SUNS OUT BUT SO IS THE WIND!
La Paz – Las Arenas Fishing Report for Week of Dec. 21-28, 2014
The weather was tough on us this week. Quite a few windy days as is often the case during the winter months when the north winds come down and hit us and just make it difficult to get out or, even if we do, it’s just rugged out there or, the big waves make it tough to get bait. And that’s the way it was for the majority of the week.
I feel badly because most of the folks that fish this time of year are snow-birds just enjoying sunshine who want a day of fishing while in La Paz. This is unlike during the regular season when folks fish every single day of their vacation and are specifically in town to fish. For the folks now with only one day to fish, that means we either have to cancel; or they have to just gut-it-out and have a rough day; or we have to juggle their fishing days to find a day where the winds are diminished.
More often than not, we either have to tell folks who only have one specific day to fish that it’s best they not go out, or they go out and really just have a bad time and get beat up and wet and not catch much fish…and that’s not fun either.
On the other side, at least it’s sunny! Day time temps are in the low to mid-70’s and really pleasant. Although it was windy, winds should calm down by the time you’re reading this.
We did get out a few times this week. All of our fishing during the winter months are out’ve Las Arenas/ Bahia de Los Muertos areas. Because of the winds, waters are pretty turned over and green and dirty in some of our hot spots. However, we did get into some decent sierra along the beach drop-offs. Some were hefty 4-5 pound chunkers and ALWAYS great eating. There were a few small pargo, snapper and cabrilla caught. We had some school-sized rooster fish caught and released and the bonito helped provide some action as well.
As a side note, many folks don’t know that La Paz has become quite a mecca for whalesharks which have been increasing in numbers the last few season in La Paz Bay where they’re protected. At times there are 1/2 dozen to several dozen “juveniles” up to 15 feet long or more all in shallow water and great for snorkeling! We’re running 2-3 hour trips to swim with the whalesharks every day that the winds are favorable. The juveniles are just a few minutes away and it’s an incredible family once-in-a-lifetime experience. You are NOT allowed to touch or ride the animals but still…getting just a few feet away from these gentle animals (they are true sharks with no teeth that eat plankton, krill and other small critters) is something not to be missed.
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW! BRING ON 2015!
Well, 2014 is almost one for the books and I thought it would good to wrap up the year with a full review…
It was as crazy a year as I have ever had in my almost 20 years working here in La Paz.
With El Nino hovering, we entered the year with some trepidation. El Nino seems to have a zillion variables that change the whole complexion of fishing and sure enough, it started right from the get-go.
El Nino conditions are characterized by warmer than normal waters. Good in some ways, but bad in so many others. So, crazily, our waters never really did cool down. We started the year catching dorado which was a great surprise in some aspects, but the downside was not so good.
For one our cooler water species never really did show up. While the dorado were biting, we never got into the good yellowtail or the amberjack, sierra or pargo that are so popular in our cooler months. We got a few, but it had to be called a big disappointment. One aspect of the overly-warm water was the lack of bait.
Baitfish require cooler waters so that nutrients come from the deep. The baitfish feed on the nutrients and without those necessities, bait either died off or moved away to find food. Insofar as we’re a live bait fishery and bait is an important aspect of our sportfishing, it makes it hard to fish, let alone catch fish without bait! This was to plague us throughout the year.
It didn’t help either that in the Bay of La Paz, bait catchers from the fish farms were scooping up what little bait was available, sometimes at night leaving virtually nothing for the sportfishing fleets and commercial local fishermen who rely on the bait to make their livings. It wasn’t until almost mid-year that the bait catching stopped. Surprisingly, our bait stocks suddenly increased!
But, bait was to be an issue all year long. We made do with what we could get. That often consisted of a mix of sardines, mackerel, caballitos, baby bonito, ballyhoo and dead bait like cut squid, cut bonito and the like.
It will produced some great catches throughout the year like the dorado, marlin, sailfish and some others. The most remarkable catches of the year were the rooster fish and wahoo. We had an above average year for rooster fish underscoring La Paz’s reputation as the “Roosterfish Capital of the World” with fish in the 30-80 pound class not uncommon.
As for wahoo, the cycle came around this year. After a few years of negligible wahoo to show, we had a fairly outstanding year for wahoo with fish in the 30-50 pound class and larger often taken and the best spots around Espirito Santo Island. For folks who had never caught a wahoo or rooster, this was the kind of year where many anglers finally got their first of each species, sometimes on the same day.
The biggest issue of our year was the weather. It played havoc all year.
As is characteristic of El Nino years, storms are more common and we gritted our teeth and watched hurricanes and rainstorms threaten us and sometimes drop some rain on us and stormy conditions. We have over a dozen come our way, but dodged almost all of them until the big one finally turned on us in a surprise of historic proportions.
Hurricane Odile slammed into Baja with winds up to 150 miles per hour. It turned out to be the biggest hurricane in Baja history causing widespread devastation. La Paz was in it’s path and, although the fury of the storm was spent in about 6 hours, the destruction and aftermath were felt for weeks and La Paz and Baja are still in the rebuilding process.
As far as fishing, we were back to fishing within a week of the storm. However, since airports were shut down or destroyed, there was no way for clients to come into Baja and hence suffered many weeks of cancelations and lost bookings during the part of the season which is traditionally the busiest time of the year. The ripple effect on much of the economy will take a long time to recover.
But interestingly, right after the hurricane, fishing took off! Some of the best fishing took place in the weeks and months post-Odile with dorado, wahoo, sailfish, marlin, and other species biting better than they had at any time of the year and with continued warm waters through Christmas, continued to bite!
Here’s hoping for a mo’ bettah 2014, but as long as all of us are safe, happy and have each other, all is good. Here’s to wishing you the best with a big MUCHAS GRACIAS for being part of this great adventure! God bless you all!
That’s our story!
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