This was posted by Michael one of the anglers on the Tony Reyes boat on June 14th 2009. Steve E. is the charter master for this trip year after year and he really knows San Felipe and the Sea of Cortez and has a deep passion for Mexico and fishing. Steve has been running this charter for years and if you are thinking of going next year and aren’t sure when to go, you should consider Steve’s trip as he makes it enjoyable from beginning to end. This report was posted on Bloody Decks forum and with permission I am able to re-post it here. Thank you so much Michael for taking the time to write this and share your trip with us.
Fishing can take you from the highest high to the lowest low in seconds. When it is your day to get them you can do no wrong; when it is not your day to get them it can occur to you that you have done something to make God angry at you. Spending a week with a group of people on a boat gives you a close look at a persons character because how they handle the highs and lows says a lot about them.
For me the fish I have lost leave as much of an impression on me as the fish that I have landed, maybe it is the sense of failure you feel when you lose a fish. It is having to go back and rethink the whole process and what you could have done different a bunch of times that is painful. Still the unattainable pursuit of landing every fish, the adventure, comradarie , perspective, unknown, ups and downs and all that comes with fishing trips keeps me wanting more.
One of my favorite trips of the year is a week in the Sea of Cortez on the Tony Reyes, the countdown for the trip starts when we get off of the boat and most of our group has dinner together one final time. This year was no different it had been 51 weeks since most of us had seen eachother, Steve Enright the chartermaster, was especially fired up to fish as last year he had a broken shoulder and was not able to fish, in his excitement he failed to bring his extensive collection of heavy irons, to his credit he fills his trips with multiple tackle hoes so he was not lacking for anything.
Most of our group met in Calexico at a fine dining establishment that offers 99 cent tacos, I was fortunate enough to be able to hitch a ride with Dennis and Ann, I met up with them in Gila Bend and rode the rest of the way to san felipe with them. So after we all had our fill we headed acrossed the border. The border crossing was rather uneventful, one of our caravan of 6 got pulled into the secondary check for further inspection the rest of us continued on at a slow pace till they caught up. It is about 120 miles from the border to San Felipe, the road was in very good shape, our charter master commented on how good the road was at our on brief pit stop, 2 miles later we ran into a 10 mile stretch of dirt road, it will be nice when they finish that highway.
We arrived in San Felipe around 3 and headed to the boat to unload, the usual crackheads and scalawags were there to assist in unloading of the gear, I left all my stuff on the boat with the exception of my reel bag, I have never had anything taken from the boat but it always feels a little weird to leave all your stuff on a boat. The boat does hire a guy to watch the boat but it is a little unsettling.
Our next stop was the hotel, Dennis had made reservations a number of times with the El Caribe but they apparently had lost them so after a brief Mexican standoff we got the 8 rooms we were looking for and at 45 bucks a piece it was not to bad.
San Felipe was not a very busy town, tourism is down as perception and fear of the flu has affected a lot of Mexico.
Most of us had dinner on Friday night at the Baja Mar, it was a lively bunch and for the first time a when the check came Dennis did not have to shell out extra money for people who can’t do math, 20 bucks is what we told everyone to pay.
The next morning we were supposed to leave for the boat around 8, and after grabbing some coffee and sending an email home to let everyone know I was not murdered by a border drug cartel we had breakfast and headed to the boat. As with any trip there is always a curve ball, Tony, let us know he would not be going on our trip. This was not what anyone would consider welcome news but we were there to fish so whether he was going or not we had to fish.
Around 11 after the boat got a new starter and a few of the passengers got a few drinks and a few ogles from a local transvestite, with exceptionally large calves, broad shoulders and protruding adams apple (you know who you are) we were on our way.
The boat was in good shape, the best thing that thye did was take the old ac units out of the galley, you know the ones in the corner everyone has smashed their head into.
After the usual first day lunch of club sandwiches we had a meeting to talk about fishing , panga assignments , jackpot and a few other things. We were headed to snake island to fish yellowtail, fishing had been good there and we were hoping for good things.
I used the rest of the afternoon to service a few reels and put mono on the rods I brought along, I went light and only brought 8 this year.
After the chili relleno dinner I made sure my jig box was ready for the morning and went to bed to try to sleep, the night before fishing I sleep horribly.
After tossing and turning most of the night the boat throttled down and dropped the anchor about 4am and I got up to watch the pangas get unloaded and the sun rise. Our pangero Marcos was ready to roll about 5:15 we were first out of the gate.
The morning did not start on a positive note for the guys in my panga, Pat forgot his backpack and as we rolled up to our first spot of working birds Thomas reared back to cast and promptly threw his rod in the water never to be seen again. It is kind of surreal to sea how fast a rod sinks, I think Trinidads sink faster than any other reel because they are more expensive.
With all the crap out of the way early my first cast with a pink and silver candybar got boiled on twice on my first cast, the second cast I was on and the rest of the guys followed suit. We got a few on the surface for the first 45 minutes but once the other boats showed up they sunk out fast so down we went. The scrambled egg heavy jig was hot I got fish on 5 consecutive drops, it was one of the best yellowtail bites I have been in, most of the fish were in the 20 pound range. By 9am we headed to the boat to unload our panga as the kill box was full, as we unloaded we counted 36 yellowtail we had caught. With tired arms we headed back out for a few more hours and managed another 6 for the morning as well as one good cabrilla for Thomas and a few bass. Our big fish for the morning was 24 pounds.
The highlight for me was catching 2 yellows on my curado 300 loaded with 50 pound spectra and a ¾ ounce castmaster with a bucktail. It is fun to fish straight spectra, you feel everything. We were high panga for the morning but did not have jackpot, I think Steve got it on a 27 pound Yellowtail.
After lunch, a shower, a gallon of water and a 2 hour nap it was time for some more.
We stayed at snake island for the afternoon session and managed 8 more yellows most yo-yoed on the baby shit 6x jr, along with a few bass and whitefish
This was the best yellowtail fishing I have ever been a part of.
The next mornig after sleeping much better I awoke to find us anchored at san frisquito, we headed out early again and fished the shore for cabrillaand only managed 1, about 9 am the yellows decided they wanted to play and we managed 7 of the bigger models.
There were a few rays out there that decided to give us a show by jumping 6 feet out of the water and do a few flips.
I believe it was this morning where the Jackpot of the trip was caught by ed, it was a 90 pound grouper.
It was this morning that I had to relearn the lesson of retying when I feel any type of fray in my line. I landed a fish and felt my line and felt a small fray, I thought I would retie after the next fish, that is a bad idea. I hooked a good yellowtail and was on for a minute when the line snapped.
Around 11 am the radio started to chatter and marcos told us all pangas were ordered to get back to the boat right away, this is never a good thing. I knew something bad had happened but was not sure what. Sure enough the engineers sister had died that morning and we had to make a move to LA bay to drop him off so he could be with his family.
After dropping him off we fished around LA Bay but nothing was going on with the exception of a bonita that was released we headed for a beach and found some clams for a future lunch, it was nice to jump in the water the long afternoon of no fish.
We headed back to the boat and had some yellowtail sashimi that was excellent and a dinner of beef stroganoff. After dinner we made some bait, we had a decent amount of it to.
Much to the chagrin of the captain we headed south to Estaban the night before, and were there for some cabrilla fishing. We loaded up some bait and headed out. The cabrilla were not interested in the bait but were more than happy to chew on some iron. It was good fishing for about an hour and we managed 17 cabrilla, all on iron and after a trip around the island fishing all kinds of spots we went to try to dropper loop in 300 feet of water, the current was real strong but I did manage li hook one yellowtail. We brought most of our bait back to the boat to use that afternoon.
The cook had made ceviche in the morning and we ate that and spaghetti for lunch while we made a move.
That afternoon we got very little bait and it was a point of very spirited discussion while we headed to our fishing spot, we made probably a hundred pieces the night before and got to use a total of 20 between the morning and afternoon. I did manage a pargo and a yellowtail on the dropper loop, the yellow kicked my ass soundly.
About 4pm we got called into a yellowtail bite and off we all went, it was worth it as we ended up with 18 for the afternoon, all yo-yoed on the baby shit 6xjr. We were on the south end of snake island.
After a dinner of Bay Bass we went to fish some squid, they showed up in about 10 minutes and they were shallow. It took about an hour and we got all we wanted, they were big squid 30-50 pounds. It also gave us some bait for the next day.
We made a move to the mainland and headed out to fish for pargo, we had some squid and dead mackerel for bait. The pargo did not want to play although we did manage 4 pargo for the day included a 11.5 pounder that I managed that ended up being jackpot.
We caught and released some bass and I got one sheephead as well. We headed back to the boat for some enchiladas and a move to Gonzaga Bay for the afternoon session.
The afternoon was slow, the triggers were all over the squid we were using for bait, around 5:30 we hooked 3 tuatuava, 2 of them broke off and one of them was landed and promptly released unharmed. No one caught much that afternoon, one boat did manage a huge ray, the guy was on it for about 2 hours.
We started making bait before the carne asada dinner was served and continued to after dinner, it started to pick up when the announced we were moving to the enchanted islands to make bait and fish the final morning. They said the worst thing that could be said, the enchanted islands have more bait. Needless to say at 10 pm when we arrived until 1:15 am when we stopped trying we caught 1 mackeral. We did manage to net some flying fish but it was not what we were looking for.
Don’t leave bait to find bait.
Day 5 am
With very little bait and even less sleep we headed out to find cabrilla, after we anchored on a reef and dropped a bait down it was promptly torn apart by trigger fish. We managed 2 cabrilla for the morning 12 and 13 pounds and our bait lasted 10 minutes, so at 6am we were left to fish with squid chunks and jigs.
We managed a few bass but not much else. Around 9 with some excited chatter on the radio we got word that the corvine were going off, so off we went on a 45 minute ride that almost ended early for us when we missed a whale shark of considerable size by about 6 inches.
We got to the area with all the other pangas as the bite was shutting down we managed a few on the iron but nothing like we were looking for, after a few moves we found a school and proceeded to put the wood to them, every drop of the chrome jig on the curado produced a fish.
We got what we wanted of the 4-5 pound croakers and called it good and headed back to the boat where the crew washed our gear and loaded the pangas.
Lunch was clams and burritos, those were some good clams.
We pulled into San Felipe about 9:30 and some of the guys were sad the tranny was not there to greet them.
After checking in to our hotel we went to dinner again and talked about how fast it went and how we could not wait until next year.
Most of us hit the road Saturday morning at 6, we went throught 2 military checkpoints and had a one hour wait at the border with not problems. Dennis and Ann dropped me off in Gila Bend and I was home in the early afternoon. Thanks for the ride guys
If you like fishing adventures I can not recommend this trip enough, the trip was $995 which includes all your food, soda, beer, permits, fish cleaning and vacuum sealing.
The boat is clean, there are 6 heads and 4 showers with hot water, the rooms have cold AC. There is very little downtime and you can fish as hard as you like. This trip will make you a better fisherman, my casting has improved a whole lot since is started this trip.
Thanks again to Steve Enright who makes this thing fly.
Only 51 weeks till we go again, I can hardly wait