making its mark in tuna waters
method with double hooks and 5/0 stinger treble is a typical setup on the Yummy
week split between D.C. and the Big Apple for family, I’m back to SoCal and
glad to be home. Nine days in Cabo earlier in the month and seven days back
east over Thanksgiving was a great run family and food, but now it’s back to
the business of fishing and hunting.
a distance memory, but Baja has a way of reaching out with reminders of how
good fishing can be and cold a beer can get. Sure enough, last week friends
Floyd Sparks of Encinitas and Jim Mitchell of Santa Cruz reported back on their
pre-turkey day trip to the Gordo Bank, fishing on the Black Fly, a 27-foot
Grady-White center console that Floyd’s father-in-law Bob keeps in dry stacked
storage at the San Jose marina.
guys usually enter our Tuna Tourney and did so as teammates two years ago, but
family scheduling kept them from the event this year, so they waited until mid-
November when the proverbial dust cleared from the fishing grounds. Fishing
four days out of the San Jose Del Cabo marina, they endured two dry 14-hour
days at the Gordo, and then spanked the big tuna the next two days. It was a
waiting game, and well worth it.
jealous, of course. Before the Cabo event and the tournament grunt work began
before teams show up, I fished two days out of the Cape on a friend’s 24-foot
cat and caught small dodos and a 40-pound tuna. Not stellar action I’d hoped
for. But I was overruled on fishing the Gordo for a few shots at big fish in
favor of chasing porpoise for more bites. I’ve caught a lot of small tuna, and
I’m at the point where I’m a healthy 57 and still able to pull hard. Enduring a
slow bite for a 150 to 200-plus tuna is more enticing, but I also know a bite
on 40-pound tuna with the porpoise can evolve into a cow tuna slam quicker than
a Kardashian divorce.
Jim did it right. They committed to fishing the Gordo for four days. From dawn
to dusk. Mitchell scored a 210-240 yellowfin (weighed on a boat scale/later
taped) on a live chihuil, which looks like a mackerel-sized rainbow runner that
is the official candy bait of the Gordo Bank. Many of those huge tuna you see
at the dock by local pangeros or anglers guided by them are taken on chihuils,
pronounce “chew willies.”
There is a
method of finding them on the highest spot on the bank: chumming them with bits
of chopped red-flesh bait like a mackerel or bonito, hooking them on a handline
with trout-sized hooks and 6-pound line prepped with bits of red meat. If you
do everything right and don’t lose the bait on the handline as you guide them
to a small net because they have small, soft mouths, it’s worth the effort.
Every chihuil bait caught guarantees action on anything that swims on the bank.
A local pangero will show you how. The baits are so valuable to the fishing day
that the pangeros don’t want you to lose one for fear of scattering the bait
lot of ways to fish tuna on the bank, and while hav ing live bait nearly
guarantees a bite of some kind, the hottest lure and method for targeting the
cow tuna is the Yummy Flyer (also called a “yummy bird”). Jim and Floyd worked
the bank with a skipping Yummy Flyer, a rubbery version of a flying bait. They
likely gained favor on the long range boats, started I’ve been told by Justin
Fleck on the long ranger Excel as a skipping bait, then used with a kite as
tales of its success rate roared. Dropping them down deep with lead weights on
the banks also works.
told the use of Yummy Flyers is still a secret in Cabo by those “in the know,”
but that’s laughable. The world of chat rooms has rendered all fishing tackle
and methods public knowledge. Minerva’s in Cabo can hardly keep them
stocked. While they are relatively
new and diverse rigging methods are emerging, the bigger development by those
who skip lures and live baits with the use of kites are the small parafoils
that need less wind and thus can stay up on the downwind troll without the use
of helium balloons.
Best of all
the 3 and 4-foot foot parafoils, without long sticks, pack smaller than kites,
into a 13-inch bag and their main calling card is they stay up in less wind,
making it possible to fish on the downwind troll without the use of helium
balloons. Kite shops sell them in retail and online.
Jim used them on the bank as tuna boiled in the area, and they had 100- and
150-pound fish slam them. Not as big as the 210-240 that Jim had on the
chiluill, but solid fish. Where the Yummy Flyers work best is on the porpoise
schools where there is a mix of small and large tuna, with the bigger yellowfin
more aggressive on the topwater attack of the skipping bait.
charter Capt. Mike Tumbeiro on the Renegade Mike posted rigging photos on the
web recently saying, “We are now using the Yummys on kites, trolling them
through porpoise schools, and it is very effective when done right, getting the
bigger tuna when hooking only the 20 to 30 pounders on the troll.” Mike added
that using a 5/0 treble as a stinger has been increasing his catch ratio.
season has come and gone with a whimper, but Floyd is already eyeing more Cabo
trips in January before winter arrives and the big tuna move on. He also plans
on using the Yummys for local tuna on his 26 footer when the season rolls
around, particularly for the picky bluefin as a way of targeting the bigger
fish in the school.
said a magazine on tuna fishing techniques and areas around the world would be
popular. There are no real secrets, just evolving tackle and techniques, and
these are exciting to use, and as Floyd said when he got back, “I learned so
much down there.” He can’t wait to get back, not just to fish but to perfect
the method and tackle, and locating the chiluills.
parafoils are not for everyone. It’s hard work. But, the vision of a cow tuna
going airborne to crush a Yummy or a live bait skipped on the surface is among
the rewards for all the work of fishing them, tweaking the gear and trying new
McDonell is editor of WON and director of WON’s saltwater tournaments.
HOLDS a nice pargo
that spiced up the fun off San Jose Del Cabo.
SPARKS with his
biggest tuna, 150 pounds caught on a Yummy Flyer and a parafoil at the Gordo.
MIKE TUMBIERO, a
charterboat captain in Cabo, is a fan of the Yummy Flyers and kite fishing. The
reward is a better quality tuna in a mixed school on the bank or with