Dorado and tuna fishing in Cabo | iTravel-Cabo.com
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Don't forget the smaller stuff

When you go out there on the ocean you never really know what you will catch, and that is one of the truly great things about Cabo: there is always something to put a bend in your rod.

Since 2002 I can only count on one hand the number of times I have been skunked: now THAT isn’t something that I could say about many places where I have fished in the world. In Scotland I have even been skunked in a whole year fishing for Atlantic Salmon (which is why I go to Russia for those now.)

Dorado is probably the #2 fish in these waters and at times they can stack up in stupid numbers. I have been out there and watched schools of literally hundreds of these gorgeous fish pass beneath the boat. Some folks take full advantage of this bounty and hammer them, killing every single one. I kinda get that; they are very numerous and they breed so fast you could be forgiven for thinking they will never run out…and, of course, they taste so darned good.

That flavor will probably be their downfall eventually. What species doesn’t suffer terminal decline when mankind likes to eat it after all? Mexican law is supposed to protect these fish from commercial fishing and, although you would never know it if you walk around the marina, it is illegal to sell it in restaurants. There is even good research indicating that Dorado are being smuggled into the USA by the Cartels, laundering their dirty money and passing the fish off as Costa Rican Mahi-mahi. If true, that is a very worrying development.

They have a rapid lifestyle do Dorado – growing to full maturity within a year and being a very old fish at 2 or 3 years. So it is likely that the average sized fish that you catch will be no more than a year or 18 months old. That rate of growth gives them a voracious appetite, which is good for fishermen as it’s not exactly hard to get them to take a lure or a bait, as long as you find them first that is.

The color changes always amaze me. Free swimming in the water they glow neon blue, on hook-up they change to electric blue and silver changing again to green and gold as the fight ends. It’s a wonder of nature right there on the end of your line.

These days I try to release as many as I can. I and my friends can only eat so many after all, so the rest are best released if they can be. That is kinda tricky of course: unlike a marlin there is no bill to get a hold of. What helps is that I have taken to using light spinning rigs for most small species. This means that I get a good fight on the light gear (most charter companies are rigged too heavy for small species and you just crank them in which isn’t much fun really) and we use smaller hooks so we get a shot at either slipping it out or just cutting the fish off close to the knot. I have an idea that those Ketchum release tools may work if I can get one on a long enough handle and with a wide enough gape. Might be worth a shot one day.

A word on cutting off fish: some may think it cruel and unnecessary to leave a hook in a fish and I can’t really argue with this. My only justification comes from a conversation with an Australian commercial fisherman  that I met in Melbourne who used to catch Coral trout for the local restaurants. To speed things up they would just cut the lines at the hook and drop the fish into the holding tank before transporting to the dock. He told me that almost every single fish had gotten rid of the hook within 12 hours and they collected them up and re-used them on the next trip. I may be deluding myself, but that was good enough for me.

Yellowfin tuna are next on the list of Cabo regulars and at times they are present in enormous numbers, mostly football sized it has to be said. The great thing with tuna is that they generally swim with dolphins and around Cabo the schools of mixed species of dolphins have to be seen to be believed. I have seen schools of literally thousands of them and some of the days of greatest peace in my life have been spent following these vast aggregations of mammals and watching them hunt and play. It is very special.

I confess, however, that I am not a huge fan of catching tuna. With the small ones you get a decent initial run but then it is just a direct crank in, unless I am using my spinning gear and then it is a little more interesting. The opposite end of the scale comes with the big fish, and since Cabo holds the all tackle world record for Yellowfin tuna then you better believe that there are big ones around. They are painful and boring at the same time!

My first monster tuna came when I was trolling for marlin. I saw it come out of nowhere and it smacked the large orange lure in the prop-wash like it was a red-headed stepson. My immediate thought was: “This is gonna take a while.”

Two hours later I was regretting ever waking up that morning. Big tuna go deep and are just plain dogged. They also swim in huge circles so for a while you actually think that you are winning, because they are swimming towards you; it gives you hope that this pain will stop soon. And then they turn around and swim off again and you have to hold back the tears as every inch, and then some, of the line you just won with so much sweat and effort peels smoothly and effortlessly off the reel.

When I finally brought that first big one in, my hands were shaking like Ozzie Osbourne’s and I had deep gouges and bruises in my thighs from where I had gripped the rod with them for extra purchase and the reel bolts had dug into me. I was in pain for about a week. A lot of pain.

I have had a few other tuna in that category, memorably pulling the hook on one which was just as big right at the boat after 90 gruelling minutes. I was actually glad – you can’t safely release a fish this size and at least it got to live another day. All I got for my trouble was the pain.

So no, I am not a big fan of big tuna.

Wahoo are found around Cabo too but not in great numbers, although it could be that the fleet do not target them specifically and they could be much more numerous than we think. My best was 65lbs and, mysteriously, that one came straight to the boat without the slightest fight. Normally wahoo will take off for the horizon the minute you set the hook which makes them one of the most exciting fish to catch, aside from marlin of course.

All of this adds up to an interesting and varied day out – which is exactly why Cabo has the deserved reputation of a world-class game fishing destination.

Gets my vote every time.

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