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Meet The Captains - Capt. Luis

"...their blinding speed, brute strength and an overall bad attitude make [the giant tuna], pound for pound, the most difficult quarry in the ocean."

Ed Kunze

Recently, I was able to sit down Luis R. Maciel Castro and have a nice long talk about catching the large tuna here in Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo. Luis is the owner of two pangas that he uses for two different types of fishing. The "Mahi-Mahi" is for inshore but his favorite is to take the "Gringo Loco" offshore and go after the giant yellowfin tuna.
In this last 5 years he has put his guests onto countless tuna and has boated more than one hundred tuna over 200 pounds!

We are not talking about a 100 foot Long Range sportfisher with 18 to 24 people, hundreds of scoops of live bait capacity and a 2,000 mile range. The "Gringo Loco" is a 26 foot panga that fishes up to 4 clients, has a live well that holds two dozen goggle eyes, a wood cabaña top and twin 55 hp engines. His accomplishment of putting his clients on to that many large tuna is incredible no matter where you fish in the world. His largest to date was caught just this last year and weighed 346 pounds.

Luis is 49 years old, speaks English well and is the past President of the local Sportfishing Co-Op. He grew up on the ocean and started learning his trade by fishing with hand lines from an open panga. He then worked a few years on the large commercial boats and moved up to private yachts. Several private yacht owners have understood his abilities and have flown him to Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas, and Australia to fish the major billfish tournaments with them. He has personally won 4 of the local billfish tournaments (that are gaining global recognition) here and in Lazaro Cardenas.

Even though Captain Luis is an expert billfish fisherman that has taken many a big marlin and numerous sailfish, a billfish expends a lot of energy with his airborne display. These aerobatics definitely give many a thrill to the angler, but also lessens the fighting quality. Not so with the tuna. Captain Luis' preference to catch the giant tuna stems from their blinding speed, brute strength and an overall bad attitude making them, pound for pound, the most difficult quarry in the ocean.

Luis told me that his favorite time of the year is May and June. The big tuna are usually only 10 to 15 miles out. During this time he does not have to ask for a fuel surcharge from his client. Where, as it is standard practice for all the sportfishing fleet, a surcharge to travel the 25 to 30 miles from December through April is necessary.

The one tip that Luis believes accounts for his success, is that in the morning he takes the time to catch a couple of two to three pound barriletes (similar to a bonito), and sticks them in the tuna tubes. He then trolls out to the blue water at a normal 5 to 7.5 knots, keeping a lookout for bird activity, breaking fish or porpoise. The big tuna are migratory. They have been pounded hard by the large commercial boats all up and down the coast, making them very boat shy. Once he has spotted a positive sign, he slows down to about 2.5 knots, puts the barrilete on a downrigger and trolls the large live bait up along the side the school of fish. He is careful to not go into the middle of the school or too fast. His baits are down about 50 to 75 feet and generally below the smaller 80 to 100 pounders crashing on the surface.

When the big live bait is taken, it is almost 100% it is will be a decent size fish of 200 pounds or more. What comes next is several line peeling runs that can strip off 200 yards of line in less than 30 seconds and an ensuing 2 hour fight. The result is an exhausted client but, one with the satisfaction of landing a fish of a lifetime.

Luis has chosen to live, work and raise his family here in his birth place and his clients are fortunate because they have the ability to rent his pangas and fish with a world class fisherman for only a $190.00 a day. Combined with the fishery we have here in Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, a day spent with Luis is a bargain.

He lives on Las Gatas Beach with no phone services but can be reached by cellular at 044 755 82087

March 2001

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