The Dorado Story

Dateline July 15, 2001 Baja California

Twice lately we have left the anchorage about 4:00AM. When we did, at about daybreak, we have seen lots of dorado jumping after the little flying fish. That seems to be their favorite meal. We caught 4 or 5 each morning, but mostly small ones, maybe 24” and 6 pounds. So when we left Santo Domingo, near Bahia Concepcion for the crossing to San Carlos,Sonora, I wanted to leave at 4:00. We were traveling with another boat, Zephyr Queen, and they wanted to leave at 5:00AM. So we waited.

Finally on deck! Note the two lures
laying beside his mouth.

Daybreak came and went about 2 miles off shore. No fish! I was sure I had goofed waiting for them. We finally caught a small dorado, 15” and 4 pounds an hour later. I finally gave up getting more and filleted him, then went below to take a nap. I had given up hope of the big ones we had seen last week. Just as I started down the companionway steps, I heard Trinda’s reel go. I ask if she needed help, and she said, “No. I don’t think so. It’s a small one.” I waited to see how she was doing, before going on below. It seemed like she wasn’t making much progress winding him in, so I went back up and got the net ready.

Just as I got the net, he jumped out of the water. He was BIG! Trinda was reeling him in slowly and I was getting impatient. He managed to go around my line a couple of times while she was slowly reeling.

Trinda holds up her prize!

When Trinda finally got the dorado up fairly close to the boat, he saw the boat and took off! He was pulling on the 80-pound test line so hard, that the rings on her pole snapped off. Then he made another mad dash and the strain broke the reel right off the pole. Trinda managed to catch it in one hand! I rushed over to help her. I took the reel, with the net under my arm and started reeling him in again. She had the pole and took the net. The line still went through the end of the pole. The lure has about an 8 foot leader on it, so we couldn’t reel him all the way in. We got the line reeled in up to the leader. I took the net, and grabbed the leader and Trinda had the pole and the reel. She managed to wind a few loops of line around her fingers too. As I got close to him with the net, he made another fierce dash away. As Trinda felt the line tightening around her fingers she managed to let go. The leader was slipping through my fingers too. I saw the swivel and clip sliding right into my hand, so I let go too! When the line got tight, it snapped right at the knot on the swivel above the leader! The free end popped back and put a welt on Trinda’s neck! My only thought was, “Damn! That was an $18 lure!”

I take a turn too.

Then my reel started singing! I remembered that he had tangled in my line while Trinda was slowly winding before, so I grabbed it as fast as I could and began to gently reel it in. I guess he was getting tired finally. He didn’t pull as hard as he did before, but he immediately went underneath the boat. Trinda got the net and kept pushing the line out away from the solar panel frame so it wouldn’t cut the line. Finally I got the line reeled in up to the leader. As soon as I could reach the leaders, both Trinda’s and mine, I grabbed them and took a turn around the swim ladder. We had him now! Trinda had the net so she tried to net him. He was too big for the net! She tried a couple of times, but he didn’t want in the net and she was on the wrong side of him. She handed me the net and I managed to get him in it the second try. Together we lifted him up on deck. Just then the leaders came untangled and the hook fell out of his mouth! Boy, talk about just in time. Trinda’s leader was only barely caught in the knot of my leader!

We took turns holding him up for pictures, and then we weighted and measured him. He was 24 pounds and 39 inches to the base of the tail. 47 inches to the tip s of the tail! That’s the biggest dorado we have caught yet! It took me 45 minutes to fillet him. The fillets weighed 11 pounds! That’s going to last us a while!


Trinda and Larry Littlefield are cruising the Sea of Cortez aboard their 1981 Passport 45 ketch, the Katie Lee.