WINTER GROUPER FISHING ABOARD THE BOAT "JUST HAMMERED"
Jan. 26-27, 2007, Jesse White, Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco), Sonora, Mexico:
Jeff Boyd, my partner on the 23-foot Sea Hunt boat we've named "Just Hammered," and I headed out of Rocky Point around 9 a.m. to a fairly stiff breeze but the seas weren't terrible.
After stopping at one of our bait reef stops 3 to 5 miles out of Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco), we headed further out to try fishing at a few reefs 12 to 16 miles out. The sea water temperature was around 58 degrees and the tide was incoming, but very minor. There was only a few feet of tide change this weekend.
We drifted the heck out of our first fishing stop, but with no success. We moved a few miles to another reef and managed to boat one gulf grouper at about 30 to 35 pounds. We caught this fish in roughly 50 feet of water.
We ran into a few groups of large whales 15 or so miles off shore, very cool! The northern Sea of Cortez laid down and we cruised back to port with a beautiful sunset at our backs.
This morning we had our buddy Frank from Phoenix meet us at the dock at Rocky Point, so we were three strong this day.
We awoke early to try to get an early start on the water in an attempt to finally hit the 51 mile reef.
Mother nature had other plans, as the winds were high and the air temperature was chilly. We had heard of plans for a small group of 2 or 3 boats to head out to the 51 mile reef together, but I know those plans were changed with the ocean conditions. We made a few baits in the Rocky Point harbor area with sabiki rigs, some sort of very shiny fish, sort of like a mackerel.
The wind didn't die down, but we decided to head out on the water anyhow.
We stopped again 3 to 5 miles out of Rocky Point near some pangas braving the rolling seas and fishing nearby reefs, and we decided to hang out there for a while and make bait.
We caught the ever present calico bass, or spotted bay bass, a couple of fish that looked like baby yellowtail, and a few mackerel, which never seem to make it very long in the bait well.
We stuck it out at this area until about 11 a.m. due to the 4-foot rollers and strong winds. We then decided to brave the conditions, donned the foul weather gear and began to crosscut the rollers heading out to the deeper reefs at 16 to 22 miles out.
We drifted for a few hours with only two hits, reeling in a chewed up mackerel and a calico bass that had teeth marks on its belly.
The seas began to calm down, making for a great afternoon on the water. At 2 p.m., Frank hooked into a good fish. He managed to keep him off the bottom and after 10 minutes or so boated a nice gulf grouper that we and a local captain later on shore estimated at 60 pounds or so. After toasting the catch with a round of Pacifico's, it was back in the water to try to get our first two-fish day.
Luck struck again at around 2:45 p.m. in the same area when Jeff hooked into a monster! He was fishing the bow, sitting on the rail, and it was a funny sight to turn around after hearing a "fish on" call and see him being literally yanked to the back corner of the boat, sliding on his heels half the way! I got him a belt and after a good fight, he pulled in a great fish that was estimated at around 100 pounds!
Now by this time I was beginning to wonder when the heck the fishing gods would shine on me and let me get my first grouper. I didn't have to wait long, because about an hour after Jeff caught his fish, I finally hooked into one. After a few cranks getting him off the bottom without much of a fight, I told the guys, "this is a little one." Not two seconds after I said that, the fish made a big run for the bottom! He got into a cave or around a rock, and I was hung up big time. For the next 15 minutes or so we drove in circles, tried letting out slack for a few seconds, sipped on Pacifico's and whatever else we could think of but the fish would not budge. Jeff then put on gloves and worked the line with his hands for a half minute or so and he managed to pull the fish free! I cranked hard to get the upper hand on him and had him to the boat in a few minutes, another nice gulf grouper at maybe 60 to 70 pounds.
What a weekend! We weren't even going to go out in the conditions and it ended up being the best fishing day we have had in Rocky Point!
We had the boys at the marina next to Safe Marina clean the fish and we headed home to clean up and vacuum pack the fish. We were ecstatic to fill up the freezer for awhile and are planning on having a big fish fry on Super Bowl Sunday. The fish is great tasting!
The water temperature off Rocky Point ranged from 58 to 59 degrees and we fished in 115 to 130 feet of water with minimal current, but lots of surface wind for most of the day.