Trip Report Day 6 - Dec. 21 to Jan 5

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Posted by David(in Bellingham) from ( on jueves, enero 23, 2003 at 20:23:05 :

Day 6 –

Tuna trips can result in long days sometimes, so we start a little bit earlier. I head for the pier at 6:00 am, pick up drinks and sandwiches, and look for Amado.

He’s right on time in his super-panga the Burbuja (the bubble). Amado’s boat is quite as nice as Temo’s, but it feels a little roomier because there’s only one fighting chair, and there’s no seat at the steering wheel. The one thing that’s nicer about Amado’s boat than almost every boat in the fleet is the motor. Amado has a brand new 80hp 4-stroke Yamaha outboard motor. The 4-stroke is nice and quite, and powerful enough to make for a fast panga. Also, the 4-stroke uses 30%-40% less fuel, which extends the range you can go out looking for tuna.

We pick up some live bait and head straight out for about 2 hours until we get to the 35-mile mark. On the way out, after the sun comes up, we start looking for birds heading out to sea. All the birds seem to be going in generally the same direction, so we make sure we head in the same direction.

Since we have seen any signs of tuna yet, we slow down to about 8-10 mph and start trolling w/ lures, still heading farther out. After about an hour of trolling (about 45 miles out), we spotted a school of fish to the north of us. We can see birds circling and crashing the water, which means a school of some type of fish. I drive towards the action while Amado rigs up some rods for live bait with some special wind-on fluorocarbon leaders I brought with me.

By the time he’s done, we’re into the edge of the school. I haven’t seen any dolphins yet, which surprises me because dolphins almost always travel with the yellow-fin tuna. At almost the same time, we see fish jumping out of the water and get a strike on one of the lures. As I grab the rod and set the hook, Amado tells me that this is a school of skip-jack tuna, a small and not so tasty cousin of the yellow-fin tuna. At this point, we’re in the middle of the school with fish crashing everywhere and three rods have skip-jacks hooked up. As we’re reeling in the skip-jacks, we another, much bigger school of fish in the distance that seems to be headed our way. We end up keeping the smallest skip-jack (about 5lbs) and rig it up as a big live bait. While Amado’s rigging it up, I drive and head for the big school at top speed.

As we get closer, I can see hundreds of dolphins swimming with the school along with all the birds crashing the water. It looks like the school is still headed our way, so we slow down and troll towards the school at an angle to try and cut right in front of them. We’ve pulled in all but one of the lures and we through out the skip-jack live bait. We’ve also got a couple of other rods rigged up for regular live-baits standing by. Pretty soon, we’re surrounded by action – dolphins are jumping and riding in our bow-wake and coming out of the water in any direction you look, hundreds of birds a circling and crashing into the water, and finally we see yellow-fin tuna jumping out of the water and crashing back to the surface while they feed. At that moment, the rod with the lure gets a strike, I grab it and set the hook and end up fighting a small (20-25lb) yellow fin. While I’m fighting the first tuna, I notice that the rod with the big live bait is jerking back and forth a little bit. It hasn’t had a strike yet, but you can tell that the live skip-jack tied to the hook is scared of something down there. At about the time I get the first tuna to the boat, the reel on the other rod starts screaming out line, something ate the 5lb skip-jack. I pass the rod I’m holding to Amado so he can boat the first tuna and grab the other rod and set the hook. I can tell that we’ve got something a little bigger this time. After a 45 minute fight, we landed a 60lb yellow-fin.

While we fought the bigger tuna, we fell a little behind the school, so we hurried to catch up, and got right into the middle of the school and immediately hooked a tuna on a lure. After that, we each through a live bait in water and immediately hooked 2 more. The next couple of hours were pure chaos. We drifted with the school and never went more than a few seconds without a fish on, usually we had more than one on at any time. When we finally decided to quit so we could get the tuna home while it was fresh, we ended up with 21 yellow-fin between 20 and 60 lbs and we were about 48 miles from Zihuat.

The ride back took almost three hours, but we were back by about 3:30. We went to Amado’s restaurant at Las Gatas. Amado pulled the boat right up to the beach in front of the restaurant, and people gathered around to watch us unload the fish. One family from Mexico City asked how far out we were. When I told them, they looked at looked at me like I was crazy and said “In that little boat?” Amado heard them and laughed. For the rest of my stay, he’d look at me occasionally and say, “porkito la lancha (little boat)”, and I’d respond “el loco Capitan”.

While Amado’s crew filleted all the fish, I took one of the nice little 20lb tuna up the beach to Chez Arnoldo to give to my friend Chay, who works there. After I got back, I hung out at Amado’s and had a few beers while I waited for them to finish with the fish. I took the best parts of the big tuna with me, ate some fresh tuna fillets at Amado’s restaurant, and left the rest of the fish with Amado as part of his tip. All my food and drinks that afternoon were on the house.

Later, I got a ride back across the bay from one of Amado’s helpers. I went home to put the tuna in my fridge and take a short siesta.

That I night I took one of the prime pieces of tuna to Florian’s. He can’t cook fish (he only has one grill, and it’s used for meat), be he makes some great sashimi. He made up sashimi plates for me, himself, and Michelle, served with soy sauce w/ garlic in it and wasabi. We offered some to Olga, but she looked like the idea of eating raw fish made her kind of green. The sashimi was excellent. If you ever catch fresh yellow-fin, be sure to try some sashimi. I can’t eat the tuna sashimi they serve in sushi restaurants at home, it tastes awful, but sashimi made from just caught tuna is wonderful.

I spent the rest of the night playing backgammon w/ Florian and talking about fishing. He said that he loves to get out, but hasn’t had the time since he opened the new restaurant. I offered to take the next day, and he decided to go.

Later that night, Lalo from Edmonton and his crew came into Florian’s place to have dinner. They were an interesting group, some from Edmonton and some from San Diego. I talked with them for a while, mainly telling fishing stories, until their dinner arrived. Later, after they had eaten, I was sitting at the bar with Lalo and his friend Gary. I decided to order one more drink, even though I had to get up to go fishing in the morning. After Olga stopped pouring the rum at the normal spot (about half the glass), Lalo asked her to put in a little more. She shrugged and filled the glass about ¾ with rum before adding the club soda. Lalo told me that in Zihuat, “you don’t get if you don’t ask, but, if you do ask, you’ll usually get”. Another lesson learned in Zihuat.

That last drink was more than enough, so I headed for home around midnight, after Lalo and his crew took off.

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