If True, Grouper Catch Is the Hands-Down Best

Catching a giant grouper on hook and line is no easy task. Catching one barehanded? Unheard of.

Until now.

Kenny McIntyre of Cabo San Lucas claims to have grabbed a 120-pound grouper by the gills in the shallows and wrestled it up to the beach.

And he nearly drowned in the process.


According to Tracy Ehrenberg, owner of the Pisces Fleet and a longtime Cabo resident, McIntyre and Michael Haines, his friend from Portland, Ore., spotted what they thought was a seal a few yards from the beach and swam out to the animal.

McIntyre was startled to see that it was a fish--a highly prized one at that--and quickly grabbed the creature by the gills.

It took off, taking the 6-foot-5 McIntyre on a “Nantucket sleigh ride.”

"(He) was dragged all over the place and almost drowned,” Ehrenberg said. “But his tenacious grip never faltered and 10 minutes later he had the feisty fish up on the beach, where it took three men to carry it up to the house.”


Ehrenberg acknowledges that the story strains credulity but said she saw McIntyre’s hands, which were “severely scraped” by the fish’s gill-plates.

McIntyre, who couldn’t be reached for comment, told Ehrenberg that the fish might have been suffering the after-effects of an earlier battle with a hook-and-line fisherman, which might explain how he was able to approach and grab it.

McIntyre and friends, meanwhile, might still be suffering from indigestion.

“After he caught the fish he brought it over to the restaurant, Maybe Later, and fed 14 people with it,” Ehrenberg said. “And he still had more fish left.”



Owners and operators of the world’s most elite commercial sportfishers, San Diego’s long-range vessels and hundreds of fishermen whose idea of fun is battling the enormously powerful tuna of Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands, will probably learn today whether there will by any season on those fish.

Members of various government agencies in Mexico are expected to announce either that the islands will be kept off-limits or that provisional fishing permits will be granted to the San Diego fleet, which has already lost thousands of dollars because of canceled reservations.

The remote four-island chain, 220 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, was designated an ecological reserve to protect it from poachers last year and Mexico imposed a six-mile exclusion zone, meaning that fishing boats could not be within six miles of the islands.


Permits were not issued to San Diego’s fleet for the first time in years and the Sportfishing Assn. of California has been trying since Thanksgiving to get Mexico to change its mind.

The association’s chief argument has been that there is an extremely healthy fishery for the fleet’s primary target, giant yellowfin tuna. The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, an international agency that monitors such fisheries, supports that, saying the Revillagigedo tuna resource is “under-exploited” if anything.

Mexico has said that it wants to protect the fragile ecology of the islands, which have been heavily poached over the years, and keep all fishermen out.

President Bob Fletcher of the sportfishing group said people in Mexico’s fisheries department have been somewhat receptive to association proposals--notable among which is a promise to stay at least a quarter-mile from land.


He added that several trips are planned through May, should the fleet be given the go-ahead, the first being one leaving Friday aboard the Royal Polaris.

If Mexico’s answer is still no?

“Then I have a feeling many of these trips will just fall apart,” Fletcher said.



SALTWATER FISHING--Locally, an exceptional whitefish bite continues up and down the coast and a fair calico bass bite is in progress in kelp beds. But what has anglers excited are large white seabass off Palos Verdes. Trouble is, the fish are cruising in fairly shallow water and, when hooked, are sprinting to the safety of the rocks before the anglers can turn their heads. Fishermen aboard the Gale Force, a 54-foot charter boat from L.A. Harbor Sportfishing, managed to boat two fish near the old Marineland on Saturday, including a 48-pounder by John Ozaeta from San Pedro.

Cabo San Lucas: Striped marlin are finally feeding. The stripers are averaging between 120 and 170 pounds, striking various-colored lures between the lighthouse and Golden Gate on the Pacific side of the peninsula. An excellent tuna bite is also in progress about 10 miles south of the harbor.

San Jose del Cabo: The panga fleets are having no trouble putting their customers on schools of yellowfin tuna. Most boats are fishing the inner Gordo Bank and posting double figures.

La Paz: North winds have hampered the effort offshore, but the fleet is having little trouble finding big game inshore as giant pargo are quick to inhale anything sent their way. And when the winds aren’t blowing, the fleet is successfully targeting tuna offshore.


Loreto: The yellowtail season is shaping up, thanks to the arrival of bigger fish that have moved into the area to feed on sardines. Live bait and iron lures are working.