LosT in Cabo: Feb 19th, 2011

What a difference a day makes! When the fishing is slow and money is paid for a guide we’d expect some fish to hand. Since we only had 4 and a half days in Cabo being able to fish two days is a luxury. I blame the poor fishing on the full moon and perhaps trying out the Sea of Cortez side, but from what I’ve heard about the Cortez side is that its supposedly more rich in bio diversity and rich with all sorts of fish life. Ramon Druck, our guide had another client from Seattle that he fished with on the pacific side the day before and ended up fairly successful with 8 Sierra mackerel to hand.  I almost ended up canceling the second day since I was a bit skeptical about fishing around the full moon. Ramon said that it didn’t seem to matter much but who knows… It was another day to be on the water with dad and this time we’d give the pacific side a try. We met Ramon at 6 am to blast out towards Megrinio beach as the spot that the better fishing but was a good 30 to 40 minutes away through pounding surf and wind waves.

In the earlier part of the troll we threw out our flies in hopes if some skipjack that were jumping for bait in the bay. Just as we rounded lands end and divorce beach dads rod started pulsing and our hopes changed to tight lines. After a short battle and some anticipation of a sport fish, it turned out to be nothing more than a small barracuda. Ramon said it was good for bait, so off it went into the hold. At least we didn’t get skunked, but not what we came out for…

After a couple more passes in that general location near the Solmar beach only two more small barracuda were brought to hand, or better yet the bait hold. Having enough of that, we motored out towards Megrinio. Ramon’s boat isn’t the fastest and definitely not as nice as the Glacier Bay double hull catamarans.  Getting passed by the other pangas and guides gave me this knot in my stomach knowing that they might fall upon those schools of fish before we putted out. I wanted the tug that no other drug could provide.

Finally after what seemed to be hours, we dropped the rods and started our troll. It wasn’t until we slowed down that the light switch went on. Dads rod, Sage RPLXi 11 wt started pulsing, after instructed to give another strip. Bam! Fish on! A nice bend to the rod and initial run would suggest a Sierra mackerel. Dad with too much excitement reeled and pop the line went limp. Many times the toothy Sierra slice through the 40 lb tippet like a switchblade on butter.

I don’t generally use wire but was thinking that I should have rigged up a couple bite wires for these guys. The action came on a cerese over white bucktail clouser with stinger hook. I was running a big anchovy pattern with no success with the Scott 8 wt and full intermediate line. I guess I got the idea from seeing Ramon’s rubber legged pink and white jig from the day before. Im not sure if there is much in terms of match the hatch bait that is pink and white, but it seemed to work very well today.

I retied dads fly and made another pass to where we’d hooked the first fish, bam! Fish on! This time I coached him and we finally landed our first keeper, a nice Sierra mackerel of about 9 lbs. At this point I had enough evidence that color mattered and decided to switch up on the intermediate line and perhaps there was something else that would provide some enticement for them to strike., pink over white bucktail fly. Soon after the switch up the 8 wt was flexing and another fish was on. Triggerfish! A species that I’ve not caught before but was amazed to see the relatively small mouthed fish that went for the pink over white.

We trolled some more and covered more beach and then my rod dove and pulsed like no Sierra I’d caught before the sheer weight and pull of this fish was like no other. Deep into the running line and backing the fish charged hard, I tried to keep it under control as my gear was put to the test. Minutes later as the fish neared the panga it was no Sierra but a Rooster! The black and white lines and the distinctive dorsal fins of this prized and sought after fish revealed itself. I could literally feel my heart pounding and the voice in my head said ‘a little more… A little more… Easy… Easy…’ And then with a flick of Ramon’s hand the rooster was on board! Seeking these fish is like looking for a needle in a haystack and to pick one up in February was completely unexpected and a surprise. With miles and miles of beach to find them as they on constantly on the move is somewhat synonymous with searching for steelhead.

After losing a couple of other sierras from my bad handling onto the boat and or unbuttoned hooks we came upon a very strange occurrence. Halfway between us and the beach there were tails and dorsal fins showing everywhere. Ramon yells out Jack Crevalle! My mouth dropped and couldn’t believe the size of the and the numbers into the 200’s. They looked like a rhythmic troop of elephants just circling in the swells. They weren’t feeding or swimming quickly, but just cruising without much worry until we spotted a seal darting below. I headed up to the bow and casted several good presentations but wasn’t able to get one to pull away from the pack to go for my offerings.

Although I wasn’t able to meet Mr Crevalle face to face, it was a sight to behold and just gave me more reason to want to return to Cabo. The sight of that seal was enough for Ramon to fire up the Honda and motor another half a mile down the beach. We came upon another beautiful beach and casted our flies as we tried to tease up some more action. Action we wanted and action we got, with something that put a serious scream to the hookset and went berserk. Pompano! The silvery and yellow tailed fish tire up the pink and whites and put some good fight to the 11 wt and even nicer with the 8 wt.

What a difference a day can make and a change of latitude. 6 species hooked: barracuda, Sierra mackerel, rooster fish, triggerfish, pompano, and even a shark! Dad even had at one point a shark on the line as it sliced through the line and slipped away into the currents. We definitely made up for the previous days outing and had some trophies to show for it in terms of filleted and steak up fish.

We returned to the dock and was greeted by a local who examined out catch and offered to fillet and clean. Apparently alot of these guys hang out and offer their service to the fisherman but found out that the fishing was slow today. He was impressed to see our haul, which included 5 Sierra mackerel ranging from 8 lbs to 11 lbs. We lost two more from sliced leaders. Also had 3 roosters but landed two of them. One was I would guess about 12 lbs and the other was 10 lbs. 4 pompano (6-7 lbs) with one that was lost on the boating. 1 triggerfish (3-4 lbs), I dont know about the edibility if these but guess it didn’t matter since Ramon out it into the fish box without question. Three hooked and landed barracuda and one lost shark (maybe 8′ long?). Not that we would’ve expected to land the shark and even if we could we wouldn’t know what to do except to release it.

The local said that we did well compared to what he’s seen and heard, the last three boats that came in zero’d out. Dad and felt like kings hauling the cooler down the boardwalk back to our hotel. Dad mentioned that he’d like to try the sierra raw as it’s a very popular amongst Koreans and Japanese. I thought it was a great idea and summoned our waiter at Soloman’s Landing to get the prep ready. For $10 they prepared the Sierra and rooster and came with some wasabi and Ginger and ponzu sauce. My mom has a taste for fish and knowing that we were successful on our previous trip brought down some Korean chile paste (kochoojang) with it she prepared some chojang a vinegar based dipping sauce that goes well with raw fish. Only in our family do we not go anywhere without kochoojang!

The buttery and rich taste of the Sierra melted in our mouths. The rooster wasn’t as good as the mackerel but was better suited with the wasabi Ginger. There is nothing like fresh sashimi, especially when you can catch it just hours before you eat it! We also had the kitchen prepare three separate styles: barbecued, Vera Cruz style (tomato based with olives and capers), and cilantro lime sauce. The cost of this is $10 a person and they provide tortillas, veggies, salsa and all the fixings.  What a feast and what an experience to be able to go out with no expectations and come home with a grand slam!

The prices seemed to have gone up from two years ago and the format in which things are done. It used to be that guides could motor out with their clients to buy the license from the officials, but since have gone to some guys selling the licences in front of the flea market towards the end of the marina.  The cost was $13 per person and if that wasn’t bad enough, they now charge a dock maintenance fee of $1 per head. While it might not sound like a whole lot, the whole impression of the hustle is very evident in Los Cabos. I can understand completely, and when you live and work in a tourist destination, your focus is to make money.

I do feel that Ramon still have a great service and he is very knowledgeable about where, when, what and how. Even though he doesn’t have the fastest or nicest boat, his knack for finding fishy holding spots was the difference between success and failure.  His rate for 6 hours of fishing was $180 and that is cheap for two anglers to fish. I highly recommend his service and told him that he needs to get his email working right as its been overrun with viruses and also consider getting a basic website so he can build his clientelle. Despite the feeling of being pulled from every direction it was still worth it and we really had a wonderful time, not just fishing, but also with a dinner cruise on the Cabo Rey, jet skiiing, glass bottom water taxi tour of the arch and lands end, and plenty of fine dining. This trip all the more solidified my thirst for Bluewater fish of Cabo and I will countdown the days until my next return.

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