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He’s not lamenting a messed up fishing vacation. Many of those who had the least, lost the most. (Photo from British news) 

ODILE’s ORDEAL AND AFTERWRATH

Originally published the week of Sept. 30, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

When I wrote my last column two weeks ago about making the best out’ve your situation if your vacation gets slammed by a hurricane or other natural disaster, I had no idea. As I wrote that piece, it was your typical sunny Baja day on the beach. As I closed out, it was just starting to get a little cloudy. Rain drops were starting to fall.

 

I used that to underscore how quickly things can change. Especially in Baja. Especially in this el Nino year.

 

I was just trying to get my column out. Put some words together. I had no clue just how fast things would change. How fast life itself would change.

 

The “bit of rain” was part of a weather cell we had been watching half-heartedly watching for several days.  It was just another ho-hum rainfall that started our way with a roar, but like a dozen others this season, we expected it would eventually bend out to the Pacific Ocean. We might get a “little afternoon precipitation.”

 

It was an understatement of historic proportions.

 

In the span of less than 12 hours the storm did the unexpected and put Baja right in it’s crosshairs.   By midnight, Sunday the 14th, Hurricane Odile had turned into the largest and most powerful hurricane ever to hit Baja.

 

It slammed into Baja with Category 3 and 4 strength winds including gusts up to 140-150 miles and hour. By comparison, Hurricane Sandy that devastated the East Coast in 2012, had winds of “only” 115 miles and hour.

 

Those, like us with a fishing operation in La Paz, or have businesses that are affected by weather or happen to watch weather, had at least a bit of time to get ready. Get the batteries and water. Tape the windows. Get the rain gear. Tie and chain things down. Pull our boats onto dry ground.

 

Most of Baja was not ready.   It was the weekend. It was the start of the 4-day Independence Day weekend festivities, the largest biggest holiday in the country.   Folks were in a big-time party mode.   Most government officials and civil workers were long gone. Thousands of tourists had no idea either.

It was pretty bad. You’ve probably seen the photos or watched the news. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been in one. It’s like being inside a vacuum cleaner. It’s THAT loud. But add the glass breaking. Trees snapping. Our ceiling collapsed. Things shattering. It’s difficult to talk. To think.

 

This was my 10th big one and they are never the same. Like some perverse amusement park ride you know will end, it’s fascination, panic, awe, self-preservation and terror roller-coastering with each blast of wind.

 

And then it passes. It whimpers; runs outta steam; and moves on.  And you sigh. And you exhale and like little Hobbits you gingerly creep out with everyone else into the light.

 

But, it’s not over.

 

In reality, it’s just starting.

 

The destruction is devastating. It looks like Godzilla danced on the town. Phone poles snapped in half. Giant old trees uprooted. Entire walls of buildings simply missing. Boats and yachts sunk or blown to dry land. Not a single window unbroken. Cars upended. Power lines draped limply across roads. Entire neighborhoods destroyed.   Roads and bridges submerged.   Hotels collapsed.

 

More than 30,000 tourists stranded with no immediate resources to handle them. An equal number of residents homeless.

 

And no water. No power. No electricity. No phones. Gasoline runs out. The brand new airport looks like it took an artillery barrage. It no longer exists.

 

Like being no a deserted island. No way out. No way in. No way to call home…or anyone else. No supplies.

 

One day post storm, it was shock and disbelief. Day two, it’s assessment.

 

By day 3, it was starting to get ugly. Tensions rising. Tourists are now ramping up the panic. Tourists and residents alike hit realization. And it’s nasty and ugly and scary.

 

The vacation has been trashed. The novelty has worn off. The margarita bar has been blown to Mazatlan. The fishing boats are sunk. And there’s no water, showers, food.   Everyone is sleeping on the floor.

 

And worse…there’s no communications. Off the grid. That is especially terrifying . In a world where everyone has their nose stuck in a smart-phone, it’s the stone age. No way to notify family and relatives. No access to news. Still no way off the island. No airport. No planes.

In the cities, the afterwrath is worse.

 

Wholescale looting erupts. And it’s not just the dad trying to get some milk and tortillas for the family. Mobs break down windows, doors and metal barriers. Some gleefully. Large scale jubilant Christmas looting.

 

The big chain stores are attacked and emptied by the hordes. TV’s…clothes…exercise equipment…alcohol. If it’s not nailed down, it’s gone. Fighting breaks out. Police and law enforcement, already strained with the disaster are powerless. Rioters barricade streets so police cannot interfere. They don’t. They can’t.

 

In the neighborhoods, more looting. Assaults. Rape. Gangs roam the streets with machetes and arms. Neighbors set up their own security to protect their neighborhoods with guns, rocks and re-bar. Carjackings take palce. Fires are set to illuminate the dark. Neighbors dress in white to set themselves off from the bad guys.

 

Families fight off looters from the roof with bricks and chunks of concrete. One group beats back several assaults from gangs attempting to breach their walls by using sticks, rocks and baseball bats against knives and clubs.

 

Gunfire can be heard in the darkened streets at night. As one escaped resident told me, “It was medieval and primal. Complete lawlessness.”

 

The army finally rolls in and things quiet down.

 

Two weeks post-storm, the recovery is remarkable. The government, the phone and power companies; constructions companies and many others are still working around-the-clock to get going. The phoenix rises.

 

They said the airport in Cabo would be out for the rest of the year. By the time you are reading this, some limited flights might already be working. The La Paz Airport is already open.

 

La Paz is 95% back on the grid. Most of the city is cleaning up and back to normal but dealing with the huge influx of refugees. Cabo is 15% on the grid. Some hotels are actually back in business if somewhat limited.

 

Cell phones were not supposed to work for a month. They were back online in about a week.

But, it’s not over yet. Far from it. Odile’s “ordeal” continues on so many levels.

Many of those who had the least, lost the most. Or everything. The poorer areas, if not destroyed, have not been high on the list to restore services.  It’s alot more than “my vacation got screwed” or “I never got to catch a fish”  or  “I went two days without a hot shower.”

Much more…

 

Many still have no water. Electricity is a flashlight at best. Or a candle. Food is scarce and many are in residences missing a roof…doors…windows…a wall. As one told me, “My family of 3 shares two buckets of water in the dark to wash, drink and cook.”

 

From others, “I have had no hot food in two weeks.  Several days there was no food.”

 

“We sleep in the doorway because there is no light.  By the doorway there is light from outside because we lost our doors.  It is also cooler. But now the mosquitos come.”

“Our barrio (neighborhood) has yet to see a repair truck or anyone.  They fix the tourist areas, but in two weeks we still have no electricity or water.  We are forgotten. “

Many businesses will never recover. If it was tourist related, there’s no tourists. If the building got blown away, there’s no insurance. It doesn’t matter if your family ran it for 2 generations.   And there’s no “bailout” programs here in Mexico.

 

Odile shattered more than just some hotels and vacations. The most powerful storm ever to hit Baja indeed.

 

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

 

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

Making Lemonade Safely

storm coming 2

In a matter of minutes…here it comes! Out’ve a blue sky.

HURRICANE PARTY!

One way to handle it…

 

MAKING LEMONADE SAFELY

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 17, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

As I sit here writing on the 2nd story terrace of our Tailhunter Restaurant here in La Paz, it looks like a postcard.   The waters of the bay shimmer in the sunshine while I can see birds diving on a school of jacks near one of the buoys.

 

Sailboats and motoryachts drift on their moorings while a larger cruiser heads out. Palm fronds from the waterfront trees give a hint of the salty breeze blowing through siesta hour.   If I weren’t writing, I’d be like a few guys I see on the beach with their feet up under a shady palapa with cold ones in hand just watching the world go by.

 

Hard to believe that just a few days ago, Hurricane Norbert blew through here. Life returns quickly to normal once the sun comes back out. Conversely, everyone is now watching and talking about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Odile which has Baja in it’s crosshairs and might be hitting us as you’re reading this.

 

Actually, there’s two other storms (Tropical Depression 16-E and Invest 96E) which are yet un-named, but accompany Odile into our area. Sigh…can’t get a break! So, a trifecta might be in the making.

 

But that’s life in a tropical zone during an El Nino year! We expected them. By one count, these are the 14th or 15th storms of the year.   Most have fortunately glanced off and gone spinning into the Pacific with apologies to my family in Hawaii. (But Hawaii knows how to deal with rain! Baja is still working on it.)

 

Until Norbert last week the storms did some tremendous damage along Baja’s Pacific Coast. However, they really haven’t done much to Baja except rattle our collective tranquility.

 

Along with some heavy occasional downpours, street flooding and thundershowers , they remind us that Mother Nature still has a roar.   But, mostly, all we’ve had is roar.

 

And roaring is fine. To a point.

 

As long as it doesn’t screw with our vacations, right?

 

But, it happens sometimes. Baja is the “frontera” (frontier). It’s not some hermetically-sealed-Disneyland where everything is somehow controlled by someone behind a screen like the Wizard of Oz.

 

It’s beautiful and rustic and rugged. And in it’s own way, still dirty and dusty and raw. And when it rains or gets weather, it can get dirtier and muddier and wetter and uglier and yes, even dangerous.

 

So, what do you do if Mother Nature hangs one on you?   It’s not likely, but it CAN happen and co-incidentally, “hurricane season” just happens to be when the best fishing takes place.

 

You can watch the weather reports and, if you see something looming, take pre-cautions. Check with your outfitter and reservation people. Take out vacation insurance if it looks like you might not get refunded.

 

Don’t outright cancel your trip without first checking if the area you will be in will even be affected.   Baja is a big place. Mexico is a big place.   Weather patterns change rapidly. A storm affecting one area, might not even drop rain a few hundred miles away.

 

If you’re already on vacation, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing to be done. Storms can orginate from clear blue sunny skies in a matter of hours during certain times of the year.   No amount of foresight or weather scouting on your part could have predicated the onset.

 

If that happens, use some common sense.  Vacations are important, but nothing is more important than personal safety.

 

If your outfitter has to cancel a trip, so be it. See if there’s a refund or you can re-schedule.

 

Even if the outfitter or operator is NOT canceling the trip, ask if it’s going to be rough or even worth going out. Remember, it’s supposed to be safe and second, it’s supposed to be fun. This shouldn’t be an exercise in stamina and miserableness. Ask to re-schedule.

 

Some shady operators will send you out knowing full well it’s gonna be a boatride just to pocket the money. But, most aren’t like that. Especially, if you have the ability to re-schedule. They don’t want to be out there bouncing around either and happy satisfied clients are a priority.

 

If the hotel recommends you stay close or even indoors…by gosh…have a clue and don’t be running around outside when all heck is breaking loose.

 

I’m reminded of tourists I saw in the middle of a hurricane cavorting in the pool while bits of roof were spinning around like shrapnel in 80 mph winds. They were still laughing as 20-pound coconuts started dropping from coco trees like cannonballs around them. WHOOSH! WHOOSH! BOINK!

 

Another time, with thunderous bolts of electricity blasting La Paz Bay, I saw frustrated anglers still casting rods in horrendous wind and rai. They were trying to make-a-point to their amigos that they were “hardcore” fishermen. With every jag of lightning I expected nature to take aim at one of those “rods” and teach them something about “hardcore.” More like “burned-to-the-core!”

 

It’s pretty funny now, but back in the day, some other clients grabbed kayaks in the middle of the maelstrom and attempted to row around playing “kayak water polo” in a flooded parking lot where cars were submerged up to their windows.

 

Like the saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”

 

The point is, stay safe. Don’t tempt the powers, curse the devil or spit into the wind. So to speak.

 

From a secure vantage point, try to enjoy the adventure, as it were. Nature can be pretty amazing.  Put your feet up. Crack a cold one with your other stranded travelers.   There’s not much more you can do outdoors.

 

I’ve seen folks organize poker parties for others. One hotel set up a DVD and casino night in the lobby.   Another hotel sent out for pizza for everyone and kept the bar open 24 hours.

 

Another put giant trash bags and scissors out so people could make their own “rain panchos.” Snip three appropriate holes and you’re ready to go.

 

Bottom line. Make the best of a crazy situation that can’t be helped. Don’t blame your travel agent, outfitter or the weatherman. It is what it is.

 

People get hurt during these things but MOST of the time it’s because they were doing idiotic things like trying to swim in raging surf or crossing swollen arroyos with cars. Or getting hit by flying debris.

 

No one ever got hurt watching a storm while eating a taco and drinking a margarita indoors.

 

I’m shutting my laptop right now. Three hours ago when I started typing, it was sunny and hot!   Honest…the winds suddenly came up with dark clowds and it’s staring to rain…again! Where’s my trash bag pancho? I’m out!

 

(Within hours of this, Category 4 Hurricane Odile hit…)

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

BILLFISH 101

IMAG0242

BILLFISH 101

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 2, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

There are probably few places in the world where you have a better chance of hooking that billfish you’ve always wanted than the waters in the lower Sea of Cortez and the southern Baja Peninsula.

 

These “glamour” fish include both sailfish and marlin which are drawn to these waters by a number of variables. The landmass itself drops off quickly into deep water trenches that bring cool upwellings and nutrients from the abyss. These, in turn are the food source for the baitfish which attract all manners of gamefish to these waters.

 

Sitting at the apex of the foodchain the big billfish can attain sizes up to half-a-ton. At the lower end are the smaller sailfish. In ascending order (and size) come the striped marlin, black marlin and then blue marlin as the largest of the hunters.

 

Not only do they feed on the small baitfish like sardines, caballitos, jacks, mackerel and others. But, they feed in the middle of the food column as well regularly dining on the other predators such as tuna, bonito, dorado and other bluewater species. Basically, if it can fit in it’s mouth, it’s a possible meal.

 

So, if marlin are on your bucket list, like anything else, it’s all about “WWH” (WHEN? WHERE? HOW?).

 

Generally speaking, warmer months are better. But even then, that is not always the case. Every place is different.

 

Around Cabo, striped marlin have been known to “ball-up” in abundance just off the Pacific Coast between Bahia Magdalena and Cabo San Lucas. This takes place from November to January.

 

It’s a bit of a run from Cabo and it can be rough because it’s winter, but you can also catch a boat from several spots around Bahia Magdalena, but not many. Most anglers run up from Cabo.

 

It’s a long run, but the fishing can be incredible. It is not unheard of to hook and release dozens of marlin PER DAY! Again, food is the key. The marlin are there feeding on the huge schools of mackerel.

 

As the year ends, the stripers start to migrate south and around the tip of Baja and with each proceeding month start to move further and further north up into the Sea of Cortez.

 

So, while Cabo can see marlin year-round, the East Cape, La Paz, and to a lesser degree Loreto and cities north will see the billfish from spring to fall. But, not much in the cooler months.

 

So, pick your times carefully. Summer and fall are predominately the best opportunities to get into billfish in all areas.   Also waters are warm and seas tend to be calmer.

 

As for location…

 

To that end, generally speaking, the further south you go, the better. Although billfish can be caught in a multitude of spots in Southern Baja, you have a better shot at them in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and East Cape (Los Barriles and that area) than say Mulege or Santa Rosalia, although billfish are not out’ve the question in those great areas.

 

(No disrespect for northern areas which have their own spectacular fishing and their own particular claims to angling fame and shots at species not usually seen in some of the southern cities, e.g. yellowtail!)

 

Regarding fishing methods, there are a number of ways.

 

Be prepared to cover some water. So, a larger, faster boat might be preferred since these are rangy fish always looking for sources of food and capable of moving great distances very quickly.

 

Since you want to cover some water, trolling lures has been effective world-wide, especially, if you’re trying to locate fish.   If you’re in an area such as the East Cape or Cabo where the fish can be quite far, then a cruiser would surely be more comfortable, especially in Cabo which faces the open ocean.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you ALWAYS need a cruiser. Areas such as Loreto and La Paz do very well catching billfish using pangas insofar as fish are much closer to shore and the areas are less subject to big waves and rough seas.

 

Another method is to slow troll larger live or dead baits such as smaller bonito, larger mackerel and even small tuna properly rigged and dragged behind the boats.   There’s an old rule about “big fis-big baits” and you’ll be surprised how a huge bait that seems impossible to eat suddenly entices a big billfish to bite it!

 

One of my favorite methods is to simply troll a lure or dead bait behind the boat that has no hooks. This is a “teaser” method and requires that someone always keep an eye on the troll lines.

 

When a big billfish comes slashing at the teaser, another lighter rig with a live bait is then cast to the billfish. The live bait has a hook in it and the billfish will break off from the teaser and jump on the live bait.   Battling a big marlin or sail on this lighter live bait tackle can be incredible sport!

 

This same casting method can be used on a “sight-fish.” Basically, keeping a sharp eye on the water until a billfish is seen on the surface. Using some bit of stealth and a steady hand on the wheel, the boat is maneuvered so that a live bait can be properly cast directly in front of the fish…hopefully resulting in a big hookup!

 

Whatever you do, consider “CPR…Catch Photo Release” before you go fishing. Decide that you are going to release your billfish BEFORE you’re in the heat of battle. No matter what your captain tells you. Let him know that you plan to release your billfish and that his tips are NOT dependent on him killing the fish.

 

Try to keep the fish in the water to release it. Bringing the fish aboard not only damages the slime protection on it’s skin, but without the negative buoyancy of the water, internal organs can also be damaged by hauling it into the boat no matter how well intended.

 

Get as good a photos as possible then release it. All the best taxidermists now do fiberglass mounts that are incredible. All they need are a good photo or, in many case, not even that. All they need is an estimation of size to make that perfect keepsake trophy for your den!

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

 

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

So so so many toys!  But we can only fish with one-at-a-time!

So so so many toys! But we can only fish with one-at-a-time!

LESS IS MORE…OR MORE THAN ENOUGH?

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 20th, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

It was almost comical and I didn’t want to say anything. After all, they were our fishing clients.   But it took 4 of us to load all their fishing gear on the panga. It reminded me of an Everest expedition where the intrepid explorers are followed by a line of sherpas.

 

Artic ice chest…spinning rods…fly rods…bass rods…conventional rods…three jumbo tackle boxes…video camera case…Gopro camera water proof case…underwater extension rods…special seat cushions that had beer holders in them…even “catch flags” they planned to fly from rods for when they returned to shore.

 

Ahhh…God bless ‘em.

 

They were so excited. First time Baja fishermen. They were like little kids. It was like Christmas. They had a list of all the species they planned to catch. They had a GPS pre-programmed with all the “hot spots” they had read about. They had waterproof maps and fish i.d. charts.

 

So much enthusiasm. Between my captains, deckhands, drivers and other fishermen, it was hard to suppress the chuckles.   I really wanted to say something. But what could I say?   They had all the toys and they planned to use them.

 

They took to heart the saying, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. “

 

Here’s the rub…I was supposed to go out on the panga that day with them. I rolled my eyes.

 

My captain had to leap over all the gear to get to the tiller on the motor. There was barely any room to sit. I squeezed on top of an ice chest as we headed out. This was gonna be interesting, but I was grinning. Whatever. Let’s go fishing, guys!

 

With all the rods jutting out, we looked like a CIA boat bedecked with prickly porcupine radar antennas as we zoomed to the fishing grounds.   I counted…1, 2, 3…8…11…15…19…20…26 rods! Custom wrapped. The latest hi-tech reels. Spooled full of shiny new line.

 

When we got to the spot, it got a little awkward.

 

Do remember watching your kids at Christmas barrel into the goodies under the tree? Ripping and shredding and laughing…oh the carnage! Oh the humanity!

 

Well, the gear boxes opened and out came hooks and lures and feathers of all shapes and sizes. Leaders and gadgets and wires and do-dads and thing-a-ma-jigs and watcha-ma-callits and chingaderas came pouring out. ! Many still in their wrappers.

 

All organized. Color-coded. Size-coded. Species evaluated. Things for tuna. Things for dorado. Things for dorado AND tuna. Things for wahoo. Need a purple pink speckled marlin lure? Got it! Surface lures…bottom lures…mid-water lures. Everything had a pouch or pocket. Everything in it’s place!

 

I’ve done plenty of long range trips for 12 and 14 days where I didn’t have this much stuff. We were only going a mile offshore for a few hours. Fishing 2 days total!

 

And stuff for their belts…pliers, dikes, hook disgorgers, hook pouches, sunscreen holders.

 

My gosh, they must have accumulated enough points on their Cabela a dn Bass Pro visa cards to fly around the world!

 

And just like kids oooh-ing and ahhh-ing…each guy was as eager to show off his “toys” to me and the captain.   Simultaneously, he was in showing them to his fishing buddy and also seeing what his buddy had brought along.   Like opening two picnic baskets at the church luncheon!

 

I just stood back. Tried to look really really realy gosh darn excited! I mean, I hate to discourage or curb anyone’s enthusiasm. So, I smiled and gritted my teeth.

 

“Wow…that’s uh… really great you found one of those lures.”

“You got 4 of them in each color?”

“You bought 100 hooks of each size too? No way!”

 

But, we were burning daylight. I could tell on the radio that some of our pangas were already into fish.

 

There was stuff scattered all over the decks!

 

I finally said, “Guys, time’s-a-wasting. Let’s get fishing.”

 

They looked at me. They looked at the captain like eager kids. The captain shrugged his shoulders and dropped a bomb.

 

“Tie on a hook. We will fish with bait.”

 

Silence. They looked at me. I looked at them.

 

I said, “Yup…bait’s working. No leader. Let’s just tie on hooks. Maybe later we’ll get to use some of that great gear you brought.”

 

They looked at each other and I could sense the puzzlement and disappointment from their quizzical looks.

 

“C’mon, guys, “ I tried to say gently with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. “The fish are biting so let’s get in on it. Get out some hooks and stow the rest of the gear for now so we don’t miss the bite.”

 

While they stashed all their stuff, the captain and I tied on hooks for them to save time. I didn’t want to look them in the eyes. I felt like I had taken away their toys. Or had told them there is no Easter Bunny.

 

But, the fish bit. The sun came out. The water was blue. And the fish bit again. And the icy beer and lunches always taste double-good outdoors on the water.

 

There was a point later in the day when their fish box was filling and the fish were swarming and I asked if they’d like to try out some of their fancy gear. But, they laughed and were too busy hooked up to want to change.

 

The whole day, they ended up using one rod each. And maybe half-a-dozen hooks. And were happy. Beyond happy.

 

As one of the guys laughingly said to me headed back, “Somehow, I still have to explain to my wife why I needed to buy all this gear.”

 

His buddy said, “I once asked my wife why she needed so many shoes.”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“Because I say so, Dear. Because I say so…”

 

“I don’t think that will work on my wife.”

 

We all laughed.

 

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

RAMPED DOWN EL NINO?

tromba-marina-la-paz-4

UH…yea! I think it’s time to crank up the lines and get the heck ou’tve the way! It only took minutes for the skies to darken and go from blue…to grey…to black and put down this incredible waterspout!

tromba-marina-la-paz- el sargento

They can come out’e nowhere in a matter of minutes. You can see the huge waterspout and the rain coming! Best to let it pass. It can be over in minutes.

RAMPED DOWN EL NINO?

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 5, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

At the mid-year mark of the calendar as well as the Baja fishing season, maybe it’s time to take another look at the El Nino phenom we may…or may not be having.

 

At the onset of the season, many of us, me included, wrote about predications that this would be an El Nino season. In fact, scientists strongly suggested 2014 to possibly be one of the largest, if not the biggest one in recorded history.

 

In a nutshell, the El Nino event is characterized by abnormally higher water temperatures, higher rainfall (including hurricanes), higher air temperatures and humidity, and for us fishermen, big differences in the fishing season along the eastern side of the Pacific ocean. Basically, the western side of Mexico and the U.S. are affected.

 

Early in the season, it was looking pretty ominous. When so many of us down here in Baja and along the Mexican coast base our livlihoods on nature, the weather and the fishing, it’s hard to ignore the predictions.

 

According to the experts, all the signs were there for a whopper of an el Nino on it’s way. Understandably, it was with some trepidation that many of us kicked off our respective seasons.

 

Well, now several months into the season, an assessment of sorts can be made. Yes, the waters got really warm really fast. In many places they are higher than normal.   In fact, in some spots, it never cooled down from last year. The cold waters never materialized.

 

No doubt, it doesn’t take a meterolgist to tell you it surely seems a lot warmer and a lot more humid this year. Just walk outside. It blazes. The air is thick and heavy in the heat.

 

And the fish?

 

I think I can speak for a lot of us down here and a lot of folks who have visited. It’s really weird. It’s really crazy.

 

At the base…there’s very little live bait. That’s all I seem to hear folks talking about. Well, you see, when there’s an el Nino, the cooler waters from the deep carrying all the nutrients don’t make it up.

 

The nutrients bring the bait. No food. No bait. Or, the waters are so warm, the bait goes elsewhere…or dies.   It’s just part of the cycle.

 

If there’s no bait, that’s gonna eliminate a food source for the gamefish, not to mention make life a little difficult for sportfishermen. Certain species don’t show up…or they show up someplace different.

 

Like slow tuna in Mexico, but tuna show up in big numbers in California and strays of tuna, dorado and marlin make their way up as high as Washington state! Talk about getting lost!

 

But, now at the mid-way point, the pros are saying, maybe it’s NOT going to be a record-breaking el Nino. They are revising their predictions.    Yes, it’s here, but well…maybe it’s not the BIG one!

 

That’s good news and bad news.

 

Bad news…like all weather, El Nino is cyclical. It’s the way of the world so-to-speak.

 

Yes, it brings more rain, but that’s exactly what so many places need along the west coast continents to break extreme drought conditions. In fact, I saw where one meteorologist called it the “Great Wet Hope.” Lord knows rain is needed.

 

If it’s true that we’re not going to see the historical El Nino, I guess many of us can breathe a little easier knowing that the likelihood of hurricanes is diminished. However, truth be told, even ONE hurricane/ chubasco can be a deal breaker here in Mexico.

 

Mexico needs water as much, it not more than anyone. And it’s not for golf courses and swimming pools and watering lawns and washing cars. Just basic drinking water is in short supply as well as water for crops.

 

A little rain here and there or short burst in the afternoons are great. It’s perfect.

 

But even a good “tropical storm” of any intensity would be devastating in a country where drainage is a problem as well as basic construction. Arroyos become deadly rivers in minutes. Streets become lakes. Neighborhoods become isolated islands.   Mexico’s infrastructure doesn’t do well with rain.

 

A similar storm in the U.S. would generate some fender benders on the freeway. Surfers in Orange Co. would rush to catch “the gnarly break.” And the evening news would show someone trying to kayak down the concrete “Los Angeles River.”

 

Here… A realatively minor storm of moderate intensity in a few minutes can wipe someone out…destroy businesses…kill people.  Let alone screw up the fishing day.

So, if you’re coming down in the next few months, don’t alter your plans. But be prepared.   It might just rain.

 

If there’s something on the radar and the local port captains close the port or put out warnings, common sense dictates that you might be better served sitting by the pool with a cold one.   Don’t chance it.

 

Fishing is supposed to be fun. Safety first.   It’s not supposed to be an exercise in survival or miserableness or futility. Many of these “storms” are short-lived, but can be strong. We call them “toritos” (little bulls) that hit with the intensity of a hurricane.   In fact, these toritos can come up in minutes and there will never be a warning.

 

If that happens, by all means, clear the water. If you’re close enough to cover go wait it out. You can go back out later. If you’re that’s not an option, call it a day.

 

Two weeks ago, we had a waterspout come up that was the size of a city block and sounded like a freight train from several miles away.   You could see water gushing up off the ocean. It took a matter of minutes for that to form!

 

The other side of these storms is that it washes a lot of debris into the water. This includes mud, trash, and vegetation like trees and bushes.

 

Let it all settle and waters clear. Then look for the temperature and current breaks holding all this floating stuff. You’ll find some of the best fishing around these areas!

 

Just go with the flow. Be safe. Be prepared.

That’s my story!

 

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

___________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

sunrise

SUNRISE ON THE SEA OF CORTEZ TO START THE DAY. FIRST BAITS IN THE WATER. HOW CAN THAT BE BAD?

MEMO to SELF…NO BAD DAYS!

Originally Published the Week of July 22, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

The day had not started well. I woke up grumpy. I was doing my utmost to put on my best “happy face” for the fishing clients this morning, but it was taking an effort.   Just one of those days we all have when one would be best-served to just stay in bed!

 

I already knew it was going to be a long day. We had problems at our restaurant with the plumbing, and several of our employees were out sick. A vehicle was broken down and required a part they just don’t make in Mexico and there was a chance of rain in the forecast too. Sheeesh. And it was only 5 a.m. in the morning!

 

Worse of all, the fishing had been bad. And I had grumpy fishermen. More than grumpy actually. Rude and pissed off.   The bad fishing had snowballed into complaints now about the service, the captains, the hotel, the food.

 

Funny how that happens. Catch fish and none of that matters. Don’t catch fish and the world is a terrible place. I could feel that target growing on my back. Anyone who has been a guide or outfitter knows what that feels like. As if we could control the wind, waves, weather and fish! But, we care about how our clients feel so you feel the crosshairs growing.

 

But, I guess you pay that money and it entitles you to be grumpy and growl and no amount of cheerfulness or cheerleading on our end was gonna change things.

 

My own mood reflected it as well as a feeling of helpless frustration. If I could make fish jump in the boat, I would. If I could wave a fishing rod in the air, I’d make the clouds go away. Doesn’t work that way.

 

So, we packed them into our van to the beach in the dark and could feel the tension. Yuk. Mine and theirs.

 

And then some of our other fishermen came down and climbed into the shuttle. All smiles. Handshakes. Backslaps. Excited to be going fishing. Looking forward to being on the water.

 

Introductions and greetings.   Among themselves. “Hey, didn’t I see you on the plane?” “Where’d you go to dinner last night?” “Really nice to meet you!” “You’re lucky to have your wife. Don’t let her catch all the fish!” (Laughs) The grumpy guys could care less.   Golly, is it THAT bad?

 

The happy folks were all long-time customers. They all came from different parts of the country.   I had known them for a long long time and knew their stories. But, all of them were coming together this morning and meeting for the first time.   Just happy to be out; happy for maybe more reasons than just going fishing.

 

Yes, I know their stories.

 

For several of them, this could be their last trip.

 

One has a serious kidney surgery as soon as he gets back.

 

The wife, they were talking about? The gal schlepping the rods and laughing with the boys? She just found out she’s got a malignant tumor in her breast. She’s got a lot on her mind, I know.

 

One of the other guys? He’s had several strokes. I see the changes in him. He still at it, but he can’t fish every day like he used to. I worry about him pulling on a big fish. He’s fragile, but gutty as hell and won’t let anything stop him.

 

Another guy in the van, he’s had 24 surgeries. TWENTY FOUR!

 

He had his first heart-attack at 35 years-old. His first stroke at 36.   He had a heart transplant several years ago. His face is scarred from skin cancer. Right around his mouth, lips and chin.   As soon as he gets home from La Paz, he’s got a date with the dermatologist.

 

He once showed me what his chest, arms and legs look like from all the surgeries. He laughing called himself “Frankenstein.” He takes several dozen pills a day to keep going.   He has to wake himself up at night to make sure he takes some of the pills on time.

 

He just came back from a salmon trip in Alaska. And now here he is in La Paz fishing with us.

 

He once told me, “I know people who are more fortunate than me and let little setbacks get to them. They are miserable.

 

I choose to be happy. I chose to LIVE and enjoy the time I have. I got the message early! Fishing just happens to be the vehicle that gets me off the couch and enjoying life!”

 

 

None of the folks in the shuttle van know the background of the other folks.

But there were those who were really looking forward to the day. And others who started the day already under a toxic cloud.  I guess I could be included in that group.

 

I want to tell the grumpy guys…”LOOK AT THESE HAPPY PEOPLE!” I want to introduce them and tell the grumpy guys the stories about the happy people.   I know it’s not my place.

 

But, I want to say, a bad day fishing is just that. A bad day fishing. You’re here. You’re enjoying times with friends. You’re doing something that a zillion other people will never ever get to do in their lives. See a sunrise. See the dolphin. Feel the salt spray. Crack beers on the beach.   Fishing isn’t life. Life is fishing.

 

I think there was a reason I saw these folks today. Wake up call. Life ain’t so bad a’tall. I’m blessed. Memo to self…no bad days allowed!

 

That’s my story…

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

 

 

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

 

 

 

 

U.S. Flag Tailhunter

“MORE THAN POTATO SALAD AND FRIED CHICKEN”

Originally Published the Week of July 10, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

One of our fishing clients down here in La Paz was sipping a cold one in our restaurant and asked if I missed 4th of July.

 

Having been down here in Mexico working now almost 20 years, yea, I really do. I miss it a lot. Being that July 4th is always smack in the height of the summer fishing season, it’s been a long time since I’ve been part of the celebration “back home.”   But, this is where work requires that I be down here and so-be-it.

 

Superficially, man…I miss a good parade and watching the kids and the floats and the music…and most of all standing with hand-over-heart as I watch our vets and service folks marching tall and proud. I get choked up over that.

 

I miss the smell of green summer grass-in-the-park and that smell of barbecued burgers and saucy ribs and ducking the occasional errant Frisbee. I miss the sand between my toes and a paper plate of fresh potato salad, sloppy pork-n-beans, fried chicken and a beach fire in the dark as fireworks burst over the water to the oohs-and ahhs of the crowd. I miss hearing the Star Spangled Banner played.

 

So many things parked in my memory banks.

 

But, I get a completely different perspective living outside the U.S. and looking in from afar…from Mexico. And, although the two countries share borders and so many other things in common, they are still so far apart. And it makes me appreciate the U.S. even moreso and what the 4th of July means.

 

For one, I take fewer things for granted. Simple things.

 

Like water.

 

Back home, you flipped on the faucet. Bad as it might taste, you take for granted that water comes out. You can cook with it. Wash clothes. Come home from work and take that long easy hot shower. Wash your car. Water your lawn. Gasp…fillyour hot tub and swimming pool!

 

Here, in Mexico, water is at a premium. What we call “drought” in the U.S. is almost comical in Mexico. Sometimes nothing comes out’ve the faucet…for days!

 

Here in La Paz, often water is only sent to your home or business through the city pipes every-other-day or every two days. And even then, pretty much at a slow drip.

 

That’s why you see these huge black plastic “tinacos” (storage cylinders) on top of business and houses. That’s to save the water when it’s available and running. If you run out, you have to wait until the city opens the spigots again.

 

The tourists never see that because the hotels and golf courses and swimming pools are always full. But, I saw a report once that said the fresh water daily allotment for the average Baja citizen is less than one-gallon-a-day. And getting smaller.

 

And more…

 

As a former attorney back in California, I don’t take justice or the U.S. legal system for granted anymore. Nor am I so quick to make fun of it’s many problems.   I still challenge someone to come up with a better way to do things.   It still has a fundamental premise, that you are “innocent until proven guilty.” And there’s nothing the government can do about that.

 

Here in Mexico, they still operate under the archaic Napoleanic code from the days when France ran Mexico.    Under those laws, the state “presumes you are guilty and it’s up to you to prove you are innocent.”

 

I have seen the damages up-close-and-personal here.   We’ve been victimized ourselves.

 

Prove you didn’t steal from your neighbor. Prove your kid didn’t start the fight that broke another kid’s nose. Prove your wife didn’t crash into someone else’s car. Prove you didn’t hurt someone’s reputation by something you said. Prove you didn’t sexually accost a fellow employee.

All it takes is an accusation and a report to authorities by someone who doesn’t like you. And now it’s YOUR problem. It’s YOUR burden to prove you’re innocent.

 

Another thing is that I don’t take the ability to work so lightly. I know in the U.S. we have a serious crisis in employment.   I have several college degrees plus a law degree, but I’ve been unemployed. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve been fired from jobs.

 

But, I always had options. I always had hope that I could find another job.

 

I’m here in Mexico now because of a choice I made years ago, not because I wanted to live outside the U.S. but because there was a business opportunity that presented itself. But, it was a choice I had because I had options.   I had that independence. And I was lucky and blessed.

 

We have so many good friends, employees and associates and acquaintances after almost 2 decades here.

 

I look at them and I’m grateful for what we have as Americans roving this planet who at least have opportunities and options.

 

Here in Mexico, if you’re a dishwasher or you’re a taxi driver, that’s probably what you will be the rest of your life. That’s it. No upward mobility.

 

There might be some lateral mobility in that instead of a dishwasher you might get to be a truck driver, but not likely. You will live and die a dishwasher or waiter or farmer. That’s it. Same for your kids. What’s a career?

 

There’s no “correspondence school” or “next big opportunity.” You are what you are. My amigo is a floor cleaner. He will be a floor cleaner his whole life until he dies or his back gives out. Whichever comes first.

 

Education is mandatory to only 8th grade. How far would you have gotten on an 8th grade education?

 

Having education, even a college education, could still mean you’re now qualified to work in a retail store selling shoes or in an office filing papers. You can keep your hands clean. Maybe.

 

And, if you lose your job, that could be it as well.

 

We know a very good accountant working for a company. She’s 35-years-old. She told us if she ever loses her job, she is no longer employable because she is “too old” and companies don’t hire “old people.” She supports a family of 4.

 

Truthfully, when you hit 65-years-old here, you are forcefully retired. No matter how good, valuable or healthy you are. No matter that you’re the sole earner in your household, you’re out’ve the work force.

 

Just yesterday, a single-parent friend told me her son missed a job interview because he didn’t have shoes.

 

Last week, another friend told me he had to quit a job as a maintenance man because it was too hard to walk 5 miles to work and back six-days-a-week. He’s 62-years-old and supports a family of 5.

 

We might share borders, but we are so far apart. And every 4th of July away from home, I’m ever more grateful for the opportunities and freedoms I’ve enjoyed and been blessed with. For all it’s problems, the U.S. still enjoys so much that the rest of the world never has or will.

 

Can someone pass me another piece of fried chicken…

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

 

_______________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife and fishing buddy, Jilly, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico  www.tailhunter-international.com.  They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront.  If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is riplipboy@tailhunter-international.com  or drop by the restaurant to say hi!

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

“When your life finally flashes before your eyes, you will have only moments to regret all the things in life you never had the courage to try.”

 

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