by
John Vallon, Seattle, Washington

John, Mom, Louis, Geoff (195X's pic at San Vicente Reservoir, San Diego) (notice stringer of bluegill)

We have come a long ways...

First day 7/6/97

Louis arrives at my house at 5:00 AM, a half hour late for the 40 minute drive to SeaTac Airport. Oh well, we will just park in the terminal instead of at the less expensive nearby parking lot. We unload the jeep at the Sky Cap to save time. The Sky Cap looks over the airline tickets I gave him then tells us we have to go inside to check-in since itís an international flight. Time is getting short for our scheduled 6:00 AM departure so Louis goes to park the jeep while the Sky Cap and I move the fishing gear and baggage to the inside check-in counter. Luckily, no one else was in line so I began to go through the big envelope you always get from your travel agent, looking for the tickets. Then it dawned on me that the Sky Cap never gave the tickets back to me! I begin to get a little panicky. I yell at the Sky Cap, who was just walking off, "my tickets? hey, you never gave me my tickets back!" So we went outside and looked for the tickets. No tickets. The Sky Cap said he gave them back to me. Now the security people arrive to see what all the commotion is. I explained that the Sky Cap lost my tickets and that my brother was parking the car and we only have 20 minutes to get on board our flight. The security person asks if it is possible that I gave the tickets to my brother. The question really made me mad, "why would I give the tickets to my brother who is parking the car while I am supposed to be checking in?" The security person says we will have to buy new tickets and to go get in line at the "Purchase Tickets" counter. "If the tickets aren't used then we will receive a refund later" he tells me. Lets see now, no advanced purchase, no land package; I begin to go ballistic just thinking how much this is going to cost. Louis still isn't here so I will have to put his ticket on my credit card. The woman at the counter said to just "settle down and take a deep breath", maybe she was anticipating a heart attack. Louis now shows up and wants to know what's going on while removing the airline tickets out of his shirt pocket!

6:06 AM we depart on time en route for San Jose (California) Airport for a brief stop on the way to Cabo. We arrive at San Jose at 7:48 AM and go for a smoke break. While I am practicing acquiring satellites with my new Garmin GPSMap 175, Louis says he is going to get a few magazines for the next leg... Now it's 5 minutes from departure time and Louis isn't back yet. Maybe he's waiting for me at the gate I wonder. I get to the gate and no one is around. Panic again. Ah, but I have both boarding passes, so Louis must be close by. I wait. No Louis. Am I going fishing alone I wonder again? A quick check with the person at the counter "can anyone get past you without a boarding pass?" I ask. "Oh, it's OK, your brother boarded 20 minutes ago."

My brother and I are gear heads when it comes to keeping up with current conditions in Cabo via the Internet. We keep track of sea surface temperatures, satellite imaging, weather conditions in Cabo and predictions, as well as following all the fishing reports posted on the Internet. As we fly past La Paz, I look out my window and see thunderheads shooting up to 40,000 feet, and towards Cabo, the sky is so dark that it looks like the inside of a goat. Louis says, "nothing to worry about, rain was predicted for La Paz, but Cabo will be fine". We arrive in San Jose Del Cabo on time and I have to stop by the cockpit on the way off the plane to pick up my GPS from the Captain (the flight attendant took it away from me during the flight down.). As we wade through 3-4 inches of fresh rainfall on the ground, I ask Louis why we didn't know about this weather? He says:"it's only a brief squall, don't worry about it".

After Checking in at the Calinda Beach Hotel (5 km north of Cabo) we head for the marina to view the daily catch and to meet our local 'fishing integrator' Jaime Gopar. He is not with any particular fleet, but knows everyone. Just tell him the "Macarela brothers" sent you. He will help you with anything. Louis and I looking for a business associate, Dye Hawley and his wife from Seattle, they arrived a day before us. We told Dye to meet us at the fish weigh-in scales to set up the fishing schedules and review the boats. There they are and not far behind is our friend Jaime. I tell Jamie, "the gut pile seems a little thin today", 5 to 10 marlin ( a few blues, sailfish and the rest stripers), about 10 tunas (mostly football size) and a few dorados. Jamie says it's "El Nino". I go on to tell Jaime that I brought some fishing electronics that I wanted to try out to record water temperatures along with positional information. He just looks at me and says "sure, no problem". I ask him if we could talk to the captain of the boat to get permission to hook up our electronics. He agrees and we take the water taxi over to the Edith III. We meet the deck hand who is siphoning diesel fuel from drums in the back of a pick up truck via a 50 foot garden hose. Between sucking on the hose and spitting out diesel fuel, he introduces himself as Javier Villa Vicencio, and that the captain is Hector Ayala. Laughing at our electronics, he explains how he can determine the water temperature and find fish but we can't print that here. Actually there was a third thing he says he can do just as precise, but again, can't print that either. Jaime tells Javier that we will be telling Hector where to go the next morning (this was a mistake). He again laughs, "sure-no problem". Next we all head for town to talk to the locals about the current fishing reports and to pick up the current hot lure at Minerva's baja tackle the "petrolero".

Second day, 7/7/97

We depart the bait dock after loading 5 or 6 caballitos at 6:46 AM 7/7/97. After hooking the electronics up, we tell Hector our plan ( I previously entered all of the hot spots as waypoints in the GPS): we want to follow the Gorda Trough (a steep drop off from 3000' to 6000' according to our 'FISH n MAP') to the Cabrillo Seamount area, circle the area then head for the inner an outer Gorda banks. I had the feeling something was wrong with this plan, because as we reached the Arch as we left the marina, all the other fleet boats turned right, headed for the Pacific side. I asked Louis who said to fish the eastside? and he replied "the guy at Minerva's" said the fishing in that location had been very good, but "didn't say when".

At just about 25 miles due south of La Fortuna, we entered the Gorda Trough and put the lures out. Within a few minutes we had some fun thinking what it would be like to be stranded in these parts in a life raft as this 8' Mako shark cruises by. Water is azure blue and beautiful, 87 degrees and steadily increasing in temperature as we approach Cabrillo. No wind and slightly overcast from yesterdays squall. Perfect conditions I am thinking. I wonder what our captain is thinking about these idiots with all their electronics. All of a sudden, Louis spots a tailer. Bingo! At 10:25 AM a 180 lb. striper crashes into Louis's yellow and green head knocker. We previously drew straws to set the pecking order; I got the longest, Dye the middle, and Louis the shortest. Since Louis is the oldest brother he can change the rules. Apparently to him, the shortest drawn straw is always first! Readers correct me on this, I got the short end of the stick. At 10:45 we snap the pics then release the tired striper (after re-oxygenation) and continue with the troll. We circle the 3000' depth area of Cabrillo with no success then decide to move on to the outer Gorda bank for some Dorado. We arrive around 12:55 (at 19kts) and change the lures to feathers. Bingo again, but this time it's Dye's turn. Too bad, it was only a Mackerel and Dye wants to know if this fish counts as a turn. Louis and I look at each other, well readers, does it?

Louis's jumping striper with head knocker
 

That's all for today and we head for the marina. Jaime greets us when we arrive at around 4:00 PM. He scolds us for not letting the crew do the fishing. Oh well. We again check the gut pile , and it's the same as yesterday but with a few more Blue Marlin, one 300#'s. We schedule the Edith III for 7/9/97, but we will let the crew do the locating this time. Everyone agrees and it's tequila time.

Third day 7/8/97

7:30 AM, we rise and shine but need to change rooms because of the difficulty of going up and down 3 flights of stairs with coolers and fishing gear. So a quick discussion with the friendly girl at the front desk and we are moved to a room with easier access, no hallways and no steps. The Hotel Calinda is my favorite hotel, but even though you must take the shuttle or a cab to and from town, the Calinda has a welcome vantage point. The hotel swimming pools (3 of them) and Jacuzzis (3 also) are built right into the cliffs at the waters edge. This allows for unobstructed sea breezes and a great place to count flags on returning boats to the marina. The restaurant will prepare your catch of the day for only about 30 pesos a plate. The restaurant is an open air format, and is also situated on the cliffs with a spectacular view of the ocean. The hotel has 125 rooms but only about 13 can be accessed without going up or down steps.

Around 3:00 PM we head for town to firm up our next days fishing with Hector again aboard the Edith III. Again we meet Jaime and discuss the next day's plan. This time we all agree to let Hector take us where he thinks the best fishing will be. After talking with Jaime, we head for the gut pile for a head/tail count. The pile is about the same as it was yesterday and on Sunday, but more boats went out than on the day of the storm so the fishing appears to be less productive. It's taco time so we head to town for dinner. Lights out around 9:30, Iíll just have to watch the rest of that HBO movie when I get home!

Day 4 7/9/97

We arrive at the marina at 6:10 AM and find Jaime, as usual, waiting to help us with our gear. The Edith III is already waiting so we promptly get aboard. Hector introduces us to Javica Ceserol, the deck hand who is standing in for Javier (who was finding fish late into the night!). At 6:35 AM we are underway again after getting fresh bait. Temperature is 73 even this early in the morning. Not a cloud in the sky, looks like it's going to be another hot day. The captain maneuvers around the arch and heads out on 190 degrees at 17 knots. I ask Louis where he thinks the wind is coming from for our report, he says "just put down the wind is light and variable". After about an hour we start to troll in the vicinity of N22 40í and W110 00í while heading 270. After about 2 hours of absolutely nothing, no birds, no bait, I decide we have gone too far south. I discuss this with Louis, "we are too far out and I am going to take charge". He agrees. I tell Hector we are going to windíem up and move to the Jaime Bank. I show him on the GPS moving map where we want to go and call up the waypoint on the GPS. Hector really liked looking at the Icon of the boat on the moving map display. We are about 8 to 9 miles south of Jaime bank so it is only about a 30 minute trip. As we get into the 300' depth area, around 10:15 AM, we put the lures out. Not 2 minutes later, Javica spots a sunning Marlin and quickly gets a pitch bait ready. We make a single pass with the lures, and nothing, so Hector circles the marlin and Javica pitches the bait...hook up! Javica passes the rod to me and the fight is on. After a few jumps, Hector yells "blue marlino", we thought is was a lingering striper. After about 30 minutes I see color and yell for Javica. A few moments later the fish is alongside. Since it's the first blue, we tell Javica we will keep the fish. Javica ties the gaff line to a cleat and prepares to gaff the fish. Missed it! This fish then heads for the high seas. After about 20 more minutes I tell Louis to take over while I get back in the shade and replace about 2 quarts of body fluid. It is really hot now, and there is no shade at the stern. Louis decides that this is my fish and refuses to fight it anymore. I'm recharged so I take over. We get the fish alongside again, but again, the gaff misses and the fish sounds. How many times do you get 3 attempts I wonder? This time I notice that the line is frayed due to the fish getting under the boat at the last gaff attempt. I worry if the line is going to break. After another 2 quarts of water, the fish is on board.

We change the lures somewhat and proceed to the east side of Jaime Bank. Here we find lots of flying fish, porpoise and birds. All of a sudden Louis screams out "Marlin" , it's a swordfish sunning. Javica grabs a bait out of the tank and pounds it on the rail to stun it and then pitches it to the swordfish. We spend over thirty minutes trying to entice the swordfish to go for the bait without luck. I wonder why they stun the bait?

We are back to the marina by 3:45 PM. While we were gathering up our gear to head back to the hotel, we met a couple of fisherman from Nogales, Arizona who fished with captain Ruben Fuerte on board the El Chilito. They managed to catch and release a blue marlin, sailfish and a couple of tunas for the cooler. We got Ruben's card for future reference. Nice boat, has tuna tubes, GPS, digital fish finders and other electronics not normally found on the other fleet boats. (Ruben is independent and can be reached at home in the evening at 3-35-79). That was a very nice catch for the day based on all the other boat reports.

John's blue marlin (we know the guy with the chalk!)

Day 5 7/10/97

On Thursday we hired a taxi from the hotel at $20 per hour to takes us around for a information gathering trip. We visited two trailer parks just east of town. We meet Jerry Griggs at the El Arco Trailer park who has just recently succeeded in setting up his own charter fishing business. Said it took him 8 years and several trips to Mexico City. It seems that he was telling us there isn't room for anymore people in this business, and that no more charter licenses would be available. This is not entirely true. Next stop was at the Vagabundos Del Mar Trailer Park where we were directed to Art & Sue McLaughlin's space. Now these folks have really got it made: 50' RV, a 24' Fountain center console fishing machine, and six months off each year. When we dropped in, they were canning yesterdays tuna catch, and tying up leaders for the next day. Next stop is the marina to again check the gut pile. No change. We could see the remnants of 8-9 marlin, 1 sail, 2 blue and the rest stripers, plus 4-5 tunas and a dorado. One guy trying to peddle a boat told me that the fishing was great today but they emptied the gut pile earlier. I hate that! In the evening, our fresh caught Marlin for dinner at the hotel. We had it with drawn garlic oil and also with a Vera Cruz style sauce. It was wonderful. Everyone in the hotel wanted some.

On our first trip to Cabo several years ago, we fished with a skipper named Juan Carlos on the boat 'Leader'. Juan put Louis into his first marlin in Cabo and Louis has kept in telephone contact with him ever since. The owner of the Leader sold the boat a year ago, and Juan renovated the old wood hull and now has it running with the same name 'Leader':

(Sistership, Mikelson) Ok! so it looks a bit different.

 

As part of the plan, Juan calls us at the hotel around 9:30 PM and we decide to meet at the Latitude 22+ restaurant tomorrow evening to discuss a fishing trip.

Day 6 7/11/97

We arrive at Latitude 22+ around 5:00 PM for dinner and to meet with Juan Carlos. I staple my 1995 State of Washington Hunting and Fishing License on the wall next to hundreds of other peoples business cards. This place is a must do. Cold (very cold) drafts are only 8 pesos during happy hour. We had the Friday special for dinner, featuring roast pork with mashed potatoes and corn. It was phenomenal. Mike Grzanich the owner, is one heck of a guy. He was the former owner of the world famous 'Oar House' in California and Aspen, Colorado. He has since moved all of his marine memorabilia to the Latitude 22+. You won't find any hard rock music at his place, just oldies from the 50's and 60's. (No air conditioning either, but lots of high cfm fans). After crashing our faces into the food for awhile, Juan Carlos shows up with his deck hand Ramon. We discuss the slow fishing this past week and decide on the Jaime Bank for tomorrow with a 6:00 AM departure.

Day 8 7/12/97

We board at 5:50 AM and pick up 5 more caballitos from the bait vendors. We pass the arch at 6:10 AM, well in advance of the other fleet boats. Juan watches me fiddling with the GPS and asks what our speed is ( I think he just wanted to know if I knew how slow we were going)? I promptly answer "9 knots"! We begin trolling at the microwave beacon on a course of 240 heading to the 150 foot depth of the inner Jaime Bank. The GPS indicates that we should arrive in about 3 hours! At 9:30 AM N22 53' 20'' W110 14' 00'' three tailers come blasting up our troll pattern (an unforgettable site). Bang! Hook up on the starboard outrigger (petrolero). In my excitement I forgot to disconnect the safety cord and as a result was unable to set the hook. Juan makes a feeble attempt to gun the engine but we are already making full speed, so the fish is gone. I run to the other starboard pole (green and yellow head knocker) and start reeling as fast as I can. Hook up! This time I am able to set the hook several times, but without the help from the engine, the fish is again able to shake the hook loose. Minutes later Louis gets hit with a huge dorado, but the fish is also able to shake the hook. We see lots of flying fish, and birds working the area. We decide to change directions and follow the Tinaja Trough on a northerly course which would put us into the San Cristobol area within an hour or so. We switch out two lures with two feathers and head off. Within 10 or 15 minutes we are now surrounded by porpoise and birds, all moving in the same northerly direction. There is bait everywhere with birds feasting on the jumping baits, and tuna jumping. We can see huge tunas chasing baits under the boat:

The water is boiling with tuna. All of a sudden all poles are hooked up. We land 2 40-50 pounders and lose the other two. Now there are many boats where there were none just minutes before. The radio is going nuts with all the chatter. We're barely able to keep up with the school as it continues to move north. All the other boats are stopped on hook ups. At 10:30 AM we have a total of 3 tunas on board and 3 lost. At N 22 53' 54'' W 110 16' 48'' we head for the marina. After all, it will take 4 hours to get back at 9 knots.

We spent the remaining 3 days hanging out at the hotel pool planning our next trip this coming October. Each day we observed more and more boats coming from the Cabrillo Seamount and Gorda Bank direction. Apparently the tuna moved in from the Pacific side. On our last day it looked like they moved the entire marina right in front of our hotel. There were at least 30 boats due south of our hotel, ranging from less than a mile from shore to the horizon. At one time I could even see tuna jumping (yeah right). BTW, Robin Castaneda of Cass Tours was very helpful in arranging our flights and hotel accommodations as usual.

Muy Fuerte Sedals

Last modified 03/26/05