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Long-range trips worth the $400-500

From outside Cedros Island, Alijos Rocks, past the end of Baja

A whopping lineup of the larger yellowfin tuna caught off southern Baja by the anglers aboard the Intrepid on their latest 15-day trip.
A whopping lineup of the larger yellowfin tuna caught off southern Baja by the anglers aboard the Intrepid on their latest 15-day trip.

Dock Totals 1/16 – 1/22: 714 anglers aboard 37 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 40 barracuda, 45 bluefin tuna, 12 bocaccio, 34 bonito, 136 calico bass (104 released), 3 halibut, 55 lingcod, 79 lobster (55 released), 72 perch, 10 rock crab, 1,125 rockfish, 492 sand bass, 453 sculpin, 27 sheephead, 5 triggerfish, 99 whitefish, and 178 yellowtail.

Saltwater: There was much better fishing this past week than the week previous on the beach, in local waters, and along the Baja coast. Close to home, the half-day boats Premier and the Dolphin focused on the flats a stone’s throw from the border and two miles offshore, where a solid sand bass bite made up the bulk of the catch. As usual, a few calicos and sculpin have been in the mix. The New Seaforth has been running extended Half-Day trips south of the border for excellent results on rockfish. Limits are common and the big reds are biting for those fishing just across the border, where unlike U.S. waters, rockfish is open. Those trips tend to be relatively light loads with lots of elbow room, and at $130, the trip can pay for itself with a nice sack limit. Passports, book or card, are necessary. The fare includes Mexican fishing license and biosphere bracelet.

Yellowtail are still biting well for boats fishing off San Quintin, and that action has moved up the line to outside Ensenada, where local operations are getting limits in the 12-25-pound range. That’s getting close, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see yellowtail begin to show up for the extended half day trips fishing around the Coronado Islands. Bonito and barracuda have been showing well along the beach in northern Baja as well, which is a sign of plenty of bait in the area to draw the more-preferred jacks. Long range boats returning from great tuna, wahoo, and yellowtail fishing six to nine-hundred miles south have pulled in along the beach between San Quintin and Ensenada to top off when they aren’t already limited out.

When fishing in Mexico waters, there is a five-fish per species limit and a total of ten fish per day, with a few exceptions. No matter how long the trip of three days or more, three daily bag limits is the maximum number of fish an angler can keep. The exceptions are for shark, bluefin, dorado, marlin, and grouper. For bluefin and dorado, only two per angler per day can be kept, and counts as five fish. So, for instance, an angler can have five yellowtail and two bluefin and that is their daily limit. For marlin, one fish per angler per day is allowed. It is the same for grouper and shark, and those also count as five fish per species toward the ten fish total per day allowed. For species with a five-fish limit, anglers can keep any combination up to five per species and can have a bag limit of ten different species. Some trips of three days and under are producing a broad mix of species right now. The Tribute returned from their 2.5-day run carrying 29 anglers who caught 263 Rockfish, 68 Yellowtail, 51 Whitefish, 40 Barracuda, 25 Sheephead, and 22 Lingcod. That is a quality trip.

The long-range fleet is in the middle of their high season. Eight-to-fifteen-day trips are producing yellowfin tuna to over 300 pounds, wahoo, grouper, and good yellowtail action to 50-plus pounds. Those boats are fishing from outside Cedros Island, Alijos Rocks, and south to the prime high spots past the end of the Baja Peninsula. The cool thing about these trips is that they have the time to adjust their targeted areas and species given conditions on any given day. They can fish the coast and hide in the lee side of islands if winds and seas pick up.

Usually, the targeted species on long-range trips are yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and yellowtail, in that order. They will often come across bluefin schools, and dorado can pop up anywhere the water is warm enough, generally 68f degrees and up. Marlin are sometimes fought and released, though when so, they are usually more of an added attraction than targeted. If the surface isn’t producing, dropping down a large bait or jig can produce large grouper, pargo, or other bottom-dwelling gamefish, especially when parked on a high spot or steep-rising island. Nights are spent moving or on the anchor, and when the latter, anglers can fish through the night if excitement and anticipation is too much to sleep through. I often find this is the case on any overnight to multi-day trip. At least until dog-tired from catching - then one will undoubtedly catch some ‘zees’.

With staterooms and excellent plates prepared by seasoned chefs, these trips may seem pricey, but compared to a cruise or extended resort trip to a touristy Rivera destination, this angler would spend his money on the fishing trip. My heartrate jumps a bit to reports like that from the Intrepid, which returned to the dock on January 23rd from a 15-day outing:

“Our UC (United Composites) 15-day was a success. We ended up with 3 over 200# and a bunch over 140#. Our jackpot winners are as follows: third place went to Rich Rose with a 201.6-pound yellowfin, second place went to Ben Barnes with a 216.1-pound yellowfin, and first place goes to Dee Jay Owens with a 253.6-pound yellowfin. Strong work men! Honorable mention goes to Bret Rapozo with a 197.1-pound yellowfin. Thank you to everyone that fished with us. Looking forward to this trip next year.”

Given the price per pound at the market, even at four to five-hundred dollars per day, a long-range sportfishing trip can pay for itself in fillets, but usually the experience is rewarding enough to draw a steady stream of regulars and newcomers every winter. Wherever you are wetting it, tight lines!

Fish Plants: January 27 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500), January 28 – Santee Lakes, trout (1,500)

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A whopping lineup of the larger yellowfin tuna caught off southern Baja by the anglers aboard the Intrepid on their latest 15-day trip.
A whopping lineup of the larger yellowfin tuna caught off southern Baja by the anglers aboard the Intrepid on their latest 15-day trip.

Dock Totals 1/16 – 1/22: 714 anglers aboard 37 half-day to 1.5-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 40 barracuda, 45 bluefin tuna, 12 bocaccio, 34 bonito, 136 calico bass (104 released), 3 halibut, 55 lingcod, 79 lobster (55 released), 72 perch, 10 rock crab, 1,125 rockfish, 492 sand bass, 453 sculpin, 27 sheephead, 5 triggerfish, 99 whitefish, and 178 yellowtail.

Saltwater: There was much better fishing this past week than the week previous on the beach, in local waters, and along the Baja coast. Close to home, the half-day boats Premier and the Dolphin focused on the flats a stone’s throw from the border and two miles offshore, where a solid sand bass bite made up the bulk of the catch. As usual, a few calicos and sculpin have been in the mix. The New Seaforth has been running extended Half-Day trips south of the border for excellent results on rockfish. Limits are common and the big reds are biting for those fishing just across the border, where unlike U.S. waters, rockfish is open. Those trips tend to be relatively light loads with lots of elbow room, and at $130, the trip can pay for itself with a nice sack limit. Passports, book or card, are necessary. The fare includes Mexican fishing license and biosphere bracelet.

Yellowtail are still biting well for boats fishing off San Quintin, and that action has moved up the line to outside Ensenada, where local operations are getting limits in the 12-25-pound range. That’s getting close, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see yellowtail begin to show up for the extended half day trips fishing around the Coronado Islands. Bonito and barracuda have been showing well along the beach in northern Baja as well, which is a sign of plenty of bait in the area to draw the more-preferred jacks. Long range boats returning from great tuna, wahoo, and yellowtail fishing six to nine-hundred miles south have pulled in along the beach between San Quintin and Ensenada to top off when they aren’t already limited out.

When fishing in Mexico waters, there is a five-fish per species limit and a total of ten fish per day, with a few exceptions. No matter how long the trip of three days or more, three daily bag limits is the maximum number of fish an angler can keep. The exceptions are for shark, bluefin, dorado, marlin, and grouper. For bluefin and dorado, only two per angler per day can be kept, and counts as five fish. So, for instance, an angler can have five yellowtail and two bluefin and that is their daily limit. For marlin, one fish per angler per day is allowed. It is the same for grouper and shark, and those also count as five fish per species toward the ten fish total per day allowed. For species with a five-fish limit, anglers can keep any combination up to five per species and can have a bag limit of ten different species. Some trips of three days and under are producing a broad mix of species right now. The Tribute returned from their 2.5-day run carrying 29 anglers who caught 263 Rockfish, 68 Yellowtail, 51 Whitefish, 40 Barracuda, 25 Sheephead, and 22 Lingcod. That is a quality trip.

The long-range fleet is in the middle of their high season. Eight-to-fifteen-day trips are producing yellowfin tuna to over 300 pounds, wahoo, grouper, and good yellowtail action to 50-plus pounds. Those boats are fishing from outside Cedros Island, Alijos Rocks, and south to the prime high spots past the end of the Baja Peninsula. The cool thing about these trips is that they have the time to adjust their targeted areas and species given conditions on any given day. They can fish the coast and hide in the lee side of islands if winds and seas pick up.

Usually, the targeted species on long-range trips are yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and yellowtail, in that order. They will often come across bluefin schools, and dorado can pop up anywhere the water is warm enough, generally 68f degrees and up. Marlin are sometimes fought and released, though when so, they are usually more of an added attraction than targeted. If the surface isn’t producing, dropping down a large bait or jig can produce large grouper, pargo, or other bottom-dwelling gamefish, especially when parked on a high spot or steep-rising island. Nights are spent moving or on the anchor, and when the latter, anglers can fish through the night if excitement and anticipation is too much to sleep through. I often find this is the case on any overnight to multi-day trip. At least until dog-tired from catching - then one will undoubtedly catch some ‘zees’.

With staterooms and excellent plates prepared by seasoned chefs, these trips may seem pricey, but compared to a cruise or extended resort trip to a touristy Rivera destination, this angler would spend his money on the fishing trip. My heartrate jumps a bit to reports like that from the Intrepid, which returned to the dock on January 23rd from a 15-day outing:

“Our UC (United Composites) 15-day was a success. We ended up with 3 over 200# and a bunch over 140#. Our jackpot winners are as follows: third place went to Rich Rose with a 201.6-pound yellowfin, second place went to Ben Barnes with a 216.1-pound yellowfin, and first place goes to Dee Jay Owens with a 253.6-pound yellowfin. Strong work men! Honorable mention goes to Bret Rapozo with a 197.1-pound yellowfin. Thank you to everyone that fished with us. Looking forward to this trip next year.”

Given the price per pound at the market, even at four to five-hundred dollars per day, a long-range sportfishing trip can pay for itself in fillets, but usually the experience is rewarding enough to draw a steady stream of regulars and newcomers every winter. Wherever you are wetting it, tight lines!

Fish Plants: January 27 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500), January 28 – Santee Lakes, trout (1,500)

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