¡VIVA MÉX­ICO!

CRUIS­ING SOUTH WARD ALONG BAJA’ S COAST LINE, WE FOUND OUR SELVES ATONE OF CA PT. BARRY BRIGHTEN BUR G’ S FA­VORITE SPOTS. ALL THREE AN­GLE RS ON BOARD DROPPED BA ITS, THEN ONE, TWO, THREE, EVERY ONE HOOKED UP THE IN­STANT THE BA ITS REACHED BOT­TOM, AND WE A

Saltwater Sportsman - - Top Shot -

Fog draped the Pa­cific waters when we left San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, so Bright­en­burg cau­tiously pi­loted the boat to­ward the Mex­i­can bor­der, just 8 miles be­low Point Loma, at the en­trance to San Diego Bay. In an hour, we were fish­ing in 300 feet of wa­ter off Bahia Des­canso, 20 miles south of the bor­der.

Our tar­gets on this win­ter day were Pa­cific rock­fish and ling­cod, but when pur­su­ing Pa­cific bot­tom­fish, va­ri­ety is one of the high­lights. More than 80 species of rock­fish in­habit North Amer­ica’s Pa­cific waters: ca­nary, cop­per, green-spot­ted, olive, rosy, starry, ver­mil­ion and yel­low­tail rock­fish, to name a few. Then throw in ling­cod, Cal­i­for­nia sheep­head, ocean white­fish, and many other bot­tom species, and you never know what you might hook.

WHY MEX­ICO?

Why travel deep into Mex­i­can ter­ri­tory? The an­swer is Cal­i­for­nia’s fish­ing reg­u­la­tions, which close fish­ing for rock­fish in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary. That’s when So­cal an­glers tra­di­tion­ally turn to bot­tom­fish­ing, but with rock­fish closed in the Golden State dur­ing the win­ter months for the past few years, and with Mex­ico al­low­ing the year-round take of rock­fish, ling­cod, sheep­head, white­fish, and other bot­tom species, head­ing south of the bor­der has be­come an ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tive.

FIND­ING STRUC­TURE

The key to find­ing rock­fish is lo­cat­ing struc­ture, such as wrecks, in depths rang­ing from 90 to well over 350 feet.

You might have a book full of rock­fish spots in your Cal­i­for­nia home waters, but the first few trips into Mex­i­can waters you will need to spend some time look­ing for the right kind of bot­tom and fish marks, or hire a guide to help show you the way. If you’re a new­comer to Mex­ico rock­fish­ing, one way to lo­cate likely fish­ing spots is by sub­scrib­ing to fish­dope.com, which of­fers a list of rock­fish ar­eas, in ad­di­tion to fish­ing re­ports.

50-FATHOM FREE­WAY

As a start­ing point, search with your fish fin­der along the 50-fathom curve that stretches south­ward from the Coron­a­dos to a seamount known as the Fin­ger Bank, then un­du­lates around the bank and turns in­shore off Bahia Des­canso to fol­low the coast­line south­ward, tak­ing a tor­tu­ous route around San Miguel Canyon, Isla de To­dos los San­tos, Banda Canyon and Cabo Punta Banda off Ense­nada, some 60 miles be­low the bor­der.

Un­like reg­u­la­tions in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, which pro­hibit bot­tom­fish­ing be­yond 350 feet, Mex­i­can reg­u­la­tions per­mit rock­fish­ing at any depth, though bear in mind that they pro­hibit the use of elec­tric reels, so it’s all hu­man power on deep-drops.

While some of the big­gest rock­fish and ling­cod come from depths of 300 feet or more, “You might find suit­able

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