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Sunday, February 27, 2011

We all have this idea in our head that once we get there (wherever "there" may be) that there would be fish cast after cast, drop after drop...that was no different with my recent trip to PV. The tickets have been booked months ahead of time, gears laid out and check list gone over more times than I can remember. The only difference with this trip are the reports that came in from a few buddies that had been there, even up to the day I arrived. "Green water, water temp colder than the norm, and oh tuna in sight!!!"

Since I was going with my wife and kids and my long time friend Franklin and his family who were flying out from Cali to meet us I didn't really mind. Sitting by the pool hammering Coronas and Pacificos talking about the old times didn't sound all that bad. My expectation was more realistic now and I think that was the key to my trip. My dad is also coming along. This is the man who taught me how to fish, the man who built me my first fishing rod (granted it was only a bamboo stick with fishing line attached. None the less he carved the rod out by hand LOL), the man who etched the love of this sport into my soul. Dad is a freshwater guy and up to this point he's only been offshore once before. It was a Father's day trip I took him on down in the Keys, back in 2001. I outscore him on the Mahi count but he outdid me on the biggest fish, weighing in at 42lbs. It was a blast. We had other trips planned after that but with that nasty cancer eating away at his liver, fishing was the last thing we were all thinking about. Few years past and after 4 major surgeries later he finally beat the disease and feeling healthier with every passing day. And so our first trip would be to Mexico. Prior to leaving he tells me that the only fish he cares to catch is a nice Rooster fish. In his mind he thinks they are one of the prettiest fish to swim the ocean. While I think they are super cool looking, as one of my close buddy had put it "If Disney were too draw a Rooster fish, this is exactly how I'd envisioned it".

And so we met Lora of Fortuna Sportfishing, one of the best captains in Punta Mita and PV. Well known for his uncanny skills of inshore and offshore popping and jigging. As we exchanged pleasantries he confirmed that it would not be worth the 60 miles ride just to try and find yellow fins. So we agreed to concentrate on the inshore stuff. All the heavy gear were stored on top of the t-top while the KGS 70MH paired with a Stella 5000 along with a few Travela medium casting rods that had Stella 4000's strapped to them stayed near our sides.

We worked every rock formation that Lora knew of, saw tons of fish in the water but they just wouldn't touch anything we threw at them.
I switched out just about every lure I had in the bag, big and small. Retrieving them fast and slow and every speed in between and yet nothing. I'm convinced now that Lora can see right past the water and knows exactly where the fish were and what kind of fish they are. "11 o'clock, 50 yards out, 2 schools of Jacks in the 10-20lb range will come up in a few second"...huh??? What the hell is he talking about, I don't see anythi...and there they were 2 schools of Jacks exactly as he had said, circling around, now on the surface. Made my cast and with a few sweeping strokes of the Brabus in the Mahi color I finally come tight on our first fish of the day. A fun fish to break the ice. Caught another one on the following cast but that was it. We made countless more casts but they just did not seem interested, so we moved on. Switching between the lighter KGS set up to the heavier PE8 GT Game TR-S whenever Lora tells me "big Cubera", I think I made about 250-300 casts that day, my arms felt a little sore back at the hotel. Anyway back to fishing.
As I was making all these casts from the bow, I hear a familiar laugh coming from the back of the boat along with the beautiful sound of the Stella song. I looked back and dad was hooked up. He was on that fish for about 15minutes with the fish coming boat side 4-5 times and every time he sees us the Stella 4000FD starts to sings and the fish sounds. At one point I told him to bump the drag and his reply was "you guys are too impatient, enjoy the fight, it's fun". Finally Lora grabs the tail and bring the 30lbs rooster on board, puts it on dad's lap for a few pics and back it went into the depths. Mission accomplished. Dad had his rooster and is now grinning from ear to ear. I leaned over to give him a hug and he gave me a few healthy slap on the back:)

Lora then said "ok, lets get another". He tied a Brit on and sent it away, a split second later he said "Fish on"...huh??? He handed the rod of to Franklin who fought it for about 10 minutes, same size fish as before.As it came boat side he about to be grabbed, the leader just parted ways with the mainline! Oh well, at least we had a chance to see it. So now it was my turn. I tied on a Burn's dead bait in bright pink and made a cast. Upon retrieval I saw 2 Roosters breaking water behind the lure, following it. They looked like Aliens with their long fins breaking the surface. "Faster faster faster!!!" Lora says(if there were a 9.1:1 gear ratio, it would be the perfect reel) and as one is racing the other for the lure I see a HUGE Cubera cutting them off from my right to left lunging at the lure. It missed by an itch and the roosters were scared off. It pretty much died down after that. We headed to other spots only to catch horse eye jacks and smaller groupers. By this time dad looked tired so we called it a day.

For a day that 10 other boats caught nothing, Lora made it happen for us and for that I am grateful. He is truly a master when it comes to the inshore scene and will work extra hard for you as long as he sees that you want it bad enough, that you have put in the work and not just there for a boat ride. Seeing the potential for what could have been I will definitely be back out there with Lora soon. If the stars align, the word epic will be an understatement.

As for dad, I am happy for you. You are a good man... a great man. You deserved the fight with your rooster and you did a great job. You beat me again but I couldn't be any happier. Sometimes I forget that it's who I fish with that matters, not the amount of fish caught. Thank you for taking me fishing when I was young and teaching me all that you did. I have learned a lot from you especially to be patient and I will pass that on to your grand kids. There will be many other trips from now on and I plan on beating you on some of them but even if I don't I'll still be happy because I'll be fishing with you, dad.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jigging in Cancun…finally!

Well it has been a long summer, and with the cold weather approaching and a scheduled business trip to Cancun I decided to make some calls to see if there was any jigging to be had. In years past I have avoided going to Cancun for vacation and a big reason for that is that I haven't found a good charter boat that really likes or knows what they are doing when it comes to jigging. Frankly, there are a lot of "take a gringo for a ride" outfits out there and so I was skeptical that I would find anything.

After some digging, I did come across one that looked promising- Kianah's Sportfishing Cancun. Still skeptical, I emailed Alex Ojeda ( the owner to pressure test their claim to knowing about jigging. Well wouldn't you know he emailed me right back with a direct phone number, so I called him to get the scoop. Alex explained that they have been jigging there for a number of years, and that they are all set up for it. They outfit the boat with great conventional gear (Avet, Accurate, etc) and have enough OTI jigs to sink a small barge…this was getting good. There was one small warning that he did leave me with though- the good jigging season really doesn't start until November, at which point it lasts through the springtime.

Well what was I going to do, just sit in my hotel room? Obviously not. We set a date and time and I was off to get my gear ready. Because we were going to be jigging in deeper water (300-400 feet) with fast current I brought along mostly longer, bottom-weighted jigs like Nagamasas, Jack Knives, and Long Hammers as well as some others like Flat Sides, Labos, and Andamens. The weights ranged from 250-400 grams. I paired these jigs with two set ups- Stella 8k with a No Limits spool on my 52EX, and a 20k on my custom 450g Synit.

Arriving at the boat, I was greeted by the captain, two mates, and two others who would be joining us. One was Edwin Castro, a self-described jigging addict, and the other was Gustavo Silva Mendoza, a teacher and proprietor of a local tackle shop called El Sabalo Cancun. With introductions out of the way we shoved off for the 45 minute ride to the drop.

Upon arrival we were told "Listo!" (ready), so we dropped…and dropped…and dropped…and dropped. The combination of deep water, 15kt wind, and a fast drift was making a proper drop very difficult. Eventually I found a combination that worked and I was able to hit bottom at a reasonable angle. The first few hours were brutal- ripping 300-400 gram jigs through 400 feet of water…and all without much to show for our efforts. This is when the captain stepped up and told us to reel in (I actually half expected the old "Well, that's fishing amigo. Time to head in." line to be the next thing out of his mouth). He then pointed the boat in the opposite direction as home and hit the throttles.

We ran for another 30-40 minutes to another drop, and this one looked good immediately- the screen lit up and I knew it was what we had been looking for. About half way up I got hit and immediately felt the familiar tuna tempo on the other end of the line. When this little blackfin came up I instantly knew why marlin prowl these waters- it looked like a little snack with fins.

After getting set back up I dropped to the bottom and was instantly hit. The fish pulled line and then almost felt like it went slack. Reeling like mad I was able to take the slack out and got tight on it again.
This fight was much different and had both myself and the crew playing guessing games on what it was. When we got color the captain yelled "Sierra!". I held my breath- I knew that with 80# flouro the chances of the fish making it to gaff was slim. Luckily the fish cooperated, and as the mate pulled it over the side the others looked at me and said "Bueno suerte!" (essentially, 'that was lucky!')

We made a steady pick of fish on this reef for a little while before Edwin hooked up to something more substantial. His rod doubled over and started screaming. With some sizable head shakes it was back to the guessing game for all of us…that is until the fish broke the surface. "Vela!" was the call all around…it was a sailfish! Edwin fought the fish for a few minutes, but unfortunately it was not to be. During one of its many somersalts across the surface, the fish threw the hook. Edwin was bummed about the loss, but psyched for the hook up.

As the day was winding down I knew that my chances of finding an AJ were starting to dwindle. Not looking up at the captain for fear that he would call the day at any minute I continued to drop and rip. During one of the pauses in the retrieve, the donkey attacked. While it was no monster, it put up a great fight (especially after ripping heavy jigs all day) and was a perfect way to end the fishing day.

The guys on board told me that during the regular season, anglers can expect as many as 20 of these fish per day…each.

Feeling good about pulling out a great off-season day, the captain pointed to boat home and hit the throttles.

Back at the dock, we made Blackfin and King Mack ceviche, shared a couple of cervesas, and toasted to our catch and the great day on the water.

So I am excited to report that there is one more spot that we, as jiggers, can put on the map of places to go. Cancun has always offered great things for our better halves- shopping, great hotels, beautiful water- but now it offers us the possibility of getting out to do some jigging too. I know that this will not be my last time jigging in Cancun.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Studio Ocean Mark 16000 No Limits

Alright guys, this is something that you guys might want to know when buying this upgrade spool. I got my spool from Paul at Saltywater yesterday and was looking at it and as many of you guys know, I'm very picky and look at everything carefully, well when I was looking at the spool (from the front) it looks oval and NOT ROUNDED (Circle). If someone get this same spool and it does look weird then it is ok. Here is the translation from Studio Ocean Mark Website. The Spool is call "Daen Ring" OVAL SHAPED SCANDIUM SPOOL RING. "During casting, PE line often has trouble such as wrapping on the guides as well as backlashing. We were able to correct this problem with our new design. By using this scandium material we were able to make the spool ring not only lighter but incredibly strong." If you guys look at the picture carefully you will see that it is oval. The widest part of the spool is about 3mm wider than the narrowest part. Keep in mind this is only limit to "THE NO LIMITS" Spool.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Yellow Gold Video

Here is the video from my recent trip to Mexico and the fertile waters of El Banco. Enjoy!


Yellow Gold from Jigstrong on Vimeo.