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I spent this past weekend at the Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto resort hotel.  The hotel was putting on it’s first annual dorado fishing tournament.  I was part of a media contingent that went down to experience the resort and the fishing.  The resort is located just south of old town Loreto off Danzante Bay (starred on the map) on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja California Sur.  Loreto was easily accessible via a direct 2 hour flight from LAX on Alaska Airlines.

After landing and quick pass through customs, we were greeted by our hostess, Zayra Olivares and proceeded to take a scenic 45 minute van ride to the property.  Once we arrived at the resort, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch at Casa Mia, a casual poolside restaurant that is one of 3 restaurants on the property.  Our lunch included smoked marlin tacos and a refreshing sandia (watermelon) cocktail.  After lunch, we had time to settle into our rooms.  Later, there was a cocktail reception at their golf “clubhouse” where the tournament director, Sr. Clicerio Mercado, gave a rundown of the rules to the participants.  Senor Mercado has a little experience doing this sort of thing as he happens to run the Bisbee’s Black and Blue tournament as well.  The rules were simple, it would be 2 days of fishing with a 4pm weigh in each day.  Largest dorado would take the $5000 grand prize.  If no dorado were caught, the alternate species would be yellowtail.

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Dorado Tournament 

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Rockets red glare to kick it off. Our panga captain, Alfredo, watching. (Gary Graham photo)

They divided our group in two.  I was in the group that got to fish on Day 1.  After the short van ride over to Puerto Escondido Marina, we witnessed the starting ceremony and were off.  Before we boarded, I noticed that Gary Graham, award-winning outdoor photographer and my colleague at BD Outdoors, got on a panga.  I figured if anyone knows what’s up in Baja, it’s Gary, so I jumped on with him.  As it turned out, that was a good decision.  We were joined by a 3rd angler, a hot local stick named Gonzalo.

Our pangero, Alfredo Rubio, had live bait onboard and solid gear.  It was a pleasant surprise.  I brought a couple reels and some terminal tackle.  As it turned out though, I didn’t feel the need to switch any of the boat gear out.  I could see Alfredo had a plan, and I rolled with it.  I was excited about the prospects of the day.

We left the marina and made our way around Danzante Island and up the lea side of Carmen.  It was apparent that Alfredo had a destination in mind because we didn’t slow down and drag trolling lures.  We got close to that elbow area (see map above) and slowed to a crawl.  As frigate birds circled above us, Alfredo prepared two light trolling setups rigged for live bait.  We slow trolled a couple sardinas.  We were only in maybe 15-20 feet of water and you could see all the way to the rocky bottom below.  Gonzalo and I watched the trolling rods, while Gary sat on the bow capturing the moment on camera.  It must have been kismet.  I was the first to get bit while Gary snapped away.

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Gary taking a picture of his fish

You fish the drag really tight on these fish.  The reason being, as soon as they hit, they head straight back down to the rocks.  I ended up getting bit two more times, but the fish won those encounters as my line came back frayed and broken.

We turned the corner on Carmen and made our way slowly around the other side.  Gary had this cool little plastic and something took his offering shortly after we rounded the corner to the other side.  The end result was this pretty barred pargo that Alfredo gaffed and put on ice.

We turned around and made our way back around to the other side.  Rather than hug the shore again though, this time we headed out into open water.  It wasn’t long before Capt. Alfredo spotted some flying fish being pushed into flight by something below.  We stopped and pitched baits to them.  This time it was Gonzalo’s turn.  When he got bit, my bait went nuts, but it didn’t materialize into a bite.  When it got to color, I yelled out, “It’s a marlin!”  It wasn’t a big one, but the colors on that fish were so amazing.

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We spent more time looking around, but that was the action for the day.  Not wide open by any means, but very solid.  When we had the chance to compare notes with our colleagues later, it was apparent we had one of the better experiences on the water for the trip.

Thank you to our pangero captain, Alfredo Rubio, and our gracious hotel hosts.  I had an absolute blast.  I’ll return again.  See you soon.

*** Special for So Cal Salty readers – 20% discount on your stay at Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, PLUS $500 in resort coupon credit!  Book online or email: reservaciones.vdpl@vgloreto.com  Use coupon code – SOCALSALTYF16

Even got in a little golf at Villa del Palmar. Golf pro Danny Garcia instructs me.

Even got in a little golf at Villa del Palmar. Golf pro Danny Garcia instructs me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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