Deep Sea Fishing in Cabo San Lucas: An Angler’s Guide
Sep 6, 2021 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

If you know anything about vacationing in Mexico, then “Cabo” needs no introduction. From the picturesque Arch of Cabo San Lucas to the stunning beaches and crystal clear waters, not forgetting the food and drink…it’s the quintessential holiday resort. But deep sea fishing in Cabo San Lucas is the cherry on the cake.

An aerial view of El Arco in Cabo San Lucas

Why? Just look at a map and you’ll see that Cabo is located in a perfect position to go offshore. Positioned at the tip of Baja California, this is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Big game species come swarming by, making their way from the not-so-far continental shelf to the warmer waters of the Gulf of California. That means that you can make your angling dreams come true on a fishing trip here.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the top deep sea targets in Cabo San Lucas. We’ll also let you in on the best techniques to land them. With an emphasis on top spots and local laws and regulations, too, by the time you’re done reading this you’ll be an expert. And we’re sure you’ll be thinking about booking a deep sea adventure in Cabo. 

Top Deep Sea Fishing Targets in Cabo San Lucas

Deep sea fishing means going for that record catch, and there are fewer better places on earth to do it than Cabo. World records have been broken numerous times here, while the number of anglers who’ve notched up a PB is countless. So let’s meet the all-star cast of the show…

Wahoo

Two anglers hold a Wahoo with the famous Cabo San Lucas arch in the background

While few anglers regard Wahoo as a “top” catch, they’re still pretty well-loved. Often referred to as anglers’ “most popular bycatch,” they offer plenty of fun during and after your trip. Wahoo are among the fastest fish in the ocean, meaning they’ll run away with your bait at breakneck speed. They’ll also fight you for every inch of your line, so get ready to work those muscles. 

Here, they grow to incredible sizes too. You know those world records we were talking about? Well the largest Wahoo on the planet was caught out of Cabo back in 2005. Weighing an incredible 184 pounds, it’s surely enough to tempt you to try your luck. Still not convinced? We haven’t mentioned the best bit – they also provide some delicious meat. And at 100+ pounds, there’ll be plenty of it!

Mahi Mahi

A male and female angler hold a Mahi Mahi each as a boat speeds offshore in Mexico

Much like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi are tough fighters and offer up a delicious treat at the end of the day. However, unlike Wahoo, many anglers love targeting them all over the world. We think that’s for one main reason – the fact that they’re so photogenic! These dazzling creatures light up the waters and make for great memories whenever you land one.

While they may not grow to world record sizes in Cabo San Lucas, they’re still much-loved by local and visiting anglers alike. And that’s because there are simply so many of them. Mahi Mahi inhabit these waters for the majority of the year, meaning you’re always in with a chance of landing one. Get ready to do battle to land yourself a delicious dinner.

Tuna

An angler holds a Yellowfin Tuna caught offshore from Cabo San Lucas

Tuna offer much the same as Wahoo and Mahi Mahi – and more! They’re possibly the most revered fish in the ocean. They’re a staple of every diet, from Australia to Argentina, India to Ireland, Japan to Jamaica… okay, I think you get the picture! Their meat qualities need no introduction but did you know how big they grow? And how many species there are?

Here in Cabo, you’ll get to target Skipjack, Bluefin, and Yellowfin Tuna, meaning there’s always the chance of a tasty Tuna fillet at the end of the day. Yellowfins in particular are in abundance here, as they love the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. Actually, the world record was also caught here back in 2012, weighing in at over 400 pounds. Not bad, eh?

Sailfish

Two anglers hold a large Sailfish offshore on a fishing charter

Tuna may have gotten us into the territory of serious game fish, but the next species on our list is a really special one. Arguably the most attractive and impressive fish in the sea, the Sailfish is among the best creature you could ever catch. And, when the season hits, you can find it pretty much everywhere out of Cabo.

What this dazzling fish has in looks, it matches in strength, too. While it may not grow as big here as in other parts of the world, it still reaches over 200 pounds. And it promises a serious battle. It’ll dive and run with your bait, smashing away, trying to use its bill to try and cut your line. Settle in for a long battle before landing that picture-perfect opportunity.

Marlin

Three anglers hold a large Marlin aboard a Cabo San Lucas deep sea fishing charter boat

While it may be another member of the Billfish family, Marlin truly stands apart – especially in this part of the world. This is a true bucket list fish for any serious anglers. And there are very few places better than going for it than in Cabo.

Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin all call these waters home at various times of the year. The former two can reach over 1,000 pounds, while the latter is available year-round. Get ready to test your skills and strength whenever you come, as these creatures will do everything they can to get off the end of your line. That includes leaping out of the water in an acrobatic display. If you manage to keep them hooked, you’ll have more than just an incredible story to tell.

And More

A smiling angler in a hat holds a Broomtail Grouper caught in Cabo San Lucas

These are just the pick of the bunch when it comes to deep sea fishing targets in Cabo San Lucas. There’s actually plenty more where they came from! Yellowtail Amberjack is a popular offshore catch, especially in the Sea of Cortez. Meanwhile, the reefs that fill the seabed are always crowded with fish such as Groupers.

If you’re heading to the serious deep waters, though, you can also get your hands on some even more elusive species. If you’re lucky, Swordfish may be biting in the depths, along with some seriously special deepwater Grouper. Elsewhere, Amberjack are also a popular catch, providing the all-round fun of a Wahoo or Mahi Mahi.

When to Go Deep Sea Fishing in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas harbor with the town in the background and boats in the foreground

With good weather throughout most of the year, Cabo San Lucas is a year-round holiday destination. And the fishing will also be excellent whenever you come. However, as with anywhere on the planet, there are some seasons you’ll want to be aware of if you want to make the most of your angling adventure. 

The offshore bite really picks up in summer and stays strong through the end of the year. This is when Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi show up in great numbers. Come earlier than this and experience peak Striped Marlin season in the first half of the year. At the same time, Amberjack and Groupers offer up a worthy supporting cast. 

Now, visiting in summer means that you’ll also catch Cabo during the warmer months where temperatures can get into the high 90s. Does that sound like the best time to engage in serious exercise? We suggest coming in fall for the best action and weather. Book early for October and December and you could take advantage of some serious deals, as most beachgoers visit in the first half of the year.

Deep Sea Fishing Techniques 

You know when to come and what you want to catch, but what about how to land that prized fish? In this section we’ll run you through some of the most common methods of catching fish offshore in Cabo. As you’ll most likely be fishing with a charter, your captain and maybe even a first mate will be on hand, so nothing will be too daunting.

Trolling

Six lines troll behind a fishing charter in Cabo San Lucas

You’re pretty much guaranteed to try trolling on your Cabo deep sea fishing trip. This is the mainstay of targeting big game species offshore, and all captains swear by it. You’ll spread multiple lines in the water as you steer around. This will give the fish the idea that your bait is actually a real fish swimming near the water tops, enticing them to bite.

You can try fast trolling or slow trolling, depending on your target, and you’ll most likely use artificial lures or dead bait. You can always chum to increase the action around the lines. But you can also just sit back and enjoy the ride before leaping into action to do battle when you hear the reels screech.

Bottom Fishing

An angler bottom fishes from a boat offshore in Cabo San Lucas

Fishing near reefs or structure? Even if you’re fishing near some of the underwater mounts that rise up offshore, you may try bottom fishing. This technique is a more hands-on way of fishing, as you drag your line near the sea bed or jig your bait in an attempt to mimic a real fish. 

This technique is particularly effective, unsurprisingly, for bottom feeders such as Groupers. But Amberjacks are also prone to feeding around structure too. In fact, any non-fussy eater can be caught with this bait, so if you’ve got a school of hungry fish nearby, try bottom fishing and you could just be in luck.

Deep Dropping

A deep-dropping rod hangs off the side of a fishing boat offshore from Cancún

Deep dropping is basically a more extreme version of bottom fishing. You’ll need to use this technique to fish the bottoms of the seriously deep waters. With lines reaching up to 2,000 feet, you’ll get to reach the spots that many other anglers simply can’t get to. It’s no surprise that most guides prefer electronic reels, as the manual labor required to lift a fish that far is serious. 

And not only that – the creatures you’ll be targeting in the deep are big. Really big. Here’s where you’ll find your Swordfish and deepwater Groupers. Along with their size, they also promise to put up a fight, so if you’re going to do anything manually, you’d better come prepared. In any case, your rewards if you get something aboard will be second to none.

Fly Fishing

Three anglers aboard a boat, with one holding a Sailfish in the water by the bill and another holding a fly fishing line

If you thought lifting a fish off the bottom of the ocean was difficult, try landing a 100 lb behemoth on the fly. That’s what some experienced deep sea anglers in Cabo love to do. This is a serious sportfishing challenge – going for Billfish or Tuna on the fly. 

As your target species like to feed near the surface, flies can work to get them onto the end of your line. However, you’ll need a serious amount of strength to reel ‘em in. This is not fishing for the faint-hearted, and we really recommend only trying this out if you have some prior experience with fly gear. Even then, it won’t be easy!

Cabo San Lucas Deep Sea Fishing Spots

We mentioned that you’ll most likely be heading out with a professional charter, so your captain will know where to go. But there are some spots you shouldn’t miss, such as:

  • Santa Maria Canyon: Just 10 miles offshore, this Billfish haven is one of the best places to go in the Sea of Cortez when looking for that trophy catch.
  • Gordo Banks: Even if the weather is bad, nothing stops the fishing here. This tucked away spot is your gateway to all the offshore favorites.
  • 1150 Banks: Another protected spot in the Sea of Cortez, the waters get seriously deep here, meaning plenty of action. Swordfish and even Sharks will be your main target. 
  • Cabo Falso Lighthouse: Heading round to the Pacific and this is possibly the closest deep sea fishing spot to dry land in the world. It’s not so deep, but plenty of curious Billfish come by.
  • San Jaime Bank: Remember we mentioned underwater mounts? The San Jaime Bank is full of them, offering up a bit of everything on the rocky bottoms and above.
  • Golden Gate Bank: Just north of San Jaime, this is Striper country. Come year-round and get your fill of these feisty creatures.
  • Finger Bank: You’ll need to head over 50 miles out to reach this spot, but it’s all worth it to find record-sized Marlin to land your personal best. 

Cabo San Lucas Deep Sea Fishing Regulations

An infographic stating "Cabo San Lucas Deep Sea Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background with a Mexican flag

Before you start booking your Cabo deep sea fishing trip, there are just a few legal issues you need to know. Every adult angler needs a fishing license to cast a line offshore. While some charters come with a license included or can get them for you, it’s vital that you check beforehand. Thankfully, getting one yourself is no issue. Just head over to the GOB’s website and get yours online. 

Mexico is also pretty relaxed when it comes to which fish you can and can’t catch. It’s pretty straightforward in that you can keep up to 10 fish per day. However, you may only catch five of any one species, and only one Billfish. A Billfish also counts as five of your daily allowance. Many captains, therefore, prefer to release these majestic creatures.

Before hopping aboard, you should also make sure that you and the crew are on the same page when it comes to what you can keep. Some charter operators like to keep all the fish for themselves or at least split it with you. Communicate beforehand with your guide and you’ll avoid any unpleasant situations. 

And You’re Good to Go!

A Marlin hangs next to a sign stating Cabo San Lucas while an offshore fishing boat returns to shore

So you’ve now heard all about Cabo San Lucas’s incredible deep sea fishing opportunities. There’s only one thing left to do – try it yourself! With the beaches, crystal clear waters, and restaurant and bar scene to add to the adventure, what more could you want from your vacation? Make Cabo your next stop, and we’re sure you won’t regret it!

Have you ever been deep sea fishing in Cabo? How was it? Got any tips to share with us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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