CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER



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

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.


It Took a Village
If you spoke with my English teacher in the Christian high school I attended, Mrs. Helen Olafson would tell you the chances of my being a professional writer were slim to none; only because she liked me did I pass her class. (From the year I graduated, I took her roses on her birthday … even after her death.)

I knew my limitations. My passion was deep-sea fishing – not writing. My first Mexican billfish was caught on a trip to San Carlos, Mexico when I was 16. Next, I traveled with my 8-year-old son Greg to the Flying Sportsmen Lodge in Loreto, BCS; we fished for a variety of species for a week, which allowed us to enjoy the adventure thoroughly.


thiswasgreat
THIS WAS GREAT because they were all willing to share their knowledge and insight into their professions for my Baja local knowledge.

In 1973, two buddies and I couldn’t resist the lure of the newly-finished Mex 1 and drove the entire road from border to Cabo San Lucas and back. In 1974, Tom Miller, WON contributor, published “The Baja Guide.” I purchased a copy and became friends with him and his wife Shirley. I was fortunate to be an occasional co-pilot on some of his frequent road trips, where he regaled me with his many fishing stories.


Over the years, I met many of the principal Baja writers beginning with Ray Cannon, and of course, Miller, who assumed the WON Baja column upon the death of Cannon in 1977. In 1984, Fred Hoctor published “Baja Ha-Ha” and became the Baja columnist for Western Outdoor News the following year. Later in life, when pressed, he described himself as a "bon vivant, raconteur, fishing guy," according to Gene Kira, who became the next WON Baja Columnist beginning in June of 2000 after Hoctor retired and subsequentially passed away in July 2001.


Kira and I also became friends and traveled extensively in Baja. He occasionally dropped by “Rancho Deluxe,” our home on the beach at La Capilla, and we frequently met for sushi lunches in the U.S.


It’s odd how fate intervenes, and doors of opportunity swing open.


In 1995, I received a phone call from Kira suggesting that I write a feature for “Big Game Fishing Journal,” an East Coast saltwater fishing magazine. Aside from fish reports, I had never had anything published. I pushed back. I didn’t believe I had an ounce of skill or aptitude for writing. After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that I would write the story and he would edit before submission. Years later, he admitted that he wouldn’t write the story because they wouldn’t pay him enough.


When the check arrived, the die was cast! I began seeking writing assignments for myself.


Since Yvonne and I owned other businesses, we called our friend Bennett Mintz, a longtime publicist, writer, writing collaborator and editor and we formed a team. We three sat down to determine how a latecomer like me could gain a foothold in what appeared to be a very crowded field. Ultimately, we came up with a plan.


#1 Never fail to meet a deadline;


#2 All work submitted would be reviewed and edited by Yvonne and Ben;


#3 Never turn down an assignment in an area I had expertise in, regardless of the deadline; and


#4 Never accept a project we didn’t believe in.


With more than 20 years of driving up and down Baja exploring and fishing at that time, I certainly didn’t lack for stories that seemed to be in demand.


Baja periodicals, newspapers as well as a variety of publications in California and beyond were eager for the material.


Of course, our “Baja on the Fly,” one of the earliest fly-fishing outfitters established in Baja Sur, was a magnet for outdoor writers and photographers like Brian O’Keefe. This was great because they were all willing to share their knowledge and insight into their professions for my Baja local knowledge. Our timing was perfect — with digital cameras just beginning to emerge, it was the ideal time to learn from the ground up, like others, even expert photographers, were relatively new to that game as well.


The requests for features were encouraging as my writing and photography improved. This allowed me to provide most of the images needed to enhance my writing.


A significant breakthrough came when WON Editor Pat McDonell asked if I would be interested in writing a regular column for the paper. Baja Road Trekker began in 2008. It alternates every other week with Jonathan Roldan’s popular “Baja Beat” in Western Outdoor News.


Additionally, there were books about fly fishing in Baja, the No Nonsense Guide to Southern Baja, which is in its second printing, and the No Nonsense Guide to Fly Fishing Magdalena Bay as well as columns and articles in major sport fishing magazines and newspapers.


That would not have happened without the encouragement and input of many over the years, and the passing grade Mrs. Olafson kindly gave me.


The bottom line is that my passion for fishing led to my fascination with Baja and my many friendships and encouragement with the Baja writers. Imagine embarking on a never-dreamed of career in writing and photography at the age of 55. Wouldn’t Helen Olafson be proud?


•   •   •   •   •

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.


You can’t win them all!
Having attended the 25th Annual Baja Ha-Ha Shelter Island Parade last year, I was eager to be on hand again. When Ken Franke, president of Sportfishing Association of California, (SAC) invited me to join him for the 26th annual event, along with 65 guests and members of the San Diego Unified Port District Tenants Association aboard the designated start boat, the San Diego-based sportfishing vessel Dolphin, for the kick-off of the San Diego-Cabo Regatta, I was determined to be part of the team.

At 10 a.m. Monday, 153 yacht crews from around the world set sail as part of the Baja Ha-Ha, the West Coast’s largest sailing regatta, which would begin the 750-mile voyage from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Sailors from California, Oregon and Washington, plus some from as far away as Sweden and Australia, were part of the huge fleet of sailboats.



THEN AT  10:00 a.m. Consul General Gonzalez Gutierrez fired the Starting Shot.

then at

I wasn’t going to let the fact that I had already booked a flight to Cabo San Lucas departing at 11:15 Monday morning stand in my way. This meant that with very careful planning, pulling together every trick I knew and calling in every favor I had, I would have to depart immediately after the shotgun start at 10 a.m. from the Dolphinthat would be on the water in the harbor in order to make my flight for the “meet and greet” Monday evening sponsored by Pisces Sportfishing and Gray FishTag in Cabo – a prelude to a Tuesday morning’s striped marlin Satellite Tagging expedition which I would photograph.


By 9 a.m., the Dolphin was loaded; Captain Jason Coz and his crew departed for the main channel to position the boat in front of Shelter Island. Franke took the microphone and introduced the special guests attending. Captain Frank Ursitti and Captain Tim Exstrom presented a donation of $10,000 to Kevin Foley, Vice-Chair of Hospital Infantil de las Californias and Dionicia Lozoya Executive Director. On behalf of the organization, Foley explained the importance of the donation and expressed their gratitude.


Next, Franke introduced the Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutiérrez, who thanked the Port and Franke for including him on the trip.


Beginning at 9:45, Commander Chad Robuck Sector San Diego, fired the first warning shot, the second was fired by Michael LaFleur VP of Marine Operations, Third warning shot was fired by Chief Mark Stainbrook Harbor PD, Michael Brown V.P. of marine operations Port of San Diego, fired the fourth warning shot, Captain Tim Barelli USCG Sector Command fored the fifth and final warning shot. Then at 10:00 a.m., Consul General Gonzalez Gutierrez fired the STARTING SHOT.


As the final shotgun shot thundered across the bay, I had only a few minutes to snap some photos before spotting the Harbor Police boat standing off the starboard corner designated to slide up alongside and whisk me back to the Harbor Police dock.


With no time to spare, I sprinted to my truck. I had arranged for an Uber to meet me at my El Camino. It failed to appear at the predetermined spot. Precious minutes ticked by, no Uber. I drove to the airport, rushed from the parking lot to the TSA entrance to the gates opening into the lobby where it became apparent, for the first time in my life, I would miss my flight!


So what did I miss? Since its inception in 2016, I wasn’t going to be part of the tag team – I missed the Pre-WON Tuna Jackpot tagging expedition put on by Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing and Bill and Pamela Dobbelear of Gray's Fish Tag.


The four Pisces boats included the 72-foot Tag Team, Dave and Nancy Marciano of Wicked Tuna, who both caught their first striped marlin fishing with the Dobbelaer’s and Tracy.


The 60-foot Reel Machine: Rebecca Ehrenberg, Carlos Narro, Pancho Brenes, Klara Feyer, Roxanne Willmer, Director, Grayfishtag; Dick Gebhart, Director, Stars & Stripes Charity Tournament; Steve Miller (AFW), and Sean Carpenter (AFW), plus, the 42-foot Caliente, and the 40-foot Chasin’ Tail.


Around Land’s End and north to the Cabo Falso was where the fleet found the marlin close to shore. The number of hookups was extraordinary, even for Cabo. The boats weaved in and out and around one another. In fact, during one double hookup increasing the degree of difficulty, they handed off Nancy's rod to another boat, which then took the line around its bow and handed the rod back – still attached to the fish! Every boat in the area reported similar action.


By the end of the day, they had tagged nine stripers, including two with the $5,000 satellite tags that the new $20,000 High Roller Daily Jackpot will help to fund for future efforts for multiple species, including tuna. Dobbelear brought several guests from Costa Rica with him; they jumped in the water to revive the marlin tagged with the expensive Satellite Tags.


Bottom line: I had a great time at my second Baja Ha-Ha and took tons of photos, but I was beyond disappointed not to make it to Cabo for the Gray Fish Tag trip and the WON Tuna Tournament.


Lesson: My Superman cape didn’t work!


bttheed
BY THE END of the day, they had tagged nine stripers, including two with the $5,000 satellite tags that the new $20,000 High Roller Daily Jackpot in the Cabo Tuna Jackpot will help to fund for future efforts for multiple species, including tuna.


•   •   •   •   •

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.


Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot
Often copied, but never duplicated, Western Outdoor News/Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament celebrates its 21st-year kick off Nov. 6 with the “Fish Hard, Party Harder” motto that has highlighted the spirit of the event from the very beginning still very much present.

thisistheplace
THIS IS THE place to be after lines-out at 4 p.m. when teams begin to arrive; the crowd will swell as locals, tourists, and team members, along with friends and family gather to watch the raucous affair that isn’t over until the final eligible fish has been weighed.


In 2018, 163 teams participated. This year, the staff is predicting (hoping) that with the new $20,000 tuna optional, Accurate’s pink Valiant 500 reels, Gamakatsu dry-bag backpack for each angler as well as the addition of separate jackpots for dorado and wahoo, the participation will increase to a projected 180 to 190 teams, for its first-ever $1,000,000+ payout!


Even though the activities don’t get underway until mid-week, many teams will arrive early to pre-fish; others who had fished the big money tournaments in the latter part of Oct. will extend their stay. The Malecon and restaurants will fill with anglers – old friends will be getting reacquainted, and new friendships will blossom.


Tuesday, November 5: To ease the long lines, voluntary check-in from 1 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. will be in Tesoro Conference Hall through the glass doors on the left side of the main desk in the lobby only for teams with no roster changes.


ascaboescape
AS "CABO ESCAPE" nestles closer and closer to the rocky point for the ultimate “selfie.”


Wednesday, Nov. 6: Check-in 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- Tesoro Cabo Marina weigh-in area on the Malecon in front of Tesoro.


All anglers on the team must be present to fill out waivers. There the teams pick up their angler packets -- hats, bags, and shirts along with various sponsor gifts -- and they can buy extra dinner tickets or Costa Miracle Charity Charter Start Boat tickets.


Registration becomes a party beginning as the teams arrive and mix with the staff, spectators and sponsors. Over time, the team garb has evolved from ordinary t-shirts, shorts and flipflops to elaborate matching outfits, and in some cases, props as well.


Throughout the afternoon, the interaction among the team members begins as most attempt to gain more information than they give out. Before the first Welcome Party of the event gets rolling a bit farther down the Malecon around 6:30 p.m. at the Marlin Sculpture area between Captain Tony's and Solomon's Landing where there will be the Captains Meeting with gifts and raffles, tequila shots, video from last year’s event, plus, before the final optional, totals are announced, followed by live music.


Thurs. morningat 7, it’s all business for teams as they load onto their respective boats and head for the shotgun (flare) start at “Land’s End.” They idle out, with last-minute details on their minds set aside as adjustments are made to their “Show Me Your Costas” entry – limited only by their imagination.


The Costa-sponsored spectator boat, “Wild Tours' Cabo Escape,” heads out for another party with huge Costa signs fluttering. Guests are offered mimosas, coffee, orange juice, champagne, and breakfast burritos, as they watch team boats cruise by slowly, showing the Team Number and their “Show Me Your Costas” display.


When the red-start flare streaks across the sky, the huge fleet of boats from 22- to 80-feet roar off toward their secret spots, either on the Pacific side or north into the Sea of Cortez. With dance music blaring, the Costa Party begins in earnest, with line dancing on the top deck. Costa’s VP, Dave Bulthuis, and Chuck Buhagiar, Director of Sales & Marketing at Western Outdoor News, raffle off Costa swag to the delight of the crowd. As “Cabo Escape” nestles closer and closer to the rocky point for the ultimate “selfie.” Bulthuis will thank everyone for attending and supporting the “Smiles Charity” with their $30 donation.


Thurs. afternoon,Gray Taxidermy Weigh-in 3 - 6 p.m. (or until all eligible fish are weighed on the Malecon in front of the Tesoro Hotel). This is the place to be after lines-out at 4 p.m. when teams begin to arrive; the crowd will swell as locals, tourists, and team members, along with friends and family, gather to watch the raucous affair that isn’t over until the final eligible fish has been weighed.


On Friday morningat 7-a.m., the schedule is repeated for the teams as they load up on their respective boats and head out forthe shotgun (flare) start at “Land’s End,”and teams head out for the final chance to catch the fish that will guarantee their moment of fame and glory along with a big check to underscore their success.


That evening, another party with a live band, Mexican buffet, and Folklorico entertainment begins at 8 p.m. At 8:30, staff will announce the day's results of Show Us Your Costas! Contest, Fishworks/Baja Cantina’s Best Dressed, Kingfisher Big Fish, National Rental Car Sticker Contest, and sponsors' drawings.


On Nov. 9: It’s a kick-back play day for the teams and their families and friends to get ready for the always entertaining Cabo Tuna Jackpot Awards Dinner and final party on cruise line pier beneath a starry Los Cabos sky. The bar opens at 5:30 p.m.


The live band starts at 6 p.m.; dinner is ready at 6:30; Smiles International Charity’s Silent auction. All sponsors’ tackle drawings begin at 6:30, and the awards ceremony takes place from 7 to 9 p.m.


For 2019, a $20,000 optional at $10,000 daily has been added. Called the Gray Fish Tag Research Tuna Optional with 85 percent of the money going to the biggest tuna among teams that enter it (it will pay out each day like the others), 10 percent to the tourney, and 5 percent to Gray Fish Tag Research to purchase fish tags that run $5,000 each.


There is still time to see what all the fuss is about. Don’t miss your opportunity to FISH HARD AND PARTY HARDER at the largest tournament in Mexico and the biggest tuna jackpot event in the world. Registration is still open until October 31, 2019.


For questions about the event, your signup contact is tourney administrator lori@wonews.com.


whenthered
WHEN THE RED start flare streaks across the sky, the huge fleet of boats from 22- to 80-feet roar off toward their secret spots, either on the Pacific side or north into the Sea of Cortez.

•   •   •   •   •

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.



Magdalena Bay warming up for Fall
As the Baja summer fades away and the fall season creeps in, the noise coming out of Magdalena Bay sure sounds promising. This time of year, a large number of anglers are eager to get updates on the billfish: the usual target from mid-October extending until after Thanksgiving.

Others are partial to the extraordinary wahoo bite that usually precedes the billfish season. Bill Erhard, from Loreto, who fishes offshore every year, posted the following several weeks ago:


“I fished outside Mag Bay for what will be the last time in August and notched my fifth wahoo limit of the month. I’ve made a note of the other rod and reel fishing boats I’ve encountered on the Ridge so far this year, and the total amount is one – if you don’t count three long-range cattle boats out of San Diego.” 


anotherintriguing
ANOTHER INTRIGUING MAG BAY adventure I just learned about was a flotilla of five Hobie Kayaks (four Pro Angler 12s and one Mirage Outback) organized by Joseph Zaragoza, director/manager of Mag Bay Lodge, and his buddies.


A promising start, if – and yeah, there is always an if – the chubasco season passes quietly. Meanwhile, there is also favorable news inside the bay from charter operations like Bob Hoyt’s “Mag Bay Outfitters.” They reported that the snook, one of my personal favorites, were on the chew, adding that they had voluntarily decided to enforce a ‘one captured fish limit’ per day with the rest carefully released. Most of those caught weighed less than 10 pounds, judging from the photos.


However, last year, Capt. Juan Cook was catching some that were much larger. He described one that had gotten away that was well over 50 pounds, which might have been a new IGFA World Record. FYI: The current all-tackle record for Pacific Black Snook is 59 pounds, 8 ounces. News like that certainly enhances the notion of heading up there myself after the October Tournaments in Cabo San Lucas.


Another intriguing Mag Bay adventure I just learned about was a flotilla of five Hobie Kayaks (four Pro Angler 12s and one Mirage Outback) organized by Joseph Zaragoza, director/manager, Mag Bay Lodge and his buddies.


Using pangas as support boats to move them from place to place, they fished the 23 for very little, then moved to the Thetis Bank where they scored on yellowfin tuna, dorado and bottom fish before loading the kayaks on the pangas and heading for home.


The following day, they followed a buoy line aboard the pangas until they stumbled on some dorado, and it was “game on” as they launched the kayaks. Later they spotted a bait ball with marlin. They hooked two blue marlin with one putting on a show and another that they brought to the boat and released. On the way back in, they stopped at one of the pangueros’ grouper spots where Joe was rocked four times in a row. Vowing to return with 200-pound instead of 100-pound fluorocarbon leader material, they succeeded and hooked two blue marlin, with one putting on a show and another that they brought to the boat and released.


theyhookedtwo
THEY HOOKED TWO blue marlin with one putting on a show and another that they brought to the boat and released.

Capping off the trip on the final day, they departed at 9:20 a.m., and traveled down the 45-mile long Mangrove-lined channel to Puerto San Carlos via kayaks. The group fished their way down twists and turns to explore the many “fishy looking” spots along the way, catching and releasing grouper, pargo, jack and corvina as they pedaled their way.


As time started slipping away in the tropical heat, they decided to pick up the pace since they had miles to go; they put fishing rods away and concentrated on navigating to San Carlos. As they pedaled away, the sun set around 7:30 and they still had miles to go.


They finally arrived at San Carlos after midnight, exhausted and hungry after fifteen hours of pedaling – they had covered 45 miles of water, catching fish, fueling up on PB&J sandwiches and smoked ahi. At times, they were lost in the dark weaving through shallow water mangroves before getting to San Carlos.


Some of the locals predicted the flotilla would never complete the 45-mile voyage in a single day, but they were almost proven wrong when the kayaks arrived at the beach in San Carlos at 12:30 a.m.


“The guys and I who made this journey will never forget this challenge, and I can say I am extremely proud of us for completing it. Would I do it again? Probably not! If someone asks me if they should do this same journey in one day, I’d tell them they are crazy!”... Ricardo Holden


With the stunning, rugged, desert landscape shaping a unique backdrop for the hundreds of miles of mangrove-lined channels, Magdalena Bay attracts an overwhelming collection of wildlife unduplicated elsewhere in Baja.


ifishedoutside
I FISHED OUTSIDE Mag Bay for what will be the last time in August and notched my fifth wahoo limit of the month.

Five barrier islands along the West Coast of Baja protects this bay. As large as San Francisco Bay, this 131-mile waterway has remained an enigma, enticing and mystifying even the most seasoned Baja traveler.


Most visitors are drawn to the populated, more popular tourist destinations scattered across the Baja landscape with easy access by commercial aircraft. Even those who drive the length and breadth of Baja’s Peninsula seldom venture the extra 30-plus miles out to Puerto San Carlos or Lopez Mateos, the largest villages on the bay. Therefore, the bay’s location and inaccessibility have allowed it to remain one of those places in Baja that time has virtually left behind.


People frequently ask if I were to settle in Baja once again, with all the magnificent places available, where would it be? Of course, my answer would have to be Magdalena Bay!


•   •   •   •   •

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.


Page 1 of 60 First | Previous | Next | Last

Luna Sea Sports Ad