Return to the Ranch

Rancho Leonero

I am just back from Rancho Leonero in Baja’s East Cape. I spent 5 days guiding clients and 5 days shooting the Kayak fishing show.
Rancho Leonero is the original kayak fishing destination resort in Baja, not only bringing kayaks to the resort but offering guided group trips through Coastal Kayak Fishing. In fact Rancho Leonero is the first place I had kayak fished in the East Cape about 15 years ago. After that first trip I knew I had to go back, and I have been going back at least once a year ever since. Though I have returned to the East Cape each year this was my first time back to the Ranch since that first trip and I was happy to see the Ranch is still the great, homey, awesome kayak fishing destination it ever was.

Dinner time at the ranch

a great place for a cold one or two…..

Not many other places you will see this

For the trip I brought along my good friend and guide Sean White to help me on the guided portion of the trip and to shoot with me once the clients had left. I was sick for much of the trip but Sean did an awesome job of picking up my slack and helping out whenever needed. Not fun being sick in extreme heat and humidity.

Unfortunately for the clients a large storm had rolled through just before our trip and the water had rolled over. The cold green water made for less than stellar fishing conditions and the big roosters we are accustomed to catching this time of year were just not around.
We spent time at Punta Arena and though we had a lot of bites we had few hookups.
Even with the slower fishing our clients still caught fish, small roosters, dorado and some nice Jacks and just to show us the potential that is always there the Sea of Cortez kicked out a new kayak fishing record Cubera, aka Dog tooth snapper, for one of our clients.

Jay’s Rooster

The fishing seemed to be getting a bit better each day we were there but never went off while the clients were there. Sean and I took a day off to organize our gear for the shoot and were joined for the rest of the trip by Brandon Cotton and Carmen MacDonald of Okuma fishing products. They brought along a lot of toys for us to play with so we were rigged and ready.

All geared up and ready

Our first day on the water for the shoot was not much different than the days with the clients, though Brandon got a couple real nice snapper while jigging off La Ribera. One of our biggest issues was that the live baits we were getting were very large and the fish that were around were not, so though we had plenty of hits we had a lot more misses.

Nice Snapper

Day two of the trip we made the run to Punta Arena and it seemed more of the same, lots of hits, lots of misses though we started to get a few of the small Dorado to stick and Carmen landed a real nice Jack.

Carmens Toro

Day three of the trip we once again hit Punta Arena, as it seemed to be the place with the most action. It is pretty cool to be at a place where you can hook Dorado less than a hundred feet from the sandy beach. This day we got a lot more of the fish but once again lost a lot, we started to call the bait thieves the Chupacabra. Loaded down with large baits we decided to troll the drop off just offshore and hope for the big fish to give us some love.

Jims Dorado Punta Arena

I don’t think we were trolling 10 minutes when we got our first hookup, this time it was Carmen and he had on a nice Marlin, unfortunately it tossed the hook after only a couple jumps. This hook up was followed quickly by two hits on Brandon’s bait that didn’t stick. Not long after this, as we were trolling I look over and a mere five feet to my right is a large Striper just cruising along. With my Maui Jim sunglasses on this was an amazing site as I could see the fish’s beautiful colors crystal clear through the water.
Our big game trolling continued and now it was my turn, my clicker starts screaming and line is peeling off. I just kept paddling and let the fish eat, not wanting to miss another fish. After a long count I slid my Okuma Makaira into gear, the rod loaded up, the fish gave a few jumps and I was quickly headed in the opposite direction, straight into the wind and swell. Yeeeha Sleigh ride!!

Now I have a lot of experience with these big fish from a kayak but that does not mean I don’t get just as excited as the first timer or just as nervous when they start jumping around. My experience also doesn’t mean I can’t make a mistake and this time my mistake cost me the fish. Because the wind had picked up and the fish was pulling me straight into the wind at a pretty good clip, my hat blew off my head, this never happens. Just out of pure instinct and reaction I reached back to grab my hat. This loss of concentration just at the second the fish jumped caused me to lose tension on the line and the fish was gone. I felt like an idiot, it is just a stinking hat!!! I was the brunt of quite a bit of hazing that night.

On the last day on the water, tired of losing so many fish on the big baits we decided to bridle all the baits. We didn’t have a rigging needle so we did some MacGyvering to make one. The bridled baits was the ticket and out catch rate went way up. We landed and released a bunch of Dorado, and kept a few to bring home. Once a bit of breeze came up we headed back out for one more shot at the Billfish. The adrenalin was pumping when withing a few minutes I was hooked up again, unfortunately it was just a small Dorado. All the bills we saw the day before seemed to have left. We trolled for several hours picking up a few more Dorado and the only Marlin I saw was one that came up behind my bait just as we were getting ready to pull the plug. I guess he just wanted to say ” See you next time” .

A jumper

Dorado Landed

Sean gets in on the Dorado action


If you are interested in a guided kayak fishing adventure to Rancho Leonero or Punta Colorada in the East Cape visit my site www.JimSammons.com for more information.

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