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Forget Mexico's drug war, it's harvest time at Baja's Rancho Leonero

March 23, 2009 | 10:14 am

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To reach Rancho Leonero Resort, most people fly to the Los Cabos airport near Baja California's tip, then board a shuttle for an hourlong drive north, through a desert landscape patrolled by cattle that sometimes halt traffic on the highway.

The turnoff leads east through more cactus and ungainly cows and, ultimately, to the stunningly beautiful Sea of Cortes (a.k.a Gulf of California), in what's called the East Cape region of Baja California Sur.

About 10 miles out to sea, beyond the sleepy resort sprawled on a bluff, the water changes from turquoise green to a purplish blue. This is where Rick Angelo, a doctor from Boston, caught the remarkable dorado you see in the photo.

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Catching dorado on a fly rod is a thrill every angler ought to experience. Dorado are speedy and acrobatic but also radiant and delectable.

But as quarry, they're not nearly as challenging  as roosterfish (pictured immediately above), which are targeted in near-shore waters and can even be caught from the beach. Both species highlight a spring bite now underway throughout the East Cape.

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The rooster about to be released was caught by Angelo's fishing partner, Christian Motta. Unlike dorado, which are called mahi-mahi in Hawaii, roosterfish are not good eating. Most are released, and that has helped keep the fishery healthy.

As for Mexico's highly publicized drug war, which has affected tourism throughout the country and even in the remote East Cape region, it does not exist to any noticeable degree anywhere in Baja California Sur. In Baja, it's a northern problem, specific to the border region.

However, occasionally in the blue water beyond East Cape shores, a bale of marijuana, tossed or lost overboard and drifting wayward with the currents, will be discovered. And beneath it, dorado will teem, for they cannot resist gathering beneath floating objects.

-- Pete Thomas

Photos: Jeff DeBrown

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