May 5, 2016 2:26 pm

“They used to fish without motorboats,” Jaime explains. “They’d row out to Gordo Banks, and camp on the beach in Los Zacatitos. That’s how they got started. Then later, they’d fish here in La Playa, Destiladeros, Los Zacatitos, Palmilla, setting up fishing camps in each place.” Eventually, license regulations forced them to choose between commercial and sport fishing, and for the past ten years, the family has worked exclusively as fishing guides, taking great pride in the quality of their service. “We always try to make sure our clients feel safe and well cared for. Whatever the tourist wants, we have it—that’s the service we provide,” comments Jaime. fish east cape Fishing on the East Cape Jaime explains that each morning, the fishermen at the marina exchange information on where they’ve found bait fish, where the fish were biting the day before, and that determines where they go. Lately, they’ve been catching a lot of huachinango (red snapper) at Gordo Banks, offshore from Punta Gorda, which is where the East Cape begins. He says that the weather has been affecting fishing in the region for the past couple of years, and while they can usually predict what fish they will find in a given season, that hasn’t been the case this year. “Usually we’re doing bottom fishing from January or February until April. The water’s colder, and we catch red snapper, grouper, sea bass,” he explains. “But lately, the water is getting muddied by the winds, and turning green. We always look for the blue water, the cleanest water, because that’s where the fish are. The water starts to change in May, because it’s warmer. Then we start to get more wahoo, mahi mahi, and tuna.” Locals know Gordo Banks as El Bajo, and it is famous for tuna fishing. Jaime says that most of the large tuna caught in fishing tournaments come from there. He and his family have competed in tournaments, bringing in 330-pound tunas and some large groupers too. But there is plenty of good fishing further up the East Cape. “The Sea of Cortés is one of Earth’s richest resources, with many different kinds of fish. People come from around the world to fish here. Roosterfish is very common in the Sea of Cortés, with specimens up to eighty pounds.” But Jaime’s favorite is tuna: “Tuna is one of the fish that fights the most. The tunas at Gordo Banks are very large. They can pull hard, and I like that adrenaline, the thrill of when it’s pulling out the whole line. These are fights that last one, two, or even three hours. Tuna is also one of my favorite fish for eating, either in sashimi or barely seared, so it’s red, almost raw.” I ask what other ways he likes to prepare fish, and he says he likes to do whole snapper or grouper in foil with tomato, chili peppers, onion, salt, pepper, and butter… as simple as that. To fish Gordo Banks or the East Cape, the usual option is to leave from the marina in La Playa, which is the most convenient spot if you are in San José del Cabo. If you are staying further up the East Cape, there are other options, including Hotel Punta Colorada at Punta Arena, north of Cabo Pulmo, La Ribera, Buenavista, and Los Barriles. I ask Jaime for a fish story: his biggest catch, or the one that got away. “One time, we had a marlin. My father, my cousin, and I spent five hours, fighting hard. But it was too strong and broke the line. We did get a good look at it from up close, and it probably weighed 800 to 1000 pounds.” His father, Jaime Arista Castellano, brings out a photo of a 122-pound amberjack that his son caught the week before. He looks proud showing the photo, and again when he shows us the fresh huachinango (red snapper) sitting in a cooler nearby—the catch of the day. Playa Del Sol 1 The Future of Fishing in Los Cabos Jaime takes a realistic view of the future of fishing in Los Cabos. He feels that it is at risk, but not because of sport fishing, which sets strict limits on the daily catch, constantly monitored through the licenses, each of which allows for two mahi-mahi, two wahoo, and only a few of the commercial bottom fish species, like grouper and snapper. But the large commercial boats, many of them foreign, are catching these same fish by the ton, without permission and with little control over what they take. “The older fishermen, like my father and my uncles, are sad about how fishing has changed,” he says. “The huge boats that come—shrimping boats, tuna fishing boats, longline boats—they’re the ones taking all the marlin, mahi mahi, and tuna. The large boats are the biggest threat to fishing here. They work at night, and don’t respect the limits. Tuna and shrimp boats are supposed to work no closer than twenty miles offshore.” What You Need to Know To book a fishing trip, either contact the cooperative or go directly to the marina at Puerto Los Cabos (La Playita) where there will be someone to show you the different pangas (fishing boats) and make your reservation. You will be expected to put down a thirty to fifty percent deposit when booking. Cabo Playa Sport Fishing runs twelve fishing boats that accommodate from two to twelve people, but two other sport fishing cooperatives also work out of the marina. The trip lasts half a day, from four to six hours, departing at around six in the morning. It’s important to wear comfortable clothing and sun protection, glasses and a hat, and bring a lunch and drinks. The fishing license is sold at the marina for around two hundred pesos per person per day (weekly, monthly, and annual licenses are also available). You will also need to buy bait, and count on providing a tip for the captain and for the person who cleans your fish. Many people prefer to catch and release, using a circle hook or one that falls out after two weeks in salt water. If you do decide to keep your fish, there are a couple of options for what to do with the meat. Most people get it vacuum sealed (a service that can be provided by the fishing cooperative), but many hotels will freeze it for you. When asked what any first-time fisher should know, Jaime answers, “Fishing is all about luck. There are no guarantees, and you need to be patient.” And for him, it’s not only about the fish: it’s about the place. “Every day I enjoy the sunrise. Rarely are there days with wind or fog. Dawn is always beautiful—the atmosphere here is very peaceful.” To contact Jaime Arista Castro and the Cabo Playa Sport Fishing cooperative, call 624-154-9110 (cellular), 624-105-6129 (office), or email Jaime at jaimecabo@hotmail.com. Or find them at the marina. They’ll be happy to help.]]>