In Bay Is Not What It Used To Be
By JOHN M. DERBY
January 25, 2018
One of our first experiences of catching fish in the Sea
of Cortez off Mulege Bay was hooking a 50-pound Yellowtail.
It is still vivid in our mind as we fought for over an hour
in a do-or-die battle.
were with a guide who knew where the big fish were, and
he helped rig our lines and catch our bait fish, so it might
not seem like we did much other than reel in the line. At
one point, we begged for help, but the rule here is “The
one who hooks the fish must reel it in.”
days are memories, and today we look out on the same bay,
and we view shrimp boats which come all the way from Guaymas
and sit in the bay for days, raking the bottom and disturbing
the sea life. It is so bad that we have nearly given up
shrimp boats and the fishing pangas (boats) which use nets
have caused havoc for sports fishing in the area. And then
letting the foreign long line trawlers rape the Sea of Cortez
of its treasure has totally changed sport fishing in our
bay and the water outside the bay.
waters were once considered the best fishing grounds in
the world. Fishermen (and women) would fly in from all over
the world to fish for the Yellowtail and Dorado as well
as Marlin. Many local guides would make a living taking
out sports fishermen.
days are done. One of the best guides we know is now repairing
boats just to survive.
we rarely hire a guide as we have our own boat and have
learned much of what there is to know about fishing these
waters. However, our catching is nothing like what it once
was, and we are lucky to come home with enough fish for
we went far outside our bay hoping to catch a Yellowtail
or some Red Snapper we had heard about. We did not catch
live bait before going, as we hoped that would not be necessary.
ride out to deep water took us well over a hour in our 18-foot
Bayliner. This is the boat we trailered down eight years
ago. We are now on our third motor (used) and it is a very
good running Honda 50 which allows the Bayliner to plane
at about 25 mph.
were well out in over 400 feet of water when we stopped
to see if we could catch anything. We saw no other fishing
boats and no bird life; both bad signs.
fishermen has said they had caught 15-pound Yellowtail and
Red Snappers at 180 feet and we started there. It was not
long before Kathy hooked a fish and asked for help with
the fishing net. By the time we untangled the net (it was
so seldom used) she had a nice Red Snapper on the surface,
but not for long as it spit out the hook and was gone before
we got the net close. (My fault and she let me know it.)
was another hour before we got another hookup, and this
time it was in 200 feet of water. We were fishing on the
bottom with shrimp tails and trimmings of scallops. It was
my turn and I reeled in what I thought had to be a Yellowtail
as it fought like one.
10 minutes, the fish came to the surface, and it was a nice-size
trigger, a bottom fish which is a good fighter and very
good to eat. I was happy and thought we were going to catch
more. That was not the case.
our fishing trip was cut short as we attempted to start
up the motor and she would not start. Kathy noticed that
the electric line to the battery was no longer attached.
The wire had broken off at the terminal.
how do we get the motor started? We had jumper cables and
thought maybe we could use them to connect the wire to the
this didn’t work we just took our fish knife and shaved
back to the copper wire. Holding this open wire against
the battery was good enough to start the Honda motor but
could we hold the wire to the battery all the way back home?
were about to make a May Day call when we turned loose of
the battery wire and the motor kept running. Apparently
the only need for the battery was when it started the engine
or lifted the motor out of the water.
our fingers, we headed back home as quickly as possible
because the wind and waves were coming up fast outside the
bay. What a relief it was to finally make it back to our
bay and our mooring.
the fishing may not have been great, we did catch dinner,
and we had used up all our luck in getting ourselves back