Although it was another difficult year for sardines, we started to see more stable conditions and water temperatures bringing back the normal order of change. The water temperature rose and fell with more regularity throughout the season than in the past couple years when they varied and flip flopped. For Baja, I would rate this past spring fishing season a 6 out of 10, but that is because it is Baja.
Most guests landed roosterfish on the fly and we also had catches of dorado, jack crevalle, skipjack, bonita, pargo and some gear caught wahoo. Not bad for a 6! This year I also saw some of the largest roosterfish I have seen in 30 years of fishing Baja. A couple roosterfish fish were pushing 100lbs. Seeing and catching are two different things, and these big boys earned their reputation for being one of the more difficult and prized sport fish to be taken on a fly
By far, the biggest challenge is landing one of these beauties off the beach on a fly. This spring far too few beach days were requested. I encourage guests to consider putting in the time to land a rooster from the beach. The payoff can be huge. Those who did venture on to the beach encountered fish. There were plenty of close calls, chases to the beach, missed opportunities, bungles, etc. These fish require extreme patience, readiness, skill and a lot of luck! There were some good size jacks landed from the beach, testing both gear and angler.
Sardines can make the going a lot easier by teasing fish within casting range. The last couple years have been tough for sardines, a subject of much speculation. This year we made due with ballyhoo as a substitute which helped get most guests into roosters. Sardines are the premium bait fish in the area, but it is the abundance of ladyfish that can bring in the big boys and the opportunity to land one from the beach. Although sardines have been scarce in recent years, mullet and ladyfish stocks have been strong. Large schools of ladyfish and mullet migrate up and down the East Cape beaches attracting bruiser roosters and jacks. If you are patient, following these schools can yield a chance at a trophy.
As the water temps rose in June, we saw a good dorado fishery open up with some quality 15-25lb fish. It was another strong year for wahoo and guests landed several on Rapalas for table fare before continuing the day chasing fish on flies.
As I am writing this, reports are filtering in from Captains about good sardine schools in the area. Yellowfin tuna, dorado, and roosterfish are fishing well. I’m looking forward to a productive October, and the return of sardines!