May 4, 2017 2:26 pm

An English theologian wrote, “It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” Those words were never truer as small pangas dart to and fro at Cabo San Lucas’s thriving IGY Marina. The pangas bounce across the wakes of both modest sport fishing boats and football field-long mega-yachts as they head out to fish the fertile waters of Baja California’s tip. It was difficult to imagine that in 1955, “Cabo” was a cannery town, with no marina and a population of about 400.

That year of 1955 was the darkness before the dawn…

[caption id="attachment_2396" align="alignright" width="197"] Bulnes earned the title of Cabo San Lucas’s Father of Sportfishing after he introduced the first sportfishing fleet[/caption] That was when Don Luis Bulnes Molleda accepted an assignment to transfer to Cabo to dismantle the Empresas Panado tuna cannery, the only tuna cannery throughout Latin America. Baja writer Gene Kira described Bulnes’ first encounter with a billfish. “One day as he hurried down the cannery’s famous wooden pier, he spotted something splashing out in the water. At first he thought it was a bird or a sea lion, but then he realized that it was a large striped marlin, hooked on a hand line held by one of the local boys.” Immediately, Bulnes was transfigured by the grace, power and natural beauty of that magnificent fish. Although he didn’t realize it at that time, years later that love motivated him to establish one of Baja California’s most important sport fishing resorts and to use its influence and financial resources to create a legal foundation to preserve billfish for future generations. Bulnes realized that “… Between Cabo San Lucas and the Revillagigedo Islands south of us, we have more striped marlin than anywhere in the world. That is unique and irreplaceable. You can build a golf course anywhere, but these marlin are only here!” Bulnes earned the title of Cabo San Lucas’s Father of Sportfishing after he introduced the first sportfishing fleet. He, along with his wife Conchita, built Solmar Hotel and Resort Empire during their more than a half-century career in Cabo San Lucas; it continues to be operated by their children. Today, hundreds of thousands of anglers have made the pilgrimage to experience the phenomenal sportfishing found where the mighty Eastern Pacific Ocean collides with the still mysterious Sea of Cortez. Both seasoned anglers and first-timers can be confused by the before-dawn activity in the Los Cabos harbor; everything from outboard skiffs (pangas) to fully tricked-out big game sportfishers scoot about loading passengers and supplies, clearing with the Port Captain and purchasing licenses and live bait before heading out. If you are one of those anglers planning a trip, you’ll find every size boat available – from those mosquito-like pangas to the fully equipped sportfishers. You can match the size of your boat to the number of people in your party, the distance you want to go, how you want to fish and how much money you are prepared to spend. [caption id="attachment_2398" align="alignright" width="300"] Cabo San Lucas – 1955[/caption] The first night in Los Cabos invariably includes welcome margaritas. Go easy. There’s absolutely nothing worse than dealing with an embarrassing hangover when fish are crashing around the boat! Checking local weather forecasts and fishing reports the night before you plan to fish is always wise. Don’t forget hats, scarves, boat shoes (jackets, if needed) as well as good quality sun block and “buff” to combat the intense Baja sun. If you are booking at the last minute, use one of the many charter operations in Los Cabos, NOT the independent street vendors hawking on the malecón surrounding the IGY Marina. Be sure to have a clear understanding of what is included in the charter fee – lunch, drinks (beer, soda, water?), fishing licenses, departure and return times along with boat name and location. Check if there are refunds for port closures. Before fishing in Mexican waters, ALL passengers on any fishing boat must have a Mexican Sport Fishing License. This license is valid anywhere in Mexico and may be purchased by day, week, month or year. It is required for surface or underwater fishing but is not required when fishing from shore. Licenses can be purchased online at www.bajasursportfishing.com With so many “fish of a lifetime” to target, deciding what species to aim for can be intimidating. Don’t try to do everything in one day! Choices are inshore and offshore along with surface or bottom fishing. Based on current reports, choose a target fish that is close to the top of your current catch list. If your choice is billfish, larger tuna or dorado, odds are your captain will head offshore. If you prefer roosterfish, jacks, yellowtail, small tuna or bottom fish, chances are you will remain inshore. Few fisheries in the world offer such a rich assortment of sportfishing alternatives. Cabo’s blue and black marlin – possibly exceeding 1,000 pounds – or tuna in the 300-pound range may be the Holy Grail of sportfishing to seasoned anglers, but not necessarily to the first-timer or occasional angler. On the other end of the scale, much smaller by comparison, with their rooster-like dorsal and coloring resembling a punk-rocker headed for a rave, the roosterfish leads the long list of inshore fish that are tough as nails and never fail to excite visitors searching for a unique fishing experience. Captain and crew are on the water every day and are always eager to share their fishing knowledge and advice with you. Listen carefully. Your enjoyment and success is their primary goal. Catch and Release: Mexican Law states, “There is no limit to the practice of ‘catch and release’ as long as the fish that exceeds the bag limit be returned to their environment in good survival condition.” Billfish, shark and roosterfish are definitely in the glamour category and should be released whenever possible. Be sure to advise your crew before you hook up of your intent to release the fish. Don’t overlook the fact that many species are considered excellent table fare. Most restaurants will be delighted to prepare them for your dinner in a variety of tasty ways. The most important advice we can offer is for you to relax and enjoy your day on the water. Everyone in Cabo wants your trip to be a pleasant one and will work to make it successful. All you need to do is follow instructions and stay connected!]]>