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Hooked on Baja

By Tom Gatch

As inland temperatures in Baja and southern California continue soaring to their seasonal heights, it is reassuring to keep in mind that the temperate waters of the Pacific Ocean are waiting only a few miles to the west. Here, flocks of seagulls and squadrons of pelicans can often be observed cruising hungrily over the breakers in search of sustenance while gentle, naturally cooled ocean breezes provide relief from the intense summer sun overhead. For just a moment, imagine venturing beyond the waves, to an area away from the influences of terra firma; a place where you could almost imagine being part of the sea itself.

Such a sensation is often enjoyed by the many visitors from both sides of the border who venture out onto the Rosarito Beach Hotel's sportfishing pier. This 500-yard long structure has not only become a Mecca for those seeking some refreshing time out on the water without the need for life jackets or seasick remedies, it has also developed into an increasingly popular gathering spot for avid anglers of all ages.

This is primarily due our monthly pier tournaments, which have been drawing an increasing number of participants each month since they began in late January of this year. But some of the best fishing is yet to come! In the most recent competition, the 1 st Place honors were won by a local angler who landed a hefty 9-pound California halibut that had inhaled one of the whole sardines that were provided as bait for contestants.


Another added advantage that is also provided for tournament anglers is the staging of ‘chum bags' at various points on the pier. Unlike the discarded seafood waste that might normally be used for this purpose, Uni Goop, often referred to as the ultimate fish attractant, has been generously provided for the competition by Tommy Gomes and Catalina Offshore Products in San Diego, which manufactures the product. This incredible stuff is made from the byproducts of sea urchins whose prized roe is otherwise destined for the Tokyo sushi market.

Almost every inshore fish on the Pacific coast is passionate in their love of this caviar of the sea. Hence, both forage and predatory species are drawn to the attractant, as its essence is languidly carried off by the current. As a matter of fact, last month's winning halibut was initially hooked only a few meters away from one of the chum bags, which had also managed to attract a large school of interested baitfish.

Of course, in addition to enjoying the sea breezes, hungry fish, refreshments and prizes, one of the most rewarding aspects of our monthly pier tournaments is the fact that it invites both kids and families to participate in a wholesome outdoor activity that brings them toll together in a way that will benefit both themselves and their respective communities.

The next tournament on the Rosarito Beach Hotel's sportfishing pier takes place on Sunday, July 27th between 9:00AM and 2:00PM. Everyone who is even remotely interested in fishing and family fun is invited to attend. As always, I will personally preside over the event, and will also provide additional angling instruction to all who may request it.

In other hot saltwater action further down the Baja coast, Don Eddie's Landing in Bahia San Quintin reported an increasing yellowtail bite along with plenty of excellent deep water fishing for rock cod and lings. One of the bonus fisheries in the region revolves around the outstanding halibut bite that is available adjacent to the oyster farms near the mouth of the bay, which is just starting to peak.

Anglers fishing offshore often make a stop here on the way back from fishing offshore, and can then languidly drift over the sandy bottom with a small ‘bait-sized' mackerel. Some of the halibut caught in this area have tipped the scales at well over 35 pounds.

Also, to the delight of tuna lovers, Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing also out of San Quintin, reports that the season's first schools of albacore have begun to show south of Geronimo Island. Catian added that his boats have also been running into more quality white sea bass off Socorro Beach.

Got a question, comment or a hot fishing tip? Share your input by sending e-mail to: tlgatch@sbcglobal.net