There are plenty of Sailfish and Marlin to keep you busy if you’re coming down here fishing in the next few weeks. The billfish run has been very good with Sailfish running over 100 pounds, averaging 140 pounds and with much larger ones being caught. Terry Luther and Robert Lindsay of Oregon described their first day out last week “we got a double hookup and there were sailfish jumping all around us as far as we could see”. They each hooked and landed a sailfish on the fly as well as several on light conventional gear. To increase their chances at landing fish they used both fly and light conventional gear. Here are some images of their offshore fishing:
For conventional anglers: the Dorado are from small schoolie sized to about 50 pounds. They are being caught on flylined live mackerel, trolled live mackerel or marlin type lures.
The fly anglers will need to look for dorado by checking each and every sargasso paddy out there. The sargasso paddies to our North (see conditions report) are holding baitfish and Dorado. There will often be layers upon layers of baitfish under these paddies and the Dorado will likely be below them. The trick is to bring those dorado to the surface and keep them interested and in a competitive feeding mode. Ways to do this are: hook up a dorado on light conventional gear with a live mackerel and keep the hooked fish swimming and jumping near the boat, this fish will attract other dorado that we call amigo fish and you’ll get chances to get those amigos to take flies; slap the water with a popper or other fly to get the dorado excited and in feeding mode, this will require a team effort; use cut bait to attract and hold the dorado with the scent as you toss flies and let them sink to imitate the cut bait; use dynamite (just kidding). Be ready to cast and cast and cast, and practice casting before you arrive so that you will be in shape to cast and hook up the fish.
Bonita and Skipjack may not be on most people’s list of fish to catch but they are excellent light tackle fish. These fish will eat flies with enthusiasm and no sardinas are necessary. Their schools can be seen at a distance and the tactic is to just sit and wait for them to come to you. When they pass under you, cast and strip (or reel) and chances are excellent that you’ll connect with one. This is an excellent fish on light tackle and they can entertain children very well because there’s a lot of action (catching) and they aren’t too large for the kids to get themselves.
The commercial hand liner pangas are still catching good numbers of Yellowtail in the same areas: bajo de San Bruno, bajo de San Ildefonso and Punta Colorado just north of Coronado Island. At San Bruno, the most consistent they are eating at the bottom and you’ll need the standard 50 pound line, 80 pound leader held down with 8 ounces of lead. Use a 6/0 hook on the mackerel and either hook through the nostrils or on the back but over the vertebra. The YT are mostly around 30 pounds. Amberjack are still in the mix on occasion and are larger than the YT at 30-50 pounds.
For the fly flickers there are cooler water species to target, like smaller YT in the cooler inshore water to the south of us. From Nopolo to Agua Verde there is a lot of sargasso and the warm current has not completely entered. So schools of smaller (and on occasion, larger) Yellowtail are in the areas. Danzante Island and through the channel to Puerto Escondido are where YT are feeding on baitfish at the surface. They are moving quickly and if you are in the right place at the right time then epic feeds can happen. Do expect to cast a lot and catch some firecracker sized Yellowtail near the shoreline. Just north of Puerto Escondido off Juncalito, there have been Toro (Jack Crevalle) feeding for weeks. They move quickly and are far easier on light tackle conventional with live bait, but they will take a fly. Only “complaint” about them is that they fight too hard and take too long to land. Here are a couple that Robert and Terry caught:
The cabrilla and pargo live in the reefs and generally inhabit the bottom. They sprint upwards if the spot anything that appears like bait to them. Clouser minnows are prime patterns for them. These fish prefer to eat on sardinas the most, but will take mackerel as well. Jigs are another excellent artificial that work on these fish. Generally we troll mackerel along the shorelines and be ready for hits. Heavy tackle is required for fish over 18 pounds to keep them out of the rocks. Fly fishing is very effective for smaller fish even without the use of sardinas for chum. If sardinas are available, they can attract much larger fish and large fly equipment is required to keep a large fish out of the rocks. The trick is to never let them head for the rocks. The boat can be moved into deeper water making the fish easier to land.