Blues, Blacks, Sails and Swordies
As dearly as I love Cabo, I wouldn’t come here to specifically target Blues or Blacks. Or even Sailfish for that matter. Some years are better than others of course; 2014 is producing a lot of Sails and Blues for example.
There is a fairly reliable run of all of them in the summer and early fall months and every year at least one monster Blue is caught. I was on another boat only a few hundred yards away from one back in 2009 when lady angler Martha Chisolm hooked into it. I won’t give the lady’s age but suffice to say she is a little older than I am. The fish dived for the floor, as Blues often do, and then sadly died. This is common around Cabo with the bigger Blues. I have a theory (here we go again…) that it is because the thermocline is fairly high up and the big fish get below it, run out of oxygen and die. It’s just a theory and I may be way off, but if you check the records you will see that more often than not these big girls die on the line around Los Cabos.
Anyway, that fish weighed in at a whopping 865lbs. And she wasn’t the biggest caught in the area.
I say ‘she’ advisedly: Blues and Blacks over 300lbs will always be female. The pattern of females being much bigger than males is common to many fish species (and to certain cities in Scotland it has to be said - if you've been, you'll know...) but is particularly pronounced in marlin species. I have noticed that sometimes you do get quite a difference in size between Striped marlin at certain times of the year and I have wondered if this is when they are in breeding form and the larger fish are females (150-180lbs) and the smaller ones (60-80lbs) are male.
I have caught both Blues and Blacks fishing in Los Cabos but they have been few and far between, which makes them all the more special when I do. One memorable day in 2010 I had two Blacks one after another, both over 300lbs, and the second putting in a screaming first run that was well over 600 yards. There was panic aboard as the lines were cleared, the boat spun around to chase it at high speed and the deckie holding on to me in case I got hauled overboard. Such is the madness of a marlin strike.
All of my Blues and Blacks have been caught on trolled lures, however they do take a live bait just the same as Striped marlin do. The problem, of course, with catching them on a lure is that unhooking the fish is difficult and one of the Blacks had to be killed because the second hook had dug in too deep. It’s fishing – it happens, but it doesn’t always sit too well when it does.
If you do want to target these magnificent fish plan your trip between late July and mid-October. In fact October is probably the best bet as the world famous Bisbees Black And Blue is held then and, as I have already said, no one would hold a tournament when there was no chance of a marlin! Of course, if you come during October you can be sure that the best boats will have been chartered for months, if not years, before to take part in the Bisbees. Not every charter company goes in for Bisbees though so you can still go, chase the fish and hang with the crowds in the marina to see the weigh-ins and enjoy the atmosphere.
Of the other two billfish, Sailfish and Swordfish, again Cabo is not a reliable bet for either.
There are Sails around in the summer but not in the numbers that you get in, say, Costa Rica. As for Swordfish, they pop up occasionally, mainly in spring. A friend of mine and one of the best captains in Cabo, TJ Dobson, reckons that if folks went out at night and fished with lumesticks they may just find a reliable Swordfish bite…we discussed it a few times over beers but somehow we never got around to trying it.
I came soooo close to catching a Swordie back in May 2013. We had been fishing all day and had caught five Striped marlin and a bunch of Dorado so we were literally just out of livebait when Roberto spotted the Swordie lying on the surface, glowing like a neon sign, warming up in the sun. Well we pitched a dead bait (all we had) at that fish for 5 minutes with no response before we were shouldered aside by Julio on a sister boat. He had a livebait ready and the obliging Swordfish took it first cast.
The angler fought it for 6 hours and the word was he hurt like hell the next day. Serve him right. I’m not bitter. Not at all.