John Vallon, Kirkland, Washington
We fished both sides, Outer Gorda Bank, 95 Spot, Jamie Bank, and Golden Gate Bank. Water temperature was 88° at Gorda Bank and 83° at Jamie Bank. We covered over 200 square miles in 3 days. We fished from 7:00 AM to sometimes 4:30 PM.
8/13 no fishing - no rods, details in report.
8/14 no fishing - no rods.
8/15 2 blue marlin, 1 wahoo (180#, 260#, 60#), 1 lost lure.
8/16 1 wahoo (65#), 1 brown pelican (12#), 1 lost lure.
8/17 1 blue marlin, 1 wahoo (~850#, ~80#), 2 dorado's (40-50#s), 3 lost lures.
All blue marlin and the pelican were released unharmed.
Our trip started out with some shortcomings that later proved to be a blessing which resulted in this trip being one of our best, quality wise.
For those readers that have read our previous reports, it is no secret that my brother and I like to fish our way with our own equipment. In the past we have had little success in these attempts when booking with the fleet boats. On our last trip we found a well equipped 29' Topaz called the Honeybea. The captain, Guillermo Bojorquez understood our requests, and took us to the outer Gorda bank, were we caught a 440# blue marlin with a live yellowfin tuna for bait.
We had hoped to fish on the Honeybea on this trip also. I contacted the owner of the Honeybea well in advance, only to find out that the owner and Guillermo would be bringing the boat up to San Diego for the summer. So we headed down without a boat and captain.
We arrived in San Jose Del Cabo Thursday afternoon, and found that Alaska Airlines had achieved an almost perfect score on our luggage by having 5 of our 6 pieces of checked baggage. Our rod tube was missing which contained 5 rods and our lure bags. The woman that took our report, Valeria, told us that there would be two more flights arriving that might have the misplaced rod tube on board. She told us that they would bring the rod tube to our hotel around 10:00PM and gave us her phone number. She also told us to go ahead and rent some rods and Alaska would pick up the bill! On our return trip to Seattle, we again met Valeria who helped us with our seat assignments and baggage. We told her that we finally got our rods so all was not lost. When Louis and I checked our seat assignments we found that she put us in first class all the way to Seattle. This helped take the sting out of the misplaced rod tube (tubo y tubito blanco).
After checking in at the hotel and dropping off some laundry at the cleaners (it goes all the way to La Paz and takes two days, the lady tells us) we headed for Minervas tackle shop to find out if they rented rods. The answer was no they don't, and we were told that Alaska has lately been loosing rod tubes and not to count on it being delivered to our room, or ever seeing them again. We then headed over to the gut pile to check the daily catch. We talked to the fleet operators, and were told that the recent storm on Monday screwed the fishing up, but had picked up yesterday and today. The yellowfin tunas that had been reported at the outer Gorda banks over the past several weeks have disappeared we were told. Also, none of the boats have been going to the pacific side because of the high winds and seas. Overall, the prospects appeared good for blue marlin and lingering stripers. Our success however, would rest on being able to get a good boat, crew, and find bait.
The special at Latitude 22 was pork chops. Nancy and Yole quickly recognized us and served up some cold beers. Louis and I decided to give Guillermo a call to discuss our fishing options. Nancy helped again, by giving us her phone card. Louis told Guillermo about the rods, and that we needed a boat, but wanted him and his brother Jose for the crew. Jose is the captain of a privately owned tournament rigged 33' Blackfin that we saw on our last trip. I suggested that Jose ask the owner if he might make a special arrangement for us since our regular boat was in San Diego. Guillermo said the owner has never done this before, but he would ask Jose to send him a fax and let us know at our hotel when they heard back. We arrive back at the hotel and wait around until 10:00PM. No rods. Louis called the airport, and the woman said maybe tomorrow.
Spending all day at the pool, we consider our options. We decide that if we don't get our rods this afternoon, then we would leave tomorrow and settle up with Alaska later. The rods are again a no show, so Louis calls Alaska to change our flight. We were told we would have to pay $35 each for the change, and the earliest we could leave would be Monday, only one day earlier than our scheduled departure. Louis went to the moon with the agent and asked to talk to the supervisor, which only resulted in getting the $35 fee waived. So we are now rescheduled to leave Monday.
We head to latitude 22 for the roast pork special. After finishing dinner, we call Guillermo again to find out if he has heard anything from the owner regarding the Black Fin. Guillermo said he would come over to talk to us about it. Guillermo had good news for us when he arrived. The owner agreed to let Jose take his friends, the boat-less brothers, fishing but we would be expected to pay for the services of the crew plus the costs of fuel. Louis and I were overwhelmed with the thought: The El Mackerele brothers and the Bojorquez brothers on a tournament rigged fishing machine.
The Black Fin
I asked Guillermo about hooking up the fathometer as I did last May, and the new laptop computer I brought new to replace our handheld GPS and paper maps. He was really impressed when I pulled out the laptop and showed him the moving map GPS software. He was equally impressed with the web page of our previous reports. Guillermo suggested that we would go the outer Gorda bank, as this is where the blues have been caught for the last month or so, along with plenty of tunas. We all agreed, and I told Guillermo that we would like to meet at the boat around 6:00 AM to do my electronics installation. He agreed and also volunteered his wife to make burritos for our lunches. So Louis and I headed for the market to pick up some bottled water and ice. I told Louis that I thought we should make up some tuna sandwiches, just in case, but he thought it would insult Guillermo. I finally talked him into getting some bananas, cheese and beef jerky for snacks. As we turned the corner to our hotel, the Mar de Cortez, we noticed a guy getting out of a Van with the missing rod tub. Were we ever excited now! We spent the next two hours rigging the rods up for the morning trip. The rooms at the Mar De Cortez have no phones so you must sign up for a wake up call. They come around and knock on your door at the prescribed time. Louis signed us up for 5:00 AM and we hit the hay.
The wake up call came as requested, and we were at the front desk by 5:45 AM to get a cab to the marina. But there were no cabs in sight. The clerk at the front desk said they don't shown up until after 6:00 AM, and the restaurant isn't open yet either. We finally get to the dock and make our way to the black fin, and find Guillermo and Jose busy making preparations.
Louis and Jose prepare the cockpit for the days fishing and I started to hook up the dc to ac converter needed to run my laptop computer (later I found that the converter wasn't necessary, since the boat is equipped with AC. Unfortunately, I didn't learn of this until our last day). Then I realized that I had left the power cord plugged into the wall back at the hotel room. Louis gets upset, and said I should just skip the GPS. No way I said. Guillermo offers to drive me back to the room to get it. We were only gone 15 minutes. I finish hooking everything up and we leave the dock by 6:30 AM. As we look for the bait vendors, Guillermo tells us that his wife forgot to make lunches, and we would just buy some box lunches at the marina. But there was no way to get close to the busy dock. We decided to get bait and take off without lunches. The bait was in short supply, all that was available was a tropical looking small fish called a Rayado. The brownish fish had bright yellow spots and a sharp spiny fin that made it dangerous to pickup.
About 5 miles west of the Gorda bank around 7:00 AM, we put out the lines. What a spread this was with 7 lines: 2 each on the two outriggers, 2 flat lines off the transom and finally a shot gun. To this spread, Jose added a teaser, made from a boat fender with a plastic skirt attached. It looked like a school of bait following the boat Guillermo remarked. In less than an hour we arrive at the outer bank to find about 8 boats, mostly pangas. There were no birds, no bait, and no dolphin anywhere in site. The pangas were yo-yoing jigs off the bottom which indicated the surface fishing wasn't productive. We spent only an hour or so at the bank before changing directions to the 95 spot.
Our first fish of the day came at 11:55 AM at 22° 48'38"N, 109° 36'43"W or about 5.8 NM east of the 95 spot. Louis releases a nice blue marlin estimated at about 180#s. I video taped the fish, which displayed magnificent jumps and greyhounding very close to the boat. The marlin evened the score by cutting off one of the trolled lures just before hitting Louis's lure. We had to drag the fish for almost 5 minutes to get its color back before releasing her.
Louis's small blue marlin. Looks bigger in the video!
Next it's my turn. My own rod gets hit at 12:40 PM just 3.6 NM west of where Louis got his blue marlin. This is also a blue marlin and is estimated at 260#s by Guillermo. Louis doesn't take pictures of my fish, so sorry no pics.
Time for a quick snack, the bananas, cheese and beef jerky hit the spot. Never rely on someone else to bring the lunches. Guillermo, watching us with our snacks, tells use that Jose hates bananas and thinks they are bad luck. So we promptly yell up at Jose and offer him a banana to which he clearly declines with the usual gestures. Both Jose and Guillermo worked hard all day. I have never seen so many lures.
Jose had arranged his lures by color, size and head shape and placed them in large Plano plastic boxes. He had at least 20 boxes in a cabinet just under the rocket launchers in easy reach. So much concentration.
Let's see if this will work!
The final fish was a nice wahoo that hit the bright pink lure just west of the 95 spot. I was a bit surprised at Louis's wahoo since wahoo are thought to be more of a morning feeder. We pass the arch at the entrance to the marina and decide to release the Rayado baits that made our see through bait tank look like an aquarium. The flags go up and we are pleased with the days efforts. Back at the dock it is decided that tomorrow we will head directly to the 95 spot and bypass the Gorda banks entirely. Guillermo checks on the radio and confirms that most of the action was at the 95 spot and outside the old light house.
Guillermo gives us a lift back to the hotel where we clean the wahoo for dinner and then head for cocktails. Note, the bar at the Mar de Cortez closes at 8:00 PM and has the only TV. The bartender has been with the hotel for 15 years and is a bit of a character. He absolutely hates making a Pina Colada on the rocks, which are our favorite drink. Later we learn that he also hates people that allow there napkin or flat money to blow over the bar. He doesn't like picking it up, but does, and makes a point to put your drink on top of it, along with some Spanish slang indicating his displeasure in this.
The wahoo was cooked almost to perfection, but I prefer the Latitude 22 for cooking our fish. The Mar de Cortez can make box lunches for you, but we found it less expensive and better to just order a few burritos instead. We had plenty of wahoo left over so we had them make up 10 wahoo burritos that we would share with Guillermo and Jose tomorrow.
Louis wakes me up and said they knocked on the door, I didn't hear it this time. I asked Louis what time is was and he said it was 5:30 and they were late. So I got quickly out of bed and took a shower and shaved. When I grabbed my watch, I noticed that it was 1:30 AM, Louis was hearing things and read my watch upside down. Back to bed.
Leaving a half hour later this morning, we look for the bait vendors. No bait again, so rather than buying the Rayado's, we decide to head out and troll just beyond the arch for bait. We trolled east all the way to the Calinda hotel, about 4 NM from town without any luck. I thought this is starting off a little bad, as you almost always can catch Macarela along the beaches in this area. Today however, most boats went to the light house area and beyond. We didn't see any boats most of the day, or bait, birds, and dolphin pods either. Later in the morning, the shotgun got hit. I grabbed the rod but couldn't stop what ever had the line. With most of the 800 yards of line peeled off the 80SW, I cranked up the drag trying to keep from being spooled. Finally the line snapped. It broke near the leader, so all of the line was retrieved. We have no idea how big the fish was, but it just goes to show, there are some monsters out there. Guillermo thought the fish was over 1000#s.
What a day we thought. We are apparently going to get skunked today, but fishing with these two brothers on this fantastic boat was worth every moment. We had been trolling towards the marina and watching the thunder heads moving from the east towards Cabo, which were now directly over Cabo as we neared the marina. The clouds turned heavy gray and we could no longer see much of Cabo from the down poor of rain, although it wasn't raining out where we were. It was about 4:00PM when we started to pull in the lures and call it a day. Louis picks up a rod out of the rod holder, to bring in the lure, and before he knows it, it takes a strike! What a blast. Turns out to be a great wahoo.
A nice wahoo
While Louis battles the Wahoo, we bring in the rest of the rods, and then I throw out a pitch bait to kill some time. Just as Louis's wahoo gets the gaff, a brown pelican swoops down on my bait and dives down on it. The pelican comes up and starts to fly away, but is hooked. Guillermo promptly informs me that we must release the pelican since we don't have any pelican flags! So I claim the Cabo record for a catch and release of a brown pelican. Back at the dock, Jose cleans are wahoo for us and we share it with him and his brother. Jose's and Guillermo's kids clean the boat and rinse off our rods and reels. We decide to fish the pacific side tomorrow, our last chance for a big marlin.
Monday, 8/17/98, Marlin day.
Off at 6:30 AM we find plenty of bait from the vendors this morning. We take on ten caballitos in hopes of catching some tuna for bait. As we pass the light house we encounter 3-4 foot waves, winds from the northwest at 15 knots, and a much cooler water temperature in the low 80's. Our first strike came at 7:30 AM while circling a drifting log about 2 miles east of the Jamie bank. It was most likely a wahoo, as it broke off. The line was cut at the leader which is 400# test. Another lost fish and lure. We continued on toward the bank when we found another piece of floating debris. This thing looked like the back seat of a car that had been washed out from a coastal town the night before when the rain squall hit. It clearly hadn't been in the water more than a day. We stopped and pitched some baits, but no results. As we prepare to leave, Jose noticed that Louis didn't wind in his designated lure which had now drifted under the boat and was tangled in the propellers. Another lost lure.
Things were very slow this morning although we saw a few small pods of dolphin but no tunas swimming with them. At 12:30 PM Louis boats a good sized bull dorado as we are moving from the Jamie bank towards the Golden Gate bank. Then Jose yells at me as we past over the Jamie bank "hey, what did you do to my sonar? It doesn't work since you fooled with it yesterday". I am thinking, what could I have done? I climb up the tower and go through all the menu's on the sonar. Nothing seems to be set wrong I tell him. He still thinks I broke it. After loosing 4 of their lures, I am really scared that it simply is a coincidence that it stopped working when I was playing around with it. I tried to explain to him that in all probability we picked up a piece of plastic or other debris in the harbor from the rain storm and it was covering the transducer. Oh well, we continue the drive to the Golden Gate bank. It is mid afternoon now, and we are all pleased that the wind had died down to the point that the seas were glassy, but it is now very hot in the cockpit without the breeze.
It's not long before we pass the Outer Candelaria Canyon, which separates the Jaime bank, south, from the Golden Gate bank, north. I'm thinking, it is late in the day now, this is our last chance. If we don't find bait here, it's over. Suddenly a strike on the port flat line. Guillermo is there but can't get the rod out of the holder. He yells at me to take it, and I yell back "well, give it to me!" I finally grab the rod and are able to get it out of the holder. I can't tell what the fish is right away, it's not a marlin or dorado I think. Feels like a tuna but isn't sounding as expected. It was strange that the fish is unable to pull any line so I check the drag. It is set full on! By now the fish is along side so I make no attempt to make an adjustment. This was a mistake. The fish now visible is another wahoo but looks like a telephone pole it is so thick. Jose has the gaff ready, and the second he put the gaff under the fish, it tries to head off. The line got caught in the roller guide on the tip of the rod and the line broke in an instant. Another lost lure and dinner for all of us. Jose said the fish was at least 80#s.
Luck is with us however. About 1:45 PM, at a location of 23° 02'12" N, 110°15'06"W, we locate an elusive school of bait. Louis had spotted a congregation of birds on the horizon about 2 miles away so Jose quickly changed our course to investigate. All eyes were on the birds. As we got closer, I could see bait, Bonito, jumping out of the water, indicating feeding marlin below. I feel the chance to catch the big one again and climb down from my vantage point to make preparations. All we need to do is keep our cool and work as a team, I thought on my way down the ladder.
Excitement is at an all day high now. We all know the marlin are below the Bonito, but how many is just a guess. From the spread of the Bonito's, I figure there is at least 5 of them. The Bonitos are jumping everywhere now and many birds have arrived to feast on the jumping bait. Jose carefully, but expertly maneuvers the boat around the peripheral of the bait to entice the feeding marlin, but not too close to scatter the bait and feeding marlin. No luck with the lures. Jose barks commands and we pull in all the rods and switch to two rods rigged with feathers to hook the local bait. In no time we have two Bonitos in the tuna tubes. With noting being said, everyone knows what is next. Jose eases the boat towards the tail end of the schooling Bonito where the marlin are feeding.
In the cockpit, the bait rods are removed, and the heavy tackle is brought out; two 80SW's. The big game hooks are tied on and the fresh live Bonito are hooked up. Both Guillermo and Jose are down in the cockpit to help in the rigging. Guillermo pulls the Bonito from the tuna tube and hooks it to the live bait hook that is braided to the 14/0 big game hook. Over the side it goes. Off of the port side, I let the Bonito run out about 20 to 30 yards. Then Jose grabs the tag line clip from the outrigger, and my line. For the past three days, I had observed this tag line that ran to the extreme end of the outrigger and back to a cleat on the rail with the clip and a ball cork on the end. We had not used it before, and I wasn't sure what it was for. The outrigger was also equipped with a double pulley that had the other two release clips installed which we used routinely. Jose attaches two # 32 rubber bands to my line and secures it to the tag line clip and releases it. At this point, there is no force on my reel so a bit of line is let out as a automatic drop back. This is simply a loop of the line. It is a beautiful set up. The outrigger now has a 10 to 20 foot tag line attached to the rubber bands that are secured to the running line with the Bonito. The idea is that the rubber bands will keep the Bonito in place, but will break when the marlin strikes the Bonito and the loop in the line will allow the marlin time to turn the bait so that it can swallow it head first.
Guillermo comes over to discuss the hook up. He tells me to count to five before setting the hook. We have discussed the tactics before, and I was happy that he took the time to go over them at this time. Then Guillermo grabs the line to check the drag. It is set way too tight! He quickly makes an adjustment, then rechecks. Still too tight! Another adjustment, and before he could check the line, the clicker goes off. In an instant, the water changed from dark blue to a brilliant turquoise with a gush of white water exploding on the surface as the monster fish turned and attacked the Bonito. Everyone saw the strike and were momentarily stunned by the size of the fish. I pulled the rod from the holder and place it in my stand up harness and connected the reel straps. "I got it", I yelled. The marlin is pulling line off like I've never seen before, then suddenly stops - as the marlin apparently turned the bait for swallowing head first. All of this is happening in less than 20 seconds, which was latter verified by the VCR audio track that was inadvertently left running behind the cooler. Great sound, but no movies.
The marlin, now with the bait swallowed is rapidly moving off, but not yet realizing that it is hooked. When I set the hook, the fish takes off, but the rubber bands don't break! There is immediate panic in the cockpit now. The line has passed freely through the rubber bands, which is wrong. As I attempt to reel in line, the tag line, caught in the rubber bands on retrieve, reels into my rod tip preventing me from gaining anymore line or leverage. Louis yells, "John, back up!" Jose and Guillermo frantically try to reach the rod tip to cut the rubber bands loose, but they cannot reach them. I back up as far as possible and Guillermo finally is able to grab the tip but in a split second the line breaks. There was a silence for a minute, then Jose says in a sad voice, "chingalo!". Guillermo said the fish was the largest he has seen in many years and well over 850#s. He said fish this big rarely jump and at best just show their head. It was awesome.
With only Louis's Bonito in the water we continue the slow troll. This was a mistake though, we should have reeled in the remaining Bonito and tracked down the school of bait. By now the school was most likely a mile away, along with the feeding marlin. We were in a desert here.
We continued with trolling while reminiscing about the lady that got away. All of us were clearly stunned with the loss and were not really fishing anymore, just going over in our minds what went wrong. Guillermo put the Barbara Streisand CD in the player and turned up the volume. We trolled until 4:30 PM without luck. Very little was said during this time. Louis pulled in his Bonito only to find it was dead. Jose and Louis put all the rods away for the trip back, but Jose rigged a pitch bait rod with caballitos and left it on the transom. He said we'll keep an eye out for a tailer on the way in. It was a gesture of a true fisherman and a good friend.
Moments after getting up on plane, Jose called me up to the tower to observe that the sonar was now working. "I told you it was a piece of debris on the transducer", I said to Jose. We all laughed and began looking for a tailer. Louis tells me that I owe him a 14/0 rig that I lost. I'll be glad to replace it before our next trip next month I tell him. Guillermo and Jose laugh and tell us they are ready when we come back. As we pass the arch Jose readies the flags and hands me the skunk flag then everyone laughs, since I was actually skunked for the day. Jose realizes my loss and decides to run up a wahoo flag for the one that was lost at the gaff. Actually this is a valid catch so the thought was very much appreciated.
We get into the slip late, around 5:45 PM. Their kids are there to greet us as before. Guillermo wastes no time bragging about the monster marlin that got away. We are by now all arriving at our own reasons for the loss. This was are final trip so we invited Guillermo and Jose to our hotel to have a few beers and to discuss the fishing. I found that both of these guys understand more English than they let on. My feeling is that we each have two new friends that enjoy fishing together and all the brothers will fish another day.
Yes we slept in. We had a flight at 4:45 PM so plenty of time. I sign-up for the Van for a trip to the airport at 3:15 PM. Just a few things left to do now. First we need to pick up our dry cleaning, then head to the Latitude for breakfast. This didn't go as planned. It turned out that when they tell you the dry cleaning will take two days, they don't tell you that today's laundry has already been picked up, so there will be one extra day. Bottom line, our dry cleaning was still in La Paz.
Next we find the Latitude 22 is closed for no apparent reason. So we go to the marina area to find something to eat. This was costly. Coffee at the hotel is 5 pesos. At the marina it is 30 pesos. But the breakfast was the best. Sorry, don't recall the name. As we were eating, I noticed the Loulita had some impressive flags up from the previous day: 2 stripers, 2 sailfish, 2 dorado, 2 tuna, 1 tag and release. Louis thinks they were just airing the flags out!
Muy Fuerte Sedals
last modified 03/26/05