Pescado de Baja

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It’s hard to believe that my love for Baja started over 15 years ago. Unfortunately, life kind of got in the way in recent years so it had been quite some time since my Dad and I were down there. In the past our trips with my Dad and close friends, have always been based around our ATV’s and side by sides. We often spent a week or more out in the desert riding and exploring all Baja has to offer. Occasionally, I would fish from shore, using one of my bass rods and bass lures, but I really didn’t spend much time doing so. 
This trip was different, the KTM got left at home and my kayak took its place. I brought down my Jackson Cuda LT and borrowed a Kraken 13.5 from Greg Didriksen to cruise around the warm waters. The general plan was to fish around Puertocitos and do an overnight trip to Gonzaga Bay. My hope was to catch a variety of fish and try to land a nice Grouper. As well as get my Dad his first saltwater fish.
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We left Friday just before 7pm and began the drive down to San Felipe, where we would stay at our friend’s beach house. Arrival time was right about 6:30am and we met up for breakfast at Pete’s Camp with some of the group that was already down there. After breakfast we unloaded our gear and took some time to rest. That evening I launched the Kraken out in front of the house for my first test paddle. I ended up really liking this kayak by the way. I see one in my near future! This section of shoreline is all sand and very shallow, but I trolled around for an hour or so. I ended up landing one little fish that looked like a cross between a redfish and a sucker. That night my Dad and I made plans to head south.
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The next morning we got a late start and began our drive down to Gonzaga. We made a quick lunch stop at the Cow Patty and like usual they had some cold beer. Along the way we kept an eye out for likely launch spots and a few miles south of Puertocitos we found a good spot with lots of birds working the area. My Dad opted to sit this one out and relax on shore with a beer, while I chased around the pelicans and small boils. One thing I noticed right away was that the bait fish being pursued were all small, like 3-4 times smaller than any of the lures I had with me. I think this played a significant role throughout our trip… I worked the area for a couple hours landing some small Grouper and hooking into a couple of larger fish, one of which looked like a nice Corvina. We left there late afternoon and made the rest of the drive down to Alfonsina’s in Gonzaga. Once there, we made or reservations for a room and had an early shrimp and fish dinner. After dinner we went out for about an hour to do a little fishing in the northern bay. There my Dad landed a small Sierra and a Sand bass, while I landed a Triggerfish and another bass. 
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We woke to a beautiful morning and during breakfast we went over our options. After some deliberation, we decided to make the short run south to Punta Final where we fished for about half the day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much going on, we weren’t getting any action and didn’t see any birds or fish working. So, we loaded back up and drove north back towards the house. We stopped at Papa Fernandez for a late lunch of fish tacos and beef quesadillas, which was delicious! At this point I was pretty disappointed in how things were going and did not want to return to San Felipe empty handed. I decided we’d stop at the cove south of Puertocitos, figuring the bait would still be in the area. I was right! Right after I launched a feeding frenzy broke out close to shore. I bombed my rapala right in the middle of the boil and was instantly hooked up! After a short fight I landed my first decent fish, a nice Corvina. The boil died by the time I got it unhooked and bled, but it wasn’t long before another started. A quick cast right into the middle again and I’m hooked up to something that’s screaming the drag! The bursts of speed were unlike anything I’ve fought before. It ended up being a little Yellow Tail. It was getting late and we needed to start heading back so I got off the water and filleted the fish real quick. Then we headed back to San Felipe with some fresh fish for tacos!
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The next couple days we did day trips to the Puertocitos area and caught lots of little fish mostly. I did land one nice Sierra and hooked into a couple of other nice fish that I ended up losing. One of which I assume was a nice grouper. While fishing one of the many rocky points I noticed a dark shadow moving slowly. My first thought was shark! But after starring at it I started to think it was just a concentrated bait ball. I shrugged it off and kept fishing until I realized it was right next to me! It was a whale shark gorging itself on the abundance of bait. I attempted to get some video of it as it did laps around me, but I was a little worried about getting too close. I let the wind drift me into the shallows and began working the boulder pile with one of my rapalas. Got a couple hits but didn’t connect, so I bombed a cast out towards the deep water in between two large boulders. I gave my lure one jerk and it got slammed! Drag started screaming so I tightened it, but the fish just kept pulling! Even with a “buttoned down” drag, I couldn’t keep it out of the rocks. It broke my 40lb leader and it was at that point I realized I was a bit out-gunned in the rod/reel department, as well I should have been using wire leaders. Only two casts later I tossed a spoon into a small boil and connected into another nice fish that bit through my mono leader. Lessons learned. Next time I’ll be better prepared and ready to venture a bit further off the coastline.
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Although it wasn’t lights out fishing, I learned a lot from this trip and enjoyed my experience on the water with my Dad and friends. We had lots of beer, great food and great company. I appreciate the hospitality of our friends and can’t wait to get back down there for some redemption.

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