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Mia & the Little Gal: Our first south-of-the-border sport-fishing adventure in Mexico

Is there something about fun that entails work and waking up before the sun? In the life of Mia and the Little Gal (LG), it sure seems to be the case. Whether we are hunting or fishing, we do believe in the saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” This early-morning adventure was a first for myself and LG. We were super excited because Hank was taking us sport fishing.

We enjoyed a relaxing vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and of course had to add in some hunting or fishing because after all, it’s what we love to do. I asked some friends who are boat captains for advice on who to go fishing with and they offered some great suggestions. April in the Sea of Cortez is really not the “hot” time of year for sport-fishing. Some captains were booked, and others were taking time off to spruce up and perform maintenance on their boats. Left to our own devices, we sent Hank to partake in the popular Mexico barter process and book us a fishing trip.

How to book a south-of-the-border fishing trip

Mia & LG are early birds, ready to catch some big fish!

Mia & LG are early birds, ready to catch some big fish!

When looking for a fishing trip, you have to do your research. First off, you need to know the area, what fish may be biting, where to go to catch such fish and what types of boats are available. You need to know if the fee includes going to those areas or not. In our case, Hank wanted a safe and smooth ride because he most importantly wanted LG to have fun. He didn’t want her turning green and being sick the entire time. He opted for a larger boat that would be more stable on the water. LG and I, of course, wanted to catch the biggest trophy fish in the sea, but since it was not season for giant marlin, we opted for anything bigger than what we had caught in our prior salt-water fishing adventures. With a few expectations set, we sent Hank on his way to barter for a Mia & the Little Gal-style fishing trip.

Hank met many people who offered fishing trips along the marina. Some would include bait, some not. Some had the fastest boat, some had the safest boat and others guaranteed the impossible. Then he met a man who knew a man. Through him, he booked a trip with Captain Alfredo Ocaranza Zuñiga. This captain is a native to the area and has guided sport-fishing on his own boat and others for nearly 40 years. Zuñiga is a 2-time champion in the International Tournament of Marlin and Fish Watches in Port Vallarta. More importantly, we learned his goal is for his clients to be successful in catching fish.

Alfredo and his first mate met us on the docks before sun-up. At a balmy 70 degrees, we were happy to not be bundled up in winter gear and excited to meet this famous captain. We briefly chatted about what we wanted to catch and before we knew it, the marina and other fishing boats were behind us.

We’re off!

I have to add in another angle to this angler story. LG was extra happy to be going on this trip because her school science teacher had presented the kids with a contest for the week. He was going to give awards to the student(s) that caught the first fish, the most fish, the largest fish and the smallest fish. LG was off to work on winning this contest.

The first mate laughs as LG is happy to catch bait that is the size of some trout she's landed.

The first mate laughs as LG is happy to catch bait that is the size of some trout she’s landed.

With lines in the water, we trolled for bait. (Refer to my prior statement, when booking a trip, ask if bait is included.) We wanted to catch as many fish as possible — from small to large. LG reeled in fish after fish, as she caught our bait. The first mate looked at us as though we were insane as we asked to take pictures with each bait fish that looked possibly smaller than the last. She and I decided he was probably used to men who only wanted to reel in record-breaking blue marlin. We giggled each time she pulled one in and he shook his head.

Before long we were chasing the flocks of sea going birds and looking for “real” fish. We watched as we left other fishing boats in the “wake” and our captain raced to a feeding area. We could see fish rising around us and hoped it would not be long.

Then one took the bait. LG was positioned in her chair. She held the rod tight and heaved and ho-ed as she reeled in a fish. The fight was on. She pulled and tugged. She would bring the fish close to the boat and then her jaw would drop as the fish would take the line and run. Her determination exploded as she waited, caught her breath and then began the fight again. Her little biceps bulged and she snarled and growled as she worked the fish in. LG kept pulling and tugging until the first mate finally told her to hold it. He brought the fish aboard and she grinned from ear to ear. She had caught her largest fish to date. A 40-pound jack crevalle.

LG's first "real" fish of the day. A grande Jack Crevalle.

LG’s first “real” fish of the day — a grande Jack Crevalle.

With smiles, high 5s and hugs, we went back to work. Work? Yes. I am calling it work. With all the activities we do we thought we were in pretty good shape. Good shape that is until you have to fight a huge fish on your line. Our biceps burned, legs looked for traction and our soft hands screamed. That LG is one tough gal!

That beautiful day LG and I reeled in a total of six of those fish. We cheered and the captain, first mate and Hank laughed at us as we caught our “BIGGEST FISH EVER!” She ended the day with a total of 12 baitfish, and 4 jack crevalle; the largest was over 60 pounds. At school she won 2 of the 4 categories in her school contest, most fish and biggest fish.

What now?

Now, after burning biceps, excitement and fun, our bucket lists have grown. We are training for what we hope will be our next family vacation. We hope it will be a sport-fishing adventure including a chase of dorado, tuna and of course, marlin. Our work is never done, and of course the early bird gets a big fish.

LG and Mia back at the docs, pumped from the day's work and wishing they could stay for more. Photo courtesy of Hank Anstine

LG and Mia back at the docs, pumped from the day’s work and wishing they could stay for more. Photo courtesy of Hank Anstine

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. With a band of columnists and reviewers, photographers and female reporters, The WON engages its readers through a blog format and we invite you to talk to us. Thank you for reading!

     

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