Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014
All systems go?

A Baja Adventure of TITAN proportions
Fall season 2013 began in early September with an invitation to join Captain Peter Groesbeck, Jimmy Decker (aka the Calico Guru), and Captain Rich Hamilton from San Diego, aboard the luxurious 75-foot TITAN sportfisher, the "C Bandit." The boat, owned by Bill McWethy of San Diego, was on a trip “downhill” for its annual run to Cabo San Lucas. Equipped with Seakeeper©, the boat rides smoothly regardless of sea conditions; however as luck would have it, calm seas followed us throughout the entire four-day trip.

At first morning’s gray light we were below Ensenada, paddy-hopping our way downhill catching bluefin, yellowfin and dorado until the sun set. '

The second morning found us cruising down the lee of Cedros. The morning was quiet with nothing showing when Groesbeck decided to honor Decker with a visit to a secluded kelp bed across Dewy Channel and bending in toward land where the living was easy and the big calicos were biting. On somewhat of a time schedule, we only stayed for an hour of fun before continuing down swell.


Back offshore, we headed for the ridge and the bites kept coming. A yellowfin here, a dorado there and to close out the day, our first striper of the trip was framed by a fantastic Baja sunset! Bluefin sashimi followed by dorado steaks cooked to perfection on a George Forman grill set the stage for a great dinner punctuated with many fish stories and laughter.

Early to bed and early to rise was the mantra for a night filled with a few hour wheel watches for each of us before the blood red Baja sun peeped over the Baja Peninsula to the east. The timing was impeccable and our first high spot and gray light arrived simultaneously.

Out went the Marauders four deep across the stern followed by the tortured howl of reel clickers under stress. HOOK UP! Soon, the skinnies were on the deck flopping in their iridescent blue splendor, slapping their tails on the deck creating a rhythmic song that only an angler can appreciate. Woohoo! Wahoo on the barbie for dinner was now more than a fantasy; it was a promise.

Zigzagging our way from bump-to-bump toward Magdalena Bay, we continued to score. As we grew closer to Lazaro we came upon a high spot with several pangas slowly idling about. Approaching, we realized there were free divers in the water hunting wahoo. Like oil and water, the two techniques of fishing are just not compatible. Not really being able to troll with the divers in the water, we moved on down the line.

[As a footnote, since that encounter I have heard some rumblings from locals at both Magdalena Bay and Cabo decrying the practice. Without taking sides, this is going to be a problem that will need to be addressed soon by the Mexican fisheries as tempers flare.]

Below Cabo San Lazaro outside the entrada to Magdalena Bay, the gear was changed to squid chains with a ballyhoo attached in the corners and naked ballyhoo with circle hooks down the center. "FOLLOW" was heard repeatedly as the stripers chased us and the baits down swell. Throughout the afternoon it was one hookup after another, sometimes doubles. When that happened more often than not we would leave the second rod in the holder for Decker, our designated rookie for the trip. When he would release one we would gently tap him on the shoulder and point to the second rod. He took the ribbing good naturedly and admitted by the end of the day that he had seen more striped marlin during that day than he ever had.

Our final day was reserved to search for one of the big’uns: a black or blue marlin to complete Decker's initiation into the world of big game fishing. Alas, it wasn't meant to be and for the first day during our four-day adventure, we were blanked.

As we rounded the familiar Cape Rocks at Land's End, the three captains all agreed that while we couldn't remember how many times we had made the journey from San Diego, we still shared Decker's belief that this had been one of the most fun trips we had ever experienced.

*Footnote – This started as a story about my Baja Bus Adventure after I left ‘C Bandit’ in Cabo and headed to East Cape; obviously I got sidetracked, so maybe next time. It was somehow easier to write about the fishing today; I think it must be time for me to pack my rods and head to Baja.

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