February 2008

Isla San Marcos Has Great Year-‘Round Fishing

By Capt. Chris Randel

“Winter yellowtail”: I know those two words are not spoken in the same sentence very often, but if you know where to go, they are.

Over the holidays, I loaded up my motorhome and Toyota 4 runner, grabbed a couple of fishing buddies and their gear, and headed south to the border at Tijuana. We crossed just as the sun rose.

We spent the entire day driving south on Baja California’s Highway 1 through Ensenada, San Quintin, El Rosario, and finally, Guerro Negro where we spent our first night in a hotel for $30.00 and had great tacos at Cowboy Tacos across the street.

The next morning, we made the three-hour drive east to Santa Rosali for a final fuel stop and headed south 10 miles to a beautiful trailer park called San Lucas Cove, nestled just east of Highway 1 on the Sea of Cortez.

The 1-1/2 day drive was just under 600 miles but well worth it because, as you roll into the park, there is a breathtaking view of the lagoon with Sea of Cortez and Isla San Marcos in the back drop seven miles off shore.

You can camp in a tent, camper, trailer, or motorhome here for $8 a night. They offer fresh, hot-water showers, toilets, a fish-cleaning station, and two boat-launch ramps — along with panga rentals with a local guide who speaks English — all for cheap.”

Isla San Marcos has some of the best year-round fishing for yellowtail, pargo, golden bass, and there were even a few dorado caught during our two-week stay when the water temperature was 58 degrees. In the summer months, target yellowfin tuna, marlin, and other gamefish.

Just outside the lagoon, you can make your own bait — like Spanish or Pacific mackerel or the local favorite big eye — using small-bait rigs with a sinker on the bottom. Or, if you like, fish light or heavy irons on a 40- to 50-pound outfit as these fish really put up a fight in shallow water.

For 50- to 130-feet-deep fishing, go northeast of the island on the panga to the 110 spot or the 50 spot. If you are going to fish bait, fish nothing less than 50-pound test with a 4.0 hook and 1-ounce slider sinkers and set the drag tight or you will get rocked fast — but what fun!

If you don’t feel like fishing every day, you can kayak in the lagoon or wait till low tide and dig up all the Chockolati mussels you want. And, if you like to ride dirt bikes or quads, there are endless trails to enjoy and I recommend the 10-mile trail up to the radio tower on top of the hill.

Remember to bring your camera, as the view is awesome! This place is really worth checking out. It’s also very important to have all your ducks in a row before you cross the border.

  • Bring your passport and stop at the border; get a tourist visa because you will be entering Baja Sur, and they will check for it at the immigration checkpoint.
  • Get a good Baja California map and plan your fuel stops at Pemex because there are a couple of 200-mile stretches between stations — or carry extra gas cans.
  • Never drive at night because there are some pretty dangerous curves in the hills, and you may encounter horses, burros, and/or cows standing in the middle of the road at any time.
  • Change some US currency into pesos as this will make all of your purchases a lot simpler. The basic formula is to drop the zero off the pesos (e.g., 450 pesos equal around $45, and remember that fuel is sold in liters.)

Capt. Chris Randel is the owner of MV Indian. Please visit www.indiansportfishing.com for more information.