Fishing in The Sea of Cortez

Of all of the places we have been fishing over the years, both fresh and salt water, once we fished the Sea of Cortez we were spoiled on fishing any where else. This fantastic ecosystem has well over 1000 varieties of fish. Many of these are close enough to shore so you do not need a boat. 

If you wish to go after the bigger game fish that frequent these water you will need a good sized boat. Our little 14 foot Alumacraft with a 25 horse motor just doesn't cut it out on the "big water" in high waves.  There are plenty of big game fish that live here including Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish, and Striped Marlin. They are majestic and absolutely beautiful to see and exciting to catch.

There are about 30 species of corvinas and croakers making their unique croaking sounds around the Baja Gulf. Some varieties found include: White Seabass, Gulf Corvina, Orange-mouth Corvina, California Corvina, Yellowfin Croaker and Spotfin Croaker. The popular jacks include Yellowtail, Pacific Amberjack, various Pompanos, Jack Crevalle and the strong-fighting Roosterfish. To see what some of these look like just click the link under the Fishing in The Sea of Cortez on the right.

The two photos below are Jan Lee reeling in a small yellow fin tuna that ended up on the dinner plates a few hours later ..... uuummmm good.

In terms of size, tackle, and stamina, blue marlin are extreme. Found on both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico, they may grow in excess of 1,000 pounds, are the premier North American marlin. A blue water fish, they are seldom found close to shore, and are highly migratory.

Most blue marlin caught on sportfishing tackle weigh between 150 and 400 pounds, and it is an awesome sight when such a fish, or a larger one, spears through the surface in the distance and leaps high in the air. It may do this repeatedly, then run great distances, sound deep, and resist capture till the angler is weary. Large baits and trolled plugs are the normal offering, pulled at 4 to 8 knots, and tackle ranges from 30 to 130 pound outfits employed on both flat lines and outriggers.

Found in Pacific waters and most abundant in North America off southern California and Mexico, Striped marlin do not grow as large as blue marlin, but are revered for their acrobatics. No billfish jumps more often, and striped marlin are likely to make successive greyhounding leaps across the surface. They are more frequently caught than blue marlin, and are often found in near-shore environs. Striped marlin are a good light-tackle billfish; 30 to 50 pound outfits and 4/0 to 6/0 reels are commonly used.

Although they are the smallest member of the billfish clan, Sailfish are among the most popular with anglers because they can be taken fairly easily by experiences anglers on light tackle, including spinning rods and fly rods. There are Atlantic and Pacific sailfish, and some disagreement exists as to whether these are the same or different species. Pacific sailfish grow considerably larger on average. Nonetheless, the usual fish in between 5 and 7 feed long weighs between 30 and 70 pounds. Sailfish are distinguished, of course, by their high first dorsal fin.

Dolphin are a highly prized game fish of the open sea. Non-anglers confuse this fish with certain porpoises, however, which are mammals and unrelated to the dolphin species; porpoises are commonly referred to as "dolphin", but are not pursued by sportfishermen. For this reason, anglers often refer to the fame species as "dolphinfish". Known also as "dorado", dolphin are superb table fare, and often appear in restaurants under their Hawaiian name, mahi mahi. They are distinctively shaped and colorful, though their brilliant color fades rapidly after capture.

Dorado are pelagic and primarily found in the blue-water environs of warm seas. Most Dorado are located by trolling, usually while fishing for other blue-water fish. A quick trolling speed is employed, as Dorado are very fast swimmers. Sometimes anglers keep a hooked Dorado on the line near the boat to encourage a school to stay around, and this may result in catching several fish out of a school.

The roosterfish looks, in fact, very much like an amberjack in general body shape. The most distinguishing feature of a roosterfish, however, is its unusual first dorsal fin, which looks like the raised comb of a cock bird. There are seven spines in this fin, and when the fish is aroused while chasing forage or fighting an angler, the spines are raised.

Roosterfish may be found in loose groups, and are often spotted under working birds. They are caught by boaters who drift and troll, but also by casting anglers and surf fishermen. Sandy-bottomed locales are good, as are bays and sections of mild surf. Smaller fish are usually closer to shore. Trolling with strip bait, live bait, plugs, and feathers is popular; casting and live-bait drifting, particularly when a group of roosterfish is located, may be very effective.

Tackle is often quite stout, but medium-action gear with 15 to 20 pound line has merit, and fly rods and light spinning or bait casting gear can be used as well.

Although found on both coasts, yellowfin tuna don't range as far northward as the other tuna do and evidently don't travel as widely as such species as albacore and bluefin tuna. Also called "Allison tuna", yellowfins grow to intermediate sizes and are more colorful than other tunas, although smaller ones look a lot like blackfin or bigeye tuna. Large yellowfins usually have long second anal and dorsal fins. Yellowfin tuna are one of the strongest of North American fish, usually caught offshore by chumming and trolling.
These are an exciting and popularly sought Pacific Ocean fish that are mainly found seasonally from southern California south. This inshore species inhabits moderate depths of water and fights particularly well. They attack very aggressively and after being hooked, dive deeply, or into the surf, and engage in a slugfest.

There are a variety of fish in the mackerel family that are pursued by North American anglers and valued for both sport and food. The hardest fighting and most well respected member of the mackerel clan, however, is wahoo, which grow fairly large and fight like fish even bigger, often being mistaken for other fish when caught while trolling for big game species. These fast-swimming fish are noted for peeling a lot of line off a reel after striking, and will make a long run.

Inhabiting Atlantic and Pacific waters, wahoo usually are caught well offshore in tropical and temperate environs, and found singly or in small groups, sometimes around wrecks and reefs. They feed on flying fish, herring, mackerel, and other schooling species.
Wahoo are steel-blue in color, with bright vertical markings, and are good eating, but are primarily caught incidentally by high-speed trollers, on rigged whole or strip baits as well as trolling plugs and feathers.


Mexican Fishing Laws

LA PAZ - Gold Cup Fishing Tournament - Sept.