The seasonal closure (for several months) on all bottom fishing in California kicked in the first of the year and yellowtail played hide-and-seek behind the wind and rain that has drenched the area lately; there is still the go-to bottom fishing that is not closed in Mexican waters which is producing a fair-to-good mix of reds, bocaccio, honeycombs, green-spotted-rockfish, speckled rockfish, sculpin and an occasional lingcod.
When it’s too rough for a pleasant run to the Islands, anglers are opting for “inside the Islands” near the Tijuana bullring, a spot that has been producing a few legal halibut mixed with lots of shorts and a few sand bass.
Weather has remained a factor keeping most boats in their slips or on their trailers. Those venturing out are finding a few yellowtail on iron on the high spots or around the Island. Much more productive, the bottom fishing is producing a mixed-bag of rockfish and lingcod along with an assortment of “whatchamacallits.”
Farther down the coast at the 28 Fathom high-spot outside of Camalu boats filled with eager anglers seek the good-grade of yellowtail in the 22- to 25-pound class lurking around the Pinnacle. When they do show on the meter, be ready with full-sized 6x or 4/0 yo-yo iron. Drop it down below the depth that the fish are holding and burn it as fast as you can back up almost to the surface. Don’t bother jigging up and down after you drop, as the yellows are usually only interested in eating it when it’s moving as fast as you can grind. Blue/white and scrambled eggs are standard colors, but for this type of fishing, speed matters more than color.
When the yellows take a break, drop some fin bait on a dropper loop down to the bottom to load up on reds and lingcod.
Yellowtail are around on the 240 but it’s not a slam-dunk, all-day-long type of bite. One local recently summed up his trip – “rough day, wind, rain and choppy seas didn't keep us from landing 4 yellows apiece up to 15-pounds using jigs 6x and 7x blue and white in clean water.”
Expect some slow periods during the day where you’ll want to take a break and catch some rockfish and lingcod. As with other areas of the Baja coast, rockfish are feeding on red crabs. Sometimes when the bottom fish get stuffed your best bet is actually to use a larger, more active jig or large plastic on a heavy lead-head to draw a “reaction” strike rather than trying to get them to bite out of hunger.
Upper Sea of Cortez
Favorable reports coincided with the days when the North Wind either diminished or blew out for few days allowing anglers an opportunity to fish the morning for some of the smaller yellows and white seabass.