All That Glitters...
If there is one place that pretty much sums up how unique the marlin fishery is in Cabo it is Golden Gate.
It only fishes well at certain times of the year when the bait stacks up, and for me that has always been early winter (around November/December) but in 2014 we were getting lots of fish out there as late into spring as May.
My understanding is that it is an undersea rise or mount with a current running over it, and that aggregates the plankton which brings the bait and starts an enormous food-chain of birds, marlin, sea-lions and Sei whales. It is like being in the middle of a Discovery Channel program.
I cut my teeth fishing for brown trout in the lochs of Scotland and the technique was simple: You tied three small flies to the leader and cast ahead of the boat as it drifted in the wind across the loch.
This is more or less what happens on Golden Gate. Well, you don’t use flies, but the principle is the same. The boats pick a spot, cast out some livebaits and then drift in the current waiting for a strike. It is like no other marlin fishery I have experienced, and I have caught every species of marlin in every ocean in the world.
Some baits are weighted so that they go down and others are on the surface. I like the surface baits because you can see the action and almost feel the marlin approach as the bait gets nervous.
A surface take is a sight to see: the pectoral fins of the marlin light up as the predator closes for the kill and then that distinctive bill slices through the water as it engulfs the bait and turns to make off with it’s meal.
I use a spinning reel these days – only because I can’t for the life of me cast a multiplier – so I just drop the line and let the marlin run. It will always be circle hook on the end so I can take my time: the allegedly poor hook-up rates on circles are invariably caused by anglers being too hasty to set them.
Once enough time has elapsed, or Roberto has yelled “Ahora amigo!” at me, I flip the bale over and let the fish run on the drag. You don't strike or pull into the fish, just let the drag and the physics do the work.
Now we’re off to the races.
Fights at Golden Gate are not the normal fish versus man. There are normally around 40 -50 other boats for a start and at any one time half or more will also be hooked up, sometimes to more than one marlin at the same time. It is complete madness and you will find that your fish may well wrap itself around another line or go under another boat, requiring the Captain to back up to said boat, switch round rods and lines and have deckies run to the front to pass your rod back.
It’s fishing Jim, but not as we know it.
Once I was fishing alone with the crew and we hooked four Striped marlin simultaneously. I asked the deckie if he wanted to fight one and he just said “Por que?” and sat on the transom with a smile on his face while I fought each one in turn, refusing to give me a hand until it was time to leader the fish, and enjoying every bit of it. We got them all, thanks mainly to the skill of Roberto on the wheel.
It was here on Golden Gate that I caught my double figures of marlin. Three times it has happened; twice with a fishing partner and once on my own.
Ok…so that time on my own? Well, one of the fish has to go down as a Mexican release, and I’ll fess up to it publicly now.
The fish in question took my bait and was solidly hooked. I had been fighting it for a good 10 or 15 minutes when it came towards the boat and jumped right behind us. Roberto still had a bait in the water so he started to get his line in out of the way and my fish promptly chased after his bait! Not only that, it ate the thing and tore off on another run. When Roberto tightened into the fish his hook caught my hook and pulled it clean out! We got the two hooks back intertwined.
So I’m counting it ok? I know you would too.