What Fish Are in the Cabo Waters?

BY: RICK CASTAGNER

Cabo is the most-visited location in all of Baja and is completely different from the rest of the peninsula. Luxury, relaxation and fun are the focus. Yachts fill the marina, and all-inclusive resorts line the beaches. Dance clubs and restaurants are busy until the wee hours of the morning.

Fishermen flock here from all over the world for the endless varieties of fish that are in the Cabo waters. The Cabo Marina is home to a large fleet of charter fishing companies and several prestigious fishing tournaments take place here every year.

When most people think about fishing in Cabo, the first image that comes to mind is usually a Marlin leaping high out of the water. And for good reason; this city is home to the “Bisbee Black and Blue”, the highest-paying Marlin tournament in the world. Cabo has seen more Billfish record breaks than any other location on the planet.

Cabo doesn’t really have a slow season. No matter if you’re an inshore angler or an offshore fisherman; something’s always waiting on the other end of that fishing line.

The meeting point of the Pacific Ocean with the Sea of Cortez makes for an ideal habitat that provides nutrients to a large variety of fish species. It is particularly known as a great spot for Blue Marlin, the most sought-after trophy fish for any sport fisherman.

In the past, the region has drawn celebrity fishermen such as Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne and Bing Crosby.

You may ask! What fish are in the Cabo waters?

Cabo San Lucas fishing has gained an international reputation that is hard to beat. Positioned at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Sur, the town is located right on the meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. With deep waters just a couple of miles from the shore, multiple seamounts and banks accessible in a day trip, and warm waters all year round, this is a haven for the world’s most sought-after big game fish.

The offshore waters of Cabo San Lucas are home to many Bill or Trophy fish. The big boys, the Blue and Black Marlin typically make their appearance between July and October, mainly keeping to the Pacific side of the peninsula.

Blue Marlin 

The Blue marlin is a majestic fish, the largest of the Marlin as well as being one of the largest actual fish in the world, with the female, who is much larger than the male, reaching about 14 feet long and weighing in about 1900 pounds, nearly a ton. The average for these gigantic beauties is about 11 feet and 400 pounds. Most Blue Marlin in Cabo San Lucas are males and are usually between 250 and 350 pounds.

They are excellent fish to catch, known to put up an amazing fight when they are hooked, which makes them, something of a holy grail for the sport fisherman.

Black Marlin

The Black marlin isn’t exactly black in color! In fact, it often looks much bluer than a Blue marlin. They are not numerous around Cabo but they are caught every year in the summer and early fall months. A highly rated game fish, the Black marlin has the power, size, and persistence of which anglers dream.

Striped Marlin

For ages, Cabo has carried the title of “The Striped Marlin Capital of the World.” A tall order for sure, but Cabo has the numbers to prove it. According to billfishreport.com, 2018 was an amazing year for Stripes, with a number of local captains tallying more than 50 Striped Marlin releases per day! That’s a lot of Marlin. If you’ve never experienced the joy of catching one, all we can say is you’re in for an adventure. 

Sailfish

One of the fastest swimmers in the ocean, the Pacific Sailfish (Pez Vela) migrates through the area between January and March. Sailfish are pretty common in the 80–100 lb range.

Obviously, not everyone is a Billfish enthusiast. Thankfully, Cabo has got plenty of other fish roaming its waters.

Yellowfin tunas average between 8 and 30 pounds, but monsters in excess of 200 pounds aren’t uncommon at all.

Dorado fishing peaks in July and August. Hungry Dorado (Mahi Mahi) often follow baitfish schools right into the shallows, so don’t be too surprised if your inshore trip ends with more than a few of these delicious fish in the boat.

Wahoo patrol the area during the summer and autumn months, everyone’s favorite bycatch.

And while most traveling anglers will go offshore for their catch, exploiting the fertile inshore is easily just as fun.

Roosterfish

The most coveted inshore catch in these parts is the Pacific Roosterfish, or as the locals call it, Pez Gallo. A member of the Jack family, the Roosterfish is endemic to the tropical waters of the Pacific and can grow in excess of 100 pounds. This fish is extremely fun to catch. Whether you’re using light tackle or catching them on the fly, Rooster fishing is a blast. Although present year-round, the best time to catch Roosters is in the summertime.

Sierra Mackerel

Another champion of the shallows, the Sierra Mackerel, is a schooling fish best known for the explosive splashes it creates while hunting. Another reason for the Mackerel’s massive popularity? It’s often the main ingredient in “ceviche.”

Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle, or Toro (Bull) to the locals, is perhaps one of the most overlooked inshore species. Be that as it may, the Bull is known to put up quite a battle on the fly. December through July is primetime for Jack Crevalle fishing. Toros between 7 and 20 pounds are regular catches, although 30-pounders aren’t uncommon on a good day. 

Much like offshore fishing, there’s no off-season for fishing the shallows around Cabo. The rocky outcroppings are a great place for targeting the likes of Red Snapper, Hogfish, Amberjack, Pargo, Bonito, Cabrilla, Triggerfish or Grouper. These guys will claw their way back into their lairs if you let them, so you better keep your guard up. 

Sportfishing remains a popular draw for Los Cabos today and attracts serious fishermen from all over the world. There are many prestigious fishing tournaments around Cabo San Lucas. In October, the international Bisbee Black and Blue Marlin tournament create multi-million dollar payouts to winners. I volunteer for the Bisbee (working scales) most years and have had some really fun times.

For blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, wahoo, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado, plan your visit during the months between September and December. Grouper, amberjack, cabrilla, roosterfish, mackerel and snapper proliferate in spring, especially during May and June. The months from January through to April are good months for catching a shark.

Fishing-wise, Cabo couldn’t have asked for a better geographic location. To the left, you have the bountiful Sea of Cortez, with its warm waters teeming with fish. To the right, you have the Pacific Ocean, a venue for the most spectacular fishing you’ll ever see.

Cabo is one of those places that every fisherman should have on their bucket list.