Castro’s Fishing Place is a spot that I’ve been hearing about almost since I first started fishing in Southern California. I’ve been meaning to go for awhile, but something else always came up. I finally made tangible plans last year and booked to go in August with Ron Owens’ group, the So Cal Sportfishing Club. I had to cancel though because I was still stuck in Seattle.
I finally got my opportunity to go last week, and despite less than ideal conditions, I’m really happy I got to go.
I wrote in last week’s Sportboat Roundup about how some of the multi-day trips have foregone bluefin and instead are heading south for yellowfin tuna. Asking around, I was able to find out that the target zone is about 120 miles south from San Diego. I enjoy fishing for yellowfin far more than bluefin and started looking for opportunities to go. I couldn’t find a ride at the appropriate length. Then I heard from one of my contacts, Capt. David Domaguin. Dave told me that his nephew Justin was looking for someone to head down with him to Castro’s. Castro’s is about a 100 miles from the border. Hmmm…
Justin and I talked. He had the same idea I did. Let’s go down there and see if we can get into the yellowfin from there.
You might remember that I had a similar plan earlier in the year when after fishing on the New Lo-An off Ensenada, I tried to see if I could hit that bite with Mara’s Sportfishing in Ensenada. Fishing offshore got called because of wind and we stayed local instead. Windy forecasts had this trip in jeopardy as well. Originally, we planned to go down on Thursday, fishing Friday, but we had to make other plans. The best window was to head down on Wednesday and give it a go on Thursday (October 21st), so that’s what we did.
Trip Report – Full Day Panga Fishing
Castro’s is located in Erendira…roughly an hour past Ensenada. Justin picked me up Thursday afternoon from my place in Rosarito. We stopped in Ensenada for dinner and ended up rolling into Castro’s around 9pm. Our room was ready for us. We unpacked, got setup for the following day and hit our bunks.
The next morning, Justin and I were ready to go at 6am, but it was still dark. We waited a little while for the sun to come up and launched about 40 minutes later. Our captain for the day was Victor Castro Jr., aka Wero (right).
A check of the marine traffic while we were waiting to launch showed us three sportboats about 12 miles offshore. Our calculations were correct. If the conditions and the fish cooperated, this plan just might work. Our first task of the day was to make bait. We started trying almost immediately after launch in the fertile kelp forest inshore. We kept finding them, but they were moving around quickly. Justin caught a calico on the sabiki rig. Maybe that’s what was harassing our bait? After several tries, we had managed to accumulate a grand total of one mackerel. It’s a good thing we came prepared with trolling gear.
We rigged up trolling lures, jigs we could throw when the boat got stopped, and made our way outside.
After about a 30 minute drive, we spotted what appeared to be a sporboat on the horizon. A look through the binoculars revealed it to be the Mustang out of Fisherman’s Landing. We must be in the right zone. Time to put out the trollers. Justin and I both had new trolling lures still in their packages. Justin rigged a daisy chain of blue and white cedar plugs. I put on a feather that I had picked up the day before at Squidco. They worked! Not ten minutes after putting them in, we got a double jig strike!
I reeled mine in. At color, I saw that giveaway brown back. The right kind! Meanwhile, Justin was reeling in his fish, but somehow it abruptly came off. Oh well. Good start. Let’s keep it going.
Again, 10-15 minutes later, another double. Same result. I got mine. Justin somehow managed to lose his again.
“Did you take the plastic off the hook?”Capt. Victor “Wero” Castro Jr.
We kept going, but this time around nothing for 30 minutes plus. We were going to make a longer move and took the trollers out of the water. What do you know…the plastic was still on Justin’s hook. Doh!
We found a patch of cleaner, warmer water, and put them out again. Justin got a skippy. The hook works when you take the plastic off. He’s going to have a hard time living that one down.
We ended up getting 3 more yellowfin. It was about 1:30pm at this point. The wind was starting to kick up. I was good with our production on the yellowfin. I wanted to get some rockfish. We trolled back to the rockfishing grounds, but didn’t get stopped along the way.
We set up in about 300 feet of water. Justin fished a standard double dropper. I fished a 12-ounce jig and fly setup from lingcodjigs.com.
We both managed to score some nicer reds out of the gate, but had a hard time following it up. The drift was too fast. Even with Capt. Victor using the motor to try and hold the boat in place, it proved to be too difficult. We gave up after a couple more unproductive drifts.
That was basically the day. We might have easily gotten full limits on the yellowfin if we had managed to make bait. It would’ve been nice too if the conditions cooperated and we could’ve gotten in a better session on the rockfishing. Oh well, we snuck in a trip in between the lousy conditions and the core part of our plan worked out.
This was also a first for me. I’ve caught tuna on a half-day boat (the New Seaforth), on a 3/4 day boat (the Spitfire out of Marina del Rey), on 805 boats (the Amigo out of Ventura Sportfishing at the time, and the Pacific Islander), and now I can say I got some off a panga.
It’s winter fishing…and we got the win.
Thanks to Capt. Victor for leading our offshore panga adventure. Thank you Justin for the invite and intro to Castro’s. I definitely want to come back. Good luck if you get out there.