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Flyfishing in the Sea of Cortez

By Jim Terborg and Jim Pickell

What kind of person wakes up at 4:30 AM with a smile?  A fisherman.  On this morning of Dec. 30, Jim Pickell from Todos Santos, and Jim Terborg, visiting from Oregon, were going fly-fishing outside La Paz at Bahia de los Suenos in the Sea of Cortez with La Paz guide and local Leo Bishop.

Our morning drive began on this chilly morning (about 50 degrees) at 5:00 am with a star filled black sky that turned into a beautiful sunrise near El Triunfo. By 6:30 am we were looking at sailboats docked in the bay and fishermen casting nets for sardina, the local bait.

Catching Bait at Sunrise in Baja de los Suenos

After paying 200 pesos (about $15) for more sardinas than you could count, Efrain, our captain revved up the 90 hp Honda 4-stroke outboard and headed out in our panga.  These boats are designed to provide a smooth and dry trip regardless of weather, but we had calm water with gentle swells.  Perfect for casting the flies Jim Terborg tied while thinking about the trip in Oregon.

Jim Terborg’s home tied white fly with a green tint seemed to do the trick today and it wasn’t long before the first of many Bonita was landed and the layers we were wearing for warmth started peeling off.  Even on a 10wt fly rod, these fish put up quite a fight with repeated runs into the depths that bent the rod nearly in half.

For some diversity, Jim Pickell tried trolling some live bait and caught a Ladyfish, a Green Jack, and a Cabrilla (sea bass), which we kept for dinner. The captain offered to filet the fish before we left. Afternote: it was as tasty as Leo promised!

Leo, who moved to Baja years ago from British Columbia, provided drinks, lunch, fishing rods, and instruction. While Leo specializes in fly-fishing, he indicated many of his clients use conventional fishing gear.  However, he estimated that about 20% of the clients in the area are now using fly rods so it’s clearly a growing niche.

The Home Tied Fly Wins Every Time

By 1:00 pm the fishing slowed down and we called it quits.  We never hooked a Dorado, but that is why they call it “fishing” and not “catching.”  With over 10 fish, we actually did well, especially considering that December is one of the “off months” for most local fish.

Jim Terborg planned a second trip with Leo when he comes back to Todos Santos in March.  Jim Pickell hopes he’s invited again:) Next time the season would likely call for fishing outside out of La Paz and we could expect many different type of fish.

The drive home included fresh squeezed lemonade and a fresh baked cheese and rosemary loaf for the road at the Il Triunfo Café, a beautiful restaurant and bakery in El Triunfo (with great thin crust pizza) located adjacent to the former silver mine (a great place for a day trip with plenty of hiking and photo opportunities).

We pulled into Todos Santos at 2:30 pm, just in time for Jim Terborg to take a nap before going to the beach to look for whales and enjoy another magical Todos Santos sunset.


How to Get There: The drive takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Todos Santos. Here’s a map from Todos Santos to the launch in Los Planes (Bahia de los Suenos). Seems like it’s about 75 miles, most on well-paved highways.

View Flyfishing – Todos Santos to Bahia de los Suenos in a larger map

What to Bring: The only things you need are sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

Cost: About $300 all inclusive for the guide, food, gear, gas etc.

How to Book:  You can find more information and book Leo as your flyfishing guide by clicking here.

La Paz Fishing Season:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Marlin Azul / Blue Marlin
Marlin Rayado / Striped Marlin
Pez Vela / Sail Fish
Sierra / Sierra
Jurel / Yellow Tail
Atun / Yellow Fin Tuna
Pez Gallo / Rooster Fish
Pez Fuerte / Amberjack
Wahoo / Wahoo