Friday, May 23, 2008

Baja Beaches…No Respect

It is not unusual for a BIG rooster to eat a hooked ladyfish.

Beachfront hotels encourage sun bathing, snorkeling, and swimming but they basically consider the beach to be a sidewalk to deliver guests to the fishing boats they offer. Most anglers ‘take the bait’ and ignore the beach completely, opting to jump on a boat and get out where the real action is.

The local residents know that the beaches can offer good fishing. Hoards of the locals flock to the beach at every opportunity to cool off and enjoy an outing for the entire family. It isn’t unusual to see small children swimming and playing in the water at one end of camp, with the adults fishing at the other end.

Regardless of your fishing style, spin, fly, or bait casting, include your favorite stick in the rod tube. Fishing from the beach is the ultimate ‘do it yourselfer’ allowing you to figure it out on your own. The results can be spectacular if you are willing to spend the time.

Fishing Baja beaches is like fishing any other venue; it is all about being in the right place at the right time. Standing in one spot and casting until your arm is sore is not going to get it. Keep moving, look for the same signs as you would from a boat… birds or bait being pushed. Often you can spot fish swimming well within casting range. Small chrome spoons, surface poppers, swim baits or plastics all work; select the ones that you have had success with in other places.

The beach species’ list is impressive: roosters, jacks, yellowtail, pompano, pargo, grouper, ladyfish, etc. If you are very lucky you may even land a dorado or tuna. The beach is always full of surprises!

Locals seem to prefer bait while visitors tend to use lures. It is not unusual for a BIG rooster to eat a hooked ladyfish before you can land it. After that happens, you may think pinning that lady back on a hook and cast it out isn’t a bad idea.

There isn’t a bad time to fish the beach: Early morning before breakfast in low light conditions the fish seem to be actively feeding. Mid-day as the sun climbs higher in the sky, it is easy to spot free swimming fish within casting distance, as well as balled-up bait schools. Late afternoon and early evening produces low light conditions again.

Like any fishery worth its salt you need to put your time in. I often see an angler go out on the beach and in less than an hour head back to the pool or bar in disgust. Think about it. As great as the fishing can be in the Sea of Cortez it usually takes your Captain more than an hour to figure it out.

In The Angler's Guide to Trailer-Boating Baja, Zack Thomas talks about the joy of being on your own boat and having complete control of what you do. A Baja beach is the next best thing… allowing you to be your own Captain, using your acquired skills to land quality fish and have fun without depending on another person or boat.

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