SYNOPSIS: About the best I can say for our fishing this past week is that there are fish being caught. The Marlin bite is slow, there are very few Dorado, some small tunas, an occasional Wahoo and scattered inshore fish, with occasional schools of Sierra biting well. Read on down for some detailed information and what to expect.
WEATHER: With mostly sunny skies and daytime highs in the high 80’s it has been great weather to be on the water or on the beach. Our evenings have seen lows in the mid 60’s, not cold enough for sweaters, but perfect for walking around town! We did see some heavy fog on the Pacific side a bit to the north but it burned off rapidly. The winds have been light with 0-8 mph from the NW early in the day and raising up to 8-15 mph in the afternoons with mostly NW but once in a while switching to N or NE.
WATER: Swells at 1-4 feet on the Pacific side and 1-2 feet on the Cortez side, combined with the light winds have made surface conditions great. Currents have been pushing from the NW and wrapping around the Cape in an anti-clockwise direction with the near-shore waters on the Cortez side seeing a definite weakining in current strength. Of course the big news is the water temperature. I did a little research on the past temperatures for this time of year based on my fishing reports since 2003 and the only time we had water this warm at this time of year was in 2010 when it ranged from 73-74 degrees. This past week it was 74-75 degrees with the cooler water on the Pacific side and the warm water on the Gordo Banks. I ran an average over the past 13 years and it is normally 5 to 6 degrees cooler.
BAIT: The water temperature is the biggest factor in bait availability and it has had a very strong effect this week. With the water too warm for Mackerel and too cold for Caballito there have been little of either. What bait has been readily available has been what most consider “second rate” baits such as “look-downs” (tortillas!), green jacks and assorted other species. A few spots of Sardinas have shown up on the Cortez side, but no big numbers. As a result, bait availability has been spotty, first out gets the prime baits, later boats have to settle for the leftovers. All said and done, the price has remained the same at $3 per bait for the larger baits, but there have been frozen ballyhoo at the same price on most days.
BILLFISH: The Striped Marlin bite has been mostly off, but a few boats have managed to get bit, resulting in between one and two releases per day, but not on a consistent basis. Due to the temperatures, most of the action has taken place on the Pacific side up around the Golden Gate Banks and Todo Santos. There have been a few Blue and Black Marlin reported as well, nothing steady of course, but with the water still in the tolerable range for these fish, it is not surprising. These have been reported as being either almost due south of us or around the Gordo Banks area (the Black Marlin). The boats that are having the best success on the Striped Marlin are dropping live bait on the high spots along the Pacific coastline, in particular any area that shows bait on the depth sounder. A live bait on 10 feet of #100 leader with a three to five ounce lead weight gets the bait down, and the more conservation orientated boats are being sure to use circle hooks while fishing this way to avoid killing the fish. When they bite on a deep bait like this they often end up swallowing the bait deep before the anglers realize they have a bite. Using a circle hook allows the hook to slide out of the gullet and into the corner of the jaw, avoiding damage to the gills or internal organs. If you do some drops like this while you are out, please make sure that your crew uses circle hooks! A few of the fish have been spotted tailing on the surface, but there have not been the number of feeders that we normally see as there is no good concentration of bait.
YELLOWFIN TUNA: This past week was not a good one for anglers or crews that wanted to target Tuna. There are Tuna out there, but mostly they have been the smaller football fish in the 8-15 pound class, and found with the moving schools of dolphin. Two weeks ago there was a nice concentration of good size fish on top of the San Jaime Bank but they were only up and feeding at daybreak and right at dusk. Private boats staying out until dark were able to catch a few fish in the 80-120 pound class using live bait, but then the Purse-Seiners moved in and swept them up. We had up to five Purse Seiners at one time on the San Jaime and when they moved away there were no fish left. Getting the scattered footballs to bite was not easy either, pulling small hootchies and king-kings set way back behind the boat resulted in catches that varied between 2 and 8 fish per boat, for the boats that were able to find the fish.
DORADO: I had thought that with this warmer than normal water we would be having some good Dorado action, but it has been spotty. The fish that are being caught are very nice fish in the 20-40 pound class, and most of them have been caught on lures, or on live bait tossed under a working Frigate. Unfortunately there have not been many working Frigates.
WAHOO: We just came off the full moon and as a result there were some decent Wahoo caught, but not any numbers of them. Most of the action appeared to happen on the flats up around Punta Gorda or inside 50 fathoms of water on the Pacific side around the rocky points. Sizes ranged from 18 to 40 pounds.
INSHORE: Inshore is where most of the action has been happening for the past few weeks, and even there it has been a bit hit or miss. We would normally be seeing lots and lots of Sierra, it should be red-hot for them and we should be seeing plenty of Yellowtail as well. I believe that the warm water has kept them from getting this far down the coast, but at least a few have managed to make it. Just last week there was a Sierra tournament for the Pangas and only a few boats showed well as they were able to find some big schools just off the beach, but most of the boats only caught a few. The best action was on chunk bait, setting up a chunk line and working it hard put fish in the boat. Anglers and crews that used live bait hoping for the larger 10 pound sized fish ended up chopping up the live bait to get chunks, and boats that stayed with pulling hootchies and Rapalas had little luck at all. A few Yellowtail have hit the deck, a few of them in the 10-15 pound class but most in the little 6-10 pound category. A typical inshore catch this week was a couple of Sierra, a couple of Snapper and maybe some Pompano or Amberjack as well, and of course Triggerfish.
If you are planning on booking a fishing trip soon (or later in the year), contact me to see what I can set you up with. I offer fishing charters for people with any type of experience on the water at reasonable rates, and service is the name of the game to me!
My Music of the week is Joe Bonamassa’s “Tour de Force – Live at the Royal Albert Hall”, still one of my favorites! I will get a chance to see him perform live in May!
The information I use in these reports are obtained in many different ways, some from personal experience, some from my clients and Captains who are out every day, and some from on-line subscription services such as Fish-Track, BuoyWeather and SurfZone as well as HurricaneZone. I, and only I, am responsible for any errors made, as I sift all this information and compile it.
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Meanwhile, Tight lines!