Trip report Dec. 20 to Jan 4 - Day 3

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Posted by David (in Bellingham) from ( on jueves, enero 22, 2004 at 21:25:24 :

Mon. Dec. 22 Ė Up at 5:30 am to get ready to go fishing. Thereís a store right at the end of the pier thatís open early for all the fisherman, so you can pick up your drinks and snacks there. I bring a soft sided cooler with me, and freeze a couple of bottles of water the night before, so all my drinks [mostly water and Gatorade with a few bottles of fishing fluid (read beer)] will be cold all day. I skip all the snacks in the store and head for the table out front where they sell tortas. I raved about these last year, and I will again this year. The sandwiches are made with small loaves of bread that are still warm from the oven. Thereís a variety of fillings, and today I go with chorizo, eggs, & chilies. At 10pesos each, these are a great deal. If youíre not a fisherman, but just an early riser (before 7:30), you should try to get down to the pier some morning just so you can try the tortas for breakfast. Itís also fun to watch the controlled(barely) chaos going on as all the boats pull up to and away from the pier to pick up clients, ice, etc.

Amado is there at 6:15, and we head out of the bay, with a quick stop to pick up some live bait. Live bait is an extra $5 a dozen, but its well worth it if you have an opportunity to use it live. If you donít, your dead baits will be fresher and last longer than baits made from fish killed the night before.

We take a heading of 270 degrees and I drive while Amado gets all the gear put together. Weíre looking for birds to lead us out to the tuna, but the birds are staying scattered and close to shore. This is a bad sign as far as finding tuna goes, so, once we get about 25 miles out, we change our plans. Instead of heading out at top speed until we find tuna, we slow down and start trolling out with 3 dead-baits and 2 lures trying to pick up anything. At about the 28 mile mark, we see a big patch of weeds drifting on the surface. As we start to circle it, something takes down one of the outrigger lines. I grab the rod and completely back-off the drag before the fish starts taking line. Youíve got to let the fish take line anywhere from 3-10 seconds (depending on a number of different variables), so it will have time to eat the bait. If you donít wait long enough, the bait will pull out of the fishís mouth when you try to set the hook. If you wait too long, the fish will eat your bait and spit the hook out. Deciding exactly when to set the hook is an art that Amado has been teaching me over the last couple of years. This time I wait 5 seconds before I kick the drag in gear and set the hook. Immediately I know Iíve got him, and shortly a big bull Dorado is jumping out the water and generally going berserk. While Iím fighting the fish, Amado clears all the other rods and in about 15 minutes, Iíve got it next to the boat and Amado grabs him with a gaff. Heís about 40-45lbs. Iíll release bill fish if possible, but Dorado is dinner. If you ever catch a dorado, be sure watch how it changes colors after its out of the water from greens to golds with splotches of blue & purple. Itís really amazing.

Since weíve got all of the lines pulled in and we think thereís probably some more fish under our weed bed, we decide to fish with live bait and a small jig, drifting next to the weeds. Over the next 3 hours, I land 3 big Dorado (30-50lbs), 8 small Dorado (1-10lbs), and medium size shark.

Itís about noon, but Amado wants to keep heading out to try to find the tuna, so we start trolling out again. After a while, we raise a sailfish, but itís following a lure instead of a bait. When sailfish bites a lure, it wonít hold onto it like a bait, so youíve got use some tricks to hook one on a lure. This time, I use Amadoís favorite method. As the sailfish is following the lure, I leave the rod in the holder and start pulling the line in with my hand (rather than using the reel) and let the excess line lay on the deck. When the sailfishís bill pops straight up (which means heís opening his mouth to eat), I let go of line, and all the excess line pulls back out fast. If youíre lucky, this will take the lure back into the fishís mouth, so when he closes it youíll hook him. On the third try, I hooked up. I take about 20 minutes to land and release the medium size (70-80lb) sailfish.

After that, we troll out to about 35 miles out with no signs of tuna (birds, porpoises, etc.), so at that point, we pull in the lines and head for home. On the way in at about the 20 mile mark, we come across a dispersed school of porpoises that are probably swimming with some tuna. We chase the school for a couple of hours stopping 12 times to toss out live bait, but the tuna are staying down, they wonít come up to the surface to feed. Finally on the 13 stop (lucky 13), the tuna come up and small one grabs my bait. A couple of minutes later, weíve got a 20-25lb yellow fin bouncing around the boat. Even though it only took a couple of minutes to land, the school has moved a long way out from us, so we decide to call it a day and head for home.

We hit the harbor at about 4:30, and I decide to go to Amadoís restaurant for a much delayed lunch. He pulls the boat up to the beach, and we start tossing the fish off the boat as the people gather around. Thatís some of Amadoís best advertising. I plan on taking the tuna with for sashimi later and on a dorado filet w/ garlic for lunch now, and while thatís being I prepared, I take one of the big dorado up the beach to my friend Chay to take home to his family. By the time I get back to Amadoís, my lunch is ready Ė a big dorado filet cooked w/ garlic and served with guacamole, rice, tortillas, chips and salsa and an ice cold Victoria to wash it all down. It hard to beat a meal made with fish that fresh. Todayís lunch is on the house since Iím leaving most of the fish for Amado.

When Iím ready to head back to town Amado hands me a bag with the fillets from the tuna, and we head back the pier.

Once I get home, I clean up the tuna filets, so theyíll be ready for sashimi later (if you plan on doing this, be sure to bring your knife). After getting cleaned up, thereís time for a short siesta before I head out for the evening.

At about 8:00 I went to Florianís. He made up a couple of big plates of sashimi from the tuna I brought, complete with wasabi and soy sauce. No charge for the Sashimi prep, but Florian knows Iíll be good for a couple of meals and a lot of drinks while Iím here. I had one plate for dinner, and the other was passed around to other patrons and employees. Sashimi from fresh tuna is spectacular. Tonight is a little busier with a good mix of locals, expats, and tourists. After 3 anejo & sodas and one Gran Centenaria Plata, itís time to head home at 11:00pm, since Iíll be fishing again in the morning.

The next installment will be next week.

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