WON Big Fish Challenge


CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Baja Gasoline with perks?
Wednesday, March 07, 2018
Baja Blossoms


Searching for sierra
My friend Stephen Jansen, owner of Jansen Tackle, texted me: “FYI, I am looking to do my Sierra Tourney again on March 11.” His tackle store was mentioned in my Tackle Talk column last month. Find it at wonews.com.

This was great news since he had opted not to bother for the past few years because of the lack of sardina that attracts foraging fish along local beaches.


marchison
MARCH IS AN excellent time to go looking for the aggressive sierra. With the sardina close inshore, anglers can get shots at the fish as they walk along the beach.


Underscoring Jansen’s decision was another dose of positive vibes from my East Cape buddy, Mark Rayor of JenWren Sportfishing,who said, “From all the signs I'm seeing with the excellent conditions and abundance of bait, this is going to be the year we’ve been waiting for!” WOW!


Pacific sierra mackerel (scomberomorus sierra) are known as a winter and early spring fish. They are usually found in the water surrounding Baja’s tip year ’round and they are beginning to gather along the shore already this year.


March is an excellent time to go looking for the aggressive sierra. With the sardina close inshore, anglers can get shots at the fish as they walk along the beach. A variety of lures, Jansen’s Cabo Killers, Roberts Rangers in almost any color, and just plain chrome spoons, should do the trick. Or for fly anglers, flies that “match the hatch” … in this case, 2½- to 4-inch long sardina … olive, gray or blue-backed Deceivers should work as well.


Jansen’s Sierra Beach Tournament, the largest beach event of its kind ever held in Baja, is held at Playa Migriño and the date is determined by current conditions. According to Jansen, "The warmer water forced us to move the date to March 11."


The tournament is held on Sunday morning from 6:15 to 9:15 a.m. However, many entrants turn the tourney into a family outing beginning on Saturday afternoon, when a stream of cars and trucks arrive at the designated beach with fishing rods poking out of windows or bouncing over the tailgates of the trucks. As the sun sets, the silhouettes of eager anglers can be seen pre-fishing; bonfires appear, glowing up and down the beach as the numbers of campsites grow. Hoots, hollers and laughter echo above the sounds of the surf and family and friends prepare simple-to-elaborate dinners while everyone basks in the camaraderie.


pacificsierramackerel
PACIFIC SIERRA MACKEREL (scomberomorus sierra) are known as a winter and early spring fish.


Sunday comes early as more participants arrive in a procession of pick-ups, SUVs, ATVs and dune buggies, headlights glowing in the gray light of a Baja morning. Anglers and their families unload fishing gear, beach chairs and canopies, while Jansen and his crew of volunteers put the final touches on the stage and weigh station.


The event begins at 6:15 a.m. with the anglers casting lures and poppers, after having plunked down their money in hopes of winning the first prize – a Shimano Stella 14000; optimistically, they begin their quest for the winning sierra mackerel.


Cheers and laughter of spectators can be heard over the roaring surf as they shout encouragement to their favorite anglers. Successful fishermen, with catches in hand, sprint for the weigh station, handing over their fish to be weighed and recorded by tournament officials. Then after taking a few minutes to reload both body and tackle, they race back to their preferred spot at the water's edge in hopes of catching another fish to improve their score.


Finally, the three-hour competition is over, “lines out” is called and the winners receive prizes for their catches, usually accompanied by blaring renditions of Queen's, "We are the Champions," followed by James Brown's, "I Feel Good!"


Minerva Saenz of Minerva's Tackle confided after her first year of sponsorship, "I have never sponsored the Sierra Tournament before, but I remember the first tournament and I'm aware of how much it’s grown! A few of the boys who work in our store fished the tournament and what a feeling of community it has become. Can you imagine over 250 anglers on these magnificent beaches and the winning angler coming from La Paz to fish? When we opened our store over three decades ago, no one fished the shore; now, “surf fishing" in Cabo San Lucas has become a draw both locally and internationally. We have Europeans who bring their surf equipment to fish from the shore. I love it!"


This home-grown tournament has plenty of local support and has joined the ranks of the “big boy” boat tournaments. It provides a land-based opportunity that offers all the fun, excitement, enthusiasm, and camaraderie of its big brothers. It lacks only the roar of the boats and the smell of diesel fumes.


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