June 4, 2023
Now one of many largest marinas in Mexico, Marina Cabo San Lucas is the epicenter for sport fishing all through the Baja Peninsula, from East Cape to Magdalena Bay and past.
stephen frink assortment / alamy

Particular supply: Join for the free Marlin e mail publication. Subscribe to Marlin journal for $29 for 1 12 months and obtain 2 bonus digital points.

Whereas the numbers fluctuate from season to season, there isn’t any doubt that Los Cabos, Mexico, has rightfully earned a repute as one of many world’s prime locations for every type of billfish. The entire variety of blue, black and striped marlin caught there every season is unparalleled, and it continues to draw anglers from throughout the globe.

Nevertheless it wasn’t all the time like that. This area, which incorporates bustling Cabo San Lucas in addition to the extra laid-back San Jose del Cabo—now related by a freeway lined with luxurious resorts and immaculate golf programs—was as soon as fairly completely different. The Seventies was the coming-of-age decade that might see this space develop from a dusty fishing village to the world-class vacation spot it’s at this time.

Striped Marlin: The Phrase Spreads

Because the Southern California sport-fishing scene started to develop, house owners of bigger boats had been intrigued by the studies of the prolific year-round fishery that was centered on the comparatively uncrowded waters off Cabo, some 770 nautical miles south of San Diego. These with restricted gasoline capability resorted to lashing drums of diesel on their decks or swim ­platforms with a view to make the journey as a result of there was just one very iffy gasoline supply at Turtle Bay, about 330 nautical miles south of the border. That was it.

Stateside yachtbuilders started to acknowledge the necessity for bigger, extra subtle boats with the gasoline capability and creature comforts to make the voyage to Baja’s tip and past safely and in type. A bunch of builders stepped up their video games: Pacifica, Elliot, Delta, Blackman, Innovator, Marlineer, Ocean Pacific, Bertram, Hatteras, Knight & Carver, Skipjack, and Livesay had been just a few that responded to that demand. These so-called yacht-fishers modified the sport for many years to return.

A black and white image of Los Cabos in the early stages.
As soon as nothing greater than a small outpost on the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula greater than 1,000 miles from Southern California, Cabo San Lucas was dwelling to a handful of business fishing vessels and some sailboats in 1978.
Gary Graham

Distant Locations, Memorable Voyages

Throughout these early days, I made the journey each north and south to these storied waters many instances. On one voyage from San Diego, we made it to Turtle Bay on fumes, after which needed to watch for gasoline to be delivered some 24 hours later. One of the vital memorable journeys I’ve made was bringing Steve Cushman’s Hardhead, a 48-foot customized picket cruiser, from Cabo again to California. Sadly, the boat had mechanical points that delayed our departure. Doc Ross—an Englishman and an area mechanic who had in some way ended up working in Los Cabos—had an worker named Jorge who labored on the boat for every week, repairing the problems in order that we may depart. We determined to take Jorge alongside as insurance coverage, simply in case one thing else broke en route. We set off with a crew consisting of my spouse, Yvonne, a deckhand named Craig Miller, Jorge the mechanic, and me as captain.

We headed out from Cabo within the ­pre-dawn grey mild, with the gasoline tanks crammed to the brim. Barring any surprises, it will be sufficient to make it to San Diego, assuming we traveled at 8 knots your complete approach.
The journey started uneventfully with good climate; by noon on the third day, we had been someplace above the Thetis Financial institution, touring in easy, calm seas. We had a pair of trolling rods out and had already caught some dorado for dinner that night. Yvonne, Craig and I had been chatting on the bridge when all of the sudden, each rods bent over, the clickers clattering and line flying off the reels. Two striped marlin greyhounded away from the boat. As I appeared round from the bridge, there have been billfish feeding and free-jumping in each ­route. It was just some minutes after releasing these two that we had one other double on. All through the remainder of the day, the bites continued. Then, late within the afternoon, after we determined that we should always resume our journey north, the starboard engine all of the sudden died.

Jorge struggled to diagnose the issue. Though it turned out to be one thing ­easy, we didn’t have the substitute half wanted to repair it; we had been underway on one engine with our fingers crossed.

A sepia-toned image of a dusty thoroughfare.
The dusty most important thoroughfare by way of city in 1966.
Gary Graham

As we continued north, we reviewed the variety of fish we had launched. Yvonne caught and launched 10, a brand new private greatest for her that is still all these years later. And Miller had caught 15 or extra, all in just some hours.

Simply earlier than dusk, making issues worse, the port engine started smoking, leaving a telltale smoke path behind us for miles. We held our breaths, hoping that our remaining engine wouldn’t fail.

We deliberate to drop off Jorge in Ensenada in order that he may return to Los Cabos by bus. After we lastly pulled into the bay, our smoking engine was sufficient to draw a fellow in a skiff who got here rushing alongside. He hollered: “Is the boat on hearth? Do you want assist?” We assured him that we had been OK however would recognize a journey to shore for Jorge.

The journey from there to San Diego Bay appeared to take eternally as we nursed our approach dwelling on one smoking engine. Lastly, after convincing the border agent that we didn’t have any contraband on board, we cleared customs and headed for Lloyd’s gasoline dock on Harbor Island, our tanks almost dry.

An old aerial photograph of the Los Cabos marina being dredged in the early stages of construction.
Within the ­mid-Seventies, dredging the harbor entrance and internal marina allowed ferries from the Mexican mainland and bigger vessels to lastly go to the vacation spot. The airport expanded to permit worldwide flights in 1977.
Gary Graham

Fish Onerous, Occasion More durable

Again in 1976, Cabo San Lucas was nonetheless only a sleepy little fishing village with no marina, filth roads, and simply a few small accommodations and eating places. Then Minerva’s Baja Sort out opened. Minerva Smith and her husband, Bob, quickly established the enterprise as one of many space’s greatest deal with sources, with the most important provide of fishing rods, reels, lures, terminal deal with, and fishing attire within the area. It stays a must-visit vacation spot at this time, and Minerva herself is among the greatest sources for up-to-date data on what’s occurring in Cabo San Lucas.

Across the identical time within the mid-Seventies, dredging tools was dropped at Cabo, deepening the harbor entrance and permitting oceangoing ferryboats from the Mexican mainland in addition to bigger sport-fishers to enter the marina. Finally, the undertaking grew to become a powerful 380-slip, 33-megayacht berth operation that may accommodate boats as much as 375 toes. The facilities embrace a totally operational boatyard, and a gasoline dock with high-speed pumps, water, and pump-out companies.

The storefront of Minerva's Baja Tackle.
Minerva’s Baja Sort out has been an area establishment because it first opened in 1976.
Gary Graham

The Los Cabos area went from 10,000 ­residents in 1970 to an all-time excessive of 287,671 in 2015. With that got here a ­corresponding rise within the variety of visiting boats, focusing on all the pieces from billfish to wahoo, yellowfin tuna and dorado, plus a dizzying array of inshore species corresponding to ­roosterfish, grouper and snapper.

In these early days, legendary skilled Southern California captains and crews mingled with informal boaters and others from all components of the nation, with everybody ­serving to out each other. Annually, the variety of ­visiting boats grew, and old-timers welcomed the newcomers, persevering with to construct a neighborhood of hardcore anglers bonded by a camaraderie of those that thrived on the “fish exhausting, get together more durable” way of life.

A digital rendering of a map of Mexico, highlighting Los Cabos on the Baja Peninsula.
The Los Cabos area is completely sited on the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Cabo Hyperlinks As much as the World

In December 1957, building started on the 1,000-mile-long paved highway connecting Baja Sur with the US—a large undertaking that might be accomplished within the waning days of 1973. Shortly after Mex 1 was accomplished, two buddies from San Diego—UPI reporter David Lewis and Jim Sipman, an area architect—and I departed from Southern California in one among my Providers Limitless firm vans. We spent a number of weeks exploring the brand new two-lane paved freeway, plus most of the unpaved again roads, which led to Cabo San Lucas and again.

What an journey: tenting out each night time, both on the Pacific or Sea of Cortez seashores; fishing from shore and catching an unique array of species, lots of which we may establish solely with our dog-eared fish-ID booklet; and touring largely unexplored backcountry. Though I had gone to Mexico as a teen—and later to Loreto with my younger son—these journeys didn’t examine to this, exploring the seashores alongside the peninsula, tenting on Grey Rock overlooking Los Cabos, and usually falling in love with Baja and its individuals. Since then, I’ve returned a minimum of as soon as yearly, and normally, many instances extra. I’ve pushed varied automobiles, from station wagons and vans to my self-contained, absolutely outfitted Roadtrekker, which I’ve pushed greater than 80,000 miles.

A sport-fishing boat cruising across water while an angler pulls in a large marlin.
As we speak, Cabo is dwelling to all kinds of sport-fishers. It’s additionally a jumping-off level for prolonged journeys to Magdalena Bay and different distant hotspots.
Gary Graham

In the meantime, the inhabitants of Cabo San Lucas grew from 400 individuals in 1955 to 16,059 in 1990; by 2010, the whole quantity had reached 68,464. It was now not a small, dusty fishing village.

In 1977, the palapa-roofed airport expanded and ultimately grew to become referred to as Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Worldwide Airport. Worldwide flights offered momentum for the fledging resort metropolis, which regularly reworked Los Cabos into one among Mexico’s hottest trip locations.

Learn Subsequent: Study extra in regards to the Los Cabos Billfish Event right here.

Bob Bisbee, entrepreneur and proprietor of a gasoline dock on California’s Balboa Island, arrange the primary land-based marine single-sideband radio to maintain up with the boats touring up and down the west coast. That radio was the lifeline—typically actually—for crews to speak with their households, boat house owners, and others on these lengthy voyages to and from Cabo.

Bisbee offered the gasoline dock to JD Dougherty, and it’s now JD’s Massive Recreation Sort out. Dougherty has been a savior to many house owners who’ve desperately wanted an element, or who’ve damaged down alongside the Baja Peninsula between Southern California and Cabo, the place they’ve wanted all the pieces from ­{hardware} and engine components to deal with.

A large striped marlin breaking the surface of the rough waters of the ocean.
Striped marlin are the highest draw right here, though fishing for bigger blue and black marlin can also be well-liked, particularly round event time.
Courtesy Out Your Entrance Door

A Constitution Fleet Comes of Age

Amongst many others, Marco and Tracy Ehrenberg had been early pioneers of Cabo sport fishing, with the Pisces constitution fleet. Arriving there in early 1978, Marco, all the time striving to provide excellent customer support, requested Tracy to help him with the group, administration, follow-up and bookkeeping because the constitution enterprise grew.

Tracy quickly grew to become fluent in Spanish, shortly studying in regards to the boats, the fishing, and methods to handle the operation. Her dedication to service allowed the fleet to develop in measurement and vary to what it’s at this time: the most important fleet of fishing boats and cruising yachts on the peninsula.

“Pisces is the one constitution firm on this planet the place you’ll be able to constitution brand-new Vikings,” Tracy says. “That’s the stage of belief the house owners have in us and in our excessive requirements right here in Cabo. It’s ideally suited for somebody fascinated with buying a Viking as a result of they will come to Cabo to fish one in a ­real-time and real-life state of affairs.”

A fleet of sport-fishing boats cruising across the waters at the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament.
The area hosts a number of worldwide tournaments, together with the Los Cabos Billfish Event and Bisbee’s Black & Blue.
Capt. Barry Brightenburg

An instance of simply how good the fishing could be is within the catch report from only one Pisces boat in 2022. BB II, a 37-foot Viking, launched greater than 3,000 billfish, with a single-­day report of 249 striped marlin with three anglers. In addition they had a two-day tally of 409 stripes, caught off the Finger Financial institution. The complete fleet scored a complete of greater than 13,000 billfish in 2022, doubling their launch totals for 2021.

Tournaments may also carry fast-and-­livid fishing. Through the 2022 Los Cabos Billfish Event, the fleet of 53 registered groups caught and video-verified 138 billfish, together with 91 striped marlin, 26 blue marlin, 19 sailfish and two black marlin. A complete of $862,350 in money was awarded as nicely.

It’s clear that the marlin fishing is pretty much as good because it ever has been up to now, and can proceed to draw visiting anglers simply has it has for many years. It’s only a lot simpler to get there, and with a number of extra facilities to get pleasure from.

Study From the Greatest

The marlin fishing off southern Baja is exclusive as a result of most boats choose to troll a regular unfold of lures whereas visually trying to find striped marlin on the floor. As soon as in place, their anglers will forged a dwell bait to the fish, which regularly ends in a direct response. It’s eyeball to eyeball, fisherman and marlin.

There are few higher methods to study the intricacies of this type of fishing than to have an skilled present you the ropes. With a workers of educated professionals, Marlin Expeditions is simply the ticket. These all-inclusive excursions offer you a shot at a number of the greatest fishing on this planet, aboard the highest boats, and with skilled on-the-water instruction. In 2022, the Cabo Expedition resulted in additional than 90 striped marlin releases; every journey hosts solely 16 anglers who fish 4 per boat, plus crew and an expert teacher. To study extra, go to marlinexpeditions.com.