Pat McDonell's Blog

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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Another Jackpot in the books
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Musings on maps, visas and heading south

When is a tackle secret no longer officially a secret?
Yummy Flyer making its mark in tuna waters


mike tumbieras rigging

MIKE TUMBIERO’S rigging method with double hooks and 5/0 stinger treble is a typical setup on the Yummy Flyer.


After a 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.

Cabo seems 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.

Those two 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.

I’m 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.

Floyd and 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 school.

There’s a 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.

I’ve been 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.

Floyds and 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.

Cabo-based 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.

Our tuna 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.

I’ve often 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.

Kites and 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 techniques.

Pat McDonell is editor of WON and director of WON’s saltwater tournaments.


floyd holds a

FLOYD SPARKS HOLDS a nice pargo that spiced up the fun off San Jose Del Cabo.


floyd with hsi 150 pounder

FLOYD SPARKS with his biggest tuna, 150 pounds caught on a Yummy Flyer and a parafoil at the Gordo.


renegade mike tumeiro

RENEGADE 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 porpoise. 

Reader Comments
it would be nice to get your facts straight before writting stuff like this. Jims fish didn't even hit 200. and your kite fishing info should come from someone who actually know what they are doing!! way to let the catout of the bag!
Nice report Pat. Brian I personally talked to Jim and he said he had 2 over 200 that trip. As far as talking to someone who actually knows about kite fishing. I have been fishing the kite off and on for many years now. I learned how to do it on the longrange boats many years ago (around 1998) I used to fly the kite at times for marlin using live bait both here in the cabo area and san jose back in 2000 on my own skiff. I now run a charter boat and I'm out on the close around 200 days a year. As I often say I may not be an expert but I do this every day. You might want to see some of the kite fishing videos i made over this past summer using a Gopro HD camera Here are the links to the you tube site. Like Pat said kite fishing is not for everyone as it is hard work and takes allot of practice to be able to get the kite up in the always changing wind conditions around here in the cabo area. there are different kites for the different wind conditions and then there is the piloting of the boat to position the Yummee in the best areas of the schools of porpoise and tuna which are not always going directly into the wind. Mike (renegademike)
Mike Tumbeiro
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