by Hermanos El Mackerele, Kirkland, Washington
It may be informative to read the Gold Cup Entry form with the fee's, awards, schedule of events, and tournament rules, to help understand this report.
Wednesday 10/14, Arrival
We arrived in Cabo 2 days before the tournament. The purpose of coming down early was to go over fishing tactics with our teammates, as this was our first exposure to tournament fishing, and to go on a shake down run on Friday, the day before the tournament. This was important because we brought along two new Penn International 130# class combo's we ordered from Melton International for the tournament with which we had no prior experience. Our friend, Bob Brack (and his partner, Rick Shedore) who have just captured 1st place and 2nd place, in the 1998 WBS standings, told us that since this was an unlimited line class tournament, we should only fish with the big stuff (130# class), so we left all of our 30# and 50# class equipment at home.
After checking into to the hotel, Louis gave Mamo a call on his cell phone. Much to his dismay, Mamo told Louis that he was in Rocky Point, some 1500 KM north because his father-in-law had passed away a few days ago, and he didn't think he could make it back in time for the tournament. With this new event, Louis and I considered our options: Tell Dr. Bob that we won't be entering the tournament without a full crew, go home, or wait until tomorrow to discuss the situation with Chacho and Dr. Bob. We elected to discuss the situation tomorrow.
We made it to Latitude 22 by 5:30 PM and inhaled the daily special of pork chops. They were great. When we returned to our hotel, we found a message from Dr. Bob, telling us that he was in town and asking us to all meet on the Curandero III at 9:30 AM the next morning.
Thursday 10/15, Meeting Dr. Bob
The agenda was breakfast and then meet Dr. Bob at the boat. We were about an hour late arriving at the boat where we found Dr. Bob and Chacho busy making preparations. My first glance at Chacho revealed to me that he was very excited about the tournament and was equally excited about seeing us again. After the usual introductions, Louis started to explain to Dr. Bob about Mamo not being in the tournament. The discussion was going slow, so I butted in. "Excuse me, Dr. Bob, my brother and I wanted to fish this tournament with the Bojorquez brothers. It is your boat for Christ Sakes, but we have scraped together the funds to enter this tournament and want to see it through. But without Mamo as part of the team, we feel that we would be severely handicapped, as neither Louis or I would make any attempt to leader a large fish."
Dr. Bob rebutted that Chacho was capable of leadering a fish by himself, but we insisted that without a full crew, we would not enter the tournament and instead we would just go fishing. It was a stand off at this point. Dr. Bob then agreed to skipping the tournament and just go fishing. With this concession, Louis and I, not to mention Chacho, were very disappointed. Chacho had worked so hard in preparing for the tournament. So we decided to give Mamo a call again to see if he could somehow get back to Cabo for the tournament. When we called Mamo again on the cell phone he told Chacho that he had already checked the flights and he could get a flight out Thursday that would get him into La Paz late that night, which meant no bus available to get to Cabo. Dr. Bob didn't like the plan because of the imminent hurricane. He didn't want to send Chacho up to La Paz to pick up Mamo if the hurricane was going result in the port being closed. We would find out tomorrow afternoon, then decide what to do. This would also give us the opportunity to see how Dr. Bob fishes and works with Chacho.
We told Dr. Bob that we needed to go back to our hotel and get all of gear and start setting it up. Dr. Bob offered to take us back to the hotel, but told us he had some errands to run on the way. We found out right away that Dr. Bob is a very frugal person. We drove clear out of town to get water and pop. First we stopped at a water treatment distributor, where we got 6 gallons of water for 60 pesos, $6. Well, that saved about $6. Then we went to a Pepsi distributor where he bought a case of pop. I supposed he saved a few more bucks, but this side adventure took over an hour. When we arrived back at our hotel, Dr. Bob decided to get something to eat while Louis and I gathered up our gear. Even though we had left our 30's and 50's at home, these new 130's took the space right back up. They are huge and very heavy to carry around. We had carried the curved butts on the plane and checked 4 coolers, and the rod tube. The coolers were packed with the reels, electronics, terminal tackle, and duffel bags with a weeks supply of T-shirts. We took the rods out of the tube, and loaded everything else into the truck and headed for the Curandero III.
We stopped at Minerva's Tackle Shop to check out the fishing conditions and to see if they had some replacement drop straps for Louis's standup harness, which they didn't. Minerva's had at least 20 spools (1000 yards each) of fresh mono on the floor in front of the counter. It was clear that tournament time had arrived in Cabo!
We finally arrived at around 2:00 PM, so all of this running around wasted a lot of precious time. I helped Louis put the rod and reels together. When we showed them to Chacho, he called them "winches". Dr. Bob added, "they are too big and not needed". He tried to tell us that they are used on 45' or larger boats that do not have the speed and maneuverability of a smaller boat. He said if we hook a big fish with the 50's, all we need to do is quickly turn around and chase the fish, which is not possible in a larger boat. Seemed like an excuse for not having his own to me, but since we had just spent big gringo bucks on these "too big and not needed" rods and reels, I just remarked "we'll fish with them anyway". Chacho smiled.
Chacho had spent an entire week preparing the boat and tackle for the tournament. All reels were refitted with fresh line, all lure leaders were replaced just to mention a few of the many tasks Chacho had completed. We had a small problem with the lures though. Louis and I always fish with wind-on leaders and because of this, all of the leaders on the lures were too long and would need to be shortened. Dr. Bob had never used a wind-on leader before, nor had he seen one, although Chacho has seen us use them on previous trips. Dr. Bob was curious enough that Louis made up a couple while they both watched. What a switch I thought! It is Louis and I that are always paying attention to Chacho's knot tying and methods. Chacho clearly liked the wind-on leader, but we all agreed that it would take too long to change the lures, all 200+ of them, so we scrapped the wind-on's. While Louis and Chacho made up the double lines and terminal gear, I started to connect up my computer and fathometer.
Suddenly, Chacho turns up the VHF radio where he was listening to a weather bulletin. It was all in Spanish so we didn't know what was being said, but we were all concerned because of the approaching hurricane. About this time, Lance Watkins, from the Aquaholic, walks by and asks Chacho what the report was. They exchanged some words in Spanish, then as Lance started to walk off, Dr. Bob asked Lance what Chacho had said. Lance replied "Chacho says his boss has a little dick and doesn't pay well". We all got a big laugh from Lance's remark and called it a day. It was 6:30 PM, and we were all finished with the final rigging. It was pork chops again at Latitude 22.
Friday 10/16, The shake down trip and Captains' Check-in
Our shake down trip started at 6:00 AM to make bait. Making bait means you troll feathers on two or more lightweight rods, in an attempt to catch small bonito or skipjack for baiting large marlin. They are kept alive in the tuna tubes until needed. We trolled along the beach in front of the Solmar Hotel for about an hour without any luck before heading off for the 95 spot. We put the lines out about 7:45 AM and trolled towards the Gorda Banks. Nothing much was happening at the 95 spot. Our first strike came at 9:45 AM on the shotgun, at 22° 53' 17.9" N 109° 35' 25.0" W. After a brief 15 minute battle, we tagged and released an estimated 310# blue marlin. We were reel excited, as this fish would have been a qualifier in tomorrow's tournament. This area is called the San Jose Canyon, and we would soon find that there were many blue marlins lurking there. We continued the troll to the outer Gorda Banks where we found a desert of sorts. Only a lone panga, probably bottom fishing. No birds, no bait, and no strikes. We spent an hour or so circling with the lures with no luck. We found the same at the inner Gorda Bank. We decided to troll back to where Louis got his blue marlin then head for the marina to make it to the Captains meeting before 5:00 PM.
We spent an hour or so at the marina going over the plans for tomorrow's start. It was decided that we would meet at 6:00 AM again and follow the same plan as we did today. Dr. Bob went back to his condo to change. The plan was he would pick up Chacho and meet us at the Captains' briefing later. Next Louis and I headed to the Hotel Hacienda for the Captains' briefing. Here we were to get checked-in, get our Captains' bags, review the tournament rules, then join in on some cocktails and meet the other contestants.
When we arrived at the check-in, both Louis and I were overwhelmed with the excitement and the sense of competition in the air. We hadn't been in the presence of so many anglers at any one time before. We just stood in the doorway for a few moments trying to fathom all of this. Everyone was very tan, had a cigar, and a drink in their hand. We could tell that the competition was going to be tough, as all of these anglers looked very seasoned. Every one seemed to know each other. We got into line for registration and ordered a couple of drinks. Everyone was friendly, as it took no time to strike up a conversation, of course about fishing. The line wasn't moving along very fast and we were the last ones in line for about 45 minutes when our friend from Kirkland, WA, Bob Brack and his partner, Rick Shedore, showed up. What a coincidence I thought. Back at home, Bob had been giving us tips on this event for the past several months. If Bob ever gets tired of fishing, he would make an excellent salesman for Melton International! We already new about his partner Rick, so it was nice to meet him for the first time. Rick is a real humorous character and together they must have a ball fishing in these tournaments together.
Finally, reaching the front of the line we found Matt Koll, of Gold Cup Productions, behind his lap top. We had spoken many times on the telephone before leaving for Cabo. Here we also could see the black board listing all the boats currently signed up and showing what each boat entered in terms of cash events. I was happily surprised to see some of the fleet boats that we had fished on so many times before had also entered the tournament. We were to be boat number 43. Lets see 4 plus 3 equals 7. I new I could find a lucky 7 in there somewhere.
We entered the $2000 mandatory, then at the last minute, got a little brave and entered the daily $100. The cashier turned out to be Curt Cameron's wife, Sharon Cameron. She asked how we would like to pay. I told her we each had a cashiers check for the mandatory, and a travelers check for the daily. She promptly made out a receipt for each of us. I handed her my part, a cashiers check, but my hand just didn't want to let go of it. Everyone laughed, then we moved down the row of tables to get our bags. Here we met Curt Cameron for the first time. He briefly explained some of the more important tournament rules and the details of the tag and release event. We also were issued our catch and release camera and an official grid chart of the fishing area. Just about then, Bob and Chacho showed up. They couldn't see us so I yelled "Bob!" About 10 people turned around. Everyone laughed again. Dr. Bob was too busy having fun getting his picture taken with the Gold Cup Girls to hear us.
We grabbed a table where we could all sit down out on the terrace. Again, we were among some of the best. Dr. Bob pointed out Gene Price, winner of last years Bisbee tournament. His team won over $700K on his boat "Gene's Machine". As we looked through the Captains' bag we found that we had been shorted on the tournament hats, and there were no polo shirts. Curt later told us they would mail us the hats, and the shirts were not included because they come monogrammed with the name of the boat, and we hadn't registered in time. These too would be mailed later he explained.
Bob and Rick joined us at our table and we introduced them to Dr. Bob and Chacho. It wasn't long before the Gold Cup Girls made it to our table. We got a lot of pictures with the girls in our laps. Chacho had some work to do on the boat, one of the tuna tube pumps went out during the shake down cruise, so he left early.
Tonight, the special at the Latitude 22 was chicken fried steak, and the last time I had it, I swore I would never order it again, so I went with the Bull Burger, which was great, but too much to eat. Nancy and Yole were surprised that we didn't have any beers that evening, but understood when we explained that we were in the Gold Cup Tournament, which began very early in the morning.
After dinner we decided to check on Chacho to see how the pump repair was coming along. Chacho had borrowed a pump from a neighbor, and it was the exact same pump so it went in without much of a glitch. The broken pump had simply seized. Chacho told me it was less than a year old. It is a small community down there, and everyone helps the other when in need. Chacho sure put his time in. It was almost 11:30 PM when Chacho had everything buttoned up for tomorrow morning. His whole family was there. His wife brought dinner and the kids job was to run down parts if necessary. It was a team/family effort all the way.
We stopped by Spencer's, at our Hotel, and ordered 14 burritos for tomorrow's lunch. They will have them ready at 6:00 AM in the morning we are told. Louis was a little disturbed, as they charged us $2.00 each for them - last August they were $1.00 each. Talk about inflation!
Saturday 10/17, Tournament day 1
When we arrived at the Curandero III we found Chacho and his brother Mamo busy making final adjustments and preparations. Both had only a few hours of sleep because they worked late into the previous evening. Mamo had flown into La Paz from Hermosillo, the day before, and had to take a bus from La Paz to Cabo. The bait vendor had already been by, as the bait tank had 10 caballitos swimming around. As soon as Dr. Bob showed up we promptly got under way.
We briefed Mamo about yesterdays shake down trip and discussed alternate plans. It was decided that we would try to make bait east of the marina and closer to the beach, instead of in front of the Solmar. Second, we all agreed to proceed directly to the San Jose Canyon and bypass the 95 spot.
As agreed, we trolled feathers as far as 3.5 miles east of the marina, then turned around and headed back to the starting line by 7:55 AM to make roll call. We were only able to put on one small sierra, which promptly died. We positioned the Curandero III at the starting line and waited for the count down over the radio. What a site to see with all the boats simultaneously hitting full throttle. As with any ordinary fishing day, some boats turned right, headed for the Pacific, some headed south, and the rest headed east out into the Cortez. We headed east, about 10.5 miles, before putting the lines out. This was just east of the Santa Maria Canyon. Our pattern included the new 130's located on the port and starboard flat lines, 80's on the two outriggers, and a 3rd 80 in the shotgun position, and finally, a live bait rigged ready to go on the transom.
The first strike came at 9:42 AM on the port outrigger. Louis won the coin toss so he was up. Dr. Bob immediately radioed tournament control our hookup as tournament rules require: "Damage control, this is the Curandero III, we have a hook up in grid A3, the angler is Louis Vallon", Dr. Bob barks on the radio. "Curandero III, roger your hookup and good luck" responded Curt Cameron, the operations coordinator.
After a few spectacular leaps, the fish was leadered by Mamo and Jose. Dr. Bob then tagged the fish and I took the picture to document the tag and release. Dr. Bob completes the documentation by radioing in that the fish was successfully tagged and released. The fish was estimated to be just over 200 #'s, well below the 300# minimum to qualify. Not a fish to get us to the scales, but it was the first marlin of the tournament. We were all really pumped by now.
The second strike came in less than an hour. At 10:46 AM the shotgun position got bit. We were about 4 miles directly south of the Outer Gorda bank. Same procedures as before, since this fish was also a non-qualifier at about 180#'s. The battle was brief as before, only about 10-15 minutes and we were on our way again. Not too bad, we had already caught the first fish, but were well on our way to the most tagged and released with two in less than 2 hours of fishing.
The third strike came at 11:19 AM, hardly 20 minutes later. Louis was up again but it turned out to be a Dorado. Looks like Yole will get the fish Louis promised her. He should have promised her some blue marlin instead!
We then doubled back to where I had caught my blue, then headed due north to the outer Gorda Bank. As Dr. Bob had told us, expect to see "Gene's Machine" at the banks, slow trolling live bait. Sure enough, there they were. Looked like they had only two rods out, one was on a down-rigger. By now, there was quite a bit of chatter on channel 24, the tournament channel. We could hear our friend Bob Brack, fishing aboard the "Aquaholic", another blackfin, radioing they were hooked up off of Punta San Cristabol on the Pacific side. It also turned out to be under 300#'s. As with yesterday, it was reel quite at the Gorda Banks, so we started our troll back towards Cabo. We passed through the San Jose Canyon again, but this time we were a few miles closer to shore, and unlike before, the tide was coming in instead of going out. Nothing here, we continued towards Cabo.
It was about 5:30 PM, when we had just passed over the Santa Maria Canyon (I really love these canyons), and we got another hook up. It was my turn this time, so I grabbed the starboard outrigger rod and started to reel. Whatever it was it immediately came unbuttoned. Then the port outrigger went off while Louis was winding in the lures from my hook up. Dr. Bob was still busy on the radio informing "Damage Control" that the first fish broke off, when he now had to tell them we were again hooked up on a new fish! During all of this excitement, I had tossed the pitch bait, that was always ready. Just as Louis's fish also came unbuttoned, I got hooked on the live bait. Dr. Bob was in a panic about now, wondering what to do next. It became clear in a minute or two when my fish also came unbuttoned. When Louis had reeled in his line, he found that the leader had been swiped, cut clean, by the bill and that is why his fish was lost. Mine had just come in with an empty hook. Underway again, we have just 10 minutes to go before "lines out" call. Disappointed in the previous misses, we headed back to the marina with no new hook ups. Not a bad day though, two catch and releases to register.
As we were instructed, we were to fill out the catch and release affidavits, signed by all the crew, and return them to Tournament Control, along with the camera. I wish I could find a short cut to the weigh-in scales! We found Curt Cameron and his wife at the scales, where he was explaining to another couple of anglers, that striped marlin DO NOT count in this tournament. Curt told us that some anglers were attempting to turn in affidavits when they had never radioed in there original hook ups. This is grounds for disqualification. In my opinion, any effort by tournament organizers to promote catch and release should be welcomed by all the contestants. In discussing this new category with seasoned contestants, the drift I picked up is that they feel too much cheating is going on and it is difficult to prove otherwise. This is a shame, because there is really no need to kill these fish just to hang them from a scale briefly. To be honest with everyone, because of the bucks involved, a big fish means big bucks, and requires big gaffs. We also had the big gaffs ready! Having turned in our affidavits (we were told to keep our camera) it was time for dinner as it was nearly 9:00 PM by now. We returned to the Curandero III to tell our teammates that the affidavits were accepted and picked up the Dorado fillets to take to Yole at the Latitude 22.
Yole was very happy to get the fish, but Nancy looked a little puzzled, so I quickly told her we would bring HER some tuna tomorrow night (I was hoping that we would get into a good school of them for bait). I went to the rest room to wash my hands, and the minute I saw water again, I got a bit dizzy. It had been a long day of fishing.
Back at the hotel, much to my dismay, we found that the restaurant was closed and therefore we wouldn't have any lunch for tomorrow. Louis said "we still have 4 burritos left from yesterday", but I didn't like them that much anyway. Dr. Bob always had healthy cold cuts: melons, cucumbers, smoked clams, crackers,etc., so I though we might be OK.
Sunday 10/18, Final Tournament day
We arrive again at 6:00 AM and find our teammates ready to go. Mamo tells us that he had spoken with some friends the night before and they reported that a lot of big blue marlin were caught at the 95 spot yesterday by non-tournament fleet boats. He suggested that we go there first thing. Dr. Bob had not shown up yet so we ran up to the Picante Sportfishing offices to get some more ice. We also discovered a short line at a little place that was serving up hot coffee and breakfast. I took one look at the machaca (shredded beef, onions, peppers, eggs) that was being cooked on the grill and immediately ordered 8 of them to go. We ate 2 of them before we left the dock. They were out of this world. The guy behind the spatula was a dead ringer for Ruben Fuerte' of the "Reel Easy" Sportfishing fleet. Was that you Ruben?
We again trolled up and down the beach in front of the Solmar trying to make bait, then moved east inside Cabo Bay. This morning was different than the others, as there were a lot of frigate birds in the area diving on bait. All of the other boats were trolling farther north, about a mile off of Cabeza Ballena (whale head). There was bait everywhere in Cabo Bay but they weren't interested in the feathers we were trolling even though we changed colors and sizes several times. Tuna tubes empty again, we lined up for the final roll call and the start of the final day.
After the count down we headed for the 95 spot. After a while, Dr. Bob asked me for the GPS coordinates of the 95 spot. There was some confusion as to just exactly where the spot was. On the back of a brochure from the Pisces fleet, the 95 spot is shown, and I was told that it was 9 miles from the cape on a course of 100° which we assumed was a magnetic bearing. Looking on our chart, that area didn't appear to be anything in particular. I wasn't even sure what 95 stood for. Is it a 95 fathoms? That would equal 570' depth, but this isn't shown anywhere on my chart either. So we decided to steer 095° and put the lines out when we had gone about 7.5 miles. Now that I have gotten home, I looked at some other charts, and the 95 spot is clearly demarcated. It is a 95 fathom point. It was also shown on the Gold Cup Grid Chart. We never looked! The coveted 45 spot is also shown on these charts.
Good morning Cabo. It was another great morning for trolling, as it was dead calm with mostly cloudy skies. Hurricane Madeline had turned east, well below Cabo, leaving us with only some rather large ground swells to deal with. Soon we some spotted birds on the horizon, and as we closed in found a school of dolphin. The school was huge and they were not just passing through, they were clearly hanging around and feeding. Occasionally we could see yellowfin jumping so we were all excited about getting some local tuna for the tubes. We switched to feathers and waited. At 9:00 AM and 22°47'02.2"N 109°46'27.0"W, I hooked a big tuna off the port outrigger. Nothing special I thought, but perhaps just a little heavy for the tuna tubes. I quickly switched to the standup harness and started to reel in. Suddenly, I was nearly yanked over the transom. I thought this tuna must have seen the boat and took off. After a minute or two of the line peeling off, the fish finally seemed to tire and I was able to start putting line back on. In about 20 minutes the fish was aboard. It was a yellowfin, and about 40#'s, but the fish was missing its dorsal fin and there was a discoloration on the sides of the fish about half way down from the head! Mamo and Chacho said that a big marlin, a tournament winner, had engulfed the tuna while I was fighting it, which explained the sudden tug that almost pulled me overboard. Had the lure hooks not been completely in the tuna, the marlin might well have been brought in. What a surprise that would have been! Later, Louis and I wondered why Mamo didn't immediately put the large tuna on a 14/0 hook and lower it down with the down-rigger. But we are the anglers, so we didn't question this.
About an hour later, still with the same school of dolphins, we located a large school of yellowfin about 1 mile south of where I got the previous one. This time we got hit on both flat lines, and in moments we had two football (marlin lunch size) yellowfins in the tubes. Mamo wanted to continue the troll until we had two more tunas. "We will troll until we get two more tunas, then we will put those out, and use the tunas in the tubes as spares" he told us. It was an hour later, with the dolphins and birds gone, when we finally put the tunas out. Mamo put one on the down-rigger at 75 feet and the other on the port long outrigger. Dr. Bob took one engine out of gear and we started to troll the live tunas at 3 or 4 knots.
While trolling I looked at our GPS track information on the computer. The place we found the tunas, was right where the Santa Maria Canyon and the San Lucas Canyon meet. There is a very steep side of a mountain that drops off sharply on the north face from 1200 feet to 4000 feet in less than a mile. In contrast, the south side of the mountain has a much more gentle descent to the same depth but over a distance of more than 7 miles. The tunas were where they were because the tide was high at 4' at 8:24 AM and it was now at 2' reaching its low at 2:36 PM This means that the currents were pushing bait from the north side and not the south side, where we were currently located. As expected, no luck here. This, is only my thoughts. Who can know?
The biggest excitement for me was watching Mamo with the 130 in his hands and the tuna on the other end. As I was watching him, the line suddenly peeled off for 30 seconds or more. I wondered: when is he going to set the damn hook? Why is he waiting so long? I wanted to grab the pole out of his hands and set the hook myself. He saw the look on my face and just casually leaned closer to me and mentioned in a soft voice: "something scared the tuna!" I just about went to the moon. Sure enough, when we brought the tunas back in, the tuna Mamo was holding was unscathed. The lesson I learned here will never be forgotten. With no further activity we decided to head to the San Jose Canyon again.
We put the tunas back out about 12:25 PM just west of the canyon and started trolling east towards the 900' peak. I thought we should get something as we passed over the canyon as we were still in a good position tide wise. But nada. By the time we got to the 900' spot, the tide was slack and it seemed as though you could discern a flatness over this shallow water. Still nothing. Mamo had noticed that the tuna on the outrigger had expired, so he checked the down-rigger only to find an empty hook, the tuna was gone. The wind and swell had really picked up now, and there was somewhat of a disappointment on everyone's face. Dr. Bob, brought out some cold cuts and we took a short break and discussed a plan for the rest of the afternoon. Without live bait, it was back to trolling lures. Chacho decided to use smaller lures this time in the hopes that it might increase the odds of smaller blue marlin strike, as we needed at least one more tag and release to get back in the running. We trolled west, back over the San Jose Canyon and on to the Santa Maria Canyon that had been so productive in the days before.
As we passed over the Santa Maria Canyon, and without any strikes, Mamo spotted a huge dark shadow in the depths behind the lures. We immediately made a wide circle of the area. Mamo jumped down from the fly bridge and switched out two of the small lures on the outriggers with the biggest ones he could find. Nothing. But it sure woke us up.
It was getting down right nasty as we got closer to the pacific side. It was about 4:00 PM when we started heading south towards the 95 spot again. The swells had grown in size to about 6-8 feet and the Curandero was really taking it hard so we turned southwest, heading more indirectly into the swells. By 5:00 PM we were directly south of Cabo, out about 5 miles. The swells were high and with the wind blowing so hard the lures were popping out of the water all the time and therefore were not working properly. We all knew that the end was near and our chances of another hookup where slim.
Suddenly, excitement came when Mamo again spotted a marlin in our spread displaying her "electric blue" colors. Mamo wanted to pitch a bait, but they were all dead from getting smashed into the sides of the tank from the strong swells we were encountering. We circled as before, and just held our breath. Dr. Bob was getting anxious to get back to the marina, but Mamo wanted to pursue his latest spotting. Mamo told me "at 5:55 PM all the boats will be calling in saying they are hooked up". What a scam I thought, but he was right. The radio started going off, but Dr. Bob said he would not play in that game. When the call came for lines out over the radio, Dr. Bob yelled wind'em in gang.
Even though we were only 5 miles out, it took us nearly 30 minutes to get to the marina because of the rough conditions. Dr. Bob asked to be let off at the fuel dock in front of his condo, when he then announced that he would not be able to be at the banquet tomorrow night. He told us he would meet us back at the slip later. So, we headed back out of the marina to clean the two remaining tuna. "I can't believe that we are going to eat our bait for dinner", I thought. We took the small tuna for Nancy and our dinner, and half of the big one to take back with us, and gave the other half to Mamo and Chacho. We would all have tuna for dinner tonight!
Back at the slip, all that was left to do was to return the camera to tournament control. Dr. Bob arrived and told Mamo and Chacho he was going to take them to dinner. Dr. Bob offered to drive us to the scales, which we gladly excepted since we were beat from trying to stay upright in the rough seas. When we arrived at the scales, a blue marlin was being hoisted up for weighing-in for the last fish of the tournament. It was a small one at 309 lbs. What a gamble for these fishermen I thought, 300 lbs is the minimum to enter, but it's the last day so what can they do if it is less than 300 lbs? Louis sighed, "the one I released on Friday was bigger!". We handed the camera over to Curt and asked what our standing was in the release contest. He said there were two other boats that had 3 releases but they were redlined, meaning a determination would be made based upon the results of the photographs contained in the cameras, and this won't be known for a few days. We asked Curt if he would mention our team and boat name for a little recognition at the banquet as the team that caught the first marlin of the tournament. He agreed. This would make Mamo and Chacho very happy, although Mamo has been to the podium in the past.
After dropping off the camera, we all headed back to the parking to go back to the slip with Dr. Bob. The truck had been having trouble starting for the past few days, and this time it was a no-go, so we footed it back to the slip. At the slip, Dr. Bob recanted, that without the truck, the best he could do is buy breakfast in the morning. Everyone liked this plan anyway, as we were all way too tired for dinner. Louis and I gathered up our tuna fillets and headed to the Latitude 22 for dinner.
Nancy greeted us as she always does. We handed her the tuna, and asked her to have some of it cooked for us. As always, the tuna was prepared flawlessly. "Tonight we will have some beer and tequila", I announced, we were just to tired though, and took a cab back to the hotel and turned in.
Monday 10/19, Awards banquet
The day started with breakfast at Spencer's which is located right at our hotel. Spencer's is probably one of the best places in Cabo for breakfast or lunch. The agenda for today was only to meet Mamo and Chacho at the Curandero around 2:30 PM to collect all of our gear, get our film developed, and then do the banquet thing.
After breakfast, we walked to the Fuji Film One Hour Photo service and dropped off the film. I told the clerk that this time the film had pictures on it. He looked up at me, then laughed, remembering our last visit when we dropped off the wrong roll of film which had been unexposed. He told us the film wouldn't be ready until after 6:00 PM but agreed to 6:00 PM when we explained we wanted it for the banquet that evening. With film in hand, we made it for the marina.
When we got to the marina, Mamo and Chacho were at the Curandero and sent their kids up to open the gate to let us in. Mamo and Chacho apologized for not catching more fish. What? I said! You guys did a great job and we had one hell of a good time. "Over half the boats that entered this tournament were skunked", I told them. We got way more than we could have ever hoped for, and to fish in a tournament with all of us brothers was sure to be remembered forever. We all got a little teary eyed momentarily.
Chacho told me next time he wants my computer up on the bridge where he can see it all the time, and Mamo wants us to develop some skills in staying out of the way! Louis and I always try to help bringing in lines when the other is hooked up, but they feel they do it better and faster. Mamo also scolded me for being out of place during a hook up. He told us the person that is to take the fish should immediately get seated in the fighting chair. On one occasion, I was busy standing up putting my harness on, getting ready to take the pole, when Chacho gunned the engines to set the hook. This knocked me forward into Mamo who was trying to hand me the pole. That was a very dangerous situation that could have resulted in injuries to one or both of us. After many good-byes and handshakes, we gathered up our gear and headed back to the hotel. Just enough time to get a shower and pick up the film before heading to the banquet.
We got to the banquet a little early to find Curt and remind him about the short mention of our first fish of the tournament. He was nowhere to be found, so Louis said he would wait in the hotel lobby for Mamo and Chacho, and I went to nail down a large table. I found Bob and Rick seated at a table for 8 and quickly claimed the one next to them. Again, the excitement began brewing again with all the anglers here for the awards. Preparations for this banquet must have taken a long time because everything was running so smoothly. The banquet was held around and over the pool area. Plywood had been laid down over the pool to accommodate more tables. Surrounding the terrace area in many strategic locations, were food stations manned by chefs dressed in white uniforms complete with chef hats. There was lobster, prime rib, marlin, and a myriad of salads and desserts just to mention a few of the items offered for a dining pleasure.
At the south end of the terrace was the podium. The Gold Cup Girls were already there having pictures taken. The trophy's were set up, as well as the raffle prizes. I would have given anything to have been lucky enough to made it to the podium. Maybe we will win a raffle prize, I hoped.
Mamo and Chacho arrived with their five kids, all boys. These boys were at the slip each day to greet us when we returned from fishing. They were always anxious to hear our tales, and get the boat ready for the next day. We thought of them as part of our team. It was good to have them with us and it felt good to be able to have helped made it possible for them to be here to share in the excitement. Our dinner was fantastic. We all had a lobster tail, a slice of prime rib, and all the other side dishes that we could fit on our plates. The kids reminded myself of when I was young and had the big appetite. I asked Mamo how he could afford to feed these kids? The kids went back for seconds, then had two rounds of desserts!
The award ceremony started a little late at around 9:00 PM. First order of business was the raffle prizes. We all had our tickets with the possible winning numbers in front of us. It was like the Emmy awards on TV. Curt would describe the prize, then announce the winning number. Each time we would check our tickets to see if one of us had the winning number. We had consecutive numbers from 160 to 169. Curt described a Penn 50T up for drawing. The kids faces were showing reel excitement now. "Number 164" Curt called out. We all new that was our table, then one of Mamo's boys jumped up. Mamo quickly took the ticket and claimed the prize. We were all jumping up and down at being so lucky. After all, there were over 500 tickets in this raffle. Mamo handed his son the bright gold Penn box and we waited for the next prize announcement. Two prizes later, we would be called again. "Number 168" Curt announced, and again it was our table. Again it was Mamo's other son with the ticket. This time it was a nice Seeker custom rod to go along with the 50T. What more could you ask for? The kids were so happy. It was a happy conclusion to a very exciting trip.
Louis and I are already planning next years trip. Next time we will enter both tournaments and hopefully fish with the brothers again. We are a team.
A last minute update: Louis contacted Matt Koll, back in the States, and he informed Louis that we ended up tied for 2nd place in the tag and release event. Out of the money, but not bad for our first tournament. With a little luck and a lot more experience, things may be different next year.
Last updated 03/26/05