SI Vault
Michael Baughman
November 25, 1985
Nothing can shatter the calm of the Sea of Cortez, which Americans call the Gulf of California, quite like a hooked dorado. This one must have hit the trolled lure at full speed—40 mph, according to some authorities—and had 50 yards of line off the fly reel before I could react. When I cut the motor and turned to look, I saw a V-shaped wake streaking away from the boat, the fish no more than an inch or two beneath the surface. After another 50 yards it jumped, throwing spray and shining bright gold in the morning sunlight. The writhing fish was a good 10 feet out of water when it shook the hook loose. I saw the lure drop back to the water ahead of the fish just as the fly rod went dead in my hands. A second later the dorado (a dolphin fish) hit flat on its broadside with a splat that sounded like a gunshot, and then the sea was glassy calm again.
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November 25, 1985

What's Tastier Than A Thanksgiving Turkey? Try A Thanksgiving Dorado

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A dorado hit, and my reel ratcheted shrilly as the line went 80 yards away. The fish was in the air, and then it was gone, the hook thrown as quickly as that.

"Fifteen pounds," I said. "At least. You want to change to a fly?"

Hilde looked determined. "No," she said.

Ten minutes later, on the way back to Escondido, farther out in deeper water, Hilde hooked her fish. I cut the motor, and the only sound was the line hissing from the clickless saltwater reel as this dorado did everything that Cannon had mentioned, and more. It ran at least 150 yards from the strike, then sped at a long angle away from the boat toward shore, its tail showing. The monofilament leader, a surprisingly long way ahead of that tail, cut through the blue water.

I turned to look at Hilde. She had gone pale. "My god, it's strong!" she said. "I can't stop it! It won't stop!"

"Let it go!"

I saw the fish jump and silently prayed that the hook would hold. He cleared the surface by at least eight feet, and when he crashed back down and ran again. Hilde's fly rod remained bowed. He was well hooked. "You've got him!" I shouted.

Still, there were moments when it looked as though he'd got away. With well over 100 yards of line out, the dorado ran straight back at the boat twice, and the rod went dead for a minute or more.

"He's gone," Hilde said each time. "I think he's off!"

"Reel! Reel!"

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