Baja Winter Billfish & Yellowfin Crowd Pleasers

Los Cabos has continued to kick out some stripers, a few “keeper” yellowfin, sierra mackerel and a stray dorado or two, all of which seems to have kept the fleet hopping.
East Cape has been quiet with only a few sierra and jacks near shore. Up at Muertos, the fly guys are conking the roosters.
Heading still farther north, whales at Magdalena and Laguna Ojo de Liebre have been causing most of the chatter. However, news of winter snook and corvina at Magdalena has reverberated across Baja’s midsection.
Above Guerrero Negro on the Pacific side, there have been a few yellowtail, lings and rockfish waiting for the few anglers willing to brave the winter elements.

Que Pasa

Let’s Talk Hookup Sunday 2/10/19 – Ali Hussainy from Fish Dope and Local Knowledge from 7- to 8-a.m.


Let’s Talk Hookup Sunday 2/10/19 – Ali Hussainy from Fish Dope and Local Knowledge from 8- to 9-a.m.

Tijuana Bull Ring
A few boats attempted to get out today but decided to stay inside San Diego Bay instead. There were some sand bass, mackerel and tom cod found near the bait barge along with a few sand bass and the odd halibut found along the edges of kelp a little farther out over hard bottom…

Lower 9 / Coronado Islands
No report today due to the weather.
That said the rockfish action over the past week has been great on the Lower 9 and just to the north and northeast of North Island.
Anglers fishing the live sardine or fresh dead squid in 300 to 450 feet of water have been scoring limits.
The catch has been a mix of 2- to 5-pound reds, some bocaccio, bosco, chili’s, Santa Maria’s, big square spots and other assorted red rockfish.
No reports of any surface fish around the Islands for about a month…


Since our boat has been down for maintenance, we’ve been fishing Ensenada several times this year. My “go-to” boat is the Gamefisher out of Marina Coral

This weekend was excellent again with easy limits of RF and whitefish.
Also there were a few lings, a yellow and a huge cow cod.
Not only was the fishing wide open, but the crew and the boat are awesome…Derek




I’d like to start out this week’s report with the disclaimer that I’m running out of ways to describe lousy weather, so I apologize if these reports are starting to sound like a broken record. In fact the weekly rain and associated crap weekend fishing weather has been so reliable lately that I’m beginning to suspect that bad weather may be to 2019 what the yellowtail bite at the 150 was to 2015…

San Quintin

Cranky weather or not, there are still yellows to be caught.

Capt. Juan Cook, San Quintin, Baja.

Laguna Ojo de Liebre

Even though the weather was windy and rough, the whales managed to make people’s dreams come true. They enjoyed getting their chins and noses rubbed and scratched!
After a heavy petting session, we went to the whale disco…an area where at a falling tide there are whirlpools where the whales dance! We must have seen hundreds of spy-hopping dancing whales in our hour there…it was like “whack a whale” with whale heads popping up all around us — sometimes several at a time! Absolutely crazy! Here are some of the dancers.
Then the group went over to our Whale Camp at the mouth of Laguna Ojo de Liebre for a fresh lobster lunch and to camp for a couple of nights…. what a delightful day… Shari Bondy, Whale Magic Tours.

Bahía Asunción and Bahia De Los Angeles
No Report due to weather.

Our warm winter winds have just turned into cold winter winds — reminding me of the “lake effect” in some more northern waters.
Fishing continues in the “fair to good” category depending on where you drop a line.
This week the closer in spots north of Coronado got the most attention of the sardina and mackerel “droppers.”
Pinto bass mixed in with a selection of yellowtail ended up in most of the fish boxes and fillet tables.
The spots hit by the northern-bound boats were from Candeleros and as far north as San Bruno.
Bait has been available with mackerel being the favorite offering for the bigger fish.
The water temperatures are still running a little warm for this time of year, and the “big” whales have yet to arrive in any consistent numbers … at least the big blues on this side of the peninsula…Rick Hill

Magdalena Bay

We had our first Magdalena Bay trip of 2019. Good action in the bay with lots of action on a variety of fish including pargo, cabrilla, snook and corvina. Guy Nazareno had a big snook that was pulled out of the mangroves by his 5-year-old daughter, Natalie! Our own Jorge Romero holds up a nice corvina…Jonathan Roldan’s Tailhunter International

La Paz
Greg Shepherd and Valente, after an epic battle on a borrowed 10 weight — in La Ventana, Baja California Sur, Mexico…Casey Sheahan

The winds returned this week and the weather was on the chilly side. However, fortunately, the two best days — when the winds laid down — were the two days we had folks out on the water!

The first day, as is often the situation during these windy months, bait was hard to find so we had to drag lures. Still, there was some good action with lots of bonito to bend rods. The second day was much better, and live bait was available; our folks got more bonito, but also small roosterfish and even dorado and tuna which are unusual this time of the year during the colder, windier months…Jonathan Roldan’s Tailhunter International

East Cape
There has been little activity except for the “Tin Boat armada” that was chasing anything that would bite along the shore, which is dominated by sierra along with a few jacks.

Puerto Los Cabos
Still just moderate crowds of anglers have been arriving which is kind of normal for this time of year. The weather patterns seem to be on a warming trend, feeling like spring already — mostly clear sunny skies, with highs of 80 degrees. This next week, the forecast looks to be slightly cooler; hard to predict now, with transition periods from winter to spring, on and off changes. The water clarity has improved closer to shore this week. It has seemed to warm slightly, now in the 71- to 75-degree range, with the offshore area being the warmest, though much of the more consistent fishing action has been closer to shore.

There was a couple of days where limited supplies of sardina were located, this was inside the marina channel; of course, the word traveled and now we aren’t seeing any again, but at least it was a sign that these schooling baitfish are moving back into the region. There needs to be some control — more preserve zones are required as well. There are mackerel in the area, but a little more hit or miss from day-to-day … also slabs of squid, as well as ballyhoo and chihuil are rounding out bait options.

This weeks highlight was a handful of yellowfin tuna that were taken off of the Gordo Banks, drift fishing with squid and sardina. These tuna were in the 80-pound class. There were also a few wahoo biting, including one weighing about 70 pounds on Friday. This is not normally the time of year for wahoo, but with the conditions being how they are, there are definitely some wahoo in the area. Not many dorado are being accounted for, but every now and then a boat will come in with one or two, more of these are found closer to shore — sizes up to 15 pounds.

Most of the fish were various bottom species, different pargo, snapper, grouper, amberjack and even a few smaller yellowtail in the mix. Red snapper on pieces of squid was a good bet in recent days, most of these weighed under five pounds.

The marlin bite has been more spread out, but charters have been finding striped marlin off the San Jose del Cabo grounds as well as the 950 and the 1150 spots. It appears that many of the stripers that were on the Pacific side are now moving in the direction of the Sea of Cortez; it is all about following their food supply…Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas

Cabo San Lucas

Even with a bit of cooling weather and cooling water, the fleets reported another solid week for striped marlin fishing in the Cabo area. Many boats have still been reporting one or two fish per day and a few in the four- to six-pound range. The striped marlin were continuing to spread out from the Pacific side around the corner to the east as they follow the schools of bait. The dorado counts were down again this past week. The yellowfin tuna counts were solid although down a bit from the previous two weeks.

The striped marlin fishing continues to produce positive results overall on the Pacific side with fishing continuing to concentrate around the Lighthouse and out to the Golden Gate and San Jamie Banks. It appears the seasonal migration has begun to turn the corner following schools of bait into the Sea of Cortez. Stripers were again reported off Palmilla and around the Gordo banks although the inside fishing was a bit slower. The fleets reported solid counts of striped marlin with most boats averaging one to two fish per day. The yellowfin were again showing in the 25- to 30-mile range to the south and southwest and off the Golden Gate and Gordo Banks; the key is to find the pods of porpoise and you will find the tuna. Average size this past week was down averaging in the 15- to 30-pound range.

Inshore fishing continues to produce nice catches of skipjack with the sierra and jacks showing in good numbers from Solmar to El Arco. Roosters are occasionally showing in the surf from Solmar around the point at the Lighthouse and in the Palmilla area.

Cabo Climate: Early February has been a bit cooler with a mix of mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies; the outlook is for more of the same with average daytime temps in the low- to mid-70s and evenings in the upper-50s to low-60s. The extended forecast is for partly cloudy skies with zero chance of rain forecast through the end of February. Winds are expected to pick up in the 8- to 13-mph range through the end of February, mostly out of the West and WNW. Humidity is expected to run in the mid-60s into early March.
Sea Conditions: Seas have been relatively calm in the mornings throughout the area with some swells and chop showing up in the afternoons as breezes increase. Forecast is for more of the same with winds in the 8- to 13-mph range from the West and WNW. Sea temps have cooled and stabilized but there are some plumes of cooler water being pushed by the currents. Temps are running from 70- to 74-degrees on the Pacific side and a bit cooler in the 70- to 72-degree range on the inside around the Gordo Banks.

Best Fishing Areas: The marlin hot spots have remained primarily to the west and north but decent action was again reported on the inside for the first time this year. The Lighthouse area was the major hot spot again this past week. Most of the fish are being found 2- to 8-miles out from shore. Large numbers of stripers are also showing in the Golden Gate and San Jamie areas.
Success was also reported soaking live baits off Palmilla and the Gordo Banks. The yellowfin are being found 25- to 30 miles out to the South and SW near the Herradura, 110-, 120-, 140- and 160- Spots. Catches of quality yellowfin were also coming off the Golden Gate area and some larger yellowfin were reported around the Gordo Banks. For those willing to make the longer 50-mile run, the Finger Bank has continued producing up to double digit striped marlin counts. Traffic is lighter up there recently as the fish counts closer to home have increased.
Favorite Bait: Trolled blue/green smoke trail lures along with live mackerel or live caballito were the favorite for the marlin. Soaking live bait around the Finger Bank and off the Lighthouse area produced successful multiple striper counts. Trolled feathers and cedar plugs were the ticket for the yellowfin. Hoochies were by far the preferred and most productive lures for the sierra. Poppers near the surf were the most successful bait for the jacks and roosters.

Bait Supply: Live bait is available at $3.00 per bait upon exit from the harbor. Mackerel, when available, are popular with the captains.

Mainland Mexico

San Carlos

Costa Rica

Look at the size of that big black marlin! It took this client five hours to reel this Bad Boy to the boat for a picture! Wow!


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That Baja Guy-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 record...