Baja's East Cape, A Kayak Fisherman's Paradise
Pacific Coast Sportfishing - November 2003
Written by Jim Sammons of La Jolla Kayak Fishing

With the explosion of kayak fishing in southern California, avid kayak anglers are looking for the chance to land bigger fish in exotic locations. Kayak fishermen are being lured to distant locations by the opportunity to land such fish as Roosters, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado, even Sailfish and Marlin. All of these fish can be had just a short plane ride from California, along the Baja coastline of the Sea of Cortez.

If you have lots of time, and you like adventure, you can drive down the Baja peninsula, exploring untouched fishing spots as you go. If you want to do this right, you need several vehicles and plenty of time. For many a better option is fly into Los Cabos and drive back into the Sea of Cortez to one of the resorts dotting the East Cape region of Southern Baja. Leaving out of San Diego, you can be fishing less than four hours from the time your plane leaves the ground. Baja's East Cape truly is a kayak fisherman's paradise.

The advantages of kayak fishing are many fold. On recent trips, anglers on cruisers and pangas would run over fifty miles offshore in search of tuna. On a run of this length, the anglers would only get a couple of hours of actual fishing. If they did not find fish fast, they came back empty handed. During that same period, a kayak angler could spend six to eight hours with a line in the water, often landing trophy Roosters and Dorado a stones throw from the beach. On a kayak, you are your own captain and any fish landed or lost can be blamed on no one other than yourself, you will definitely know the feeling of you against the fish as you are being dragged across the water by your opponent.

Although many resorts claim to be great kayak fishing destinations, what many anglers have found at these locations are kayaks in different stages of disrepair, broken paddles, no seats or kayaks that are just not safe. Often times the advertised kayaks, do not even exist. If planning a trip down south be sure to speak with someone that has been to your desired destination and can vouch for the equipment on hand.

Several resorts have embraced kayak fishing as an alternative for their guests, and have a fleet of kayaks outfitted and ready to fish. One resort that has jumped to the forefront of kayak fishing destinations is the Hotel Punta Colorada. This season Punta Colorada made an investment in a fleet of new, top end; Ocean Kayaks all outfitted with multiple rod holders, top quality seats and paddles. These are not just kayaks that you can use to fish, they are fishing kayaks ready to cover miles in search of large prey. Punta Colorada, being closer to the fishing grounds than any other East Cape resort, ensures the kayak angler many opportunities at the fish of a lifetime.

Although the fishing is great right in front of the hotel, with the blue water so close to shore, it is easy to find yourself plying the water several miles off shore in search of bull Dorado, Tuna or even Marlin. If the blue water is where you want to fish, always stay aware of the weather conditions. The wind can pick up rapidly in Baja and can get you in a lot of trouble fast. Before heading offshore be sure to let someone know your plans, where you are planning on fishing and what time you expect to be back. Carry a VHF radio and fish with a partner if you can. If you must fish alone, it is best to keep closer to shore, not that that is a bad thing. Many of our biggest fish will be landed just a few short paddle strokes from the sand.

Many methods of fishing are used in the East Cape; fly's, jigs, Rapalas, and Croc's will all get you fish, but if you want a shot at the real trophy fish, live bait can't be beat. If heading south make sure to bring something to carry live bait either a bait sled for a few bait or live bait tank to keep you supplied all day. Getting up early and meeting the bait panga out in front of the hotel can insure you some great fishing. The bigger baits like mackerel or mullet will cost you two dollars apiece but are worth the money if you want a shot at a big fish. Taking frozen squid with you on your trip can mean the difference between a successful trip, and going home empty handed, so pack some in your cooler you will not regret it. Everything from Triggerfish and Pargo to Dorado will gladly eat frozen squid. If you catch a skipjack, cut some strips as great bait for Dorado.

The light tackle aspect of kayak fishing is another of its appeals, rarely will you find the need to fish line over twenty pound test and often large fish can be landed on much lighter line, although with many sharp toothed fish inhabiting these waters a heavier leader is often required.

It is a good idea to bring the full spectrum of hooks sizes, as you may find yourself fishing with a two inch Sardina or a fourteen-inch Mullet. Sizes from 1 to 6/0 should cover your needs; I have found the small ringed hooks work great for the Sardinas. A supply of swivels and sliding sinkers for fishing the Pargo and Pompano should not be overlooked.

A good supply of floating broken back Rebels is a must for fishing over the inshore structure. Everything that swims down there seems to love them. We will generally remove one of the treble hooks to aide in releasing of the fish. The fish in Baja will put you and your tackle to the test, so make sure your reels are tuned and filled with fresh line.

A great way to experience East Cape kayak fishing is on a group trip. What better way to learn the area and techniques needed than with a guide that has been fishing the waters on a regular basis? You also have the chance to fish with like-minded anglers doing the kind of fishing you enjoy. La Jolla Kayak Fishing runs several trips to hotel Punta Colorada every year. The all-inclusive trips include a panga on the water as a support vessel. The panga is used to carry bait, keep your catch, or to tow the kayaks offshore to the fishing grounds. You also have the advantage of having a pangero with you that knows the local waters, what is biting and what is working to catch the fish. These group trips are appropriate for all levels of kayak anglers. The advanced kayak angler has the chance to catch a real trophy; the beginner gets several days of guided instruction and will leave the trip a much better kayak fisherman.

On our most recent group trip to Punta Colorada, we had a day in which our clients landed seven Roosterfish, five of which were in the fifty-pound class. A couple of days later we landed a rooster that pushed seventy pounds. During that same time another kayak angler fishing at Ranch Leonero landed a 180 lb blue Marlin. You can see that landing very large fish is possible from a kayak, having a group of other kayakers around cheering you on just makes it that much more fun.

Although the kayaks are rigged for fishing, you should bring some of your own items to make you fishing more productive and enjoyable. These items include a portable fish finder, hand held VHF, GPS, paddle and rod leashes, bait tank or sled, fishing tools such as dykes, knife and Boca grip, waterproof camera, gaff, sea anchor and lots of sunscreen. This is just a partial list; you can see a full list and more information about group kayak fishing trips at the La Jolla Kayak Fishing Web site

Whether you join a group trip or go solo, drive or fly you will not regret a trip kayak fishing in the East Cape.

For more information, please visit our Web site or give us a call at the La Jolla Kayak Fishing office (619) 461-7172.