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‘Tis the Season for Local Trout

Baja’s Excellent Mag Bay Mangrove Fishing.

Captain Juan Cook with a solid ‘Mag Bay’ snook caught within casting distance of shore.
Captain Juan Cook with a solid ‘Mag Bay’ snook caught within casting distance of shore.

Dock Totals 12/3 – 12/9: 486 anglers aboard 26 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 60 bluefin tuna, 14 calico bass, 14 lobster (33 released), 2691 rockfish, 5 sand bass, 48 sculpin, 34 sheephead, 3 triggerfish, 16 whitefish, and 7 yellowfin tuna.

Saltwater: Rockfish continue to be the prime target for the local boats working that deeper zone beyond the 300-foot minimum depth allowed, with most anglers getting limits. As this is the time of year many of the boats that run longer trips in the mid-range fleet from 1.5-day to 6-day trips are in dry dock for maintenance, pelagic species including tuna, yellowtail, and dorado are being caught mostly by the long-range boats working much further south along the coast — with the exception of the bluefin tuna that are still holding out west and to the southwest of Point Loma.

The lone boat reporting pelagic species in their counts was the Polaris Supreme on a two-day run with 22 anglers aboard that returned on Wednesday, December 6. They had a solid outing on bluefin tuna with 60 caught, along with 7 yellowfin tuna. The latter is a bit of a surprise for this time of year within 2-day range, though as the seasons roll over from fall to winter mode, there are occasionally a few yellowfin found among the bluefin schools, or caught on the troll when moving between areas. And as the bluefin have been hanging around out there between the Corner and San Clemente Island throughout the past few winters, I expect to see at least a few in the 1.5- to 3-day counts moving forward.

As per reports from south of the border from off the south end of the Coronado Islands, Erendira, and south to the mid-peninsula, yellowtail have been showing well for private boaters and pangeros. These fish are not on the surface; they have been holding deeper, in 200 feet of water, give or take. Once metered, yoyo irons and slow-pitch knife or butterfly jigs in 200-gram or larger sized have been working very well on these fish. When yellowtail are not found, operations working the high spots have been doing very well on rockfish, whitefish, and lingcod in 150 to 250-feet in Mexican waters, where there is no minimum depth for those species. If no trips are available out of San Diego, the nearest best bet for yellowtail would be Castro’s Fishing running out of Erendira, which is between Ensenada and San Quintin, and about a 3.5-hour drive from the border.

A nice pair of jacks. Good yellowtail fishing is just a few hours drive south of the border out of Castro’s Fishing in Erendira
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Once past the Vizcaino Bay, from Cedros Island south along the coast, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna are the primary catch, with a few wahoo still being found off the high spots and increasing in numbers the further south you go. Captain Juan Cook has been splitting his time between fishing the mangroves for pargo, corvina, grouper and snook inside of Bahia Magdelena and working offshore for tuna and wahoo near the Ridge, where, along with local operations like Salvaje Sportfishing, San Diego’s long-range fleet have been focusing their efforts with good results.

Captain Cook has been moving with the action all year, and not to diminish any of the other operations working the fishing towns along either side of the Baja Peninsula, but he is a great go-to guide year round, whether working out of Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga in the northern half of the Sea of Cortez, Bahia de Los Angeles a little further south, or on the Pacific side from his home port in San Quintin to where he is now in Bahia Magdalena. His knowledge of the fisheries in Baja is profound, and his trips for up to four people on his comfortable 28-foot Parker cost around $700, always a bargain for budget-minded anglers with hopes of catching a trophy or just putting meat on the table.

Fishing the mangroves inside of Baja’s lagoons can be an exciting experience when wrestling fish hiding in and along the roots, where the bullish groupers like to run when hooked. Snook and Corvina (either orangemouth or shortfin) are known to haunt the shallows, but when most folks think of pargo, grouper, and jacks, the idea of catching them so near to shore that a cast line gets snagged in a mangrove tree seems odd. However, that is where they can be found, and in good numbers, especially if offshore conditions are too tough to head outside. It’s an exciting alternative for anglers who might otherwise have been stuck at home awaiting calmer seas. With its San Diego-in-summer weather in December and January, fishing out of Bahia Magdalena can be a great option when wintertime blues and cold weather set in further north.

Freshwater: Trout fishing in those area lakes that stock them through the winter has been very good, with mini-jigs for the lure-chuckers and PowerBait for the bait-and-wait anglers working best. The more central San Diego County lakes, Santee Lakes, Lake Jennings, Lake Morena, and Lake Poway have been reporting good catches of rainbow trout and lightning trout where stocked, though all area lakes provide a good opportunity to get a limit of stockers. Lakes Wohlford and Dixon, both great lakes for shore or rental boat fishing, are a little further and just north outside the county line. And of course, if you want a true wintertime fishing alpine lake experience at 4613 feet above sea level, Lake Cuyamaca holds trout year-round, along with largemouth bass, and also provides the only opportunity in our area for a rare white sturgeon. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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Captain Juan Cook with a solid ‘Mag Bay’ snook caught within casting distance of shore.
Captain Juan Cook with a solid ‘Mag Bay’ snook caught within casting distance of shore.

Dock Totals 12/3 – 12/9: 486 anglers aboard 26 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 60 bluefin tuna, 14 calico bass, 14 lobster (33 released), 2691 rockfish, 5 sand bass, 48 sculpin, 34 sheephead, 3 triggerfish, 16 whitefish, and 7 yellowfin tuna.

Saltwater: Rockfish continue to be the prime target for the local boats working that deeper zone beyond the 300-foot minimum depth allowed, with most anglers getting limits. As this is the time of year many of the boats that run longer trips in the mid-range fleet from 1.5-day to 6-day trips are in dry dock for maintenance, pelagic species including tuna, yellowtail, and dorado are being caught mostly by the long-range boats working much further south along the coast — with the exception of the bluefin tuna that are still holding out west and to the southwest of Point Loma.

The lone boat reporting pelagic species in their counts was the Polaris Supreme on a two-day run with 22 anglers aboard that returned on Wednesday, December 6. They had a solid outing on bluefin tuna with 60 caught, along with 7 yellowfin tuna. The latter is a bit of a surprise for this time of year within 2-day range, though as the seasons roll over from fall to winter mode, there are occasionally a few yellowfin found among the bluefin schools, or caught on the troll when moving between areas. And as the bluefin have been hanging around out there between the Corner and San Clemente Island throughout the past few winters, I expect to see at least a few in the 1.5- to 3-day counts moving forward.

As per reports from south of the border from off the south end of the Coronado Islands, Erendira, and south to the mid-peninsula, yellowtail have been showing well for private boaters and pangeros. These fish are not on the surface; they have been holding deeper, in 200 feet of water, give or take. Once metered, yoyo irons and slow-pitch knife or butterfly jigs in 200-gram or larger sized have been working very well on these fish. When yellowtail are not found, operations working the high spots have been doing very well on rockfish, whitefish, and lingcod in 150 to 250-feet in Mexican waters, where there is no minimum depth for those species. If no trips are available out of San Diego, the nearest best bet for yellowtail would be Castro’s Fishing running out of Erendira, which is between Ensenada and San Quintin, and about a 3.5-hour drive from the border.

A nice pair of jacks. Good yellowtail fishing is just a few hours drive south of the border out of Castro’s Fishing in Erendira
Sponsored
Sponsored


Once past the Vizcaino Bay, from Cedros Island south along the coast, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna are the primary catch, with a few wahoo still being found off the high spots and increasing in numbers the further south you go. Captain Juan Cook has been splitting his time between fishing the mangroves for pargo, corvina, grouper and snook inside of Bahia Magdelena and working offshore for tuna and wahoo near the Ridge, where, along with local operations like Salvaje Sportfishing, San Diego’s long-range fleet have been focusing their efforts with good results.

Captain Cook has been moving with the action all year, and not to diminish any of the other operations working the fishing towns along either side of the Baja Peninsula, but he is a great go-to guide year round, whether working out of Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga in the northern half of the Sea of Cortez, Bahia de Los Angeles a little further south, or on the Pacific side from his home port in San Quintin to where he is now in Bahia Magdalena. His knowledge of the fisheries in Baja is profound, and his trips for up to four people on his comfortable 28-foot Parker cost around $700, always a bargain for budget-minded anglers with hopes of catching a trophy or just putting meat on the table.

Fishing the mangroves inside of Baja’s lagoons can be an exciting experience when wrestling fish hiding in and along the roots, where the bullish groupers like to run when hooked. Snook and Corvina (either orangemouth or shortfin) are known to haunt the shallows, but when most folks think of pargo, grouper, and jacks, the idea of catching them so near to shore that a cast line gets snagged in a mangrove tree seems odd. However, that is where they can be found, and in good numbers, especially if offshore conditions are too tough to head outside. It’s an exciting alternative for anglers who might otherwise have been stuck at home awaiting calmer seas. With its San Diego-in-summer weather in December and January, fishing out of Bahia Magdalena can be a great option when wintertime blues and cold weather set in further north.

Freshwater: Trout fishing in those area lakes that stock them through the winter has been very good, with mini-jigs for the lure-chuckers and PowerBait for the bait-and-wait anglers working best. The more central San Diego County lakes, Santee Lakes, Lake Jennings, Lake Morena, and Lake Poway have been reporting good catches of rainbow trout and lightning trout where stocked, though all area lakes provide a good opportunity to get a limit of stockers. Lakes Wohlford and Dixon, both great lakes for shore or rental boat fishing, are a little further and just north outside the county line. And of course, if you want a true wintertime fishing alpine lake experience at 4613 feet above sea level, Lake Cuyamaca holds trout year-round, along with largemouth bass, and also provides the only opportunity in our area for a rare white sturgeon. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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