Mexico Fishing Destination: La Paz, Baja California Sur

Great fishing in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez beckons visitors to La Paz.

When it comes to fishing destinations in Mexico’s Baja California, Cabo San Lucas receives much of the attention. Yet about 100 miles north, on the picturesque east coast of Baja, lies the city of La Paz, the territorial capital of Baja California Sur, with some of the finest fishing in the Sea of Cortez.

From Los Cabos International Airport, it’s a two-hour drive up to La Paz, which offers a more laid-back Baja experience than Cabo, as well as luxurious hotels, superb dining opportunities and a host of things to see and do besides fishing.

Last summer, my brother, Joe, and photographer/adventurer Jason Arnold, had a chance to sample of some of the fishing in the waters around La Paz as guests of the La Paz Tourism Board and Costa Baja Resort and Spa. Located just 5 minutes from downtown La Paz, this bayside resort includes a full-service marina, golf course, and five dining venues, among many other amenities.

We fished for two days, first aboard a super panga charter with the Baja Mosquito Fleet. The second day, we fished with Baja Pirates. On both days, we enjoyed great fishing for dorado (mahi) and inshore action in the channel between Isla Ceralvo and the Baja coast between El Saltito and La Ventura. Here are highlights of our La Paz adventure.

Espiritu Santo Island offers fertile fishing grounds
A multitude of beautiful bays and rocky headlands punctuate the shores and islands of the western Sea of Cortez near La Paz. Inshore waters, such as these at Espiritu Santo Island that stand guard outside La Paz’s sweeping bay, teem with cabrilla (grouper), pargo (snapper), robalo (snook), roosterfish, California yellowtail and more.Courtesy La Paz Tourism Board
Fishermen trolling for mahi south of La Paz
Anglers slow troll live bait for dorado (Spanish for mahi) in the channel between Isla Ceralvo and the eastern Baja coast south of La Paz aboard a super-panga center-console from the Baja Mosquito Fleet.Jim Hendricks
Brightly colored dorado caught offshore
A brightly colored dorado comes aboard. While none of the dorado we caught on our trip were huge, these waters can kick out some enormous bulls, as well as blue marlin, striped marlin, tuna and wahoo.Jim Hendricks
Marina Costa Baja boasts amazing amenities
Marina Costa Baja, adjacent to the resort, boasts 250 slips for boats from 30 to 200 feet in length overall, with pump-out stations, internet service, 24-hour security and more.Courtesy Marina Costa Baja
Mullet snapper caught off La Paz
Mullet snapper (pargo lisa) are reluctant biters and possess incredible strength. They quickly retreat to craggy lairs, leaving anglers with frayed nerves and busted lines. During our La Paz adventure, Jason Arnold finally landed this one after losing two others.Jim Hendricks
Flatiron herring used for bait
One of the most common live baits for charter boats in La Paz is the flatiron herring (sardina), which resembles a pilchard. Charter fishing boats purchase these live baits from local fishermen who cast-net for the herring along sandy beaches.Jim Hendricks
Isla Ceralvo offshore of La Paz
Eighteen-mile long Isla Ceralvo lies offshore from the La Paz region and offers great inshore fishing for snapper and grouper, while deeper waters off of the island attract a host of pelagic gamefish.Jim Hendricks
Capt. Eddie Carballo of the Baja Mosquito Fleet
Capt. Eddie Carballo of the Baja Mosquito Fleet scouts a beach off of El Rosario south of La Paz for signs of feeding roosterfish. His boat is a 25-foot super-panga center console, powered by a 90 hp Honda outboard.Jim Hendricks
Jason Arnold casts live baits
Working from the pulpit of a 23-foot Parker pilothouse boat, Jason Arnold casts live baits toward a beautiful sand beach. The Parker is one the boats in the Baja Pirates sport-fishing fleet, and it was skippered by Capt. Pico Martinez.Jim Hendricks
Costa Baja Resort and Spa
Costa Baja Resort and Spa served as a comfortable base for our La Paz fishing excursions. After a day of fishing, we could relax poolside and then enjoy dinner at Costa Baja’s Steinbeck’s Restaurant, named after the famous author, John Steinbeck, who wrote his novella The Pearl based on his adventures in La Paz.Jim Hendricks