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Fish Tales


The Other Magic Kingdom


Solomon Rosenzweig spent the end of July in Cabo San Lucas. Here's how he did ...

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 headed home.

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 garzas@cabotel.com.mx. Tell Graciaela that the tuna loco Solomon sent you.

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