View Full Version : Gone to Baja trip report-Grouper Death
04-28-2004, 05:50 PM
Well we are back from the Islands in the sea of cortez again. This was a great trip. 3 shooters got 2 yellowtail, several cabrilla,snappers,triggerfish,mexican hogfish, and the big one. Thats right a grouper estimated at aprox 40kilos. We found a spot thats stacked up with them out here. I broke off a large one also after he wrapped up my dragline in figure 8s under the water, I of course let go and was not caught up. John Morozumi of Sebastianpool CA tied into the big beast below with a custom made 4 band. He was pulled under twice during the fight but never gave up and landed his prize! We had a great trip and slept on the islands and ate a kilo of shrimp while we watched the sun set.
Water was 70+
This grouper was so big my arm got tired just holding up the fillet!
Well see ya in the south!
04-28-2004, 07:19 PM
Wow! WTG. Nice fish. That rivals our Gulf middle grounds fish. Might take a top prize in the Spearboard Open. Think you could shoot another one the day of the tourny and get it here the next day for the way in?
04-28-2004, 07:38 PM
Wow, very nice...congrats on the big fish.
04-28-2004, 09:46 PM
40 Kilos or 40 lbs????
Nice fish either way!!!
Which part of the Sea of Cortez were you diving in??
04-28-2004, 10:41 PM
Northern Baja Islas Encantadas
There were more...
05-04-2004, 12:35 PM
Explain about the American company. Do they have Mexican permits? Are they spearfishing?
05-04-2004, 01:42 PM
That was his first post and it was to attack another member. Not cool, so it gets zapped. Nice report, GTB.
05-04-2004, 11:26 PM
Did I miss some fun?
If anyone has any questions about us feel free to ask.
Yes we are both an american and mexican company. Our mexican counterpart is Playa Escondida Campo owned by Don Octavio Daginino Angulo of San Felipe BC Mex.
Once the people get to mexico we are under his supervision and direction. Operating out of Playa Escondida, a fishing camp for over 80yrs.
We go spearfishing and fishing. We follow all regulations and use no tanks and observe all limits.
It is our hope that some of the other fisherman in the area will give up their gill nets and long lines to drive around tourist fishermen in their pangas. The amount of money made by the people affiliated with me on a per fish basis is much more than the wholesale price of the fish at local markets I even buy shrimp and scallops from local markets in order to comply with regultions on forenigers taking mariscos( anything that is not a fish).
We are fully aware that our livelyhood depends on the state of the fishery of these islands.
If there were more tourists spearfishing in the islands I think that the real fishermen that I know down here would rather drive them around than pull gillnets in the middle of the night.
Tomol why dont you re-phrase your concerns and maybe I can answer some questions you have.
My biggest concern right now is my bottle opener, I cant seem to find it....
"Spotted grouper, not just for breakfast anymore..."
05-04-2004, 11:35 PM
And a yellowtail for good measure...
05-05-2004, 10:15 PM
O.K. Another lesson under the heading, Don't Post If You Don't Have Time To Do It Properly. I just reread the text of my first message and it was unnecessarily abrupt and probably unfair. My apologies.
Here are my concerns: Spearfishermen have long been viewed with suspicion and resentment in Baja. Further, even though the owners of this company have set it up with a Mexican face in San Felipe, eventually it's going to get out that there are some American guys making money on Mexican fish. Right or wrong that's going to cause tension, especially when their customers start bringing grouper ashore with regularity.
Couple that with the fact that there just aren't that many really good grouper spots down there. Sure, you can hit those high spots, but keep in mind there aren't that many, and grouper take a long time to get big.
I have no argument with spearfishermen taking grouper. I've done it myself (and may again). But when ambitious, hardworking people like Gonetobaja start to target them as part of an growing commercial enterprise, it's unlikely those fish will last long.
I applaud the idea that a pangero could make more money and do less environmental damage on a spearfishing charter than wrapping the same seamount with a gill net. But it would be better for everybody concerned if Gonetobaja would leave the grouper and snapper alone (and not use them as a promotional tool on internet discussion boards) and instead focus on yellowtail and white seabass. The latter two species are the most heavily impacted by gillnets because of their migratory lifestyle, and their numbers are less likely to be impacted by a local spearfishing charter business.
If this business proves to be a boon both for the local economy and the local environment, great. But think twice about the impact it will have on a surprisingly small, nonmigratory resource if not practiced with unusual caution.
Agian, I'm sorry that I came off rudely. I hope I've made my concerns clear hear without vitriole. And by the way, with practice you can open that beer pretty quickly with an Alexander slip tip.
Laguna Beach, CA
05-05-2004, 10:23 PM
In the interest of full disclosure, visit www.perfpress.com. There is nothing commercial there, just links to some fun footage of a friend taking -- what else? A nice gulf grouper. A great game fish, if not a good target for a commercial enterprise.
Laguna Beach, CA
05-05-2004, 11:57 PM
Tomol, you've expressed an interesting concern, but do you know of any hard data (specific to this region) to support it? BTW, thanks for the link to that awesome video!
05-06-2004, 01:21 AM
In the early days of West Coast and Sea of Cortez spearfishing, some of the pioneers and later, members of the first and second generations of blue water hunters were suredly "guilty" of excess when veiwed through the prism of todays' enviro morality. It was a sport then. In the old days, in most spearfishing regions this kind of thing has taken place and thankfully today does not. Initially the American spearos would stage their own expeditions and were pretty on their own. However irresponsible some of their waste was, I don't know how those numbers alone could have really decimated the original Cortez grouper population. From what I've heard and read, the real beginning of the end for Gulf grouper was when the American spearos would go down there and start renting live-aboards, owned or captained by local Mexicans. The American blue water hunters would find the grouper as perhaps only expert freediving hunters could, they would hunt them (perhaps a few too many) and leave. The Mexican captains, having taken longitude/latitude or just plain dead reckoning notes of the spearo-found grouper spots would then come back with nets, long lines, rod and reel, whatever and clean out the spot! Those kinds of fishing practices can make even the most avaricous spearo look like a San Franciso vegan. Gluttonous spearing of grouper may look bad and be bad, but it may be more accurate to afix at least part of the blame for the demise of the Gulf grouper to the Mexican locals who would decimate a spot in order to earn money for their family. There was no Mexican DFG back then.
Sorry if I'm a bit off topic, just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.
Thanks for posting again Nate, I missed your first one but found your recent post informative, interesting and helpful. :)
05-06-2004, 10:05 AM
Prodigal Son, good question, and the answer is no. There have been no credible population studies that I know of in the Encantadas region. My assertions for that area are based on my own experience, reading others' anecdotal observations and many talks with divers who have been diving there for decades.
Carralg, you make a good point. It seems at every port in the gulf you hear about some locals blasting grouper at night while on scuba or hukkah (sp?).
Now enough on this subject. I know when I've ridden a horse into the ground.
The good news is the white seabass are here for real. Go visit your local kelp bed and come back with a big fish.
05-06-2004, 01:49 PM
While there aren't any good population studies about the Encantadas, or pretty much any part of the Sea of Cortez, Mark Steele has done a fairly broad age study of grouper and snapper there which I could get for folks who are interested.
GTB mentions obeying Mexican limits which brings up a problem: they are overly generous (5 fish per day total of each species to ten fish total) if applied to grouper in an area as limited as the Encantadas, especially if you are shooting bigger fish. It would be good for everyone if we could self regulate a bit, or if GTB would impose a take limit on his customers. I just returned from New Zealand where they practice "one Kingie (yellowtail) per day per diver". It makes folks a lot more selective and, judging by the schools of fish, is pretty successful for keeping stocks of big fish around. The yellowtail there are a good comparison, tagging studies show they are actually resident fish, vs. Cal/Mex yellowtail which are fairly migratory.
BTW the Encatadas are one of the first places visited in Carlos Eyles "Last of the Bluewater Hunter"; they are noted under a different name.
05-06-2004, 02:47 PM
Tomol: Thanks for re-wording your concerns. I don't like taking anyone's posts down.
Man, all I have to say is I hope to win GTB's trip off the Spearboard Open prize table. The scenary out there looks incredible.
05-06-2004, 02:57 PM
You bet, Scott. I don't know whether I will pick a dive trip, new gun or a spare mask that I desperately need with my first place pick. Maybe all three if I am lucky.
05-06-2004, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by Kurt Bickel
...if GTB would impose a take limit on his customers.
That's a nice thought Kurt, but I would find it hard to enforce. Sadly, rules without "teeth" don't appear to do much in this country. BTW, thanks for your input. Please keep up the strong work at Spearfishing Mag. I love that magazine.
05-06-2004, 09:18 PM
Thats the best video clip I've ever seen!
How deep was that? That looks deep..
05-07-2004, 01:09 AM
Man o man, what have I done, where do I start?
First of all, that video is awsome!!! It captures the feel of stalking and getting a grouper in the murk and diving on it again and again to free it from the cave. Perfect!
As for the rest of the stuff, I am caught in somewhat of a delima about the whole "what to hunt" thing. As far as the ecology goes down here in mex, as far as Ive seen, most of the fishing is done at night with nets. I have seen Pangeros come out of the water with over 400kilos of white sea bass or corvina.
At night they stalk the shallow coves of baja and look in the clear water for "la mancha" or the shadow. It is actually the bioluminecent cloud that surrounds a school of large fish. When they see the big glowing cloud they simply surround it with a net and drive to the middle of the school and make noise in the boat. The school scatters right into the gill net around them and wham they are done for the night.
The fishermen that I know mostly use this practice with the exception of the Snapper fishermen which only go out on good days to longline deep 50miles off shore. They get 4dlls per kilo on whole uncleaned fish.
It could very well seem as if my "commercial enterprise" is the beginnig of the end for The encantadas grouper population however I would like to submitt this.
The exact people who taught me about the islands are the fisherman who have lived on the beach for 2 generations that I can verify. These fisherman are very good at killing grouper and any kind(and I mean any) of fish. They know when they come through at which time of year, where they spawn, where they feed, where they migrate through etc. My time started down there the same as anyone on this board. I was (and am) a hardcore spearfisherman looking to find the most out of the way spot to shoot big fish. I had bought several small grouper from the local fisherman and never paid over 10 bucks for one. I spoke with the campo owner about it and told him that there were americans who would pay him money to drive out with him and shoot the fish with a speargun. His response was "you bring the people and then I wont use my net". The rest is history.
As far as limits on fish I work like this. I follow the laws of mexico. I have never had an expedition limit all divers with 10 Gulf grouper per diver per day. It would sink my 22ft boat. I am also very selective as to who I put onto my grouper spots. Although I am not silly enough to pretend that I can keep a grouper from swimming in front of someone I do know where the different types of fish live at the islands. I am fully aware that a fish of that size can drag one of my customers under and then I really have a problem. I try to keep skill levels of the hunters even with the areas and type of fish they hunt.
There are two main types of grouper to hunt down here. The spotted grouper gets to 3ft long and is very numerous. The other type is the bigger gulf grouper. The person who shot the big guy above showed up with a custom 4 band gun, full gear and extra shafts. I could tell after the first day that he was more experienced that the other two divers on the trip(he was constanly swimming 100ds of yards away and out into blue water). After the second day I could see in his eyes that he was feeling like he made a mistake. I knew what he was looking for. I waited untill the afternoon of the 2nd day and then took him to one of my spots. The other diver had already limited out on sheephead and yellowtail. The two other divers were directed over to the area. Both divers got nice fish.
Here is where the conservation thing comes in.
Both of the guys who shot the gropers were so satisfied by getting the one big one that they shot only one more fish(a big trigger) the whole trip. I think the quote was "now I can die happy". As you know Tomol you can shoot only one fish like that and go home happy.
At that point we had more that enough fish to fill my huge white igloo. I explained that we would not have enough ice to keep the fish fresh if we stayed and wasting good fish was not on my agenda. They all agreed to head back to port.
Heres something else, the diver who shot the big gulfie actually spotted several fish. He swam back to the boat and told me that he saw the huge fish by the rocks and wanted to know if it was ok to shoot them. He was concerned that the fish would twist his spearshaft and take his gear down deep into a baja canyon. I knew if he didnt take a shot at one then it would haunt him, besides the fact that he had his licence and was being totaly leagal. He had that huge custom gun, we were in a shallow area, he had a big orange inflatable float. I told him that If he saw him again to do it. That fish wasted his nice spearshaft, but he got the fish.
At least he asked. Every spearfisherman that I have brought to the islands has observed the rules.
All of the mexican fishermen that I know think that swimming around the sea for hours to shoot a fish is a slow and unproductive way to harvest. But a fish shot with a speargun by a tourist brings more money per pound with less work to the fishermen. He doesnt even really have to get a fish, all he has to do is take them to where the fish are. And the same fisherman makes more money on less fish.
Besides, if I cant shoot fish in mexico I gotta get a real job.
05-07-2004, 03:47 PM
As I said in a previous post, I won't waste more of everybody's time on the commercial/conservation issue. I guess the most important thing is that discourse helps us all keep our thinking flexible.
However, I wanted to respond to a couple of posts about the video. It was shot a little further down the coast (sorry, I ain't tellin :-)) back in February.
Brian Webb is the killer and the video work was done by Ron Mullins, arguably the best freediving videographer we have. The grouper at the beginning isn't the one that was shot. Ron included it because of it's size, which was about 130 pounds. A beast indeed.
All of the footage is in a little over 50 feet of water.
For perspective on that initial grouper shot. Try timing it. It took even longer for the fish to swim into the frame after Ron hit the bottom. Then figure out how long it takes to make a slow, quiet round trip to 50 feet. The man's a cetacean.
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