We have discovered rockfish! And we are oh so excited. We have been doing a lot of fishing since arriving in Mexico. It is such a pleasure fishing here. The laws and rules are simple - buy a fishing license and go see what you can catch. You don't have to be a Harvard lawyer to figure out when/where/what you can fish (or if it is raining on Tuesday after a partial solar eclipse...). The other fun aspect is fish are everywhere!
We started out fishing from our dinghy. We originally went after lingcod out off the breakwater outside the marina. Fishing was slow but we did bring in some really tasty lingcod. Then I did a lot of studying and found a kelp forest about 4 miles out. We have done really well in that area as well. We have caught bonito tuna, yellowtail tuna, and barracuda in that area (and I have some ideas for future trips).
Yesterday we decided to take Rapture out for a sail and try some fishing farther offshore. It is really late in the year for yellowtail tuna but they are still catching them (they are called "old guard" - the old fish that don't migrate south). The fish count reports have shown constant good numbers and the "guts" barrel up at the fish cleaning station regularly have remains of some very large yellowtail tuna. So we secured the boat and headed out to Islas de Todos Santos (Todos Santos Islands). They are about 10 miles out from Ensenada and are a real hotspot for fishing. All of the yellowtail reports have been from Todos Santos.
The day started off great - we hit 2 bonito and 1 yellowtail trolling on the way out to the islands. Then it all died. We spent almost 3 hours drifting and jigging the west side of the islands with not even a bite. This is where all of the huge yellowtail have been reported. Finally we got discouraged and decided to start back. But on a whim we decided to give Punta Banda a try. This is a point that extends out from Ensenada bay and creates somewhat of a choke point between the mainland and the islands. So we diverted.
A couple of miles off the point we shut down and started jigging. About 5 minutes into it Jan reports a bite but no fish. A few minutes later I get a bite. Then all of the sudden the flood gates opened. I would drop my line and have a fish on by the time it hit the bottom. The first fish Jan pulled up was about as ugly as you can imagine - clearly a rockfish. And that was how the next 45 minutes went - fish after fish, all rockfish. We really wished we had more time but we were just barely going to make it back before dark now. You really don't want to be out in Ensenada bay in a boat after dark. There are lobster pots EVERYWHERE and none of the are well marked. A Mexican lobster pot buoy is just about anything that floats. I have not yet seen a styrofoam coffee cup for a buoy, but I have seen everything else. And most of them are really hard to see in the daylight, let alone the dark!
The thing about rockfish is they are very ugly but taste great when you eat them. They are generally a flakey white meat that is usually firm. The other thing is there are a lot of different varieties. You can generally tell it is a rockfish by looking at it, but which species is a different story. So we took pictures of each different species that we caught for later identification. So here they are in no specific order.
Jan and I have become the "fisherpeople" in the marina. A guy from down the dock decided to drop a line in the water here in the marina because of all the fish he has seen Jan and I bring in. Well he caught a fish.. and then didn't know what to do. He came running down the dock with his fish wrapped in a towel yelling my name. I came running outside to find out what was going on and there it was. He had no idea what it was or what he should do. So I brain spiked and bled the fish for him (he had to turn away and couldn't watch - he is a very sweet man!!). Then we went inside and I looked the fish up for him. Turns out it was a croaker. I have never heard of or seen one, but there it was. Then Paul said he had no idea what to do next so I walked up to the fish cleaning station and filleted it for him. It has become a common question when we walk by people.. "what did you catch today?".