Fishing 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.

We 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.”

Those 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 eating shrimp.

The 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.

These 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.

Those days are done. One of the best guides we know is now repairing boats just to survive.

Now 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 dinner.

Yesterday 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.

The 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.

We 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.

Other 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.)

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.

After 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.

Actually 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.

Now how do we get the motor started? We had jumper cables and thought maybe we could use them to connect the wire to the battery.

When 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?

We 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.

Crossing 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.

While the fishing may not have been great, we did catch dinner, and we had used up all our luck in getting ourselves back home safely.


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