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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Thursday, July 17, 2014
A hero's gift


Don't ignore conditions – confront them
While many are spending their time arguing about the reasons for the lack of sardina in Baja Sur, they should be making adjustments to make better use of the baits that are available ... big baits, little baits, dead bait and, in some cases, cut bait.

Sure, we have had temporary gaps when the sardina disappear mysteriously only to return later in the same fashion. Thus far this year it seems different and is lasting much longer than even Baja old timers can remember.

deadballyhooare
DEAD BALLYHOO ARE an excellent  bait when rigged correctly, which isn't simply pinning them on a hook and trap hook and dragging them bouncing on the water behind the boat at trolling speed.

While all of us are accustomed to jumping in a boat and finding the local bait guy – and then paying him a good chunk of change to top off the tank – and then go fish. So far this year, if you do find a bait man, the fish in the bottom of his panga are likely to look like they came out of someone's aquarium. Last week, fishing at Las Arenas, I don't remember seeing one sardina.

Our bait selection included ladyfish on the large side and 5-inch live ballyhoo on the small side and a lot other kinds in between. All these baits required not only different techniques, but different style of hook as well as sizes.

Ladyfish, as an example, as most anglers know, are like candy to roosterfish … BIG ONES. The grandes have been more common throughout Baja Sur this year according to the glowing reports. However, hooking a small, let’s say 3/0 J hook through the bait’s nose and expecting consistent hookups may be a tad optimistic.

Those in the know from experience opt for an 8\0 circle hook with the offset flattened and dental flossed to the top of the nose for best results.

Dead ballyhoo are an excellent bait when rigged correctly, which isn't simply pinning them on a hook and trap hook and dragging them bouncing on the water behind the boat at trolling speed. A small egg sinker sewed beneath the chin and perhaps covered with brightly colored skirt will undoubtedly increase the number of bites. Taken a step further, if the backbone is removed, they will actually swim enticingly.

Enough about bait rigging. Tackle and techniques can be modified to fit whatever kind of bait is available. In Southern California, the buzz has been about sardines disappearing and the smaller anchovy replacing them as the common bait. So, suddenly many are considering spinning or lighter longer rods to cast the smaller baits. Perhaps similar adjustments should be a consideration in Baja.

Adjustments may be as simple as letting a fish run a little longer because of larger baits. Tackle stores are filled with a plethora of different top water and swimming artificial lures that have proven productive. If you don't believe it, the next time you see some fly-fishers casting from the beach, more than likely one on them will be flinging a hookless lure to tease the fish closer for his buddies’.

I had clients show up with squid in their cooler because they heard there wasn't any bait. Good thinking; but these days you can buy squid in some of the local markets. What about cat food? That same cat food that is used to chum up mackerel will set off a pretty impressive dorado feeding frenzy.

Experienced anglers are all about adapting and when faced with unfavorable conditions seeking ways to work around them and drawing from prior experiences that may be modified or improved upon to improve their chances now.

Sportfishing is all about challenge that doesn't begin when you hook up. Adapting to conditions has always been an important part of being a successful angler. We've all been confronted by unfavorable conditions and found ways to work around them … not just blithely accepting them as today's norm, but relying on our past experiences to find a way to overcome them.

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