So after planning this Cabo San Lucas trip since April,
I can't believe its come and gone. Its one of those trips
that pretty much had it all. All includes the ups and downs,
good days and bad.
I had convinced my wife and my nine year old daughter
that a trip to Cabo would be fun. They believed me and came
along. But this was no trip to Disneyland. This was the
Disneyland of big fish and I was into the Mickey Tuna Club
of Cabo San Lucas. Of all the things that Cabo is or isn't,
it all goes away when you leave the dock and all that remains
is the seat of adventure ready to bring you turns and surprises
that only the sea can offer up.
Being the gear head that I am, I decided to haul the rods,
full tackle box, reels and cooler for this trip. Never having
fished Cabo before I figured that it would give me a leg
up on devils of frayed lines, stripped gears and fried drags.
It did. But my final analysis is that if I had just gotten
off the plane in a T-shirt with nothing but a pair of sandals,
shorts and a wad of pesos I still would have caught fish,
big fish. But like those of us who have pets and couldn't
imagine being without ole faithful Jeb or Ike or Shasta
or whatever your favorite companions name is, there are
those of us who love our gear. Our favorites. Our expensive
toys. So I walked down to the docks carrying my two favorites.
A Shimano TLD 30 with 60-lb test on a custom Grafiter and
a modified two speed Penn 12LT with 30-lb in front and 80
lb spectra in back. As the fishing days would have it, a
very interesting and satisfying comparison would happen.
But more on that later. So armed with my good luck pieces
I walked in the warm early dawn down to the docks. The morning
was absolutely still except for a wild chorus of crowing
roosters from all over the city. Waking up. Between them
and the occasional barking cur I was left alone with this
great growing ball in my stomach. That wonderful anxiety
coupled with adrenaline. About the size of a basketball
by now. But I've been through that before. It goes away,
only to return with a vengeance if the gods smile on you
and grace you with the wonderful scream of a clicker going
off in the warming dawn, soon followed by a great blue spear
jetting skyward from out of the still dark seas. Marlin....Wow.
(And you're doing instantaneous prayers that you hope this
one stays on the hook. )
So I make my way to my boat of choice where I would spend
four out of my five fishing days in Cabo. Think about it.
Five days of fishing. What in the world could be a greater
gift to a fisherman than five days in Cabo on the sea (OK,
maybe 10 days). So onto the 28' Bertram (El Chilito) with
a single fighting chair gleaming white, like a throne for
some anointed kind to spend some time in. I couldn't wait
for that time to come. So on went my two burritos and two
ice cold litre bottles of water, rods, reels and tackle
box and we were setting out with the smell of diesel cutting
the air. I settled back, dutifully handed over my 20 dollars
to the bait boat as we loaded in our ten live bait, and
we were heading for the great arch.
Then we were off to find a spot to start our troll. Now
from the first day I told the captain I wanted to fish for
TUNA. I said it again and again. But more on that in a minute.
So we ran about 25 miles straight out and started our troll.
We happened on a sailfish, about 75 lbs., and cast a bait
at him on the converted Penn 12. In a moment I was hooked
up. Truly a decent battle. 30 LB test out there for most
of these fish is a real gas. This sailfish came out of the
water about 5 times trying the shake us. This time I won.
About 20 minutes later we brought him to the boat, got the
hook out, took pictures (still in the camera) and sent him
on his way. These fish are too heroic and majestic to kill.
If I don't eat it, I don't kill it.
So back to the troll. Another bump, and a hookup on the
lures. This was a Big Blue Marlin and he gave great definition
to the term of greyhounding, where he leaped forward out
of the water and came back in only to repeat again and again
and again. He ran halfway around the boat and then in that
terrible moment, a slight crease of slack, and he was gone.
Stunned silence. I just couldn't believe it. I wanted the
moment back and it was gone. One small mistake, or maybe
it wasn't even a mistake, it was just over, just like that...a
lot of heavy breathing. Again to the troll, more bumps on
the lures, this time we dropped back a live bait on the
Penn and BANG, a Blue Marlin came flying out of the water,
twisting and shaking, but that was about it. He came unbuttoned
on his last shake of his head. Missed again. I just couldn't
believe it. So off we drove, and for the next 5 or 6 hours,
we picked up a dorado on the troll (about 25-lbs) and that
was it for the day. A very busy morning and a dead afternoon.
Sunday morning started a different kind of day, I fished
the first four or so hours on the troll up the Pacific side,
came back into harbor, picked up my wife and daughter and
back out we went. My wife's request was that we stay in
sight (close) to shore and that if it gets rough, we run
for shore. So OK it was and we trolled about two miles or
more off shore, then left up the bay side to a spot right
outside the Westin Regina. We got a tap on the lure, root
beer in color, and tossed a bait out, this time on the Penn
12LT, the fish, (didn't see what it was at the time) took
the bait and ran. We gave chase. The Penn 12 was singing
my favorite song. Then, right before we got to the Spectra
backing, this beautiful striped marlin came soaring out
of the water for the first time. Glorious fish. The sun
was shining on him and I swear he was iridescent blue with
lights on the inside and one of the most beautiful things
I've ever seen. We battled back and forth for 1/2 hour or
a little more before we were able to bring him to the boat,
take pictures and release him. Fantastic fish at about 125-lbs.
The Penn reel was up to the challenge. Totally smooth drag.
So off we went on the troll, back and forth in front of
the Regina and this time the next bump was answered on the
Shimano TLD-30 setup with live bait. With a rip the Shimano
was singing that lovely song. This next fish turned out
to be another stripped marlin, a brother to the first. The
Shimano made short work of this marlin. I could really put
some muscle on this fish with the 60-lb Fifteen minutes
later and he was at the boat, camera, pics and released.
Great comparison of the gear. Both fish alike, both reels
smooth as silk and I think the drags speak volumes. Twice
the lbs., half the time. Not too bad a day. Considering
that when I wasn't hooked up, I was holding my daughters
hair while she was chumming my fish over the side. Got a
real weird sunburn that day.
Monday was a kind of a quiet day, went looking for tuna.
We found the porpoises about 30 miles out, but the Captain
only dragged lures through them. Nothing, more trolling,
more porpoises, more lures, nothing. He wouldn't drop a
bait on them. I followed his lead. Big mistake, no tuna.
We eventually lost the porpoises, missed one striped marlin,
hooked and released one more and brought home a 25 LB dorado
for dinner. Not a bad day, but those missed tuna. You just
knew they were right there, you were right there and the
twain just didn't meet. Frustrating. Maybe its like a smell
of paradise and you just can't reach out and taste it. Yeow!
Fishing on Tuesday went by, at least the first +6 hours
went by with nada. Nothing happening at all. Then all of
a sudden a jig strike. Hookup The deck hand throws out a
bait on the Shimano while I'm fighting a sail fish on a
Penn 30 wide with 60-lb I made short work of the sail and
released him to turn around and take on Striped Marlin.
Fifteen minutes later, he was at the boat, pictures and
released. We finished up the day with a 15 LB dorado and
Wednesday and Thursday were off days while I tried to
figure out what boat captain was going to put me on the
tuna I was looking for. I decided to try this Captain from
the Garzas Fleet. His name was Victor and the boat he was
Captaining was the Gracialita. The boat was not much to
look at, the gear was not the greatest, the guy booking
the boat, I wouldn't want to meet in an ally, but this Victor
consistently (if his flags were to be believed) beat most
of the boats on his fish counts all week and had been catching
tuna! So I had one more day with silent Tony on the El Chilito
booked and Victor & I would be fishing on Saturday.
So Friday came and went and wouldn't you know it, I got
skunked on that trip. Could not believe it. I guess it was
just one of those days, but my advice to all of you who
can, SHOP YOUR CAPTAINS. All these guys have good and bad
days, but look for the hot ones if you have the time.
So now for my last day in Cabo. Victor had been on the
radio, at the dock, at the bait dock, talking to everybody
and asking where the Tuna were. So off we powered straight
out of the harbor and into the Pacific for about an hour.
Can't give you a GPS because Victor doesn't have one. Doesn't
have a fish finder either. But he did have a boat, bait
and a radio and it seems like allot of friends who would
help him out. Less than five minutes after we started our
troll, we hooked up a really nice 40+ bull dorado. I was
amazed, 5 minutes into the troll? Was this a portent or
what? Beautiful fish. Not fifteen minutes after this beauty,
Victor is yelling for us to haul in the lines for we're
going! Going? Going to where I could only hope. Sure enough
ten minutes into our dash, I see them, Birds! Lots of birds!
In another minute we're on top of a great school of porpoises.
Babies swimming with their moms, and below them...
Boats all around us now hooked up. And like our previous
captain we tried to drag our lures and make something happen.
This time was to be different, because Victor said haul
in the lines and he and Jorge tossed out live bait. Jorge
got bit first and promptly lost his while Victor got bit
big on his old 113 Penn with 40-lb test. He handed me the
rod and I was off to the races. So off this bad boy ran,
and ran, and ran and I said Victor, you run now because
I was now looking at this disappearing spindle in the middle
of my spool! So into reverse we went. Fast!. This fish is
running, we're running in reverse, water is splashing up
over the transom and into my lap, over my head, sunglasses
are useless now, and I could care less. Victor had evened
out the battle and our tug of war began in earnest. This
bad boy was down, down, down.
Like a stone with a will. I started to pump him up or
so I thought, and he would come, then with a rush he'd fly
through that clear blue water straight down. Again and again
we'd repeat this dance. All the while I'm feeling that this
line is not brand new and has battled before. Little roughs
and spots would pass over my fingers just added to the tension.
I didn't want to lose this fish. So right about then Jorge
sidles over and wants to check my drag, I'd just as soon
as bite him, he realized the drag was probably OK for right
then and I didn't need any help. For over 30 minutes this
fish would take long runs and I'd bring him back. Sometime
around then things changed. The porpoises were gone. The
birds were gone. The other boats were gone. The sun was
blazing and the dream fish decided he was staying straight
down. Victor would angle the boat around so I had a good
line, and it became a battle of inches. I'd try to pump
him up and he'd take it all back. Again and again we danced.
Sweat is pouring off me. The sun would fry sunny side up
on the deck. Another 30 minutes passed. Blisters. Blood
blister on my middle finger. Damn. I should have taped it
days ago. I didn't care. You could have set fire to my shoes
and I'd have looked for color in the water. Then sure enough
a glint, then another and another as ever so slowly my tuna
spiraled up and up. There or four times I'd see a little
color and then down he went. Color and gone, color and gone.
Then more color, and then those fins on this dream fish
came into view. He was beautiful. Iridescent blue edged
with yellow. What a great battle. About an hour and ten
had gone by before he came to gaff. As he came over the
side I was almost ready to weep. What a great fish. He taped
out to be just under a 100 lbs.. It made my day, my trip,
my summer. If you've never battled a tuna of size, try to
go out and do it one day. Its amazing.
Not only that, the day was only half over. Back on the
troll we got slammed by a really nice bull dorado, 50+.
This was a good day. And just to cap it off we finished
the day with a beautiful sailfish. A dream day.
For those of you who want to fish with Victor, the Garzas
can be reached in the Plaza Bonita or by E-Mail: Graciaela
Trevino Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell Graciaela that
the tuna loco Solomon sent you.