Fall's Yellow Frenzy
When offshore fishing cools down, the second big fishery in San Carlos ignites: Wintertime yellowtail action here is legendary and is usually in full swing by late fall. "We usually start chasing yellowtail in November, when the water cools off, and continue till April or May, when the water temps rise again and the pelagics move in," says Capt. Almada.
Most captains prefer jigging in 80 to 300 feet of water for yellowtail, which average 18 to 20 pounds, though 30-pounders are not uncommon. Almada uses Shimano and Accurate reels loaded with 40- to 65-pound braid to quickly pull these powerful fish off structure. He warns, "If you are undergunned and trying to jig deep with light tackle, you will lose quite a few jigs, and they don't come cheap!"
Almada targets San Carlos yellowtail along the rocks surrounding the north and south ends of Isla San Pedro Nolasco, which juts out of the Sea of Cortez approximately 16 miles northwest of the marina entrance. This area reliably produces the biggest fish, as well as catches of snapper and grouper. Anglers can usually expect eight to 10 yellowtail on an average day. "On a hot bite you can catch more than that in 45 minutes, but your back pays for it!" Almada says. "We've had days where we get a fish on every drop during a hot bite."
Almada also trolls for yellowtail on occasion, using braided line and short mono or fluoro leaders tipped with Rapala X-Raps. Live baiting also produces fish.