Incidental Trophy ... Baja E-mail
Written by Chris Mautino   
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

5:15am, somewhere in Baja…

There’s something pretty cool about getting up early and being the first one to the beach. Actually I’m just one of only two people on this remote piece of coastline, north or south for probably 50 miles. The other beach goer, my girlfriend Pam. I roll out of bed and look through the window of my truck. The surf is flat, so kayak fishing is the call for the day.

MautinoYT I’ve been camping on this Mexico point break for about three weeks, surfing, fishing and exploring; my usual modus operandi in the winter months. With no crowds or fishing pressure, my manner is calm and unrushed. I can see schools of Sierra Mackerel chasing bait just offshore and decide to paddle out and grab a few to make a batch of Ceviche. Feeling lazy, I forego taking the bait tank, fish finder and gaff and instead, simply grab a couple rods and a tray of metal jigs.

Within minutes, I’m at the first drop off and hook a keeper Sierra, then another. A dozen or more casts later and another fish boils on the surface iron. In the grey light I can’t see the fish but I can make out the swirl. It’s obvious that this fish is a bit larger as it rips string off the reel but it takes a few moments to come tight and realize that I better rub the sleep out of my eyes and put on a game face.

The fish turns for deep water and suddenly there’s a palpable sense of urgency in the air as the proverbial sleigh ride ensues. I watch over my shoulder as camp moves quickly away. I’m only using 20lb mono so I can’t put too much pressure on this fish. It's a mystery fish that I have not seen. The list of possible species runs through my brain; Tuna, Jack Crevalle, Cabrilla or maybe something exotic like a Roosterfish or Dorado? Fifteen minutes into the fight the fish stops swimming in a straight line and instead dives for the bottom. I move the kayak over the direction of resistance and pull as vertical as I can to put some pressure on this bruiser. But I can’t budge it and the fish seems to be sitting idle in one spot. Now I’m thinking I have hooked a big Grouper and he has towed me into his house. He’s resting.

MautinoYT2 After a few minutes of stalemate the fish moves off again and I decide it’s time to button down the drag and either pull him to the surface or break him off. If nothing else I want to see what I’ve got. Besides I didn’t bring a gaff or even a Boga grip so this will likely be a game of catch and release rather than a harvesting. With the rod doubled over I start to gain some line and after some give and take I finally see color, and then a shape and then the fish. It’s a Yellowtail. A big home-guard Yellow and the LARGEST I have ever caught. Yellowtail ranks at the top of my food fish list and 40+ lbs. of Hamachi goes a long way. New game plan: Kill this fish.

But as soon as his eyes meet mine he dives again and the battle continues for several more minutes, testing my equipment and my nerves as the fish pulls me all over the place. Finally, he comes alongside my kayak, and I thrust my right hand down into the gill plate and grab at whatever I can. Somehow I get ahold of the collar and hold on as the fish thrashes and bucks and showers me with water. With my other hand I thread the dive clip through the mouth and as I do I screamed and my eyes bulge out. It’s a true trophy and dwarfs the existing two Sierra already threaded on the clip.

Without a mallet or even a knife I have no way to dispatch this brute. Attached to the clip, he continues to buck and fight but luckily, I paddle a Hobie kayak and with the Mirage Drive system I’m able to kick my way back to the beach leaving both hands free to hold onto the fish. When I get close enough to camp, I yell to Pam on the beach and try to explain my situation. She hears most of what I’m spewing and wades out to give me a hand. Between the two of us we are able to quickly bleed the prize and then take a few quick photos of this incidental trophy and one of my most memorable kayak catches to date.

 

Chris Mautino AK Salmon Captain Chris Mautino operates Liquid Adventures, an Alaskan Outfitter specializing in remote, but comfortable expedition style vacations. They offer professionally guided sea kayaking, kayak fishing and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) trips based in the small coastal town of Seward, Alaska. During winter months, Mautino usually can be found in Baja, Mexico. Liquid Adventures now offer winter kayak fishing guided tours based in Rancho Leonero, Baja Mexico. For more info on these upcoming Baja trips, check out this article.

Contact at Liquid Adventures.com.

 

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