Dear Fishing Friends, Most of the year, the closest I get to baja fishing is reading the colorful stories in this forum, but today I have my own fishing story to share and I hope you like it! Best Day Ever Day 1 Got invited by friends to a vaguely described social event Saturday 9/10/11, and long-story-short it turns out my wife had planned a surprise party for my 50<sup>th</sup> birthday. Seventy dear friends and family traveling from far and near to our little Cali town already made this the best day ever. Then halfway through the party, it gets even better when my two brothers who flew in from Seattle and New Orleans announce its time to pack a bag and grab my passport were headed to Cabo in the morning for the fishing trip of a lifetime! A few hours later, were on our way to the Oakland airport as the sun rises on Sunday. Best Day Ever Day 2 Flying anywhere on 9/11 stirs up emotions, but for me it was surreal. Ten years earlier, I planned this same trip with my brothers. We were to travel on Sept 13, 2001, but on 9/11 everything changed the whole world turned upside down and our Cabo trip vanished like a lost love leaving only a wistful illusion of what might have been. So finally making this journey on 9/11 ten years later seemed to me like a dream. Dozing on and off from last nights menu of 12-year old scotch and 45-minutes sleep, every time I open my eyes I pinch myself to make sure this all is real. Stepping off USAir 336 into the 95-degree heat of San Jose del Cabo woke me up for sure and by the time our driver Arturo delivered us to the Marina Fiesta, I knew it wasnt a dream just the continuation of my best day ever now into day 2. After walking down to the Marina to check out our boat a 31 foot Bertram named Renegade Mike we grabbed some tasty mexifood, sipped a couple cold ones and retired early for some much needed rest before our morning charter. St. Amant Brothers in Cabo - Glen, Bryan & Owen Marina Fiesta pools & the Cabo marina before dawn Best Day Ever Day 3 In the dark at 6:15 a.m. we meet the captain and crew of Renegade Mike. The boat looks great, the crew has swagger and Ive got a smile on my face as we grab bait and pass Los Arcos in the golden light of a rising sun over the Sea of Cortez. Renegade Mike is ready! At lands end, Capt Mike turns hard right and guns the twin diesels. We run 30 minutes up the Pacific coast, then head left about 9 miles offshore in search of schooling porpoise that travel with tuna and marlin. Glen is ready Sunrise on a nice day for fishing First school we find has hundreds of spinner and spotted porpoises putting on a show. The fish finder is pinging tuna so we drop 5 lines to troll for yellowfin. At 10:00 a.m. I hear the rubber pop on one of our baits, so everyones pulling line and Capt Mike tells me to get into the harness for my very first tuna! A fat Penn reel and I are both roped to the deck as I begin to take measure of this fish. Working the new harness and reel is like learning to ride a bike ugly at first but getting better with Capt Mikes expert coaching. Turns out the captains brand of coaching also includes a lot of good natured ribbing what do you think youre doing? whats taking so long? so I decide right then I'm really gonna like this guy. About 5 minutes later we see color and the crew puts two sticks into a nice 40-pound yellowfin. Im covered in sweat from hot sun and adrenaline, smiling like a fool and high-fiving with my brothers when I realize my best day ever has reached day 3. On my first yellowfin After our first tuna, Capt Mike breaks out the fishing kite something I remembered from bloodydecks.com. Not long after launch, we see firsthand what kite fishing is all about when a big explosion rocks the flying fish bait as it skims the waters surface 100-yards from the boat. This fish missed, but it gave us a good idea of what was to come. Capt Mike launches the fishing kite Fishing kite is flying high We fished with the kite until the bite was done, then motored off with 5 lines out in search of more schooling porpoise and our tasty tuna targets. While on the hunt, Capt Mike spots a small wooden pallet maybe 2 x 3 floating offshore 12 miles out with two birds on top. Fish finder starts chirping and captain says we can catch tuna later now its time for dorado! Three live baits are tossed and all three get bit putting the St. Amant brothers on a triple hookup dancing under and over each others lines in choreographed chaos as we use our gut-buckets to fight these fish. Turns out Owen is pulling on a nice 40-lb bull dorado, Glen is battling a 50-lb shark and Im pretty sure Ive hooked a whale. This double hookup on the dorado bite quickly turned into a triple hookup... At first Im thinking its fun to have this big bend in the rod, struggling to gain 2 cranks on each of my pulls, then losing the same amount of line or more each time the fish pulls back. This goes on for like 20 minutes during which time Owen boats 2 or 3 dorado while Glen releases his shark and brings in a dorado of his own. Owen boats a nice 40-lb bull dorado After a while I realize this is a battle of wills and get so focused on the tug-of-war that I hardly notice the 10 other boats pulling up to this teeny floating pallet for a wide open bite. I later learn Capt Mike took some heat for not calling in more boats, but believe me he was busy keeping us from going over the stern as we boated these magnificent fish. 20 minutes in with my forearms ready to explode, I finally start gaining line and soon we see color and learn why this fish was so hard to fight. Turns out my dorado was foul-hooked so I was dragging a large plank sideways through the sea. Reason I finally gained ground was because a shark bit off all but the front 18 of fish, so after all that I reeled in a fish head plus just enough meat for dinner that night at Marisco Mazatlan. Yep we shared dinner with a shark! Once the dorado bite was over at 12:30 or so, most captains would have trolled slowly back to port claiming to look for billfish but not Capt Mike. He motors off in search of more porpoises and soon launches the kite with a helium balloon for extra lift when we reach another massive school. This time the surface explosion was matched a split-second later by the beautiful sound of 200-lb mono ripping off a fat Penn reel. Owens turn, so little bro straps on the harness and boats another 40-lb tuna in about 7 minutes. Another 40-lb tuna on the kite Looking for one more fish, Capt Mike launches the kite again when to everyones surprise we see a huge dorado break the surface with dorsal fin raised as it chases the flying fish and takes the bait with a mighty crash 100 yards off our stern. Glens turn this time and he has some work to do. The fight was epic as this huge fish goes airborne 12 feet out of the water about 50 yards back. Glen gives it his all and finally has the fish boated in about 15 minutes. This 48-lb bull was a monster five feet long first ever Capt Mike hooked on a kite. Glen says in his typical understated style nice fish. Capt Mike was more emphatic now thats a fucking dorado! Nice fish Glen!! 48-lb bull dorado on the kite High-fives and cold Modelos are freely exchanged on the run back to dock. What a day! Ate our catch tuna sashimi and grilled/fried/baked dorado before sipping some tequila and watching Monday Night Football. Barely made it into the 2<sup>nd</sup> game before were all sawing logs exhausted, happy and looking forward to another day on the ocean with Renegade Mike. Nice day for dorado... Nice day for tuna too... First day's catch...check out what the shark left us! Best Day Ever Day 4 We were so stoked from our first day with Capt Mike that we arrived in time for a 6:00 a.m. departure on Tuesday first boat out for the day. Our early departure means first crack at bait and we have the ocean to ourselves as we enjoy the glow of another peach red sunrise while heading out to sea. I don't always fish, but when I do I prefer Baja... First school is gigantic maybe 500 or 1000 spinner, spotted and machete porpoises. Same trailing line as yesterday pops off around 8:00 a.m. and Mike says its a little tuna. My turn again, so I strap on the gladiator gear and get working on this fish. Finally learning technique in the harness, reading the rod tip and taking what the fish would give. About 10 minutes in Im thinking this isnt such a small fish. My right arm is burning when Mike mentions theres a lower gear on the Penn. Thanks for letting me know... 10 minutes later, we see color and the crew strains on two gaffs to haul this badboy in. A 70-lb yellowfin biggest fish I ever caught! Thats when I knew it was still my best day ever now four days old. As I chug some Powerade and catch my breath, I quietly give thanks for this unexpected blessing family, friends and fish all conspiring to make me feel like the luckiest man alive. A 70lb yellowfin tuna - my biggest fish ever But then just like that our luck had changed. After our first big fish, we stuck with the school for nearly another hour of trolling and kiting, but the tuna could care less. A 30-minute search found us another nice school but even though we fished it hard, the tuna had lockjaw. We searched for another school maybe an hour more when Mike comes down for the thats why they call it fishing speech. It wasnt for lack of trying and at least were not skunked, but it definitely looked like our chances of catching more fish were slim at best. Mike heads back up to the bridge to guide us home when not more than two minutes later he spots birds and porpoises another couple miles out to sea. So this is it its pushing 1:30 and were almost 19 miles out. Many charter captains would have checked the time and turned the boat around, but Mike shows no hesitation as we gun the engines and head directly for fish. Were off the clock now just six guys living in the moment fishing hard and loving every minute of the hunt. Before we reach the school, a small sailfish pops our outrigger and a trailing ballyhoo. No hookup this time, but not a bad sign. When we reach our final school of the day, its huge and hyperactive with bait, birds and even tuna coming out of the water along with an army of porpoises. Sharing the school with two other boats, we make a couple passes with our 5-line troll but cant get a strike. One of the other boats catches a couple of footballs with a light feather rig, but Mike has something bigger in mind when he launches the kite again. Absolutely beautiful conditions blue water, feeding fish and a captain on a mission. Kite was up for no more than 5 minutes when the first yellowfin hit like an explosion out of Mythbusters. Owens turn for a big fight and 15 minutes later he brings in a strong and feisty 65-lb tuna that did not want to go quietly. Fish carnage ensues baseball bat barely bruises the beast as gaff hits gills and blood is flying everywhere like a Tarantino movie. It was a primal vision of hunter and prey brutal and intoxicating. Owen's 65-lb tuna didn't give up without a fight Pumped up from the fight, Mike launches the kite again producing another quick explosion. Glens turn his first tuna a 40-lb slab. While Glens working his fish, Owen bulls in a 20-lb football hooked on the short trailer. After Glens fish is in, Mike launches one more time and 5 minutes later I get the final fish of the day another beautiful 40-lb yellowfin that slides right into the well after a 7 minute fight. Gonna need a bigger cooler... Second day's catch...the wives asked for tuna...guess what's for dinner! Tuna is filleted right on the boat the raw red meat tastes fresh like the sea. On our hour-plus run back to Cabo, Mike and I chat on the bridge like two old friends while my brothers and the crew clean up and celebrate on the deck below. Dropping off our fillets and refueling the boat, we get back to the dock just before 5pm. First boat out last boat in. On our walk back to the room, I do a little math. 150-lbs of fillets for three St. Amant brothers 100-lbs more for Renegade Mike and the crew 70 loving friends and family in on one big surprise 20 hours on the water 4 unforgettable days and one amazing wife who set it all in motion. It all added up to my best day ever. Thanks to everyone who made it happen and those who enjoyed reading along! Balanced nutrition...Cabo style!