Lucy D. Barker 6:13 p.m., May 23
An abundance of great angling opportunities exist around the entire Baja peninsula, but a few of them can be a little remote and a bit difficult to access from many of the major tourist centers.
Nowhere is this truer than when referring to the offshore waters of Baja’s rugged Pacific coast; a place where the Port of Ensenada is the only major maritime resource that exists between the International border at San Ysidro and Cabo San Lucas near the peninsula’s southern tip.
But sportfishing for Baja’s big tuna, dorado, wahoo and other popular ‘blue water’ offshore gamefish that often swim more than 50 miles from shore in these regions was never really a viable possibility until the middle of the last century.
Shortly after the end of World War II, a San Diego sportfishing pioneer named Bill Poole, who loved fishing off southern California and northern Baja, realized that that the fishing just kept getting better the further south you went. But actually doing this required two things; sport boats that were much bigger and had the capacity to make the trips, and cooperation from the Republic of Mexico in obtaining permission to explore and fish in these isolated destinations.
After successfully initiating a viable permit agreement with Mexican officials, Poole embarked upon a bold move to begin building more sophisticated and well equipped passenger vessels that were suitable for long range multi-day travel, and which would also comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements. By doing so, he eventually established an honorary reputation within the local industry as San Diego’s ‘top skipper’. Between 1947 and his passing in 2009, Poole owned and operated 10 sportfishing vessels, which included the original Polaris, the Royal Polaris, the Polaris Supreme and the Excel.
Bill Poole was much more than just the pioneer of long-range fishing off of coastal Baja. During a span of over 70 years, he laid the foundation and continued to lead in building the framework for San Diego’s entire sportfishing industry. He also mentored many of today’s top sport boat captains during their early years.
Today, decades of experience in long range offshore fishing along Baja’s Pacific coast have earned San Diego a reputation for having one of the finest sportfishing fleets on the planet.
Trips are available that fit practically every itinerary and budget; whether it be a relatively short 2 day excursion off Baja Norte’s Punta Colonet for large winter rockfish or albacore tuna in the summertime, or an incredible 14-day adventure down past the southern tip of Baja on the hunt for giant ‘cow’ yellowfin tuna that can tip the scales at well over 200 pounds.
The entire length of the peninsula is randomly interspersed with small islands and rocky outcroppings that attract a wide variety of both territorial and migrating fish species to delight the intrepid angler.
One of the most beguiling and southernmost of these is the small, surf battered formation known as Roca Partida, which lies about 300 miles south of Cabo San Lucas. It may be isolated, but it is a prime destination for long range voyages of 14 days or more for those targeting huge yellowfin. And for those who would like to fish this area without as much travel time on the water, at least one of San Diego’s long range operations offers a ‘fly down, fly back’ trip in spring that allows anglers to be picked up and returned to the port at Cabo San Lucas.
While it may be true that these craft will never be confused with luxury ocean liners, members of San Diego’s long range fleet go out of there way to provide comfortable accommodations via clean compact staterooms, hot showers, exceptional service and plenty of gourmet quality fare and tasty snacks throughout the trip to keep their anglers happy. Additionally, modern techniques for fish storage aboard the boats, including some with RSW (refrigerated salt water) systems, help to keep your catch at the peak of freshness until you return to the mainland.
Most importantly, the availability of this highly praised fishing fleet situated immediately adjacent to Mexican waters provides a unique opportunity to see and experience the magic of Baja’s Pacific coast from a delightfully different perspective.
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