Have a Baja Moment! Get Hooked on Stand Up Paddle Board Fishing
There’s a saying that “If you can stand up, you can SUP.” Its ease has made stand up paddle boarding, aka SUPing skyrocket in popularity over the past decade, with an unprecedented number of people taking to the water with paddle in hand. The great thing about SUP boarding is that you can do it on any body of water, but the Sea of Cortez is an ideal place to partake of this fun sport because it offers waves for those whom seek them, or flat calm waters for those who’d rather cover some ground. Touring and racing SUP boards are typically larger and more stable than the thinner surf SUP boards, resembling in many ways a hybrid between a longboard and a kayak. Touring on a SUP is a great way to see the coastline, head out to visit the humpback whales (don’t get too close!), or to view abundant sea life passing beneath as you stand perched high above the water’s surface. The truly adventurous know that SUPing is also a great way to troll for fish.
If you live anywhere near El Mirador in Los Cabos’ Tourist Corridor, you’ve undoubtedly seen Annie Doyle coming back from her morning SUP fishing session with her catch tied to the front of her board. Annie is so passionate about fishing from her SUP that she heads out long before the sun rises, dawning a headlamp so she can be seen by the panga fishermen. Unless the waves are pumping, she’s out there every day putting in her miles and hooking fish. She came up with the idea of fishing from her SUP when she noticed how abundant the fish were as she put in long miles training for the annual Mike Doyle Los Cabos Classic Stand Up Paddle Race (she did her husband proud by placing in the top three for the last three years running, beaten only by professional SUP racers). She now looks forward to the long paddles and the great breakfast of fresh fish tacos afterwards!
Annie’s turned fishing from a SUP into an art form and catches a LOT of fish: snapper, sea bass, sierra, roosterfish, rock fish, you name it. She follows the K.I.S.S principle: no pole, just a hand line wrapped around a piece of foam tubing with all the tools she needs stored in a fanny pack. This is the key to getting out on the flats without losing all your gear or hooking yourself as you get out past the shorebreak.
Here’s her setup: she uses about 30 feet of kiteboarding line. Parachute line can be substituted, but it must be non-stretch line. Using a Palomar knot she attaches 20 feet of 50 to 80 pound monofilament to the kiting line. A black swivel is attached to a 60 pound steel leader. For her lure she prefers a 5 ¾ inch jointed Rapala, which gets better action at low speeds. She wraps the whole shebang onto a 5 inch piece of foam tubing (a pool noodle or stiff pipe insulation) and ties it to a two foot line tied to a stick-on leash plug near the nose of her board. This is also where she ties the fish once they are caught and killed.
Once she’s out of the shorebreak, she unwinds the line from the foam tubing and loops it around the paddle handle using a slip knot. And then she’s off. The lure really gets some good swimming action on the recovery part of the stroke and that’s also when she usually hooks a fish. When she hooks one, she throws the paddle to the side of the board and starts pulling the line in on the same side the paddle is on, maintaining tension in the line. At this point, she says you might want to get on your knees or sit down. Once the fish is up to the rail of the board, grab it, thumb in its gills, and hold it down onto the deck of the board to contain it. Now it’s time to take your knife to the back of it’s head. Only when it’s dead should you pull out the hooks with the pliers you’ve got in your pack. Throw the hook into the water away from yourself asap. Once the fish is well and truly dead, tie the fish to the leash plug by passing the line from the mouth through the gill. Now it’s time to get back to fishing! Annie recommends wearing biking gloves to avoid getting line burns when you’re fighting the fish – sierra in particular can put up an incredible fight, making landing one that much sweeter. They sure taste good in ceviche!
Are you hooked and looking for some SUPing or fishing adventures? Several businesses in Los Cabos rent SUP boards, lead tours and provide lessons, including High Tide Sea Expeditions, Cabo SUP at the Bahia Hotel and Beach Club and Cabo Adventures. Get out there and experience the thrill of landing tonight’s dinner from a SUP board.
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