Big field, big bucks and speed counts for East Cape Dorado Shootout

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BY MEGAN McDONELL

EAST CAPE Big fish, a big payoff and a larger-than-expected turnout marked the running of the annual East Cape Dorado Shootout Saturday at Hotel Palmas de Cortez.

“We just opened up a few weeks ago, and we didn’t know what to expect with everything going on. We are very pleased with the turnout and the payouts,” said Eddie Dalmau of the hotel. “We had 108 teams, and the people just kept coming and putting down money for the options — at least $130,000 — which is what we usually get for a normal turnout of 130 to 140 teams.” Due to the hotel closures and the pandemic, the tourney rumor mill before the event had the turnout at 50 to 60 teams max!

In its 16th year, the tourney saw one team run far, run fast and escape with a new VW four-door truck, and because they were across the board on three cash optionals, team Offshore Lifestyles’ 54.9-pound dorado claimed the truck and the $130k.

GARY MORROW (pictured) and three friends fished out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos in his panga on the July 14 and scored limits of yellowfin on porpoise 40 miles straight out. (Photo courtesy of reeltimecabo.com)

The team was captained by Raul Medina of San Diego, and his teammate was Rob Lindekens of Todos Santos. They were on captain Mike McClune’s 30-foot charterboat Oceanrunner Offshore Lifestyle, powered by two new Yamaha 150s. That is significant because the run from Palmas to the warm-water areas to the north that held shark buoys was 60 miles away. First come, first catches, and that was McClune’s plan.

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“I’ve been fishing out here for the past week and caught several fish over 40 pounds and a 45, but as I told the guys, that wasn’t going to win this tournament this year,” said McClune. “We got to the buoy first, threw in a flylined cocinero and it got slammed.”

It was a quick battle but, as with all dorado, they were crazy at the gaff. WON saw a video of the fight, the gaff going in and the fish being lifted by crewman Lalo Lucero Cesena Gilardo. Then it got crazy, with the dorado getting off the gaff on a surge around the transom, landing between the two outboards and then flipping up on top of them before landing cleanly onto the deck.

“It went wild. After it tore the hell out of my boat and ripped out my gunnel lights, I took one look at it and said, ‘That’s the one. Let’s go home.’” It was the first fish weighed when the scale opened in front of the hotel.

NOTE: The hotel was under strict COVID-19 requirements, with teams entering one person for each team only, one at a time and no awards dinner.

Next up for tournaments is the Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore from Aug. 4-8 with three days of fishing based out of Buenavista Beach Resort. The word on the street is that 45 teams have signed up, with more coming. Info can be found at doradoshootout.com.

ALISHA CLEGG comes down to fish with the Tailhunter Fleet every year and always does well. She and her husband found several nice schools of dorado like this one north of La Paz on live bait.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said last week started out slow and picky, but steadily improved.

“After tropical storm Christine moved through, the winds on the backend left us with some blustery days that really made fishing tough, and we had to work hard for bites,” explained Roldan. “Either fish weren’t showing up and were lock-jaw or we saw schools and they just weren’t interested in chewing.”

As a result, Roldan said the first few days of the week only produced a mixed bag of school-sized dorado, bonito and not much else — although there was a lot of inshore action on small roosterfish and tough jack crevalle, which was nice for the folks using light tackle. “Some smaller cabrilla, pargo and triggerfish also wound up on the lines,” he added.

As the week went on, Roldan said the water cleared up and fishing improved. More dorado came through, with some fish up to 30 pounds — and several marlin were hooked, lost and/or released. They also got their first wahoo of the season.

THIS 90-POUND YELLOWFIN was caught aboard Pisces’ 35-foot Knot Workin’ in Cabo.

LORETO — Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com sent in a quick report last Saturday to say that the bottom fishing around Coronado has been a good bet with yellowtail, assorted snapper and sea bass types in the bag. And as far as dorado go, the bigger guys have been spotted close in, but they have “no interest in dining on hooked bait or feathers.” Hill added that all the huge fish are hiding out in the offshore waters, so not too many anglers are making the trek.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing wrote in on Sunday to report that this was one of their best weeks of fishing since being back in charter after quarantine!

“We caught the first 2 blue marlin of the season — one of 300 pounds and the other of 175,” she said. “Plus, the striped marlin fishing picked up some more too! We had 75 billfish released this week.”

SANTIAGO LUCERO poses with a keeper fishing with the Tailhunter Fleet south of La Paz near Bahia Muertos.

As for yellowfin tuna catches, Ehrenberg said they had the same percentage of boats land them, but more fish in comparison: 76 total. And while there were only 8 dorado caught, they “made a splash” — anglers aboard Pisces’ 31-foot Tracy Ann landed a 60-pound bull dorado, and a 25 pounder too. Plus, they released 5 striped marlin and 1 sailfish! “Add to that a few sierra mackerel and a couple sharks released for the fleet, and we have had one hot fishing week in Cabo,” concluded Ehrenberg. You can find more information on the Pisces fleet at piscessportfishing.com.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported a handful of tuna in the 50 to 70 pound class near the San Luis Bank. However, he said the most consistent action was for red snapper to 12 pounds and Mexican bonito to 10 pounds.

Along the sandier beach stretches, Brictson said there continues to be great action for roosterfish up to 50 pounds, as well as large schools of hog-sized jack crevalle.

BOLA — Orchid Martinez, owner of Baja Fishing Convoys, reported that they’ve officially switched to “code orange” – so everyone can get back to fishing! “We’re ready to rock and roll!” she wrote.

MICKEY NIELSEN AND ROSS ZOERHOFF fished with captain Juan Cook in LA Bay, and on day one they had a nice pick on yellowtail — ending up with 16 yellows! Half were caught on bait and half on jigs. (Photo via the “Fish Baja” Facebook page)

She personally had a great experience last week with Castro’s Fish Camp. “We fished from 6-11:30am,” she said. “The first hour we tried our luck with the WSB since they have been biting the past couple of weeks. We didn’t get a nibble, so we went to the rockfish ground… Our captain would circle us back to the beginning of the drift and made our nonstop catching consistent… We managed to fill 3/4 of the huge white ice chest. We have fish for a while!”

According to Martinez, Castro’s is also ready for you to come back.

PUERTO VALLARTA — Stan Gabruk, owner of Master Baiter´s Sportfishing & Tackle, wrote in his weekly newsletter, “Frankly I haven’t been this excited for the new fishing season for many years. Water temperatures are perfect, bait conditions are perfect and the seas are as smooth as I’ve ever seen.”

As usual, Gabruk said Corbetena is especially on fire — with yellowfin tuna being boated daily between 40 and 150 pounds. And if you’re looking for stripers, Gabruk said they’re still there too. Apparently sailfish are also roaming the area, and they’re seeing blue marlin at 300 pounds. “Still a bit small for a blue marlin, but it’s early in the season, so this is exciting stuff,” added Gabruk.

DARREN DEUTSCH, SEAN LEE, CHRISTIAN AND TONY CLOSE caught 2 dorado and 6 billfish on live and dead caballito bait while fishing on Pisces’ 31-foot Tracy Ann close to la Herradura.

As for dorado in the same area, Gabruk said the number they’re seeing at this time of the year, compared to the past six years, is a “night and day difference.” With very few boats heading to the fishing grounds, they seem to be staying on the surface, and the baby dorado are thick.

To contribute to Baja reports, send them to Baja@wonews.com.

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