Cedros Island—Bent Rods, Big Fish, and Good Times!

by Tom Gatch

August 28, 2021

This past month has been extremely productive for big yellowtail, calico bass, California sheephead, and quality grade white seabass, along with an occasional black sea bass tipping the scales at between 30 and 80 pounds.

Despite the scorching temperatures that have descended upon central California and the western U.S. over the past few months, the weather on Isla Cedros remains blissfully mild. Here, the penetrating rays of the warm Baja sun are moderated by the blissfully pleasant breezes provided by the Pacific Ocean, which gently caress our Island.

More importantly, no matter whether you come here to fish individually, with your spouse, or accompanied by a couple of buddies, you are bound to encounter some of the best onshore, inshore, and deep-sea fishing opportunities found anywhere on our planet.

Earlier this month, John Epler and a few of his friends flew over and took advantage of a banner yellowtail bite, which yielded quality forktails up to 30 pounds.  Most of their fish inhaled Kicker 25 light surface iron in the mint/white pattern, which is one of the hottest color combos for both surface and bottom iron when the yellowtail are on the chew.

While fishing the northwest end of the Island, the trio also tore into some nice calico bass that were more than eager to attack the variety of plastics swimbaits that they were tossing, most of which were caught near structure, such as kelp growths or boiler rocks.

They also did well fishing closer to the bottom with a healthy mix of fat California sheephead and ocean whitefish, the only member of the Tilefish family found in the Pacific Ocean. Artificial baits were not necessary for these fish; they readily devoured live sardines and cut strip bait.

More recently, Kengi Nakagawa, who was a member of the Encore Glass party that booked a charter near the end of August, reported that their group of 12 anglers enjoyed a stellar fishing adventure over the 4 days that they were on Isla Cedros.

Nakagawa said that most of his group from central-northern California were visiting the Island for the first time, and most of them flew home with limits of fish. However, Nakagawa, who is a seasoned saltwater angler, admitted that he was initially apprehensive when they arrived on Cedros going into a full moon.

He reports that the group realized that they had nothing to worry about when they ended up taking 32 yellowtail up to 24-pounds on their first day out. Almost all of these fish were taken on mint-colored or blue & white surface iron, or on a Colt Sniper in silver/green.

Nakagawa said that he and fellow anglers, Dan Mansir and Bobby Seigfried, did extremely well during their trip, with excellent catches of yellowtail, calico bass, and California sheephead. Manser and Seigfried also cashed in big time with a couple of nice black sea bass.

On another day, Nakagawa reported that they took a nice catch of white seabass in the 10 to 20-pound class. He added that on one occasion anglers on their pangas caught and released nearly 60 calico bass on a single drift. In conclusion, he also reported that they were able to take several fat California sheephead near the bottom with live mackerel and live bait.

As we move into September, fall is at our doorstep, which can also mark the beginning of the seasonal migration of exotic gamefish like yellowfin tuna and dorado as they slowly meander up the Pacific coast of Baja.

And, with a little help from the occasional counter-clockwise spin of southern hurricanes beyond the peninsula’s southern tip, it may turn out that they get here sooner than later.