Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Baja Blossoms
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
Fiestas Tradicionales San José, 2018

Baja Tournaments: Trucks, Bridges, and Berms
For the first time in a decade, I missed most of the Fred Hall Show, Long Beach. Schedules overlapped and I had people I needed to interview; plus there were a couple of tournaments in Baja that I felt I couldn’t miss.

After a whirlwind Wednesday spent at the show, I packed up and flew to Los Cabos early Friday morning. There wasn’t time to drive the road this trip, so leaving my “home away from home” safely garaged, I arrived and made my stop at Hertz, after which I headed up to East Cape.

THE LARGEST FISH of this event was a 44.9-pound yellowfin tuna caught by Captain Carlos Beltran Colzessus aboard “Feeling Azul.”

First, there was a brief interview with Javier Beltran, Yacht Support, who was overseeing the installation of a Seakeeper in “Vaquera,one of the Mark Rayor’s Team JenWren fleet. Eliminating up to 95 percent of boat roll, it should keep all of Rayor’s clients smiling. The “Vaquera” is the first 35-foot Cabo to have a Seakeeper installed in Mexico. There will be more on that in another column soon.

Next, I stopped at Palmas de Cortez for a wrap-up interview with Kathy Skaggs, the Wedding Planner for Los Barriles. She and her husband, Lyle Brunson, migrated to the area several decades ago and have many interesting stories to tell — another column. Brunson can usually be found at the Palmas’ pier, creating stunning Japanese fish prints for anglers. His fish impressions are called “Gyotaku” (pronounced GHEE-OH-TAH-KOO: Japanese, from gyo fish + taku rubbing.)

Saturday morning, I had enough time for a little #doingthedrone trick at several East Cape hotels before heading to the registration at Puertos Los Cabos Marina for the “Torneo de Pesca Deportiva Fiestas Tradicionales,” a qualifying event for CONAPESCA’s Gran Final held every August in Loreto. This was to be a one-day affair targeting wahoo, yellowfin tuna and dorado. By the close of registration, there were 39 teams, according to Clicerio Mercado, tournament coordinator.

Fortunately, it was short drive to Posada Real, where I would spend the next few days. Saturday morning, I was on the road at 4 a.m. trying to find my way to Migrino Beach, where Stephen Jansen’s (Jansen Inshore Tackle) 6th Annual Sierra Tournament was being held.

My directions were sketchy, and I purposefully allowed ample time to find my destination. After nearly an hour and a half of driving, just as I began to think I was lost and was seriously considering making a u-turn, retracing my path and beginning again, when a big pickup towing a trailer with a Polaris ATV in it passed me.

I drafted the rig as it pulled off on a dirt road before a large bridge; it was the bridge I had been directed to find. In the pitch dark of the very early morning, it felt like I was back in Glamis Dunes in California.

The difference, of course, was that the rigs I managed to follow had 11-foot-or-longer fishing rods sprouting out of them. When the truck turned to head toward the final sand berm overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I wisely stopped my VW compact before I buried it in the soft, moon dust-like sand.

WINNING THE COVETED “Sierra Killer Award” was Juan Torres with the largest fish of the tournament — a 6 pounder.

Trudging over the sand, grooved by numerous tires with my cameras in my backpack, I discovered that I had been following none other than Jansen himself. He and his team were frantically unloading boxes of team bags filled with special T-shirts among other things.

“It’s my birthday,” Jansen shared as he greeted me, not slowing down to say much more. Looking around — as far as one could see in either direction — were trucks and campsites of groups that had arrived the night before to secure a favored site. Headlights, torches and flashlights twinkled like fireflies in the fading darkness as it turned to dawn. Loudspeakers blaring music suddenly silenced and Jansen announced lines in the water for one single species: Sierra Mackerel. And the tournament began for the eager anglers who had signed up for the popular event.

The first hour, a steady parade of anglers raced to the scales to weigh their catches, all of which were donated to a local charity to feed children and others in need of a hot meal.

When the event concluded three hours later, the 409 participants from around the world crowded the stage to watch the top 20 anglers receive their prizes of fishing tackle. The “winner” of the coveted “Sierra Killer Award” was Juan Torres with the largest fish of the tournament — a 6 pounder.

Later that afternoon, I returned to Puerto Los Cabos just in time to watch the weigh-in of the largest fish caught in the “Torneo de Pesca Deportiva Fiestas Tradicionales,” a 44.9-pound yellowfin tuna caught by Captain Carlos Beltran Colzessus aboard Feeling Azul. The other two heaviest fish weighed-in were a dorado at 19.7 pounds and a wahoo at 21.3 pounds. After closing of the weigh station, a specially-prepared fish buffet of ceviche and fish tacos made from the teams’ catches was served to the anglers and their families. Cash prizes were handed out to the top catches in the three categories along with invitations to compete in the Gran Final next August in Loreto, BCS.

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