Fishing in La Paz: A Complete Guide
Jul 13, 2020 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Magnificent beaches, crystal clear waters, and a real taste of Mexico are just some of the things that attract tourists to La Paz. Unlike its southern neighbors on Los Cabos, the capital of Baja California Sur has retained a sense of identity, and is a shining light in a sea of crowded resorts. Come fishing in La Paz, and you’ll discover the true beauty of this town, BCS, and the Sea of Cortez.

An aerial view of the city of La Paz and the bay in Baja California Sur

Not only does the town look out onto the famous Gulf of California, but it also has its own bay, protected from the deep waters. These mangroves attract a range of prized inshore fish, while the hundreds of islands out beyond the inlet offer another dimension to a fishing adventure here. Don’t forget about the offshore opportunities, either. You’re more likely to find a trophy catch here than almost anywhere else in Mexico!

So without further ado, let’s dive in and see what this fishing paradise has to offer.

What fish can I catch in La Paz?

Jacques Cousteau referred to the Sea of Cortez as “the world’s aquarium,” and we agree. The list of fish you can target here is almost endless! Get ready to encounter a who’s-who of Mexican and Pacific fish species, along with a star-studded supporting cast of sea mammals and more. Whether inshore, nearshore, or offshore, you’re in for a real treat. 

Roosterfish

An angler holds a large Roosterfish caught fishing in La Paz

Arguably Central America’s most-prized fish, this unique creature is a stalwart of the inshore and nearshore fishing scene in La Paz. Growing to incredible sizes here, it’s a fish that dreams are made of. Dazzling and exotic, it’s everything you could want out of a Mexican fishing adventure, and it’s sure to leave you out of breath and gobsmacked.

As tempting as this fish is, there are strict regulations to help conserve it for future generations, so you’ll be practicing catch and release. But that’s no worry! These creatures put up an incredible fight and the chance of a selfie alongside one is surely enough to get you casting your line. Hit the bay or cast from the islands. Fly fish or bottom fish, and you can land a true beauty. 

Yellowtail Amberjack

Two anglers hold a Yellowtail Amberjack caught in La Paz

From San Francisco to Costa Rica, Yellowtails are a favorite of nearshore and offshore anglers, and some of the best fishing can be found in the Sea of Cortez. The islands attract hungry creatures that look to feed on a whole host of smaller fish and crustaceans. Bring pretty much any bait and you’re sure to attract a fish.

While the fun may not be in the chase with this one, the battle is certainly worthwhile. Bottom fish or troll to entice the bite and settle in for a serious fight. Beware of the fish yanking your line to the deeper reefs, so bring your A-game to reel ‘em back up. The best time of year is November–April, so you’ll work up a sweat even in the coldest months!

Mahi Mahi

A woman holds a Mahi Mahi caught fishing out of La Paz

Another popular catch along the Pacific coast, this dazzling green-yellow fish is actually a global favorite. Known as “Dorado” in Spanish, it’s a staple of the Sea of Cortez fishing scene and the La Paz diet. Beautiful, tough-fighting, and delicious in equal measure, this is a true all-round fish. Rest assured, you’ll find something you like about it, too. 

Unlike elsewhere, Mahi Mahi come staggeringly close to shore in La Paz, so you can get your fill of tasty meat on a trip as short as a couple of hours. Troll for the best results of hooking this beauty, and leap into action when you hear the reels screech as you enter a worthy battle to land your dinner. 

Yellowfin Tuna

An angler holds one Yellowfin Tuna with four others lying in front of him on the boat, caught in the Sea of Cortez

Yellowfin Tuna is also an all-round fish, and comes right up close to shore in La Paz. Fishing the Sea of Cortez is pretty much synonymous with filling your cooler with Yellowfin Tuna, and that’s because these fish just love the warm waters that are at their mercy here. 

You can target these strong, monstrous fish pretty much year-round out of La Paz, with the areas around some of the more remote islands proving to be particularly fruitful. The season hits its peak in the summer months, when a whole load of other fish show up. But whenever you come, you’ve got the chance to land yourself a prized species. 

Marlin

Two anglers hold a Marlin caught fishing the Sea of Cortez

If there’s Marlin swimming nearby, chances are it’s going to make the list of top targets in the area. Arguably the world’s most sought-after big game fish, this Billfish is a joy to behold as it leaps out of the water in an attempt to get off the end of your line. But what makes it so special here? 

Well, La Paz and the Sea of Cortez are home to three different Marlin species. This means you can target these acrobatic beasts any time of the year. Striped Marlin are in vogue pretty much 365 days of the year, while Blue and Black Marlin show up in summer. Sailfish are also on the menu between April and October, meaning that it’s a Billfish bonanza come the warmer months!

How to Go Fishing in La Paz

So now you know what you want to catch, but what’s the best way to land the fish of your dreams? As a town built around marine life, La Paz offers plenty of options for how to get your fish on. Here are our picks of the most effective ways to land that trophy catch and fill the cooler!

La Paz Panga Fishing

A panga boat lies in the sands in Baja California Sur

You’ve probably chosen La Paz over Los Cabos in order to get a real taste of Mexico. What better way to make the most of it than by going fishing on a traditional Mexican fishing boat? These vessels are typical all around the country and are a great, budget-friendly way of getting out on the water. 

Rent a boat, buy one, or follow an experienced guide and discover the riches of La Paz’s fishing scene. While you’ll want to make a trip across the bay, the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez mean that these vessels are suitable even for an offshore adventure. Whether fly fishing, trolling, or even kite fishing, these boats will give you a helping hand.

La Paz Shore Fishing

A man casts from the beach in Baja California Sur

While fishing from a Panga may be cheap and effective, there’s nothing quite like the charm of setting up camp for the day and fishing from the surf. This worldwide popular pastime is possible in La Paz and can yield great rewards, provided you pick the right spot. Head out of town to quieter beaches or cast from some of the deserted islands, and get your fish on.

You’ll need to make sure that you’re at least 250 meters (around 820 feet) from any swimmers, so the beaches a short drive north are recommended. For the best results, hire a 4×4 and explore the more secluded sands, or head to some of the jetties that stick out into the water. Wherever you go, you’re sure to find your own world of La Paz fishing.

La Paz Kayak Fishing

A kayaker paddles along the calm inshore waters out of La Paz as the sun sets

Somewhere between shore fishing and panga fishing, kayak fishing is a great way to get out on the water on your own and explore a range of fishing grounds. As we mentioned earlier, the Sea of Cortez’s waters are incredibly calm. This means that you can hop in a kayak and explore even offshore waters, as well as the inshore shallows. 

Head out with a guide or rent a kayak and go out from La Paz itself, or set sail from the ocean. Whatever you decide, you’re in for a thrilling time. Pedal or row yourself to the sweet spots, and maneuver your line to entice the bite of some prized fish. Who knows? You may even attract the bite of Marlin, Sailfish, and Sharks, as some lucky kayak anglers have managed before!

La Paz Fishing Charters

A large yacht sails along the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez

Just as Marlin will always be on the list of fish to target, fishing charters will always be on the list of fishing styles. From a panga to a monstrous offshore sportfishing vessel, a charter can mean different things depending on what you book in La Paz. However, whatever you choose, a charter is the best way to almost guarantee success.

With a professional guide and all the gear provided, you’ll head to the sweet spots to get your fish on. If the fish aren’t biting, there’s no effort required from your end. The captain will just turn on the engine again and take you to where they are biting! Sit back, enjoy the ride, and get ready to go after a range of incredible fish on what promises to be a day out to remember.

Where to Go Fishing in La Paz

One thing you may not know about La Paz is that it’s home to the three of the leading marine biology institutes in all of Latin America. The underwater ecosystems of the bay, reefs, and deep waters offshore lend themselves to a whole range of fish, so it’s no surprise that there are more fishing spots here than you could shake your rod at.

It’s tough to make a shortlist of the best spots to go, but we’ve given it a try. Here are our top picks of where to go:

  • Tecolote Beach: A thirty-minute drive up the coast, the peninsula sticks out into the Sea of Cortez offering great nearshore fishing opportunities. Hit the jetty and discover some of the best shore fishing in La Paz.
  • Espirito Santo Islands: This archipelago just out from La Paz is home to deserted islands, stunning beaches, and a whole range of incredible marine life. Whether on a boat or on shore, there’s sure to be something biting.
  • Cerralvo Island: Also known as Jacques Cousteau Island, this is the number one island for fishing probably in the whole of the Sea of Cortez. Slightly further offshore, it offers the best big game action around.
  • The Sea of Cortez: Okay, so we may be cheating with this one! But with hundreds of islands, plenty of bays, and deep waters on offer, we encourage you to explore as much as possible of it.

When to Go Fishing in La Paz

A view from La Paz pier at dusk

La Paz experiences an average of 340 days of sunshine every year and pretty much never gets cold, so you’d have to be very unlucky to find a bad day to go fishing. The angling business is open every day of the year, with locals and tourists alike taking to the waters to land some delicious fresh fish. 

Peak season hits La Paz in summer, with the largest number of species available from May through September. However, spring is a great time to witness the build-up of the season, while fall is prime time for inshore fishing. With Striped Marlin and Yellowfin Tuna on offer in winter, there really isn’t a bad time to come. If you’re looking for even more of that legendary local culture, however, we suggest you come during the following times:

  • February: You don’t need to go to Brazil to get a flavor of what Carnival is all about. This marvelous festival lasts five days here, so you can enjoy a fishing adventure and delicious food under the bright lights of the party.
  • Early May: Celebrate the city’s founding on May 3 and Cinco de Mayo a couple of days later to experience Mexico and La Paz in all their glory. Don’t forget, this is the start of peak season, too.
  • September: Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated around the country, but only La Paz has the added benefit of the Bisbee Fishing Tournament in town. Try your luck and fiesta in style!

Anything else?

A sign displaying the words "bait and tackle, fishing licenses"

By now, you should have made your mind up that La Paz is a fishing destination you don’t want to miss out on. However, before booking the fishing trip of a lifetime, you’ll want to get clued up on the rules and regulations. 

All anglers over the age of 16 will need a Mexican sportfishing license. If you’re fishing on a charter, chances are your guide will cover you or provide them at an extra cost. But, fish on your own and you’ll need to get one. Thankfully, the process is easy enough and can be done online or at the dock. Prices range from $11 for a daily permit to just $37 for an annual one. 

When it comes to taking your catch back to shore, each angler can take a maximum of 10 fish. However, one big game fish counts as five fish, and you may only keep up to five of any one smaller species. You won’t be able to cook any of your catch on board, so make sure you pack any fish you’d like to eat before heading out. 

And That’s It! 

An aerial view of a marina in La Paz, Mexico

You’re now ready to embark on your La Paz fishing adventure. While fishing should be key to any trip here, there’s plenty more to enjoy. Why not make a real vacation of it? Experience the local culture, take in the local cuisine, and learn all about the incredible fishing on offer in La Paz and Baja California Sur? The Sea of Cortez is calling you! 

We love hearing from you. Have you ever been fishing in La Paz? How was it? Let us know in the comments below.

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