The best fishing near La Paz takes place May–November, and the typical catch includes wahoo, dorado, and tuna as well as sailfish and blue, black, and striped marlin. The El Bajo seamount is exposed to the wind but has developed a legendary reputation for some of the biggest marlin, tuna, and dorado.
The waters around the far side of the Pichilingue Peninsula near Isla Cerralvo, Punta Arena de la Ventana, and Bahía de los Muertos have more consistent fishing than the bay and islands closer to La Paz. For this reason, many fishermen choose the relative ease of a one-hour van ride and launch at Punta Arena de la Ventana over the panga-pounding journey by sea to the same fishing grounds.
If the wind is blowing too hard to get to the pelagics offshore, you can try for inshore species such as barred pargo, snapper, mackerel, sea bass, and grouper. Ceviche made from fresh mackerel is a fine consolation prize for getting blown off the big water. The norm for inshore fishing is live sardines with a few thrown in around your bait as chum.
Roosterfish (pez gallo) are available in the Punta de la Ventana area and can reach world-record size. The all-tackle world record, weighing 51.7 kilograms, was landed off La Paz in 1960. In 2007 an angler caught an estimated 54-kilogram roosterfish, but it was never weighed.
Whether you are fishing or not, there is nothing more exciting than the moment when the spiked comb of the pez gallo breaks the surface of the turquoise waters and tears across a shallow bay on Isla Espíritu Santo. Your first instinct might be to run.
The fishing charter business in La Paz is well developed, with many professional operations, experienced captains, and well-appointed boats. Here are a few of the most popular choices:
Owned by Southern California native Jonathan Roldan, Tailhunter International (Obregón 755 btw Salvatierra/Torre Iglesias, cell tel. 612/125-3311, U.S. tel. 626/638-3383, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/825-8802, www.tailhunter international.com) often guides fly-fishing clients who want to catch roosterfish and dorado. It has two fleets: The La Paz boats head to Espíritu Santo and El Bajo; a separate Punta Arena fleet fishes the waters around Isla Cerralvo, Banco 88, and Bahía de los Muertos.
Jay Murakoshi’s C&J Fishing Adventures (Flies Unlimited, U.S. tel. 559/449-0679, www.fliesunlimited.com) specializes in saltwater fly-fishing in tropical destinations around the world and leads charter trips to Bahía de la Ventana. Jay also sells his own saltwater and surf-zone flies.
Baja Pirates (toll-free U.S. tel. 866/454-5386, www.bajapiratesoflapaz.com) has a fleet of eight boats, from a standard 22-foot panga up to cruisers and a 26-foot Bay Liner. Boats are equipped with life jackets, marine heads (on 210 or larger), tackle, gear, and ice chests (with ice), along with breakfast and lunch. This company has package deals that include airfare out of LAX.
Other charter services include Fishermen’s Fleet (tel. 612/122-1313, U.S. tel. 408/884-3932, www.fishermensfleet.com), specializing in complete panga packages. Fishing destinations include El Bajo, Isla Cerralvo, and Las Arenas. Owner David Jones has lived in La Paz with his family since the 1990s. His 38-foot Hatteras cruiser is a good option for large groups and multiday fishing trips.
The experts say if you bring your own gear, a seven-foot rod with something like Penn 500 loaded with 30-pound test will work for most situations. You can pick up fishing tackle and related supplies at Deportiva La Paz (Mutualisimo, tel. 612/122-7333), one block in from the Applebee’s on the malecón.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition