ILTTA, Los Bariles, Mexico and Cabo San Lucas. June 2010
When it comes to broad-based, international fisheries conservation initiatives, there are few basins as important as the Caribbean Sea. As the sportfishing community and its participants provide the backbone of conservation, one of TBF’s strategies for empowering sustainable fisheries management is working with anglers where they fish. So as we developed the Caribbean Conservation Initiative, the obvious choice was to enlist the help of those who are most committed. The International Light Tackle Tournament Association (ILTTA) is one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished tournament series. Its 2010 tournament was held June 6-13th in Los Barriles, Mexico at the Palmas de Cortez Resort. Palmas de Cortez, a division of Van Wormer Resorts, is about as ideal of a setting for a week of fishing as you can imagine. The waters immediately off of its beautiful beaches-- full of roosterfish-- give way to a bluewater fishery full of striped marlin, blue marlin, dorado and tuna. Short runs and lots of fish.
ILTTA is made up of fishing clubs from around the world that come together once a year to catch
fish and support conservation. As many of the clubs from ILTTA hail from around the Caribbean, TBF was invited by the ILTTA Board of Directors to present information about the program. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to represent TBF, present the information, and was even invited to fish the tournament on the TBF Team with Joan Vernon and Sam White.
This was quite an opportunity. To say that Joan Vernon is one of the best lady anglers in the world says only part of the story. She has won innumerable tournament honors, is in the Big Game Room Hall of Fame at the Miami Boat Show, and can catch fish with the best of them. Sam is an internationally published authority on all things billfishing. He can commonly be seen on the pages of Marlin Magazine and In the Bite. I was determined not to let them down, though I had a learning curve.
The ILTTA Tournament format is great for catching fish, learning from anglers, and making friends. The tournament had 17 three person teams. Instead of fishing with your teammates each day, there are drawings for boat positions. Each day you fish with two different people on
a different boat. By diversifying boats and partners, you get a chance to learn firsthand a great deal about different ways of fishing and different ways to tell a fishing story. I got to fish with people from Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Texas. If you don’t plan on having a good time, ILTTA is not the tournament for you.
In four days of fishing, we released four striped marlin and a blue. After the first day on the water a mob formed at the bar intent on throwing me in the water, as I had just caught my first striped marlin. On the last day of fishing, we found a tailer. As soon as the spread passed him, he lit up and came up on the right teaser. I was lucky enough to be on the flat line, and put a ballyhoo with a chugger head in his face. He ate about 50 feet behind the boat. He was so excited, his forehead was lit up a neon blue. It was really something. Upon release, we estimated him at about 150. Joan, Sam, and I won second place on time. It was great.
The ILTTA Board of Directors and membership base was a receptive audience for the Caribbean Initiative. A donation from the Association provided the first investment in the new and exciting initiative. This is just one example of the sportfishing community investing in the oceans.
After the week in East Cape I was honored with the opportunity to visit Cabo San Lucas to catch
up some ardent TBF supporters and perennial Tagging and Release Award winners. ITBF Chairman’s Club member Mr. Chris Erickson generously offered use of his beautiful Cabo Villas Beach Resort for this part of the trip. Marco and Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing arranged a meeting with the captains of Pisces and some of Mexico’s premier fisheries scientists to discuss ongoing projects and all that Pisces and TBF have accomplished over the years. Phil Gentile and Steve Shiner of Picante Sportfishing arranged a meeting for me with the captains of Picante. In meeting with the captains of Picante and Pisces in Cabo, I had the opportunity to meet with and learn from a group of guys who may have caught more striped marlin than anyone else in the world. I was also fortunate enough to meet with a foundation of the Cabo fishing community, Minerva Smith of Minerva’s Tackle Shop. As I thanked Minerva for all of her dedication to conservation, she purchased TBF memberships for her store, her charter boats, and the marina here she is located.
My fishing buddy Matt Maiello, who works for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Miami, and I had been planning to fish the Lumps out of Venice, Louisiana in July. With the trip postponed by summer Gulf closures, I told him I was to be travelling to Cabo for some meetings and suggested that he get a plane ticket. Cabo, it turns out, was not a bad consolation. After the three days of meetings, I took some vacation days and thought it to be a good idea to learn firsthand how Cabo came to be a worldclass fishing destination.
For the first day of fishing, Mr. Chris Erickson invited Matt and I to fish on his boat, The Bad Medicine. Though he was tied up and could not join us, Captain Bernabe Ruiz—winner of TBF’s Top Tagging Captain for Pacific Striped Marlin in 2009—and the Bad Medicine Crew are some of the best in the business. After picking up 10 live caballitos, it was offshore. Though Captain Bernie put us on two or three tailers and a few free jumpers, we couldn’t find a fish willing to eat. A first class operation, as friendly and hospitable as they come.
Steve and Phill from Picante were kind enough to offer Matt and I a day of fishing on one of their
pangas. The next day, when we arrived to the dock we were set us up with Captain William Ceseña on the Picantito II, a 24 foot Shamrock center console. It was hell of an outfit. The first half day we caught three roosterfish, up to about 40 pounds, before popping offshore to look for stripes. Matt hooked the big fish up and was in midsentence saying it was probably a jack, when the fish came three feet out of the water. Upon going offshore, we saw a free jumper who wouldn’t eat, before catching a pair of 20 yellowfin right out front of the arch. William is not only a great fisherman and very nice guy, he is the son of the late Hugo Ceseña a legend of the Cabo fishing community, widely credited as one of the first to practice catch and release.
The next day we fished aboard a panga recommended by Pisces. We caught four roosters to 25
pounds bump trolling mullet just past the surf zone. The boat, “Salsa” provided another great day of fishing. We trolled for a bit offshore, catching a schoolie dorado, before calling it a day. Matt and I were in the habit of surf fishing behind the hotel for the sunset bite each night. Though we never got a rooster, we caught jack crevalle up to 25 pounds.
The last day we fished with William again on the Picantito II. We saw the sun rise over the Pacific coast, which William told us was likely to produce a number of small roosterfish. He was half right. About 30 minutes into fishing, a mound of water with a black crest crashed my mullet. After about being spooled twice in 35 minutes on the stick, up came a monster rooster. We estimated him at 55 or 60 pounds. Matt was so happy he about lost his mind. He said that this fish made his year. I was just happy not to have been spooled. 30 minutes later Matt’s mullet got nervous before being engulfed by a big, dark shadow. Matt’s big rooster pushed 60 pounds as well. After release, we decided to quit roosterfishing on top and popped offshore. We had a stripe come up and eat a tuna tube, but he didn’t stick.
The fishing in Cabo San Lucas was quite a trip. It was all made possible by people firmly committed to the practice of conservation. Viva Mexico, I can’t wait to come back.
Reprinted with permission. Billfish Foundation
Original article at http://billfish.org/1521-iltta-los-bariles-mexico-and-cabo-san-lucas-june-2010
Last Updated (Monday, 10 January 2011 20:19)