Don't forget the smaller stuff
When you go out there on the ocean you never really know what
you will catch, and that is one of the truly great things about Cabo: there is
always something to put a bend in your rod.
Since 2002 I can only count on one hand the number of times
I have been skunked: now THAT isn’t something that I could say about many places
where I have fished in the world. In Scotland I have even been skunked in a
whole year fishing for Atlantic Salmon (which is why I go to Russia for those
Dorado is probably the #2 fish in these waters and at times
they can stack up in stupid numbers. I have been out there and watched schools
of literally hundreds of these gorgeous fish pass beneath the boat. Some folks
take full advantage of this bounty and hammer them, killing every single one. I
kinda get that; they are very numerous and they breed so fast you could be
forgiven for thinking they will never run out…and, of course, they taste so
That flavor will probably be their downfall eventually. What
species doesn’t suffer terminal decline when mankind likes to eat it after all?
Mexican law is supposed to protect these fish from commercial fishing and,
although you would never know it if you walk around the marina, it is illegal
to sell it in restaurants. There is even good research indicating that
Dorado are being smuggled into the USA by the Cartels, laundering their dirty money
and passing the fish off as Costa Rican Mahi-mahi. If true, that is a very
They have a rapid lifestyle do Dorado – growing to full
maturity within a year and being a very old fish at 2 or 3 years. So it is
likely that the average sized fish that you catch will be no more than a year
or 18 months old. That rate of growth gives them a voracious appetite, which is
good for fishermen as it’s not exactly hard to get them to take a lure or a
bait, as long as you find them first that is.
The color changes always amaze me. Free swimming in the water they glow
neon blue, on hook-up they change to electric blue and silver changing again to green and
gold as the fight ends. It’s a wonder of nature right there on the end of your
These days I try to release as many as I can. I and my
friends can only eat so many after all, so the rest are best released if they
can be. That is kinda tricky of course: unlike a marlin there is no bill to get
a hold of. What helps is that I have taken to using light spinning rigs for
most small species. This means that I get a good fight on the light gear (most
charter companies are rigged too heavy for small species and you just crank
them in which isn’t much fun really) and we use smaller hooks so we get a shot
at either slipping it out or just cutting the fish off close to the knot. I have an idea that those Ketchum release tools may work if I can get one on a long enough handle and with a wide enough gape. Might be worth a shot one day.
A word on cutting off fish: some may think it cruel and
unnecessary to leave a hook in a fish and I can’t really argue with this. My
only justification comes from a conversation with an Australian commercial fisherman that I met in
Melbourne who used to catch Coral trout for the local restaurants. To speed
things up they would just cut the lines at the hook and drop the fish into the
holding tank before transporting to the dock. He told me that almost every
single fish had gotten rid of the hook within 12 hours and they collected them
up and re-used them on the next trip. I may be deluding myself, but that was
good enough for me.
Yellowfin tuna are next on the list of Cabo regulars and at times they are
present in enormous numbers, mostly football sized it has to be said. The great thing with tuna is that they generally swim with dolphins and around Cabo the schools of mixed species of dolphins have to be seen to be believed. I have seen schools of literally thousands of them and some of the days of greatest peace in my life have been spent following these vast aggregations of mammals and watching them hunt and play. It is very special.
I confess, however,
that I am not a huge fan of catching tuna. With the small ones you get a decent
initial run but then it is just a direct crank in, unless I am using my spinning
gear and then it is a little more interesting. The opposite end of the scale
comes with the big fish, and since Cabo holds the all tackle world record for
Yellowfin tuna then you better believe that there are big ones around. They are painful and boring at the same time!
My first monster tuna came when I was trolling for marlin. I saw
it come out of nowhere and it smacked the large orange lure in the prop-wash like it was a
red-headed stepson. My immediate thought was: “This is gonna take a while.”
Two hours later I was regretting ever waking up that
morning. Big tuna go deep and are just plain dogged. They also swim in huge
circles so for a while you actually think that you are winning, because they
are swimming towards you; it gives you hope that this pain will stop soon. And
then they turn around and swim off again and you have to hold back the tears as
every inch, and then some, of the line you just won with so much sweat and effort peels smoothly and effortlessly off the reel.
When I finally brought that first big one in, my hands were shaking like
Ozzie Osbourne’s and I had deep gouges and bruises in my thighs from where I
had gripped the rod with them for extra purchase and the reel bolts had dug
into me. I was in pain for about a week. A lot of pain.
I have had a few other tuna in that category, memorably
pulling the hook on one which was just as big right at the boat after 90
gruelling minutes. I was actually glad – you can’t safely release a fish this
size and at least it got to live another day. All I got for my trouble was the
So no, I am not a big fan of big tuna.
Wahoo are found around Cabo too but not in great numbers, although it
could be that the fleet do not target them specifically and they could be much
more numerous than we think. My best was 65lbs and, mysteriously, that one came
straight to the boat without the slightest fight. Normally wahoo will take off
for the horizon the minute you set the hook which makes them one of the most
exciting fish to catch, aside from marlin of course.
All of this adds up to an interesting and varied day out –
which is exactly why Cabo has the deserved reputation of a world-class game
Gets my vote every time.