Kayak Fishing a Pacific Island Off Mexico, Part II

Share the excitement as adventurous kayak anglers tangle with sharks, yellowtail and other game fish around Cedros Island, Baja.

August 9, 2016
Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- over-under photo of angler and bass
What we came for — calico (kelp) bass. Here Okuma‘s John Bretza is about to release yet another bass that hit a Savage Gear Sandeel jig and tail. Adrian E. Gray


Cedros Island, roughly midway down the Baja pensinsula on the wild Pacific coast, has gained a reputation among Southern California calico (kelp) bass anglers as something of a holy grail. When a group of adventurous fishermen flew down to join Hobie Kayaks and explore Cedros Island fishing from kayaks, they found plenty of calicos — and some other species they hadn’t expected.
Catch the action in these 15 images and then see 15 more in a second gallery.

After you’ve seen these galleries, check out the images from another Sport Fishing Mexico kayak-fishing adventure, this one to Loreto on the Sea of Cortez, last year.

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- locator map
Located roughly halfway down the Baja peninsula on the Pacific side, the island is remote by any standard but still enjoys semi-regular air service from Ensenada. Courtesy Google Earth

Kayak Anglers Prepare to Launch

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- anglers prepare to launch their kayaks from the beach
A group of kayak-fishing enthusiasts, who’d flown in from Ensenada a day earlier, prepare to launch their Hobie Outbacks from a beach near Cedros Island’s salt-works and deepwater dock, visible in the background. Jeff Mariani’s Cedros Kayak Fishing operation provides housing, meals and transportation of fishermen and kayaks (overland or, via panga, over water) while on the island. Adrian E. Gray

Kayaks Perfect for Slow Trolling Off Cedros’ Deepwater Port

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- trolling off the island's deepwater port
Jeff Mariana pedals along at 3 knots, pulling a deep-diving plug in the dark waters off Cedros’ salt-works’ deepwater loading facility. It was here only a week earlier that he pulled in a new world-record grouper: See the next image. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

New World Record Grouper Caught in a Kayak

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- new world-record broomtail grouper
The last thing that Cedros Kayak Fishing owner Jeff Mariani expected to hit a surface iron jig as it fluttered maybe 40 feet down, in an area about 100 feet deep just off Cedros’ salt works, was this 108-pound broomtail grouper, which is now the IGFA all-tackle world record for the species. He made the catch not on heavy “bottomfishing gear,” but a surprisingly light, low-profile Okuma Komodo baitcaster. Courtesy of Kevin Nakada, Hobie

Cedros — Broomtail Grouper Central

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- angler lands a big broomtail grouper
Jeff Mariani has found broomtails to be much more common here than the few anglers who have fished Cedros ever realized. This one whacked a trolled Savage Gear Manic Prey Deep Diver. Adrian E. Gray

Tough Customer — Big Broomtail

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- broomtail grouper, underwater
Grouper this size are a real handful on medium spinning gear. Adrian E. Gray

Breakfast is About to be Served

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- local breakfast
Part of the early morning ritual with Cedros Kayak Fishing is breakfast at Coyito’s, where Coyito herself is busy preparing our fine repast (which includes goat birria, foreground, a particular favorite of mine). Adrian E. Gray

Transporting Kayaks Across the Island

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- crossing the island with six kayaks
With a good four-wheel-drive truck and a sturdy trailer, Jeff Mariani can transport six kayaks far across this big island, here headed to the western shore to fish the dramatic, steep cliffs and abundant reefs and boiler rocks where some of the island’s biggest calico bass hang out. Adrian E. Gray

Kayak-Fishing the Crazyquilt Labyrinth of Cedros’ Western Coast

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- fishing the rocky coastline
An hour after the previous photo was taken, Okuma’s John Bretza is on the water working the rocks and reefs. Note the spray that shows the wind is (a) offshore (fortunately) and (b) howling. That didn’t stop the intrepid angler from releasing dozens of bass in these productive waters, essentially never fished. Adrian E. Gray

Portrait of a Kelp Bass

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- portrait of a kelp (calico) bass
A prize for any angler in Baja or Southern California waters, calico (more properly, kelp) bass in the 3- to 6-pound range are common around Cedros, though much larger individuals inhabit the island’s nearshore waters. Adrian E. Gray

Trophy Cedros Island Yellowtail

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- trophy yellowtail
A long cast of a spinnerblade onto the top of a rock barely under the swells produced not another calico but a surprise for Jeff Mariani — this 40-pound yellowtail, after a long battle. Adrian E. Gray

Yellowtail Surprise

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- yellowtail
Like calico bass, California yellowtail are found mainly off Southern California and Mexico. Often the two species are caught in the same waters. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Now That‘s What I Call a Calico Bass

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- trophy calico bass
Even photographers need some time off: Our world-class photographer, Adrian E. Gray, got to spend a little time on rather than in the chilly Pacific and in short order caught some of the biggest bass of the day, such as this one on a Savage Gear Freestyler sinking glide bait. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Thresher CIty

Kayak fishing Cedros Island, Baja -- thresher shark on the kayak
In case you missed it in the first Cedros Island kayak adventure gallery, one of the high points of our four days on the water occurred when thresher sharks invaded the coast off the eastern side of the island. This one, taken by Jeff Mariani, was one of several hooked — most on surface iron but one or two on small Savage Gear Squish Erratic Fall Jigs Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

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