Fishing: The Sea of Cortez…First Stop
By: J. Marlando
I notice some photographs on the wall in my friend’s Mark Pierce’s office and casually remark, “I love to fish and I think my wife loves to fish even more than I do.”
He smiles and nods gazing at so many fishing memories placed behind glass and neatly framed for display I point to this picture with him standing next to the big Striped Marlin. “Where did you catch that one?” I ask.
Mark (left) and his friend Frank (right)
“In Baja,” He says. “Off the coast of Cabo!”
"I’ve heard the fishing is good in Cabo, so is that your favorite fishing hole?”
“I have three places that I love down there—Cabo, a little village in Buena Vista and LaPaz. I’ve had a lot of fun and great fishing at all three”
We go out onto the patio for some good conversation. This is a Sunday and Mark’s office is in a quaint, little building in his backyard. I’ve come to talk about some business but we end up popping open a bottle of wine and swapping fish stories.
Mark told me a few that truly perked my interest and…enthusiasm so I’m going to share them here with hope to inspire the reader to pack up his or her gear and give him or herself a real or armchair adventure to some truly intriguing places where the fishing is great!
Cabo San Lucas, Buena Vista and La Paz
If you’re seeking more than great fishing in Baja, Cabo is the gem of all Mark’s favorite jaunts to go to. And, if you’re not lucky like me and have a wife who loves fishing too, there’s a world of stuff to do in Cabo while you’re out catching the “big ones.”
There are all kinds of wonderful shops, great restaurants and lots of local handicraft and art. And, when you get back to shore the night life in Cabo is wide awake and jumping. The truth is, it’s a great vacation spot if you’re a fisherman or not.
Buena Vista is up the coast from Cabo. “This is a remarkable place to go and to fish,” Mark says.
The little town is not much more than a wide place in the road but it is extremely charming and the people are cordial and welcoming. Many of the huts where you spend the night are under thatch roofs through which you can see the sky. When you ask what happens when it rains, you are simply told, “The rain comes into the room.”
Mark wanted to know what happened then.
The clerk gave him a look as if the answer ought to be apparent. “You move the bed where the roof is not leaking,” he answered.
Buena Vista is one of those places where they never lock a room and nothing is ever stolen. And, by the way, the captain and small crews of the chartered boats are professional and helpful.
La Paz is even further up the east side of the inland coast of Baja California and the feeling of being “up town” returns. La Paz is a bigger city with hotels, restaurants and shopping; a tourist’s paradise for some. And, another place in Baja where you can have a great time if you fish or not.
I realize I’m beginning to sound like a travel agent, which I can easily do when I am enthusiastic about a place so let’s get immediately out to sea.
Fishing the Sea of Cortez
You order the food you will want on board the fishing boat the night before you cast off. Most typically burritos that you’ll eat cold around noon. They’ll be beer, soda and water to drink on board and that about sums up your dining experience. But of course you’re not there for the cuisine…you’re there for the fish and for the fishing!
Mark caught this 220 pound Yellowfin off the coast of Cabo. The Yellowfin is a large tuna with two dorsal fins. The body is a kind of metallic dark blue and silver with yellow tips on the fins. Quite a handsome fish!
Mark says that if you have your mind set on Yellowfin, keep your eye out for drifting objects like big patches of seaweed, driftwood or even boats. These floating top objects give them safety from predators and often entire schools will huddle or swim below them. Incidentally, some Yellowfin can weigh more than 400 pounds and are found in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Blue Oceans but note. Yellowfin do not necessarily school with their own—they may school with all kinds of other fish that are around their same size…even dolphins! Yellowfins swimming with the dolphins is pretty rare however and is only verified in the Eastern Pacific.
Another great fish coming out of the Sea of Cortez is the Dorado. Mark caught this beauty off the shores of La Paz. When you eat Dorado, you are eating the same fish called Mahi-Mahi from Hawaiian waters. (Mark gave me filets when he returned from his last trip to Baja, and, as far as I am concerned, they are among the best tasting fish in the world).
And for you serious enthusiasts—Baja offers a few fishing tournaments each year with a blue and black marlin competition delivering a million dollars to the winner. (You can easily Google Fishing tournaments in Baja California for information).
And speaking of tournament catches. Here is Mark with his friends exhibiting Mark's bigmsailfish catch.
Mark says, “Most typically the Sea of Cortez is calm and inviting; it’s a wonderful adventure up and down the coast with a lot of white sand beaches and distant views of Mexico’s mainland. You can fly down or even drive if you have a lot of time; Cabo is quite a drive from the border, however. As for driving across the mountains to Buena Vista or La Paz from the Tijuana side, the roads are pretty rough until you reach the main highway. Anyway, when I go I usually fly especially when Cabo is my destination. In Buena Vista I invariably stay at Hotel Palmas De Cortez. In Cabo, there are lots of places to spend the night before heading out to sea. If you decide to go, I can almost promise you that you’ll have a great time and some great fishing too.”
Mark is an avid fisherman who began fishing with his father, Charles, at age 10. (There is a book about Charles Pierces life available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble with title, “The Art of Survival” if the reader is interested).
I have personally never been to Cabo but I lived in Baja for seven years and have experienced some great times and some great fishing there. A place on the Sea of Cortez side that I enjoy is San Felipe but also, Rosarito is, as they say, only a leap and a jump from the Tijuana border and there’s some exciting fishing to be had there too.
If you enjoyed this article, click on the following link to read about more fishing adventures -
Or, if your not the best fisherman in the world read Gonzo's super article: