If you’ve ever had a friend promise you an outing where you’d catch a ton of fish, you probably wrote it off as an old-fashioned fish tale. But when it comes to the waters of Los Cabos you shouldn’t make that assumption. Just ask angler Richard Biehl who came close to the mark in 2011 fishing off the shores of Cabo San Lucas when he caught a 1,213-pound blue marlin. That’s right, nearly two-thirds of a ton off of one fish! Diehl caught the monster 11 foot, four-inch fish from the decks of the Go Deep, and it took 28 hours to land it. He later said, “It was the greatest experience of my life. I travel all around the world, Africa, Asia and nothing comes close to this.”
Just in case, you’re writing this off as an anomaly, you need to know that Los Cabos anglers routinely land 600 plus pound blue, black, and striped marlin. And even when the Giants aren’t hitting, you can make your ton in other ways. In December of 2007, Team Reelaxe caught and released 330 striped marlins over the course of a two-day tournament, setting a record by catching 190 of them in a single day.
That’s fishing Los Cabos, home of the longstanding Bisbee Black & Blue Tournament, site of the world’s richest and largest tuna tournament, a place renowned not only for billfish, but for yellowfin, Mahi, mackerel, grouper, snapper, and more.
Los Cabos perches at the tip of Baja Peninsula and is made up of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo which nestle at the union of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Because the region offers beautiful weather year-round in combination with the abundance of its surrounding waters, it has long been a favorite of both professional and amateur anglers. It was, in fact, those waters that drove novelist John Steinbeck to write in Log from the Sea of Cortez, “One who was born by the ocean or has associated with it cannot ever be quite content away from it for very long.” And for hundreds of years, sport fishermen have not been able to stay away from the riches of Los Cabos.
As early as the 19th century, famed western writer Zane Grey described fishing in Los Cabos as an unparalleled experience. Indeed, he went as far as purchasing a 190-foot, three-masted sailing sloop he named The Fisherman and from which he operated two smaller vessels, which he stocked with premium tackle for the billfishing he so loved. Grey became a staunch advocate for fishing in the area and pushed changes that affect anglers today.
While amateurs can fish year-round and can charter anything from a 22-foot panga for a day experience to a luxury cruiser replete with well-appointed sleeping cabins and hi-tech fishing equipment, fishing is big business in Los Cabos. The biggest draws to the professional community and to avid amateurs are the major tournaments hosted each year.
Things kick off in August with the Bisbee East Cape Tournament, a 3-day event that includes marlin, sailfish tuna, and dorado. But it’s October when things get really heated. The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament (also known as Little Bisbee) has become the warm-up event to the Black & Blue and offers a laid-back social atmosphere where friends can meet up to share tales of fishing adventures. Later, in November, the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot offers a wind-down to the most hectic part of the season and boasts big prizes for the tuna-angling community.
But the main event is sandwiched in between Little Bisbee and the Tuna Jackpot. In late October, thousands of visitors crowd the docks of Cabo San Lucas to watch the weigh-ins for one of the biggest, oldest, and most exciting billfish tournaments in the world. Bisbee’s Black and Blue Tournament began in 1981 as a six-team tournament with a $10,000 prize. Today, the event includes more than 150 teams yearly and boasts prizes in the millions.
Whether you’re a pro or an amateur saltwater angler, your fishing bucket list wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Los Cabos. Plan a trip down to charter out to the Santa Maria Canyon where marlin, tuna, and Mahi school. Drop a line at the 1150 Bank, where you might have an encounter not just with the usual suspects but with the speedie mako shark. Or for the diehard, the adventurous, and the starry-eyed, set your sights on one of Los Cabos major tournaments, where it might be you, who, as Jimmy Buffett sings it, “loads the last ton.”
—Ivan Young is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. & The Agency Los Cabios in partnership with Silver Superstore, a designer silverware wholesaler.