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A rockout in the blue: Pacific fishing on Cedros Island, Mexico.

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Isla de Cedros, Mexico, is a small rock island in the Pacific Ocean 310 miles from San Diego, California. It is 134.47 square miles in area and is the fourth largest island in Mexico. It is separated by the 62-mile wide Sebastian Vizcaino Bay and is 13.5 miles northwest of Punta Eugenia, Mexico. The fishing around Cedros Island is best known for the calico bass and the yellowtail--a subspecies oftheyellowtail amberjack--but there are plenty of other species around, too, including sheepshead, California halibut, dorado and on rare occasion, white seabass.

The white seabass, Atractoscion nobilis, is of special interest to Florida anglers as it is in the same family (Sciaenidae) as our spotted seatrout. Shape, fin structure and general coloration are indeed similar, but among differentiating characteristics, prospective size stands out. "Seatrout on steroids" hardly begins to tell the story: The all-tackle record for white seabass is 83 pounds, 12 ounces.

Our flight originated from a Mexican military base in Ensenada via van transfer from San Diego, CA. On Cedros, we stayed at the lodge run by Cedros Outdoor Adventures, owned by a husband and wife team, Melanie and Jose.

On our first day of fishing, we awoke early to a beautiful sunrise, had breakfast and headed to the fishing grounds to "make" bait. We were trying to catch small mackerel, which are one of the top baits there. Our captain stated that white seabass "are difficult to catch on lures." I have been around long enough to know that you can catch anything that swims on lures at the right time with the right angler and of course with the right lures, so I was not deterred by his comment. In this part of the world it is simply customary for captains to use live bait.

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At our first spot, we fished for about half an hour before my friend Frank's rod doubled from the take of a very large fish. After a 25-minute battle we saw the big fish coming up, and was it ever a monster of a white seabass. In fact, it turned out to be the biggest one ever caught off of Cedros Island, as of this writing. Even the captain was in awe of its size. At the dock it weighed a whopping 66 pounds.

Once we all settled down from this excitement, we moved the boat back into proper fishing position and I began casting my 2-ounce Reebs red leadhead jig rigged with a 6-inch Red Shad colored MC paddletail swimbait. I was using the lightest outfit that I brought along. I had planned to use it only for calico bass (which seldom top 10 pounds) but, unfortunately, I had several rod tips break during traveling, and so that's what I was left with, I slow rolled my swimbait along the bottom. When I felt a light tick on it, I quickly set the hook and was fortunate to connect to another big white seabass.

As the battle began, I thought just how much fun it is to fight fish on light tackle. It is also very nerve wracking, as you never know if any part of your tackle is going to fail. With outmatched tackle, the odds are in the fish's favor, which is the true sport of fishing for me.

I was fishing with a 4000-size Shimano spinning reel filled with 30-pound braid by Sufix and a medium/light action rod made by Daiwa. The clear Berkley fluorocarbon leader I was using was only 20-pound test and was connected to my main line with a double uni-knot. Due to the deep water, vast kelp beds and large size of the fish, we had to follow the fish so it would not get too much scope on me, otherwise it would break off.

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The light rod did not have the backbone to lift such a heavy white seabass. For 30 minutes, I tried a slow lift and reel down technique several times until it came into view of the boat. pointed the tip of my rod toward the captain and kept the fish coming up to the surface. I was lucky because it swam up in an attempt to shake the lure free, at which point the captain stuck it with the gaff. At the dock it weighed in at 53 pounds.

We continued to fish for them in the same area for the next several hours and did manage to get two more to the boat which were 45 and 42 pounds. Both techniques ended up working, live bait and artificial lures. The four monster white seabass we caught had a combined weight of 206 pounds. Simply incredible!

The next day, no one could find the school. In my heart I was glad that those fish had moved to another location. As with trophy seatrout, the breeder seabass are valuable for sustaining the populations. We'd had the thrill of a lifetime catching a few monsters of Cedros Island, and I hope someday to return.

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Title Annotation:Tropical Sportsman
Author:Large, George
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jun 1, 2016
Words:843
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