Took the family to Cabo San Lucas December 16-23rd. Great trip, really good weather, crazy surf and great fishing.
Cabo is the safest place you can imagine - the people are great and we never felt unsafe. The Mexican people are very hard workers and you realize that they are working for peanuts.
We wanted to do this trip as cheap as possible - so we chose the cheapest place on Southwest Vacations - the Villa Del Palmar. Although "cheap" there was nothing cheap about the resort, food, or room. All those reviews on the internet had us scared, but everything worked out perfectly.
The resort was very nice, the room was small with 2 double beds in one junior "suite". Nothing special, bathroom, kitchenette (which we never used) and two beds and a balcony overlooking the ocean/arch.
The kids literally spent the first 4 days at the beach or the pool the whole time. No complaints. They tried every frozen slushy drink they had and loved the tacos at the Taco Bar and the buffet breakfasts at the other restaurant. Dinners were pretty good, but uneventful. We went downtown once (Saturday) to check out a local lobster place (Crazy Lobster - it sucked), and then see where we had our reception dinner after we got married.
We did spend a couple hours taking the glass bottom boat ($10/each) out to the arch, where they show you Lover's Beach, let you feed the fish, see the arch, see Neptune's Finger, see the Pacific Window and see seal rock. It was a very cool little trip.
I had searched for a guide online, and found a guy who would take me out on the East Cape to chase roosters on the fly "Running Down the Man" style - for $500. Ouch. Catching a roosterfish on a fly is very very rare, and even more rare from shore. I think I've read some where that a guy that lived down there went 10 days and finally caught 1, and December is not the best time to go. I wanted to catch something on a fly rod - and I didn't care what it was.
Tuesday came quickly and I met him at 7am and we were around Lands End and headed north along the Pacific coast. We went for about a little over an hour to the "rocks". When we got there, Justo immediate said he could see large schools of sierra mackerel circling. His son threw a squid pattern in and I threw a chart clouser. A few minutes later the squid pattern was hit and then the clouser. I lost mine, and reeled in to find the clouser cut in half. I changed the clouser and we trolled some more - I'd let out a ton of line then strip as fast as I could - then I got another hit. The big mistake we make as fresh water anglers is to lift the line - in the salt you strip set to pull the hook into the jaw. This fish was on and after a fierce battle where the fish ran and almost burned off my finger in the line, I landed the little bastard. I would have thought the fish would have been a lot bigger - he was 18 or so inches with tons of teeth. Great fight. I caught a few of these, lost just as many. These fish look amazing in the water - like neon blue lights that follow each other, almost right up to the boat when you land one.
With only 3 hours to fish (1 hour out and 1 hour back) I switched to bait to see if I could get a red snapper. We threw an 8 inch mackerel as bait and chucked it out by some rocks - and landed this crazy fish. It was a needle fish and was about 36 inches long and half its body was teeth. Crazy thing was, when I landed him, he didn't have the hook in "him", it was still lodged in the bait that he refused to give up - and we landed him even though he wasn't hooked.
There was a point where these smaller fish were spinning around behind the motor - Justo threw some squid chum to them and there was about a dozen of them. He told me to get the fly rod out and try and catch one - two strips later I was into one of these pompanos - these fish look like little permits - great fighters, but were only about 16 inches long.
In doing more research on the fish above, it is not a Pompano, but rather a sister of the Pompano - it is a Palometa - which is similar. This is also very very similar (in the same species) to a permit. Damn, did I catch a permit on a fly rod????
With one last ditch effort to catch something big, we threw bait out and trolled - and the skipper said "10 more minutes"....we trolled for 10 more minutes and then he said, "10 more minutes". A minute later the rod bent in the hold and the fish was on.
It took me some time to get used to reeling in the big bait rig - literally the drag was set on a bare minimum and the line was only 20 lb test. I didn't see the fish the entire time, he was up near the boat, but still too deep to see. Then he got pissed off and just started taking line. In about 2 minutes he had ripped off hundreds of yards all the way through about half my backing. I started getting nervous because I wasn't turning him at all - and he was still going. Justo flipped the boat in reverse and I started reeling. Pull up, drop it down, reel, reel, reel, pull up, repeat - over and over and over again. Sometimes I'd reel 50 turns and no line would come in because the fish was so stubborn.
Then I started gaining on him and turned him towards the boat. This is an upside down image due to the son putting the camera directly face down in the water - but you can see him getting close.
Justo gilled him, and dragged him on board.
Roosterfish aren't uncommon in Cabo, but in December they are tough to catch. As you can see, we are about 150 yards off shore - actually sometimes I felt like we were going to get swept into the next wave and end up in the surf. The fish tend to crash bait towards shore.
I'm doing my best here to hold it up. I'm guessing it is about 35 lbs and at least 48 inches long. The colors on this picture do it no justice. The blues and greys and silvers were fantastic and the rooster fin was impressive. The belly was solid and the tail was thick even where I'm holding it. You can see my left shoulder is dropped low because this thing weighed a ton and I was stressing to hold it up. I think I had it out of the water for about 90 seconds (I have it on video). It was so beautiful and majestic. Justo asked if I wanted to "stuff", and I paused to understand what "stuff" meant and then realized he was asking if I wanted to keep it - no way.
I revived her for a full minute - pushing water through her gills. I tried to lift it again, but that angle, and hanging over the edge of the boat, there was no way I could pick her up.
I gave her a push and she swam away. The video is pretty cool seeing her casually swim away.
There is no way in hell you could have landed this fish on a fly rod. He literally ripped off so much line it would spool a fly rod. The fight on a 9 weight would have snapped it easily. We did see two other guides who were fishing the surf, the guide would be casting a teaser towards the beach and the customer would be waiting with fly rod in hand ready to cast at anything that chased the teaser in. Of the two boats we passed doing this (they said "Fly Fishing" on the side of the boat), I did not see the customer cast once. These fish are tough to catch in December.
Cabo has lots to do, and lots to see. I talked to lots of people who went fishing. One guy would take his spin rod and fish from the beach at the resort. He managed to catch a puffer fish on a shrimp, and nothing else. He went out twice with different skippers for half days and caught nothing. I know he went out a good distance once for marlin, and the other time went close to shore.
Another guy I met was fly fishing and walked about 1.5 miles down to some rock out croppings and was having luck catching pompanos on deceivers. Pretty cool for a little 8 weight. He too did a guided trip out to close where we were and caught 5 species of fish on bait - jacks, skip jacks, a small durado, mackerel and a small roosterfish - which was cool to see.
I wish I had brought my fly rod - even a 7 weight would have been fun on these small fish.