Posted by: socalsalty | May 10, 2012

Trip Report: East Cape With 976Tuna – Day 1

Loading dock on the beach

I left Los Cabos (San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas) on Monday.  I picked up a shuttle from the San Jose airport and after a couple hour ride found myself in Los Barriles, home of the Palmas de Cortez hotel.  I’m down here to take part in the Fiesta de 976Tuna annual East Cape trip.  I’ve been to Cabo and other parts of Mexico before, and enjoyed some good fishing too.  I had heard though that the East Cape of Baja was a place where fishing dreams could come true, so I was very excited to arrive.

The next morning, I reported to the little portable dock on the beach to meet my boat at 7am.  I was assigned to the Rosa Maria, with Capt. Israel.  There are 3 levels of boats here: pangas, super pangas, and cruisers.  The Rosa Maria is considered a super panga and was an 18 ft center console skiff.  It was just me and Capt. Israel…which was kind of a surprise, but not unwelcome.  I remembered that the last time I had a charter boat to myself, I caught a 39lb trophy striped bass, so I was excited for what the day might hold.

My wishlist for this trip was the following: a roosterfish, a bull dorado (caught plenty of dorado, but never a big bull), and a striped marlin.  All were in season, so my hope was to catch them all.  By my way of thinking, getting skunked the 2 days I fished in Los Cabos was just the sort of negative fishing luck that was bound to even out now that I was here.


We started out the day picking up bait near where I boarded the boat.  In this case, the bait was dead ballyhoo.  Then we headed north for what ended up being about an hour ride to a spot called Punto Perico (Parrot Point).  There we got more bait, live sardinas.  Now we were ready to fish.  We started out slow trolling flylined sardinas maybe 10-20 yds offshore in 5-10 feet of water.  Looking down into the clear, turquoise colored water, I noticed we were over a sand bar between some rocky structure.  The target fish here were pargo and roosters.  Almost

Baja gar…the needlefish

immediately I got bit.  I saw a silver rocket zip and flash in the water, and then it lauched itself out of the water, skimming across the top before I turned it and brought it to the boat.  It was a needlefish, a slender toothy fish, which looked a lot like the cudas we catch at home.  Fun, but not what we were looking for, so we released it.

I got another bait in the water and got bit quickly again.  This time it was a ladyfish, a jacksmelt-looking, but larger fish.  It demonstrated impressive tailwalking attributes on the fight, but again, another junkfish that we threw back.  We continued in this fashion for awhile until I finally got bit and immediately could tell this was a meatier competitor.  My drags weren’t buttoned down enough, so I wasn’t able to turn the fish before he rocked me and we had to cut the line.  Israel said it was a pargo (aka cubera or dog snapper).  Damn.  I adjusted the drag and went back to work.  At this point, it was about 10 or so.  I was watching my bait swimming an inch or 2 below the surface about 15 feet behind the boat when out of nowhere, I see a comb rise up out the water and smash it.  Cock-a-doodle-doo!

I was fishing my Loomis Pelagic rod with the 2 speed Avet MXL on it.  Even with my drags up to 8, this sucker was peeling line and the pole was doubled over.  Oh yeah, it didn’t disappoint.  After about a 10 minute fight, I boated my rooster and got my hero shot (only on video though which thanks to the lousy wifi here, we’ll ALL have to wait to see 😦 ).  Israel guessed it was about a 20 lb-er.  What a beautiful fish…a silvery white with a bluish iridescence to it and dark vertical stripes.  Nice.  Mission accomplished.

From there we headed offshore in the direction of Cerralvo Island.  On the way we encountered a buoy.  It reminded me of the kind of thing we see just offshore during lobster season.  We were in much deeper water than where you’d find lobster traps, but I asked Israel if that’s what it was.  He said no.  They were shark buoys.  There was a larger one anchored to the bottom, and then a string of 2 liter bottles bobbing upside down attached to it.  Below each bottle dangled a hook with a chunk of bait.  There was a school of bonito parked below and we rigged up with sabikis to try and catch them for marlin bait.  They weren’t biting though, so we quickly moved on.

Where’d Israel go?

We started doing a loop maybe 20 yds from the buoy structure.  Israel had setup the boat’s outriggers and I had him rig 3 of the Gaji Lures that I had brought from the Guatemala sailfish trip.  Our spread consisted of 2 on the outside…maybe 2 waves back and a third down the middle another 10 yds or so past the other 2.  We had 2 other poles at the ready with ballyhoo pitch baits attached to a 7/0 hook.  On about the 3rd pass, the starboard rig went bendo and I picked it up.  HEAVY.  I looked back and saw a large turquoise blue object  beneath the water.  Do-do!  He felt the pull and launched himself out the water, tailwalking a good 10 feet.  The sun glistened off his bright turquoise and yellow body and by the shape of the head I could see it was a big bull.  Oh yeah.  While I was fighting him, Israel had my GoPro on my extension stick in one hand, and a pole in the other.  Somehow he had managed to pitch a bait, while filming me and he was hooked up as well!  After 15 minutes or so, I brought the big dodo to the boat.  Israel puts down the camera, gaffs the fish, and then hands me the other pole.  Damn, this guy is good 🙂  The second one was much smaller and I easily handled him.  Trophy shots and that was a wrap for the day.  Saw some tailing marlin on the way back in.  We stopped to toss at them, but they were just lazing in the sun.  Oh well.  We’d be eating well that night AND 2 of 3 on the wishlist checked off.  It was a very good day 🙂  Tight lines!

My big bull dorado



  1. Joe,
    the baja sur trip looked and sounded absolutely epic. That Dodo you roped is Fat. ATTA BOY!!!!!
    Glad the CARTEL didn’t bother you.
    Your friend,

    • Thanks buddy. I can’t wait to see and post the video. The bright sun, the clear water, and the big fish should make for some good stuff!

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