Sea Sniper Baja is owned and operated by Chay M. Ochoa, who was born and raised in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Growing up in La Paz afforded lots of opportunity to explore the beautiful waters surrounding this peninsula. He became hooked on diving and his involvement with spear fishing started at a young age. He then followed that interest to the University. While there, making a degree in Marine Biology his focus, Chay was able to spend plenty of time below the surface not only in the classroom.
Chay continued with his passion for diving while living on the California Coast, which included abalone hunting as well as spearing fish. The natural next step was to start running guided trips to the places that he loves in his homeland, and now Sea Sniper Baja is doing just that.
Leading groups of divers who have the same passion to experience the beauty of the Baja waters and the rich sea life here has been a wonderful way to share his knowledge, expertise and life’s passion for the sea. Whether you enjoy fishing from the surface, or from the depths, Chay and Sea Sniper Baja will help to make your experience one you won’t forget.
Boats & Captains
Our pangeros (boat captains) come from a long tradition of commercial fishing. Wherever you find yourself in Baja, if you mention fishermen from El Sargento/La Ventana area, people will take their hats off. They are respected for their willingness to migrate with the fish if necessary, and for their knowledge of the oceans surrounding the Peninsula, both on the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific side.
We feel lucky to have established first of all friendship as well as a working relationship with a select group of them. Over the years we have been able to observe them being influenced by their exposure to our sport and expressing their respect for mother nature and her bounty in new ways. Each of our licensed captains owns and maintains his own boat in a professional manner. Each is outfitted with a four-stroke Honda engine and equipped to provide a comfortable, safe outing to the fishing grounds. We can easily accommodate groups of three to nine sportsmen and larger groups can be arranged for special events.
Sea Sniper Baja
El Sargento, B.C.S.
Telephone: 52 612 114 0108
Email: [email protected]
Chay Ochoa is an expert spear fisherman who knows well the waters in the south regions of Baja California, Mexico. Many years ago he decided to dedicate his life, along with his wife Linda, to the sea, transforming a passion into a lifestyle.
1. What is Sea Sniper Baja?
Sea Sniper was born as an answer to a passion. First building wooden spearguns in the bay area, south of San Francisco, California, it evolved years later into a way of life. We live next to the sea, breathing it, talking for countless hours about fish, fish patterns, places to go for the next capture . . . guess you can say that we are obsessed.
2. What is exactly your activity?
We host individuals and groups, providing accommodations, excursion packages, etc. and do what we can so our guests can have a fine time while here. Our focus is primarily on spearfishing, fishing with rod and reel and documenting with video, the marine landscape and its inhabitants.
3. Where are you situated?
Sea Sniper Baja is situated on the Bay of La Ventana, approximately 38 kms southeast of the city of La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico. Our strategic location on the Sea of Cortez facilitates easy access to the Pacific Coast as well. This allows us to take advantage of two bodies of water very different from one another, different currents, water temperatures and different fish migrations.
4. What type of spearfishing techniques are practiced in these places?
One of the most common is blue water hunting, searching for pelagic species like Marlin, Wahoo, etc. For Grouper, Pargo/Cubera, etc., the hunting is around reefs, seamounts, sunken structures, in caves, far from the coast or near the coast.
5. What are the fish species most likely to be encountered in the Sea of Cortez?
Of sport fishing importance, for pelagics we have the Striped Marlin, Blues and Blacks, Sailfish, Yellow Fin Tuna, Wahoo and Dorado. Around reefs, bottom or structure, you will find Groupers, Cabrilla, Barred Pargo, Pargo Amarillo, Pargo Liso, Pargo de Raizero and Dog Snapper or Pargo Prieto. Species that frequently visit the reef and that are a lot of fun to hunt, like Roosterfish, Jack Crevalle, Yellowtail and Amberjacks.
6. About the weather in this region?
Our winters are characterized for the predominance of winds. These can be local, where you can work around the island or the “coya” type as called by the local people. These are cold systems coming from the north and limiting because they encompass large areas and affect navigation. At the end of summer the potential for hurricane systems is present, mainly for the month of September. ‘Thanks to modern technology, these can be detected and monitored and allow time for preparation to minimize damages and setbacks.
7. The best months to visit Baja?
Because of the weather in the Sea of Cortez, from mid March to the end of July, then the period beginning in October to mid December. For the Pacific side from June, July, August, September, October, November, December and January. These are the ‘high’ periods where you can find better sea conditions and larger number of fish.
8. Is there good visibility under water?
Just like any other sea, this is influenced by moon cycles, up-currents, type of bottom, presence of plankton, etc. In general, the best visibility happens in the months of June, July, August, September and October.
9. What type of boat you operate?
For general use the ‘pangas’, which are fiberglass boats of normally 23 feet in length, outfitted with 4-stroke Honda engines, basic electronics, like radio VHF, GPS and fishfinders. They are appropriate for these seas and capable of distances of up to 80 nautical miles a day.
10. Generally, in the warmer oceans the presence of sharks can be a problem. What is the situation? Can it be dangerous to spearfish?
Unfortunately, the commercial shark fishing has been practiced here through generations. There is a need to protect these animals and regulate the catches. Of the many places that I have been to, this is one where bleeding your fish while in the water does not feel dangerous at all!
11. Any other dangers? Like strong currents, other animals, situations, etc.?
The currents can be strong at times, depending on moon cycle, but the boats are always nearby and it is not considered dangerous. Some Scorpion Fish can be an inconvenience if you are not alert at the time of approaching the reef. They do not attack, but present an almost perfect camouflage with their surroundings. During the summer there are ‘jelly fishes’ that can be very painful, and last, and considered at a personal level as very dangerous, other boats. Main reason why your boat needs to stay close and your captain alert in case of approaching craft.
12. Are there any people that can assist divers?
The captains of the boats come from a long tradition of commercial fishing. They know the sea and its inhabitants. Throughout the years they have shown an interest in our sport and have been trained to understand the needs of spear-fishermen. They know and understand the importance of currents, proper positioning, the role of tides in the behavior of fish, equipment, etc.
13. How many divers can you fit on a boat?
Optimum is three persons and their gear.
14. Can you explain your organization when you have a number of people with different levels of experience for example?
First is to determine what type of fishing they are interested in doing. Depending on the fish they are targeting, blue water hunting, in reefs, near the coast, etc., most of the time, when you travel with friends, your level as a spear hunter is compatible. This always helps us to form groups. Normally, you will end up diving with your group of friends. On some occasions there will be that diver that exceeds the norm, capable of diving much deeper, or looking for a trophy fish, that requires time and attention. They will need a specific boat and captain.
15. What happens to all of the fish captured?
After all the photos and video, we make sure it is bled and on ice. A specimen is allotted to dinners, and if the client will be transporting fish, his catch is cleaned, filleted, packaged and stored in freezer boxes. Any excess will be donated or given away to local people.
16. Blue water fishing requires heavy and expensive equipment. For people traveling from far away places, what is your advice to this problem?
To help out, or even bypass high costs of acquisition and transportation, in the last year we have built 8 new spearguns designed for blue water and available as rental equipment and includes float lines, and rigid buoys of divinicell.
17. Blue water spearfishing is, with no doubt, an extreme type of fishing, not suitable for everybody. Do you offer another alternative?
As already mentioned, the client must have a good time during their stay. According to their aptitudes and/or needs, can choose to spearfish in reefs at different depths, fish in reefs close to shore, more relaxed and lots of fun. There is always the option of fishing with rod and reel.
18. When people return from a day of fishing, what is it that they do?
Most of them opt for some rest. They will eat something and drink a beer or two. Talk about the day’s adventure and catch with other divers or captains. They fix video or work on equipment for the next days, etc.
19. Bed & Breakfast is reserved only to spearfishermen? Can other people visit, like wife and kids?
Of course! Families are very welcome. Normally we take care of groups of freedivers/spearfishermen. But, recently we have included other activities with the idea of providing entertainment to those non-divers.
20. Are there other activities besides rod and reel and spearfishing?
We have many options; kayaking, SUP paddle, ATV riding, mountain biking, hiking the mountains and island, expeditions to document gray whales, dolphins, mantas and whale sharks. We also offer excursions to historical towns in the region, to the mountains where you can see ancient Indian paintings, as well as to nearby pueblos or the city of La Paz.
21. To fish in a place like this is for people who do not need to consider cost . . . or not necessarily?
We try to keep it affordable to everybody, with customized packages that suit their needs and pocket. We will start with the basic price per person, and depending on the number of persons, location (Sea of Cortes or Pacific side), as well as length of visit, come to an acceptable cost without sacrificing quality of experience.