hoochies and cedar plugs.”

As for wahoo, well, as we know, they are nasty customers. Bring wire for leaders.

“I have farmed 8 in my last three days fishing, with lots from 20 to 50 pounds off Punta Colorado on the first deep drop-off. Rapalas and cedar plugs are all working. Best bait is, live barracuta, wire-rigged. Deadly.”

Striped marlin are not getting much pressure as most boats are targeting the tuna. Lots around, off La Ribera and bigger grade, three released over 200 pounds, said Ireland. The inside bite on roosterfish has been “unbelievable,” said Ireland.

“Thirty to 50 pounders have been common with some to 70s in the mix! Boats are releasing 5 to 11 fish a day. The Lighthouse and off the new marina entrance have been the most productive. Live barracuta are the only bait really working.”

As we mentioned above, the 21st annual Rancho Leonero/ Let’s Talk Hookup tournament was held June 3 to 7.

Said Pete Gray when he returned, “Fishing had been slow in the East Cape, but the it turned on just in time! There were plenty of tuna to be caught using live bait or chunk squid. If you wanted to target wahoo, there were abundant, but were tough to land. Lots of bite-offs and lost fish. Marlin were there, too, but most anglers chose to target the gamefish that were worth big bucks, thanks to our sponsors.

“Rick Jensen from Sportfishing Financial was there with his family and donated $500 cash for the largest dorado or wahoo. Mark from “Team Mama, Papa and Juan” had a 24.5-pound wahoo on day 2 to take the money."

Tournament director Dr. Bob Blum had a 23-pound dorado on day 3 that he thought would weigh more but fell just short. Largest tuna honors went to Phil with “Team Wiskey Tango” for a 49.5-pound yellowfin. He earned $500 cash from Dave at Statewide Stripes. First place honors went to Larry and Judy and “Team Tag who combined a big variety of fish including roosterfish, amberjack, snapper, marlin and tuna to take top honors and win the return trip to Rancho Leonero next year to defend their title. They fished two days with Jen Wren and the last day with Scorpion Sportfishing where they really slammed the big tuna to help them take top prize.

“Team Wiskey Tango” took 2nd place and received gift cards from Fisherman’s Landing Tackle, and 3rd place was last year’s winner Steve and “Team Hai Karate.”

Gray said next year’s event is June 2 to 6, 2018 The tournament is free to get in if you stay at Rancho Leonero Resort and pre-register with Let’s Talk Hookup. Go to to book your spot.

In other Baja news:




BAY OF L.A. turned out some nice fish for Doug Coffey who returned from a three-day trip, and among the better catches were a pargo by Steve Bergdahl, yellowtail by Greg Sprague, Steve Bergdal and Bruce Micheel, and a 16-pound cabrilla.


BAY OF LOS ANGELES — Doug Coffey, a WON reader, returned from a three-day trip to L.A. Bay, fishing with Joel and Joel Jr. Prieto June 3-5 and filed a short report on Sunday night. Among the big fish were a big pargo by Steve Bergdahl, a yellowtail by the trio of Greg Sprague, Steve Bergdal and Brice Micheel, and a 16-pound cabrilla on a stick by Coffey.

CABO SAN LUCAS — The region saw billfishing pick up finally in good conditions, ands roosterfish action was solid on the coast as the season got rolling.

Glenn Ehrenberg said striped marlin were primarily targeted on Pisces boats with a 90 percent success rate.

It seems like the marlin bite continued most days out at the 11:50 Spot, with some of the boats landing multiple fish,” he said. “In the same area were found the odd wahoo and even more rarely this week, dorado. As far as other species, which made up the bulk of catches apart from the striped marlin, we saw a lot of boats landing sierra mackerel inshore, as well as roosterfish, jack crevalle, red snapper, grouper and pompano.”

Their top marlin boat this week was the Pisces Tracy Ann captained by Julio Castro, which landed 7 striped marlin out at the 1150 Spot on live caballito on June 3. And four days later scored 6 striped marlin, all near 140 pounds, for honeymooners Benjamin and Jennifer Uy of from California. They fished three days in total.

Said Ben Uy, “Today, we finished our last of three Pisces trips this week. On the Tracy Ann, my wife Jennifer caught and released a big rooster approximately 30-40 pounds, and I caught and released 4 striped marlin with the largest being approximately 160 pounds. Another unbelievable and unforgettable day for our honeymoon! Thank you to Pisces, especially the Tracy Ann crew (Julio, Sylvestre, Martin) and Ruthless crew (Beto and Roberto) for some of the greatest memories of our lives! We will be back to fish with you again soon!”

Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters that books Fish Cabo and Gaviota charterboats said the Gaviota I turned out to be the hot boat for the past week and released 5 stripers for their efforts with the 1150 fathom spot being the hot area. Adding to the catch was 2 skipjack, 2 hammerhead sharks and 2 roosterfish. The overall fish counts for a total of 35 days fished reflected 15 stripers, (14 released) 1 dorado, 1 yellowfin tuna, 15 skipjack, 2 hammerhead sharks, 24 roosterfish, 2 toros and 21 sierras.

Edwards said seas conditions were as follows: On the Pacific side, from the Finger Bank and south to the Jaime Bank, temps varied from 64-66 degrees. South of the Jaime Bank and across the 1000 fathom curve and then easterly to Cabo Falso, all at 70-71 degrees. Cabo Falso and around the corner to Las Frailes varied from 76 to 81 degrees, warming up the farther into the Sea of Cortez it went. Sea surface temps flowing from the westerly directions averaged about 15.6 mph daily.


RICK SKAARAR IS a cattle rancher rom Arizona on his first trip to La Paz and landed several nice wahoo including this one with Captain Gerardo of the Tailhunter Fleet. He also picked up some nice dorado fishing near Punta Arenas.


KURT GALLOW GOT a beast of a dogtooth snapper in shallow waters on a live mackerel just off the rocks near Punta Perrico by Muertos Bay. He was fishing with Captain Armando of the Tailhunter Fleet and Kurt’s wife, Brenda. They’re from Castle Rock WA.


MARK JACKLIN HAD a roosterfish on his bucket list and caught and released two of them including this beauty. This was his first time to La Paz and the fish was caught near Bahia de los Muertos. Mark is form Grant’s Pass, Oregon.



DOUG OCLASSEN HAS been fishing with the Tailhunter Fleet for years and comes every year. He picked up two huge wahoo one-after-the-other including this beast while fishing with Captain Jorge of the Tailhunter Fleet just outside of Bahia de los Muertos.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International said winds were a factor, but there were some big fish taken as the season continues to solidify. Out of La Paz, he said, pangas were mostly fishing on the lee side of Espirito Santo Island to get away from the winds.

“But that was fine because inshore and up tight against the rocks, we got a great variety from dorado to amberjack and pargo to big triggerfish,” he said. “Some of the cabrilla and pargo were especially nice grade horses that the anglers were able to get out of the rocks, but so many others were simply unstoppable. If the winds would just give us a break, water conditions are really looking better and better and sargasso weeds are building up which should be a good sign for better dorado fishing. Also, we’ve got some nice live bait every day.”

 Muertos Bay trips for the pangas is where the big boy fishing has been.

 There’s no small fish for our anglers that fished with our Las Arenas Fleet,” said Roldan. “Just like the last several weeks, it’s big or go home. Hit a home run or strike out. There’s no small ‘toy’ fish. You get one or two shots at bigger fish and that’s pretty much it, but if you do get to hang one, it’s a good fish.”

Those include 20 to 35-pound dorado, roosterfish running 20 to 80 pounds and wahoo in the 20- to 50-pound class with a smattering of jack crevalle, bonito, some big pargo, smaller cabrilla and snapper, reported Roldan.


CHRIS WHEATON CAUGHT this 24-pound dorado while in Loreto for a tourney. He also caught a 15 pounder for his limit. He said that after two years of being absent, the dorado were abundant and were offshore under patches of floating sargasso grass. “Both are very good signs for the fishery,” said Wheaton.

THE SCALE AT last week’s 11th annual Los Rancheros Yellowtail Tournament out of La Mision Hotel.

LORETO — Chris Wheaton of Fountain Valley and a field reporter for WON was in Loreto all last week for the 11th annual Los Rancheros Yellowtail Tournament held in Loreto this past weekend, based at La Mision Hotel. A total of 45 anglers competed for two days with a lot of yellowtail being caught but mostly in the 18- to 22-pound range. The big fish of the tournament was 28 pounds and caught by Tim Allen who won big fish for day 2 and was grand champion overall.”

 He said, “The dorado are also showing up in Loreto and several boats brought them in for the other class. The tournament donated over $4,000 to the Internado School/ orphanage and also donated over $1,000 to Onca Loreto that helps cancer victims get transportation to La Paz for treatment. La Mision hosted the rules meeting and the banquet with both having great food and service. It’s a great time to fish in Loreto with lots of big fish being caught.”

As for the dorado fishing, he said the last day of prefishing in Loreto they ran out to look for dorado and found two Sargasso paddies holding schools of dorado and both also loaded with schools of 6-inch yellowtail under them as well which is a good sign for the future.

“Most of them were not very big but I did manage to catch a 24 pounder and another 15 pounder to get my limit,” said Wheaton. “I forgot how much fun dorado fishing is and we sat for a while just watching them swim around the boat. They are amazing when they are all lit up! I took some Go Pro video underwater but I haven't had time to check it yet to see how it came out. This bodes well for the Fishin For The Mission charity Dorado tournament that I am putting on here next month.”


THE GORDO BANKS Pangas were busy last week. This angler got a 45-pound yellowffin.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported that bait supplies are mostly consisting now of caballito and mullet, only very limited amounts of sardinas are being netted, as they commonly migrate elsewhere this time of year as the warmer currents move in. More schools of bolito are moving onto the offshore fishing grounds, always a very favorable sign, as they are a preferred food source for many game fish.

“The action for striped marlin was much improved this week, though now with the full moon phase these fish can become more finicky during daylight hours,” he said. “One of the more productive spots was the 1150 area, with many charters reportedly having three or four hooks ups per outing, the stripers were coming up on trolling lures and rigged baits, as well as being spotted tailing on the surface and striking on dropped back baits, sizes ranged to 130 pounds. The billfish were found spread out through the region, but not as numerous as they were on the grounds further offshore.”

With the warmer water they are finally seeing some dorado appear, still no significant numbers, “but at least they are showing up on a daily basis, most of them weighing in the 5- to 15-pound range, with a few reports of larger bulls hooked up and lost.”

Wahoo were also in the mix, anglers reported hooking into these speedsters while trolling various baits as well as on Rapalas, again no numbers, but a chance at a couple of fish, weights ranged from 20 to 35 pounds

Yellowfin tuna are now concentrated from the San Luis to Vinorama areas, ranging from smaller footballs to over 60 pounds. Roosterfish are in the shoreline areas.

“With the large influx of schooling mullet along the shorelines, this has brought in increased numbers of roosterfish, last week we saw a lot of fish in the 15- to 25-pound class, but in recent days we have seen some much larger roosters, included an 80-pound class fish that was successfully landed and carefully released.

SAN CARLOS — Although it’s not Baja, here’s the results of the June 3-4 17th Annual San Carlos Yacht Club/Rescate Tournament with 21 boats, with 73 billfish released; Top teams: Reel Mistress, 25 billfish released; El Patron, 22 billfish released; Kryptonite, 22 billfish released; Donna Jean, 20 billfish released.

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ON JUNE 6, this 200-pound yellowfin was caught 111 miles out of San Carlos.

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