Fishing south of the border

A full bait well of sardine and bait guys casting for sardina.

My annual summer fishing trip to Baja California Sur this year brought a welcome surprise. My fishing companions and I noticed in hotel fishing reports that bait — sardina or Harengula thrissina — that had disappeared the past several years was recently in abundant numbers and of good size.

A quick e-mail down to our boat contacts confirmed this report to be true. The sardina or Flatiron Herring had indeed returned. Still, we were a bit skeptical because we felt that overfishing had doomed it much like it had the Pacific sardine industry in California’s Monterey Bay area.

We arrived about midday and the caretaker was there shortly after we arrived to let us into the house we have rented for about nine years now. We quickly settled in and got our beach fly rods ready for the evening fishing in front of the house.

Dorado put on tremendous aerial displays when hooked.

After dinner we walked down to the beach and began fishing. We could see bait in the water and occasionally some would leap out of the water, obviously being chased by some predator. We caught and released small jack crevalle and ladyfish that evening.

The next day we spent on the beach fishing, did a little grocery shopping and had a great lunch in Los Barriles. For the fishing, we tried clouser minnows and see-through deceiver patterns mimicking the sardina. Confirmation that the sardina were back came when I hooked a smallish roosterfish on a deceiver and lost it. A little while later, I hooked another roosterfish of about 10 lbs. and landed it.

While those were the only roosterfish of the trip, the boat fishing the next day convinced us of the sardina’s comeback. We were able to get a tank full of nice-sized sardina. It was a sight that we had not seen in years. Apparently, the typically normal water temperatures had returned this year and so had the sardina.

With that bait, we were able to catch yellowfin tuna and dorado, a dolphinfish also called mahi-mahi in Hawaii. We had not seen the dorado in numbers for years, as well, but this year they were back in good numbers and good sizes.

One of the best experiences when out on the boats is when a school of dorado follow one that is hooked and we cast to them with the fly rods and catch them. Dorado put on tremendous aerial displays when hooked. With the sardina, the captain can hold a school around the boat, something we have not been able to do in a long time.

We also fished the bottom and caught red snapper and amberjack. Both of these fish make excellent fare.

The weather was some of the best that we had had for our fishing since we have been going down there: light winds and calm seas. Because of the light winds, it was very hot.

The only downside for us was seeing a Four Seasons hotel project taking shape at the marina in La Ribera where we meet our boat captains. Completion of this and the additional development is sure to change the quality of our fishing experience in the future. Old Mexico will be gone when this development is completed.


Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 137 cfs and the outflow is 141 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been fair to good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | All tributaries are open to all fishing until Sept. 30. Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 137 cfs. This flow is up slightly from last week. Nymphing and dries should both work at this level. Dry dropper rigs are also recommended. Hatches are similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is best early in the season and the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Stampede Reservoir | The road will be closed over the dam for construction this through 2018. Access to the boat ramp will be through the Hobart Mills side. Fishing has been fair from shore. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The kokanee fishing is still producing for those in the know. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 241 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 263 cfs. Fishing has been fair for those working hard. Best area to target is below where Prosser Creek comes into the Truckee River downstream to the state line. Lots of bugs now: Caddis, PMD and Little Yellow stones are on the menu. Grasshoppers are in full swing. Water temperatures are up. Carry a thermometer and quit fishing if water temps get above 68 degrees F. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches during the regular trout season.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair at best. Cooler temperatures should return and we can start fishing these waters again.


Bruce Ajari
Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.