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Fish Tales


Cabo Getaway


Winter got you down? Then why not join Charlie Bernard as he finds the perfect solution to the offseason blues ...

I fished with the Gaviota Fleet on 15,16, and 17 November 1997 (my 7th trip to Cabo in 20 months) for billfish. We were fishing aboard the GAVIOTA VI, with Captian Gil driving and Jorge working the deck. Joining me were my sister Genevieve from Dayton, OH, Jerry Romani of San Francisco, and my coworker Warner Lombardi with his son Anthony. Genevieve and Jerry have never been offshore fishing before, and Warner and Anthony have done the multi-day boats out of San Diego several times. So here's the tale...

Day 1: Leave the dock at 7AM and get the live bait. Head south then east for about 45 minutes. Clear skies and blue water in the upper 70's - lower 80's. Jorge (the mate) sets up my rods and reels...two 5'6" roller guide trolling rods, both with Tiagra 50W LRS reels carrying 60# and 80# running line, along with a 7' and 7'6" pitch bait rods with Shimano TLD 20 Two Speed (30# test line) and TLD 30 Two Speed (40# test line), respectively. The 80# line reel goes to the left rigger dragging a Mean Joe Green, the 60# line reel goes to the right flat (clipped in the pin) attached to a blue and white flat head lure, pitch bait rods in the rod holders attached to the bait well. Jorge adds the boat's equipment...a Penn International 30T and maybe a Diawa reel with the appropriate length rod and line to the right rigger and left flat (not pinned). The Penn 30T has a green and yellow lure, and the Diawa has the blue and white. Now we wait and watch, but not long.

The left rigger pops the pin, I grabbed the reel handle and REEL, the boat guns ... the rod bends and the fish is on. "Gen, get in the chair", I yell, and hand her the rod. "I can't pull up and crank down at the same time", she says. "You're doing good," I tell her, "but you're supposed to pull up, then reel while dropping the rod tip down!" "Oh", was the response. That tuna is still pulling line. Finally, after about 40 minutes a 50-lb yellowfin comes along side and we kept it for dinner. Two more tuna were caught in fairly short order by Warner and Anthony.

"Let's get some billfish now, you guys have dinner" I said. About 2 hours later the left rigger pops again, "its a sailfish", I yell as I go for the reel. "Gen, get in the chair" I tell her. "But I already caught one", she replies. "Get in the @#$% chair" I yelled back, so like the obedient younger sister she complies. I hand her the rod. "Did you see that jump", she says. "Yeah", all the rest in unison say. About 40 minutes later after the spectacular jumps that only sails make, the sailfish is along side, and Jorge grabs the leader and then the bill. The lure is retrieved, pictures taken, and the fish released in vigorous condition. So now I ask my sister if she tired and ready to go shopping..."Hell no! Now I see why you never come to visit...you go catching!!!" My sister's first billfish!

Well, the story goes on, and Anthony is handed the next sail. Anthony being a strapping 16 year old, he lands the fish in about 20 minutes. Lots of jumps and pictures of the action are taken. Anthony now has a big head! "See Dad, I'm going to be a professional fisherman!" "Write your resume', son", came the response.

Warner tells me to take the next fish, he just wants to watch. "Jungle Rules", I say. "What's that?" "First angler to the rod wins!" Anthony goes, "We'll see who wins!" He's still pumped up.

An hour later a sail jumps the left rigger...I'm on the rod in half a second. Hooked up and running, I pulled it up out of the rod holder and really slam the hook home. The sail goes airborne. "You win", said Anthony. I go to the stern of boat to catch this one standing up. After several jumps and lots of pressure the sail is boatside, photographed, and releases!!! "How long", I ask. "About 2 hours", Anthony says, "15 minutes" says Warner, and Gen goes, "I've no idea, I didn't even get to my camera, but I got yours!!!"

One nice dorado for Anthony finished the first day, and we rested in the pool in the hotel and drinks!

Day 2: Warner decides he wants to go panga fishing fishing inshore; Jerry joins Anthony, Gen, and myself. Same set up, south and east for 45 minutes; rods in the water and "Esta pesca!", I say.

It didn't take long. The boat is gunned, Jorge is elbow deep in the bait well, striped marlin off the port bow. The mate casts with the 7' rod, and the fish lights up. "Do you see that", says my sister pointing at the color. Jorge sets the hook and the boat guns again. The marlin goes airborne and runs away as the boat goes to idle. Gen is in the chair with the rod and doing everything right. Short strokes and using her body. 50 minutes later the 150-lb striped marlin is along side the boat. Another release.

"Jerry, you're next - all we have to do is find 'em", I say. He hands me a beer, and says, "this is probably the only way I'll get to the rod first! Jungle Rules, you know!" In an hour or so, that left rigger Mean Joe Green pops again. I'm onto it after finishing the beer in a gulp. Fish hooked, boat gunning, jump, set the hook. "Jerry, why aren't you in the chair?", I ask. He is now moving to the chair, and I hand him the rod when he's ready. This striped marlin works the angler hard. In 35 minutes it's alongside after about 8 or 9 jumps, pictures, and another release. Jerry's first billfish!

We troll on. The boat guns, and Jorge is into the bait box, pitching to another striped marlin. Hooked up and set, I take the rod and put on the pressure. Jorge grabbed my brand new 7'6" rod for this one, and I'm going to see what it can do. The fish is close to the boat in 10 minutes. I see the leader knot, and tighten it up a bit. One more crank of the reel and the knot is half way down the rod. Another one and it's on the reel. I thumb the spool, and Jorge takes a wrap. "Be careful, that fish is still green", I say. The fish realizes it's in trouble and surges, nearly pulling Jorge over as he lets go. The fish jumps not 20 feet from the boat and takes off pulling drag. I take a little pressure off, and he gains another 75 yards or so. I work it back to the boat for another chance, leader onto the rod, another jump and the fish spits the hook..."I'm free"! That marlin tail wags and swims for another day.

The left rigger pops again and I'm on it. "Who wants it", I yell. "You catch it!" So I did, and another striped marlin jumps for the show and we release her with pictures. Another fishing day well spent...then the beer and pool!

Day 3: Now its just Jerry and Genevieve (feeling like seasoned pros!) and myself. Same setup, same area.

This day provides one sailfish each. All jumping as only a sail can jump. At the end of the day my friends are asking me, "How do you know you are going to catch billfish like this?" My response is the same every time ..."You don't, but if one fishes with the Gaviota Fleet boats you'll increase the odds; they are all professionals, have good crews, good equipment, and all know what they are doing!!!"