Waterman's Journal

Dec 28, 2009

Capt. Josh Temple Unleashed: Santa in Socorro

I slipped into a very comfortable silence alone at the helm of the Salty last Sunday. Southbound under a darkening Baja sky the miles ticked by, and the tractor beam pull of Cabo's debauchery eventually seemed weaker. Thoughts of the madness that had transpired during the previous week grew fainter, demons left to sort themselves out amongst the confusion of Salty's wake. I seldom feel better than when i'm embarking upon yet another adventure, leaving land and all of it's shallow pleasures behind.

I have a well earned and nefarious reputation for getting myself into trouble where firmly planted feet should otherwise succeed in navigating a more appropriate path. Such are the ways of the more irresponsible pirate adventurers, i'm more oft to offer, as though this would otherwise excuse such things.

So it was with a crooked grin that i dialed the radar in, and set our course for Socorro and the Revilligedo Islands once more. Shooting stars streaked earthward as i fingered the equipment, their brilliant contrails eerily matching the cadence of the bioluminescence that danced below the hull. A fresh breeze toppled the quartering Northwesterly seas following our starboard quarter, giving us a slight yawing motion as we tracked southward, adding at least a knot to our SOG. The lack of any moon gave brilliance to the constellations, planets and stars seemingly content to illuminate the heavens on their own. A canvas as beautiful and profound as any i have ever seen. I am reminded of the magic of our planet in these moments, and the infinite mystery of all the unanswered questions that, while pondered, still remain.

I sat back in the helm chair and absorbed the darkening beauty, set our course on the chart plotter, adjusted the autopilot, double checked our fuel burn, temperature, pressure, and the innumerable gadgets and readouts one must concern themselves with whilst in the skippers seat. It's no trans-oceanic adventure, but a trip of this nature demands a certain amount of prudence nonetheless. As the captain it's my ultimate responsibility to ensure everyone's safety, a burden, particularly during these moments, that i am inevitably happy to saddle myself with.

Two hundred and some-odd miles to the promised land, as the radar went blip-blip, and miles to go before i sleep.

Gernsey, Ben, Gerald, Matt, Phil, and i all traded watches that first night as Salty steamed southbound. An eclectic crew of modern day pirates assembled to ensure SteveD stays on the cutting edge of our current fishery. With a sporty breeze and a following sea we managed an average of ten knots all evening long, greeting daylight a scant sixty miles from San Benedicto.

As usual, the marlin lures went astern in a flurry of grey light activity. And as usual, it didn't take long before a feisty blue marlin joined the party.

I'm not exactly sure how many marlin we've caught on our trusty purple and black moldcraft over the years, but i can tell you it's been plenty. Make that plenty-plus-one, as a two hundred pound blue demolished the wide-range and tore ass for the deep.

Matt H strapped into the harness and went to work on the fish as the rest of the crew cleared the remaining lines. I threw Salty into reverse and made a note of the fact that we were only a scant half-mile from the waypoint where we caught our first blue from the previous trip over a month ago. I hit the SAVE button again, wondering just what kind of potential this little oasis of ocean might hold dear.

Matt worked feverishly to keep up with the fish as we raced in reverse, Ben managing to score the release a few moments later and just like that we were on the board and running. It's quite difficult, i was beginning to realize, to not look like you know what you're doing around here.

We continued on to San Benedicto where just like last time, it took a mere two seconds to garner a double header. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Wahoos and tunas literally fighting each other for the chance to pounce on our jigs, lures, and baits. It was nearly impossible to get two lines in the water before another tuna or wahoo would demolish the spread! Matt H hooked a monster tuna on the marauder, a behemoth that we guessed at 250 - 300 pounds, but the plethora of toothy critters that lurk those islands eventually took their commission, feasting on the beast on the way in and leaving us with only the head. Sonofa...

Matt H came back swinging however, landing a solid 80 - 90# wahoo on the very next strike. By the time the sun set over San Benedicto that evening we were absolutely surrounded by boiling tunas, wahoo, and sharks. The sheer amount of biomass surrounding those islands continues to leave me stunned.

We decided to head to Socorro that evening, trying for a few hours to make cabillitos around Benedicto to no avail. We arrived at Cape Pearce around midnight, managing a few dozen baits before our tired, sleepy eyes got the best of us. We dropped the hook tight to the cliff face and turned in for the night.

The next morning we tried fishing Cape Pearce on the anchor, but the sharks drove us offshore in a hurry. It seems like the old days of long-range style anchor fishing are over, the shark populations have certainly recovered since then. If you stayed in one place for any more than a half-hour the sharks would be on you so thick that you'd have absolutely zero chance of landing a substantial fish. Even twenty pound tunas were getting devoured. The trick was to keep moving, trolling, drifting.

After pulling the anchor i scanned the horizon with the gyros and found several massive bird schools a half-mile from shore. We deployed our now-scarred and savagely torn-up marauders and once again, it didn't take long. So thick were the fish that at times it was impossible to deploy even one marauder, as tunas would catapult out of the water, depth-charging the lure as it was still being freespooled behind the boat. When we had a fish hooked on the lure, the boys would let fly the irons, bombs, poppers, and baits. Literally everything we threw at them was obliterated within seconds of hitting the water. Too easy, too often, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!!!!

It took a good three hours for us to work our way down from Cape Pearce to the Naval base, a distance of less than four miles, as every ten seconds saw us hooking another double, triple, or quadruple of wahoo and tuna. How the boys managed to catch that many fish back to back to back to back to back is testament to their dedication and love of this sport. I was tired just from watching them, my voice hoarse from the constant, relentless screaming. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPP!!!!! Over, and OVER AGAIN!!!!!

We finally made it to the Navy base around noon, familiar faces greeted us and informed us that it was our lucky day, there were some two-star Generals in town for a visit that wished to have a chat with us.

"Lovely!" Ben and I offered in Spanish, the blood literally draining from our face.

We sat there for over four hours, sweating, hoping like hell that nothing had changed. Thankfully the mackerel were thick at the anchorage, and we managed to plug our tanks during the wait. Finally, the panga arrived with enough brass and decoration to warrant a parade. Things turned very official REAL quick as Ben and I scrambled for our most authentic spanish. The Generals were all business for a good half an hour, putting us through the paces, checking over everything, leaving no stone unturned in their wake. Somehow Ben and I kept our cool, slowly managing to turn their stern facade jovial, seemingly successful by the time a smile cracked their lips.

If there ever was a test to our permits validity, then the hour we spent in the company of those two-star generals was it. Thankfully, after making sure we weren't hostiles, the Generals actually became quite chatty, giving us some insight to their intentions with the islands, and how people like us should expect to fit in. We traded information and stories, an opportunity for sharing between two considerably different factions that does not readily exist. Ben and I were humbled by their genuine love for their country, it's resources, and for allowing us the very rare opportunity to enjoy some of Mexico's most beloved treasures under their direct protection.

We parted ways with the military contingent after another one of those experiences that leave Ben and i shaking our heads. Who gets to do this?!?!?!, we ask ourselves, time and time again.

I spent a long time that night alone in the tower, soaking another star laden canvas of gratitude in.

The rest of the trip was a blurrrrrrrrr of madness. Another example of of just how good it can be. Santa came early to Socorro this year, thanks to the crew, the Generals, the Salty, and most of all to SteveD.

For more information on fishing with Captain Josh Temple, go to Primetimeadv.com or click below...