It’s four in the morning and my alarm is sounding again. It’s time to fish. I have always been a morning person, getting up to go fishing makes mornings even that much better. It is amazing how the mere thought of catching big fish can make us get up at this ungodly hour with smiles on our faces. Now that we knew what to expect while fishing the Sea of Cortez we brought a long our friend Jordan to do some camera work for us. He isn’t actually a cameraman, nor a fisherman, but a writer. We did have one thing going for us however, he wasn’t afraid of the water or fish like our past camera person. It’s so hard to find good help these days.
As we had the week before, we drove down to Fishermen’s Fleet and consumed our free coffee and breakfast with great haste. Today there was only one fisherman getting in the van with us due to a very last second cancellation. As a piece of advice to anyone taking a charter fishing trip: If for some reason you can’t make it, pick up a phone and let your guides know ahead of time.
It was another beautiful morning as the noisy van climbed the mountains toward the sea. The sky was much clearer then the last time and a warm wind blew from the south. While in the van we spoke with the other fisherman, an attorney from Fresno California by the name of Dan. He has been to La Paz before and specifically made this trip to fish with David’s Fishermen’s Fleet. Back home he wasn’t an avid fisherman but loved heading down to Mexico in search of big strong fish and on his last trip he was not disappointed. I have always enjoyed the trip over the mountains and getting to spend some time getting to know the other fishermen.
We wasted no time once we arrived at the beach and immediately jumped in our boat, and Dan into his. We had the same guide as before (Cayo), since he seemed to share our intense passion for catching fish. The sea was a little bit calmer this day and we were able to make very good time getting to our destination. Cayo carved his way through the waves and swells with the precision only a person who had spent their entire life on the ocean could do. The sun beat down hard on us as our guide netted bait fish. It was obvious that today was going to be a very hot day on the water, even though clouds had begun to move in. We lathered up with sun screen and headed for deeper water.
The day started slower then our previous trip. We circled the area for a quite a while before we had our first hit. It was certainly worth the wait when line started peeling off my reel. I had decided to stick with the equipment supplied by Fishermen’s Fleet this time instead of my muskie equipment. Now I was using a nice big Shimano reel spooled with forty pound line. While many anglers use a heavier line for fishing saltwater, all the reels here seemed to be spooled with the forty pound line because the main fish we are targeting (Pargo, commonly known as Snapper) have very good eyesight and don’t hit the bait on heavier line. The only drawback to using only forty pound line is that these fish are extremely strong and can reach over one hundred pounds. They immediately pull straight down into the sharp rocks below, cutting your line. The idea is to chase the fish once hooked and bring in as much line as possible. You can only hope that the fish will head toward deeper water, because if they don’t, you will more then likely loose the fish. I of course learned this first hand after battling a good size pargo for almost five minutes before my line got cut. There isn’t a whole lot you can do when these fish start to run. I tried my best to keep the rod tip up and bring in as much line as possible to no avail. When you try to bring in the fish quickly you risk the chance of breaking the line from stress, but when you reel to slow you run the risk of loosing the fish to the rocks. It requires a very precise mixture of finesse and brute strength.
We continued fishing the area for a few hours. I managed to lose two more big pargo, land one cabria, and a silver colored fish that Cayo told us was a Ladyfish. Jon also caught a Ladyfish and both were released. I was later told that these are often used as bait for very big Pargo but are never kept for human consumption.
Time seemed to be moving at a very slow pace. I was quite frustrated with loosing a total of five good sized fish (including last trip). We even gave our cameraman Jordan a shot, but once again the result was a broken line. Our guide Cayo, who was the same guide we had last trip, seemed to be even more upset then myself and was using all his best tricks to make sure we went home with some bigger fish.
The methods used here are very simple and work incredibly well. Many of the fish here come from depths of one hundred feet or more to hit bait near the surface. The water is very clear and the fish have great eyesight. Cayo and the other guides do most of the work for you: they throw a couple handfuls of bait fish in one spot, then throw your bait in the middle. The guide lets out line by hand while you hold the rod. When he sees or feels a fish hit the bait he sets the hook by hand and franticly tells you to reel. At this point you flip the drag into place and hang on tight. It is certainly not the type of fishing we are used to, normally we are casting until our arms hurt. Of course, once you have a fish on, it is far more work then catching a days worth of bass, pike or even a muskie.
By noon we still had no decent fish in the boat. We headed to shore to net some more bait, and while doing so, we saw our buddy Dan battling a big pargo in the distance and went for a closer look. We watched with great enjoyment as he hoisted a twenty to thrity pound pargo with a huge furious smile on his face. We snapped a few pictures for him and then started fishing once again.
It felt much later in the day then it really was. A couple more hours passed and we were all very hot and tired. Cayo decided to take us to another spot hoping for a change in luck and borrowed some bait from the other captain. At this point, disappointment had set in and it looked like we would be heading home without a good dinner. I sat quietly listening to the waves and the birds above while Cayo let out line by hand once again. I looked toward shore for a moment, and the next thing I knew, Cayo was setting the hook and telling me to reel. I tightened my grip and pushed the drag into place. Line screamed off the real and I struggled to keep the rod tip up. There was no way I was going to lose another fish today. I loosened the drag slightly and reeled as fast as I could. Jon and I always use left handed reels, but we had no choice but to use the right handed ones which were supplied. I fought to pull the weight of the fish up with my weaker arm and eventually had it close enough that we could see it. Finally, a pargo! Cayo reached for the gaf and pulled the fish into the boat as we all looked on with gigantic smiles on our faces. I proudly lifted my first pargo and posed for a picture. I put the fish in the live well and sat to catch my breath as Cayo retied the line for Jon.
I gave Jordan a break and began filming over Jon’s shoulder as Cayo let out line by hand once again. As I started to do a close up on the reel line started peeling out. Jon quickly pushed the drag into place and pulled back on the rod. The fight was on. He furiously reeled, not wanting to be outdone by myself and battled the mighty pargo with all his strength. After a high five and a hand shake we all had big smiles on our face and Cayo signaled that it was now time to go in. We knew he wouldn’t have let us leave without those fish and we felt a great deal of accomplishment finally getting our first pargo each. I sensed that Cayo was every bit as proud as we were that day, and Jon and I both new that he was the only guide we would ever want for fishing these waters.