Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

WON News Column by Gary Graham

Gary Graham's published credits would fill many pages, two books on saltwater fly fishing, and hundreds of feature articles.

His  current leadership activities in the sportfishing community include: Avalon Tuna Club, member since the 1980s, San Diego Marlin Club, International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Baja California representative; Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF), certified fly casting instructor; Outdoor Writers of California, president; Outdoor Writers of America.

Gary Graham can be reached at: roadtrekker1@gmail.com

Ever-changing field of dreams
This column is about changes – not only in my life, but in the lives of others who, like me, sought their own field of dreams and discovered Baja.

My first memorable fishing day was from the shore of San Diego Bay on Harbor Drive — long before the San Diego Airport, and Harbor Island had even been conceived. Riding my bike to and from our family home in Mission Hills, on that first foray, I caught four bat rays weighing up to 60 pounds, and I was hooked on fishing!

Ray Cannon, John Steinbeck, Zane Grey, and Earl Stanley Gardner discovered Baja at a time when Mex. 1 was just a dream — and although Baja was a field of dreams for many, the stories each wrote fed the flame of interest for others … and for me.

I became an avid fan of Ray Cannon’s stories on Baja when he began his Baja Sportfishing column in Western Outdoor News in 1953 when the first issue of the paper was published, around the same time I caught my first bat rays. Cannon’s writings convinced me that my life would not be complete until I had fished the waters and shared the adventures that he described so artfully.

My first Baja adventure was a father-son affair with my eight-year-old son Greg in 1968. We flew from Tijuana to La Paz and hired a taxi to take us to Loreto’s Flying Sportsmen Lodge, often mentioned in Cannon’s columns. That week's visit to the Lodge whetted our appetite for a lifetime of Baja exploring.

I made the first road trip down Mex. 1 in one of my company’s no-frills vehicles with two friends. The van had a bare floor, two bucket seats, a few folding aluminum chairs, a cooler, and sleeping bags, but it served its purpose. My buddies were as eager as I to share the Baja adventure, and we beach-hopped down the new highway, checking out the different destinations mentioned in Cannon’s columns, catching fish from shore at every stop.

Then, in 1974, Tom Miller published The Baja Book ... A Complete Map - Guide to Today's Baja California. At one of his book signings, I met Tom and his wife Shirley, who shared a passion for Baja — the fishing as well as the beaches. We soon became good friends.

Miller traveled alone on many exploratory trips, and because I could drop everything and go at a moment’s notice, he often invited me to ride shotgun.

We frequently camped on beaches on both the west and east coast of Baja, and we shared many firsts — first white seabass, first yellowtail, and even first dorado from shore, among others.

In the mid-70s, Vagabundos del Mar Boat and Travel Club gathered at the new hotel on Harbor Island, and members Tom and Shirley invited Yvonne and me to attend. Ray Cannon, who was a friend of the Millers, was there as well. This was the ideal time to chat with Cannon and let him know how much his writings had meant to me.

When Cannon died in 1977, the field changed, and Tom assumed the WON column. Frequently, when the fishing was good offshore in San Diego, he and Shirley would join Yvonne and me aboard our boat, the WaterCloset to chase whatever was biting. Eventually, we became partners in a Mexican Auto Insurance business. The four of us remained friends until their deaths.

From then until 1986, when he left for health reasons, Tom wrote the WON column. He and I continued to sneak away occasionally to check out one hot spot or another that he heard of, or when he was visiting some of the many remote fish camps that dotted the peninsula for a story or a survey for the Mexican government. The more time I spent in Baja, the more I loved my adopted home.

Then, once again, the WON column changed hands. Fred Hoctor assumed the stewardship of the Baja Sportfishing Column that had become one of the most popular features of the still-growing newspaper. Although Hoctor and I never fished together, our interest and our continued fascination with Baja and its beaches, molded our friendship, and we spent many hours talking on the telephone.

Often, we would exchange intel, gossip about local developments, or swap fish stories and recent hot bites. He once told me a story about a world-record snook caught in Magdalena Bay that piqued my interest. The information he received was sketchy but credible enough; yet, it didn’t include where the fish was caught. Years later, after satellite maps became available, he and I figured out the location.

In 2001, after a 15-year stint as the third writer of the WON column, Hoctor suffered a heart attack at his home at Punta Bunda. Replacing him was the writer and publisher of the popular Baja Catch series of fishing guidebooks, my good friend Gene Kira.

Kira had been a frequent guest at our home, “Rancho Deluxe,” at La Capilla in East Cape. We introduced him to fishing ATVs on the beaches of East Cape, which ultimately became a fundamental part of Baja on the Fly, a fly-fishing company Yvonne and I had started.

It was with Gene’s encouragement that I began writing in 1995, never dreaming that it would become a new career of 25 years (and still counting).

When Kira retired, Jonathan Roldan took over the column, and since 2008, Jonathan and I have shared the WON Baja Sportfishing column spot introducing our own respective columns, Road Trekker and Baja Beat. We have had mutual respect for one another’s skills and offerings. I am honored to have been included among these very talented columnists of this fine newspaper for the past 12 years.

But one thing this Baja field of dreams has taught me and so many others is that it not only is a world of changes, but it also offers an abundance of opportunities for those who reach out to receive them. I have enjoyed every moment of my travels and discoveries in Baja in the Roadtrek and the columns it spawned. I retired the van last year, and the time has come to retire the column as well.

It's time for “That Baja Guy” to pursue new adventures in Baja’s ever changing field of dreams.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Catching vs. wishing
When a Baja regular is asked about fishing in the area, it’s almost a given the response will include an enthusiastic inventory of the exotics — possibly six species of billfish, several types of tuna, dorado, and wahoo.

However, locals and regular Baja fishermen understand that the fishing for “exotics” can go sideways for one reason or another, and the bite will shut off.

YOU ‘WANNA GOTTA be careful to keep everyone happy. There’s always something biting.

When that happens, anglers and crews will attempt to do whatever they can to generate a bite. Occasionally, the endless hours of trolling can pay off, but more often, that process ends up in frustration for a boatload of people who are ready to play the blame game.

While chatting over a beer on our porch one evening many years ago, Captain Jesus Araiza observed (and I have quoted him many times since), “You wanna gotta be careful to keep everyone happy. There’s always something biting.”

At a San Diego Rod and Reel Club meeting recently, Tony Belandres, husband of the club’s President, Mary Rogers Belandres, volunteered that some of their best Baja family trips were when triggerfish were the only fish biting. They discovered schools of these aggressive, good-eating fish close to shore, and like a perch on steroids, they usually found them in schools near shallow reefs out about a couple of hundred feet. Small lures, flies, live or dead bait, all work with these accommodating critters that bite almost anything on any tackle. Trust me, they can be real kid pleasers!

Like crab meat, the triggerfish has a sweet flavor, and because of their clean, white meat, when cooked, they are ideal for almost any standard fish recipe, including ceviche.

The giant needlefish derisively referred to as houndfish on the East Coast gained a certain amount of notoriety on the West Coast decades ago when author Ray Cannon declared them to be one of his favorite targets in Baja. I met Ray, and I assure you that he was all about catching — he was not about riding around all day looking for that one trophy fish! He was so taken with watching huge needlefish leap in pursuit of the slab bait he trolled behind the boat, that he dedicated an entire chapter of his book, Sea of Cortez, to catching the “scaly snakes.”

Jonathan Roldan of Tail­hunter International referred to the giant needlefish during a week when fishing was marginal; his report was about newbie clients who lacked any pre­conceived notions or expectations of local fishing — they just wanted to have fun and catch fish, which they did.

The Cortez grunt — that name doesn’t do them justice — is also caught from shore. Gene Kira, former WON columnist, and I once discussed dreaming up a sexier name, but it was not one of our most creative efforts. Our best shot was to add Cortez to grunt.

Many of the fish listed share a toughness that comes from living in a neighborhood where they are either predators or prey, they eat or are eaten! Ladyfish, often called sabalo by the locals, live up to their namesake “tarpon” in English. They are airborne at the first jab of a sharp hook and continue leaping until the hook is thrown or they are caught. They’re also the preferred food for giant roosterfish.

Known in Baja as “pargo,” there are nine varieties of snapper to target — blue and gold, Colorado, dog, golden, Jordan’s, mullet, red, spotted rose, and the yellow snapper. While technically not a snapper, the Mexican barred pargo is an­other bruiser that will save the day. Every one of these fish will rock you in a heartbeat until you learn to react to their lightning-fast bite and instant retreat into the rocks. The smaller fish pull hard, and as they grow larger, they are nearly unstoppable, combining stealth, strength, and speed.

Several years ago, I fished with a couple of friends from the East Coast who had snapper on their bucket list. They pleaded with me to take them to one of my snapper holes.

As they stood rigged and ready, I tossed out a couple of sardina. The calm water exploded as several double-digit-sized fish rose to the bait. There was whitewater everywhere as I hand-fed the hungry snapper.

I hollered, “Cast!” But both anglers had laid their flyrods down and watched, too intimidated by the feeding frenzy and the size of the fish to follow through.

Expanding your repertoire to include these often overlooked species will help sharpen your angling skills and improve your chances when that trophy-sized fish comes along. While none of the above will likely land you in an angling hall of fame, they might put you back on track where you are doing more catching than wishing.

• • • • •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Baja’s Gray Whales…an offseason adventure
Welcome to 2020.

Just like that, all those exciting 2019 Baja adventures became cherished memories as plans for new “bucket list” trips are added to the leftover list from prior years.

From December into April, gray whales are one of the most spotted species on the West Coast from the Southern California border to Baja’s tip. Visitors from around the world come to observe these giant cetaceans as they head south. 

BAJA'S WHALE-WATCHING experience is second to none judging from the feedback of both first-timers and repeat visitors from around the world.

Thousands migrate the 6,000 miles in groups called pods between their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea of Alaska to mate and breed in the lagoons along the coast of Baja.

Capt. Frank Ursitti of H&M Landing in San Diego and the owner of the Ranger 85, shared some insight on the whales’ difficult and long journey.

“In waters to the north, the first encounters with the orca (killer whales) have already occurred, pushing the south-bounding grays off their typical migratory paths. Anacapa Island, off Ventura and Santa Barbara, was the hotbed for sightings recently, treating offshore adventurers to several encounters. As southbound was their course, we expect to see them soon along the San Diego coast.”

In Southern California, several of the landings, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, offer whale-watching trips through March. According to Capt. Ursitti, “We have already started our 2020 whale-watching season with daily departures. Sightings have been regular, with steady activity. While the non-stop parade has yet to pass through our region, there is a steady stream of those in the lead heading to the southern lagoons.”

Approximately 443 miles below the border is Guerrero Negro, ideal to base your Baja whale-watching adventure. The gray whales hide from the orcas, and some raise their young in the sheltered and shallow waters of Scammon's Lagoon (the Laguna Ojo de Liebre) below Guerrero Negro.

There are several local companies offering tours at Scammon's Lagoon. A few miles south of town, many these extraordinary creatures — approximately 1,500 including newborn calves — arrive every year. Locals are already reporting the first gray whales of 2020 and expect that number to grow to a steady parade by mid-January.

Next is the San Ignacio Lagoon turnoff, 92 miles farther south on Mex 1 at the Village of San Ignacio. About 1 hour, 40 minutes, and another 36 miles out to the lagoon is another prime spot for viewing Pacific gray whales in part of Mexico's El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve — the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America. The gray whales (including cow/calf pairs, courting whales, and others) that reside here each winter are extremely friendly and regularly approach small whale-watching pangas.

Last, but certainly not least, is Bahia Magdalena. That isn’t a single location at all, but a 132-mile long complex of lagoons, offering several options. The largest is Puerto San Carlos (population 5,538) 38 miles west of Ciudad Constitución on Mex 1. It is preferred by most visiting for the day from Los Cabos and La Paz.

It is also a prime habitat for many migratory and resident bird species as well as sea turtles. A highly productive marine ecosystem, these islands are worthy of being declared natural protected areas, with dunes, and thousands of acres of mangrove forests that surround the gray whales during their stay.

Also, sportfishing in the mangroves is a popular option for the anglers in your party targeting pargo, grouper, corvina, and snook in the pristine and uncrowded mangrove-lined channels on the eastern edge of the bay.

Offshore action last fall for billfish, yellowfin tuna, dorado, and wahoo stretched into late December, which was unusual. However, it’s doubtful that there will be much offshore activity left by the time the whale show begins in mid-January.

Five barrier islands form the lagoons at Bahia Magdalena and separate the waters between the Pacific Ocean and the Bay itself, making it longer and thinner than Scammon's Lagoon or San Ignacio to the north and allowing the passengers on the panga fleet to travel less distance to view the visiting whales.

The two-hour whale-watching trips in the Bay of Magdalena take off from the towns of Puerto San Carlos and Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos; from Cabo San Lucas, it is a five-hour drive by car, and a three-hour drive from the state’s capital, La Paz.

The trips take place on small boats — universally known as pangas — operated by local fishermen, and tour providers can arrange them in La Paz or upon arrival at the dock. Tour packages from La Paz typically include transportation to and from Lopez Mateos, breakfast and lunch, and two hours of whale-watching.

Less than half the size and less frequently visited, Puerto Adolfo López Mateos (population 2,171), is at the end of a 25-mile paved road extending due west from Ciudad Insurgentes on Mex 1. It offers a somewhat less hectic whale-watching experience than the larger, deep-water port of Puerto San Carlos.

Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos is the ideal solution for those who want to view and interact with whales in a more intimate, no-frills location, without the massive crowds of the other whale-watching destinations.

Baja’s whale-watching experience is second to none judging from the feedback of both first-timers and repeat visitors from around the world. Don’t miss an opportunity to observe and enjoy another unique Baja adventure in your backyard.

The next several months will offer an opportunity to peek behind the curtain at one of the most important international tourist attractions that Baja has to offer. Discover Baja and Vagabundos del Mar offer annual caravan trips that include whale-watching at various locations. Baja Fishing Convoys also offer trips. If driving Mex 1 isn’t your thing, there are direct flights from the States to Loreto, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.

• • • • •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Looking Back
It was November 2005. I sat at my table writing my East Cape fly fishing report for Baja California Sur, Mexico, listening to the north wind blow through the windows of “Rancho Deluxe.” I sadly announced that it would be the last month we would occupy our house at La Capilla. We had made many memories and had enjoyed so many special moments there, sharing our bit of paradise with family and friends, many that we met there, and many that we brought down for vacation times, year after year. Soon after we were to leave, the rumor was that our home would be torn down to make way for a new development — a golf course with the 9th hole dead in the center of the table that I was writing on that day.

WHEN WE ARRIVED at our new vacation home, the name “Rancho Deluxe” was displayed in tile on the block gate post. We could not contain our excitement!

Our time in Rancho Deluxe began in May of 1989, when Eduardo Hermosillo, one of the owners of Rancho Buena Vista Hotel, plopped down at our table in their infamous Round Bar overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Yvonne and I were visiting Herb and Ruthie Tilsey’s vacation home on the hotel property, which was a frequent occurrence during the eighties.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, Hermosillo volunteered that the beachfront “Russell House” next door to Chuck Walter’s house at La Capilla RV Park was vacant, and had been for quite a while.

“Why don’t you rent it,” he asked?

The widowed Mrs. Russell had decided to give up the house that now seemed lonely without her husband. We told Eduardo that we would give it some thought, at which point, he explained that they intended to sell the property so we could only rent the house on an annual basis.

We explored the entire house impressed with its four bedrooms, two baths, an enormous living room overlooking the sea, but the huge kitchen that allowed ample space for storage and cooking while watching the beach and the water was what convinced us. That, plus a huge yard and a double-car garage made us realize that we could easily make this house our second home. With our bottle of wine and glasses, we headed out and sat on the stairs of the 70-foot long porch sipping wine while watching a small roosterfish demolishing a dwindling sardina school. With the sun setting and the still of the evening, we could picture ourselves ending each day on that porch with a glass of wine in hand — a picture-perfect scenario.

THE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON, Yvonne and I rode down the beach on our ATVs with a bottle of wine, glasses, and the keys to the vacant house. We realized as we pulled up to the gate that the four-bedroom home was much larger than it appeared from the beach.

Returning to RBV, we sat down with Edwardo Hermosillo. We agreed to rent the “Russell House” for one year, with the understanding we would also rent it the second year as well.

The parties agreed that quite a bit of cosmetic work was needed, but once finished, we could move in, probably in late August.

The following afternoon, Yvonne and I rode down the beach on our ATVs with a bottle of wine, glasses, and the keys to the vacant house. We realized as we pulled up to the gate that the four-bedroom home was much larger than it appeared from the beach.

Mid-August Eduardo contacted us that the work was near completion. We began staging for an early September drive down in our one-ton van loaded with our belongings. One week later, Eduardo informed us that Hurricane Kiko hit the area on August 25, one of the most destructive tropical cyclones to target the eastern coast of Mexico's Baja California’s peninsula during recorded history with winds reaching 120 mph. Our soon-to-be new home was filled with water and sand along with large broken windows and doors. He estimated that the cleaning and repairs to “Russell House” would not be completed until early October.

Our Ford van, loaded with ATV, fishing equipment, household items, and clothing, was full, and the trip uneventful. When we arrived at our new vacation home, the name “Rancho Deluxe” was displayed in tile on the block gate post. We could not contain our excitement!

Oddly, when we got out of the van after a 21-hour trip, the front door was unlocked, and a woman was busy cleaning the kitchen.

“Buenos Dias,” she said as we came through the door. It turned out that Ines had cleaned the house for the Russells for the nine years they had lived there, and, in her opinion, she came with the house. Yvonne took charge of the negotiations, and soon it was settled. Ines came with the house!

Though we had many parties, many visitors, and many pig roasts and other celebrations, our first official Rancho Deluxe New Year’s party was held in 1990. Then we entertained local friends and many others who were visiting the East Cape area. During that party at precisely 9:00 p.m. local time, I turned the clock forward to midnight, and we all celebrated, getting and giving our New Year’s kisses! And then we walked the guests to their bikes and to the beach to their pangas so they could head home. Early the following morning, most of the gang met again at the beach in search of the first roosterfish of the year.

As things turned out, the Hermosillo’s were a tad optimistic about selling the property. We continued to rent the house year after year until October of 2005.

Over the years, we made more friends than we can count. We introduced the world to beach flyfishing for roosterfish, ladyfish, sierra, and other things. We expanded Baja on the Fly and made writing a career, and when we needed photos for the articles, I became serious about photography, earned the title “That Baja Guy,” and many of the stories since the column launched in 2007 came from Rancho Deluxe.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Don’t forget to turn your clock forward on New Years!

• • • • •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Gray FishTag Research (GFR) Breakout Year
Throughout 2019, reports of satellite tags deployed on a variety of inshore and offshore species throughout the world by members of Gray FishTag Research (GFR) captured my interest.

Satellite tags are engineered to precisely track the movement of fish — spawning, the depth of travel, their feeding habits, and more — invaluable information for anglers and marine biologists alike. The tags are precision instruments costing some $5,000 each.

Everywhere I looked, I found articles in newsletters, magazines, and social media that were intriguing and aroused my interest enough that I felt compelled to fly across the United States on Dec. 5 to attend the annual Gray FishTag Research Symposium at Lighthouse Point Yacht Club, Lighthouse Point, Fla., on Dec. 6, returning to the West Coast the following day — not an easy trip.

Roxanne Willmar, GFR Program Director, met me at the airport, full of enthusiasm. “Forty people are attending from Costa Rica, Mexico, and Baja, as well as from the United States,” she blurted out as I climbed into her car. “Participants include the members of the Advisory Board, sponsors, marine biologists, fleet owners, and even a few sportfishing captains,” she continued as she filled in the still-growing guest list.

We met up with Samantha Mumford, a GFR advisor from Quepos, Costa Rica, for dinner. Samantha and her husband founded Premium Marine; she is also the founder of the Pescadora Fishing Billfish Championship Tournament — the first of which was held at Marina Pez Vela, Costa Rica, MX last Feb.

Her “Women’s Only” event took Quepos by storm with 22 teams of serious-minded women from seven countries competing. The two-day tournament produced 512 sailfish released, and 187 sailfish tagged. “This year, we will limit the tournament to 50 teams,” she added.

The following morning, the symposium was crowded well before Ian Hall, owner of Gray Taxidermy opened the meeting by thanking the 40 individuals and members of the scientific community who had taken time to attend the 4th Annual Gray FishTag Symposium.

“Many of you may not realize that it was four short years ago that GFR was merely a concept of Bill Dobbelear, general manager of Gray Taxidermy, based in Pompano Beach, Florida. Dobbelear is an avid offshore angler and one of the pioneers of deep-drop swordfishing off the Florida Coast. It was only a handful of years before that he began sharing his idea with others,”

Dobbelear guided GFR through its development with the assistance of most of those present in the room, Hall explained before turning the meeting over to him.

Dobbelaer began, “This is our annual meeting for GFR, but it is way more than that. We still have so much to learn this is GFR’s breakout year.”

Then Dobbelaer asked for brief verbal reports:

• 2019 Collaborative Swordfish Satellite Tagging Expedition, South Florida

The South Florida teams were armed with four satellite tags, one from a partnership with the Joshua Tree Foundation's Barry Shevlin and three from a joint venture with NOAA. Advisory board member Eric Leech on F/V Reel Excuse with owner RJ Bergeron had a tag.

Research's Leah Baumwell and Shevlin were on their boat, while Dobbelaer was on his, the Bill Collector, with Gray Taxidermy's Mike Johnson, Accurate Fishing Reel's southeast Rep. Austin and Travis Moore.

Both boats hooked uptheir only opportunities for the day, but only Bill Collector brought up a sword. Around 9:30 a.m., the satellite tag was deployed on an estimated 45-pound healthy swordfish.

• 2019 Collaborative Striped Bass Satellite Tagging Expedition, New York

Advisor Mike Caruso, The Fisherman Magazine, deployed two sat. tags during this year’s striper pre-spawn to determine where they travel. Both devices were recovered, and the data confirmed that both had gone offshore to the outer banks and canyons. This was the first time a sat. tag had been deployed on striped bass.

• 2019 Collaborative Blue Marlin Satellite Tagging Expedition, Costa Rica

The following question prompted the study are the blue marlin found in quantity at the 80-mile seamount offshore in the rainy season the same body of fish caught inshore during Dec. and Jan.?

The GFR team aboard two Maverick boats provided by Will Drost, Maverick Fishing, out of Los Suenos Marina, found what he called “Blue Marlin Mayhem” on their one-day trip and managed to deploy three satellite tags. They are awaiting the data.

• 2019 Collaborative Roosterfish Satellite Tagging Expeditions, Marina Pez Vela, Costa Rica.

Over the past three years, the GFR team has been working on a collaborative research project to evaluate the behavior and migration patterns of roosterfish along the Pacific Coast of Central America.

During their most recent roosterfish research expedition, GFR team members, alongside Ramiro Ortiz Group and representatives from Marina Pez Vela deployed two satellite tags. The tags were sponsored by the Ortiz family and Marina Pez Vela.

The morning of the last day started to be promising as the Chole Frijole with Captain Rudy, and Mate Christian along with Dobbelear, Samantha Mumford, “Mike,” and Pete Marino caught and released the first and second roosterfish of the day before catching and satellite-tagging the chosen roosterfish named "Mango" all before 9:00 a.m. "Mango" weighed an estimated 30 pounds and measured 44 inches long. It was brought onboard by Mumford.

The rest of the day was not as eventful, with five of the six boats leaving local original fishing grounds to see if they could locate roosterfish elsewhere. However, the Los Gatos, owned by Ramiro Ortiz and captained by Moncho, continued to troll the area, waiting for the afternoon bite. Fortunately, Ramiro's determination paid off, and around 2:30 young Sebastian Ortiz caught and satellite-tagged a roosterfish they named "The Wizard," weighing an estimated 25 pounds with a measured length of 36 inches. Sebastian had the distinction of being the first junior to satellite tag a roosterfish.

Sebastian Ortiz Roosterfish Expeditions shattered beliefs in the accepted behavior of roosterfish. One expedition was covered by the Costa Rican version of CBS’s 60 Minutes: “Siete Dias!”

• 2019 Collaborative Striped Marlin Satellite Tagging Expeditions, Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico

Once again, with the commitment from Advisory Board Member Tracy Ehrenberg and the Pisces Sportfishing Group, the striped marlin expedition study was a success.

Ehrenberg and the Pisces Sportfishing Group realize the importance of the striped marlin in Cabo and, as she has done so in years past, she "put her money where her mouth is," by sponsoring the purchase of a MiniPat satellite tag as well as coordinated four boats along with their crews to be donated. As she was speaking with John Sercu, owner of the Tag Team, for his boat donation, John took his commitment to the work one step further and sponsored the purchase of another MiniPat satellite tag.

The Tag Team, Reel Machine, Caliente, and Chasin Tails welcomed over 30 sponsors, contributors, scientists, and GFR team members traveling in from Costa Rica, Florida, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and as far as New Papua Guinea to take part in this study.

As luck would have it, the fish were a few miles up the Pacific side near Cabo Falso, where they satellite-tagged three striped marlin and placed conventional spaghetti tags in 36 more.

Over the past four years, GFR has grown exponentially. More sat tags and spaghetti tags were deployed on species beyond billfish while open-sourcing all the data to the public as well as the scientific community. After the explosive growth in 2019, it should be interesting to see what occurs in 2020. Many of the collaborative trips mentioned above are open to the public as well as some new exciting ones, which are being added.

• • • • •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

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