Barred surf perch
  • Barred surf perch
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For the initial southward migration of anglers into Baja, those in search of trophy fish usually bypassed San Quintín, known as a windy and coolish place with sand dunes between rocky escarpments dotted with shallow estuaries and bays.

If not tropical, San Quintín did have its charm for a few, including Hollywood producer Mark Armistead. In 1968, Armistead bought a parcel with an airstrip from an Italian family that was known for Prohibition-era bootlegging and smuggling.

There on the spit of sand between San Quintín Bay and Santa Maria Bay, 190 miles south of San Diego, Armistead built a replica of his favorite drinking spot in Costa Mesa. His Hollywood friends stayed at Cielito Lindo, including John Ford (for whom he worked during WWII), Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, and John Wayne.

When Highway 1 came through San Quintín, the area’s Hollywood crowd found new remote hide-outs, and Mark Armistead sold Cielito Lindo in 1975. The beach laden with pismo clams and sand crabs was left to be discovered by the motor-camping crowd.

San Quintín is a large farming community producing vegetables, fruits, and berries eaten in San Diego and the rest of the U.S. If the label says “Driscoll’s,” “Berry-Mex,” or “Los Pinos” on the package, it most likely comes from the San Quintín area.

Being in the cool-water plume from Ensenada to El Rosario, San Quintín is now a fishing destination for rockfish, white seabass, and halibut. It is known for great surf-fishing, specifically large barred surf perch in Santa Maria Bay.

Except during extreme high tide, the beach can be driven on and there are several access points. The best access is at Fidel’s, a residential camping community with a few buildings, hot showers, and lots for lease. During summer weekends, Fidel will often put up a rope and charge 20 pesos a car (a dollar and six cents).

Past Event

Carl and Sue's Surf Perch Derby

  • Thursday, August 4, 2016, 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Fidel's at Pabellon, Valle de San Quintin, Baja
  • $3

Thursday, August 4, is not your average day. There will be a crowd along the beach in front of Fidel’s for Carl and Sue’s Surf-fishing Derby, in which anglers hope to hook the prize-winning surf perch.

After the morning’s fishing and the weigh-in between noon and 1:00 p.m., there will be a pot-luck barbeque and awards.

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