With my Roadtrek vehicle safely stored in an East Cape garage, my normal routine of staging in preparation for all the tournaments in Baja is a little different this year.
Instead of high-tailing it down to the tip of Baja in the van, on Sunday, I will make the 800-mile trip by sea.
My first trip on the Pacific was aboard the Qualifier 85. Captain Bruce Barnes introduced me to the incredible black seabass fishing at a place called Uncle Sam Bank. I was so excited that I fished for 24 hours straight, never leaving the rail…biggest fish I had ever seen let alone caught. My personal best was topped several times over that day and night.
Since then, my boat trips have been so many that I lost count. Of course, like most memorable events you always remember the first time and in my case, the second, because it was my first on a private boat in the late ‘70s, aboard an old, wood-hulled 52-foot sportfisher, owned by the Steve Cushman family of San Diego.
C BANDIT, built by Titan Marine USA. She's a 75-foot custom tournament sportfisher built in San Diego, captained by Peter Groesbeck.
After several months of preparation, the used, but newly-purchased boat, was ready for its maiden voyage to Cabo. I called my fishing buddy, Bruce Kessler, and invited him to go along. A cautious captain, he asked, "Are you on the boat?"
When I acknowledged I was, he instructed me, "Go up on the bridge and check the compass light.If it works, I'll go." It did and he did.
As we made our way down the coast, the compass light remained brightly lit but other equipment failures requiring Band-Aids were common. When we spotted our first tailer cruising down swell, we fired up the bow bait tank, and to our surprise, it worked perfectly. Then, someone went below and flushed the head, which caused all the water to drain out leaving live mackerel flopping on the bottom of the tank!
When Cabo Falso finally came into view, the crew was not disappointed!All agreed that it had been a fabulous adventure, but if each of the unexpected equipment failures really had a Band-Aids on it, the 52-foot sportfisher would have looked like a wounded warrior. Trips like that were common in the early days, long before there even was a marina.
This weekend, I'm hitching a ride down aboard a fisherman's dream, the C Bandit built by Titan Marine USA. She's a 75-foot custom tournament sportfisher built in San Diego, captained by Peter Groesbeck. Other members of the crew going down include, Captain Rich Hamilton and Captain Jimmie Decker all well-known in southern California. The boat will be fishing the tournament series in Cabo during the rest of the month.
We are all looking forward to making the trip on C Bandit. The boat is spotless, with the latest and the best of the best equipment.We step onto the boat into a huge 320-square foot cockpit featuring a unique fighting chair which allows the angler to fight fish from corner to corner.Two 200-gallon live bait tanks plus 11 custom tuna tubes are filled with bait, waiting for action.
Equipped with Seakeeper stabilizing system, our ride downhill should be comfortable regardless of the weather. The plan is to time our departure so we can catch the gray-light bluefin bite at the tuna pens. Then we'll continue on down and hit some kelp paddies to load up on the small yellows for bait later on. Then it's on to the better grade of bluefin lurking below the 100-mile mark and beyond outside of San
As we swing on down the lee side of Cedros, we'll check out the dorado, yellowtail and calico bite described by Pat McDonell of WON and his group last week.
With the recent reports on wahoo action outside of Magdalena Bay, that is a "must-be-there-at-gray-light" stop for us. Tacking the inside line down toward Cabo Lazaro, we will look for the tailing marlin that have been spotted there recently before making our way on into Cabo to begin pre-fishing with the owner, Bill McWethy, when he arrives.
Unlike the trip many years past, no one seems to be concerned whether the compass light will burn brightly. In fact, the condition of the tricked-out sportfisher under the watchful eye of Captain Groesbeck is a given. The biggest worry on this trip is what numbers the fish are on.