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August 06, 2009

Baja Striped Marlin

Targeting striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas

Last fall, I jumped at an opportunity to fish out of Cabo San Lucas. Short notice and the imminent Thanksgiving holiday made it tough to find a companion, but my son Jesse was able to get off work in the nick of time. He'd cut his teeth on giant wahoo in the Bahamas and marlin off Cat Island, but it had been a decade since we'd really fished together. We were overdue for an expedition.

The winter of 2007 produced an epic striped marlin bite off Cabo, unprecedented in years just prior, and that's saying a lot for a place where the fishing has a reputation for being spectacular most of the time. We were hoping it would repeat for us. As I did my pretrip due diligence, checking the Internet for fishing reports, a Los Angeles Times story popped up, written a couple of weeks before we were supposed to be in Mexico.

Anglers were catching and releasing 15 to 20 striped marlin a day. At Golden Gate Bank, the writer, in a flush of enthusiasm if not originality, said the stripes were "stacked up like cordwood." It sounded like the toll of doom. When the fishing is that good a couple of weeks before you are scheduled to arrive, it surely can't last, but you gotta suit up anyway.

Unlike my offshore trips in the past, I balked this time at packing piles of gear. We were booked into the Solmar Resort, with two days of fishing included. On subsequent trips maybe we'd tailor our gear, but this time we opted to keep it simple and learn the local drill. We met up, Jesse from Sacramento, California, and me from Newark, New Jersey, at the airport in San Jose del Cabo with nothing more than hotel reservations and our sunglasses.
Our first fishing day was a short shakedown. We taxied to the marina in downtown Cabo, climbed aboard the El Compromise, picked up our bait in the harbor and headed into the Pacific, past El Arco, the trademark stone arch at the tip of the peninsula, as the sun rose.