EXCELLENT MIXED SPECIES BOTTOM FISHING AT THE BANDA BANK
Feb. 7, 2007, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, boat Bad Dog, Marina Coral, Steve Ross:
I go to the Asian market 99 Ranch in San Diego and the manager Edward Chang asked if I would take him fishing for rockfish on the Bad Dog at Ensenada.
On Tuesday, and Edward and his friend Brian Lam joined Juan Lu and me at the Marina Coral dock. Parked in the slip next to the Bad Dog at Marina Coral was a Mexican military patrol boat and a soldier sitting at the wheel.
We all said "good morning" and the Bad Dog departed Ensenada at 0400 hours for fishing at the Banda Bank.
We arrived in the dark so we could find the Humboldt Giant Squid once more and provide our guests with some incredible action. However, I could not find any of these animals in their usual haunting places and needed to be on a rock by daylight.
The rock fishing on the north end of Ensenada's Banda Bank was incredibly good. Dropping on meter marks, we had Mexican sportfishing limits of red vermilion rockfish in two drops.
Well, you could just go home at 0700 hours, or continue the hunt.
The reds were coming over the side and they were all big fatties. I loaded my personal best at 8.1 pounds. We all yelled "Whoa" as I strained to lift it out of the water. We caught many that tipped the scales at 6 pounds.
After a while we raised many different fish species. Some made me wish I had my new rock fish book on board. It is now packed for the next trip.
We caught too many huge bocaccios with their tongues exploded and eyes bugged out from the bends, chipolitos, as identified by Juan Lu and who knows if that's the right name, flag fish, also known as barber poles, cinnamon fish, whitefish, and Edward boated a 6 pound lingcod.
Edward Chang was in charge of bringing the bait. We had an ample supply of the regular squid as well as slabs of Humboldt Giant Squid fillets. The Giant Squid fillet cut into strips was a killer bait as it took multiple hits and was a rock fish favorite.
As the fishing morning progressed, I ran south from the top of the Bank. I don't know if it was the time of day or what, but the vermilion rockfish quit biting and the starry rockfish became plentiful with huge clouds of them on the meter.
They would bang the whole ganion, loading it up. The whole bank was covered with fish on every waypoint in my GPS data. There were so many fish that several of the seals left us alone and just laid around on top of the water. They couldn't leave us alone altogether as a few swam down and picked off the fish that gave us the biggest strikes. I saw one seal find a "floater" and he was eating it.
I thought, the next time a seal comes over we'll feed him some of the little Nemos we managed to snag.
Sure enough here came another seal, so Juan Lu gave it his best throw and landed a fish right next to it. He wouldn't eat it, but did swim down the line and picked off something that gave me a jolt. Of course.
By 2 p.m. the XL DaKine kill bag on the step was plugged as well as the fish hold in the transom so we headed for the barn at Ensenada.
I was awakened from my brief nap by the boat stopping, so I sprang out of bed to find us being boarded by the Mexican Navy. One soldier in a SWAT uniform came on board and asked for all our documents which included the U.S.C.G. Documentation certificate, the 10 Year Importation Mexico original stamped document, and the Mexico Department of Pesca Boat Fishing Permit for fishing in Mexican waters. Inadvertently, I reached into the file and gave him the expired U.S.C.G. Documentation certificate leaving the active one in the file. He didn't notice the expiration date on the bottom and handed it back to me, all being in order. Also, he didn't speak one word of English. Hmmm, I wondered why they picked him to jump onto an American yacht. He did not bother to search the boat for anything. I guess me and my two Chinese friends did not appear to be drug runners.
I took my 6 pound white out for dinner to Las Cazuelas in Ensenada, and Loreto did his usual class act and the fish came out perfectly. The bill was $8 which included a huge bowl of Mexican vegetable soup with meat chunks and fresh baked dinner rolls. He pulled up a chair and we talked for an hour. I couldn't finish one side of the fish there was so much to eat and he took the rest home.
Edward, Brian and I only took the vermilions and gave the rest to Juan Lu for whatever purpose, to feed his family or trade for beer. I quit asking, but at least I know that 20 junk fish did not go to waste as some Mexican families are enjoying a fresh fish dinner or tacos de pescado with most of the smaller fish. Edward did catch and take home the only Lingcod and it was rather large at 8 pounds.
My two guests aboard the Bad Dog had the best rockfish trip they have ever had in their lives from the standpoint of quantity as well as quality. They got their personal bests on all species.
While I was ready to run 51 miles one way down the Baja coast to Punta Colnett, Edward and Brian picked the optional Banda Bank.
Thank goodness. The fishing couldn't have been any better than this, a mere 15 miles from the slip at Ensenada.
This fishing is one of the main reasons why I keep my boat in Ensenada. The rockfishing is incredible. I can always find plenty of fish to catch, and they are huge. The table fare of the superior cooking of Mexican restaurants of my catch is the icing on the cake.
We didn't see another boat off Ensenada all day, other than our Mexican amigos on the chase boat. If you know of anyone planning on going to Ensenada, do warn them that the Mexican Navy is parked out there. They have been checking boats regularly for a week now, and it's probably going to go on for a while.