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Few anglers, lots of bluefin, and departing yellows

A long first south to north run for the Baja 1000

(left) Happy angler with a nice grade yellowfin tuna while aboard the Spirit of Adventure multi-day run. The only yellowfin and yellowtail in this week’s counts came from that trip.
(right) Stephen Sotelo with his 155-pound swordfish caught while fishing with Bight Sportfishing out of Fisherman’s Landing.
(left) Happy angler with a nice grade yellowfin tuna while aboard the Spirit of Adventure multi-day run. The only yellowfin and yellowtail in this week’s counts came from that trip.
(right) Stephen Sotelo with his 155-pound swordfish caught while fishing with Bight Sportfishing out of Fisherman’s Landing.

Dock Totals 11/12 – 11/18: 696 anglers aboard 37 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 977 bluefin tuna (up to 150 pounds), 21 calico bass, 1 lingcod, 6 lobster (4 released), 19 perch, 80 rock crab, 1611 rockfish, 52 sand bass, 88 sculpin, 48 sheephead, 1 swordfish (155 pounds), 306 whitefish, 150 yellowfin tuna, and 43 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Seems like a lot of folks followed the race and put fishing off for a couple days this past week, or maybe it was the rain that kept them off the water while it also muddied the northern half of Baja for the racers in the “Baja Mil.” Either way, angler numbers and trips basically halved from the week before, falling to under a thousand for the week for the first time since last winter. It’s been an epic year for fishing, though it did seem to fly by like Luke McMillan in a seven-figure trophy truck.

When Baja gets brought up in conversation in the Southwestern U.S., two things tend to come to everybody’s mind: fishing and offroad racing. Many people who spend much time in Baja doing either one eventually wind up doing the other. But not me: I was never much of a racing fan, preferring the quiet solitude of fishing by kayak from launches throughout the peninsula in both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez over the braaap braaap of an offroad toy. 

Still, over the years, I have met and fished with a few race drivers and crew members from the race teams that compete in the world’s toughest offroad race. Over the past couple decades, I have also had a few occasions to watch the race, as I was either living or happened to be on the course come mid-November. That wasn’t the case this year, as the first ever south-to-north Baja 1000 course took the racers along the opposite side of the peninsula from mine, though I did follow on the SCORE live feed. It was quite a race: over 1300 miles of a winding track from La Paz to Ensenada. 

The main attraction for the fans is the Trophy Truck division, and Bryce Menzies of Las Vegas beat Luke McMillin of El Cajon by just one minute and eighteen seconds, with a total time from start to finish at just over twenty-two and a half hours. That’s pretty amazing, considering that’s a good time to make it from Ensenada to La Paz if you’re driving the peninsular highway the 870 miles or so with a couple stops for tacos along the way. It is also amazing that they finished still running so close to each other. 

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Just finishing the race at all is quite a feat; it’s run on a grueling course that can reduce the average stock sport utility vehicle to a pile of parts in short order. Another reason for this non-raceaholic to follow the action was that my good friend here in San Quintin, Jose Raymundo Aguirre, or “Bebo,” was on Roldolfo Romo’s crew in the stock truck division; they barely made it under the 50-hour limit at 49:04, and took 8th in their group. Seems like every year, I have some connection to the race, even though the last time I personally drove anything that went braap braap was in the 1980s.

While the racers were chewing up the course, fish were chewing on bait and lures everywhere the weather allowed folks the opportunity to wet a line. Though our pelagic yellowtail, yellowfin, and dorado have retreated south, anglers aboard boats running out to the bluefin grounds were not disappointed at all, as the tuna cooperated well in the areas between San Clemente Island and the Corner, mostly about 50 to 60 miles west of Point Loma. Limits of tuna are coming in fairly early for some, so 1.5-day and longer trips are getting a shot at some deep rockfish along with their tuna, as was the case on the Old Glory with their ten anglers catching limits of 200 rockfish and 40 bluefin during a 2-day run toward the end of the week. With the rest of the pelagics far south of where the bluefin are biting, being able to target rockfish is a bonus, as the daily limit on bluefin tuna is two fish per angler.

Speaking of those other pelagics, yellowfin and yellowtail, they were only in the counts due to one multi-day run south by the Spirit of Adventure with 19 anglers aboard. They returned to the dock with those 150 yellowfin tuna and 43 yellowtail. And though the long-range boats are catching plenty of dorado and wahoo along with yellowfin south of the Vizcaino Peninsula, the water seems to be turning along the northern half of Baja, with yellowtail slowing and no dorado at all, while rockfish, whitefish, sheephead, sculpin and bass are picking up the slack and filling gunnysacks. 

The other notable catch was a 155-pound swordfish caught on a full day trip by angler Stephen Sotelo while fishing aboard the Bight, a 28-foot Parker that runs out of Fisherman’s Landing. The Bight is smaller yet much faster than most sportfishing vessels in the fleet and can cover a lot of ground on its 12-hour runs. Their platform is more specialized for small groups of 4 or 5 anglers with the goal of offshore hunting for larger tuna and swordfish, and  they do so with great success. As is the case for most of the mid-range boats, their season is coming to a close this month as they run mostly May through November. 

Outside of the half-day bass or evening lobster trips, it looks like we are down to winter ‘wanderlust’ long-range trips to southern Baja, heading west while the bluefin are still around, or fishing deep for rockfish for the rest of 2023. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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(left) Happy angler with a nice grade yellowfin tuna while aboard the Spirit of Adventure multi-day run. The only yellowfin and yellowtail in this week’s counts came from that trip.
(right) Stephen Sotelo with his 155-pound swordfish caught while fishing with Bight Sportfishing out of Fisherman’s Landing.
(left) Happy angler with a nice grade yellowfin tuna while aboard the Spirit of Adventure multi-day run. The only yellowfin and yellowtail in this week’s counts came from that trip.
(right) Stephen Sotelo with his 155-pound swordfish caught while fishing with Bight Sportfishing out of Fisherman’s Landing.

Dock Totals 11/12 – 11/18: 696 anglers aboard 37 half-day to 3-day trips out of San Diego landings over the past week caught 977 bluefin tuna (up to 150 pounds), 21 calico bass, 1 lingcod, 6 lobster (4 released), 19 perch, 80 rock crab, 1611 rockfish, 52 sand bass, 88 sculpin, 48 sheephead, 1 swordfish (155 pounds), 306 whitefish, 150 yellowfin tuna, and 43 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Seems like a lot of folks followed the race and put fishing off for a couple days this past week, or maybe it was the rain that kept them off the water while it also muddied the northern half of Baja for the racers in the “Baja Mil.” Either way, angler numbers and trips basically halved from the week before, falling to under a thousand for the week for the first time since last winter. It’s been an epic year for fishing, though it did seem to fly by like Luke McMillan in a seven-figure trophy truck.

When Baja gets brought up in conversation in the Southwestern U.S., two things tend to come to everybody’s mind: fishing and offroad racing. Many people who spend much time in Baja doing either one eventually wind up doing the other. But not me: I was never much of a racing fan, preferring the quiet solitude of fishing by kayak from launches throughout the peninsula in both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez over the braaap braaap of an offroad toy. 

Still, over the years, I have met and fished with a few race drivers and crew members from the race teams that compete in the world’s toughest offroad race. Over the past couple decades, I have also had a few occasions to watch the race, as I was either living or happened to be on the course come mid-November. That wasn’t the case this year, as the first ever south-to-north Baja 1000 course took the racers along the opposite side of the peninsula from mine, though I did follow on the SCORE live feed. It was quite a race: over 1300 miles of a winding track from La Paz to Ensenada. 

The main attraction for the fans is the Trophy Truck division, and Bryce Menzies of Las Vegas beat Luke McMillin of El Cajon by just one minute and eighteen seconds, with a total time from start to finish at just over twenty-two and a half hours. That’s pretty amazing, considering that’s a good time to make it from Ensenada to La Paz if you’re driving the peninsular highway the 870 miles or so with a couple stops for tacos along the way. It is also amazing that they finished still running so close to each other. 

Sponsored
Sponsored

Just finishing the race at all is quite a feat; it’s run on a grueling course that can reduce the average stock sport utility vehicle to a pile of parts in short order. Another reason for this non-raceaholic to follow the action was that my good friend here in San Quintin, Jose Raymundo Aguirre, or “Bebo,” was on Roldolfo Romo’s crew in the stock truck division; they barely made it under the 50-hour limit at 49:04, and took 8th in their group. Seems like every year, I have some connection to the race, even though the last time I personally drove anything that went braap braap was in the 1980s.

While the racers were chewing up the course, fish were chewing on bait and lures everywhere the weather allowed folks the opportunity to wet a line. Though our pelagic yellowtail, yellowfin, and dorado have retreated south, anglers aboard boats running out to the bluefin grounds were not disappointed at all, as the tuna cooperated well in the areas between San Clemente Island and the Corner, mostly about 50 to 60 miles west of Point Loma. Limits of tuna are coming in fairly early for some, so 1.5-day and longer trips are getting a shot at some deep rockfish along with their tuna, as was the case on the Old Glory with their ten anglers catching limits of 200 rockfish and 40 bluefin during a 2-day run toward the end of the week. With the rest of the pelagics far south of where the bluefin are biting, being able to target rockfish is a bonus, as the daily limit on bluefin tuna is two fish per angler.

Speaking of those other pelagics, yellowfin and yellowtail, they were only in the counts due to one multi-day run south by the Spirit of Adventure with 19 anglers aboard. They returned to the dock with those 150 yellowfin tuna and 43 yellowtail. And though the long-range boats are catching plenty of dorado and wahoo along with yellowfin south of the Vizcaino Peninsula, the water seems to be turning along the northern half of Baja, with yellowtail slowing and no dorado at all, while rockfish, whitefish, sheephead, sculpin and bass are picking up the slack and filling gunnysacks. 

The other notable catch was a 155-pound swordfish caught on a full day trip by angler Stephen Sotelo while fishing aboard the Bight, a 28-foot Parker that runs out of Fisherman’s Landing. The Bight is smaller yet much faster than most sportfishing vessels in the fleet and can cover a lot of ground on its 12-hour runs. Their platform is more specialized for small groups of 4 or 5 anglers with the goal of offshore hunting for larger tuna and swordfish, and  they do so with great success. As is the case for most of the mid-range boats, their season is coming to a close this month as they run mostly May through November. 

Outside of the half-day bass or evening lobster trips, it looks like we are down to winter ‘wanderlust’ long-range trips to southern Baja, heading west while the bluefin are still around, or fishing deep for rockfish for the rest of 2023. They’re out there, so go get ‘em!

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