WEATHER: Once again the lowest I saw the temperature this week was 72 degrees, low enough that I felt a slight chill (yes, I have lived where it has been warm on purpose and maybe my blood is a bit thin, lol!). With daytime highs in the high 80′s it was a great week. We had mostly sunny skies and a bit of wind from the north on most days, once in a while shifting and coming at us from the northeast or east for a few hours, then switching back. It’s not time for sweaters in the evening yet, and I am a bit surprised since looking back over the past 13 years worth of my reports it is normally five degrees cooler during this week.
WATER: The water across the region was 81-83 degrees this week and once again we had no major temperature breaks. The only anomaly we had was an 85 degree hot-spot appearing across the 1150 and 95 spot on the 25th. The water on the Pacific side developed just a tinge of green late in the week while on the Cortez side it remained clean and blue. The surface conditions on the Pacific side were a bit on the bouncy side early in the week as we did have a fairly steady breeze at 12 knots from the north, at least until the middle of the week, and combined with 3-5 foot swells (long period though, no real steep stuff) it was uncomfortable for some people. The winds died off later in the week and it was much more comfortable by the weekend. On the Cortez side it was comfortable as usual with small swells at 1-3 feet and little wind until you got 25 miles out or up past Punta Gorda a ways, then the effects of the northerly breeze began to be seen.
BAIT: There was plenty of Caballito, a few Mackerel and a very limited supply of Sardina this week. The bigger baits were the usual $3 each while the Sardinas, if you could find a boat with some to sell, were going for $25 a scoop.
BILLFISH: Our water has remained warm enough for there to still be some Blue and Black Marlin around, and anglers have lucked into a few of them this past week. I know of one Blue Marlin that was brought in and weighed that was 425 pounds, caught due south of us at 15 miles, there was also a Black Marlin estimated at 400 pounds caught up on the Gordo Bank. Smaller Blue Marlin were reported as well, no great numbers but enough of them that the possibility of catching one was better than most years at this time. The Striped Marlin action has picked up, and I expect it to continue to improve as the water keeps cooling down. Many boats are releasing two to four fish per day using several methods to hook the fish. Sight casting to Marlin seen tailing down swell has always been a favorite here, and done by an experienced crew can be a really beautiful thing to watch. Fortunately the fish were feeding in the feeding mood this week, a surprise since we are just coming off a full moon. The most common method used this week is one of my least favorites, but very productive in certain situations. Using live bait bridled to the hook with 12 feet of leader, the leader is attached to the main line and a 3 to 5 ounce torpedo sinker is attached to the main line just above the swivel. The rig is lowered to just off the bottom and drifted until a fish bites. This works very well when the fish are concentrated in a certain area and won’t come to the surface, or only come up in small flurries. The downside, and the reasons I don’t really care for it is that it is boring, with no action happening for a long time, and the fact that there is so much line out, and so many boats using “J” hooks that too many fish are gut hooked and killed. The use of circle hooks while fishing this way should be mandatory, in my opinion, but of course there would be no way to enforce it. It is effective though, and was used a lot this week at the ledge off the Pacific lighthouse, the point off of San Cristobal and on the Golden Gate Bank.
YELLOWFIN TUNA: The lack of consistent action on Yellowfin Tuna continues to amaze me, but as I look over the past years reports I noticed that the situation has been about the same every year, I am just getting antsy for the good action to happen! On a very positive note, there are still large Yellowfin Tuna being caught at the Gordo Banks, with several fish each day weighing over 100 pounds and an occasional fish over 200 pounds. The pressure on them has dropped off and I think that with enough time spent fishing for them there is a good possibility of hooking one of these larger Tuna. How much time would be needed is a gamble though, it could be an hour or it could be several days! Elsewhere, there have been football fish to 12 pounds caught all along the coastline on the Cortez side with most of the action concentrated on the northern inshore banks past Punta Gordo, but consistent (not red-hot) action has been found off of Palmilla, Chileno and Cabo Del Sol as well. The smaller fish have responded to chumming with Sardina (if you can get them) while the larger fish at the Gordo Banks have been biting on slow trolled live baits and drifted chunks. Offshore action on Yellowfin has been very spotty this week with only a few pods of porpoise holding fish. My records show that for the past 6 years this has been true, and the few offshore fish that have been caught have been found outside the 1,000 fathom line on the Cortez side or north of the Golden Gate Bank on the Pacific side.
DORADO: OK, Dorado have returned to the top of the list and regained their title of “Fish Of The Week”. While I would not say it is “red-hot” it is as good as I have seen in a long time, and as it is fairly late in the season most of the fish are good sized, averaging in the 12-15 pound class with quite a few fish pushing the 25-30 pound range. Many boats have been able to limit out on these nice eating fish fairly quickly in the morning, leaving them plenty of time to try for Marlin or Wahoo the rest of the trip. Of course as with all fishing, the fish are where you find them , and getting in the right area was a necessity for a good catch. Trolling lures at 8 to 9 knots until hooking up, then slow trolling live bait in that area was one way, and worked very well. Leaving the first fish hooked up in the water until more fish appeared is an old tried-and-true method that continues to produce great catches. The only downside of course is that your fish may come off while using it as a decoy! Great action can occur when frigate fishing. Trolling as normal while scanning the sky for working Frigate birds, then running over to where they are working and tossing out live bait is exciting and very productive. These birds are not out there for sport, and they have much better eyes than we do so using them as spotters makes all kind of sense. We had several clients who limited out on Dorado early in the day this week using this method. Remember, the limit on Dorado is two fish per day, per person. If the Captain and crew have licenses they can count in your catch as well!
WAHOO: This full moon phase has been great for Wahoo, not the day of the full moon but the days prior to and just after gave us steady action on Wahoo the ranged from 5 pounds (wee-hoo) to fish in the 40-50 pound class. Almost all the action occurred close to shore along the ledges, areas ranged from Vinorama on the Cortez side to Todo Santos on the Pacific side. Almost any point and any steep drop could hold these speedy fish. Fishing with Rapallas, Marauders, steel leader bullet head lures and rigged ballyhoo worked well. More fish were lost than caught since their razor-like teeth cut through mono leader easier than a hot knife through butter, but a lot of them were hooked in the corner of the jaw, that allowed anglers to get them to the boat. Not every boat caught these fish, but there were enough of them around that you had a decent chance.
INSHORE: As the water cools down we have had a slight improvement in the inshore fishery, but most of the Pangas are still targeting the Dorado and Striped Marlin just off the beach. Those that are working the beach areas are finding decent numbers of small Roosterfish (to 15 pounds), and occasional early Yellowtail and and few early Sierra. These Yellowtail and Sierra are small ones, and I am going to get out this coming week and try to catch a dozen of the small Sierra to freeze up for rigged Marlin bait for next year! There have been decent catches of Snapper and Grouper on the bottom and plenty of Needlefish and Bonito on the surface.
NOTES: With Thanksgiving vacation over and Christmas yet to come, we are in a traditional slow time of year when it comes to the numbers of visitors we see. What this means for you is less pressure on the fish stocks and a better chance of hooking up! The weather is great, the fish are here, the whales are starting to appear and the golf courses are in great shape. Ready for a vacation? This weeks report was written to the music of Ernest Ranglin, if you like guitar, you have to listen to his version of “Stop That Train” from his album “Memories of Barber Mack”, a very infectious, toe tapping jazzy Jamaican instrumental! Until next week, tight lines!
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