By Gene Kira, Oct. 15, 2001, as published in Western Outdoor News:
I grabbed for the phone maybe two full seconds after the email arrived.
It was from Ken Oda, co-owner of the 80-foot, sportfisher, Breezers, and the first couple of sentences were all I really needed to read. Some key excerpts: "10-day trip...creature comforts...the Ridge...fishing Mag Bay...hire local pangueros...mangroves."
Ken's message also explained how he and his partner, Tony Bykerk, bought the Breezers (originally built by Bill Poole as the Polaris Deluxe) last spring and built her into what Ken calls "the finest private long range boat on the West Coast." The Breezers is set up for only 12 anglers in 7 deluxe staterooms, with 5 heads and 4 showers, and is about as slick a rubber ducky as you'll find floating on anybody's pond.
But, Ken really got my attention when he said this was an experimental Baja species fishing safari. In addition to fishing the usual Baja offshore high spots, the Breezers would devote time to skulking around Isla Cedros and the rarely visited Baja Pacific coast stretch between Turtle Bay and Laguna San Ignacio in an effort to catch as many fish species as possible under different conditions and with all kinds of tackle, including bass rods. Moreover, the trip would be topped off by three days of panga fishing in Baja's fabulous, species-rich mangrove channels of Bahia Magdalena.
As a possible contender for "main objective," we had the incidental knowledge that shrimp season had just opened at Mag Bay, and everybody knew that once we dropped anchor at San Carlos, there wasn't going to be a lot of Spam on the menu. For those who just couldn't stand any more shrimp, there was local lobster as a backup.
I just had to get on that boat, but dang it, the scheduling conflicted with keeping track of Hurricane Juliette and filing near real-time Western Outdoor News reports by email. I made a last-ditch attempt to hook my Mac up to a satellite phone, but when that didn't work, I called Ken and gave him the sad news. Ay... ay... ay!! No posible! All I could do was get Ken hooked up with top Mag Bay guide, Enrique Soto, and wish him well with a heavy heart.
Well, the Breezers just got back to San Diego, and my right knee is still twisted around backwards from kicking myself in the butt all day yesterday.
Ken let me down easy, using kind phrases such as "trip of a lifetime," "variety of fish," "cannot be rivaled anywhere else in the world," etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Ken and his cohorts scored on 33 species of fish from Baja's Isla Cedros south into Mag Bay, while carefully skirting around the edges of Hurricane Juliette, and stuffing themselves silly with fish tacos, lobster and shrimp.
At Cedros, they caught calicos, sandbass, yellowtail, sheephead, sculpin, and yellowfin tuna.
Then, Captain John Kirkpatrick took them slowly down the coast, snagging gulf grouper, "hybrid" Abreojos sandbass, as mentioned in The Baja Catch, and bonito, plus more yellowtail and calicos.
Then they hit the Ridge high spots for dorado, 29 wahoo of 40-75 pounds, brown shark, black skipjack, opakapaka, rockfish, whitefish, and striped marlin (all released), plus "lots" more tuna.
Finally, came the pièce de résistance, at San Carlos, where the Breezers bunch jumped into pangas led by Enrique Soto and pounded the Mag Bay mangroves with a combination of live bait and lures, releasing 99 percent of everything. This resulted in: lingcod, barracuda, sierra, triggerfish, halibut, spotted bay bass (Ken says these little peckers gave him the hottest fishing on plastics that he's ever had), orangemouth corvina, dog tooth pargo, barred pargo, leopard grouper, snook, palometa amarilla, white jack, bat rays, spotfin croaker, and finally, diamond turbot.
And that, ahem, is 33 species on one trip, from striped marlin to spotted bay bass, and a whole lot in between, a connoisseur's dream.
The Breezers is planning two Mag Bay trips next year. Hold that spot, Ken! All I need to do is get my knee turned back around!
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")