This great gulf grouper was captured by Charles Schmid aboard the Intrepid off Baja during an 8-day charter.
Totals for platform 9/26 – 10/2: 3,749 anglers aboard 183 trips from the San Diego landings last week caught 2,533 bluefin tuna (up to 230 pounds), 84 skipjack, 132 calicots (31 released), 489 sea bream, 1 halibut, 9 lingcods, 3,093 rockfish, 36 sandbars, 340 sculpins, 123 sheep heads, 896 skipjack, 703 whitefish, 2,526 yellowfin and 928 amberjack.
Salt water: As bluefin tuna counts continue as the bite continues near Tanner and Cortez Banks in the west-southwest of San Clemente Island, yellowfin and skipjack numbers are increasing for anglers at the line on 1.5 to 3 day boats fishing 20 to 30 miles outside Ensenada and north to the “corner” west of Tijuana where US, Mexican and international waters converge. A warmer body of water centered around Bank 371 about 45 miles southwest of Point Loma supports stray schools of yellowfin and skipjack, as well as sea bream and yellowtail flounder that can be found in solid numbers around the kelp paddies.
Live sardines “fly-lined”, or caught without weight, are the method of choice for these warmer-water tuna and trevally, although some are caught using top-top irons and irons. yoyo fished vertically. Yoyo irons are fished as their name suggests; the fisherman does not cast far, but above all lets the heavy lure sink to the bottom or to a desired depth, retrieves the coil as quickly as possible on the surface, then lets it fall. This top-to-bottom process is repeated until a fish is tempted to bite, then the fight begins. Surface irons are lighter in weight and are thrown far and picked up a few feet from the surface.
Both methods can work on a school of fish that is deep in the water column, but generally, when a school is above it, live bait-lined flies or surface irons work best, and if a school is above is deeper, yoyo irons or a weighted iron bait usually do the trick. When fish are deeper, captains alert anglers of the depth and desired method once they measure a school and stop. When the fish are on the surface, it is usually evident that the water will explode as they feed, and fishermen will shoot with surface irons or fly-lined bait as soon as the captain slows the boat down. and announce that fishing can begin.
The half-day boats mainly focused on redfish, with a few amberjack and calico bass in the mix. The three-quarter and full-day races cannot get to Tanner Bank and surrounding highlights and have primarily targeted yellowtail around the Coronado Islands with decent results. Although the Baja coast is producing well, as long as the larger tuna are still biting, most vessels fishing within 1.5-3 days are heading west 100-120 miles for bluefin tuna.
Longer races of five to ten days headed south to Guadalupe Island or the hot spots of Bahia Magdalena. ‘Mag Bay’, as the long-distance angling community commonly calls it, is one of the most diverse fisheries in the world. The long, narrow bay on the southwestern edge of the Baja Peninsula has several entrances between sandbar islands that lie between the bay’s mudflats and the open Pacific. Thick schools of baitfish attract sierra mackerel, corvina, snook and other saltwater medium weights to the sheltered shallows of the bay where anglers wade or fish from Small craft can use techniques similar to freshwater trout or bass fishing. Miles and miles of mangrove-lined canals provide excellent grouper fishing, if one can fight the stubborn bullies of their lairs in the exposed roots of mangroves.
Outside the bay and along the coast, semi-tropical water surges around several reefs and high points that can produce large gulf groupers at the bottom and yellowfin tuna, wahoos, sea bream and marlin on the surface. Considering the distance and seclusion of populated areas like the Baja fishing mecca of the Eastern Cape, Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, the Bahia Magdalena fisheries in and outside the bay are still spared from strong commercial or sporting pressure. The Intrepid just completed a trip to the area with great results for anglers aboard the Miles and Ken 8 day charter. While fishing along the southern Baja coast as well as off the Rocas Alijos, they returned to the dock with the hold full of yellowfin, yellowtail flounder, sea bream, wahoo and gulf grouper.
The Gulf grouper can reach 200 pounds and was once widespread in our area. From southern La Jolla, they haunted coastal rocky reefs and kelp beds. Along with grouper and black bass, they became a favorite target for divers and fishermen in the early mid-20th century. They were especially popular during the Great Depression, when fishing was more for providing meals than sport, and a large grouper could feed a family for weeks on end. The famous “Bottom Scratchers” snorkeling club began in the mid-1930s, diving to 80 feet with a simple sling spear to combat ocean food during lean times. During the club’s early years of growth, they made many heartbreaking captures of trophy-sized groupers and black bass.
The club stopped targeting grouper or giant sea bass in the mid-1950s as they saw the giant fish population decline dramatically. Today, gulf grouper, broom grouper, and black bass are protected in US waters, although in Mexican waters a limit of one fish per angler is allowed. All three species of grouper are considered endangered in their range on the west coast, from southern California to Bahia Magdalena and throughout the Sea of Cortez, although their populations have rebounded in the last decades since. that protection and limited catches have been legislated in the United States and Mexico. .
Fish plants: None planned