Dorado Reprieve – Tuna Rising

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In a long battle between the commercial and sportfishing industries, culminating on May 20th in Michoacán, Mexico, the government convened a third round of public hearings to decide the fate of the sportfishing industry.

“The Department of Mexican Fisheries decided to violate their own laws by allowing the commercial fishing industry to illegally harvest dorado,” said Vince Radice, who has dedicated the past few years to fighting the indiscriminate commercial sale of dorado to the United States. He was instrumental in the making of the documentary “El Oro de Cortez (The Gold of Cortez)” http://sancarlos.tv/portfolio/a-fish-made-of-gold/ about the illegal catch and sale of dorado that was ultimately shipped to the United States, and the Mexican government’s unwillingness to enforce the 25-year-old law that made it illegal to sell sailfish, marlin, roosterfish, swordfish, sabalo and dorado.

After hearing testimony and presentations regarding the alleged economical benefits of commercially caught dorado, it was determined that only a few were reaping any rewards from NOM 029 and the words social justification were stripped from the amendment to avoid using any more loop holes in the law.

“This victory is truly amazing considering we only heard of the forum two weeks ago,” said Minerva Saenz, president of the Los Cabos Sportfishing Union. “Representatives from many distant areas of Mexico rallied together after a single e-mail, and attended the forum creating a united front against the commercialization of dorado.” In attendance were sportfishing leaders from Manzanillio, Culiacan, Loreto, the East Cape, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and many other areas.

“This is a great victory for Mexico’s sportfishing industry.”

Now, on to the fishing…

Baja Norte

Ensenada

Capt. Louie Prieto reported that the yellows and barracuda had been showing outside of the Sauzal area. After trolling the area, he moved out toward San Miguel Reef. There they connected with a 22.5-pound yellowtail in 58.2-degree water. No other fish was seen or caught although there were plenty of bottom fish showing on the fishfinder. Next they moved out to the 500-fathom curve to search for kelps. Water was clean and a nice 64.5 degrees. They found a few and finished off the day at Salsipuedes for a nice load of rockfish and one lost mystery fish trolling in front of Marina Coral. Could have been either a yellow or white sea bass. Here is the link to his forum post, http://bit.ly/lLEBmj.

San Quintin

According to Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Offshore Sportfishing, there has been a large swell and some wind. South of the bay, the water is still 57 to 60 degrees with plenty of calico bass up in the water column, as well as sandies, goats and rockfish.

Baja Sur

Loreto

Duane Weston, of Vista, Calif., fished with Capt. Lionel of Arturo’s Sportfishing for three days and got limits of yellowtail for two days, then headed offshore one day and lost two dorado. He used live bait with an 8- to 10-ounce torpedo sinker and a 6/0 hook. The mackerel pattern Megabait out-fished the blue-and-white Tady and Salas 6x Jr.

La Paz

What a difference when the wind isn’t blowing! There were dorado, marlin, roosterfish, yellowtail and amberjack! A complete 180-degree turnaround. It’s all about the wind. Hope the winds hold off and the fish stay ready to chew!

“We had a great trip. First day was very slow, the second day we caught a few roosters, but nothing really to take home so we decided to go to the La Paz side. We slammed it. We caught more than 25 fish – 10 bonito, four amberjack, seven yellowtail, four triggerfish, and two cabrilla,” says Kevin Blakely from Texas. “Kevin, my son caught a 50-pound and a 40-pound amberjack. He pulled in the biggest fish of the group! I caught two massive yellowtail – a 35- and 25-pounder. My brother Kim, caught a 30-pound yellowtail. My 35-pound yellow was caught on a blue-and-white jig. Most of the fish were caught with squid that the captain, Chito, caught for us.”

Los Arenas

Tailhunter posted a great report in the forums of a trip to Las Arenas http://bit.ly/kLOMvT.
Gorgeous weather helped the seas lay down. The Las Arenas fleet had its first decent dorado bite of the season. Nothing big, but fish to 10 pounds came swarming to the boats with double and triple hookups! Plus some big roosters in the 30- to 50-pound class. Additionally, there were 30- to 40-pound yellowfin tuna!

 

East Cape

With the wind subsiding, the tuna fishing picked right up. Most fish have been between 30 and 100 pounds. Normally spring brings smaller football-sized tuna and the larger fish start to show as spring turns to summer. Not this year! It has been straight summertime-sized fish. The tuna are traveling with bottle-nosed and not white-sided dolphin.

Good-sized dorado are bending rods and anglers are getting their money’s worth. Vista Sea Sports posted another good forum post, http://bit.ly/jSlGQ6.

Almost straight striped marlin this week. Still a little line shy, but they are definitely biting much more aggressively. Anglers targeting billfish are releasing at least one a day. Very spread out, good fishing right off the hotel, 2 to 10 miles with ballyhoo working best.

Inshore, anglers scored larger roosters, releasing a couple of 50-pounders. Plenty of jacks and big pompano are around. Pargo are also taking live sardina, largest this week was 19 pounds. Fishing around the schools of sardina inshore has been the best way to catch the roosters.

If you choose to fish the beach, you will be sharing it with a lot of other anglers. Yep, it’s that time of year. The beaches are currently very, very crowded with fly-fishing anglers looking for the elusive roosterfish. A couple of times this week, it was very hard to find a place to fish where anglers were not running into each other. They seem to lack the “stream etiquette” that they would use at home! This is Baja and everyone is here to relax and enjoy, so give each other a courteous wide berth and have some fun. I think everyone will be a lot happier.

David Reed landed a spectacular roosterfish. He came to fly-fish with Reel Baja for big rooster fish from the beach. Check out some of the fly-caught fish posted by Reel Baja on the forums, http://bit.ly/jxLbRE.

Large schools of summertime-sized dorado have also shown up under patches of sargasso grass and are cooperating with anglers.

San Jose del Cabo

Full moon, unpredictable winds swirling from all directions, and high swells affected the availability of sardina caused a general slowdown in the overall action.

Striped marlin provided the best action for the offshore fleet from a few to 15 miles in spite of the choppy conditions. Larger dorado are in small groups.

While yellowfin tuna have arrived on various high spots, recent conditions have prevented fishing for them. Before the weather turned, tuna from 10 to 200 pounds were caught, with the larger fish landed on slow-trolled baits. They were also found traveling with porpoise farther offshore. It was a matter of being in the right place with the correct offering.

Inshore there were larger roosterfish up to 40 pounds caught and released while trolling live baits (mullet, caballito or moonfish) along the beaches north of La Playita. A handful of amberjack were also caught closer to shore with a couple topping 50 pounds.

Swordfish are still in the area for those lucky enough to get them to bite and win the fight. I received some pictures of happy anglers on recent charters and some young ladies catching their first marlin from Dream Weaver Sportfishing, who also put up a great forum post at http://bit.ly/knxF2B.

Los Cabos

Billfishing continues to improve and the fish are sticking with the bait around the 1150. Find the bait, find the fish. Pretty basic and simple, but easy to forget. Most boats were able to release one or two striped marlin per trip. The better ones were releasing three or four, and the best ones were releasing double digits. The key ingredient was bait quality. Without good bait and using lures and junk bait for drop backs, you might get a release or two if you found the fish. If you had good bait (mackerel or caballito) you might get a couple of them on a drop back and a couple on deep drops. If you were running rigged ballyhoo, your chances for a great instead of good catch improved dramatically. Putting the billfishing in perspective, fellow BD columnist Capt. Steve Lassley commented on the current billfish conditions, “caught nine for ‘only God knows how many’ on striped marlin seen or baited today. They kinda’ hurt my feelings.”

Panga fishermen found some scattered action on the smaller yellowfin close to the beach using sardina, but the quality fish were coming off of the area between the 1150 and the Cabrilla Seamount. Finding the right porpoise was the key, and not all the boats that found them were able to catch. The fish were shy and the best results were had by boats that used kites to fly the bait well away from the boat. Fish to 80 pounds were caught in this manner.

There were a few dorado caught, almost all of them on the Cortez side of the cape. Small ones were found close to the beach, little guys of around 8 pounds. Larger fish averaging 15 pounds were a bit offshore.

The inshore fishery has been scattered as there have been some decent yellowtail on the Pacific side for those who are willing to take the ride to the fishing grounds, or going to the beach around the El-Tule area for some sierra and small roosters if the winds were not too strong.

 

Mexico Mainland

Mazatlan

The offshore fleet averaged five to six dorado per day, with the bigger fish, (20 to 30-plus pounds) taken outside the buoy areas. The dorado caught in the buoy area averaged 15 pounds and provide excellent light-line action. In addition to other catches, the super pangas averaged four dorado per trip. Billfish were not accommodating this past week. The overall offshore fish counts for six days was 35 dorado and the seven inshore fishing days for the super pangas yielded 29 dorado, three cabrilla, one baqueta, seven cochitos and limits of pargo.

 

 

Puerto Vallarta

According to BD’s Brant Crenshaw, his recent PV trip was colored red and yellow, tricked up with kites and iron. “Time to start skipping the kite, they’re eating flyers. First pass we got hammered. The fish missed it twice, but grabbed it on the third time and we came tight. Fifteen minutes later it’s caught,” he said. “The last day we found the suspended snapper we metered the night before. For two hours it was all you wanted. They were suspended in the water column from 20 to 300 feet. Fished them with iron and they ate everything. We boated a bunch from 20 to 30 pounds. Headed in after the morning bite and started cleaning fish.” Check out his full report on the forums at http://bit.ly/m3ZSO3.

Capt. Juan Pablo Moll was slow getting started but it all turned around at 4 p.m. when he spotted a big bird school with fish breaking. Looking good! No strikes on the trollers so they bring them in and Juan puts the crew in front of the school for them to pitch the caballito out, and in less than a minute, they hook up to respectable-sized fish. Soon after they have the first fish of the trip on deck, a nice tuna in the 70- to 80-pound range. By the time the trip was finished they had 12 yellowfin from 80 to 160 pounds. Check out Juan’s full report on the forums, http://bit.ly/kwlicA.

 

Zihuatanejo
While the offshore fishing is decent, averaging a sailfish or two per day per boat, and the roosterfish action is outstanding, there are few anglers fishing. May has been the slowest in terms of anglers fishing in the past 14 years according to local Ed Kunze.

A couple of very decent catches were posted by Don Grantges, Jim Eldridge and their wives fishing with Cheva on the panga Dos Hermanos II. The first day they went for roosters and caught five nice ones. The second day, fishing the blue water and only eight miles out, they got three sails and lost a fourth and headed back to the dock by 11 a.m.

Daniel Jones also fished with Cheva for a day, and caught five nice roosters. Sierras and jack crevalle action is also excellent for light-line and fly-fishermen. The fishing continues to improve so get out there!

Thanks for joining me on my latest journey. I will do my best to be your eyes and ears for the Baja fishing scene, but it’s a two-way street, and I hope that each of you will be mine. Let me hear your Baja stories by emailing them to me at bajabytes@gmail.com.


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Gary Graham, the BD Outdoors Baja Editor, has more than five decades fishing experience off of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula. From light tackle and fly up to offshore marlin fishing, Gary has experienced all facets of this fishery. He's set several fly-fishing world records and in his first year as a member of the Tuna Club of Avalon, he received more angling awards than any other first-year member in the club's 109-year history. He's been involved with many California angling clubs and is the Baja California Representative for the International Game Fish Association. 
Gary's a conservationist as well as a writer and photographer. In addition to two books on saltwater fly-fishing, hundreds of his articles and photographs have appeared in publications around the world. Graham has devoted his life to finding new fisheries and developing new techniques — all of which he shares through his guiding, speaking, photography and writing.