Bluefin, Yellowfin and Marlin Bite; Albacore on the Horizon

From: http://www.fishrapnews.com/news/newsArticles.aspx?x=12567

By: Tom Gatch | 7/21/2011 12:00 AM
Last updated: 7/21/2011 1:57 PM
The offshore tuna bite off the Pacific coast of Baja California Norte has been up and down — with lots of fish being metered and plenty of birds working bait balls — but few fish have been on the chew. Although the much-anticipated albacore bite has yet to develop, a few quality-grade bluefin tuna have still been boated.
Photo by: Dan Rich
Big Day — A simple fishing trip in the upper Sea of Cortez recently turned into a big catch and an enviable gastronomic delight for Southern California angler Dan Rich, when he landed this beautiful baya grouper weighing in excess of 100 pounds.
Photo by: Tailhunter International
Dorado Return — Dorado action is red hot off La Paz right now, as evidenced by this sweet bull dorado that was one of the many caught in this region over the past few weeks.
Inshore fishing in the region has fluctuated, as well. Some weeks have produced good catches of white seabass, halibut and occasional yellowtail, and others have offered only a pick at summertime’s most popular game fish species.

Capt. George Landrum at Fly Hooker Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas reported, “Most of the striped marlin we’ve been catching have been very close to home — but there are not the numbers we were seeing last week, and they are not as hungry. What we are seeing more of is blue marlin. A boat caught one over 600 pounds this week, and quite a few smaller ones between 200 and 300 pounds were released.

“There were blues to be had, if you were in the right place using the right stuff,” Landrum added. Most of the action on these blue marlin occurred between 5 and 25 miles out, around the tuna. Naturally, they were following their bait.

“There hasn’t been much of a change from the last few weeks as far as the yellowfin tuna are concerned,” he added. “Just motor out between 5 and 25 miles to the south and southwest, find the porpoises and you will get bit.

“The porpoises are all over the place, but finding the right pod to work (to find yellowfin tuna) has been the key,” Landrum said. “The white-bellied porpoises were moving fast, and it was hard to get bit in them — but the spotted porpoises were easier to work, and the fish were a bit more cooperative.

“Smaller lures in dark colors worked great on these fish that averaged 15 pounds, with large ones reaching 30 pounds,” Landrum said. “There were a few big ones caught as well — fish that reached over the 100-pound mark — but they were not in among the small ones.”
In San Jose del Cabo, Eric Bricston of Gordo Banks Pangas reported, “Mullet, jurelito and caballito are now being found near the Puerto Los Cabos jetties.

There are still no sardinas available, due to persistent summer swells. Schools of bolito are finally starting to appear on the fishing grounds. These fish are a preferred food source for all species of game fish and always are a favorable sign for finding quality action.

“Fleets were seeing fair numbers of striped marlin offshore, anywhere from 4 to 20 miles out,” Bricston said. “It was another deal enticing the marlin to strike, but charters were accounted for — one or two here and there.”

Some yellowfin tuna were found offshore, as well, Bricston added. “Most of them were medium-sized, with a few fish over 100 pounds encountered. It’s still hit or miss, and (because of recent rough conditions) not recommended for smaller boats.

“The local panga fleet found the most consistent action from the Iman to San Luis banks,” Bricston said. “Anglers found scattered action off the rocky bottom for huachinango, amberjack and cabrilla. Most strikes came on yo-yo jigs, and counts of three to eight fish in combination were common. This is the same area where quality-grade tuna were congregated before the cold current turned over the conditions. Only a few yellowfin were reported from off this spot recently, and most of these were caught on yo-yos.”

Bricston added, “There are also a number of quality-size dorado being caught ... and they have been increasing in both quantity and size. These fish have been striking in the cleaner, warm water throughout our region and have been hitting the normal array of surface trolling lures.”

From the East Cape of Baja California Sur, John Ireland at Rancho Leonero happily reported, “I keep referring to the unique impact that the incredible amount of bait we’ve seen around here lately has had on our fishing at the ranch this year. In my 30 years down here, I have not seen anywhere near as much bait as we have had in this past year. It’s made for some very good, yet sometimes spotty fishing ... One day the fishing will be wide-open; the next day slower.

“I recently counted 30 separate bait balls while motoring from the hotel to the lighthouse,” Ireland said. “Blue and striped marlin, as well as sailfish are also around in good numbers. Anglers targeting billfish are scoring daily.

“Yellowfin fishing has been spotty, but a few are coming in every day — and all have been taken under schools of porpoises,” Ireland said. “The largest one lately weighed about 120 pounds. Some big dorados in the 50-pound class have also been caught — and inshore, those big roosterfish have really started biting, with a few big fish between 85 and 90 pounds being released.”
Much farther up the coast in Loreto, retiree and avid Baja angler Bill Erhardt reported, “With school-size dorado dominating the action around the islands, I went out to the canyon recently looking for something different — and I found it. Shortly after sun-up, a long, screaming strike and run turned out to be a 50-pound wahoo.

“My next strike also went down, as had the wahoo — and 30 minutes later, a blue marlin around 175 pounds was at the boat,” he said. “As usually happens, he hit on my lightest rod, which broke as I tried to keep his head up at the boat. I ended up bringing him in the back door to remove the hook.” Erhardt said he swam the marlin for 10 to 15 minutes alongside the boat after removing the hook and then released it.

At the tepid northern region of the Sea of Cortez, private boater and Rancho Cucamonga resident Dan Rich got a pleasant surprise while fishing near the rocky bottom from his small Crestliner fishing boat during a recent visit: It was a beautiful baya grouper (Mycteroperca jordani) that weighed in excess of 100 pounds.

Got a question or hot tip? Share your input by sending email to: tlgatch@gmail.com.

This article first appeared in the July 2011 issue of FishRap. All or parts of the information contained in this article might be outdated.
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