EAST CAPE - Great weather, fantastic fishing and plenty of good music was on tap for the first annual Let's Talk Hook-up Spring Tournament and Concert, hosted by Rancho Leonero in Baja's East Cape last week, May 20-23.
It didn't take long for the participants to get into the "Baja" mode. Our late-afternoon flight put us at the ranch by 5:30 p.m., but most of the guests were already congregated around the picturesque bar ready for a fun evening concert by the Dorados. Gary Sniebler, Larry Robinson and Jim Dawson didn't take long to settle in and tune up their guitars.
As the sun was setting over the Sea of Cortez, the Dorados serenaded the Rancho Leonero guests with tunes from their new CD "Fishin' Train," as well as songs from their previous CDs. It was an incredible moment, as if the Dorados were in the perfect place to play their music.
The next day the game faces were on and it was time to go fishing. The weather was great, but the fishing on the first day of the tournament turned out to be slow. There were several dorado to 40 pounds, tuna to 40 pounds, sailfish, striped marlin and even a blue marlin caught, but overall the fishing for most was slow for 17 two-person teams.
High liner for the day was Team Dewey with 6 sailfish released, and 180 points. That evening the Dorados put on another great concert on the patio of Rancho Leonero. With the beautiful Sea of Cortez shimmering behind them, you could tell they were having more fun than anyone playing in this incredible setting.
The next fishing day was great. Flat calm seas, ideal temperatures and lots of big fish. Team Blum caught and released a marlin and two sailfish. They also caught a 49-pound wahoo, and two dorado that were over 40 pounds each! What a day of fishing for Bob and Carol Blum, and added to their total from the previous day, was enough to win the tournament by two-and-a-half points over Team Bohn who also had a great day.
These two guys caught 4 dorado, the smallest was 40 pounds, the largest was 50 pounds! I have never seen so many big dorado. Other boats came in with an incredible variety of fish that included wahoo, tuna, dorado, yellowtail, pargo, amberjack, skipjack, pompano, sierra and several releases on roosterfish, striped marlin, blue marlin and sailfish. The variety was incredible, and the quality of the fish was tremendous.
The sailfish and marlin were jumping everywhere, and though most weren't too hungry, our group managed to hook several billfish. I am proud to say that not one billfish was killed in this tournament. The Dorados played another concert that evening as we gave out the awards that included a trip for two back to Rancho Leonero for Team Blum.
The next day it was time to go home. Since out flight didn't leave until 4:40 p.m., we had a few hours to take advantage of the superb fishing. Rancho Leonero owner John Ireland took us out on one of his boats for a quick morning bite. We ran out about 20 miles and fished for about two hours and caught 5 sailfish and 1 striped marlin. Amazing!
Overall, this Let's Talk Hook-up tournament was a big success. Great fishing, beautiful weather, good times and a fabulous atmosphere at one of the world's most beautiful places, Rancho Leonero.
Pete Gray is co-host and originator of the radio show Let's Talk Hook-up, which airs Saturdays and Sundays, 6 to 8 a.m., on XTRA Sports 690 AM.