SAILBOAT FISHING CRUISE TO ISLA SAN FRANCISCO
July 18, 2006, David Nagoda, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, sailboat fishing cruise to Isla San Francisco:
My wife and I picked up a 36 foot sailboat from The Moorings in La Paz, Mexico, on Monday the 3rd of July for a week and headed north to Isla Partida, about 20 miles north of La Paz, and our first overnight stop. The Moorings did a great job of provisioning and the boat was immaculate, a veritable floating palace.
The next day was our first day fishing. We headed east from Isla Partida to the sea mount and then headed back from there to Isla San Francisco. We had no luck with various artificials until we were about 10 nautical miles east southeast magnetic of San Francisco Island and had switched to what turned out to be the hot bait of the trip, the rubber sardina.
At that point I hooked up with a large Dorado, I'd call it about 50 pounds, on my 30 pound rig. It took 3 hours to bring him to boat and we released him. He was the biggest Dorado I have ever caught and the toughest fish of the trip.
Looking for some smaller Dorado to catch for dinner I switched to a large red and white feather, set the autopilot on course and headed down into the cabin for a beer. I heard the reel singing and looked out to see a striped marlin leaping off the stern of the boat! Again on the 30 pound rig with the red feather, this bad boy took off and burned up the reel on a 400 yard run that only stopped because we were chasing him at 6 knots! We chased him around the Sea of Cortez for over 2 hours, the Jigmaster 500 grinding like it was full of sand, but I brought him to boat and released him, about 100 pound striper. We headed to Isla San Francisco for the night. I was done in!
During the next 5 days, we spent 4 days fishing along the drop off about 4 to 5 nautical miles east of Isla San Francisco and running south and west from there.
There is a shelf all along there where the depth plunges from about 500 feet to about 2,000 feet. Just about due east from Isla San Francisco along this drop-off is a sea mount that comes up to about 250 feet. Most of the bait seemed to be concentrated in this area. It was pretty wild, like a fish farm. The bait was thick, huge schools of sardinas and judging from the stomach contents of the dorado we kept, a lot of small squid as well.
On Friday the 7th of July, our baits, a rubber sardina and green squid, were attacked by 4 or 5 sailfish! They just kept hitting the baits but I couldn't get a hookup. Fishing from a sailboat has its down side.
Dorado in the 20 to 30 pound range were all over the place. We got a double hookup on dorado on Saturday the 8th of July only a half mile south of our anchorage at Isla San Francisco only a few minutes out. Everyone was catching fish.
The last marlin I caught, on Saturday the 8th, was about 8 miles north of Isla Partida on our way home. He was on the surface chasing a flying fish and I trolled a rubber sardina by him and he couldn't resist. It was a great end to the trip!
Like I said, it was like a fish farm out there. After the morning wind died down and the sea went flat you could see all of the fins zipping around, mostly dorado but also marlin and manta rays jumping all over the place. There were birds, seals and porpoise feeding all around as well.
All tolled I boated 3 nice striped marlin and over a dozen dorado, keeping only 2 dorado that were too injured to release. If I'd been on a dedicated fishing trip, I could have easily doubled the catch.
Fishing off the sailboat was a lot different, and we dedicated a lot more time to other pursuits like diving and relaxing. We were only a stone's throw from the hot fishing spots, however, so we got up, fixed our coffee, headed out and in 10 minutes we had baits out and were fishing. I highly recommend it!
The fishing was phenomenal out there, the best I've ever seen, and I've been fishing in the Sea of Cortez for over 40 years. The first time I fished in La Paz was in 1966 when I was 14. I caught a 250 pound blue marlin that time.