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Day 4 - Third and Final Day of Fishing in Baja

I was up at 4:00 AM for my last day at Las Arenas. Once again I slept good with the help of two dramamine.

At 5:15 AM, I took the hike to the dining room under a clear black sky. Once again, the lack of any light pollution anywhere near the resort made the stars look brilliantly bright and they seemed to surround me from above and all around. I ordered my usual at the dining room—scrambled eggs with bacon and coffee.

At 6:15 AM, I hiked down to the beach at Las Arenas to meet my Panga Skipper. The first light of day was just beginning to illuminate the horizon. At the beach, there were three or four groups of people waiting for their Panga boats to arrive.

At 7:00 AM, Manuel was the first skipper to arrive. I climbed into his boat and we were off into the Sea of Cortez just as the sun broke the horizon. It was looking like it was going to be another beautiful day of fishing.

I really lucked out with the weather on this trip and I have also had good luck health-wise. The majority of discomfort came as a result of the spicy food and the large fish I battled caused my arms and shoulders hurt—fairly minor ailments for someone of my age. I’m sure that the battles with big fish caused me to use muscles that I had not used in a long time.

I tried to tell Manuel that I wanted to fish for a variety of smaller fish instead of monster Sailfish or Tuna and that I’d like to concentrate on species that I had not caught before. Manuel nodded but he did not seem pleased about the request—I think he still wanted to go after large fish.

We had some trouble finding bait again but eventually found a bait boat that was able to fill our bait well. We headed south again—away from Cerralvo Island and away from all of the other Panga boats. The reason for this was that we were looking for a variety of smaller fish while the other boats were out looking for the big one. We spent the majority of the morning fishing in the shallower water along the shoreline because Manuel knew that this was where we would find some of the smaller fish we were after.

We started fishing at about 7:45 AM and over the next 5 hours, we caught 13 fish representing 7 different species. They were: 3 Needlefish (32”, 20”, and 18”); 2 Mexican Bonito (30” and 28”); 1 Green Jack (16”); 3 Striped Snappers (13”, 12”, and 12”); 1 nice Dorado (28”); 2 smaller Tuna (both 18”); and 1 Orange Triggerfish (14”).

Despite their lack of weight, the Needlefish are strong fish that jumps out of the water a lot. The Mexican Bonito were a nice looking fish and were much larger than the Bonito that I had caught out of San Diego. They fight a lot like a small Tuna.

At 1:00 PM, we were back at Las Arenas and I had to say goodbye to Manuel. I gave him his final tip and he seemed pleased. Despite not understanding most of what he said throughout the past days, I could not have asked for a better guy to fish with. He knew where and how to catch fish in the Gulf and we had a terrific amount of good luck during the 3 days of fishing together. My 2 big catches, the Sailfish and the Tuna, were by far the biggest fish caught at the resort during my 3 days there. One of the primary reasons for this trip to Baja was to catch species of fish that I had not caught before. During my 3 days with Manuel, I caught 8 new species of fish—definitely a success.

Back at Las Arenas, I paid my final bill at the main office—most of the trip was prepaid, so I did not owe much. I made arrangements for my early morning transfer to the La Paz airport, and then it was back to my room to prepare for the next day of travel. Unfortunately, my Pelican friend was gone in the full sense of the word. It was lying (dead) on the path below my balcony. I am not sure how it ended up there.

At 8:00 PM, I headed for the dining room for my last dinner at the resort. After all of the good fish that I had eaten over the past 4 days, the farewell dinner they served was half-raw steak. I skipped it but did fill-up on a good bowl of soup with crackers and a large baked spud that came with the steak. Back in my room, I had my normal hot chocolate with cookies.

I had a very early morning transfer to the airport in La Paz, so I hit the sack early that night at 11:00 PM. Before I turned off the lights, I took one last look out at the lights of the Las Arenas resort and the black waters of the Sea of Cortez. This was my second stay at a fishing resort. The first one in Costa Rica had been a bitter disappointment. In contrast, this one in Baja Mexico gave me spectacular fishing results. My biggest fish ever, the Pacific Sailfish, and my second biggest fish ever, the Yellowfin Tuna, were thrills to catch. I also caught my first ever Dorado, which was a thrill to catch in a beautiful feeding frenzy. Overall, I caught 26 fish representing 9 different species—it was a great fishing adventure.

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Manuel and a 16" Green Jack

We fished just off shore from this small village-like settlement
The mountains in the background are part of the Sierra De La Giganta Range that extends along the Gulf side of the Baja Peninsula.

30" (15-lbs) Mexican Bonito (above and below left)
They look and fight like a Tuna

30" Mexican Bonito (above)
32" Needlefish (right)

Orange Triggerfish
It is usually found around offshore coral reefs but sometimes strays into the Gulf.

13" Striped Snappers (above and below)
We caught 3 like these - each one was about 13" long.

Bait Boat
We had trouble finding bait (Sardinas) again.

13" Striped Snapper
See description above.

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28" (12-lbs) Dorado
It was my last one but as usual, it put up a great acrobatic fight. Dorado often jump as much as 5' out of the water in their fight to escape.

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My last Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez

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