Baha Kayak Fishing Bliss

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Tom Arroll, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Tom Arroll

    Tom Arroll Member

    Jun 6, 2005
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    Seattle, WA
    I just returned from a 10-day trip to Baha and wanted to share my trip report and pictures. My fiancé Linda and I had initially planned to got to Loreto and kayak around Isla Carmen and Danzante but our Aero California flight was canceled a month before our trip and we were unable to get a new flight. We decided to instead fly into La Paz and kayak around Isla Espiritu Santo, a trip that Linda had done with a guided group a couple of years ago. We rented a couple of kayaks from a La Paz outfitter and had them shuttle us via Panga to the Ensenada Grande on the North end of the Island. Over the next five days we worked our way South along the West shore camping in various coves. We then rounded the South end of the Island and paddled part way up the East side of the Island before heading to our pick up spot on the South End of the Island.
    I brought my 10-wt fly rod and various kayak fishing accessories to see what the waters would offer. I rigged my fly rod so that I could troll or bucktail while paddling in hopes of hooking into Sierra (Scomberomorus sierra) or Yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis lalandi) the two main pelagic species that are in this area in the cold water months. When I saw bait on the surface I would switch to casting and fast stripping. In addition to kayak fishing I fished from shore when we camped. I did not see much bait or signs of feeding fish for the first few days. My first luck came while shore fishing in a small bay about ½ way down the Island. I started seeing fish feeding just outside of the rock/coral reefs about one hour before sunset. I caught a number of Coronet fish (Fistularia petimba) using small blue and white Deceivers. I also caught some Snappers/Pargo (Lutjanidea) but have not figured out what species they are yet (see photo). The snappers struck quite aggressively when they were actively feeding on bait and at least one swallowed my fly resulting in its transformation into Cebiche’, Yum! Our camp was visited by a curious Ring Tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus) who wanted to share our Cebiche’ (see photo).
    I did not see any considerable amount of bait or feeding fish until we were around the South end of the Island which is called the San Lorenzo Channel, a well-known fishing hot spot. We had dolphins swimming along side of us while we paddled, periodically slapping their tails and jumping high out of the water. They were actively feeding on what appeared to be Sardina or Herring. Despite the abundant baitfish and apparent presence of some feeding predatory fish, trolling and casting from the kayak was not successful. I think that simply trolling the fly behind the kayak is not fast enough or “active” enough to compel the feeding fish to strike. This is supported by the observation that I seemed only to get followed by a fish when I was fast retrieving the fly and not just trolling around. We had favorable weather so we kayaked up the East side of the Island which is prone to big swell and high winds. We camped on a large beach about 1/3 of the way up the East side of the Island. I fished that evening from the rocks and beach with no success although I did get a number of follows by Snapper and other fish. I woke at the crack of dawn to find calm wind/water with lots of bait and feeding fish up close to the shore. This was one of those great fishing experience that I will remember when I am standing freezing cold in some NW river hopelessly flailing for winter Steelhead. The weather was balmy, the scenery was amazing and the water was alive with fish (see pictures). Each few casts my fly was struck by either Snapper, Coronet Fish or Pacific Ladyfish/Machete (Elops affinis). I kept one larger Snapper for the fry pan and released the rest.
    After returning to La Paz we rented a car for the next stage of our trip. We were thinking of going to Magdelena Bay on the Pacific Ocean side to kayak and fish the vast Mangrove channels but could not find a local outfitter. We decided to not try to lug kayaks from La Paz to Mag Bay on the top of our tiny rental car so we made new plans. We drove down to the artsy tourista town of Todo Santos to check it out for a day. We ate an over priced meal at The Cafe Santa Fe and spent the night in pricy but nice Todo Santos Inn. We checked out some of the beaches, which as I suspected, where pummeled by huge waves. Fishing was out of the question and it has been a while since I have surfed so I decided to not risk getting washing machined by the huge waves that Todo Santos is famous for.
    We then headed off to the East Cape which is one of our all time favorite spots. On a whim we went to Cabo Pulmo and were able to rent a Palapa because there was a cancellation. We ate New Years Eve dinner at Nancy’s, a local institution run by a crazy old woman who fled from San Francisco to Baha years ago. New Years day we headed North along the coast to Los Barilles, Punta Pescadero and beyond. We drove as far up the coastal dirt road our little rental car would go without grounding out and found a nice remote beach far away from any development. We met a great old guy named Dick who was camping out on the beach. He spends his time between La Paz, Eastern Oregon and the beaches of East Cape. I started working my way down the beach in search of fish and was initially discouraged by the lack of baitfish. The water was dead calm and the typical afternoon winds were absent. I found a nice rock outcropping to fish from and started casting and looking for fish. Aside from hooking a couple of ubiquitous Coronet Fish there was no sign of action. As I was lazily casting I spotted some movement about 30 ft off of shore. At first I though they were some Coronet Fish but upon closer inspection I realized that the fish were two 3 foot long barracudas slowly cruising around. I was able to place a few casts right in front of the fish but they were not at all interested. A few minutes later I saw a school of fish that looked like Jacks chasing my fly but they would not bite. I worked my way back down the beach and began to see some baitfish flying just off shore. After casting few times in the vicinity of the jumping bait I began getting some follows by the same Jack-like fish. I changed flies to a Sand Eel pattern and after the first cast saw the telltale dorsal fins of Pez Gallo or Roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis) chasing my fly. Although the fish were finicky I was able to alter the speed and pattern of my return to entice them to bite. I caught a couple of little Roosters which was a blast (see photo). Although they were small they were still fun to catch. As the evening closed in we had to set off back to La Paz in preparation for our flight out the next day.
    Although I did not hook into any Sierra or Yellowtail I still had a blast. I caught my first Snapper, Ladyfish and Roosterfish by fly and learned a great deal about these species' distribution and behavior. I can’t wait until my next trip to Baha!

    Cheers :beer1:


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  2. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    Dec 28, 2004
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    Wenatchee, Washington
    Great report! Sounds/looks like you had a blast.
  3. Diehard

    Diehard aka Justin

    Jan 14, 2004
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    Seattle, Washington, USA.
    That sounds like an awesome trip!
  4. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

    May 18, 2004
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    Ellensburg, WA
    Glad you had a good trip, thanks for a great report!

  5. Mingo

    Mingo the Menehune stole my beer

    Mar 27, 2005
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    Where the water is warm and bikinis are tiny
    Nice report and killer photos........thanks for sharing your experiences :thumb:
  6. Nick A.

    Nick A. New Member

    Jan 2, 2006
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    Cool trip.......Cool Photo's :beer2: