Many anglers interested in the Baja Pacific region were alarmed by the announcement on December 6 that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has established the Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve -- a new 1.16 million hectare biosphere reserve -- off the West Coast of the Baja California Peninsula in the Pacific Ocean.
Different stories began circulating, speculating on what the impact would be to recreational anglers and sportfishing boats fishing the waters surrounding Coronado’s, Todos Santos and San Martin farther down the coast; they were more opinion and few facts.
Several days later during a live broadcast of the “Let’s Talk Hookup Show” hosted by Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) in Cabo San Lucas at Pueblo Bonito Hotel, panel guest, CONANP Baja C South Representative Maria Josue Navarro, representing CONANP National Commissioner Alejandro del Mazo, addressed the impact of the newly-decreed Biosphere.
Navarro volunteered that after an 11 year, multi-stakeholder consultation and negotiation process, this newly created biosphere reserve represents a major effort to protect Mexico’s islands; Zamarripa translated for Navarro.
CONANP staff has been assigned one year to draft the management plan for the region including all of the islands excluding Cedros for review. She added that the agency hoped to have the first draft available in about eight months, at which time all interested parties would have the opportunity to review, comment and submit recommendations.
The new plan will address bag limits, fishing methods, designated seasons and areas for fishing intended for both commercial and recreational anglers.
There will be three new CONANP offices established in Ensenada, Guerrero Negro and La Paz to monitor the program, she noted.
She suggested that the program would be similar to the wrist band method being used in protected areas like Loreto. However, there would also be a passport that could be purchased annually allowing access to the Biosphere areas similar to the ones currently available online.
She stressed the importance of not jumping to any conclusions until all the details were determined. Meanwhile, there is no impact on the areas included until all of the details can be decided.
Coronado Islands Yellowtail are very hard to come by as winter settles. There are a few roaming weather side of North Island but they don’t seem to be interested in biting anything with a hook in it. These are showing in the lower third of the water column in 90 to 140 feet of water.
Just to the North of North Island and to the South and Southwest of South Island out near the 71 Fathom Spot, it’s all about rockfish.
Ensenada Unusually cold weather thinned out the number of anglers willing to brave the elements. Those who have, scored smallish yellowtail and barracuda before resorting to the more reliable bottom fare of sheepshead, rockfish and whitefish.
So far the number of whales traveling south has been disappointing according to locals. Farther down the coast at Lopez Mateos there have been a few early arrivals.
San Quintin Gray days and cool weather are the only negatives for locals. With reports of lots of mini-macs and sardines that yielded medium-sized yellowtail, bonito and barracuda on the surface, along with nice-sized reds and lingcod in 60+degree water loaded with red crab.
Upper Sea of Cortez The upper (Northern) Sea of Cortez besieged by the seasonal North Winds is an attractive alternative for So. Cal. anglers seeking a Baja fix. Yellowtail are an occasional bonus, while cabrilla, rockfish, spotted bay bass and ever-present triggerfish fill visiting anglers coolers with enough fillets for a few fish dinners.
Cedros Island Very quiet as the holidays arrive. An occasional yacht Sportfisher traveling north or south creeps in close to the island’s shore to catch a few of legendary-sized calico bass and if they are lucky, a stray yellowtail.