by John Vallon - El mackerele

Finally I have time to do the story behind the pictures below, now that I'm in my seat, 12C, en-route to Madeira. I'll be meeting with Lance, who left this morning from Los Angeles, in New Jersey to continue our flight to Lisbon, Portugal. From there, it's a 2-hour flight to Funchal, Madeira.

Well, this trip was not all fishing. On Lances' last trip to Cabo a few weeks ago, he managed to break a few things on the boat. For example, one of the saddle bag fuel tanks decided to break loose, the manifold controlling the tuna tubes and main bait well snapped apart, the main AC pump that feeds the manifold died, and two bilge pumps decided to take a hike. Nothing that couldn't be fixed in one day says Lance.


The flight down on Alaska was uneventful for a welcome change. I have to tell you about the red light and green light in the customs area of San Jose Del Cabo airport. It used to be that you simply "push the button", and the resulting light determines your fate: Pass (green), Fail (red). I edge my way up with my two coolers, and carry on bag watching the folks in front, getting steady green lights. I'm thinking, this isn't going to last for me. The family just in front of me let their youngest "push the button", and low and behold "red". Off they went to open their luggage for inspection. Better them than me I thought. I "push the button". Sure enough, I get the green. I quickly move past the inspection station, only to be stopped by this lady with a big badge and identification placard. She asks me "what's in the coolers"?"Fishing tackle", I reply. "You will have to open them for inspection". "No, I got the green light", I pleaded. Well, the fact is the green light means nada. She thoroughly checked each cooler. While poking around she found my bag of granola, which she promptly seized. It seems that this is considered "produce" and is forbidden. She probably ate it for lunch later!

The boat repairs took more than one day. I wasn't much help either. I showed up early each morning, out of courtesy I guess. Lance usually dispatched me back to my hotel and pool, unless he had an errand for me to run.


With the repairs finished, we finally were able to get out and do some catching. After getting bait we made our way to the Gordo Banks to look for some Blues. We weren't disappointed either. We arrived before the usual Cabo boats and easily made bait from a school of bonitos. Having the bait rods all set up with feathers for making bait can save much time when these schoolers show up at dawn. In no time, we had 4 bonitos in the tuna tubes.

Lance set out two 80-wides with the live 12-lb bonitos attached. We were trolling at 2-3 knots over the ledge of the outer high spot. I guess it was only about 15 minutes before we got bit. I already had my standup harness on so it didn't take long to get the fish firmly hooked up. Lance quickly brought in the other rod and put the bonito back in the tuna tube while I continued with the hooked fish.

The fish finally started to jump, and we saw that it was indeed, a nice blue marlin. With 40-lbs of drag, you can tire out a medium sized fish in 15 minutes or so. Lance backed down to recover the line the blue peeled off during the initial run. The fish was now right underneath the swim platform. A few more short runs and the fish tired out. Lance leadered the fish and was successful at retrieving the hook. It was a nice blue, around 260 lbs, Lance said later. We revived the fish for a few minutes and released it unharmed.


Not a bad start for the morning I thought. I pondered whether my lucky streak would end or keep going. We still had plenty of blue marlin candy left in the tuna tubes, and the fleet boats still hadn't showed up yet. My luck would continue we found out shortly. I was enjoying the sunrise when we got bit again on the port 80-wide again. Lance and I were getting some good practice in for our trip to Madeira next week. In 45 minutes, we had again released another nice 250+ blue marlin.

We continued with trolling the live bonitos for a couple of more hours, but the arrival of the fleet boats and the changing of the tides, slowed things down to nothing more than a boat ride. What a morning. We were back at the slip before noon, with two blue marlin and Tag/Release pennants flying high on the outriggers.


Today, we decided to sleep in and leave the marina after the fleet boats. It's not always necessary to be the first one out. We had a little trouble getting bait because of the late start, most of the bait vendors had gone home or were out of bait. We finally gave up and headed out to the 95 spot to look for some yellowfin tuna that had been reportedly been there yesterday afternoon.

Lance wanted to try out his specially made spreader bar. It's supposed to mimic a small school of squid. The trailing squid is the only one that has a hook in it, and it is purposely designed to look like it is injured. It didn't take long to get bit on this contraption.

Below, a yellowfin hit our spreader bar but we didn't know it was foul hooked. Tiagra TI-50W LRS with 500 yards of spectra, 100 yards of mono top-shot, mounted on a 6-ft hybrid custom straight butt rod. 30 minutes into the fight, a shark attacked the yellowfin, pulling off another 100 yards of line. When we finally got the yellowfin aboard, it was missing it's tail and had very visible teeth marks in it. The spreader bar seemed to work nicely and we were looking forward to seeing how well it would work in Madeira.


Tight lines

Last fooled with on 03/26/05