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Friday, September 9, 2011

FISHING - Southern Anglers Catching Yellows and Dorado

By Tom Gatch,
Published on Fishwrap News


Hot inland temperatures and cool ocean currents continue to team up along the Pacific Coast between Central California and the upper regions of Baja California Sur, and have apparently provided us with another summer season that has been less than stellar. But, although the long-awaited offshore tuna bite seems to have stalled about 200 miles south of the U.S./Mexico border, there have still been solid numbers of game fish making it over the rails of sportboats.


Photo by: Gordo Banks Pangas
Tuna-riffic Time — Vaughn and Ashley Ellis scored big time on their recent visit to San Jose del Cabo, with the catch of this huge, trophy-size yellowfin tuna.
Photo by: Tailhunter International
Hug Your Catch — John Pastorello of Fullerton hugged a fresh-out-of-the-water dorado catch, after he and his crew had three banner days of fishing in the La Paz region with Tailhunter International.
Photo by: K&M Sportfishing
Cup Runneth Over — Capt. Kelly Catian happily hoisted one of the yellowfin tuna that helped K&M Sportfishing win the recent Governor’s Cup competition, held in Bahia San Quintín.
As Capt. Louie Prieto of the six-pack sportfisher It’s 4 Reels out of Ensenada put it, “Although we have yet to score on tuna and kelp paddy yellows, due to them being out of our range at 90 miles or more, these fish are out there and seem to be moving up. The problem right now is the weather. We headed out the other day looking for paddies, and didn’t get more than 15 miles outside of Todos Santos Island when the conditions went from bad to worse — with 5- to 8-foot swells, whitecaps and washing machine conditions.
“But the good thing about Ensenada is that there are always Plan Bs and Plan Cs,” Prieto said. “This time, Plan C worked for us and we managed to catch several lingcod, sand bass, rockfish and six halibut weighing up to about 15 pounds.”
Farther south in Bahia San Quintín, Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing agreed with that assessment of the recent weather and fishing conditions. “Inshore has been sloppy, with a thick marine layer and slow bait catching — at the rate of about 10 small mackerel for an hour’s work with the Sabiki rigs. The water rolled a bit but is still clean even though it got cooler.
“We were out on the Parker Offshore III and found a good break at 10 miles on the kelp paddies, and got bit on both iron and bait,” Catian said. “We moved on and found water up to 65 degrees just outside the ridge. Gordo was out a bit farther in 67-plus-degree water, but there were no paddies — so, we stayed in our little inshore area and found another good patch of kelp that was holding some better-size yellows that took our iron on the first cast.”

“Our amigo Tony, from Vancouver, is in kayak fishing heaven these days,” said Shari Arce at Blowhole Bed & Breakfast in Bahia Asuncion. “He brought his tin boat down here with him, but hasn’t even launched it yet because the fishing from his kayak has produced excesses of yellowtail and bonito — and he hooked the biggest barracuda he’d ever seen ... a monster.
“The fish are right in at the shore and a five-minute paddle from the cabin in San Roque,” she added. “Tony laughs as he complains about having to bring his gear in so he can paddle a bit away from the rocks: He can’t paddle, as he’s constantly having to reel in fish. Sheesh ... poor guy, eh?”
From the Bahia Magdalena region on the Pacific coast of Baja Sur, veteran saltwater angler Bill Erhardt said, “I recently launched very early in Lopez Mateos, ran the boca in the dark with the light of a half moon, and made a solo run just outside to see if any wahoo had made the trip north — with the warm water that has been holding outside Isla Magdalena for the past couple of weeks. And sure enough, the ‘hoos have indeed arrived in force; and nice sized, too.
“By noon, I had my limit of five and spent the next couple of hours looking for yellowfin,” Erhardt said. “I saw no sign of tuna or marlin and did not see another sportfishing boat all day. The conditions were about as good as they get on this part of the Pacific Ocean.”
There have not been many billfish catches off Los Cabos in recent days, reported Eric Bricston at Gordo Banks Pangas in San Jose del Cabo. “The panga charters have not really specifically targeted them recently, preferring to go after the more abundant yellowfin tuna.
“The dorado numbers are a lot less than normal for summertime, but most charters are still catching one or more in their combined catch,” he said. “Most of them were juvenile sized fish of 15 pounds or less, and most of the smaller schools of dorado were found near where the tuna were holding.
“Supplies of sardinas were adequate this past week and were definitely the bait of choice for anglers targeting the yellowfin tuna bite that has been dominating the action from the Iman to San Luis banks,” Bricston said. “Drift fishing while chumming with both live and dead bait was enticing the tuna into a feeding mood.
“This week, there were tuna reportedly seen on the Gordo Banks, but no significant bite has developed on this area at this time,” Bricston added. “Heavy dive boat pressure has been a main factor, as the yellowfin become spookier with divers in the water. Anglers were landing an average of one or two — and, at times, five to seven — tuna per charter. The average size of these fish ranged from 30 to 60 pounds.
“In recent days, there have been even larger yellowfin moving on to these same fishing grounds: One 200-pounder was landed on Wednesday by local famed sportfisher Fisherman,” Bricston said. “This tuna hit on a trolled live skipjack. Every day, the panga fleet is accounting for some tuna that are weighing up to 100 pounds or more. At times these fish proved leader-shy, and many larger fish were lost after being hooked up on lighter line. A few of these tuna were also hooked on yo-yo jigs. There are plenty of skipjack in the same area; they have been used as chunk bait with some success, as well.”
From Rancho Leonero on the East Cape, owner John Ireland reported, “The fishing is great, with water temps in the high 80s. Outside, there are schools of porpoises holding tuna. My boats are generally going north and then working south looking for the action. There are good fish in the mix, but have been picky on the bite. Rick Harris and Larry Jones of Orange County boated an 86-pounder yesterday, which took a couple of hours on light tackle.”
Farther up the Sea of Cortez coast in La Paz, a relieved Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International said, “A good week of fishing was had, especially if you came to load up on fresh dorado fillets. For both our Tailhunter Las Arenas Fleet and our Tailhunter La Paz fleets, dorado were 90 percent of the catch most days, if that’s what you wanted to do. The fish are fast, feisty, hungry and fun!

“Most of them weren’t big by any means,” Roldan said. “10- to 20-pound-grade fish were the norm, and were more than enough for many anglers to handle, especially after a full-day of rod bending.”

Have a question, comment or a hot fishing tip? Share your input by sending email to: tlgatch@gmail.com.