“The white seabass are biting full bore right now!”
That was the first thing Capt. Kelly Catain told me when I called him early this morning.
“Yeah, I’ve heard,” I said. “That’s what I called to talk to you about.”
After a brief pause to let me catch up with the conversation, Kelly continued, “No, I mean they’re biting right now — as in this morning! One of the boats already has six big ones onboard and my son Oscar is headed down to the zone as we speak.”
The “zone” that Kelly is referring to lies along the beaches just south of Mexico’s San Quintin Bay. The white seabass have been stacked up in this area over the last few months and have been biting almost nonstop the entire time.
“We had a stretch a couple weeks ago where a lot of smaller seabass moved in, but the big ones moved back in last week. One of the boats had 7 or 8 fish in the 50-pound class.”
These big fish are being caught in the classic San Quintin style, casting large Krocodile jigs or surface iron into the bird schools that pile up around the feeding seabass.
“Some boats have been getting fish on the slow-trolled mackerel, but I don’t even bother with that because fishing them on the iron is much more effective,” Kelly said.
When asked about the tackle, Kelly recommended fishing a regular surface iron rod with 30- or 40-pound mono. If you fish Spectra, 65- or 80-pound with a 40- to 60-pound leader works perfectly for these fish. As far as lures, most guys fish the big Krocodiles but a Tady 45 or Salas 7X will work as well.
For those not interested in catching 50-pound plus white seabass on the iron, Kelly told me there are several other fishing options available. The first of which is the wide-open yellowtail bite that’s happening at the pinnacles surrounding San Martin Island, which lies just north of San Quintin Bay.
“The yellowtail bite has been stupid at the 240 spot lately,” he said. “Last weekend my son Bird ran a trip out there and they had a full speed Yo-Yo iron bite with fish up to 25 pounds.”
Even though some of the yellowtail in this area are on the smaller size, Kelly recommends fishing the heavy gear. “You want to fish at least 40-pound line and preferably 50-pound because you never know when you’re going to get bit by one of the bigger ones. These fish have been biting around some nasty structure and you’ll get dusted on the light tackle.”
As far as which Yo-Yo jigs to bring, the Tady 9, Tady 4/0 and the Salas 6X Jr. in mint-and-white or scrambled egg are always good choices. Rig these on a heavy 7-foot rod and a good Yo-Yo reel, like the Penn Baja Special or a Penn Torque 40G loaded with 50-pound mono or 80-pound Spectra with a 60-pound leader.
The Yo-Yo fishing technique is simple, hammer the drag, drop the jig to the bottom, wind it up as fast as you can, get bit, set the hook and pull like hell.
If battling big yellows in bad neighborhoods doesn’t sound good to you either, then all it takes is a short run offshore to load up on a variety of pelagic species.
“The offshore fishing hasn’t really been all that far offshore,” said Kelly. “Most of the boats have been fishing just past the island (around 13 miles outside San Quintin Bay). We’re catching mostly the same stuff the boats out of San Diego are getting, but along with the standard yellowfin, yellowtail and dorado we’ve also been getting the occasional bigeye tuna and striped marlin.”
“Over the weekend a couple of pangas hooked marlin and I think that one of the boats out of Pedro’s Pangas landed one. Captain Bird had a couple of nice bigeye tuna two weeks ago. The fishing out there is really good, but with the yellowtail at the islands and the big seabass on the beach, not a lot of guys are fishing it,” Kelly said.
For offshore trips, Kelly recommends bringing your standard tuna tackle along with some trolling feathers, cedar plugs, iron such as Megabaits and swimbaits to fish on the slide.
Although the fishing has been hot lately, the crowds have been minimal in San Quintin. So if you’ve been thinking about making a trip south, now is the time to do it. To book a trip or to get more information, Kelly can be reached by phone at 949-370-6532 or through his website www.kmfishing.com.
San Quintin, Mexico