A Visit from Hilary

by Tom Gatch

August 28, 2023

It may be a common annual occurrence for late summer hurricanes south of the Baja peninsula to impact the fishing far to the north. However, no one was really expecting to encounter a hurricane like Hilary, which maintained its hurricane status all the way up the coast into central Baja before degenerating into a tropical storm.

This turn of events played havoc with the fishing conditions around Isla Cedros, which, up to this point in the season, had been improving steadily in providing excellent fishing for an expanded variety of species that were becoming available for visiting anglers.

While Hilary brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Island that swept through the arroyos dragging tons of debris directly to the inshore waters, Our Magic Lodge was spared any major damage from the storm; only resulting in a few leaky roofs that needed to be patched. The fact that our well-built facilities are situated on higher ground overlooking the ocean once again proved to provide us with a valuable advantage during these types of events.

Just prior to the hurricane’s arrival, Tony Osuna, who had gone fishing with us back in July, was so impressed by the action that he returned with his buddy, Aaron Avloff, who was fishing Cedros for the first time.

The duo reported that they encountered very few red crabs in the water when they were fishing, but there were massive numbers of bonito and large barracuda. However, they also said that they managed to pick up several quality-grade yellowtail up to 30 pounds on scrambled egg iron, as well as a couple of big white seabass that tipped the scales at up to 30 pounds. Osuna concluded by saying that they also caught and released a number of large calico bass that were in the 4 to 6-pound class.

After Hilary had passed, the Harbormaster on Isla Cedros closed the port for several days in the interest of public safety. However, we were able to accommodate our guests immediately after it was reopened, and we hosted two more large groups of anglers before the end of August.

One of the groups was organized by Charles Thompson of Bass Rash Rods in San Diego. One of the anglers, Mark McCormick, was on his first trip to Cedros Island and said that he was blown away at the quality of fishing that their group encountered.

McCormick reported that, although live bait was readily available, they were taking a lot of quality yellowtail weighing up to 30 pounds or more. Almost all of their fish inhaled either surface or bottom iron, and were eating any color jig that they threw at them. He added that they didn’t encounter any white seabass during their trip, and that they tried to drift for halibut with live bait on one occasion, but the water on the sandy bottom where they were fishing was still too churned up for them to be successful.

McCormick concluded his statements by saying that they had also enjoyed banner fishing for ‘Catch & Release’ calico bass up to 6 pounds on Big Hammer plastic swimbaits. He added that they loved the personal guidance and service provided by the entire staff at the Magic Lodge while they were there. The group’s organizer, Charles Thompson, is planning on bringing another Bass Rash Rods charter back to the Island again next month.

The good news is, despite her temporary disruption of fishing around the Island, Hilary, and the swirling waters behind her, are continuing in the annual tradition of southern hurricane systems pushing more exotic, warm water species further north. This bodes well for the promise of great fishing over the next few months. We still have a handful of dates available, so. If you can, grab ‘em while they are still available!