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La Paz, Baja California Sur, MX is the capital of the state of Baja California Sur (BCS) and is a working class town of about 500,000 people. Situated on one of the biggest and best natural bays in the world, La Paz has easy access to the rich fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Because the water in the Sea of Cortez is warm, it supports a variety of marine life. The food chain is topped by "hunting fish" that eat smaller fish. These include tuna, dorado, red snapper, marlin and sailfish. La Paz is situated north of the famed Cabo San Lucas, currently the hub of BCS party life and primary tourist destination in baja. In the map below, La Paz is number 50.
Map of Baja California Sur.
The city of La Paz is situated on the south east corner of the bay and therefore the most of the town town looks to the west over the bay. This provided us with some awesome views of the great baja sunsets. Note in the map above that there are two big islands that are near the mouth of the bay. To the north is Isla Espirto Santo (spirit of the saint) and Isla Partida. To the east is Isla Cerralvo. Most of the fishing this trip was done in the channel between the point north of La Paz called Tecolote and Cerralvo. In the past we have made the long trip to the so-called "tuna hole" east of Santo, but because we had advanced intelligence that the tuna would not be there, we did not even try. We had heard via email that the tuna, while in the general area, were too far away to be reachable with the boats that we were using, so we chose to focus on the dorado and marlin and these fish hang out in the Cerralvo channel. So that is where we went for all 3 days of this trip.
The away team for this trip was Bill and Kathleen Caid (from San Diego), Bob Caid (my father from Tucson) and my brother in law Dan Porter (from LA). We met in La Paz on Monday the 5th and fished Tuesday through Friday.
A view of the Malecon looking north. The Malecon is the sea-front drive.
A nice sunset on the first evening in La Paz as seen from the Malecon.
Ready to fish on day 1.
Tons of high-priced Gringo hardware in the marina.
Buying bait from the bait man at Tecolote.
Our captain Juan Maldonado with the first dorado of the day.
Bill gets another dorado.
Kathleen seemed to be enjoying herself.
Another good sized dorado.
Kathleen got a good sized one too.
First day's catch.
On day 2, in the Cerralvo channel, I hooked a really big marlin. Juan estimated it to be over 300 pounds. Here, I got it close to the boat expecting to bring it in. Juan has his kevlar gloves on in anticipation of grabbing the leader line. The fish had other ideas - it fought for 30 minutes before we got it close to the boat. But when it sensed that the end was near, it bolted undoing all that hard work.
This fish was kicking my ass. He ran out about 100 meters and then started jumping it the air.
The marlin made many, many jumps in its attempt to get free.
Here the line is visible. Isla Cerralvo is in the distance. He is pissed and pulling hard. I fought him all the way back up to the boat and we were prepared to grab the leader and beat his brains out with a baseball bat (the normal safety procedure). But, when he got at the boat, Kathleen went to the same side of the boat as Juan and I were on. The boat rolled under the combined weight and due to the intense pull of the fish, I slipped and fell. When that happened, the line got jammed in the nose pulley of the rod. With his next attempt to flee, the marlin broke the line and he was gone for good.
While the broken line was an unfortunate turn, luck was still with us. Another marlin struck our line in a few minutes and it was Kathleen's turn. This is a big one too, although not as big as the first.
After a substantial battle lasting about 30 minutes, she got the marlin to the boat. Juan gaffed it with the "flying gaff" and we beat it to death with the ball bat. This is normal procedure because the last thing you want in your small boat is a big, strong, really mad fish with a pointed bill flopping around in the boat. Here Juan hauls it over the side.
This was a big marlin, it filled the boat - it was about 11 feet long. We had to walk over it for the balance of the day since floor space is at a premium in a small panga.
Kathleen was happy, but tired. And, the rod holding cup bruised her groin. But that was much better than not using the cup as there would have been no way to land the fish -- it was just too powerful.
"El Hongo" -- mushroom rock in one of the bays north of La Paz.
Bob was happy with the day's outcome although they did not get a marlin.
Dan was happy as well, but he did not get a marlin either.
Cleaning this bad boy was a two man task. Here Joel (the other captain) holds the fish while Juan rips the skin off. Meanwhile, I'm having a beer and taking it all in. La Paz is in the background.
A nice sunset shot taken from the bar in the Hotel Los Arcos. Note the jet enroute to the La Paz airport in the center of the photo.
Juan Maldonado, our captain. He has the reputation as the best boatman in La Paz and has been doing this for 30 years or so. But as good as he is, we did not catch a single thing on the last day, not even a buzz. The wind was blowing strong making conditions nasty. The pitching and rolling of the boat had me near the edge of barfing despite 2 seasick pills (which usually work great). We got hammered in the swells and drenched in the spray. In the end, we got nothing but a story.
The renovated Malecon has a number of nice statues along the sidewalk. These dolphins were new since our last trip in 2002. On our last morning in La Paz, Kathleen and I walked to breakfast. It was pretty hot with minimal breeze. After breakfast, we went into the center of town to see the cathedral and the town square prior to heading to the airport for the return flight to San Diego.
Statues with the statuesque.
The main cathedral in central La Paz .
The fountain in the town square with a replica of El Hongo.
One of the nice stained glass windows in the cathedral.
A view of the altar area inside the cathedral.
This was a good road trip. While we did not catch as much fish as we had in previous trips, the marlin that Kathleen caught was a real thrill. Now she can truly say "I caught a fish this big......".
Personal contact info: bcaid "at" san "dot" rr "dot" com Read the email address and form it yourself. Link not included due to spam email address harvesters.
All photos and narrative text Copyright (c) Bill Caid 2004
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