|Mag Bay Adventure|
Part 2: Everywhere we looked there were baitfish, birds, and marine mammals.
By Rick Gaffney — March 2002
We didn’t do too badly, either. By the end of that first day, we’d released eight billfish and caught plenty of tuna and dorado (dolphin or mahi-mahi), despite being out of the center of the action for most of the day. Once we reached Santa Marina Bay, Hamilton invited us and another Riviera to raft up on either side of Mil-So-Mar, and we soon were dining on the culinary creations of three boatloads of ecstatic fishermen.
The next day broke clear and relatively calm, and we headed out toward the fabled Thetis Bank into a settling sea with high-expectations that were quickly realized. Our triumvirate of gamefishing boats raised doubles, triples, quadruples, and more. At times there were so many billfish following the teasers to the transom that we couldn’t keep track. Everywhere we looked there were baitfish, birds, and marine mammals ranging from seals to porpoise to Finback whales, in one of the most incredible feeding orgies any of us could remember. We watched 30-pound dorado assault striped marlin four times their size in an effort to get at the same bait. Massive bait balls discolored the water, and packs of low-flying frigate birds marked additional bait. Seals rolled through the surface, snorting their misty exhalation and nailing sardines and other forage. It was absolute piscatorial mayhem.
Team Riviera released 24 billfish on our first full day on the Magdalena Bay grounds. With more anglers and two crew working the cockpit, the number could easily have been double that. Heading back to the dock, it wasn’t hard to believe the tale of one boat releasing 78 billfish in one day’s fishing here.
The waters off Baja’s Magdalena Bay have been known to fishermen since at least the early 1900s, when Zane Grey ventured there from California. Today California gamefishermen routinely voyage there on long-range boats and stay for days or even weeks at a time. Mag Bay has no tourism infrastructure to speak of–no marinas or moorings, and even basics like fuel are hard to come by at the commercial port of San Carlos. The area seems to have been protected from rapacious over-harvest by its isolation, although long-liners have begun to hit these waters with a sometimes devastating impact on the striped marlin population, and sardine seiners are increasingly seen as well.
This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.