|The unofficial kickoff to the Loreto sportfishing season — the Great Loreto Yellowtail Tournament — is slated for April 18-20 with an interesting mix of local and visiting fishermen. The bi-lingual (Spanish and English) tourney will offer captains and pangueros, many second and third generation fishermen with a remarkable degree of local knowledge, who have been fishing since they were children.
The event features yellowtail, cabrilla and pargo eligible for payout and prizes with an additional catch-and-release incentive.
Two of the Tournament Committee members are personal friends who were featured in my recent "Baja Business Babes" article.
THE GREAT LORETO YELLOWTAIL TOURNAMENT is a two day tournament to be held from April 18 – 20 in Loreto, Baja California Sur. Prizes pay down to third place.
Pamela Pelger Bolles, a budding California scientist with a degree in science and chemistry, has accomplished a lot since 1996 when she arrived in Loreto. Today, she is raising two children, speaks fluent Spanish, owns “The Baja Big Fish Company,” books fishing trips, manages one of Baja’s most popular sportfishing websites and is one of the most influential female entrepreneurs in Baja. She is also the former treasurer of the sportfishing cooperativa and Loreto Hotel Association.
“I came here and assimilated. I speak the lingo, unlike some ‘expats’ who have been here for 25 years and still can’t order a cold beer in a bar,” she smiles.
Another Tournament Committee member, Minerva Saenz, agreed to serve on the organizing committee of The Great Loreto Yellowtail Tournament, joining her friends Adrian Gonzalez, HOMEX, Distrito Federal, Mexico and Juan Acereto Cervera, Sinaloa Sportfishing Association, Culiacán, Sinaloa in the undertaking.
Minerva and her husband Bob arrived in Cabo San Lucas in 1976 from Riverside, Calif. and started their Sportfishing Charter business, opening Minerva's Tackle shop in 1989. Today, their business has grown into the most respected of its kind in Cabo.
Throughout her career, Minerva has been a voice representing sportfishing and conservation throughout Baja and Mexico. The International Game Fish Association and Billfish Foundation both honored her with awards for her conservation efforts. She has served as President of the Syndicate of Owners of Fishing Vessels for Los Cabos, the board of Seawatch Mexico, A.C., as well as on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce.
“Bob and I lived and learned together from square one to the present. You could consider us pioneers in the Cabo sport fishing world. I am especially proud of everything my family has achieved here, starting the business and raising a family of three children,” Minerva said.
I contacted Pam to check on how the conditions were shaping up after a windy winter. Her assessment of fish and fishing :
— The yellowtail bite is just ahead of where it was last year; there have been lots of fish in the usual places since December, with plenty of bait on the bottom that they've been gorging on through the winter, they're not so interested in biting yet.
— The sportfishing boats are finding them from Isla San Ildefonso to Catalana. Carmen Island is starting to get good. But so far the bite is just starting for us and it's still inconsistent; one day lots of fish, limits – the next day one on the boat if you're lucky.
— The yellowtail are being hooked throughout the water column … on or near the bottom with live mackerel in some places or more near the surface on free swimming or fly-lined mackerel in others. Sometimes they'll ignore bait and hit only jigs.
— This will all improve and in 15 days we'll be knee-deep in fish for the tournament. The cabrilla and pargo are starting to get good, too, and those are also part of the tournament and part of why fishermen come to Loreto to fish. Sardina schools are appearing in coves on the islands and the captains always say, “En donde hay sardina, hay cabrilla" … “Where there are sardina, there are cabrilla."
— So far, we have 30 teams signed up, all accomplished fishermen and ready to compete. It will be fun seeing the results of these teams fishing over two days. The VHF is buzzing about the event and so is the fishing community. – Pam
— Pam’s report, coupled with all the recent yellowtail action from the border to tip and up into the Sea of Cortez, sounds promising for a successful event from a fishing aspect.
Breaking through the “scaly” glass ceiling, these two Baja businesswomen have met the challenge of building successful sportfishing businesses in what was considered a “man's world” … and they have successfully raised their families and become influential respected members of their communities in a country far from their birth. Now, they are actively involved in the organization of The Great Loreto Yellowtail Tournament. With these two at the helm, it should be even better than last year's successful outing.