Ensenada, Mexico



Oct. 8, 2005, Steve Ross, Bad Dog, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico:

At 0230 hours Bad Dog departed Ensenada's Marina Coral with "Gung Ho" Gail and Marinero Alex. Jacqueline and Gordo's were parked out in front. We chose Julio and loaded on enough pinheads for chum and ran smack into a fleet of SWYC sailboats for their San Diego to Ensenada race. We weaved our way through into the open ocean which challenged us with 6-8 foot seas and 10 knots of wind for a 62 mile ride to the blue water 390 spot at 66 degrees. I saw a half a dozen San Diego party boats heading south with very bright deck lights lighting up the dark night skies. Apparently, small yellowfin tuna have showed up down there which might be our destination this coming Saturday.

At first light we put them in; and at 0700, we received our first marlin knockdown out of the port outrigger with no connection.

"Don't leave fish to find fish."

So I left the area for a pre-designated route I created from Jeff Gammon's combination of SST/Chlorophyl charts which started with the 390.

I traveled north into the desert of barren blue which slowly cooled down to 65 degrees so with a U-turn I arrived back at the 390 around 1:00 p.m. with the skunk. I metered deep meat balls, then some surface bait and began my up swell-down swell trolling pattern over the top of the 390. The up swell run became tedious with Bad Dog crashing through 6 footers and pairs of 8 footers with little interval and no backs on them as the foam spread over the bow deck.

After about a half an hour I told Alex that this is boring and physically taxing fishing, so we'll take one more pass at it. WHACK! The starboard outrigger snapped and the reel went off. This was the 7Strand 1220 Clone in goatfish. I looked behind to see the fish jumping about 200 yards out and Gail complaining about running out of line. The reel looked almost empty; that was fast.

But wait, another marlin ran through the jigs from the starboard side and another came up jumping about 30 yards off the starboard rear. But wait, the one 30 yards off had a pink jig behind it. Could it be? But, the one jumping out 200 yards makes sense. "I need the rest of the lines and the drop back out of the water NOW please." This marlin ran out and made a quick U-turn dragging the bow in the water toward the boat.

Okay, Gail and Alex on the bow, the boat in a 180 turn and follow the line. This was the best example of how following the line and not the fish works.

Okay, the marlin is going up swell and the swells are crashing onto the bow deck, Gail and Alex are soaked to the waists, and Bad Dog follows the chase into the swells. At one point Alex said the boat went up 8 feet and down the same 8 feet and 8 feet more for a reel wild ride. This was the wildest fish of the year. His jumping was classic, we could have sold the video which we didn't and couldn't take. On one big wave I thought I was going to lose them both. On one accelerated starboard pivot, a cross swell broke on the bow, and I was amazed to find them both there hanging onto the rail and the fish screaming down the starboard side of the boat.

Now down swell, then he ran toward the boat. With the line going down the starboard side, I was already in pivot so I punched it to accelerate the turn to save the prop cut off. And off to the chase again, UP SWELL. Then a couple of 180's and back up swell and I'm on him...close. Double line to the tip, the jig glowing under the water and this fish is all lit up. "You've got to raise this fish, Gail," I yelled through the eisenglass I wish someone had rolled up, but I dare not leave the wheel for a second.

When he came up finally, his tail was making wide sweeps and he was darting left and right not giving Alex a clean shot. He was hot. With a grand effort and through white foam and crashing swells, the hook hit meat and the fish went berzerk tearing the gaff out of hands and running to the end of the rope that was, thank God, cleated. This turned him, and a second gaff, and they dragged him down the side of the boat kicking.

I was waiting with the tail rope as I had left the wheel. He arrived with two gaff ropes and no gaffs. I couldn't get the cable around his tail because this fish was still fighting, so I got the straight gaff, gaffed the head and pulled toward the swim step. I handed Alex the straight gaff and told him to pull. He was unable to get the fish onto the swim step so a fourth gaff went into the tail section and we both lifted him onto the step where I slid the tail rope around his tail. Done deal.

The ride home was down swell...perfect for my badly needed nap.

Since Marina Coral's scale at Ensenada has not been repaired we cut the fish in half and weighed him on my accurate Kenwood hanging scale at 185 pounds. Notably he had two large squids in his stomach. This is lucky number seven for us this season. Juan Lu and family came over for fillets, Alex took some for his family, and this week I am returning to World Famous Smoked Fish.

This is one fish that Gail will remember for the rest of her life.

I asked her on the way back home, "What did you learn from that fish?" How about...the value of a flying gaff? Had it been a straight gaff, he would have torn it out of hands and who knows if the jig would have stayed connected through all of that? Probably not.

However, on the step I examined the hook. Once again the single Mustad 7732 was buried into the bottom of the upper jaw past the barb...penetration in bone. It hung on in the most difficult of circumstances.