BAJA DIVING TRIP TO BLACK MOUNTAIN NEAR PUERTECITOS
Feb. 22, 2005, Eric Friedrichsen, Puertecitos, Baja California, Mexico Fishing Trip Report:
I made a quick trip down a bit south of Puertecitos this weekend. I just loaded my kayak and other essential gear and started down the road. I got into San Felipe around 6:30 pm and stayed at a friend's hotel at the South end of town - the Ocotillo Del Mar. Nice, clean place. Did the taco thing in town then turned in so I could get an early start.
Woke up late at 6:00 am, cleaned the room, left a note and headed south. Passed GoneToBaja's place just north of Puertecitos. I stopped at the restaurant for a cup of coffee and inquired of the cook for road conditions to the south. She said the road is not too bad right now. Crews have been preparing it to be PAVED all the way from San Felipe to Laguna Chapala starting in May! I told her that I feared for the people on this last frontier (secretly I feared for my fish and my unspoiled Sea of Cortez even more) as the influx of tourism would ruin their unspoiled rustic way of life. I continued south knowing that I have mere months to enjoy this place in its unspoiled state.
I have wanted to hunt the face of Black Mountain for several years now, but I was never in the right place at the right time. I launched the kayak at a little cobble beach to the south and paddled about 2 miles north along the face of the volcano. The current was meandering south, so I clipped the kayak to the end of the float line and started drift diving back south along the face of the mountain. There are supposed to be big pargo here, but it's a "right place at the right time" thing. Today was not the right time. Viz along the volcanic face of the mountain was severely diminished to about 5 feet. There were some nice sea fans, etc. I wouldn't give up and continued my dives knowing that sooner or later I would run into something. I was wrong. After about 1/2 mile of drift diving and the chop coming up toward 3 feet, I decided to call the dive, climbed back in the kayak and paddled back to the launch spot.
I loaded back up and continued south with the destination of Gonzaga in mind. "Somewhere" between Puertecitos and Gonzaga I ran across just that area that meets all of my scouting criteria. Decided to leave the kayak and the gun and just take the pole spear. What's that saying about taking a knife to a gun fight? I hadn't been in the water for 5 minutes when I ran across the biggest and most beautiful golden grouper I have ever seen. This made the trip all worthwhile. If you've never seen one, they are a sight to behold, and a really big one, this one was approx 18 pounds, is absolutely breathtaking. They are a leopard grouper that through some rare color aberation turns gold, and I don't mean yellow or orange. Underwater these look like an iridescent guilded fish! I've passed up shots on big ones before, so I don't know if I would have taken the shot if I had brought the gun. It's just one of those things that transcends mere hunting. I think I would feel like I killed the golden child and never spear again. Anyway, there was no way I could get close enough or hit hard enough with the pole spear.
I also ran into some huge specimens of King Angelfish. There were schools of Sergeant Majors and a scattering of juvenile Mexican Hogfish. Everybody has their fish that they really like to hunt. I don't know why, but for me one of them is the Mexican Hogfish. The big males have long streaming fins and are a beautiful turquoise and purple color. They aren't exactly elusive, but they are very tricky and frustrating to hunt. They know how to stay just out of range and swim just faster than you can swing your gun. They will hole up, but their territorial instinct is so strong that if you lay very still and out of sight, they will come out on patrol. And that is when you have a golden opportunity to have them laugh at you as they dart out of range and back to cover again. Seriously, I have spent the better part of an afternoon on more than one occasion hunting one Mexican Hogfish. It's like that line from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - "Come back, and I will taunt you a second time!" Well, that was a good dissertation on Mexican Hogfish, but there were none home but the juveniles, so hunting them was never an option.
I kept checking the caves for that Golden Grouper. Eventually, I spotted just the right kind of cave, breathed up, dropped around the corner from it and peeked in. It was overcast and a little too dark, so I poked my head in a little farther. That's when this 40-lb grouper that I could now make out in the gloom got really pissed off and charged me, then turned around and split. I cracked my melon on the top of the cave trying to get out of his way. I swam back to the beach and walked back to the truck to get the gun. It was getting late. I know how I can get when I am fixated on a particular fish. Should I continue on to Gonzaga or camp here and hunt in the morning? While I was thinking about it I remembered an appointment back home. Next time I will take the camera and try to get a shot of that fantastic Golden Grouper.
My scouting trip confirmed for me that the road from San Felipe to Puertecitos is not ready for my trailer yet. The road from Puertecitos to Gonzaga is wonderful in comparison.
I stopped by the San Felipe commercial harbor this weekend on my trip south. There is a really wonderful concrete launch ramp located in the SW corner of the harbor projecting N. I have never heard or read of this ramp. To my knowledge it is not mentioned in The Baja Catch or Launch Ramps of Baja California. It looks like it would be a great place to embark on a Northern Cortez expedition in a larger trailer boat.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from San Felipe and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for San Felipe may be found at Mexfish.com's main San Felipe page.