Ensenada, Mexico



Oct. 1, 2005, Steve Ross, Bad Dog, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico:

Departing Marina Coral at Ensenada at 0230 with a tank full of mackerel caught in the slip, we ran into Julio's seiner right out in front and took a few passes of big anchovies and headed on out to clear the gap in the fog. We faced several challenges with boats and radar targets but we managed not to hit anyone and set sail for Vanian's numbers just below the double 220's.

There was the Western Outdoor News fishing tournament being held at Marina Coral this Saturday and we wanted to get an early jump on their boats departing at 0600.

Let it be known that we attribute our success in hooking marlin to Jeff Gammon's SST and Chlorophyll charts.

We arrived on the numbers in the pitch dark and put two bridled mackerel out of the outriggers and slow trolled through 3 sets of close numbers. There were huge clouds of bait drifting through my meter so I stopped the boat to let the mackerel swim around on top. It wasn't long before I heard a crashing sound in the cockpit. Upon turning from the wheel and looking down I saw a live mako shark thrashing around on the deck. Juan Lu had put out a third mackerel, and a mako came up and grabbed it at the boat, but had not hit the hook before Alex bounced the shark while he was holding onto the bait. It was a juvenile and became a headless log in a matter of minutes.

I proceeded to the 1010 trench where I began up swell/down swell laps in 66 degree slightly off color water and at 11:00 a.m. both the outrigger and middle port reels went off with a double jig strike. Clearing the other lines took a while and it wasn't long before the outrigger fish came off and the mid port came up jumping with an almost empty spool. With a few wraps left Gail was the angler on the bow with a major retrieval going on coming tight with the fish with the line under the boat. A quick 180 pivot and the chase was on. The seas were about a foot with a few large ground swells but really quite nice. This marlin gave us about a dozen jumps in every direction. When I approached the marlin he was chugging up swell and when I got to the double line and then the swivel he decided that running for the props would be a good idea. So in total pivot position for the transmissions I found it necessary to push the reversed transmission into something close to full throttle to stop the line from going into the props completely. No matter how hard I tried I found the line continuously pointing toward the rear of the boat with Gail hanging on for dear life while the boat spun around and around and around very rapidly. Had I slowed the speed of the boat it would have been a goner. I did a 360 about six times until I found him under the plank all lit up and then darting back and forth, then changing back to up swell where he made his first and last mistake with Juan Lu and Alex on both sides of Gail with two flying gaffs cleated down. C'ya, as he was dragged down the port side with me off the bridge with tail rope in hand. This was at 31-43-572/117-44-884 and a Zuker mean joe green did the trick with a single Mustad 7732 Stainless 6/0 wrapped around his top bill.

I then paced the area with up swell down swell laps and a fish came into the jigs right to the step where Gail took the drop back outfit and dropped it to him right down the center path. He ate it, came up jumping, turned and ran only to spit the hook.

An hour later a knock down out of the port outrigger for a thriller only to drop the 7 Strand sablefish clone with a bird 3' in front of it.

At the fuel dock two white trash idiots made a comment to Juan Lu about killing a marlin, but kept it to themselves. He answered..."You're in Mexico."

Back at the slip another gringo pulled up in a rubber raft with..."What are you going to do with that marlin?" I replied..."Why do you have a problem?" He answered..."Not if you're going to eat it." Juan Lu exclaimed..."It's going to feed the poor people of Mexico." He drove off somewhat satisfied.

Well, with the marlin on our transom posing for photos, Juan Lu's family showed up, with brothers, sisters, kids, in-laws and more. It was a celebration. The Marina's scale no longer works (imagine that) so we chopped the fish in half and weighed it in two chunks to total 163 pounds. Then, we began cutting it up in the slip. Gave some to my sailboat neighbors, lots for Alex for his family, more for Juan Lu and some for us which will be sashimi tonight and marinated for dinner for Gail and I. None left for smoking.

We heard that Juan Lu took some big chunks from last week's fish and everyone at Botes Juanitos chipped in for tortillas, salsa, onions, etc. and they had a party mid week for all the workers and family. Welcome to Mexico...must have been fun.

For those of you who don't know, Botes Juanitos has their own docks and boats for harbor cruises, mechanics, a few charter boats and Vessel Assist Ensenada. Juan Lu is the son of owner Juan Cardones who has 18 daughters and sons. So, Juan Lu has quite the family which Gail and I find ourselves welcome. Juan Lu is also a well known diver for Ensenada and the sport fishing fleet and a friend of ours and a guest on Bad Dog. His half brother Juan, is Captain of Mar Diosa. We invite several of these brothers and their wives and relatives over for break feast on Sundays. Sometimes they all come, sometimes just Juan Lu, whoever to Kiku's (Gail's) kitchen and we all have more fun. Everyone in Ensenada calls Gail by her Japanese name of Kiku. I'd rather stay for breakfast with all of our Mexican friends than work on the boat. As the Department of Tourism says..."Ahhhhh, feel the warmth of Mexico."

That's six marlin for "Perro Malo," Spanish for 'Bad Dog' and what the Mexicans call us on the radio and on their docks, in about as many weeks. But, we want those who are concerned to know, that each fish has been a Mexican fiesta and divided amongst large Mexican families. The few amounts that have been smoked have been distributed within our families and associated workers. Not one morsel has gone to waste. We call everyone with our Amigo cell phones and we are greeted at the docks at Marina Coral and they drove up to La Salina to greet us last Saturday. It's all gone. Juan Lu had the classic reply when I told him that some Gringos think it's not good to eat. He said..."They don't know how to cook it." He is so right. And the classic comment of all this past weekend to the person in the Avon..."This fish is for the poor people of Mexico." I'll never forget that one. But, he is so right.