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Long windless periods of a week or more happen several times each winter. These are usually accurately forecast and you can safely plan on being away from the launch sites for a day. Below are descriptions of the road trips, boat tours, fishing trips, hikes etc. in the La Ventana area.
If your are in the East Cape area and there is no wind, go to Todos Santos on the Pacific side. From Todos Santos south to Cabo San Lucas there are numerous breaks. Playa San Pedrito and Playa Los Cerritos are well-known spots. There is also surfing south of Cabo Pulmo.
One of Baja’s great experiences is taking a boat out to Isla Esprito Santos to snorkel with the gigantic whale sharks. Contact Tim at Plapas Ventana just north of the La Ventana campground to schedule a tour.
Even if you have no interest in fishing, you should consider bringing a cheap fishing rig to Baja. Why? Because spectacular and tasty fish like Dorado (Mahi Mahi) and Yellow Fin Tuna (think Sushi) hang around during the winter. You can rent a boat (panga) and be out catching incredible fish on windless days. Or you can just fish for sierra or grouper along the shore. Or better yet, bring down a zodiac or a kayak. You can buy your fishing license along with your car insurance through Vagabundos Del Mar. in Rio Vista near Sherman Island.
These guys have great fishing reports. Baja Anglers
Yellow Fin Tuna
Best bait is live sardines or tuna feathers in the purple & black and Mexican flag color combinations. Troll at around 8 knots from a boat and look for other boats near schools or lots of birds circling. If action is slow try light line about 20 lbs. There are several other species in this family that you will catch. Mexican Skipjack are about 12-24 inches long and are only good for cat food. The flesh is reddish black and smells like cat food. If you get a tuna like fish with bluish black fins and horizontal stripes on the back AND on the front belly release it.
Best bait is live sardines or albacore feathers. Or try putting a strip of bonito belly on a number 2 or larger hook and slow trolling about one or two miles offshore. Fish at fast troll and look for floating debris. Best dorado fishing is in late morning and early afternoon.
This is the bread and butter fish for anglers with little experience and those fishing from the shore or from a kayak. Simply troll 4 1/2 inch broken back Rapala or Rebel lure from dawn to 10AM. Typically, you will catch them from 20 to 200 feet from shore. They have razor sharp teeth so you will need about 12 inches of wire leader. If you are fishing from a kayak give some thought about where you are going to put the fish when you catch it. Bring a 18 inch piece of pipe and whack the fish on the head after you bring it aboard. This fish tastes great even if you do not like fish.
At rocky points or over rocky areas, cast from shore or troll using cut bait or 4″ Rapalas in the blue & green or blue & white color combinations. These fish are easy to catch, very tasty, but the smaller ones have very little meat.
NOTICE: this section on Spearfishing may not appeal to everyone.
Choosing a Speargun
Here is the best place in La Ventana for current spearfishing information: http://palapasventana.com/index.php/activities/spearfishing
There are many types of guns, however your choice may be limited if you do not live near the ocean or a major dive shop. If there are no shops nearby get a copy of Skin Diver magazine from a newstand and send for a mail order catalog.
Cheapest and least effective are Hawaiian slings. These consist of a fiberglass pole with a piece of heavy surgical rubber at one end and a three prong spear point at the business end. The limited range and power of these weapons makes them suitable for only smaller fish. In areas where spearfishing is commonplace, you will find that your potential dinner has an uncanny ability to stay just beyond the maximum range of your sling. Despite these handicaps, the cost and simplicity of slings may appeal to you. The killing range of slings is 2′ to 3′ and their accuracy is low until you gain experience. Remember that smaller fish have proportionally less meat than larger fish and are far more difficult to fillet.
Arabalettes are gun shaped with a pistol handle at one end and a holder for one to four rubber tubes at the other end. An aluminum tube connects the ends and supports a stainless steel spear. These guns can be a short as 2′ to over 6′ in length. The longer the gun and the more rubbers, the more powerful the gun will be. By varying the number of rubbers you use you can vary the gun’s killing range from 3′ to nearly 10′. The larger guns are bulky and require great strength to cock. For most uses, a gun between 3′ and 4′ will suffice. The spear points are stainless steel and screw on to the 3/8″ spear shaft. It is essential to bring several extra points and vice-grips for removing them. If you hope to spear fish over 18″ in length, get a detachable spear point. These points pop loose of the shaft after a fish is speared. Once the point is loose the spearpoint is attached to the shaft by a fine wire thus the fish does not have the leverage of the spear to wrench itself from the shaft.
Generally sharks are a negligible danger when you are sailing or skin diving in Baja. But spearfishing can be a different story. Still bad shark experiences are extremely rare in Baja and after having speared thousands of fish over 30 years I have only had one interesting experience. Despite this here are some hints: Sharks home in on prey using sound, smell, and vision. They are attracted by rhythmic vibrations such as those generated by a fish struggling on a spear, Sharks are also very sensitive to blood trails carried by tidal currents. Visually they are excited by a thrashing or helpless fish. If you would prefer not to have a great shark encounter story to tell around the campfire, there are some simple rules to follow to minimize your exposure to sharks while spearfishing:
1. The second you spear a fish, pinch its eyes with all of your strength using your thumb and forefinger. This tends to paralyze the fish during its death struggles.
2. If the fish is bleeding profusely and there is a strong current running swim back to your boat or the beach keeping close to shore. This way if you see a shark you can get to safety fast..
3. Incidentally, it is a good idea to occasionally look behind you while carrying a bleeding fish.
How To Fillet Your Dinner
Remember back in your boyscout days you learned to scale a fish, de-fin it, gut it, cut off its head, and then pick through bones during dinner? Forget it! In Baja you are fishing for your dinner not sport and you are going to be too busy sailing to mess with all that rigmarole. Here is the way commercial fisherman all over the world turn a fish into dinner with elan:
Buy a sharp fillet knife at a sporting goods store. One with a sharp point, a curving blade, and one that is somewhat flexible is preferred. Bring a piece of plywood about 18″ by 24″ as a cutting board.
Pinch your fish firmly using both eye sockets (at this point some sailors may decide to go back to canned tuna).
Take your fish down to water. Starting at the top of the fish make a deep cut just behind skull of the fish. Cut until you hit bone. Without any undue modesty find the fishes anus. Then continue your cut keeping the blade parallel to the backbone while angling from the back of the skull towards target about an inch behind the anus. As you cut across the body, keep above the bulge where most of the guts are located. The first couple of times you may nick the stomach. Don’t panic as the fish’s last meal dribbles over your dinner. Just rinse the mess off in the ocean (do not use fresh water).
Once you have completed this first cut, hold your knife with the blade away from you and set it parallel to and touching the backbone. Cut the meat away from the backbone with long pulling or sawing motions of the knife. You will have to cut the skin on the fish’s back at the same time. Don’t mess with the fins. As your cut approaches the tail, leave about a half-inch of meat and skin attaching the fillet to the tail. Flip this fillet over the tail. Make a careful cut at an angle through the thin meat at the tail end of the fillet. Stop your cut when you reach skin.
Then, grasping the tail hold your knife parallel to the cutting board just between the skin and the meat and cut the meat away from the skin. It helps if your non-cutting hand pulls the fillet away from the skin as you cut. At first you will either leave too much meat on the skin or will leave patches of skin on the fillet. When you have your first fillet flip the fish over and remove the other fillet. Persevere! With practice you can do all of this in under a minute. Incidentally if your fish is under 9″, filleting may result in only scraps of meat.