The One (or Two) that Got Away
July 18, 2016
So, Mike told me I had to write this blog post, because apparently fishermen are known for telling “tall tales.” As a witness to our Mike’s fishing experience today, my description will hopefully be unbiased (for whatever that is worth!).
Before I tell you what happened today, I have to give a little background. I do not have much fishing experience. Most of my experience fishing has been reeling in the trolling lines we set out when sailing or trying to learn how to “jig” when we go fishing in the dinghy. Mike, on the other hand, has been fishing for a long time. He would often go out on 3 or 4 day fishing charters out of San Diego, where he would inevitably come back with more fish than my freezer could hold. Whenever he hooks up on a fish, he’ll say “it’s a yellowtail” or “it’s just a skippy (skipjack)”. I’ll look over the side searching the water to see the fish and when I realize it is still down pretty deep, I’ll turn to him and ask, incredulously, “how to do you know?”. He’ll always say “I can just tell.” I’m still amazed when he pulls up the fish he knew it would be.
We pulled into San Evaristo on Friday and anchored in about 15 feet of water. There was just one other sailboat anchored here and several fishing pangas along the shoreline. San Evaristo is a small fishing village with about 20 full time families that live here. The fishing pangas come and go during the day dropping off their catch to be sold in larger markets like La Paz. We walked around the little town the first day and found the only store here that we assume gets some produce in once a week. Unfortunately, when we were arrived at the end of the week, all that was left on the floor were a few boxes of rotting fruits and vegetables. They have some other staples like canned goods, but they look like they had been there for some time. There are a few homes and lean-to huts that dot the shoreline, as well as a small desalination plant where the locals get their fresh water. The large Sierra Gigante mountains create the dramatic backdrop around the bay. It is sparse, unspoiled and beautiful.
Before our fishing adventure, we decided to snorkel around the rocky points in the bay. The numbers of fish and variety were spectacular. We saw lots of angelfish, damselfish, wrasses, triggerfish, and a school of juvenile jacks. The visibility was only 15-20 feet, and we wish it had been better, but it did not ruin the amazing time we had snorkeling. Mike set out to try and find clams which we read we could find down in the sandy bottoms of the harbors. The most popular clams in the Sea are called chocolates (choc-o-la-tays). After diving down quite a few times and digging around in the sand, he came up short. But, he found really large scallops on the rocks about 15 feet down. Because the only scallops we have had came from a restaurant or bought from the fish market, we took one as a test case. We had a book that showed how to clean the scallop, and after somewhat butchering it, we were able to pull the meat out. We cooked it in a little butter and garlic, and it was sweet and delicious. We might have to go back for more!
After the snorkeling adventure, we set out in the dinghy to do some fishing. The snapper that we previously caught was delicious and fed us for a few nights, but we were after some more fish! We started fishing around one of the rocky points leading out of the bay. After a few tries, Mike’s line went “zing!” The reel kept pulling and pulling as I was quickly reeling mine in as fast as possible to get it out of the way. Mike was yelling “look at him run” as we realized that the fish was pulling our 10 foot dinghy out to sea! And, just as quickly as it happened, it ended. The darn thing bit through his line and took the lure with it. We both looked at each other and said “what was that?!”
We continued fishing down the coastline and periodically mentioned the crazy fish that we almost caught, still trying to guess at what could have pulled our dinghy like that. After a couple of hours of only pulling in a couple of triggerfish and needlefish (all of which we let swim on), we decided to start to head back to the boat. As we came up on the rocky point where the monster fish stole our lure in the beginning, we decided to try a little longer before calling it a day. Just as I was starting to say that all of the fish must have gone home, Mike’s reel “zinged” again. We were once again on a wild ride where the fish was pulling the dinghy as it pulled Mike’s line out of the reel. We had recently watched the movie In the Heart of the Sea (the basis for Moby Dick) and I couldn’t help but think of the scene where they harpooned the whale and it was towing their small boat.
I was scrambling to get my GoPro out of my bag to catch the whole thing on video as we were flying along towed by the fish, and then suddenly there was a huge splash on the surface in the direction we were headed. The splash was at least as big as our 10 ft dinghy. Mike and I both screamed “Woah!” at the same time. Mike was standing up at the bow of the dinghy trying to keep the pressure on the beast, as I was at the outboard getting ready to put the boat in gear if this fish decided to try and take us into the rocks. And, just like the last time, suddenly he was gone. Spit the hook. Mike was yelling all kinds of obscenities as I was wide eyed trying to just process what the hell kind of fish was on the end of that line! Whatever it was, we obviously wouldn’t have pulled it into the dinghy. But, I know Mike wanted the satisfaction of reeling it in. And, we both want to know “what the hell was that?!” We don’t have any really good guesses. There are lots of large marlin in the Sea, but they are top feeders and we were jigging on the bottom. Maybe a large grouper? Seems hard to believe. Any good guesses?
Anyway, it was a fun day and left us with a good story to tell. Mike says it was definitely the largest fish he’s ever hooked, and I know he’s pulled in some big ones. We’re going to lovingly refer to the monster as Moby Dick. Seems appropriate.
Our next stop is going to be Puerto Los Gatos. So, we will update you on the next leg of our adventure from there.