Marlin Magic in Magdalena Bay

By T&T Pro Staff Cam Chioffi |

For me, the appeal of a fly fishing destination lies in the untapped nature and authentic culture that gives a place its unique identity. Outside Magdalena Bay there occurs a natural event so amazing it has been drawing divers and sportfishing boats from around the world for years. The Mexican sardine run starts as far south as Cabo and makes its way up north along the Baja peninsula.

Predators work together to corral the Sardines into bait balls. These feeding spectacles that occur offshore are some of the most exciting visuals you can experience in nature. Frigate birds, whales, tuna, mahi, dolphins, seals, and Striped Marlin follow the migration and work in unison to aggressively feed on sardines. Until you find the zone where life is, the ocean has a kind of vast desolate feel to it, like a desert. However, once you find the oasis of life, you know it's on.
I arrived in Puerto San Carlos, a small commercial fishing town nestled inside Bahia Magdalena, in October of 2023. Los Locos was opened up to guests by George VanDercook and Rudy Babakin in 2020. We now have a grasp on the habits of the bait and marlin offshore, as well as the vast angling opportunities that lie inside Magdalena Bay. On any given day in our winter season, the angler can expect to see shots at Marlin, Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna aggressively feeding on bait balls offshore. We target these fish by first finding birds, then sight casting at the bait balls on the surface with deceiver flies and poppers. As mentioned before, this fishery wasn’t undiscovered but rather highly coveted as the best destination for Striped Marlin fishing on the planet. The only catch was that no one was doing it with fly rods from a drifting boat.
The electric blue stripes of a Striped Marlin look like something out of an Avatar movie. You have heard the guides and hosts talk about the fishing and how insane it can be but have no frame of reference for what you are about to experience. The closest thing to relate it to is bull riding. Everything about the game is gripping. The visual of a lit-up marlin slashing its bill through a dumpster-sized ball of sardines gets your heart pumping.
As you load up a cast and let it fly, a voice in the back of your head questions your readiness for what is about to happen when you start double-hand stripping your fly through the bait ball. You track your fly as it begins swimming back to the boat, and you notice a fish break off the school. As it zeros in on your fly, you hold your breath and realize this is it. The fish breaches and comes bulldozing towards your fly to eat it. Your whole mind goes blank as you brace for impact. The next 30 seconds are absolute chaos. Anything in the way of stopping this fish is out of the question. The line comes tight and goes screaming through your white-knuckled hands as you watch loops of fly line shooting off the deck like a flung bowl of spaghetti. The fish is on your screaming reel, and it's off to the races. Now you can breathe.
I’ve been lucky to fish around the world with some very fun circles of people in the fly fishing industry. The team at Los Locos creates an environment for clients that accompanies the adventure and wild nature of this fishery perfectly. An unbelievable number of memories can be made in just a few hours of good fishing here. This operation is only possible because of the highly supportive community in San Carlos. A symbiotic relationship between Los Locos and the people of San Carlos represents a prime example of the positive impact that eco-tourism can have in small communities around the globe.
George and Rudy weren’t looking to start a lodge when they first went to Baja, but because of our relationship with the town of San Carlos, we now get to show world-traveled anglers one of the greatest spectacles you can see on the water. It’s my belief that because of the setting and story of this operation, our guests still feel that passion and exploratory nature every day we go out.

My rods of choice for this trip were the Exocett SS 350, 450, and the 12 wt Sextant.

They got bent by everything from Snook and Roosterfish off the beach to Yellowfin Tuna and Striped Marlin offshore. I liked the Sextant, especially for Marlin fishing, because of its light swing weight that reduces fatigue while you’re up on the bow frantically casting big flies for six hours.

12 weight Sextant bending with a fish on the other end in the middle of the bay.With one or two quick back casts, I was able to line up a moving shot at the bait balls and deliver an 8-inch fly, 70 feet, time after time. We typically fish 12 weights offshore and ten weights inshore. 450-grain sinking lines are chosen for quickly delivering big flies at a distance to the marlin; however, we always have intermediate or floating lines on board to fish topwater. It was awesome to get out and put these rods to the test in a fishery that is so demanding on your gear, and I can’t wait to be back down south chasing Roosterfish during our spring season this month.

Older Post Newer Post