CATCH AND RELEASE FISHING
Fishing has been popular in Cabo since as long as anyone can remember. Located at the opening of the largest 'fish trap' in the world, the Sea of Cortez, Cabo has been providing tight lines and big smiles for fishermen throughout the 20th century and into the new mellenium. And that's just half of Cabo's fishing grounds.
Cabo's other fishing waters, the Pacific Ocean, also offers extremely fertile fishing grounds. While the waters on the Pacific side of Cabo are usually not as calm as those in the Sea of Cortez, these waters are just as productive for fishermen. Yep, Cabo offers serious fisherpeople two huge venues to try their luck.
As the popularity of fishing in Cabo's waters has increased, it's no surprise that the number of fish to be caught has somewhat declined. Although the decline in the population of fish in Cabo's waters can be largely attributed to large boats using 'long lines' as they ply Baja's waters, sportfishermen's numbers have grown to such a degree that they too have put a dent in local fish population.
A large fish and a small minnow.
It comes as no surprise in this era of increased conservation that there are specific actions that can be taken to help maintian the Cabo fishing population. Long lines are being outlawed, fish limits are being imposed, and catch and release efforts are being encouraged.
The reality is that most of the fish that are caught in Cabo's waters are not released. But an increased percentage is being released, which is a good step in the right direction. Ironincally the fish that are being released more often each year are the bigger fish, such as sailfish and marlin.
It is not uncommon for a fisherman who has caught his first marlin or sailfish to actually land the catch, take it back to Cabo harbor, do a photo shoot and then let the local people have the meat. However, if that same fisherman catches a second large fish, there is no driving reason to land that fish. Letting the second fish go is becoming more common.
Catching and then releasing smaller fish, such as yellowtail, dorado and roosterfish, is not as common but is increasing as time moves forward. These fish are traditionally excellent fish to eat, so most fishermen will land a good percentage of these tasty fish before they start to begin releasing furure catches of the day. Once a boat has taken on a fair number of these fish, it becomes common to release the future fish that are not as big.
At this point the practice of catch and release is a very good idea, but it is not required by law. Fishermen who enjoy fishing and want future generations to continue to enjoy fishing understand that this is a very worthwhile practice. Part of the practice is passing the word on to other fishermen...something we can all do during our Cabo fishing adventures.
It is important to understand that when a fisherman hires a captain and a boat to go fishing in Cabo's waters, the decsion to catch and release extra fish is made by the paying customer, not by the hired captain of the boat. If the boat has had a good day of fishing and the captain wants to keep landing additonal fish for his own needs, this should be understood as a request, but not an obligation.