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Written by Bertus Rozemeijer   

In the many years of my fishing career I have had the luck to visit many different countries. I fished Ireland a lot and can only say that fishing there was always fantastic. You can’t find a place where pike is fighting harder than in Ireland. Next to that, they grow big. I fished the Baltic, where Västervik turned out to be a super place for pike and seatrout. Regarding the pike, I still have to find a place where I can beat to 254 pike I caught in a five day fishing trip. Among them, some great fish! I was in Canada, fishing for muskie. Having a rod in your hand in the vast wilderness of the Canadian lakes, hunting for the elusive muskie is a life time experience. The most exiting fishing experience has nothing to do with pike. It was salt water in the tropics.

Ahhh you think, spending lots of money for a fish! Trust me, I did not. Yes, I do have a friend, living in famous Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Stephen is his name. I came across Stephen as a young boy, being a member of the fly tying club I was leading. Stephen was completely crazy about fishing and living not that far away from me, he was on the phone every moment he could find, or took the bike to talk direct. Growing up, Stephen and I started the vertical fishing as we know it now. At eighteen he made a first trip to Mexico to fish from a charter boat for marlin and other big game fish. A year later he went back for a three month stay, working (illegal?) as a deckhand. He maintained doing this, met his present wife, married and found a home far away from the windmills where he used to live. Of course, invitations came from his side, but for one or the other reason, I never made it to his home in Mexico. That is, up to a few years ago. Stephen was always talking about his beach fishing. Casting in the surf was his thing and he set up a guiding job taking Americans to the beach. At the same time, he had a little fishing tackleshop and a nice boat in the harbor. Sure I wanted to go out with his boat. And yes I was hoping to catch some good fish from the boat, but I quickly learned that there was a lot more than just a boat to fish from. Watching all the anglers go out on fast marlin vessels the classic site is a guy, tied up in a chair waiting for a fish to strike. If a fish strikes, the deckhand hands over the rod and the guy in the chair can start to reel in the fish. Watching it more closely, you see the skipper steering the boat in a optimal way to make sure the fish is landed. Often, it is not the angler, but the team deckhand / skipper playing the major part of the game. So… no, this is not what I wanted. If you fish from shore, and make your own cast, pick your own lure and try spotting hunting fish, the game and success or failure is all yours. Beach fishing was the thing we were going for.

I know, thinking about beaches at tropical destinations, you think about palm trees, bars at the  beach, cocktails, sun chairs and beds, hot topless chicks in way to tiny swimming trunks and more very pleasant things to look at. I am sorry, you won’t find this on most of the beaches in Cabo. Maybe close to town, but surely not where we fished. The beaches we fished where huge, kilometers long and ending in fast rock formations or some huge boulders of rocks. Often very sharp shaped by the pounding waves hitting the rocks time and time again. The surf can pretty high on the pacific side but is modest on the side of Baja California. Fishing in Cabo San Lucas gives the option to do your fishing in a always optimal place. If the wind is blowing from the Pacific than we fished the Baja California side and opposite. On a day with modest winds, we often preferred to fish the Pacific side where at that time, most baitballs could be seen, and baitball is predators around it. And: also important, the beaches we found where not that far of the town. On Baja side, near the town there are lots of resorts, occupied by the rich and famous. Oh yes, they are there too. Seeing the huge villas, you might think Cabo San Lucas is only for the rich, but this for sure is not so. I have a nice hotel in the centre of the town for only $ 40.00 per day! Mind you even in mid winter the temperature is in the upper twenties Celsius, so what should you do inside a hotel room? Swimming pool there is good and zipping a Margarita is OK on a chair in the shade. Life’s good, but we came to fish, remember!

So what about the fishing. Well firs I have to confess that fishing in Cabo and from the beach is hard work. Hard work and really early rises. Stephen starts at six on the beach, so we rise at 04.30 and without a coffee we hop in his car. Lucky for us, he brought some coffee for us each morning. On the way, we collect some American anglers who he is guiding. Why so early. Well shortly told: after eleven it is way too hot to stay on the beach. Imagine temperatures over 40 Celsius!  OK, that is doable, but in these temperatures, you have to cast with a surf casting rod. Four meters plus long, heavy fixed spool reel and a pretty heavy lure. That is still OK, but then you have to cast… one hundred meters and more. More is better, way better as Stephen often proved. When I fished with Stephen as a young man he was skinny, but Cabo turned him in a big powerful giant. So you made the cast of a lifetime and then you have to reel the lure in like mad. Imagine a cod lure, 100 grams compact and sinking like a brick that you have to fish as a surface lure. Sometimes, you have to step backwards while reeling in to keep the lure in the surface. You have the lure back in less than half a minute. Then, preparing for the next cast, you wait for the wave to pound the beach and as the water retrieves, you run forward and make the next cast. You do this to gain some extra meters out. While the lure makes it flight, you have to walk backwards to avoid the next wave coming in. Lure hits the water, you reel in like mad, make a cast and after three hours you are nearly killed! So at eleven, it is time for breakfast and prepare for the evening session. Don’t do that with the feel in a swimming pool and a beer or margarita in your hand, for that is a good excuse not to make it to the afternoon session. From four to eight in the afternoon and evening it is the same story. Boring? No way! It is something like top sport to do, for a few days.

As told the beaches around Cabo has different faces. Sand, lots of sand, sometimes interrupted by scattered rocks and rock barriers, piling up to ten, twenty meters and more. At the beach, you’ll have chance to catch fish like Jack’s, Blue fin Travelly, Horse eye, and Rooster fish. With some luck, you might come across Yellow tail, Dorado and Snook. There are Sierra mackerels, lady fish and huge garfish too. On the rocks the most important fish is the Cubera snapper, and many smaller species of predatory fish. They all ask for hard work catching them, but for sure you will if you want to and in some cases, more than you would expect.  I took a box with Salmo lures with me. Nothing like the pencil poppers Stephen uses or his home made Cabo Killers we fished with. These lures, according Stephen are way too slow for any little big game fish, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. Imagine, a rooster on a slider… So there I was, on a hot beach, a big rod in my hand and a Slider on the two meter long leader. Oh yeh, you need that too. The mainline on the reel is a 20 kilo breaking strain braid. On the line, a strong swivel / snap combo is tied and then there is a 80 lb nylon leader. Why that? Well, many of the fish have bone hard tails. As they take line, the angle between the angler and the fish is getting very small and the fish might slash the line with the tail. Using a braid only, the fish will break the line with the tail. Leaders, although not always comfortable while casting are a must. I used a sinking slider and like you now, I thought the reach would not be that big. Frankly speaking, I could not see the use for really long cast all the time, for on many occasions I could see fish hunt in the last surf. Amazing, like looking in a big aquarium, I could see Jack chase fish at incredible speed, three for meters high, and just before the wave would break. Clearly a good reason  stay focused until the lure was back on the beach. Instead of reeling in on high speed, I fished the lure rather slow. Mind you, you won’t fish pike that fast, but I had the lure pretty long in the water. It took a little while, but then, there was this bite. I had seen a monstrous  rooster in the last surf, hoping this was the fish.  After a few hard bumps it took off. Hundred meters where gone, two hundred, three hundred and the reel was still screaming like mad. Than it started to swim parallel to the beach. I started to run with the fish, who was heading for a big rock formation ending the beach. I gained line again, got a hundred meters back and had a little hope to really land the fish. Stephen was with me now, shouting over the waves to pass the fish. Pass the fish… what the F*^#@ck did he wanted me to do? Than I understand. I had to turn the fish again, for climbing rocks, and playing a fish at the same time was asking for trouble. So I run further and then put the pressure on again. The fish turned and I followed. The fight took three quarters of a hour before it finally washed on shore in the last surf. By then, my throat was like sandpaper and my arms were on fire. I had a good rooster, not a big rooster, close to 35 kilo’s. We took the pics and let the fish go. I made another cast and has in trouble with the next rooster. Oh boy, not again…

Sliders, not that fast fished turned out to be great. But what about the casting? I can’t explain why but although the 10 cm slider is not that heavy, it is casting like a dream, better said, like a bullet.  I measured it out on the beach and was able to make casts over 90 meters.  That was enough to reach the third wave from the beach. Not far enough for fish like dorado, maybe a yellow tail, but for many very interesting fish, it was enough. Of course, you can’t jerk the Slider with a nearly four meters long surf rod, but simply cranking the jerkbait back was enough to trigger the fish. Standing on the rocks, often ten, twenty meters from the sea’s surface, the fishing is completely different. Now and although with these heavy surf poles, it comes to finesse casting. Casting to rocks and steering the lures as close as possible to the rocks for at the rocks, Cubera snappers and other game is waiting. We used Salmo Warriors and there was something I could not believe. The bite. Think you ever had a hard bite? Try to catch a Cubera and if you succeed, you’ll never talk about hard bites again. We caught several and the firth bite came so hard that I nearly fell over. Yeh, sure, laugh! But it’s really so. And yes I also lost the fish. I was so astonished that I forgot to fight the fish and if you want to catch a Cubera in wild water, where surfs pound rocks and water seems to explode, you have to fight to fish accordingly. The next was mine and a few more followed. Than we came to the edge of beach and rock and made the long casts again, this time for Sierra mackerel. I know, for the Dutch coast you can catch mackerels enough, but if they reach 40 cm… Sierra, make a easy 100 cm and as we did later, catching them on lighter tackle, You’ll be amazed what they can show. Again the fish could be caught, actually could very well be caught on a Salmo. This time the great small Fatso. This 10 cm version was just the size these fish liked most. Hunting for Roosterfish is hard work and no, you don’t catch them all the time. Same for various Jacks and travally’s, but the Sierra’s never let us down, making it a great fish for the in between catches. In short: little big game, standing on a beach or rocky shoreline in a tropical country. If you like to catch great fish and do it your own way, that try this. I still have to find a place where fishing was more exciting than on the beach of Cabo san Lucas.