Race to La Paz: Bring on the Reserves

La Paz is one of those rare locations that is both a permanent and seasonal habitat for an array of species that frequent the Sea of Cortez.  The most popular offshore categories are Billfish, Tuna, Wahoo, Yellowtail, and Dorado. Inshore species are certainly not overlooked with ego-bruisers like Roosterfish, Snook, Amberjack, and Dorado (again) when all else fails, bottom fish.

A sportfisher is fishing and fighting a black marlin which is jumping nearby.

While the above offshore gamefish are the center stage of the sportfishing spotlight in La Paz there is a myriad of lesser-known characters that provide anglers an alternative “to do” with more catching than wishing, along with sharpening their angling skills and improving their chances when that trophy-sized primary target appears.

Every fish on this list mentioned below has a toughness from living in a neighborhood whose motto is “eat or be eaten!”. While we cover some insight into an array of species, we merely only scratch the surface as to angling possibilities.

Speaking of “being eaten,” a category worth mentioning is Sharks. Mako, White, Blue, Hammerheads, Threshers, and Blacktip are all often spotted feeding on the surface. The area is known for some of the largest aggregations of hammerheads in the world.

Condescendingly referred to as Houndfish on the East Coast, the giant Needlefish gained a certain amount of Baja notoriety when author Ray Cannon stated they were one of his favorite species in his iconic “Sea of Cortez” published in 1966.

The Jack Family breaks down into 34 different subspecies, including some that fall into the exotic category. One of the more well-known is the Jack Crevalle which has earned the nickname “Toro” by the locals because of its bull-like strength and tenacity. Horse Eye Jacks known in the Sea of Cortez especially by divers for tornado-like behavior over pinnacles and structure.


The oddest of the Jack family in this area is the African Pompano which have earned the respect of many anglers who target them no matter what is offshore. They’re usually found in very tight schools swimming in relatively shallow water. Easily spotted in the bright sunlight with its silver-blue back fading to a white belly, the African Pompano school resembles a dark cloud moving slowly over the sandy bottom.

Sierra, generally considered a winter species, are around most of the year.  Anglers use wire to avoid being cut off by sharp teeth.

Triggerfish, a voracious eater, is probably the most overlooked fish on our list. Think of them as a perch on steroids, usually found in schools near shallow reefs all the way out to a couple of hundred feet. Small lures, flies, and live or dead bait will work with these accommodating critters that seem to bite almost anything on any tackle. They are real kid pleasers with their funny protruding front teeth.

La Paz offers something for everyone whether your sport is one of pitching baits to a 600 lb. Blue Marlin, dropping bait to the bottom in search of that back-breaking Amberjack or simply getting back to being 6 years old with bread and a hand line to tug on a Sargent Major, La Paz is one of most captivating angling locations in the world.

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...