The heat and bugs eventually drove us out of Loreto and we headed for the welcome breezes of La Ventana. The baitfish and large gamefish normally abundant in October were scarce this year and we had to be resourceful. We bought fresh squid in La Paz, which were cut into one inch squares, and used for chum near the Pt. Arena lighthouse. The polaroid sunglasses revealed pompano, jack crevalle, and baby roosters over the sandy bottom below. We had nonstop action on light tackle for as long as we cared to fish. The guided flyfishermen from La Paz that showed up abandoned their pursuit of larger fish and joined our chum line.
Alex really wanted to catch a tuna this year but they simply weren't there. Instead, I concentrated on the few dorado and we enjoyed some measure of success (one or two per day). The bite usually occurred in the afternoon after the wind came up. We hooked the largest fish right in front of the campground with the wind blowing twenty knots.
Alex was rolled up and sleeping in the bow when the fish struck. I shouted "dorado" and Alex opened his eyes to see the mighty fish greyhounding into the distance. After an aerial display, he took out line and would not relinquish. He felt like a sea anchor out there as the wind blew us to shore. I worked him hard for I knew that soon we would be in shallow water and I would have to cut the line and start the motor. Boatside, Alex gasped at the size of the dorado. He was too large for the salmon net and I eventually had to tail him to get him in. We were both exhausted and I spent a great deal of time reviving him before he swam off.
By the time we returned to Pt. Escondido the weather had cooled and the bugs were gone. The sierras were still there but no longer a novelty. A massive school of sardines had parked itself beneath the pier and I decided this would be a good place to dive. Alex still doesn't know how to swim but I encouraged him to try it with fins and it worked (as it had for me some forty years earlier). What we saw was amazing. We were enveloped by a silver wall of baitfish shimmering like precious stones. When we dove below them and we encountered the large cabrillas, golden groupers, and snapper silently gliding away. We could work our way down the pilings and admire the assortment of colorful clinging starfish. I kept a blue one that had bright red, quartz-like bumps on its back. In the end, I had to admit that the dive was well worth the price of the Seiko watch I had ruined by submerging it (It was supposed to be waterproof!).
Onward to San Lucas Cove! "The dorado are a little scarce," we were told, "but the sierras are as thick as fleas at the entrance." Indeed they were. I started losing rapalas in no time. The literature will tell you to use black swivels on your leaders to prevent fish from cutting your line with their teeth. NOT! They were targeting the dark swivels equally well. I finally uncovered a stash of flexible wire leader in the bottom of the tackle box and tied it directly to the fishing line. By then I was down to my last two jointed rebels which I fished until the paint was gone and their back halves were torn off.
Ahhhhh, but what fishing! We caught a couple of sierras in the ten pound range that screamed line off the spinning reel as well as any self-respecting tuna. Alex has vowed to catch a wahoo next year.
The days passed quickly and soon it was time to start the long drive home. The landscape around Tres Virgenes is particularly beautiful and we decided to explore it a bit. Alex and I pursued our own interests and soon became separated. I was photographing an elephant tree by the side of a dirt road when I first heard Alex shouting. Shortly thereafter he appeared around the bend runningwith a bull trotting behind. I became alarmed at first but soon realized the animal posed no real danger. However, it wasn't until we came home and I examined it's picture more closely that I realized of the animal's true intentions; they were amorous. I had often wondered how cattle survived in such a harsh environment. This individual showed that. The poor creature's head was covered with detached cholla cacti that he had no way of removing to relieve the pain. Another Baja memory.