For those of us on the West coast of the United States and especially California… Cedros Island is a well known mecca for some insane Baja style fishing. For all of those that don’t know what Cedros Island is all about… let me shed some light on that for you.
Cedros Island is home to a wild, low pressure fishery that only a few locals can discern. The San Diego fishing fleet used to come to Cedros and wack em’, but those days are gone and the island is left to a handful of island fishing operations and only one kayak fishing outfitter… Cedros Kayak Fishing.
I brought my partners Nic Gadouas, Robert Field of YakFish TV and our good friend Jesse Landry to the island to give them their first taste of Cedros Island fishing. I was fortunate enough to come a few years back when Jeff Mariani was just getting started. I have been itching to get back and help Jeff’s dream become a reality. He laid the foundation, put in the time and now he is starting to see a lot of returning groups including team Fish Village.
From the very get go, the boys knew this trip was different. For starters, you don’t have boarding passes because Jeff arranges a private charter for the group. Groups range from 4-6 anglers which makes it perfect for buddy trips. It also makes for a cozy 2 hour flight over Baja California and the great Pacific Ocean. We drove down to Otay Mesa just southeast of San Diego and used the CBX Cross Border Crossing terminal which makes the airport portion of your trip a breeze.
The CBX terminal looks and feels like a airport terminal, but it isn’t. It is a safe place to get dropped off or leave your car, and after a few easy steps, you are at the Tijuana International Airport. Sounds crazy right… but it is super easy. We pay the CBX crossing fee, get visas using an automated kiosk, we await to hear from the pilot that they are ready, cross showing our receipt, run through immigration and then finally you walk straight to the plane. We arrive in the middle of Tijuana International Airport with modern food restaurants… even a Starbucks. 2 hours later we are on Cedros Island. I can’t stress enough how easy and stress free this experience is.
Two very loud hours later we land on the island greeted by the team sitting at the end of the tarmack. Within minutes we opened the doors, unloaded our gear and was handed an ice cold Tecate. Just what the doctor ordered.
One of the best parts of this trip is the lack of airport nonsense. Within 10 minutes of landing we are in Jeff’s truck heading to his place. A quick 10 minute drive later we were at Casa de Mariani. Jeff is a builder by trade and you can tell once you step on his property. It feels like an oasis on a desolate arid island. We got the quick tour and found ourselves stuffing our faces (OK, admittedly it was me) with some delicious authentic bean and cheese burritos… Simplistic, yet delicious.
We shared war stories and prepped our gear for 2.5 days of fishing. There may have been a few tequila shots in between there as well. We geared up and prepared to battle massive island yellowtail. Last time I was there my arm practically fell off from speed winding in heavy irons attached with yellowtail attached. The faster you worked the iron, the bigger the yellows got.
Initially the bite was slow until we heard Jeff hooting and hollering… he is louder than me which just fires me up. Jeff stuck a good size yellow and then it turned on. The boys on the pangas started wacking em and then Rob stuck one. We were throwing surface irons, huge swimbaits and stick baits and the bonito were destroying them. Only a few lucky casts got through to our target species. Jesse and I got destroyed by the bonito, it went from fun, to not funny to funny again. Though we landed a few quality fish… we knew the island had a lot more in store for us.
We changed gears the next day and charged across the channel to Chester’s magical calico fantasy land. Rob and Nic have very little calico experience which hindered them for about 10 minutes. Because once they got all up in the kelp and figured out how to get the calico’s fired up it was on like Donkey Kong. For those that haven’t fished with Jeff, his energy is unreal. He gets so fired up for every fish. That energy spreads across the group like illness… a fish catching illness.
2 fish, 5 fish, 10 fish, 20 fish… a PB, another PB, ANOTHER PB. It was a riot. Reebs weedless Persuaders were the ticket to fun town for me. I have had this big bag of weedless swim baits for a couple of years now and never really got to use them… until now. Burned through about 10 in a few hours. Those toothy critters destroy plastics… it is just part of the game. Jeff and the crew proved that if your plastic had good action and you acted like a bait fish… the calico’s couldn’t resist.
Any freshwater bass fisherman should consider doing this trip. These feisty guys rip line, bust leaders and dance out of the water when they are agitated. I am not a bass guy, but when I go to Cedros… I am a bass guy! By the looks of Rob (below), I would say that he really likes calico bass fishing now too. Did I mention that I love my Canon R. #nofilter
On our last day we ditched the yaks (because we only had about 4 hours) and we jumped on the pangas to head out in search of California sheephead and a few more species to knock off the list. Conditions were damn near perfection, glassy water, little to no wind, clear skies and biting fish. We got to jigging and started convincing some whitefish to eat our Catch Beta Bugs. These lures have proven to be successful in multiple fisheries across the US, and Australia, New Zealand and now Mexico.
We mixed up jigging with some chunk bait bottom fishing and that is when the fishing factory started up. Sheephead after sheephead fell for the ol’ classic chunk bait and switch. They got the bait, but they also got hooked. I turned that delicious sheephead into some of the best ceviche I have ever made.
We made a few stops, fly the drone and then proceeded to wack a few more yellowtail before we called it quits for the day. Jesse finished the day with a couple more yellows ripping a surface iron as fast as you could wind. What more can you ask for. We laughed, we slayed, we mowed down some delicious Mexican cuisine, we released a lot of fish and we captured it all for you to see.
Robert Field’s Field Trips: Cedros Island Mexico is live now on YouTube, check out the first episode here. These pics are just a taste of the quality content we captured during our short 4 day trip. I can’t wait to see the rest of Rob’s series. #lovingit