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Fish Tales


Striper Fury II


He's back ... we once again join El Mackerale for a Cabo San Lucas adventure ...

Saturday 6/12/04 - Wednesday 6/16/04

A long needed break from work began by departing Seattle Saturday morning on Alaska Airlines with a scheduled stop in Los Angeles. The flight out of Los Angeles was delayed an hour and over booked. They offered a paid hotel room for the night and a round trip ticket anywhere Alaska flies to any one that would give up their seat and take the same flight the next morning. I should have taken them up on that, as I was traveling alone and didn't have any plans for several days.

The cost to take a taxi from San Jose to Cabo has gone up to $75. This saves about 90-minutes of vacation time because the cattle bus ($13/persons) stops all along the way dropping passengers off at the various hotels. My hotel is always the last stop. This same ride, but from the hotel in Cabo to the airport only costs $12/person.

With the Latitude 22 now relocated out of town and called The Roadside Latitude 22, I had to find a new place for beer, tequila, and dinner - otherwise I would have had to tack on $20 to my tab for cab fare. It was only a short 3 block walk to RIPs each night for happy hour and dinner. It didn't take long for Felipe and Debbi (the bar manager) to remember my name and drink preferences. Cold Coronas were 2 for $4; the same Coronas upstairs at Cabo Wabo were $8 and they were rude the two times I came in. After the NBA was over, they let me bring in my video camera and play my past movies on the TV. That really drew a crowd too.

The first morning, I greeted the sunrise with coffee from Spencer's on my deck, as I did every morning. After breakfast I headed to the marina to see if Chacho was working on the Eagle 1 and for a stroll around the docks. Chacho wasn't around so I headed down the Malceon. In one short hour of being outside, I burned the tops of my feet and the tops of my ears - the places the sun beds don't cover. It took a couple of days to get acclimated to the dry heat and this tortuous sun.

I caught up with Chacho's son, Pancho, on Tuesday morning at the Marina. The last time I saw Pancho was during the Los Cabos Gold Cup Marlin Tournament in October 1998. He was only 13 years old at the time. I told Pancho that I was looking for his father and that I wanted to go fishing if there were any openings. I asked him if he would come along and run my video camera since I would be fishing alone. He agreed and said Chacho would be back in an hour or so. I told him what room I was in and asked him to drop by later to look over the video camera and take my rods and reels to the boat.

Later, back at my hotel, Pancho showed up with Chacho. My brother and I have been fishing with Chacho (Jose) and his brother Mammo, since May of 1998. During those 6 years of fishing we have come to know a great fisherman and a good friend. It didn't take long to move from saying hello to talking about fishing. Chacho asked if I wanted to go tomorrow morning. I told him this "Gringo" was a bit sunburned and needed a few more days. I showed Pancho how to use the video but he seemed uninterested. I didn't know it at the time, but he is now the first mate and not a cameraman!

Chacho took my rods and reels with him. He said he would set the drags and put on wind-on leaders for me. With the fishing plans now firm, I headed to the pool to get some late afternoon sun.

I met a fellow fisherman, Ron, also on solo, from Palm Desert, California. We exchanged a few fishing stories and discussed which was the best eating fish. That was a tough call but we agreed that Wahoo was on top followed by Dorado, yellowfin tuna, and snapper. He told me he was only going fishing one day and that was going to be on a Panga tomorrow morning. I wished him good luck and headed for RIPs.

The next day I spent gathering things needed for the upcoming 2 days of fishing with Chacho. Water, lunches, etc. I bought sliced smoked turkey and honey baked ham, Claussen pickles, Mayonnaise, Coleman's mustard, pre-cleaned and sterilized leaves of romaine lettuce, a couple of sweet white onions, an avocado, a couple of yogurt cups, 2 apples and 2 bananas. The bananas were meant to be a joke on Chacho - he hates bananas and thinks they are bad luck to have on the boat. A final stop at the bakery to pick up freshly baked bread and Danish rolls finished up my shopping list that I put together at RIPs.

Proud of my shopping results, I headed for the pool where I ran into Ron who was already back from his day of fishing on the Panga. I asked him how he did, and he said he got a small Dorado and was back before noon. The Panga's don't have the range to fish and the trip is usually less than 4 hours such as his. When the fish are close in, Panga fishing can be quite fun, but add to that a little wind, and it's a wet trip. Ron said he had some fillets and a reservation at Spencer's for 7:00 dinner, and would I care to join him since there was plenty for two to eat. Sure, I said, I love Dorado and Spencer's does a great job of preparing them.

While eating dinner, I thought, what the heck, I'm fishing alone tomorrow, why not reciprocate and invite Ron out to see what the deep water fishing is like. I just asked him to chip in on a good tip for the captain. The plan was to be at the Eagle 1 at 6:00 AM I told him.

Thursday, 6/17/04

Ron and I arrived on time and Pancho greeted us at the gate to let us in. When we got to the slip, the Eagle 1 was warming up and Chacho was busy getting the final equipment set out with the help of his other mate, Obeth Garcia. It was then that I found out that Pancho had taken over the first mate position and Obeth was along to help out and to run my video camera. Both Obeth and Pancho speak fluent English, although Chacho does also, but with my poor hearing and Chacho's heavy accent, it is sometimes difficult to understand him.

We departed at 6:00 AM, stopped by the bait vendor, checked in with the Port Captain, and then headed for the Gorda's Banks to make bait before heading further up the Cortez to La Fortuna. Chacho explained "there has been a large concentration of bait in the area for the past week now, and there have been many stripers along with them, so put on your fishing face!".

I went to my cooler and got the bananas out while motioning to Obeth and Pancho. "Chacho! I brought you some bananas" I said while holding them up. Chacho went nuts and said something in Spanish which I didn't understand. Everyone laughed as I tossed them over the side, followed by a few coins for luck.

The first strike came at 7:15 with a small yellowfin. I won the coin toss so I was up. The tuna was quickly dispatched to the tuna tubes. Chacho announced the water temperature at the banks to be 82 degrees. With no visible bait, Chacho headed further towards La Fortuna, and about 8 miles off shore.

Left to right: boats, Ron & John with double, Ron's marlin, and John's marlin.

When we arrived, there were about 20 boats in a tight area so this place was certainly no secret. There were striped marlin jumping in every direction you looked with bait on the surface as far as you could see. Pancho and Obeth put out two lines with cabilitos on and we had an instant double hookup with two stripers. Ron took the chair and I fought my marlin standing up. I was able to release my fish quickly because it was caught on a 50SW which gave me the ability to pour on the power. Ron's fish was caught on a Penn Senator using 30-lb test. While Ron was still battling his marlin, I took a rod and went to the bow and subdued a 15-lb Jack Crevalle. Mean while, Ron finally got his fish to the leader but we all feared it had drown. It was tail wrapped from the last jump it made. Pancho, leadered the fish, then dragged it alongside to get the fish oxygenated. After about 10 minutes, the fish was completely revived and swam off unharmed.

Not only were there many marlin, but also a huge school of Jack Crevelle were also feeding on the abundant bait. Unfortunately, although Toro are a prized light tackle game fish, they were eating all of our bait. We started out with 10 baits, and after the last stop, were we picked up 2 more Toro's, we were down to just 2 baits, one of which was half dead.

By 10:00 AM we were down to one dead bait, and the marlin were not interested in the dead bait or the trolled lures. We probably threw that dead bait at 8-10 more tailing marlin before 11:30 AM. If we had more bait, we could have easily put on 5-6 more stripers.

We headed back to the Gorda Banks in the hopes of making bait, but there was nothing but a lone striper jumping as we had seen all morning long. Not interested in the trolled lures, we headed back in, only close to shore in the hopes of catching a few Dorado for dinner. We had 3 or 4 knock downs, most likely very small Dorado. As we passed San Jose, I got lucky with a 40-lb Dorado, but it broke off just as it was being gaffed.

As we neared the marina entrance, Obeth, traditionally ran up the flags showing our results for the day. My contribution was up the port outrigger and Ron's tally was run up on the starboard outrigger. Two tag and released striped marlin, three Jack Crevalle, and one yellowfin tuna.

Ron sure got his dimes worth on this trip. He was able to witness fishing at its finest, with an outstanding crew and under ideal conditions.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Fishing alone today, we left 30 minutes earlier to get a head start on the other boats after buying 20 baits instead of the normal 10. The Eagle 1 is a darn fast boat so the 35 mile trip took less than 90 minutes on flat seas. It was another cloudless day, no wind, and warm, deep blue colored water. Perfect for feeding stripers, I thought.

While we were enroute, we stopped 7different times on tailing stripers. Always a group of them 3 to 5 in count. We tossed pitch baits each time but these marlin were simply not hungry. It was so depressing to see so many stripers and not get any action on live bait or even a look at the lures.

We were the first boat to arrive at the same area we fished yesterday and were greeted by huge balls of bait and stripers cruising on the surface everywhere. Again, we found the marlin would not cooperate - bait tossed right in front of their bill was ignored each time. We tried everything, including stunning the bait first, but to no avail. By 10:00 AM about 30-40 boats had arrived from San Jose and Cabo. All of these boats were concentrated in about 1/2 square mile. There were groups of 10-15 boats all racing to a frigate bird, a tailing marlin or other sign of a marlin. It was something rarely seen. It's more normal to only see a few boats on the horizon. Everyone was trying to jockey their position to toss a pitch bait. You would see huge puffs of diesel smoke as captains gunned their engines to race to a spotted fish. Kind of like the starting gun at the Bisbee Black and Blue tournament. The boats were so close to each other you had to be careful that your toss of the pitch bait didn't land on a boat next to you!

Around 9:40 AM we finally got bit on a pitch bait that Pancho launched from the bow. Because we were trolling 6 rods, it was easier to toss a pitch bait from the bow without the lines and outriggers in the way. TheEagle 1 is equipped with a bait tank on the bow which greatly helps this method of fishing. As we were hooked up, you could see just about every boat within 200 yards were also backing down on a hooked marlin. Because we were running a video camera of all the action, Chacho doesn't back down on a fish at 8-10 knots as the other captains do because of the waves splashing over the transom. For this reason, the fight is more tied to the anglers strength and endurance. The fish was released at 9:52, a mere 12 minute fight, but it still wears out a strong arm and back on this old fart.

Marlin # 2


Around noon, I made one of my famous sandwiches. Too bad I didn't have time to eat it. I set it down on the cushion and reached in the cooler for a bottle of water and at that instant, Obeth had hooked marlin #2 on a pitch bait tossed from the transom. I decided to fight this fish from the chair because it was on a 50SW and, well, I'm getting too old to face these pesky fighters standing up. The fish took a wild initial run of nearly 100 yards. Luckily the boats had dispersed somewhat so there was no danger of getting the line cut. It took about 15 minutes to get this fish to the rail when Pancho leadered the striper for a nice release. I got up and went back to my cooler and took a few sips off of water, when Pancho gets another bite for marlin #3. Back to the chair I go, leaving my water and sandwich behind. Fifteen minutes later, the striper is again leadered and released unharmed, and again, I return to my sandwich. I notice that 2 of the 3 pickles are gone and there is a rigged bait in their place - must be the fish gods!

Marlin # 3

Marlin # 4

While I finally get to eat my lunch, Obeth and Pancho were busy each time we'd stop on another tailer, but the fish weren't eating. Around 2:00 PM we decide to head in, again hugging the coast line while trolling for a few Dorado. It wasn't long before we got a knock down on the starboard long outrigger. It was a nice bull Dorado, but the gaff missed the first attempt and the fish jumped off. Not a big deal, happens all the time, but Pancho was really let down over the event. Oh well.

Day's tally: 3 stripers, all on pitch bait, all released, one early released Dorado. Not bad, a great crew.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Another 5:45 AM departure after a brief stop with the Port Captain and the bait vendors. We had a small bit of clouds this morning but their was no wind until we got past San Jose when the wind picked up generating some moderate white caps. As in the previous 2 days, we stopped enroute on many tailing stripers but they again, wouldn't even look at our tossed baits. The marlin would sound as we got near them, possibly they have been spooked over the past several days by all the boats.

The plan was the same as before, trolling, then stopping on a tailer and pitching a bait. As we reached the area, there were no real concentrations of boats as in the past several days, and only about half the number of boats, 25-30, where fishing today. Chacho remarked that "the bait was gone, eaten maybe by the school of pilot whales". The fathometer was blank and silent unlike the previous days when it was constantly beeping and echoes showing solid from the surface down to 100 meters. We were able to get 3 bites on the trolled lures, and all from the starboard long outrigger. We got one release in the morning and the other two knock downs after lunch. The last knock down was so brief that it jumped off before Pancho could hand off the rod to John. A catch and EARLY release I told Pancho! We all laughed.

Marlin #5 with lure hanging from mouth

The real action occurred on the way back, again trolling within a 1/2 mile from shore. The water was especially clear and deep blue in color. We switched to bright colored small lures and within no time had a small female Dorado in the cooler. There was a frigate bird circling a huge ball of bait, but we didn't get anything after two passes over it. Then we must have hit a school of Dorado because we got 3 fish in less than 30 minutes with one estimated at 40 lbs.

Chacho has a really funny sense of humor. He could see me struggling with that last big bull, and when I finally landed it and while catching by breath, he yelled down to me something that I didn't understand, but Obeth and Pancho burst out into laughter. I asked Pancho what Chacho had said, and he said "No Senoritas for you tonigh!t" and we all broke out into another round of laughter, this time, accompanied by me!

Large bull Dorado with John laughing when told by Chacho "No Senoritas tonight!"


Last flags

He's 'da Man! Thanks, Chacho.

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