BLACK SEABASS CAUGHT IN FISHING AT THE 51-MILE REEF
Nov. 5-11, 2006, Shawn Gustafson, Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico:
The first morning at Rocky Point, Sunday, Nov. 5th, we headed out early on our 24-foot Wellcraft boat named Murphy Girl to catch bait, and then head south to the famous 51-mile reef where the big fish live.
There was a stiff northwest wind and Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) seas were already pretty rough with 2 to 3 foot waves. We caught sardines and grunts for bait in 75 degree water at a small reef about five miles from shore.
By the time we were ready to make the long trek to the fishing grounds south of Rocky Point, the wind had picked up considerably. By the time we reached the 51-mile reef almost 3 hours later the waves were 4 to 6 footers.
The current was very strong in the fishing area because of the full moon, so we didn't waste any time getting anchored up. There weren't any other Rocky Point fishing boats out there that we could see.
We started with cut sardines on 2-hook bottom rigs and were hooked up right away to a beautiful 50 pound black sea bass, the biggest fish we had ever caught out of Rocky Point.
Before long we had another bite, but when I set the hook, it didn't move. It kind of felt like I was rocked up, so I pulled up with all my might.
My fishing rod doubled over and line began to strip from my reel even though the drag was set as hard as it would go. I struggled for a while, just trying to hold my own, grunting and groaning. I had Tina put a fighting belt around my waist to minimize the bruising from the rod butt. The fish pulled harder than you can imagine.
After about 10 minutes of exerting all my energy, I finally began to slowly gain some line. After I had gotten about half of the 260 feet of line back on the reel, the line started to level out, as if the fish was swimming to the surface. Pretty soon Tina spotted it at the surface, about 100 feet behind the boat. These big fish swell up like balloons when they are brought to the surface. It was a huge black sea bass that had to be 200 pounds. We measured the fish at 61 inches long with a 45 inch girth. We hooked up with 2 more huge fish that both broke free.
Monday, Nov. 6th:
We wanted to try night fishing, so we trolled along the shoreline and caught some corvina. We sliced 1/2 inch steaks from the sea bass and fried them with light breading in olive oil. We both thought it was very good. Not our favorite fish, but still delicious.
Tuesday, Nov. 7th:
We headed to fish a couple reefs at 25 to 28 miles from Rocky Point. The seas were rough again. At the first reef, we caught a 15-pound white sea bass. Later we tried another reef and caught a dozen small 2 to 3 pound goldspotted bass.
Wednesday, Nov. 8th:
We stayed close to shore and trolled deep divers near the estuary, but didn't have any luck. The water was just full of endless schools of small minnows, so the fish were probably full. The seagulls, terns, cormorants, boobies and pelicans were catching minnows all around us.
Thursday, Nov. 9th:
We were blown out, so we relaxed at the beach.
Friday, Nov. 10th:
We decided to try fishing at the 51-mile reef again. The winds had died down some, but there were large swells from Thursday's winds. We caught bait and had headed nearly 40 miles south of Rocky Point when I decided to go no further. We were low on fuel. We tried fishing where we were and did catch one 5-pound corbina, but then started back. We stopped to fish a while at a reef 20 miles from shore and caught one gold spot bass.
Saturday, Nov. 11th:
We woke to near perfect conditions. We had been freezing bait the past few days, so we were ready for a full day of fishing at the 51 mile reef. We stopped at the 5-mile reef and caught some grunts and mackerel for live bait and then cruised south to the deep reef at over 30 m.p.h. At 48 miles from Rocky Point we saw some finback whales and were surprised to see them already. Typically we see the first ones in February.
We reached the 51 mile reef at 10:30 a.m. and set anchor. Two boats were already there. Right away I was hooked up with another huge fish. It had to be another black sea bass. It was another terrific fight that lasted about 20 minutes. It was another huge black sea bass at about 200 pounds. We measured the fish at 59 inches with a 44 inch girth.
Four more Rocky Point fishing boats arrived. Everyone started catching fish, including a few more black sea bass. I caught a 20 pound leopard grouper next, my biggest one yet. Then the halibut started biting. Tina caught a 10-pound halibut and I caught a 30-pounder, my biggest one yet. It was a great day. Then the red snapper started biting and Tina caught a nice 15-pounder. Then the goldspotted bass started biting and we caught several from 6 to 8 pounds. We then caught another smaller leopard grouper before the bite slowed.
At 2 p.m., we decided to head back early. At about 48 miles from Rocky Point we saw about a dozen finback whales and followed them around for some time. One of the whales surfaced right next to the boat and I watched as it swam right below us, probably within a foot or so from touching the boat.
It was one of the best vacations ever at Rocky Point. We really love it down there. Our next fishing trip is planned for after Thanksgiving.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from Rocky Point and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Rocky Point may be found at Mexfish.com's main Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) page.