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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

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. 


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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.

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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.


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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.


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.


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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.

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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.


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