Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019
I’ve got a craving
Friday, February 08, 2019
Mag Bay’s Bounty

“Measured out to 48 inches. You wanna have the right gear for the job when you hook into that fish of a lifetime!” posted Wesley Brough , CaboSurfCaster on his Facebook page several weeks ago.

Sometimes snipe, sometimes snook! But this was a nice snook caught on a Stephen Jansen’s custom Killer Mullet from shore.

And it was followed by still another post above by Stephen Jansen, owner ofJansen’s Inshore Tackle in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose on his Facebook page.

Snook stirring! Once again, from the beach — this time on the Pacific side near Cabo San Lucas, in the toughest conditions with monster surf pounding the steep, sandy shore. They were flinging lures nearly as far as a football field is long, with spinning rods 13-feet long, loaded with braid.

Snook (robalo in Spanish) — it’s nearly impossible to predict when or where this incredible fish will appear throughout Mexico’s Baja region, making them tough to target.

With random sightings and with many more incidental than intended catches, Baja snook are a mystery wrapped in ambiguity. It is seldom that reports surface about catches, but even when they do, it is usually too late… the bite is over.

During the past several months, in addition to the Cabo beaches reports, there have been promising reports from Captain Juan Cook of San Quintin, who also had quite a month with some of his clients. Catching his personal best snook weighing 45 pounds, he added a dozen or so more for various clients while fishing in November out of Lopez Mateos at Magdalena Bay.

Ray Cannon, the original WON Baja columnist and the author of the “Sea of Cortez,” initially published in 1966, was the first time that snook and Baja were connected in the chapter “The Snook Shook the Town,” where he describes catching a 48-pound monster snook in Mulege’s Santa Rosalia River. In 1958, a Chubasco (violent storm) wiped them out, and turned Ray’s fascinating tale into rumors, controversy and skepticism.

In 2001, Gene Kira, another Baja legend and former WON columnist, interviewed Lou Federico, Cannon’s fishing partner. In Kira’s book, “The Unforgettable Sea of Cortez,” Federico confirmed Cannon’s yarn and even produced photographs. He affirmed that 40-pound snook were common and at least one catch was nearly twice that size. Unable to land them on rod and reel, locals resorted to harpooning the larger ones using canoes and carbide miner’s lamps at night.

Since the 1960s, the primary habitats ideal for Mexican snook have evolved, but few areas produce a predictable snook bite at a specific time of the year. When I searched for the most likely area to find snook, I discovered the healthy fishery in Magdalena Bay that Gene Kira and Neal Kelly wrote about in “Baja Catch.”

During my first visit to Magdalena Bay at Puerto San Carlos in 1997, I was snook challenged, having never caught one. Enrique Soto, a local panguero and president of the fishing cooperative at the time, introduced me to Mario, a local diver, and the two of them gave me a crash course in Snook 101, which culminated with me catching my first snook.

Over the years, I continued to make countless trips to Mag Bay in search of additional snook spots, and my fishing buddies would pass on tidbits of snook information.

Capt. Gene Grimes, known for his striped marlin and swordfish prowess, shared my snook fascination. He had exciting stories of taking the 90-foot Legend into the shallow, mangrove-lined channels to Devil’s Curve, where the boat’s owner, Ken Battram, caught huge snook, one of which became the centerpiece on the dining table in the Legend’s salon.

Grimes graciously shared his knowledge acquired during numerous visits to the area, explaining that the water temperatures peaked in the fall months, which produced the best snook action. Sizes ranged from a few pounds to respectable 40-plus pounders. He added that the most productive method was fishing with live sardine or shrimp. Live bait drifting in the deeper channels up against the mangroves provided the best shot for catching snook.

Then, through trial and error, I figured out tackle, techniques, tides and the best times to fish.

NOTE: Snook have razor-sharp edges on their gill plates, so you must use a 40-pound fluorocarbon leader to prevent the line from being cut on the initial run when they flare their gill plates and as much drag as possible when the fish is hooked.

Over the years, interest in snook has grown as more catches have been reported or seen on social media, confirming that they are found in a variety of habitats in addition to the mangroves.

Sandy beaches throughout Baja Sur from Loreto to the tip and up the Pacific side all the way to Vizcaino Peninsula, La Paz Bay, Puerto Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas are all producing a few snook.

What is astonishing about recent reports, however, is not only the volume in general, it’s the number of large snook over 40 pounds reported this year, the largest I can recall.

I won’t be surprised if there are a few more SNOOKZILLAs taken before the month is out; and hopefully, one of them will be mine!

measuredouttoMEASURED OUT TO 48 INCHES — You wanna’ have the right gear for the job when you hook into that fish of a lifetime!” posted Wesley Brough , CaboSurfCaster on his Facebook page several weeks ago.

sometimessnipeSOMETIMES SNIPE, sometimes snook! But this was a nice snook caught on a Stephen Jansen’s custom Killer Mullet from shore.

* * *

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