Marlin, Tuna, Dorado, and More Delight Cedros Anglers!

by Tom Gatch

September 30, 2023

As expected, we are now beginning to enjoy the benefits of all the warmer water that was pushed up Baja’s Pacific coast after the passing of Hurricane Hilary in late August. The first wave of exotic species to arrive were the dorado, which excited visiting anglers with their acrobatic jumps when hooked and then watching the fish explode into bright golden and green hues after coming over the rail and hitting the deck of their panga.

Shortly thereafter, yellowfin tuna joined the party and provided some excellent action on feisty fish in the 30 to 35-pound class. And then, to the surprise of everyone, one of the anglers hooked and landed a decent-sized striped marlin just last week. This was truly an event to celebrate since no one has taken a marlin locally in several years. It just goes to show that a hurricane at the beginning of a predicted El Niño year is not necessarily always a bad thing.

However, all of this activity in regard to migrating exotic species has not overshadowed the great fishing we have had for all of the other inshore fish that have been inhaling lures and baits in the waters surrounding Cedros Island. Our famed population of big, home-guard yellowtail up to 35 pounds or more have been bending rods with a vengeance, and the fat calico bass that are taken on a catch-and-release basis have been averaging between 5 and 8 pounds. Some quality-grade halibut and California sheephead have also been caught.

While a vast majority of the anglers visiting Isla Cedros plan to target their favorite species with a rod and reel while aboard a panga, the fact of the matter is that some choose to pursue them beneath the surface of the water while armed with a speargun. As the years go by, more and more freedivers are beginning to discover that the clear, rich waters around Cedros are a near-perfect venue for spearfishing.

The primary difference between practicing this sport in Mexico, as opposed to north of the border, is that spearfishing while using type of Scuba gear is expressly prohibited. Spearfishing is only legally allowed if you are free-diving, which requires a much greater degree of skill.

Carlsbad resident, John Hayworth, has been to the Island on 4 different occasions, and on 2 of those trips, he came to dive. This year, he spearfished the entire time and managed to shoot several yellowtail in the 10 to 17-pound class; and on one occasion found himself being towed by a huge yellowtail that he estimated weighed close to 40 pounds. He also took a number of big sheephead up to 20 pounds.

Hayworth came with a few other buddies, Scott Prichard, Sean McCrady, and Ryan Bettencourt, also from the Carlsbad area, who decided to stay aboard the panga and fish in a conventional manner. The trio was rewarded with 3 yellowfin tuna to 35 pounds, 2 dorado weighing up to 20 pounds, along with some nice halibut.

The following week, Jeff Bloks was on his first trip to Cedros Island with a few other anglers from the Marina del Rey area. His group caught limits of yellowtail in the 15 to 20-pound class almost every day while trolling black & purple Rapalas and dropping yo-yo iron. They also caught several dorado up to 20 pounds, along with a couple of halibut, one of which weighed around 20 pounds.

Bloks concluded by saying that they saw a lot of red tuna crabs in the area, as well as flocks of working birds dropping over floating kelp paddies. He went on to describe the waters that they were fishing in as being like “one huge aquarium.”

Jim Lundeen, and his buddy, Nyle Miyamoto, both from the state of Washington, had never been to Cedros Island before and were first introduced to the possibility of enjoying the experience first-hand at a sportfishing show in the Seattle area.

Lundeen reported that he and Miyamoto were amazed at the quality and quantity of the various gamefish that they were able to hook up with. He said that they caught most of their fish while trolling Rapala lures in the blue mackerel pattern, and ended up with limits of yellowtail in the 15 to 30-pound class in addition to one California sheephead, which was taken on a live mackerel that was dropped to the bottom.

To be honest, it would be hard to imagine any better fishing than what we have already been experiencing this season. However, since we have just taken our first marlin in years, it is not out of the realm of possibility that we may even see a few wahoo being taken over the next several weeks. We can only hold our breath …and cross our fingers!