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Dinghy Fishing Or Fishing When Dingy

There is something to be said for enjoying the simple pleasures of life while cruising. The vistas, sunrises, sunsets and the splash of bait being chased through the anchorage by something bigger and hungry for the taste of fish. There is something about the latter that gets the little boy inside of me jumping up and down with anticipation of jumping into the dinghy and racing to the location of the boiling bait and fish.


Fishing is a source of providing fresh fish onboard Dazzler. There is something really awesome about having truly fresh fish whether it’s sashimi, grilled fresh fish tacos, or any other fresh fish preparation.

I have been fishing most of my life and when presented with the natural environment of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, it’s like jumping up and down until you can grab your fishing equipment and hit the trail on your trusty steed. In my case it is Sparkle. That seams a little weird, but Pontoon Stud was already taken.

I guess I should back up a little and discuss what kind of fishing gear would be useful for putting fresh fish in your cooler. There are so many different types of rods and reels available for the angler and all at varying cost points. My recommendation is to use something that can handle fish in the five to 30 pound range. Something smaller will work a few times but it will eventually cave in. The line you use is important also. I would suggest that you consider spending a few extra coins for some kind of upgraded line. I will leave your choices up to you. I use 30 and 40 pound test Spectra line with a 12-15 foot Fluorocarbon 20 or 30 pound test leader. Be sure to teach yourself how to tie the dissimilar lines together. Spectra line is very slippery and the knot used to join the leader should be one that doesn’t let the Spectra line slip out of the leader. There are many sources on the Internet to get examples of the proper knot and I don’t want to suggest that I’m an expert. I always suggest that you practice and test. Additionally, the knot you secure your hook or lure to the leader with should be equally strong. Many fishing suppliers usually have a knot book near the front counters. Some line manufacturers will sometimes include some knot tying guides in the line box.

Lures or Live Bait?

There is no competition between live bait and lures. Live bait would be my first choice but out here there are not many bait stores to sell you a scoop of live bait. So, you have to catch it yourself or jig for it or use a cast net for it. Then you will need some kind of bait receiver that will keep your bait alive. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want. A Home Depot bucket with a lid on it and numerous holes, smaller than the bait, will work. I suggest you use two buckets. The second bucket would be without holes for the first bucket to set into. This will allow you to change out the water regularly without losing your bait. Which you must do or your bait will die from lack of oxygen. You could always buy an aerator so you don’t have to change the water out. Don’t overcrowd the bucket with bait either. That will also result in bait dying off due to competition for the limited fresh oxygen in the water for all your bait. As you can see there are some difficulties and high maintenance with the fresh bait scenario.

My choice is to use lures that closely resemble the natural bait found in the area you plan to fish.

My favorites are the following:

  1. Rapala Floating Silver Mackerel Diving and Shallow Diving Lures.
    Rapala Shallow Diver

    Deep Diving Rapala
  2. Rapala Sinking Silver Mackerel Diving LureIMG_4016
  3. Silver Krocodile™ Spoon (by Luhr Jensen, Hood River, Oregon)IMG_4011


I prefer to use lures because my confidence level in catching fish with them is very high. Even when my freezer is full of fish, I still go out and fish. If you want to be good at something you practice it. I look at catch and release as a form of practicing. The more you practice the better you become at every aspect of what you practice and your confidence level increases as well. Casting, target casting, short casting, straight retrieval, varied retrieval, etc… Presenting a lure directly in front of a fish followed by an 20170611_115749explosive strike is a rush. Trolling your lure at different speeds for the type of lure you are presenting and where to cast or troll your lure is just as important. Being on the water in a small boat and taking in the different forms of wildlife is by far the biggest aspect of being out fishing. I have seen huge schools of rays leaping out of the water all around my dinghy. Watching dorado push a school of bait fish toward the shore and then feast like kings on the less fortunate bait is awesome to watch. Nature doing what it does is incredible. If you aren’t out there to enjoy it, you miss it! Another aspect of fishing from the dinghy is it  provides you with a closer look at submerged rock and reefs around your anchorage.

There are many areas that I have found to be productive in the sense of catching. Yes, I said catching. Fishing is the act of using a rod and reel or hand line. Catching is the fight between you and the fish until it yields, shakes lose, is eaten by a bigger fish or breaks your line and steals your lure. Around anchorages in the Sea of Cortez there are many submerged rocks, rocky shorelines, points, sandy beach areas and other underwater structures. Predator fish such as yellowtail, dorado, tuna, wahoo and rooster fish will hang around underwater structures or patches of shade on the water’s surface to hide and ambush unsuspecting bait fish. They lay in wait so to speak. If you can identify these types of areas to troll your lure through or cast into, your success rate for catching will increase. There are several areas this past summer that Jilly and I have gone dingy fishing and caught numerous fish such as Cabrilla, yellowtail, sierra, dorado and others. While anchored in Refugio at the north end of Angel de La Guarda, we went dinghy fishing and in two hours we had caught and released about 30 Cabrilla, one yellowtail and a few trigger fish. I even caught two trigger fish with one cast. One was hooked toIMG_2743 the front treble and the other to the back one! What a fun day of catching on the water together. In another anchorage in the Midriff Islands on two separate occasions we went out dinghy fishing. The first time we caught and released about 28 Cabrilla, including two six pound Cabrilla within a few minutes of each other. On our second trip there, we caught and released 16, 4-9 pound yellowtail within a two hour period. We did keep six yellowtail for dinner and the freezer.



If you don’t want to take fishing that seriously then don’t. But, if you want to be successful at catching then you need to put in rail time. Just like any other talent. Practice is the key to success.

Weather Considerations

Because weather influences everything, it is noteworthy to discuss its influence on fishing. Tides, currents and falling barometric pressure can all have an influence on your catching success. If you are in an anchorage and the bar is falling off normal, grab your gear and start fishing. This is much like freshwater bass fishermen do when the bar falls near a fresh water lake. The fish can sense the change in pressure and it has been my experience that the falling bar will induce them to strike more as if they are trying to store up some excess food prior to the possible change in weather.

That’s it from the deck of Sparkle. I wish you all great fishing success in paradise.


Captain Dan
SV Dazzler



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Hauling Out In Puerto Peñasco

A great friend of mine, Roger Sutton, keeps telling me the first rule of boating is to keep the boat in the water and the water out of the boat. Of course that’s how we normally like to roll but there are times when you must pull the boat out of the water. This was one of those times. The hull needed new bottom paint and we had a thru hull to replace as well as a packing gland. So, as much as we hated to do it, the time came to make arrangements for the haul out.

Now to know my Dan is to know he doesn’t do anything he hasn’t thoroughly researched and this was no different. Hauling your boat for painting and repairs is a costly proposition at best. It’s not something you just jump into without preparation and thought. After months of research and talking with other cruisers Dan made the decision that we would haul out in the Northern Sea of Cortez at the Astilleros Cabrales Boatyard in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. This turned out to be an excellent decision. img_1083.jpg

We arrived in Puerto Peñasco three days before our haul out date. We stayed at the Marina Fonatur just across the way from Cabrales. It’s certainly not like the typical marinas we usually stay in as it’s very commercial. We were surrounded by shrimp boats and party cruise boats but it did the job just fine. The morning of the haul out we moved from our dock at the marina over to a dock just in front of Cabrales. Salvador (one of the owners) came to the boat before we moved to the ways and boarded to assist us with positioning and lines. I’ve never been on a boat during a haul out before so this was a bit nerve racking for me. We had our lines and fenders ready to go and the time came to move. I was on the starboard side at the bow. My first job was to get my bowline up to the guy on the wall. My most important job was to make sure I kept us pushed away from the rock wall on the starboard side. Ironically enough I wasn’t worried at all about keeping us away from the wall. I had the boat hook ready. I was, however, a bit uneasy about getting my line to the yard worker. He was standing about six feet above me and we had wind pushing us a bit. With rock walls on three sides of you there is little room for error. Fortunately I hit my target the first time. “Whew! Thanks God”, I say under my breath. Now all I have to do is grab the hook, keep us off the wall and my job here is done.

Dan’s an amazing captain and he certainly knows Dazzler. He slid her right into the spot perfectly. All lines were now on the wall with the yard workers and the lift started to pull us out of the water. Dan and Salvador tied lines between the sling straps to keep them from sliding as Dazzler was lifted. Once the lines were tied and the bow pulpit was raised high enough for us to get off, we all climbed off the boat. Not being extremely graceful, my next worry was that I’d fall in the water on my way off the boat. That would have been very ugly! But, Dan and Salvador were right there helping me onto the wall.

From here the crane started pulling Dazzler out of the water. She wasn’t up very far when everyone started to have a little concern about the strap placement. Salvador had the crane driver stop and we began to assess the situation. After a bit of conversation and some advice from Salvador’s father it was decided that Salvador and Dan would get back on the boat and move the straps a bit closer to the center. Once that was done she came out of the water with no hassle at all.

When you are watching your home sway back and forth as it is being rolled through the boat yard, across the street and onto the hard it can be a bit stressful. And, it’s a painfully long process. From the moment she was out of the water to the time she was on the hard, fully secured with jack stands in place was a little over an hour and a half. I’m pretty sure I now hold the record for the longest time anyone has ever held their breath. Don’t get me wrong. I had complete faith in Salvador and his team but it’s still a pretty tense time. You go in with the understanding that once the boat is out of the water just about anything can happen. After all it’s 16 tons being held above the ground with two straps on a rolling crane. There’s an inherent risk that goes along with this process and you just have to accept that. Once she is set it place she is balanced on a few railroad ties and six metal jack stands. I say a few because when I think of 32,000 pounds being held up by a handful of metal stands and a couple of railroad ties it just doesn’t feel right. At least not for this girl.

After Dazzler was secured on the hard they brought stairs over so we could get on the boat, work and get things we needed for the motel. Being the fearless gal I am, I didn’t waste any time getting up the stairs and onto the boat. That’s when fearless was no longer an adjective I would use to describe myself. The moment my feet hit the deck I was almost paralyzed with fear. There I am standing about 15’ above the ground on a boat that is being “balanced” on some metal stands. A boat, mind you, that is no longer swaying and rolling in the water. One that is as stiff and still as it gets. All of the sudden I could feel myself getting weak and very freaked out. I told Dan I couldn’t do it and I had to get off. Of course he thought I was nuts but I didn’t care. I made a mad dash down the stairs and onto the safety of the yard. It took about five or ten minutes for me to regroup. I knew I had to be able to get up there. After all, we have work to do while she’s here and I still needed to pack my clothes for the hotel. Time to put on my big girl pants so I took a deep breath, climbed back up the stairs and just tried to focus on the tasks at hand. Realizing that I wasn’t feeling very comfortable with the situation, Dan made certain that we didn’t stay there long. We got our things and headed up to the office where we waited for Doug, the motel manager, to pick us up. I couldn’t wait to get to our room and make a cocktail. It had been a very long, hot and stressful day and it was only about two o’clock in the afternoon.


Our motel was truly delightful. We stayed at La Palapas Condos & Casitas. It is quintessential Méxicano. The courtyard/parking lot surface is covered in gray rock and it is fenced in with a large iron gate at the front. We were greeted by the most adorable puppies, Lilly and Reina and a couple of older dogs, Yogi and Bob. These sweet canines became my buddies over the next couple of weeks. When things got stressful or we were tired from a long day, I sat at the outside table, under the palm frond thatched roof and enjoyed a cocktail and some sweet puppy lovin’.

The casita itself was lovely and very clean. Best of all, the A/C worked…almost too good! We opened the door to an ice cold blast of air that was so welcome after the hot day we IMG_1151had at the yard. There was a nice little kitchen that boasted a refrigerator, sink, stove, small table and chairs and all of the basic kitchen utensils and cookware we could possibly need. The floor was Mexican tile and the walls were painted with a rustic, rag finish that included hand painted vines and flowers around the door. The bathroom had a huge shower and big counter top. I know the guys could care less about that but to a woman, a place to spread out inIMG_1139 the bathroom is priceless, especially when you are used to living on a boat where you barely have room for a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Yes, our temporary home was perfect! It was walking distance to the boatyard and Doug was more than accommodating and helpful. Of course the puppies were a wonderful distraction from all the work and chaos we experienced as well.

IMG_1141Boat on the hard and us settled in our room, it was time for a few beers and a little down time but not for long. The following day we had to go back to the yard to do some work on the boat. I was dreading getting up on her but I knew I had to do it.

After a refreshing and enjoyable afternoon we were both ready to head to the yard the following day to get our projects competed. We decided that we would install the new packing gland and the thru hull ourselves. I swear there is nothing Dan can’t do! I don’t really do much. I just stand by and hand him tools as he needs them but he says that’s doing a lot. I think he just wants me to feel useful but either way, I do what I can to help.

**A little side note here. I had expressed my concerns over how boats are stored on the hard to Salvador the next day. He gave me some very helpful information. He asked if I had ever been on a motorcycle and having owned a Harley I, of course, said, “Yes”. He asked how much it weighed and I told him it weighed about 800 lbs. He then said, “And you held that up by just balancing on two feet?” It was then that I started to understand the physics of the process and that made me feel a hundred times better about getting on Dazzler on the hard. In fact, from that point forward I rarely even noticed the difference. Much thanks to Salvador for helping me through that little dilemma.

Check back for our articles on our stay in Puerto Peñasco and the final splash down!

Until next time…