How it Started
For some guys, a Harley Davidson would do it. For others it takes a Fender Strat. Me? I entered a Big Game Fishing tournament in Tobago.
Yep, turning 40 is a weird experience for a guy. It’s not enough that we have to watch all our bits drooping and find ourselves shouting at the TV, we’ve got to ward off middle-age by doing something so out of character that it makes all sane people tut-tut with amazement. Up until that fateful fortieth year, I’d never caught the Big One - a billfish. But I’d dreamt of it, and that was the driving force. I had tried a couple of blue-water trips whilst on holidays in various exotic places, but it’s not the same - to catch a specific species needs focus. And the impending birthday provided just the focus I needed.
So I reasoned that the folks down there would not hold a marlin competition when there was no marlin, I chartered a boat, filled in the entrance forms and went to Tobago with fingers and toes crossed.
Against all the odds I did get my marlin too - a small Blue on my first day – and I followed it up the next day with another one. I didn’t win the tournament (I came 4th I think) but I was solidly and completely hooked on marlin fishing.
And, like most obsessive compulsives, I started collecting.
White marlin were next on my hit list and a trip to La Guaira in Venezuela scratched that itch in short order. The Black was tricky, but Tropic Star in Panama will virtually guarantee you one and I had mine in the first half hour of fishing. At 550lbs it was no slouch and I hurt for days after that.
That left Stripey…and all my research pointed to one place and one place only: Cabo San Lucas.
I contacted some charter companies by email (this was 2002 – there was no book online option then!) and the most helpful was Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces. She went so far as to tell me NOT to come when I had planned to as the chances of me catching one at that time were slim. That’s someone worth listening to right there: not many operators will turn down a charter in the slow season.
My first trip was not a great success however. Well, let’s be serious, I did get a 200lb+ Yellowfin and a nice Sailfish. But the money-fish, a Striped marlin, eluded me.
Normally that would dampen my enthusiasm for a place but there was just something about Cabo…I had never been anywhere that was like a ‘normal’ tourist resort yet was virtually built on Sportfishing. I was used to finding myself in fishing camps in the middle of nowhere and lights out was normally at 9pm. Cabo sure was a shock to the system! Plus, although I wasn't catching marlin I could see by the flags on the returning boats that plenty of other folks were. The fish were out there for sure.
I booked to come back a few months later and I caught not one, not two, not three, not four…but FIVE striped marlin in 4 days fishing.
Now then: Until that day I had been used to one or two fish in 6 days, if I was lucky. This was a revelation, and not only that, I was being told that it was possible to catch double figures of marlin in a day, if I came at the right time.
I made it my business to find out when that right time was and I made doubly sure I was here in Cabo during those times.
And yes, I have now caught double figures of striped marlin in one day, but more of that later.
This, therefore, is a series of little articles and vignettes of my experiences of fishing in Los Cabos. I can’t guarantee that you will find words of wisdom or that you will learn anything new about marlin fishing (there are far more expert fishermen than me in Cabo after all!), but you may get a little insight as to the magic of this place and, if nothing else, it may serve as a warning as to the addictive nature of Cabo. You saw Breaking Bad right? Marlin are more addictive than crystal meth. Much more.
Father, Scotsman, Cabo Fishaholic, Writer...in that order
(Chic McSherry has been visiting Cabo four or five times a year to fish since 2002 and has caught over 100 Striped marlin plus numerous other species in that time. He is also the Chief Executive of iTravel-Cabo)