(A sample of the fishing and – the non-fishing – in Cabo San Lucas.)
To me, a “non-fishing” vacation involves fishing – just not the majority of the time. So even for a “non-fishing” vacation, I research the fishing possibilities well before any flights get booked. And I’m sure you can imagine why my girlfriend and I wound up in Cabo San Lucas this past March…
Halfway through the trip, I had a full day charter booked with Baja Anglers. At about 7 AM that morning, I hopped on a very fishable 26 foot Glacier Bay catamaran with my captain and mate. Our first stop was getting the bait part of “baiting and switching” from a local pangero; $20 got me a half dozen, 8 inch goggle eyes.
We started fishing almost as soon as we left the marina. The mate ran the boat slowly along likely beaches and rock outcroppings while the captain bombed out long casts with a spinning rod and a hookless surface plug – the teaser. My job, with a 9 weight and 350 grains of sinking line, was to land a Clouser just beyond the teaser as the captain skipped it back into range. And then strip like crazy. Sounds simple, right?
The persistent swell, which was likely great for surfing, was not terribly noticeable when just sitting in the boat. However, it felt like a mechanical bull was out to get me while casting. I have to admit that for the first 15 minutes I was pretty sure that my entire day would be stumbling around the stern of boat while trying to avoid “clousering” myself and the crew. Eventually, however, my casting smoothed out.
I actually found it helpful to throw my fly on alternate casts of the teaser. Every other cast of the teaser, I would merely watch, ready to throw if a fish showed behind it. The whole routine was a bit hypnotic, even zen-like…
Until fish crashed the party. About every third spot we tried, a gang of jacks assaulted the teaser. It was very visual – sometimes they were a dark, swarming mass and sometimes they churned the surface. Regardless, before they could touch the surface plug, the captain jerked it away and I replaced it with a fly.
The jacks were hyper-aggressive. The first struck so violently, I seriously thought my rod was going to break; I froze and the fish shook off. A second jack was well into the backing before it came unbuttoned. I finally landed jack number three and was shocked by its lack of size. The way it tested my backing knot and bore under the boat, it felt much larger than its 6 or 7 pounds.
When the action slowed down for jacks, the captain harnessed a goggle eye to the spinning rod and slow trolled along the shore, hoping to attract a roosterfish within casting range. Unfortunately, the roosters did not make themselves available and we changed gears again.
This time we headed about a half mile offshore, towards a loose gathering of other charter boats. I should point out, that up to this point, we weren’t exactly fishing in the wilderness . One of the jacks was taken with a construction site as a backdrop; many of the other spots were just off major resorts. So heading into a pack of boats seemed like no big deal.
“Spanish mackerel and maybe some yellowtail,” said the captain as we took our place in the formation over about one hundred feet of water. Fishing this depth was VERY relaxing. I believe I polished off a sandwich as my fly sank toward the bottom.
However, once more, the fish interrupted. Something pulled my rod into a deep bend and kept pulling until the backing knot was deep in the water. I thought it was a big yellowtail, but it turned out to be a 5 or 6 pound Sierra mackerel.
And so it went… Another half dozen sierras reluctantly came to the boat and a couple were kept for delivery to our resort’s kitchen later. As strange as it may same in that deep water, the sierras occasionally boiled on the surface and offered a visual target.
With an hour left in the charter, the captain still wanted me to experience a roosterfish, so we went back inshore to a couple more beaches. However, the roosters played shy and we were soon heading back to the dock, escorted by a squadron of low-flying gulls.
As I left the marina, a few locals filleted my catch for a few dollars. That night, with the wizardry of our resort’s kitchen, the sierras provided our best meal of the trip. Sierra mackerel definitely are definitely too tasty for their own good..
Overall, it was a great part of a non-fishing vacation. But what about the truly non-fishing aspects? Here’s a few things both my girlfriend and I would recommend:
- Rent a car and drive out of town. Visit Todos Santos, a picturesque village with quaint shops and galleries. On your way, pull down a side road and look at the giant cacti. Maybe even find the beach at the end of the road….
- Take a guided hike to a waterfall in Baja’s interior mountains. The scenery is incredibly unique. And the water is incredibly refreshing (icy?) if you decide to take a dip.
- Stay at a resort that is off on its own with a quiet stretch of beach. Pueblo Bonita Pacifica is one such place. Watch the surf roll up. Watch for whales in the distance. Stroll down the sand to the rocks at either end of the beach.
A kayak tour and some snorkeling – those are a couple things we didn’t do in Cabo San Lucas. Someday, I’d like to get back there and try’em. Maybe in November, ‘cause I heard that’s a good time for striped marlin…
(P.S. For non-fly fishing significant others and family, Baja Anglers is adept with ALL types of light tackle.)