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Fishing - Meet the Captains - Capt. Triby

"He is very proficient with a rod and reel, but like many traditional pangeros, he prefers the hand line."

---Ed Kunze---

Margarito (Triby) Rodriguez Gomez is primarily a commercial pangero who works out of his panga named "Nathaly". Occasionally he has worked with me and a few private yachts assisting us with his incredible ability to find and catch fish. What is unique about Triby, is that he specializes in catching the 200 pound plus giant yellowfin tuna our area is known for. Not only has he caught more 200 pound tuna than most sport tuna fishermen will ever see in their lifetime, but, he does it alone and using only a 100 pound test hand line. He is very proficient with a rod and reel, but like many traditional pangeros, he prefers the hand line.

After making bait with a cast net, he leaves Zihuatanejo Bay with his 25 foot panga set at half throttle on the 55 hp Mercury outboard, just as dawn starts showing color in the East.

He travels up to 50 miles one way with no shade cover and is completely exposed to the elements. He uses only a hand held GPS and a compass. With the eyesight of an eagle Triby finds the big tuna schools by watching for bird activity, porpoise, or breaking fish. Once he gets his fish, a late evening return ends his 15 hour day.

Fishing alone does have its drawbacks, as he experienced this last year. Triby fought an estimated 300 pound plus tuna for 3 hours with his handline, using only a leather glove over a few fingers for a drag. The huge fish was almost to the boat and nearly within reach of the gaff, when, while reaching for the gaff, his right hand cramped up forcing him to switch the gaff to his left hand and the line back over to his right. As he was trying to get a couple of wraps of line around his right wrist to get the fish a couple of feet closer, slack developed in less time than a heartbeat, but it was enough. The hook fell out. He was 40 miles offshore, half exhausted, hurting, and all he could do was watch that big tuna silently drift into the depths. Imagine the long ride home that evening.

Triby stands all of 5' 8" tall and maybe weighs 175 pounds. So, one is definitely curious as to how he gets those big tuna in the boat without dragging it in the water, ultimately slowing down his ride home. His answer was this: once the fish is subdued and alongside the boat, he rocks his panga in time with the swell. He hooks his foot as far back under the tail section as he can and then, grabs the gill plates with his hands. This has him almost lying on the edge of the panga with water coming in around him. He then rolls the fish in over the top of his body and into the boat. My first reaction to this method was "that is simple enough", and very quickly followed by "but you will never catch me trying it".

Triby is a personified pangero from the past. He respects the ocean but does not fear it. He is a good enough fisherman that he and his family live rather comfortably. Yet, he does it alone, without help from a co-operative or partners. Quick to smile and always cheerful, he is a man who loves his profession and his chosen lifestyle.

November 2000

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