Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lopez Mateos abuzz…

I made a cast… and you guessed it, to my chagrin a snook flashed out of the submerged mangroves and grabbed my fly…not one of the clients'.

August 11, 2010

Earlier in the year, I had planned a trip with a few clients to coincide with the most favorable August tides. Last week, I arrived at Lopez Mateos anticipating some exciting Estero action without even considering there might be some excellent offshore prospects. In spite of the fact that the 11th Annual Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore Tournament the week before had remarkable offshore fishing and had set three new tournament records among the 56-boat fleet,

You can imagine my astonishment when shortly after my arrival, Bob Hoyt of Mag Bay Outfitters, excitedly rushed into the compound asking me to follow him and take pictures of a swordfish that had just been brought in on his boat the Mar Gato.

Sure enough when I arrived at his storage yard, there hung an estimated 170 pound fresh-caught swordfish with quite a bit of its color still remaining, and alongside the swordfish stood the Captain, Sergio Garcia, and the crew consisting of Mitch Perkins, the angler, Steve Harwell from Santa Barbara and Jeff Lee from San Diego, all displaying proud grins. According to Mitch, it was one of two swordfish they had spotted finning on the surface near shore in off-color green water. The first one sunk out before a bait could be presented, but the second one remained on the surface long enough for several presentations of a trolled dead mackerel before pouncing on it.

Rod and reel swordfish are not common in Lopez Mateos. In this case, however, the real oddity was that the fish was hooked and fought on 30-pound test tackle by the surprised angler, a feat usually left to light tackle trophy addicts.

The following day, before my Estero anglers arrived, another boat came in with more encouraging offshore news. Fishing in an area twelve miles off Boca Soledad where the water only a few weeks ago had been 63° and at that time was producing only small bluefin tuna, now there were limits of dorado and yellowfin tuna being caught in the same water reaching the high 70°s.

The following morning, my Estero fishermen (mostly fly fishing) loaded up in two boats and headed north for a favorite spot near Boca Santo Domingo. Good conditions and mild currents only provided moderate action for grouper, pargo, corvina and some serious mystery bites that were not landed. Throughout that day and the remainder of the trip, the Estero fishing remained mediocre. The only bright spot (sort of) was while having the boat set up at Devil's Curve to accommodate a left and right hand caster in stiff winds, I made a cast… and you guessed it, to my chagrin a snook flashed out of the submerged mangroves and grabbed my fly…not one of the clients'. All I can say is that the catch probably answered the question of what some of the lost mystery bites had been during the clients' trip.

In early December of 2008, in a column titled "Proyecto Caguama", I introduced my readers to Hoyt Peckham, a man who has had remarkable success working to find effective ways to lower the by-catch of Loggerhead turtles with the local fishing Ejidios in the Lopez area.

Peckham is currently embarking on a new initiative to train, equip and finance fishermen from the local gillnet fleet to try hook and line fishing. The idea is to get them up to speed, cover their initial costs, and hopefully generate enough volume to attract some of the various buyers interested in exporting hook-and-line-caught fresh or live grouper and sand bass.

Last year there were several boats involved in the program, and with additional funding he anticipates expanding the program tremendously this year.

The day before I began my journey home, additional clients and I made a quick trip offshore, finding a sleeper only a few mile out and still farther out at the twelve-mile drop off, we found ourselves fishing in the middle of four tuna seiners wrapping tuna where we found plenty of quality dorado to twenty-five pounds. On our way back inside, in an area loaded with large breezing schools of sardines, though we spent only a few minutes looking, we found a few marlin feeders in the mix.

The much anticipated outstanding spring fishing season expected to follow the "El Nino" has been a long-time coming. However, judging from the recent reports Baja Sur is finally "game on".