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Fish Tales


Cabo Adventure


We liked John Vallon's charter report so much, we got him to tell us about the rest of the trip ...

Having just gotten back from Madeira, Portugal, a little over a month ago, I was a little reluctant to join my brother on this trip, which was originally scheduled to end on 9/29/99. Louis had set up 3 days of fishing with our friend Bobby Dobson, who owns Pacific Bluewater Sportsfishing. Bobby and his wife, Lisa, live in Cabo year around with their two boys, Tres and Jonathon. I met Bobby last May when we fished with Lance Watkins on his 28' Blackfin, the Aquaholic. Lance and Bobby have been friends for years, and when we needed help in the cockpit, Bobby offered to fill in. Louis fished with Bobby last July for two days, but Lance Watkins had loaned Bobby two Sadu lures to try out, but unfortunately, with rubber hooks, which didn't work well with the two blues Bobby raised for him.

The plan was to fish with Bobby on 9/24, fish the Eagle I, Ocean Lure Sportsfishing, on 9/25 - 9/26, then back again with Bobby on the Checkmate for 9/27 - 9/28. Unfortunately, there was some sort of misunderstanding on what days we wanted to fish, so we lost our reservation for the 28th. The fishing was so good, that Louis and I didn't want to miss out on anything, so we changed our departure date from 9/29 to 10/2, and fished 10/1 on the Checkmate. Last night we talked Bobby into a late evening run for today, where we were to leave at 3:00PM and fish the Gorda Banks until after sunset, however, there weren't any flights out of Cabo on Sunday, so we bagged it. I really want to try the "late evening bite" sometime.


Bobby met us at the airport and drove us to the Mar de Cortez hotel, where we always stay, changed clothes and headed to the Checkmate to get our gear set up. Actually, the only gear was my video equipment and laptop computer. Bobby introduced us to David Morales, his captain. David has been working for Bobby for a little over a year now, and I must say that they get along very well. We talked about the past few days of fishing: "lots of dorado, a few blues, a few lingering stripers, but some good sized yellowfin" Bobby tells us. "We will be fishing the Cabrillo Seamount tomorrow morning, so show up at 6:00 AM sharp", he says. The deal my brother worked out with Bobby includes, lunches, soft drinks and ice, so there is nothing else for Louis and I to do except get something to eat and hit the bag.


Louis and I show up on time to find Bobby and David sipping some of Ruben's coffee and waiting to get underway. By 7:05 AM we are trolling for some skipjack along the beach in Los Cabos Bay. We trolled about 1 mile before giving up. At 8:28 AM, 20 miles from the marina, on a bearing of 105 degrees, we put out the lures. Bobby only fishes with 4 rods, one in each rigger, and two flat lines. I asked him why he doesn't use 7 lines and his reply was "dang, its an overkill, and takes too darn long to clear'em during a bite". At 9:20 AM, just as we entered what is called the Gorda Trough (22 43.3 109 27.7), the port rigger went off. Louis won the toss so he was up. It would be the first of several dorado. The 20-pound bull was no match for the 50-wide, and we were underway in just 10 minutes. Then we were suddenly joined on our trip by a very tired little bird. This is the same bird that rested with Lance and I last December while fishing this same area. Anybody out there knows of a bird watcher that can identify our little friend?

Bobby runs his boat different than any other that I have seen. Bobby runs the cockpit not the boat! He considers David the captain. I never once saw Bobby at the helm and he rarely sits up in the tower with David unless he is looking for signs or eyeing the spread. While Louis was bringing in the first bite, Bobby was working a dropped back bait, trying for a double. You have to be real fast to beat him to the rail with a pitch bait!

By 11:30 AM we are about 8.5 miles south of the Seamount, when David spots some birds working the surface. He trolls over to investigate. He spots a few dorado and Bobby quickly pitches a bait while we pull in the lures. As I was bringing in the starboard rigger, a dorado starts chasing it but quickly turns away. Good thing for me, too. Reason is, Bobby gets bit on the live bait and passes the rod to me. The fish dropped the bait almost immediately but within a minute, it is picked up again. It didn't take me anymore than 30 seconds to realize that this dorado was huge because when it jumped, it looked like a small striper! We all saw the jump, and were all excited at the size. With the TLD20, it still only took about 30 minutes to get the monster to the leader. Bobby quickly gets the gaff in and the fish is aboard. We continued trolling easterly until we were well off of my "Fish'n Map" Chart. Bobby had said earlier that a lot of marlin had been reportedly caught 6 to 8 miles east of the Seamount. We saw a lot of turtles, but no other activity in that area so David changed course to a northwesterly heading that would bring us to the center of the Seamount this time.

At 1:27 PM we reached the Seamount where we saw a lot more turtles. David spots a couple of dorado swimming underneath one of the larger turtles, and we make are way over and quickly get bit on two pitched baits. Two more dorado for dinner.

We continue the troll towards the marina, but just as we get to the outer edge of the Seamount, at 2:04 PM, we all see a jumper about 200 yards to the north. David speeds up to get close then we slow back to trolling speed. No strikes on the lures so Bobby, being persistent, drops a live bait back into the spread. "Dang! I got that striper", Bobby cries as he hands off the rod to Louis. The striper puts up an admirable fight for about 60 minutes while Bobby leaders the fish 3 times. Bobby was using 100-pound test leaders, so it took several attempts to get the fish's bill. Finally, at 3:03 PM David comes down from the tower to help tag it. A few more minutes to revive the fish and it is released unharmed. We guessed the weight was nearly 130-pounds.

We start to head back, but being out this far, 34 miles, meant we wouldn't get in for another hour and a half, even at 20 knots.

On the way in, Bobby starts to clean the big dorado. I told Louis to get his scale, which only goes to 50-pounds. We start to lift the fish, but it quickly pegs the meter, being much larger than 50-pounds. We decide to weigh the parts. Each time Bobby fills up a plastic bag with fillets, we weigh the bag and write down the reading. We did this 3 times and came up with 36-pounds of fillets. Finally we weigh the carcass. It tipped the scales at 40-pounds even. So not counting the skin and lost fluids, the parts added up to 76-pounds. Now that's a respectable fish! It's surely the biggest I've caught and according to Bobby, the 2nd largest caught on his boat. In fact, when we first laid the fish in the cockpit, Bobby pushed its head up against the port bulkhead, then looked at where the tail was positioned. That's when he told me that his mother caught one about a foot longer, just last year. For this reason, I mistakenly didn't think about a potential world record or even an IGFA Fishing Contest contender. The all-tackle world record is 87-pounds, set in 1976 in Costa Rica. However, the 30-pound class record is 79-pounds 5-ounces! It seems that we may have eaten a world record for dinner. Dang, that gets to me! I contacted the IGFA to find out how the fish would have been considered had we entered it. The fact that Bobby baited and handed off the rod would surely be grounds for disqualification, yet the originally hooked fish dropped the bait and this sequence of events was caught on the video. Whether the same or a different fish finally came to gaff will never be known. The IGFA would have considered this a new fish and thus qualifying for consideration, however the weighing rules specifies that the fish may not be weighed at sea only. No wonder it tasted so good!

We made one final stop at Bobby's honey hole and caught this nice roosterfish, albeit, a small one. This is the first one I've seen up close. We released it unharmed.


Today our friend Arnie Schmidt from Seattle joins us. He had to go to a wedding in San Diego the past weekend, so he figured if he is that close to Cabo, and the Vallon's are there, then why not join in? Arnie likes to fish for Tuna, so he came down at a perfect time.

We departed from the marina at 6:55 AM on a course of 140 degrees for 2.6 miles before starting to troll at 7:15 AM. The weather had turned for the worse, as we had nearly 20-knot winds with some rollers approaching 10 feet, with the average running 6 to 8 feet. We trolled for two hours, about 12 miles, before David spotted birds working a dolphin pod. As we closed in on the dolphin, David spotted huge yellowfin sliding down the face of the giant waves along with the dolphin. We changed the lures to cedar plugs and feathers, but no takers. Soon a Solmar boat arrived on the scene. David expertly maneuvered the Checkmate in front of the pod and yellowfin and slowed down while Bobby dropped back a live bait. Instant hookup. Arnie won the coin toss, so he is up. Before Arnie could get his fish to the gaff, Bobby hooked a second yellowfin. Louis insisted that it was his turn, so he takes the fish. Both tunas, 30-pound and 40-pound, are gaffed and we are on our way. By now, there are 12, repeat, twelve boats on the pod! The yellowfin sounded, but we continued to follow the pod along with the other fleet boats.

Following the pod, we traveled about 3 miles further south before Bobby spotted some really big yellowfin. He drops back another bait, but this time on the 80-wide with no leader. It is 11:09 AM when Bobby gets bit. He hands me the rod and says in a clear loud voice: "No leader John, the hook is tied directly to the line. Don't break this fish off!" No problem, I'm thinking, looking at the drag setting. How can you break off a fish with only 18-pounds of drag I wondered? In standup gear, I battle the fish for about 30 minutes and just simply got tired of standing up and doing this "get line, lose line" thing. For a while, I thought we had hooked a dolphin. The fish never sounded - just stayed on the surface. Several times the fish charged the boat, and I had to reel like hell to keep the line from going slack. Good thing the reel was a two-speed! This is getting old I thought. I could get the fish within 50 yards of the boat, and then the fish would jet off, taking off another 100 yards. I swear we wore that section of line out! "Put some more drag on Bobby, we're not making any progress" I barked. Everyone agreed, as I was cutting into their fishing time. "The fish isn't hooked good, you'll pop him off" he replied. "The fish is gut hooked and it swims like it is, so either you put some on or I will", I demanded. Finally, Bobby agrees and gives me another 20-pounds. Instantly, I get the fish turned around and it's over for the fish. We get the gaff in at 12:19 PM and 2 minutes later the fish is on the deck.

Now it's shark time again. In less than 10 minutes, we had 4 to 5 brown sharks around the boat, most likely due the blood from the tuna getting into the water. Having lost the pod of dolphin during the long battle, Bobby drops another bait back to the waiting sharks and hooks into a good one. We let Arnie work this one. Bobby grabs another rod and drops it back. I got some good video of the shark attacking the bait, and also of Bobby dumping about $50 worth of terminal tackle, including 2 wind-on leaders to these fish. Arnie's shark finally breaks off right at boat side for the last fish of the day.

That evening, we had a great tuna dinner with Bobby, his wife Lisa, their 4-year-old son Tres, their friend Windie, David, the captain, and my brother. Bobby took the fresh tuna to Cabo Wabo, not usually known as a restaurant - more as a disco. The tuna was served both as sashimi, as an appetizer, and grilled with garlic and peppercorns. It was fantastic. The next day we sent Arnie home with almost 70-pounds of fillets for his wife to can for us, but not before we held out a few more fillets for the Cabo Wabo one more time.

9/28/99 This afternoon, we played in a weekly, local's only, golf tournament at the Palmilla Golf course. Bobby and his father invited Louis and I along. I don't play golf, so I just drove around in a cart capturing everyone's worst swings with my video. After the tournament, Bob Smith, owner of Minerva's Tackle and also in the tournament, invited us to the new shrimp bucket for dinner. The food is good, but very expensive. I asked Rick, Bobby's father, if he wanted to go fishing with us on next Thursday, a sort-of Dobson's versus the Vallon's. He agreed. Here is the report, which I'm writing at Franciscos Espresso Bar in the Plaza Bonita - Thanks again Dixie!

Yesterday, we made a tactical error. Bobby had heard that a private yacht had reported releasing 7 blues about 35 miles out on a course of 160 degrees. So we decided to try our luck. After a brief stop at the fuel dock, we were underway at 6:45 AM. I have never seen water this dirty in all the years I've fished here. The water inside the marina was actually clearer. After running about an hour, Rick puts his bare foot over the side to check the water temperature - "78 degrees" he announces! At 7:42 AM we are 32 miles out and we find some birds working with lots of flying fish and clear water. No bites under the birds. At 10:15 AM we spot a school of dolphin and troll alongside them also without luck. Finally, at 11:39 AM we spot birds diving on flying fish and Bobby quickly drops back a live bait. Instant hookup. on a nice 35-pound female dorado. Bobby remarks, "dang, man! 41 miles and only a dorado! I wonder if that guy at the fuel dock was just trying to sell us diesel?b" We continue to the troll, heading east. Our next bite came at 1:05 PM. Our position was 22° 18.7' 109° 32.4'. It was Rick's turn and he quickly reels in another female dorado around 30-pounds. That was it for the rest of the day. We brought in the lures at 3:00 PM, still 40 miles from Cabo. We got to the slip at 5:15 PM. Just a note: On our return, to avoid traveling directly into the swells, we headed due north, which took us to the outer Gorda Banks. The water turned dirty again after only traveling about 5 miles, not clearing up until we reached about 8 miles south of the Gorda Banks. BTW, we put on 115 NM on the odometer!

We certainly had a great time fishing with Bobby. In addition to his proven fishing skills, he's really a comic. I remember when I had brought out the wireless remote microphone for the video. I asked Bobby to wear it so that the camera could pick up his comments while working with the angler. Well, I just happened to be monitoring the sound with a set of headphones when Bobby was handling a freshly caught dorado. As Bobby was "stunning" the dorado, each time he hit it, he would make a sound like "eeeh". Hearing this on the headphones, I quickly yelled "Bobby, take the microphone off, I can't have the sound of that poor fish's cries in my video!" I was completely fooled into thinking dorado cry when you hit them! We all had a good laugh about that. He says it drives his customers nuts - apparently he does this all the time. He can be reached through his web site: http://www.dobsonfishing.com

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