Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Deep Sea Fishing in Cabo

Anticipation painted the muted blue sky as we disembarked from the Taxi Van. I was so excited I "tipped" the driver three bucks. He came running after me. "ees eight dollors senor"! Oops, I'd been spoiled on this all-expenses paid trip to paradise. We were met at the docks by a portly, muy amable caballero who called himself "el jefe". Papa Paul paid him up front and I had an uneasy feeling we might never see him again. He pointed us to the table to purchase our licenses and after completing the inevitable mexican documentation and the ever-present tarif. We found ourselves boarding the "Yesenia II" with Mario (El Capitan) and Carlos (El Mano).

We cruised through a sea of pelicans, seagulls and sealions to the federales to show our licenses. I discovered with some trepidation that along with half of our groceries, we had brought bananas; Old school sailor bad mojo to be sure so we offloaded them to the federales and were on our way with no obvious mal influencias.
As we rounded the head, Carlos dropped back some Tuna Jigs and we proceeded to troll immediately.This told me that either we were saving gas or the crew was not seriously committed to finding the schools of Sailfish, Marlin and Dorado that Cabo is famous for. Before all the lines were even in the water though one of the rods started bending and shaking. I grunted a reflexive "heh" as Maya looked at me like, "when did you become an epileptic spazz?" I was validated when Carlos grabbed the pole and handed it over to Paul who took the first turn and landed a feisty bonito or skipjack. "Bait" exclaimed Carlos as he unhooked it and dropped it in the box with a flick of his wrist. I began to day dream about the monster who could make this three pound fish his breakfast.
Everyone got a turn with the diminutive tuna. We snapped pictures and whooped and hollered. Maya was particularly fired-up after her battle with the scrappy tuna. Secretly I hoped that she would catch "the fishing bug" this trip and she might share some of my passion for the sport. I caught her epic battle with the "flip mino" so that the world could watch her deep-sea battle on YouTube. As she scrolled through the pictures on the camera of course she was disappointed.
Hey, everyone got a close up with their fish except for me!
Yeah babe, but I got you on video!
As Cape San Lucas began to slowly shrink my perception of the crew changed. The boat reflected the makings of a successful operation: clean save for the bare necessities. Everything had a place and the crew seemed to utilize everything that they brought forth from their hidden stowage. Although I still regarded the one fillet knife they brought as wholly inadequate to fillet dinner, I later learned that the enterprise of cleaning fish in Cabo is an entirely different business unto itself. Muchachos armed with garbage cans loaded on hand trucks roam the docks and will clean and bag your catch for a nominal fee under the scrutinous eyes of the federales. Apparently the big one can still get away even after you reach the docks!
As the arch shrank from view, Mario throttled back and Carlos tossed in the live bait which included our first bonito, half-filleted and bleeding profusely. Eshark, Sailfish, tambien Dorado o talvez Marlin, recited Carlos the deck hand to the seagulls and his stowaway party, now slightly greening from the heavy rollers and thick diesel exhaust fumes. As fishing goes thoughts and conversation turned to more land based topics when, as if in response to our lack of focus, the action began. Carlos descended the ladder and grabbed up a rod with catlike quickness. A dorsal fin cutting a zig zag pattern through the surf of our wake grabbed everyone's attention. My first instinct was that it looked like a shark but then I had never seen a large dorado in action either and I wasn't sure if I could trust my eyes. Maya was up and I thought this might be the moment she succumbed to the fishing fever; a chance to dance with a truly worthy combatant-the hammerhead shark. Carlos turned to Maya, Hell No!, she said, I'm not touching that thing. It's bigger than I am! It's gonna pull me in!

Uncle Darin stepped up and it was game on. The hammerhead engaging in a bulldog battle of tug o war. Darin fighting back punch for punch and it went on like that for twenty five minutes. The discussion among the spectators delved into what we should do with the shark should we land it. Carlos said it would be 600 dollars to mount. A pretty fair price but still a chunk of change and so we decided in the end to let it go.
I beat you! exclaimed Darin in his best prizefighter voice and with a quick snap, the shark was back to his own business, nothing hurt save his pride.
The boat trolled on with a more expectant air. Heck, if Darin could catch a hammerhead, anything was possible. I was up next and doing my best to stay focused on the fishing, working my mind-control mojo on the lines and the boat, doing the fish dance, feeling the flow. Suddenly the left outrigger popped. Carlos was there and handed it over but I reeled and reeled and ....nothing! He grabbed it back and dropped the line back. The Big Dorado cooperated, Mario gunned the engine as Carlos gave it three hard jabs to set the hook and it was game on.
The Do Do peeled off line like a banana and went airborn twice, fighting with a dogged determination right up into the fishbox. Maya filmed like a pro, using two hands, one with the camera and the other running the video. That night we ate it: grilled, breaded, blackened and in ceviche. All in all a thrilling exclamation point to an unforgettable vacation. Maybe heyman is right, I am a lucky bastard sometimes!

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