The secrets to success combine a smart strategy and the right lure choice.
The introduction and education I received as a young man exploring and fishing in Baja started some 30 years ago, the first time I visited the Sea of Cortez in 1968. The gentleman I worked for at the time owned a small plane and invited my brother and I to join him on a visit to Gonzaga Bay. That would be the beginning of a 30 year affair with the culture, people and fishing found only in Baja and the Sea of Cortez.
Although the first two days of fishing were meager at best, due to my lack of experience, we soon learned the proper way to fish this area from a great, old, local guide. Guillermo Smith. In time, what we learned proved to be the most consistent fish-catching strategy to use from San Felipe to Cabo San Lucas. Today, we have improved on some of the equipment and lures, but the basic approach is still the same as first demonstrated to my brother and I so many years ago.
STRATEGY FIRST AND FOREMOST
As soon as you leave the beach and have your lures tied on, begin trolling immediately. Chances are you will get that first strike within the first 150 to 350 yards of your start. This is the smart way to operate. If your goal is to increase your catch rate and the number of hookups on a multiple number of species, don't run to a reported hot spot or to working birds well off in the distance, or even that famed reef or island you may have read about.
In these productive Baja areas, begin where you are and only strike out for new water when you are certain that there are no fish present. Also, when inshore trolling, do not develop the mentality of targeting only one species. Fish to catch whatever is in the area. To limit species is to limit total success.
DEFINE YOUR PARAMETERS
The method for fishing shallow water is to slow troll at two to four knots, maximum. Supplement your trolling by casting swim baits to exposed rocks, boilers and over submerged shelves. If you're not at the helm, direct your skipper to run a pattern of zigzags or figure eights over the shelves, drop-offs or other detectable structure.
The advantage of using these small lures is you invite all the local resident fish to take a good look and take a bite. Using these smaller lures does not preclude the catching of larger fish. Your lure selection may also be expanded to include Luhr Jensen Krocodiles, Crippled Herrings, Stingers and the smaller II Sharp 25 iron jigs or four inch Fintas-tiks.
Each of these artificials should be tied directly to the line without swivels to give them the best possible, natural swimming action. What it all comes down to is the illusion management. Learn and understand that all gamefish, shallow water or deep water are creatures of habit and reaction. By becoming a "Master of Illusion" and inducing the inherent eating response, you will become one of the elite Baja anglers.