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Rare snapper catch a father-daughters experience of a lifetime

For The Win logo For The Win 8/13/2019 Pete Thomas

a person holding a fish in the water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo A Southern California teacher and his daughters, while fishing last week in Mexico, completed a rare trifecta catch involving a ferocious type of snapper that is famously elusive.

Jon Schwartz, who teaches elementary school in San Diego County, was fishing in the Sea of Cortez with college-age daughters Isabel and Celeste, and their friend, Michaela Kasper.

The women landed three cubera snapper, also known as dogtooth snapper, which boast incredibly sharp teeth and routinely escape into bottom structure and break the line.

"In my 28 years of living in Buena Vista, I can count the amount of times we have had a cubera catch like that on one hand," Mark Rayor, owner of Jen Wren Sportfishing, told For The Win Outdoors. "Many varieties of snapper reside in the Sea of Cortez, but the cubera is one of the most difficult to target and considered the biggest prize."

a man holding a fish in the water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

Buena Vista is in the East Cape region of Baja California. Schwartz stated in his blog that the trip was all about spending quality time with his daughters.

"Now 19 and 21, they're grown women studying in college and we have fewer opportunities together," Schwartz wrote. "So I wanted to make this trip count."

a person holding a fish in the water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

They were fishing along the coast for roosterfish, using 30-pound-test fluorocarbon line, when the first cubera snapper took a live bait. Kasper was handling the rod, fishing for the first time.

"At some point in the fight I start thinking, what IS this?" Schwartz wrote. "I've caught a lot of monsters right here, but this isn't fighting like a rooster, or a jack crevalle, or tuna. Its got more of a temper and keeps making desperate dives for the rocks, trying to break itself off….

File Photo © File Photo File Photo

"… And then it comes to color … but it's not white, like a rooster or a jack crevalle…it's ORANGE and YELLOW!! What is it?? I start freaking out because I realize it's a trophy size cubera snapper - one of the few fish I've never caught in all my travels to Baja, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Hawaii, etc."

Twenty minutes later, another dogtooth snapper was hooked and ultimately landed by Celeste, a more seasoned angler.

a person holding a fish in the water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

Three cubera caught in Baja Mexico 8.97.19 copyright Jon Schwartz http://www.bluewaterjon.com

"Now I'm really freaking out," Schwartz wrote. "Everyone on the boat is hooting, we all realize this is very unusual to hook, let alone land, two of these in an hour."

The next bite occurred with Isabel handling the rod. It seemed she would lose her fish, which ran to sea in what seemed an unstoppable run.

"It's great to see my child struggling against something and trying her best to win," Schwartz wrote. "She is usually very calm so I don't get to see this intense side of her. Her arms start shaking and her back is cramping, so I hold the fighting harness for her and keep her spirits up. As much as the other girls had to battle, this is on a way different scale."

a man holding a fish in the water: File Photo © File Photo File Photo

But Isabel gained line here and there, and soon the fish began to tire, and the battle was won.

The fish, which almost always are hooked near bottom structure, apparently had wandered over sandy bottom and had no structure in which to hide.

Rayor estimated the weight of each snapper to be 50-plus pounds, and added that cuber snapper are his favorite fish to eat, next to swordfish.

Schwartz, whose group took home 35 pounds of vacuum-packed snapper fillets, concluded his blog by stating, "Two days later we caught a massive roosterfish big enough to stun even the world's most foremost roosterfish experts. Check back in a couple of days for that story."

-Top image (left to right) shows Isabel Schwartz, Michaela Kasper, and Celeste Schwartz with cubera snapper. All images used with the permission of Jon Schwartz and Jen Wren Sportfishing

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