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This trip to Isla Cerralvo was one of the most unusual trips in my fishing life. This story should be printed in fishing magazines, but most people would hesitate to think that it is all true. But it is!!!
Several weeks ago I was thinking about how to experience something really new in the normal fishing routine on the East Cape. I\'m not saying that fishing is routine here, but many days are similar in the basic routine, ie; a day spent trolling north or south looking for offshore action.
Each day has different results, and each fish has his particular way and energy for a fight. I was searching for a unique experience to blend with the common one. I found it at Isla Cerralvo fishing at night.
Years ago, and I can\'t remember how many years, I read an article about fishing at night for really big tuna in Hawaii. For some unknown reason I am able to remember almost every article about fishing that I have ever read. Not verbatum, but the gist of the article is committed to permanent memory.
Last week, as I trolled along in the heat, sweat dripping off me, I
pondered the question of the unique fishing experience. As I licked a drop of sweat and tasted the salt, I thought of how cool and pleasant the evenings were compared to the heat of the day. Bang! Like a flashbulb, a bolt of light connected the thought of the cool evenings, and the article about tuna at night. That was it, fish at night, how easy.
I talked to Rick Levak, an avid East Cape fisherman, and we made plans to go to Isla Cerralvo, fish at night, catch big tuna, and return to the resort of Baja Joe\'s at La Ventana early in the day for a siesta. Well, everybody has a plan until you get hit, which is true no matter the form of the hit.
Our plan was working fine until the steering cable broke the outer
housing and going in circles became the new plan. We discovered that with Rick holding the two ends together, I could steer, and we limped to Baja Joe\'s. After a few cold cervezas, and some shade tree engineering, we went ashore to scrounge for repair supplies.
Early the next morning, I rowed out to the boat, and started taking apart the engine bulkhead to access the cable area needing repair.
With several pieces of black pvc water pipe, 4 hose clamps, and half a roll of the obligatory duct tape, the cable would pass a \"MaGiver\" repair inspection. We tested it that afternoon with a 24 mile round trip to Las Cruces and back, catching skipjack, dorado, and even a yellowtail. The repaired cable worked fine.
After a great dinner, we hit the sack for some needed Z\'s, as plan \"A\" was back on.
Steve, who runs Baja Joe\'s and is called \"Dos\", woke us about 12:30am, and we rowed out to the boat in his inflatable. The moon was low over the mountains to the north west, kind of hanging over the glow from the lights of La Paz, 40 miles away. Not much light to steer by, but not much out there at night either. The
phosphorescense was terriffic, and showered like sparks in the spray
from from the chines. Already this trip was different, and extraordinarly beautiful.
The early morning was cool, the breeze
gentle, and the ocean almost mirror flat. We were alone with Nature
and night on the sea. Definitly different.
We approached the island\'s blackness and slowed to search for \"Little Queen Rock\". The spotlight revealed that we were anything but alone. The surface erupted every few feet with small fish
jumping in panic as they attempted to evade the needle fish, sierras, and torros, who thrashed the surface in a feeding frenzy.
I had just shut off the motor when Dos hollered \"I\'m on\" and several moments later reeled in a 3 lb. Pargo. The action was sproatic, but hot when we drifted over \"The Spot\" close to the rock. The moon sank beyond the horison leaving us in only starlight. It was enough, and we continued to catch Pargo, but not what anyone would
call a hot bite.
We decided to move to the north end of the island about 0430, and put out a chum line with sardine baited hooks in it. I laid down to wait, and began to doze. Not for long, as my reel screamed in torture, as something tried to pull the spool out through the rod guides. This was a nice fish, and I settled into the fight after
the first moments of confusion and panic faded.
25 or 30 minutes went by with the contest fairly even, then I began to gain some line, and could tell the fish was a tuna by the head shakes. When I reached the swivel, and we could see the bare hook, my rod was still bent over with the weight of the fish. In the dark, this threw us
for a moment, until we could see that my hook had snagged a tangle of line with the tuna on it. He was still 40 feet below the boat, and his silver side refelected in the spotlight.
Dos carefully handlined the still frisky but tired tuna. Several times he had to let go and we cringed in anticipation of the tangled line parting, or my hook slipping off. I handed the rod to Rick, Dos hand lined the fish, and I got the gaff into him.
Luckily this was one tired tuna, and he came over the rail without that extra kick they are so capable of.
We looked into his mouth, and there were two hooks, firmly planted in the jaw, both trailing 30 to 40 feet of line and one with a 12oz sinker on it. The tag ends were tangled together and my hook was in that tangle. It came free with just the slightest slack, and we cut the lines off leaving the hooks in place. This fish was a veteran and two time winner, but his luck ran out on the third strike.
Funny how three is a magic number in so many cases.
Later, After catching the tuna, it was about 0530 and we decided to troll north for 3 km. to Queen rock looking
for Wahoo. Sure enough, on the first pass we picked up a nice 25lb. wahoo on a large purple marauder. Rick landed it in 10 minutes or so.
Several more passes around the rock produced nothing, so we trolled
back towards the island. I spotted something red, large, and moving
on the surface. When we were close, I could see that it was a huge red snapper, just finning around. He dove when we got too close, so I stopped the boat and threw in some bait.
Several minutes later he surfaced again, and we snuck up on him. Steve free gaffed him and slung him in the boat. He was the largest red snapper any of us had seen, the scale said 28 lbs. He was so full of milt, that he
spawned on the deck for over 10 minutes, running a river of milt
into the bilge. Maybe that\'s why he couldn\'t swim so well, big dumb, and full of _ _ _ .
We couldn\'t believe our luck, as so far we had cought dorado, yellow
tail, pargo, cabrillia, huachinango, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and now
a huge red snapper. What was next??
We tried for some tuna at the end of the island, and then at little queen rock, and about 0930 we headed for the resort at La Ventana.
After running several miles, I spotted a large fin on the surface and slowed the boat. I quickly baited a steel leadered hook, realizing it was a big mako shark. He took the jigged bait, peeled off a hundred or so feet, and I set the hook. The surface exploded
behind him as he jumped 6 feet into the air, in what was to be the
start of 40 minutes of fight.
I know that the water magnifies, but
he looked huge, the first time we had him near the boat. I wanted an underwater photo of this fish. I gave the rod to Steve, put on my mask and fins, and jumped into the water. He swam agressivly about 12 feet below me, turned on his side, curved to the left, and rushed at the boat with mouth open. He hit the boat and bit the hull until several teeth broke and fell away.
Forgetting about the photo, I jumped onto the swimstep as he rushed towards me. As I cleared the rail into the boat, he struck the outdrive and bit
the prop where I had been hanging. Big fish with a bad attitude. He bit the swimstep next, and then went deep to sulk and rest.
Steve kept the pressure on him, but he
just hung like a dead weight. I leaned over with the camera to get a photo, and he just kept hanging there as Steve slowly winched him to the surface. About 10 feet below the surface, he made a sudden rush and jumped4 feet straight at me. I clicked a last photo as I recoiled back from the rail and it shows him about 2 feet out of the water, mouth
open, ready to bite me.
This was the most agressive and pissed off fish I have ever seen on a line. Rick got a gaff into his gills several moments later, and I cut his throat to bleed the energy out of him. Once tail roped, and secured to a cleet, he went for a boat ride back to the resort.
He has provided lots of tasty meals, fixed in a variety of ways. Several chunks are still in vacuum packed in the freezer.
What a trip! This is one unusual day none of us will ever forget.