Pre-Season on the East Cape

TJ33

The tug is the drug
Jul 23, 2020
26
26
25
San Francisco
Name
Tom
Boat
Grady White 226
Went down to the Palmas de Cortez Hotel for a week. This was a family trip, and the timing revolved around other’s schedules, so I wasn’t expecting much in regards to fishing, given it’s still early April. We had planned to fish three days on a panga with Los Barriles Sportfishing, then do one day as a family on the Jen Wren. Those plans changed and my family decided fishing the east cape was pretty darn fun, so I wound up doing just one day on a panga, and taking the whole family out on a deluxe cruiser twice.



Day 1 - my brother and I hopped on board the panga known as “La Joya” with Captain Carlos of Los Barriles Sportfishing. The owner, Nic, is very helpful and got us set up for success. The boat is spectacular, 26’ and 140hp outboard with new sea deck and okuma gear. We took off before sunrise and ran north to Isla Cerravalo in search of yellowtail, cubera, and pargo, running wide open at 30 knots on a glassy Sea of Cortez. We got live bait at the island, really solid medium/large sardines. We slow trolled them off the rocks, around some points, and eventually opted to fly line a few and start jigging in deeper water. This produced a handful of triggerfish and needlefish. Captain Carlos got on the radio and it seemed everyone had the same result, so we moved south to punta del sur, and began slow trolling baits again. Immediately had a hookup on a nice fish, took 15 pounds of drag straight down and broke off on the reef. Kept this tactic going for a few hours, with fish busting on the surface all around. We weren’t getting bit with 40#, so I kept going smaller until we got to 25# fluoro and started to get bit again. There were a dozen pangas working the area, but everyone was getting bit off by the toothy critters mixed in, or broken off on the reef by the larger target species. When the bite died, we decided to troll the long ride home and throwing baits at shark buoys in hopes of a dorado or wahoo. Unfortunately, the water was still green and about 70, so no one was home. Captain Carlos worked very hard to put us on fish. If anyone is looking for a comfortable ride and a solid experience with captain and gear, while not breaking the bank, I strongly recommend you reach out to Los Barriles Sportfishing.





Day 2 - the Jen Wren, a 1989 31’ Innovator, absolutely dialed in for catching fish. Meeting captain Polo was the highlight of my trip, fishing alongside him and experiencing his love for the sport in action. The owners Mark and Raul are very helpful and excited to get you on the water. The gear: Accurate TwinDrag 30#, Accurate Valiant 600, and Shimano 25TLD reels, all on matching rods. The boat could double as a small tackle shop with all of its gear. Given the water color and temperature, we again opted for yellowtail, but this time we stayed close just off of Buena Vista in 150-250 feet of water with a small fleet. No live bait, so we soaked some dead ballyhoo and did some yo-yo jigging. We had three bites in a couple of hours which produced a nice 25lb YT, and two smaller skipjack kept for bait. The fish tacos were taken to Smokey’s for dinner and processing to later take home. As the sun got higher in the sky, captain polo told us there were some striped marlin offshore and that we should try our luck, so we made a 16 mile run north east to where the water reached 72, with a green/blue color. Dragged medium petrolo and green machine lures on the riggers, with a short ballyhoo and a long ballyhoo. To our amazement, we spotted a tailing fish pretty quickly and tossed a dead bait right on its nose. The spool started to move and we were on!! A hot fish with lots of tail walks and at least a half dozen strong runs, it took a half hour to leader the fish. We left it in the water and set it free to fight another day. What a wonderful unexpected highlight. We continued trolling, had a small dorado come into the spread, but never got bit. Chased some jumping marlin in the distance. As time ran out, captain polo still stopped at every buoy in hopes of finding us dorado. We stayed on the grounds until 4pm (!!!) before he finally called it. On the way in, we encountered the largest pod of bottlenose dolphins we’d ever seen, and although they were not the porpoise tuna tend to swim with, the crew still tried dragging a couple of cedar plugs in hopes of more fish. No cigar, so we kept going. Only a few miles from the dock, another striper popped up and we tossed a couple baits, but it was not to be. We were already lucky with a keeper YT and our black/red flag combo flying, making us heroes back at the pool. These guys fished so hard and gave us such a wonderful experience, my family (who never goes on the water with me) wanted to go again, so we did.





Day 3 - Jen Wren again. I’d been talking to our captain and owner about the blue warm water moving north from the Cabo area. With the yellowtail bite slowing, we decided a run south of Cabo Pulmo may be worth while. With low expectations, but the hope of dorado, tuna, or wahoo, we made the run past Frailes, almost to the Gorda banks. We found the fleet from Cabo San Jose (yes we were that south) and threw the spread in - Two small feathers on the riggers, a purple rapala mag20, a cedar plug, and a ballyhoo. The water was getting bluer, but the wind the day before had turned it over and the upwelling had temps down to 65. Polo was still optimistic. Only a few minutes in, the corners lit up - skippies. Threw them in the bait tank and started the troll again... BANG, more skippies. With blood on the deck and smiles all around, polo told me to pull them in and we were running father south. We got to a bank I don’t remember the name of, with the water at 70 and threw them in. This is when all hell broke loose. Every rod doubled over, I was sure we were on tuna, but no, all Bonita. I was confused as to why the captain and deckhand wanted to keep them, as I’d always thought of them as junk fish, but they said it was great eating so in the cooler they went. And out went the cedar plugs. We put 6 rods in the water with cedar plugs and rapalas, and over the course of the next hour, we put 37 of those bones in the boat. Smiles all around. Highlight of the day was every time we hooked up, captain polo would laughingly yell “HOOKAH HOOKAH, YEEEHAAAAAW”. Pure joy!! I love that guy. Then the fun part happened for me, the rapala got smoked. This was no Bonita, a quarter second later I saw a missile go flying through the back of the spread, WAHOO. But it got off. We changed everything to marauders and big divers and circled the area for another hour for only a few more skippies. It was now the afternoon and we had a long ride home, so we decided to run out to the ledge and troll north looking for billfish. The water popped up to 74, but got greener as we went north. We saw no life until we got north of Cabo pulmo and spotted a school of fish on the surface. Unfortunately not what we were looking for, but it was beautiful to see the larger skipjack chasing bait, and hearing the reels scream one last time was a welcomed sound to end the day. We made the long run home, saw tons of life including a big hammerhead, but no fish worth chasing.





All in all, an amazing trip and while it was not the dorado, wahoo, tuna, rooster fish east cape I’ve come to know and love, we did have 80-90 degree temperatures, great food, and fantastic memories.



Other than fishing, we spent a lot of time at Smokey’s and Beans and Rice for meals. Did a day on ATVs all the way down to the four seasons and back, but never saw any feeding fish to cast at. I did do a lot of snorkeling, and the sardines are there, so the roosters will be soon. Good luck if you go!

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DH10

Member
Aug 18, 2009
579
242
Pinedale WY USA
Name
Dave Harper
Boat
17 Crestliner
Sounds a great time to me! If those were the "White Bonito", they are absolutely delicious, with a very light colored flesh. They call them Albacore in Panama, they are prized table fare....Easy to distinguish, they have a pretty good set of teeth on them compared to Bonita....
 
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TJ33

The tug is the drug
Jul 23, 2020
26
26
25
San Francisco
Name
Tom
Boat
Grady White 226
Sounds a great time to me! If those were the "White Bonito", they are absolutely delicious, with a very light colored flesh. They call them Albacore in Panama, they are prized table fare....Easy to distinguish, they have a pretty good set of teeth on them compared to Bonita....

yes very toothy, so my guess is that’s what they are. See pics for what they did to a couple of new lures. If you zoom in you can see the teeth in this one

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woodfish330

I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Aug 14, 2012
    1,333
    2,655
    San Fransisco,CA USA
    Name
    John
    Boat
    Fishead
    Thank you so much for the fine coverage of your families fishing escapade. Your enthusiasm and writing style is a welcome read this morning. Picts are great....smiles for all... what more can you ask for. Fishing in off color water...with wind and major color breaks is always grueling. Have had world class days thou.... running both sides of that color line before. Just in July. Glad you did the places right that you enjoyed.... and supported the businesses that need our tourism dollar badly. Bravo for you....thanks for your time and post and picts. I too..... thought I was there!!
     
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    TJ33

    The tug is the drug
    Jul 23, 2020
    26
    26
    25
    San Francisco
    Name
    Tom
    Boat
    Grady White 226
    we took a few of the Bonita to the smokehouse and broke a piece open last night when we got back home. That stuff is amazing!!
     
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    seadancer

    Almost A Member
    Jul 2, 2007
    186
    170
    Westminster, CA
    Name
    Craig Gilbert
    Boat
    none
    Great report.
    What is charter rate on Jen Wren?
     
    TJ33
    TJ33
    $1,000 a day plus bait, tip, and license. No 16% Mexican sales tax as it is booked through the US.

    between the gear, the state of the boat, the fishing knowledge, and the extra couple hours on the water each day, it was well worth the few extra $$$
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    pescadorzih

    Almost A Member
  • Aug 1, 2012
    207
    78
    PA
    Name
    Greg
    Boat
    None
    Great write up! Thanks for sharing.
    Those bonita sound like they were white bonita or chulas as they are called further down south.
    Very good eating indeed!
     
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    1morefishwy

    Newbie
    Dec 20, 2011
    21
    7
    Casper, WY USA
    Name
    Steve
    Boat
    Ranger
    Great report. Getting me pumped for our trip in mid May. We booked the La Joya as well, I love the inshore stuff..When we were there last in May of 19 we caught skippies at Ceralvo, (with Carlos) but I think they were the non tasty variety. We also got 2 Dorado and a variety of other fish including Cabrilla and Pargo. Cant wait to get back there.
     
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