Fishing the Baja surf
We were fishing in a region that is called the East Cape of Baja. The first night that we arrived we were a bit distressed to see a strong north wind blowing. When we awoke the next morning the wind was still blowing just as hard, which meant that our morning surf fishing would be tough.
From all accounts, fly fishing in Baja’s surf is typically no more than like fishing in a large lake. While we did see it calm during our trip, we had three days of north winds, which locals told us was very unseasonable and really hurt the fishing. The winds, particularly from the north, cool off the water along the coast as colder water is brought to the surface. As a result, the fishing usually slows down.
It was still pitch black as we made our way down to the surf from the resort. It was a short 10-minute walk to the beach, where we began fishing with headlamps. The surf was breaking pretty large and the winds were pretty steady.
My friends had all brought along surf casting spinning tackle as well as their fly rods, so they began to convert over to them. As they did so they began having some success with saltwater x-rap Rapalas and Rebel lures. Fred Wickman of Tahoe City caught a very nice Jack Crevalle in the 15- to 20-pound range as the sun came up. Most of us caught at least one fish that morning in spite of the wind and heavy surf.
I had chosen to take my 10-weight fly rod out because of the combination of wind and large surf. It had a 400-grain line on it, which is probably too fast sinking in my estimation. I hung it up on the bottom several times that morning. My suggestion would be to have a line in the 250- to 300-grain region. As it turns out, my 8-weight ” which I used from the beach with my Pyramid Lake shooting head system that had a Type IV Scientific Angler shooting head ” proved to be a great line in the surf. Next time I will rig my 10-weight with that set-up.
In Baja you can surf fish all day long and a license is not needed to fish from the beach. However, the resort includes a fishing license for the week for a rate of about $23, plus tax. You will need them if you fish from a kayak or a boat as we did a couple of times during the stay.
When it is calm, the best tactic I found when fishing the surf was to walk the beach until you actually saw some fish feeding. You could then make a cast in the direction that you thought they were traveling. My last morning of surf fishing proved to be the most productive because of this tactic.
Ocean fishing is great because you never know what is going to take your fly. I caught what looked like a moving tree branch. It turned out to be a Cornetfish (Corneta). Very strange looking indeed; it looked like a snake with gills and fins. It must have been a sight watching me grab it and toss it back into the ocean. You will catch many different species from shore, which will vary depending on the time of year. Our group caught Jack Crevalle (Toro), Ladyfish (Machete), Snapper (Pargo), Mackerel (Sierra) and Pompano (Palometa). We also saw Roosterfish (Pez Gallo).
There are many other species of fish that can be taken from the surf depending on the season. Even Dorado ” the dolphin fish, also known as Mahi Mahi ” can be taken from the surf in the summer months, according to Reel Baja owner and guide Jeff DeBrown.
We surf fished daily, even if we went out on the boats or kayaks. Next week I will talk more about fishing off the boat called a Panga.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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