Captain’s Adventures in Isla Isabel

Steph is continually pestering me to write up a post from my perspective.  But she just doesn’t understand the hectic life and just what it means to be El Jefe on Camanoe.  The amount of work to keep Camanoe going rarely leaves me with enough time and energy to post a blog.  But, alas, I’ve had a fun couple of days and I thought it would be worthy of sharing.

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Working hard atop Camanoe.

Isla Isabel is consider the Galapagos of Pacific Mexico.  Along with a large variety of bird species, there’s an abundance of sea life.  Having paid a large sum of money for our Mexican fishing licenses, I felt it was time to stock up the freezer. 

I decided to go spear fishing in the morning because we had heard that there were Amarillo Pargo (Snapper) in the reefs.  I set out with my spear gun to tackle the reef and its immensity of sea life.  I anchored the dinghy in 20 feet of water and right before I dove in I realized that I’d lost the strap to one of my flippers.  But, a bowline and two half hitches with a small piece of line I had in the dinghy, worked just fine in a pinch.

Around the reef I found several large parrotfish (at the time I didn’t know what the hell they were; we thought it was a grouper till we pulled out our fish book and Bob from s/v Navigo figured out that it was a Parrotfish).  The largest one I saw was about 15 pounds and I was able to get a direct shot through it’s head.  After that, the water got really murky and I couldn’t see anything so I headed back to the boat. 

As I came back to the dinghy, I saw Bob from Navigo in his dinghy with a fishing pole out and it looked like it may break from the strain of him pulling in a large fish.  Apparently there was a school of yellowfin tuna boiling around the anchorage.  So I raised the dinghy anchor and rowed over towards the school.  I got right in the middle and jumped in with my spear gun.  I confused them so much when I jumped in that they actually swam straight for me.  Once they realized what I was, they quickly turned in the opposite direction and I was only able to take a pot shot with the spear gun.  No luck. Then they were gone.

Quickly went back to the dinghy, took my parrotfish catch back to Camanoe and grabbed my fishing pole and quickly got the motor onto the dinghy and headed back out towards where the school was before.  Who cares if I was in a blue lycra spandex suit. 

Unfortunately, my fishing pole only had 20lb test on it, so I figured I’d have to tire out any fish I caught before being able to get them reeled in.  After a combination of trolling and casting the line for about 20 minutes, I had a large hit.  I was using my favorite diamond jig lure.  After about 20 minutes of fighting him I finally got him up to the surface.  I was afraid of the hook falling out, so I immediately reached in and grabbed his tail and threw it into the bow of the dinghy.  He was about 30lbs and three feet long and had a shocking, golden tail.  I figured I would head back to Camanoe and fillet him before I tried to catch any other fish. 

On the way back I ran into a whale with her calf.  Not sure what kind they were but they were pretty large.  Because I’m a genius, I wanted to see how close I could get to them in the dinghy.  I got within five to 10 feet of the mother and calf while they were on the surface.  They didn’t seem to pay any attention to me.  Then I circled around them until I was directly in front of them.  At that point, the mother stuck her head up out of the water, blew out of her blowhole and dived straight under the dinghy.  Once I saw the tail go under, I realized that she could possibly surface right under me and pick me and the dinghy up.  I gunned the engine and just barely avoided getting knocked over.  Good times!

Bob joined us back on Camanoe when I got back with the yellowfin and he showed me how to properly gut a fish.  In the past, we had only filleted caught fish, but we always feared accidentally slicing into the innards/liver and contaminating the meat.  Gutting the fish was actually pretty simple.  We sliced down the belly from the gills back to the anal fin.  Then I reached in and pulled out all of the innards, including the stomach.  And this was the coolest part!  I squeezed the stomach and three, small, undigested herring fish slid out.  Next time I’ll have to use them for bait!

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Dave with his catch (top) and Bob from s/v Navigo giving a tutorial on how to properly gut our catch (bottom).

I was going to go out and try to catch more yellowfin, but the Admiral vetoed that in favor of heading over to Navigo for happy hour with the rest of the Isla Isabel fleet.

I tried to go out again this morning, but it appears as though the fish have all relocated.  I was able to catch a slightly smaller yellowfin tuna – but just barely!  I tired him out for a good 15 minutes and just as I got him up to the side of the boat, he spit the hook out and tried to make his escape.  I said, HECK NO, and reached in and was able to grab his tail as he began swimming downward.  If I had squeezed any harder I bet his tail would have sheared off.

Now we have a freezer stocked with yummy tuna steaks.  Now, if only we could catch some more snapper…we like the ceviche.


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