If big-game fishing is not as good as it should be for this time of year in the southern Sea of Cortez, at least some of the blame should be leveled at Humboldt squid, which in recent weeks have wreaked havoc on sportfishing operations.
This is particularly true in the remote East Cape region between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz.
Large numbers of the predatory denizens, which can measure seven feet and weigh 100 pounds, have left their long-established habitat to the north off Santa Rosalia and mainland Guaymas, perhaps because of unusual changes in water temperatures.Many of them seem to have paused in East Cape waters, where they've been devouring schools of baitfish while themselves falling victim to predation by much larger game fish. As a result: fewer baitfish for the sportfishing fleets, and fewer hungry game fish willing to take a baited hook.
Mark Rayor, a local angler and guide, last week snagged and landed a marlin that "was so chucked full of squid it had tentacles hanging out of its gill plates." When the billfish was hauled aboard Rayor's boat, ink from the squid gushed from its mouth.
Some fishermen have been catching squid to use as bait. The sport anglers are using sliced chunks while commercial anglers are using squid eyeballs or intestines to catch snapper.
In recent days the abundance of squid appears to have substantially declined. But fishing is still odd for early April. Along with striped marlin, sailfish have arrived and this is much earlier than normal. But getting either species to bite has proved difficult.
Also, yellowfin tuna and dorado, normal springtime visitors to East Cape waters, remain conspicuously absent. Perhaps El Niño is to blame for all of this. Or maybe fishing will improve tomorrow, or the next day....-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Squid tentacle protrudes from the gill plate of a striped marlin caught off Baja California's East Cape region. The billfish have been feeding voraciously on Humboldt squid. Credit: Mark Rayor