by

El Mackerele

Background:

Planning for this trip began last February.  Because of the new Millennium it was thought that most hotels and airlines would be booked early.  When I booked my airlines, Alaska charged me over $950 for a flight that is normally $400 with a two week advance purchase!  Happy New Years!  With the airlines taken care of the next Young Chumpkinsthing was to secure a room at the Mar de Cortez.  "We're full up" I'm told.  But since we are regular customers, Cindy would put our names on the "list".  Now with the travel set up, the next question was, is my fishing friend going to Cabo for the Millennium?  I fired off an e-mail to Chumpkins and he confirmed that being in Cabo instead of Seattle would be much better.  He told me that, yes, he would be down too, but his father may be entertaining guests, in which case he might have to find a room of his own.

Now, just reminiscing a little bit, after reading last years report, just what has transpired in the year that has passed?  Well, the single biggest event that happened to me is that I made the trip to Madeira with Chumpkins, a cabo fishing buddy,  and we each fought the same 1004 lb Atlantic blue marlin to its unfortunate death.  Additionally, I had the pleasure to meet Captain Clay Hensley and his longtime girlfriend Kimmi.   As a result of that trip, I also got to know Larry Beard, the owner of the boat we fished on, the "FreedEm".

Next in order of greatness, was the Cabo trip last May.  Dang man, 21 marlin in one day (Guess I never got around to that report! ).  That's hard to beat.  During that trip, Grumpkins introduced me to Bobby Dobson, owner/Captain of the "Checkmate".  He's a dam good fisherman, and has a wonderful family.  Bobby fished with us two of the three days and it was great.  Also got some great video, DaMillekins had the great idea to bait and switch the hungry marlin, resulting in some outstanding close-ups of the take.  I'll never forget the birthday dinner Bobby and Lisa arranged for me at the Cabo Wabo (the restaurant) last September.  Thanks again Bobby and Lisa!  Oh, on that September trip was the third most eventful item.  Bobby sets me up with a 70# + bull dorado!  We measured the fish and it taped out at 65" long with a 42" girth.  You can judge the weight yourself.  I ordered a mount just this afternoon!

Next down the line of events comes the July trip.  Well, I got my fill of big tuna on that trip.  145#'s and I gave up after 20 or 30 minutes fighting it in stand up gear.  I've caught many blues and stripers that were bigger than that pesky tuna.  Could it be that when Rambokins leaned over and cranked up the drag to 30 or 40 pounds that that had something to do with it? What was the point?  Rambokins will never let me forget that either.  "I've brought down 20 year old girls that could have landed that fish" he tells me.  I really hate this 30 year old punk talking down to me that way.  Very disrespectful in my opinion.  Probably wanted to get even for the time I told him we were not at the finger banks according to MY chart.  I just consider the strike of the tuna as the event to remember here.   Well, two other nice things on this trip, is that Chumpkins led me to two nice blue marlins, both over 200 pounds,  both tagged and released.  I still haven't decided what to do with the TBF release certificates.  Usually I frame them and put them on the wall with the others.  I think I'll just send these to Grumpkins as a memento.

Not a bad year at all.  I'm very thankful to those that helped make it possible for me to achieve those accomplishments.  A special thanks to Captain Clay Hensley, Bobby Dobson, Captain Jose (Chacho)Bojorquez, and especially to Lance Watkins, aka DaMillekins, Rambokins, Chumpkins, Chunkins, Clubkins, Dorkins.

Now for the current report background.

At the last minute, Chumpkins decides he isn't going to come down with us on the 23rd.  He is going to spend Christmas with his father, he tells me, and will be down on the 27th instead.  He assures me that we won't be alone on Christmas.  No big deal.  Just days before leaving, I get this wild idea: wouldn't it be great, I mean really great, to catch the first marlin of the millennium in the whole world!  I'm so excited about my brainstorm that I call Chumpkins on the phone to discuss the idea.  He agrees that it would be novel, but we would have competition from all over the world.  I suggested that during December, is the time when the stripers move in to Cabo in fairly good numbers, and the only other hot spot this time of the year is Australia.  I suggest that we could get up very early on New Years Day, perhaps early enough to be out on the fishing grounds just at day break.  Grumpkins agrees but cautions that he might just go directly from the New Years celebration to the boat.  He also mentioned that this must be a team effort and not a single persons glory as I had asked.  No big deal there either.  So that was the plan.  Catch the first fish of the millennium. Is that the way you remember it Chump?

December 23, 1999

It seems that every trip has some sort of hang up along the way in getting to Cabo.  Not this trip.  Sorry, nothing to report.  Not one hick up.  Well, not to let you down, I'll complain about the bus from the San Jose Del Cabo airport to our hotel.  It took almost 2 hours to get to our hotel.  We were the last to be dropped off.

My brother Louis had decided to come along at the last minute.  Actually, we had planned on doing this together for quite sometime, but about a month ago we stopped talking to each other (as brothers, we seem to do that often).  Louis had canceled his flight and hotel reservations at the Mar de Cortez.  He was able to rebook his airline but not the hotel.  He spent the first 5 days down the street, then when he had to move, I let him stay with me, on the condition that he get ear plugs so I could leave the air conditioner on at night to drown out his snoring.  Why should I wear the earplugs?

After checking in at our hotels and changing clothes, we headed to the Latitude 22 for dinner.  I had brought down with me the finished movie from the Madeira trip because Louis and Bobby Dobson hadn't seen it yet.  I grabbed the video and my camera and stopped at the front desk to call Bobby.  I asked him to join us at the Latitude for a few beers and to watch the movie.  He said he would try and make it, but he had a lot of friends and family in town for the holidays and might not be able to get away.

At the Latitude, bartenders, Nancy and Yole where there to greet us as always.  Since we weren't going fishing the next morning, we ordered a couple of tequilas to go along with the cold beers. I asked Yole about the sign over the door outside.  It seems that Mike Grzanich, the owner, had decided to close the place down this year on December 26th and head to Miami for two weeks.  It wouldn't open again until the day we left.  It's pretty tough to loose your dining place, but add loosing your watering hole made it too much to handle.  We had a few more beers and discussed the chores for tomorrow.  Without Chumpkins, there was little to do, since the boat was locked up tight.  Then, we decided that Bobby wasn't going to make it so I ask Nancy if I could hook my video camera to the TV and play the Madeira movie.  "No problem" she says.  Within just a few minutes of the movie playing, a crowd of people had joined us to watch it.  For a while, most of the people thought it was filmed in Cabo.  By the time the 40 minute movie was over, about 25 people had joined us.  When it was over, everyone wanted to see it again.  I guess we must have played it 4 or 5 times before calling it quits. Back at the hotel, we stop by the bar to see what's going on.  Another surprise.  The bartender, Gonzalo, is no longer working at the Mar De Cortez we are told.  He had been there for some 18 years, so it was quite a surprise to find him gone.  No reason was given.  It had been a long day, so we hit the hay early.

December 24, 1999

I had only two things to do today.  First, get my cell phone hooked up with Baja Cellular and second, get an Internet account for accessing my e-mail.  We started off with a late breakfast at Margaritaville on the corner of  Plaza Bonito.  The chili relleno, stuffed with canadian bacon and scramble eggs is simply out of this world.  The meal, with a smoothy and coffee will set you back 12 gringo bucks. Louis complains about the amount, but hey, it's Christmas time.  Lets splurge.

We grab a cab and head for Baja Cellular, on the main drag near the Pemex station.  I checked with locals before coming down and Baja Cellular was recommended.  Well, things started to go down hill fast.  I was told (Jeff Klassen) that one of the girls in the office speaks good English.  She did not.  The bottom line was that this particular office could not program my phone and we would have to go back to town to their other office.  It took about 45 minutes to find this out.  After walking out, I noticed another office building called TelCel just next door.  Not wanting to go all the way back to town, I walked in on the chance they could provide the service.  Things start to look up, when I find a guy that speaks excellent English behind the counter.  I explain to him I wanted my Sony cell phone second line to be set up with a 30 day account.  No problem he says.  He takes my phone and walks back to the technical department.  After about a half hour, he comes back and tells me that they can't program it here, but they can take it to their other office and do it, then bring it back, all within a half hour.  No problem I tell him.  Then I asked him if they provide Internet service.  It turns out, that this is the hosting site for cabonet.net, one of the few ISP's in Cabo.  In less than a half hour I have a new account all set up on my laptop.  This is way cool I thought.  So I test it out.  "Can I borrow your fax line to check my connection?  I ask".  "Sure, go ahead".  Well, we all know that things go wrong.  I couldn't get connected.  First it was the password.  They entered it in all uppercase and spelled it wrong.  We finally got that cleared up, then the DNS numbers were wrong.  Anyway, all the time I was getting this straighten out, Louis had long since gotten bored and was outside walking around.  Suddenly, he opens the door and sticks his head in and barks "John.  Drop everything you are doing and come out here. Tyson's toys (Merritt & Mothership)I want you to meet somebody".  Following his orders, I quickly walk outside and find a man and a woman standing with Louis.  Louis says, "Don, I would like you to meet my brother, John.  John, this is Don Tyson".  I just about shit in my pants.  I thought I misheard him.  There was no mistake.  Don had his name monogrammed on his polo shirt.  It was really him.  I was overwhelmed meeting this guy.  Don introduced me to the woman he was with.  It was none other than Shelby Rogers.  At the time I didn't know about her. She holds the saltwater 80# line class world record for Atlantic blue marlin, set in July 1995, in Madeira, Portugal, with a 1059 pound fish.  The first thing out of her mouth was, "we were 5 for 6 yesterday on stripers, just off the old light house".  Who would expect to hear that from most women on your first acquaintance?  What a pair I thought.  Don and Shelby had heard about the grander I "caught" in Madeira last summer.  It turns out that Clay Hensley is a long time friend of Don and Shelby and that's how they heard about it.  We talked for quite awhile about Madeira and fishing in general.  We asked what boats he had down and he replied that the big blue ("Horizons") and the Merritt ("Tyson's Pride") were anchored off Medano beach.  Shelby said they would be in Cabo for about 10 days.  Later, I asked Louis "how did you meet them?".  "While I was just standing around, Don and Shelby walked by, then Don stopped and looked at my baseball hat that had the IGFA 5 to 1 club insignia.  "Are you a member of the IGFA", Don asked?  You know the rest.

I returned inside to finish getting my Internet connection working.  After straightening out the password I was able to log-on to cabonet.net.  One thing I like about Outlook, is that you can have more than one e-mail address and host.  Once you enter these in your profile you can send and receive e-mail using the Cabo address.  As soon as I had this completed, I fired off an e-mail to Clay Hensley, telling him about meeting Don and Shelby, and also one to my parents telling them of our safe arrival.  Well, I hate to belabor this story about the cell phone, so skip the next paragraph if you are bored already.

About an hour and a half later, the guy comes back with my phone, and said they didn't know the "SPC" to program it.  The SPC stands for "Service Program Code".  I suggested trying a few combinations, such as all zero's, all ones, then we tried 6543231.  That worked.  I started filling out the paper work while the guy goes back to the technical department again.  After about another hour, the guy comes back and says that the programming is done, but in doing so, he had inadvertently changed the access code to unlock the phone!  The phone is now useless.  Period.  There is no backdoor function to unlock a locked phone.  It has to go back to the manufacturer.  I'm really hung up on the need for a phone while in Cabo.  Mostly because the Mar de Cortez doesn't have phones in the rooms, and the Telmex phone booth card readers rarely work.  I ask Rafael, the guy programming the phone, since I'm going to be in town for 2 weeks, could they just loan me one of their phones.  He asked me where I was staying and said he wanted to try some more things, and would come by my hotel later.  With that, Louis and I promptly headed back to the hotel for some pool time.  We had been sitting around the pool for about 2 hours now, and I was beginning to wonder what happened to Rafael.  Then I notice this guy and girl knocking on the door of my room.  It was Rafael and a very pretty young lady that was probably a salesperson.  He started off telling me that he couldn't get my phone to work but he had a loaner for me.  What really surprised me was that the loaner was actually a brand new phone, still in the unopened box!  It was one of those packages you see all around lately that includes a prepaid 100 minutes of time, the phone, and accessories all in a box.  Pretty cool!  To get me jump started, they programmed 4 or 5 numbers that I gave them into the phone for me.  This was a life saver, since the LCD display and the manual were in Spanish.  I never did figure out how to enter more numbers.  Rafael and I agreed that I would return the phone in two weeks and pick up mine.  As they left, he looked back and said "Merry Christmas John"!  I think that was just about the nicest thing anyone has done for me in all the years I've been going to Cabo.  And it was the day before Christmas too, so the extra mile Rafael went was even more appreciated.

Dinner at the Latitude again.  Nancy tells us that they would be serving the traditional turkey dinner tomorrow starting at noon.  Actually, a lot of places would be open and serving turkey all day long.  Again, no fishing tomorrow, so why not have a few tequilas to go along with those cold beers?  Another great dinner and we head back to the Mar de to see if the bar was open.  Even though it's Christmas Eve, the bar was open, but the place was empty except for the bartender and cashier.  Louis and I decided that we would sleep in tomorrow and then go to the Latitude for the Christmas dinner around 1:00 PM.

December 25-27, 1999

There is nothing remarkable to report for these days, except for the showings of the Madeira video at the Mar de Cortez bar at night.  I'm not sure whether it was the boredom, lack of anything else to watch on TV or what, but every time I set up the video, we had the place packed.  It would usually start off with no one in the bar with the TV just blaring.  Louis would say:  "Let's watch the video again".  And since I like watching it over and over myself, I would always be glad to run to the room and get it.  The bar is situated in such a way that most guests must pass through it to go out at night.  I should have charged admission.  In fact one night, as I started to disconnect everything after watching it five times, people started supplying me with cold beers for showing it again.  (Send me shipping costs and the cost of the VHS tape and I'll send you a copy!)

On the 26th, Louis and I went down to see our friend Chacho Bojorquez, Captain of Ocean Lures' Eagle I.  The boat was out on a charter so we walked around until it finally came in around 5:00 PM.  It was truly a sign of good fishing when the Eagle I came into the slip with 8 flags waving in the breeze.  6 stripers, all tagged and released, and 2 dorados was the total.  Long day. Just goes to show you what a dedicated Captain will do to make your trip the best possible.

December 28, 1999

This hanging around for five days without fishing wasn't what I had planned.  Finally, Chumpkins got in Monday night so I gave him a call at his place first thing in the morning.  He would meet us for breakfast at MargarittaVille.  After breakfast, we went down to the boat to find that it was in poor condition; it  needed a bath and a lot of repairs and maintenance.  There were two bad alternators, both fuel/water separators  needed replacing, a broken control station, and the list went on.  We helped Chumpkins get as much done as possible in preparation for our first fishing trip the next day.  Later, Bobby showed up and we all went to the fuel dock to fuel up.  On every trip this year, I had paid Lance for the fuel and his airline tickets.  This time, Chumpkins paid his own way and pulled out a wad of $100 bills and paid for the fuel without asking me for anything.  Strange I thought.  Is this some sort of Christmas present I wondered?   After returning to the dock and securing the boat, Louis and I headed to the Latitude for dinner, afterwards stopping at the market to get provisions for the next days trip.

December 29, 1999

The plan was for Louis and I to be outside the hotel at 5:00 AM when Chumpkins would come by and pick us up.  We had not discussed where we would fish the next day, at least to the best of my recollection.  All that I remember is that Chumpkins said we would anchor up and chunk for tuna on the Jamie bank.  However, he wasn't sure where the anchor rope was.  "Call me in an hour at the house.  If the anchor is there, we'll fish the Jamie bank and leave by 5:00 AM.  If not, we will fish the Cortez and I will be by around 6:30 AM instead".

5:00 AM and we are waiting for Chumpkins.  We have two 40 quart coolers with us, one with my GPS and video equipment and the other with water, food and ice.  Chumpkins shows up a few minutes later and seemed put out that we had the coolers.  There wasn't much room in the back of his Bronco for the coolers because he had a cooler that had the 700 feet of anchor rope in it and several trash bags full of frozen squid.  I finally got everything in, and we were off.

By 5:30 AM we were leaving the dock looking for a bait vendor.  At that early hour, we might not find any.  Luckily bait was no problem and we took on about 30.  As we rounded the Arch heading for the Jamie bank, you could just begin to see daylight.  The stars, and the moon, were clearly visible in the cloudless sky above (It must be poor planning on my part, as it seems that every trip begins with a full moon, not the best time to fish some argue.).  There was a light wind from the west, and a bit cool at that.  As we neared the Old Lighthouse, the cooler wind from the Pacific hit us necessitating putting on warmer jackets.  That was a first.

We arrived at the Jamie Bank area just moments after a spectacular sunrise around 7:00 AM.  The banks were alive with activity.  Lots of birds, bait, porpoises and occasionally we could see tuna jumping.  Watching the GPS and fathometer, Chumpkins positioned the boat between the two high spots, on the eastern side of the bank.  There is a very steep drop off on this side that goes down to 5400 feet in a short distance of about 4800 feet.  This is about a 45 degree angle.  According to my GPS, we were sitting about 400 yards west of the drop off, in about 400 to 500 feet of water.  The anchor goes over and holds tight.  The boat swings around lining up with the current and the anchor.  The bow was pointed southwest initially, then settled down pointing northwest.  Chumpkins attaches a 3 foot diameter bright red buoy near the end of the anchor rope, then secures the end to the cleat.  "If we hook a big one, go up to the bow, undo the rope from the cleat and throw everything overboard" Chumpkins tells us.  Seldom does he tell us what is expected in advance.  I thought about going up to the bow and looking at the set up to make sure I would know what to do if I were called upon to do it, but got side tracked instead.  I noticed that there were a few other boats with us now.  The Habenero, a small skiff, and one other yacht.  Chumpkins knew the crew on both the Habenero and the skiff, so they chatted frequently over the VHF.  Chumpkins tells me later that the crew, on both the Habenero and the two guys in the skiff, are considered to be the top tuna fishermen in Cabo.  It was a good feeling knowing that.  Sort of an honor to be fishing with these guys all alone out here I thought.

Anchored up now, it was time to start chunking the squid for tuna.  To the best of my recall, this is the set up:  Two rods, one each side of the boat, are rigged with a live bait and a heavy sinker and let out to go deep.  Two rods in the corners are rigged with a large piece of chunk bait, and drifted back along with the chum line.  To do this, you just strip off line as fast as the current is taking the chum. Chopping squidThe purpose is to keep your bait in the chum line that is constantly drifting away from the boat by the 3-4 knot current, while sinking at the same time.  After you have about 100 yards out, also the length of the mono filament top shot, you reel in and start over.  All this time someone else is tossing a piece or two of chum (chopped squid) off the stern about every 10 seconds or so, depending upon the speed of the current.  In between tosses of the chum, you need to chop up the whole squid into smaller bite size pieces.  I've heard about this "chunking" before.  It can be wild when the bite is hot, but without a bite, it's very boring.

In about a half hour, we get a bite on the port live bait rod.  Not a big bite, but enough to make the clicker click a few times.  Chunkins grabs the rod from the holder and waits with the reel in free spool.  He feels a light but steady pull.  "Feels like a shark!" he says.  Chunkins "puts the heat on" and reels to set the hook.  "I'm not sure what it is.  Maybe a small shark".  Sharks are very common at all the banks so we all agree.  Because we all thought it was a shark, Chunkins will go ahead and bring it in, and refuses a fighting harness when I suggest him putting one on.  Big mistake!  All of a sudden, when the fish is closer to the boat, it takes off pulling line hard.  No shark.  Maybe a tuna.  Chunkins with his rambo style, puts on the heat and gets the fish back to the boat in short order.  It's a huge wahoo.  Chunkins starts to bark orders about gaffing the fish when the fish starts to go under the boat.  Since we are at anchor, this could result in the line breaking if the fish pulled it under the props or rudders.  Chunkins dips the rod tip as far as he can into the water while reeling, trying to pull the fish back from under the boat.  He yells out in pain from the pull.  Then the fish starts heading towards the bow, but still partly under the boat.  Chunkins quickly follows the fish up to the bow, where he has to maneuver the rod and fish around the anchor line.  Back around the other side, he again is in the cockpit with the rod bent over and the butt causing excruciating pain with every pull of the fish.  Louis was chosen to gaff the fish, but now seeing that it looks to be about 100 pounds, we decide that maybe I would be a better choice, since I've done it a "number" of times before.  As I take the gaff from Louis, the fish heads under the stern and in a heartbeat, Chunkins leaps out and on to the swim platform like a mad man.  Without his quick thinking and brute force, the fish would have been cut off long ago.  This presented a small problem for me however.  Now the fish would have to be gaffed at a longer distance from the boat, and then getting the fish pulled over the swim platform and into the boat with Chunkins in the way was bound to be a little risky.  There would be no second chance on this fish. A missed gaff would most likely result in a missed fish. I lunged forward and pulled hard but firm on the gaff.  The gaff ended up several inches behind the head in firm meat.  I struggled to get the fish up and on the swim platform, then couldn't pull it over the transom and into the boat.  As I was pulling with all my strength, Chunkins grabbed the gaff with me and started to lift, but the sudden extra lift caused me to loose my footing and I fell backwards with the fish coming over the transom at the same time.  From hook to gaff the whole episode only took about 10 maybe 15 minutes.  Chunkins broke out the scale and we weighed it.  90 pounds. "Is this the biggest wahoo for the boat?" I asked. "No, but a good one anyway", Chunkins announced.  Chunkins then got on the VHF and updated the nearby boats that were curious as to what was on the other end of the line.  Because we didn't have enough ice to keep the fish cold, Chunkins arranged with the Habenero crew to have them take Habanero takes our 90# wahoo for cold storageit and put it in their cold storage until we got back to the marina.  Chunkins broke out  a mooring line and tied one end through the gills of the wahoo.  The Habenero then backed up close enough to have the line tossed to them, and they pulled it in.  A quick thought of accomplishment rushed through my head as I watched the two young deck hands struggle while pulling the wahoo over their transom - and using a rope, not a gaff!  Chunkins told me that the owner of the boat is the chairman and CEO of Oracle Corporation.  I wonder if Bill Gates has a boat that nice?

Nothing much happened over the next few hours other than a small mako that cruised up the chum line and into view. The shark looked to be about 1 or 2 years old - only about 3 feet long.  Mako meat is considered by many to be even better than wahoo!  Since the shark would have been a menace - hanging around and eating all the chum and live bait we tossed out into the spread, it was decided to kill it and keep the meat for dinner.

There are many techniques and tricks that can be used when chunking.  Sometimes a kite is used to drift a live bait way back from the boat for shy tuna or to keep the leader completely out of the water.  Chunkins brought out "his" kite and played around with it for a while.  I'm not sure why, maybe to break up the boredom.  What wind that was blowing was blowing in the wrong direction from the direction of the current to launch a kite. using a rubber as a balloonWhen kites are not an option, another method to get a bait way back is to use a party balloon.  In fact, by now we noticed our neighbor, the Habenero, had just put out a balloon and was letting it out.  Chunkins looked around and finally found a bag of balloons.  They had been laying around for a long time because they had all vulcanized and fell apart when picked up.  Not to be out done, the clever Chunkins brought out some prophylactics (rubbers) that someone had left on the boat recently.  Hmmm!  He blew one up and tied it to the live bait rig and let it out.  Proudly, he then called the Habenero on the radio and announced his clever rigging material.  I have the conversation captured on the video and will put it up later.  The crew were very amused.  I'm not sure what the chairman of Oracle thought about it, or if he even knew.

Every once in awhile a school of tuna would come close, sometimes 400 yards, other times just a few 100 yards.  One time they were coming from the north, directly down our chum line.  Nothing ever came of it.  We just sat patiently.  Still we had birds and porpoise everywhere you looked.  At any one time you could always see tuna jumping in the distance.  I heard one guy over the radio say that he'd never seen such a high volume of fish without any bites.  Full moon?  Who knows.  I asked Chunkins why the guys in the skiff, didn't chase down the tunas.  He said that "it's a waste of time.  You get close and they sound.  Don't you think they would chase the tuna if it were effective?".  Hmmm!  With that, Chunkins hits the hay.

Two hours later, Chunkins awakens and asks why we aren't working the rods.  What's the point I thought?  We've been here 8 hours and nothing.  THIS, is a waste of time, I thought.  Chunkins decides that what we need is some loud music to attract the tuna.  The sound travels through the hull and into the water.  "Tuna like rap music and I've had success with it before" he tells us as he turns the volume up to 90db or so.  It almost hurt it was so loud.  "Shut the f?xk up! Shut the f?xk up!" are the lyrics of the rap music.  With the rap blaring Chunkins starts running around throwing chunks, cutting chunks, reeling lines in and out.  Well, he just had a nice nap.  Louis and I had pretty much gotten tired of all this.  He rigs up a line with 4 or 5 hooks on it and drops it to the bottom.  Now we're bottom fishing.  I wondered what kind of bottom fish they have out here.  The music is really getting to me now and I can tell that Chunkins is aware that we don't like it.  It's his boat so I won't bitch about it!  It's past sunset now, and all the other boats have left, except for one.  I heard the captain say on the VHF about maybe anchoring up for the night to get an early start in the morning.  Kind of an erie thought to me being out here alone all night.  We also decided it was time to go.  Not a reel productive day, but hey, none of the other boats out here were so lucky as to get one single bite!  We got one tuna bite, a nice big wahoo for dinner, and last but not least, some nice Mako fillets.

All day long, since the minute the anchor went over the side, I wondered who was going to get the pleasure of bringing in the 600 to 700 feet of rope and anchor.  Without a winch, it would be a huge task.  However, Chunkins had a trick that really, really impressed me.  I'm not sure of the details of the rigging but it went something like this:  there was this ring about 6 inches in diameter, made out of stainless rod about 3/8" thick, that was between the anchor and the big buoy, with the anchor rope passing through it.  Chunkins went up to the bow, and untied the rope from the cleat and brought the buoy and rope back to the stern.  The buoy was then connected to the stainless steel ring with the anchor rope passing through the ring but not the buoy eyelet,  then the end of the anchor rope was tied off to the cleat on the transom.  The buoy was now free to slide along the anchor rope while still remaining on the surface because it was large enough to hold the anchor and the rope suspended without sinking.  Next was the surprise of the day.  Still to me unknown what was going on, I thought he was just going to pull it in by hand, he tosses the buoy overboard then calmly walks up to the helm and we took off at high speed.  To my amazement, I watched the rope start coming to the surface as we moved away from the buoy.  Soon, the buoy was almost 600 feet behind the boat, and all the anchor rope was laying on the surface.  He simply started backing down on the buoy as I brought the rope in and coiled it up in the cooler.  In no time the buoy was along side and the anchor had snagged on the ring as it was supposed to.  I asked Chunkins how long he had been pulling the anchor up using brute force before he learned that clever trick.  I don't remember what he replied.

We arrived back at the marina around 7:00 PM and looked for the Habenero to get our wahoo before going to the slip.  A quick call on the VHF and the captain appeared with the wahoo all filleted out.  We took just what we could eat for dinner and gave him the rest.  That was a fair deal I guess.  Chumpkins told us we needed to fix the alternators before going out again, so tomorrow would be a work day again.

Later that evening, Louis and I took half of the filets to the Cabo Wabo for dinner.  Remembering how well the chef , Dustin, prepared the tuna on my birthday earlier in the year, we asked to speak to him about the wahoo.  Garlic and pepper he asks us?  Yeah, just do it the way you did the tuna.  He said we had enough to feed an army and what did we want to do with the rest.  "Take some home and give some to the rest of the crew in the kitchen" I told him.  Wahoo, being one of the best eating fish, was clearly appreciated.  Well, the dinner was outstanding.  Louis asked him how he cooked it and what his recipe was.  Didn't get a reply to that question.  Didn't expect to either.  He just smiled and said it was a secret.  We thanked him and left a rather large tip and headed back to the hotel.  There would be no problem sleeping tonight.

December 30, 2000

Today is another maintenance day on the boat.  Louis and Wrenchkins were able to fix the Mather Control station in the tower and replace the cockpit halogen light assembly.  The other major problem was the port alternator.  The alternator was so far gone, that even the tachometer signal wasn't present.  We simply switched the tach output wires going to the instrument panel.  This proved that the tach signal was missing rather than a bad tach.  I had volunteered to remove the alternator and replace it with a spare, rather than work up in the tower.  I don't like climbing around up there, besides, in the past on my boat, it was routine for me to remove and replace the alternators every year, so I knew what was involved.  The port alternator was easy to get at compared to the starboard, because it is mounted on the far right side of the engine.  After fumbling around for a half hour, I asked Wrenchkins to help me get the bolt loose holding the alternator bracket to the engine block.  "No you don't have to undo that one.  Just loosen the nut at the other end of the bracket".  Yeah, now I remember.  With the alternator loose, I start to disconnect the wires, noting that there is only one way they can go back on, so no need to write anything down.  In a few more minutes the alternator was out.  While installing the replacement, I was having problems getting the nut lined up with the hole on the mounting bracket.  Wrenchkins, observing my demise, took over the replacement.  In no time, it was hooked up and ready for a test.  The test didn't go well.  No output.  Same as the other.  No tach signal and no charge showing on the voltmeter.  Ah, we forgot the jumper wire between the alternator output, and the input of the regulator.  The regulator can't regulate, if it doesn't have a signal to compare to.  Make sense?  The basic idea is to compare it's own output with that of the alternator output and keep the difference as close to zero as possible.  Without the jumper, the comparison can not be made.  We were now confident that it would work.  Dam, still no change.  Wrenchkins admits that he wasn't sure if the replacement had been to the shop for repair or was to be sent to the shop.

It was getting near 5:00 PM by now, and we had just finished cleaning up the messes and putting the tools away, when Chumpkins and John Urh, captain of the Chupacabra, started chatting on the VHF.  There was a big run on yellowtail right off the Arches, John tells Chumpkins.  Within minutes, we were leaving the harbor to join John and numerous other boats.  You don't get to see this kind of action on a fleet boat!  Louis and I were very grateful for having that opportunity, thanks to Chumpkins.

January 4, 2000

Now there is a gap up if I ever saw one.  Just like a stock gaps up in the morning!  We moved from ugly up to good.  Those missing days were so ugly that I couldn't find anything nice to say, so I'm not saying anything, even though I'd really like to do some slamming.  The day before, Louis and I were finally able to get all our gear off Dorkins boat.this boat really raises a lot of marlinLuckily for us, the Eagle I did not have a charter, and we were able to squeeze ourselves in for another day of fishing.  We left the dock by 7:00 AM, picked up some bait from the vendors and headed for the old light house.  The regular mate had the day off and we were blessed with a 21 year old, up and coming, future captain, named Delberto.  This kid really new his stuff and spoke excellent English.  Chacho was busy on the radio checking with his brother Mamo and other captains about where the best fishing might be.  As we neared the light house we could see hundreds of birds working the area with many schools of porpoise.  More than I've ever seen before.  The fathometer showed huge schools of bait all the way up to the surface, a good sign.  The water temperature was as it had been for the last 2 weeks, right around 72 degrees.  The water was deep blue and there was little or no wind.  Spotting tailers or stripers in the spread would be easy I thought.  This is going to be a wild day.

Despite all the good signs, we couldn't manage a single bite.  There were many boats out here and none of them were hooked up either.  "Maybe too much bait", Chacho suggested.   Then the chatter on the radio picked up and Chacho headed north where we could see that a boat was hooked up. Nice striper ready for taggingBy the time we got in the area, there were at least 5 other boats hooked up with marlin.  Frigate birds were everywhere crashing on the surface after bait the marlin kicked up.  Chacho yelled at Delberto to bring in all the lines and switch to live bait.  It was about 10:00 AM, after we had been trolling live bait for about 10 minutes, that we got our first hook up.  Louis was up so he took the rod from Delberto and got in the chair.  This was a real strong striper so it took about an hour to get it alongside.  Chacho came down to tag the fish while Delberto held the leader.  We revived the marlin for at least 5 minutes due to the long fight, then released it unharmed.

We continued trolling the rest of the afternoon, and were two for five, baiting and releasing two more nice sized stripers. Two of the missed were during 2 doubles where we could only turn the double into a single tag and release.  The last striper came in at 2:45 PM when I thought it might be time to start heading for the marina.  Chacho had been working hard the past two weeks, staying out late,  getting back to the slip after 5:00 PM many times, so I thought it would be nice for him to get in a little early for once.  Chacho agreed and we changed directions.  I remember when we had just passed the old light house because I always like to check my moving map and GPS to see where we are compared to just looking out the window.  Right on the mark.  The light house was just off the port beam.  What I had failed to notice, was a bunch of frigate birds circling directly over head.  Chacho was getting nervous.  Louis and I moved back to the stern thinking something was up.  We wanted to be ready or Delberto would beat us to the rods.  Then, the birds started crashing down, just off the starboard corner, no less than 50 yards away.  All of a sudden, 30 feet from the starboard corner, 8 to 10 needle fish, all in a row, simultaneously leaped clear out of the water like screaming torpedoes coming right at us.  I thought they were going to jump in the boat.  I've never seen needle fish that big.  They were 18 to 20 inches long and looked like they weighed 4 to 5 pounds each.  They actually looked like small barracudas.  They were running for their lives.  In an instant, we had 3 rods go off.  I was holding my rod all this time and was able to bait my own fish.  Louis grabbed the closest rod, then Chacho came down to work the other hook up while Delberto cleared the remaining rod. John's 35# bull doradoMy hook up turned out to be a dorado so I let the drag loose while Louis and Chacho worked the two stripers.  Chacho's marlin spit the hook after 20 minutes leaving only Louis and I hooked up.  With the Penn 30STW, Louis was able to quickly get his striper alongside for tagging and release.  With all the other hook ups out of the way, I put the drag back on and started to bring in the dorado.  During all that time, the dorado had taken off nearly 300 yards of line, so it took a while to get it alongside.  Great fish.  We estimated the weight of the bull to be around 35 pounds.  Chacho got out the flags and immediately ran up two marlin and tag flags on each of the outriggers, then ran up the solitary dorado flag on the stinger.  What a day.  4 for 9 on the stripers and a dorado.  Looks like we will all  have dorado for dinner tonight.   It had been a good day of catching. One of the best for sure.  It is such a good feeling to fish with our friend Chacho.  Even if we don't catch anything, which is rare, we still have a great time. Back at the dock, it was late again being 5:30 PM already.  We hung around for a while, knowing that we had to say good bye until next May, which wasn't going to be easy.  Chacho is a fine man and a great fisherman.  Saying good-bye was a bit teary for us all. It was a fantastic end of the fishing year and the millennium.

With a couple of thick dorado fillets in the cooler, Louis and I new exactly where to go to have them cooked up.  We got to the Cabo Wabo by 7:00 PM.  We summoned up Dustin again and told him we were leaving in the morning and asked if he would cook up our dorado.  "Pepper and Garlic?" he asks.  "Yeah, just like the tuna and wahoo" we joke.
Friends, I have to tell you this:  That was the best meal that I have had in many, many years. Some think wahoo is the best eating fish.  For me, a thick filet of dorado, freshly caught and dressed, is hard to beat.  You simply cannot get that in the US.  Dustin's method of cooking the fish is such that when it is brought out, the fish is still slightly under cooked in the middle, but still cooking from the heat on the plate.  By the time you take the first bite, it is perfect.  There was nada on my plate when they took it away.

Well,  long story, eh?  I left out a lot of ugly, pursuant to my style in previous reports.  No one wants to hear someone whining about this and that.  Before I wrote this report, I got a particularly interesting e-mail from someone that reads all of my reports.  I get many e-mails but this one I thought I'd share with all of you .  After reading his comments, I decided to temper this report as best I could, so as not to upset anyone or sound like the whiner that I tend to be sometimes. In fact, I have a plaque from a watering hole I used to frequent, where I actually was given the "Whiner of the Year" award.  I leave you now, with the text of that e-mail as the end of my report and end of the millennium.

John Vallon

Hi there,

I recently linked to your site from “ask jeeves” a meta search engine .  I downloaded several of your reports and articles and I felt that the least I could do was e-mail you to let you know how much I enjoyed  the reports and photo’s. As I type this I am downloading your video. The style of writing and the descriptions you give make your pages come to life and I just thought that I would let you know that your efforts  are appreciated.

I will never catch a marlin, but reading your pages has made me feel that I've been out there,  and that maybe, one day my son might catch one for me. Thank you very much for your time, good luck and tight lines for the future.

Iain McCormack,  ENGLAND.

Last fooled with 03/26/05