PANGA OUTING WITH CAPT. HUGO PINO OF FRANCISCO'S FLEET
Dec. 24, 2004, Stan Woodward, Playa Palmilla, San Jose del Cabo fishing, Baja California Sur, Mexico:
I fished last weekend with Hugo Pino of Francisco's Fleet, formerly Victor's, launching out of Playa Palmilla.
We pushed off the Playa Palmilla beach each morning at 6 a.m. in the dark and ran along the beach to Punta Gorda and then out to the Gordo Banks to make chihuil for bait. The run was chilly and a warm jacket was welcome. Turning out to the bank, it was bumpy, as current built up offshore, but boat pressure was light, only 8-10 pangas making bait each morning. The chihuil were cooperating and we made 13 pieces on Saturday and a magical 21 pieces on Sunday. Some pangas were not as successful and ran back into the beach to buy sardinas.
With a happy bow full of chihuil we headed into fish off Cardon and La Fortuna each day and had it all to ourselves. The rest of the La Playita fleet running into fish off Punta Gorda. We slow trolled the chihuil on 25 to 30-pound mono with single and trap hooks on 60-pound wire, under overcast skies and cool temps, and the fish were there in clear blue water.
In two days we caught 17 dorado to almost 30 pounds, four 18 to 22-pound yellowfin tuna, two big sierra, a solitary triggerfish and three wahoo to 52 pound, the big guy taken by my long time Baja fishing buddy Doug Coffey of La Mesa.
Along with the exceptional fishing we were treated to watching a sea snake swim by the panga, an osprey pick a bait fish out of the surf line off Playita, and an aquatic dance of death off Zippers as a 20-pound dorado chased down a ballyhoo...still pretty cool stuff to me after almost 30 years in Baja.
Having fished with my panguero Hugo for more than 15 years, our conversation on the water drifts from family and friends to "tackle talk," to tournaments, to offshore commercial horrors. Hugo related a couple stories of commercial boats taking tons of dorado and wahoo on separate sets at 40 miles, scary stuff if half-truths at best. He also told me about an estimated 850-pound Black Marlin taken on his panga a couple months ago. I know WON had a photo but I don't know about a story. The monster was actually caught by his 18-year-old son Agustin after a 2-hour battle on the Gordo Bank after eating a bolito on 80-pound line.
On the beach, the marina is happening. Dredging is going full speed and dump trucks are shuttling dirt out of sight at a rate of a truck every few minutes. I would guess completion is 1 to 2 years out, but this is NOT going to be a hurricane hole when finished.
I can't say enough about the pangueros of Francisco's Fleet. Francisco "Mochenco" Casesus is booked through the Jig Stop in Dana Point. He was the backbone behind Victor's for years before Victor Gutierrez left. I have fished with all of them in the last dozen years, and they are all just what we want...friendly, hard working and fishy.
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