First – choose your boat.
There is no shortage of charter companies and boat operators based in Cabo and, being a target rich environment, the quality obviously varies immensely. It’s easy to do research online now : and of course you can do extensive research right here on iTravel-Cabo, but here is a personal take on what’s what and what’s not.
There are more than a few very large sportfishers that are available to charter direct from the owner or from concierge type services. These are actually more like cruising yachts with outriggers to be honest and are not high on my list, not the least reason being the cost! After all, the fish can’t tell the difference between a 70ft Hatteras and a 31ft Bertram. I have fished on some 60ft boats and they were great, but that is perhaps as big as seems reasonable to me for a pure fishing machine.
Most of these large boats concentrate on large parties or large billfolds to make them affordable. You pays your money...
At the top end of the charter companies you can almost certainly be assured that the boat you get and the crew will be as good as they come. These charter companies have grown up with Cabo and they know what they are doing. Many of them have an office on the marina where you can go in and sit down in comfort and discuss what you want to do on your day out. They normally operate a wide range of boats of all sizes and budgets to suit everyone. For me, I prefer boats in the 30-40ft range, especially Bertrams. I have no real evidence to suggest that Bertrams are any better than any other boat, I am just used to being on them and know how they work. It's maybe just habit.
Everyone has their favorite charter company of course and far be it from me to try to influence anyone with my own: at that level a lot of it comes down to personal taste and who you want to spend the day with.
Some of the fleets have been there a long time and as such some of the boats are getting a little tired and in need of some maintenance it has to be said. Price normally, though not always, dictates the level of quality you can expect with the larger charter companies.
There is also a large number of one or two boat operators who take great pride in what they do and have a loyal band of anglers who would fish with no-one else. Some of these guys are approaching near legendary status down here in Cabo. Again, these are normally represented online and here on iTravel-Cabo so you can research them in detail before you book.
The problem comes when you arrive here in Cabo and you take a walk around the marina.
You will be asked at least 20 times during an average stroll if “ju wanna go feeshing…we’re ready right now…”
Personally I just smile and say “No gracias” – they’re only trying to make a buck after all.
However, for the unwary casual angler, this is a potential danger area.
Most of the boats hawked by these guys are getting on a little and if you go “right now” you are going at completely the wrong time. Professional fleets leave at 6.30am and there is good reason for that: you can get bait from the bait sellers in the bay, you can run all the way to where the fish are and you will get to the fish at their hungriest i.e. in the morning.
I recall a conversation with an American couple I met on a visit. They asked me how much I had paid for my charter and I told them $750. The guy slapped the table and beamed at me:” We got a charter for tomorrow for $250!” I wished them good luck.
The next night I met them again: “How did you do?” I asked.
“Oh we enjoyed our day. We didn’t catch anything but we enjoyed ourselves.”
“Really?” I asked “Where did you go?”
“Oh we went around the Arch and the bay and then went up by the lighthouse.”
I bought them a drink and told them I had done “Ok”…what I didn’t say is that I had caught 5 Striped marlin and 4 Dorado on the Golden Gate – a one hour run up the coast from where they were.
This is the nub of it; the most expensive part of the charter is the gas and if the fish are an hour run away then a $250 charter is just not gonna go that far. Would you?
The fact is that at certain times of the year (normally December/January), marlin are literally 200 yards outside the Arch for a week or so and it is then that these guys catch their marlin. They obviously take a bunch of photos and add them to their bragging book which they will show you to convince you that you have a chance at a billfish with them, even if you are only paying $250.
When the marlin aren't there, read most of the rest of the year, the most you will catch in this stretch are Sierra mackerel, the odd Dorado and maybe a Roosterfish, but only if you use livebait.
This means that if you are a serious fisherman (or woman) and you are desperate to catch a marlin, ignore the “ju wanna go feeshing” guys and go see one of the charter companies that actually have an office, or do research right here in iTravel-Cabo.
Read the fishing reports and look at the reviews, email the charter company and ask intelligent questions. See how fast they get back to you, for example. In short: do your homework.
Of course...you could save yourself even more money just by paying $50 for a boat ride around the bay.