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Archive for the ‘Baja Rockfish’ Category

BAJA SMORGASBORD

Victor rack 4-18 tags

SIX DIFFERENT GOOD-EATING SPECIES ON ONE DAY and OTHERS RELEASED! (Pargo mulatto…red snapper…yellowfin tuna…yellowtail…cabrilla…white bonito)

BAJA SMORGASBORD

Originally Published the Week of April 24 in Western Outdoor Publications

I was on the beach a few days ago waiting for our fishing fleet pangas to come back that afternoon.  I could see them slowly making their way towards me maybe 10 or so minutes out.

 

I had my toes scrunched in that fine warm Baja sand, having kicked off my flip-flops and my drivers and fish cleaners were all waiting to see what showed up.

 

Dang, that sun felt warm on my shoulders.  Not too hot. No humidity.  Just a slight off-shore breeze.  My legs sure need some color.  Too many days in long pants.

 

Just one of those awesome spring days in Mexico.

 

I think spring-time is my favorite time to be here.  It’s the “tweener” time between the end of March and the beginning of June.  It’s not quite winter.  Not quite summer.

 

It’s always sunny.  Temps in the low to mid-80’s.  Nights, you still use a blanket.  Good to have a sweatshirt or light windbreaker in the morning for fishing.  It comes off quick enough!

 

There can still be some strong bouts of wind, current and swells as winter doesn’t always slide out easily.  But, much of the time, it’s just something I call “non-weather,”  It’s so pleasant you don’t even think about it.

 

Conversations don’t center around how hot or cold it is. No one talks about how cloudy or rainy it will be.  You just know the sun is up and then it goes down and in between, it’s mighty pleasant.

 

After Easter and before the summer vacation, it’s also a slower easy time.  The big summer crowds aren’t here yet.  A lot of visitors are refugees from wherever they spend their colder wet winters like Canada, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. If even for just a few days.  Or so it seems.  I can’t blame them.

 

When they arrive, they tell me about snow on the ground or not having seen the sun “back home” for several weeks.  They just want to see the big warm yellow “orb” in the sky.  They often don’t even care if the fish are biting or what’s biting!

 

And that’s one of the really special things about fishing during this time.  I thought about that as I continued to revel in the warm sun on my back waiting for the boats.

 

You honestly just don’t know what you’re going to catch.

 

There’s a lot of anglers who will argue that the hotter warmer months are their favorites.  That’s when the “glamor” fish like tuna, wahoo, billfish and dorado are centerstage.  And rightly so.

 

But during the springtime, there seems to be a lot of variety.

 

The cooler water fish are still around like yellowtail, amberjack, several varieties of pargo and snapper . You can find cabrilla as well as triggerfish and sierra.

 

There are some fish much more specific to this spring-time bite like roosterfish, pompano and palometta  as well.

 

Additonally, as the waters warm or you find the patches of warmer currents, you’ll also get shots at the aforementioned bluewater species like the sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado.

 

Then, there are always the seemingly ever-present fish like bonito, jack crevalle, bullet tuna and others.

 

I’ve had our fleet come back with as many as a dozen species in a single day scattered among the various boats.  You might not catch a lot of any one species, but you might get some of these…two of those…3 of these and another of that!

 

And the next day might be completely different.  Even two boats next to each other might have completely different catches.

 

Several years ago, I had one Outdoor TV crew that wanted to see how many different species they could catch in a single day.  By the end, we tallied 16 different species of fish!

 

By the same token, anglers can return to a “hot spot” from the day before and find completely different fish have taken over the area the next day.  Or what was biting one day has completely changed depending on conditions.

 

This offers some incredible challenges to anglers.

 

It’s a super time to check off some fish on the bucket list, but also presents new twists on fishing.  Does one use light tackle or heavy tackle?  Spinning gear of conventional gear?  Maybe a flyrod if the winds are down?

 

Are you fishing the warmer water where conditions are blue and clear or will you be fishing the cloudier colder waters?  What about depths?  With both warm and colder waters mixing it up, there will be different temperature thermoclines holding different layers of fish.  Should you use weights? Jigs? Plastics?  Will the fishing be offshore or closer to shore?

 

Or geographically, where are you fishing?  The Pacific side of Baja or the Sea of Cortez?  Also what’s happening in Cabo San Lucas is probably way different than what’s biting in Mulege or San Quintin!

 

Many times during the year when fishing Baja you can get away with one or two rigs and be good for 90% of the targeted species.  But during the spring, you just never know.

 

It does make for some interesting decision making and trips to the tackle store.  Next time, consider a trip in the spring.  It’s a pretty fine time.

 

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942
 

Phones: 
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863
.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:  http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

“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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STAY FOR DINNER! SPANISH FOOD ON THE MENU!

 

Stay for Dinner!  We Have Spanish Food on the Menu! 

Originally Published the Week of April 10, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

A couple of columns back I had written about some history I found in an old book detailing the issues the Spanish had in colonizing the area around La Paz where we live.  Getting the especially belligerent tribes to submit took more than a century longer than other areas of Baja.

 

In that particular report, I had written how the tribesman had “gifted” the Spanish loaves of papaya bread.  It was nothing  like your Aunt Mary gives you for Christmas.

 

The papaya was made from crushed papaya seeds AFTER the tribes had eaten the seeds;  digested them; gathered up the droppings;  THEN baked them up for the conquistadores and padres.  Initially the naïve colonists accepted and ate them with glee.

 

Well…then, the masters found out!  Gag!  Choke! Spit!

 

Remember those Cub Scout cupcake sales as a kid?  Ex-laxing those confections?

 

Well…Whether it was a genuine gift or simply the Indians pranking the Spaniards we’ll never know.  The Europeans’ taste buds and culinary sensibilities were not amused in the slightest.  They retaliated with violence against those dastardly locals.  Complete buzz kill.

 

Recently, I again found myself pouring over some old Baja books in my collection.  One was copy of  the book written by my venerable predecessor at Western Outdoor News, Ray Cannon.  You never know when a gem might pop up.

 

His 1966 book published by Sunset entitled “The Sea of Cortez” is required reading for any Baja aficionado.  If you can get your hands on a copy it’s what Genesis is to the Bible for Baja fans.

 

Just looking at the black and white photos will give you a sense of what Baja was before it was really discovered.  Indeed, many a Baja fan got their fires first kindled reading Ray Cannon’s book as well as his historic columns in Western Outdoor News.

 

Regretfully, I ashamedly have never read the entire edition, but I keep it handy in my library and it’s one of those books I pull down from time-to-time and always find a treasure.

 

Like my previous article  food comes into focus.  But, in a different way this time.

 

One of Ray’s chapters is about the Midriff Islands appropriately located about half-way down the Sea of Cortez.  It’s the narrowest part of the Sea and “Midriff” somewhat describes how the ocean is pinched like a woman’s waist in that area.  The Midriff Islands somewhat form irregular stepping stones between the Baja Peninsula and the mainland of Mexico.

 

On the far eastern edge lies the large island of Tiburon aka “Shark Island.”  It sounds like the name of another reality show.  It’s the largest island in the Sea of Cortez and encapsulates about 450 square miles.

 

Cannon described his earliest visit to the island then inhabited by the nomadic Seri Indians.  They put to shore in a small skiff off their larger vessel. Cannon remembers as they neared shore about a dozen fierce men and women ran out to meet them.  The were brandishing “deadly looking shark spears.”  Ray and his companions quickly reversed course and paddled back.

 

It was later he was told by his Mexican crew why they did not want to accompany Cannon to visit the island.

 

Apparently, people had been disappearing on mysterious “Shark Island” for centuries.   And “not just into thin air” as Cannon recounted.  They disappeared into the soup pot.  Or staked to the barbecue.

 

This included sailors, explorers, gold miners and others.  Never heard from again although bits of pieces of people had been recovered over the years.

 

The Seri Indians never admitted it.  Who me?  Nah!  Must be some other guys.  Would never do that!  Never saw the gringos you’re looking for.

 

But…The Spanish explorers had kept logs of it.  Dating back to the Spanish days, shipwrecked sailors had washed up and found refuge on Tiburon’s rocky shores.

 

The forlorn sailors were grateful to be taken in kindly by the Seri inhabitants.  They were treated and fed well.  Like one of the family. They got fat and sassy.  Living the dream on an island!

 

Until it came time for the big fiesta and finding out the Seri tribespeople were really into Spanish food.  In fact, Spanish dishes were the main course.

 

Over the years, more mysterious “disappearances” fed the stories.

 

History reports that up until the late 50’s the Mexican government allowed the Seri to remain on Tuburon Island. By this time, the tribe, once estimated as large as 5,000 had been reduced to a handful by the usual culprits.   Most notably, they fell victim to European disease.

 

The government had one caveat.  No more cannibalism.   Change your diet! Find a different source of protein.

 

Then some Mexican fishermen went missing.

 

This caused the government to ship the whole tribe of several hundred to the Mainland.

 

Today, the Tiburon Island is operated as a wildlife refuge and very few Seri remain where they are known for artistic basket weaving and those dark ironwood sculptures.

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 

www.tailhunter-international.com

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


U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942
 

Phones: 
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863
.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:  http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

“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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NO BAD QUESTIONS?

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No Bad Questions?

Originally Published the Week of March 27, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publicastions

As I’m writing this, we’re just about to do our last shows of the season.  Since December, Jill and I have been on the road appearing in our booth at some of the largest fishing/ hunting/ outdoor expositions in the Western U.S.  We’ve been out promoting our fishing operation in La Paz but generally just talking it up about visiting Baja.

 

It’s always fun.  After more than 30 years of standing in booths fielding questions and chatting with thousands of folks, I’d like to share with you some of questions you should ask a prospective outfitter or guide.

 

This applies to whether you meet face-to-face or, as happens in most cases these days, you make an inquiry online or over-the-phone.  At least, give it some thought.

 

Many times, their literature or social media already has it.  But…It’s YOUR vacation.

 

Better to have too much information and being prepared than getting surprised later on.  This is especially true when you might be coming to Mexico or a location in Mexico or Baja for the first time and even moreso, if you don’t speak the language.

 

This is no particular order, but should come up in the conversation somewhere.

 

CREDIBILITY – How long have they been in business?  What’s their background?  I know lots of guys that were truck drivers then one day just decided they were going to be “guides” or “outfitters” with no real background.   Everyone wants to “live the dream” but it’s an entirely different thing to actually turn a hobby into a paying profession.

 

It helps if they have a track record of advertisements or are recommended by someone you know or their social media presence.  It takes something to stay in business in this field.  It’s not everything, but it helps.

 

What do other say about them?  Check places like Trip Advisor and Google which is very regulatory when it comes to posting comments.

 

ACCOUNTABILITY – Is the person you’re talking to going to be there when you are there for your vacation?  Is the person you’re talking to just an agent that you’ll never see or hear from again once you’re booked?  Does the person even live there?

 

Who will actually be delivering the services?

 

Who’s going to be the captain, guide, driver, etc.?   The person you’re talking to might be totally reputable and we know many fine agents, but posing the question doesn’t hurt.  At least you’re expectations will not be misplaced.

 

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING – You wouldn’t buy a car or a house without having things in writing.  Most outfitters we know that have had any longevity in the hospitality business know their stuff.

 

But, over the course of a conversation things get lost outright or lost in translation.  This is especially true  at shows where so much gets said or on social media where a zillion e-mails or texts might shoot back and forth.  It’s best to have some record of what you’re getting and not getting.

 

Nothing like showing up then finding out there were extra charges for bait, transportation, food, gear, etc.  Major buzz kill having to reach into your pocket unexpectedly.  Or that that hotel “close to the beach” was really 2 blocks away with a view only if you’re on your tippy-toes standing on the roof.

 

PRICE ISN’T EVERYTHING – Like most things in life, you really DO get what you pay for.  If you’re “budget shopping” chances are you’ll get a budget vacation too.

 

It surely doesn’t hurt to ask a prospective outfitter if there’s any discounts, but honestly, I wouldn’t push it.  Maybe if it’s a different time of year.  Maybe a saving if you bring more people.

 

Most outfitters working these days live on a tight budget themselves.  If they are at shows, they are probably already offering discounted trips.

 

But that “discounted trip” might mean you’re now going to be in the room with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and sharing a bathroom with two other rooms.

 

I do know some that will get offended if you push too hard.

 

As one outfitter told me, “I know what my services are worth. I work hard.   One guy pushed and pushed for discounts.  So, I asked him, ‘You work hard for your paycheck right? If your boss asked you to take a 20% paycut would you work as hard or as diligently for him?’ The guy shut up. “ Point taken.

 

Another example I have seen numerous times.  One charter operation is $100 less than another.  The less expensive guy might be a little more hesitant to burn extra gas to go where the fish are biting in order to save money. He has to make a living too.

 

Think about it.  Simple economics.  Get the best you can afford.  Not the most you can get away with.  Vacations are too special to cut corners if you don’t have to.

 

There’s also some questions you can ask that will get a raised eyebrow from some outfitters and guides.

 

I have heard people ask me or ask other outfitters:

 

Will you guarantee that I will catch fish? (I’ve never met an outfitter that will!)

 

If I pay more will I catch more fish? (You’re always welcome to pay us more!)

 

If I don’t have a good time, will you refund my money? (I can’t hear you)

 

How many fish will I catch in a day? (I don’t know.  Are you any good?)

 

Can you promise me the sun will be out when I fish? (Sure…let me wave my magic wand!)

 

Will it be too hot for me when I come on vacation? (What’s “too hot” mean?)

 

How can I make it so I only catch smaller fish?  Big fish are too strong for me. (You will love catching bait!)

 

How hard are the beds / pillows at the hotel we will stay at? (Compared to what?)

 

How deep is the ocean? (About that deep!)

 

What if I stop breathing when I SCUBA dive?  (Stay with the snorkel trip!)

 

I heard Baja is primitive. How much toilet paper should I bring? (So “primitive! You better fill a suitcase with it!)

 

We hear them all. And just when you think you’ve heard the all, you get another.

 

“If I have to go ‘number two’ in the middle of the ocean and can’t hold it, what will happen?”

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International


Website: 
www.tailhunter-international.com

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


U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, 8030 La Mesa Blvd. #178, La Mesa CA  91942
 

Phones: 
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863
.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:  http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Video Channel:

“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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KINGS of the WILD FRONTIER

BEAR

And you went paddleboarding this weekend? 

KINGS of the WILD FRONTIER

Originally Published the Week of January 17, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

“Freedom is being able to do what you want…

…Happiness is enjoying what you do!”

 

We’re in the vast cavernous bowels of the Denver Convention Center setting up our Tailhunter Sportfishing booth for what will be our 23rd year running trips in La Paz.  It’s my 20th continuous year on the show circuit.  Maybe my 40th year doing shows.  I can’t remember!

 

Three months we leave Baja and spend it in the U.S.

 

We do 12-14 shows that usually run 3-5 days each.  In the booth talking, shaking hands and socializing with friends, clients and the public.  “Meet-and Greet” time.

 

Each show has hundreds of other vendors from around the world exhibiting hunting, fishing, camping, boating and all manners of associated gear.  There’s barkers and hawkers and seminars and it’s basically our “outdoor version” of the circus-come-to-town.

 

This week Denver.  Then Sacramento.  Followed by Portland…Salt Lake City…Bakersfield and Boise…Long Beach and Phoenix…and…

 

Well, I get confused after that!  I have a small brain. I’ve been doing this a long time.

 

And we look forward to the carnival and being on the road and seeing all our old friends and clients.  It’s a good time to catch-up.  I good time to relive great adventures!

 

But, as we set up our booth for the first time this year, I look around at the other vendors setting up.  I especially look forward to seeing them.

 

It’s been a year since the last show season ended.

 

How’d YOUR season go? Did the salmon show up in numbers? Did those snowstorms hit you? Look at the rack on that elk!  Dang, that was a huge halibut! An avalanche trapped you in the pass for a week?  You broke your foot when a water buffalo charged you?  And the client trampled you? Congratulations on the new lodge you built!

 

After several decades, it’s good to know who’s still standing…who’s retired…who’s trying to retire…who’s got their kids now running the operation now…and who sadly “finally got pulled down by the wolves.”

 

Anyone worth their salt in the outdoor business will tell you it’s not easy being a survivor and thriver.

 

Your livelihood is dependent on the capriciousness of Mother Nature; the seeming illogic of politics, economy and regulations; the ever-changing tastes of the public;  the encroachment of “civilization.”

 

And just plain luck.

 

Yup, they put a dam on our river.

A hurricane hit us the busiest week of the year when we were sold out.

The snowpack never pushed the herds of game down the mountain.

The new regulations cut the limits in half and the season cut by a month.

Gas prices went up another 20 cents.

Those lands are now closed to public hunting.

They just jacked up the tourist tax by 10%.

Some rich guy bought up that whole side of the mountain…and fenced it off.

CNN just reported that 10 more people got sick at that resort.

Two of the three airlines that fly to us just up-and- quit flying to us.

There’s a new mega-resort being built on that pristine beach.

 

But, I look around.

 

And there’s Joe and Mary.  Forty years of trophy hunting.  They operate a pack train in Alberta, Canada.  Up a mountain.  They say it gets -30 in the winter and they don’t/ can’t leave their cabin.  Completely off the grid.  She can skin a deer.  He can still chop trees.  With an axe. He can spot game with his eyes that you can only see looking through your high-powered scope.

 

Ralph, Paul and Cole are up there somewhere near the Arctic Circle.  Built themselves a lodge with their own hands and native help.  Fly in.  Fly out.  No phones.  But 200 miles of empty river and shore to fish and hunt.  Need something?  Bring it in or do without.  Build it yourself or improvise.

 

Sammy is somewhere in the South American jungles.

 

Found an isolated village of natives along a river straight out’ve Jurassic Park. Built a rustic fishing resort for fishing peacock bass and 400-pound arapaima that lurk in those tea-colored waters.

 

In the meantime, Sam also built a school, medical facility and several industries so his locals would have regular jobs.  He’s working on a small lumber mill too.

 

And there’s Joey.  He’s like a modern-day Daniel Boone or Jeremiah Johnson.   If you saw, Leo de Caprio in the “Revanant,” that’s Joe.

 

He’s a bush pilot; airplane mechanic; tractor-operator; river guide; naturalist; eco-guide and during the season, big game hunter.  Specialty is giant Kodiak grizzly bears.  GIANT bears that can stand 10’ tall; weigh almost 1 ton with a 24-inch paw.

 

Spends weeks in the bush climbing mountains; crossing frozen streams and trekking over glaciers with a 150-pound pack and rifle with his clients.  He’s the guy standing BEHIND his client with an BIGGER rifle in case his client misses. He makes sure an even bigger bear doesn’t come up from behind!

 

Oh…then he carries the meat on his back DOWN the darned mountain for you too. And, our course, you want the hide and head for a trophy!

 

And, it’s good to see Louie over there setting up HIS booth. He’s 70 now, but has the swimmer’s physique of a 30-year-old.  He’s from South Africa.  He’ll take you to freedive with “Mr. Grinner” the great white shark.  No cage.  No tanks.  You hold your breath.  And your heart!

 

I’ve seen Louie hold his breath for almost 5 minutes underwater!

 

Just you, a mask a snorkel and a wetsuit that makes you look just like a tasty sealion.  Lovely.

 

South Africa is where “Shark Week” gets all it’s great footage to boost their ratings.  I once asked him what do you do when a great white swims overhead and you’re on the bottom?

 

“You keep very still and hold your breath as long as you can!” He laughed back.

 

But what if you can’t hold your breath that long?  “You’d be amazed how a 20’ great white can keep you from breathing!”

 

And on-and-on.  There’s several hundred of these incredible spirits exhibiting at these hunting and fishing shows.  But with each year, they dwindle.  Just like the outdoors they inhabit.

 

It does my heart good to know there’s folks like this still out there. And to call them my friends.

 

And there’s still places to go to find people like this.  And you and I can still go there.  Hope you come to visit!

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG

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I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG! 

Originally Published the Week of January 3, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

“All fishermen are born honest…but they eventually grow out’ve it.”…Anonymous sign posted on a fishing shack

 

“Jonathan, come down quick, I’ve got a huge fish.  It could be a record!”

 

Over the several decades in the fishing business down here in Baja, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

 

There was a day and time when I’d go rushing over with camera, scale, and tape measure.  Hey, it’s Baja!

 

More world records pop out’ve Baja waters than any other place on the planet.  Line class and weight class records are set every year.

 

I used to stumble over myself sprinting over to the massive fish and beaming fisherman.  Couldn’t get there fast enough.

 

If it wasn’t a call for a “world record” it was a call to check out some no less massive creature from the deep.

 

I admit I’ve gotten older and slower through the years, but I don’t quite sprint over like I used to.   At least not with the same urgency!

 

I have not curbed my enthusiasm by any means.  If an angler is excited and thinks it’s a big fish, then by gosh, I’m excited about that big fish too!

 

But logically, not every fish is going to be a “world record.”  Logically, not every dorado is a “fifty-pound beast.”  Not every roosterfish or wahoo weighs 80 pounds!

 

But, if someone is excited about it, then it’s very likely the largest fish that proud angler has caught…or the first…or prettiest…  It really doesn’t matter.

 

It’s an important fish and I’m excited about it too.

And, despite jokes to the contrary, “size matters.”

 

Actually, it’s all that matters.  But, like we all know, size is relative.

 

I’ve gotten pretty good after all those years after handling thousands of fish.  I can  eye-ball the size of a fish and can give a pretty good estimate on size.

 

So, like I said, I don’t quite hustle down the beach with all available speed any longer.

 

I don’t want to bust anyone’s bubble or temper their excitement so I’ll “conveniently” say, “Darnit,  I forgot my scale, but that’s a dandy fish!”

 

I’ll give a generous estimate and I make sure I take a photo if at all possible with lots of well-deserved genuine high-fives…low-fives…knuckle-bumps and back-slapping.

 

The best part is listening to the stories of the great catch.  Having clients who return year-after-year, gives me a great opportunity to hear the story over and over.

 

Having our own restaurant and bar is also an excellent venue to hear the stories, especially as the beer and margaritas flow.

 

And sometimes, oh my…how the story and size change!

 

There’s the quote that goes, “May I catch a fish so big that I don’t have to lie about the size when I tell the story later.”

 

Fishermen are among the best story-tellers on the planet.   Ever since the first cave-dwellers came back from the hunt to share exploits around the fires with the rest of the tribe, story-telling is part of the excitement and fun.

 

But, y’know, there really ARE some fish that need to be put on the scale and remove all doubt.

 

We finally got a very expensive IGFA scale that will weigh fish up to 2000 pounds and has to be certified ever year.  It’s come in handy a time or two.

 

Now, I don’t suggest you go out and do that.  For years, I got along very well and still carry some inexpensive hand-held devices in my tackle bag.

 

One is a little battery-operated hand-scale.  A number of companies make them and, although there are still numerical scales, the digital ones are handier and seem more accurate.

 

They have a big hook on them to hang the fish and, will give you a pretty accurate read-out of the weight of a fish.  They’re pretty handy to weigh your luggage as well.

 

They come in several sizes, but for Baja purposes, I have the ones that have 50-pound limits.  It seems to cover most Baja fish.

 

While normally not certifiably accurate, I’ve actually had several of my devices sent in to check their accuracy.  They were all within ¼ to ½ pound of our expensive certified rig.   Surely close enough!

 

Great for settling debates among friends. Great to decide who wins the jackpot over the largest fish and will be buying drinks at the cantina that night.

 

For larger fish up to 100 pounds, there’s the boga-type grips that look like a handled tube with a claw on the end.  They’re a little pricier and spring loaded.

 

They’re also a bit heavier, since they’re made of steel, but also fit easily in a tackle bag.

 

Using the trigger on the device, the hooks grab a fish by the lips.  When lifted, the springs inside the tube give a read-out of the weight.

 

Works great on larger fish although if it’s a long fish like a wahoo or dorado and you’re short like me, you might need to stand on something so the fish is off the ground.

 

But, it’s also handy if you plan to release the fish.  By “lipping” the fish, you minimize harming it.  You weigh it.  You take a photo and you release the fish to fight another day.

 

But, now you know the truth!  What you do with it and how you tell the story is still up to you.

Honest!

That’s my story (Really!  Believe me!!!)

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO
 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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A Better Fish Fillet

Pancho gaff

Taking care of your fish starts before you even get the fish in the boat!

Sasime tuna chunks

Unbruised firm chilled and ready!

A Better Fish Fillet

Originally Published the Week of Dec 4, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In addition to having our fishing fleet here in La Paz, we also commercially pack fish as well.  During the season, I’m personally in our “fish cave” 2-5 hours a day handling the fish for our clients.

 

Needless to say, I see a heck-of-a-lot of fish.  We get fish that belongs to our clients as well as other anglers who fish elsewhere or have their own boats.

 

It’s very rewarding to send folks home with some really nicely done fish.  Whether they fish with us or not, isn’t important. I like seeing the smiles knowing they’re taking home the very best memories that go along with those packages of fillets.

 

Even better to get calls or e-mails from folks months later.  Or, even longer!

 

They tell me how surprised they are that the fish still tastes steller and just as good as the day they got it.  It’s gratifying.  YESSSS!!!

 

I love it when folks bring me their fish.  Most of the time, it’s at least already cleaned by the captain or deckhand and I’m just fine-trimming, weighing and portioning it so we can vacuum seal it.

 

However, there are times when I simply cringe seeing the fish that’s brought to me.  I literally hate to send it home with folks.

 

What’s that old adage? “Poop in…poop out?” (add in your own derogatory expletive).

 

It’s like anything else.  If you start with good stuff, you end up with good stuff.  If you give me great fish to work with, I’m gonna send you out with some good stuff too.

 

If only folks would think a little bit, and take better care of their fish, it would make a big difference.  That starts long before they bring me their fish.

 

For example, I know you don’t always have control over it, but whenever possible, go for…or ask for head gaffs on a fish. Not always possible.  And it takes a certain level of skill between the gaffer and the angler.

 

A lot of anglers don’t realize that it takes a bit of finesse to lay out a hot fish “just so” whereby the captain can gaff it in the head.  Sometimes, a captain is just anxious to get the fish in the boat so the client doesn’t lose the fish.  I get it.

 

But, sticking the fish in the head, avoids damaging the tasty valuable meat.  When a fish gets stuck in the body it continues to pump blood into the flesh.  It “bruises”, if you will. A big ugly bruise.  Especially, muscular fish like tuna.

 

So… I get these gorgeous chunks of valuable fish and so much of it is ruined by huge bloody “bruises” in the meat.   It has to be cut-out and discarded.  I’ve had to toss out 10-20% of otherwise perfectly good meat due to bleeding.

 

Along those lines even if you don’t get a head gaff…Once you do get your fish in the boat, give some thought to “bleeding” your fish.  Time constraints in the middle of a hot bite will sometimes prevent this, but if you can do this or ask for it, it makes a huge difference.

 

Simply, while the fish is still alive, cut it by the heart and bleed it. If you can, hold it in the water, the heart will pump out excess blood.

 

When any creature dies, it starts to deteriorate immediately. Logically, so does the blood.

 

When you let a fish pump out it’s blood, it greatly enhances the quality of the meat and taste.  You’ll notice a fresher less fishy flavor and the flesh will have a lighter color to it.

 

Of course, the worst kind of fish I receive is when the fish has not been kept cool after it dies.  Ice is critical.  If not ice, at least, don’t leave it out in the hot Baja sun as some folks do.  It’s literally cooking!

 

The fish comes to me and it almost “dissolves” in my hands.  It falls apart.  It’s mushy. It falls off the bone.  It’s grey and discolored.

 

Tasty tuna, wahoo, snapper…it doesn’t matter.  It might already be starting to stink.  I wouldn’t serve it to our cats.  Unsalvageable.

 

Often, so much if it, I can’t even pack.  In all fairness, I have to throw it away.

 

If it’s somewhat salvageable, I know it’s gonna be crap when the folks eat it and there’s no way to explain once they walk out the door and go home with their fish.  Just such a waste.

 

Another peeve is letting fish sit in water after it’s cleaned.  No plastic bag.  Just sitting and floating around.  Often it’s in the melted ice.  Maybe it’s cool.  Maybe the water is already tepid and warm.

 

Just floating and maybe getting warm.  A lovely “soup” in the making. But either way, two things are happening.

 

It’s breaking down into mush. Maybe not so fast just sitting out in the sun, but on it’s way to falling apart.

 

Second, the fresh water is getting infused into the flesh.  For one, it might not be the best water to begin with.  But, sitting in fresh water, the natural saltiness that makes ocean-fish so tasty is getting lost.  Want bland-tasting fish? Let it soak in fresh water.

 

A quick fresh water rinse is OK.  Letting it soak is tragic.

 

Lastly, you would think it’s common sense.  But avoid the urge to put your fish in the same ice chest as bottles of beer!  If you must join them, use canned beer.

 

You can imagine what happens when beer bottles break in an ice chest full of fish fillets.

 

I’m good, but not that good.  Impossible to pick little pieces of glass out’ve your fish fillets.  I have to tell you all your fish is headed into the trash unless you want to eat pieces of glass!

 

A little thought is well worth it.

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO
 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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BUDDY DO YOU HAVE SOME CHANGE?

 

money exchange

Buddy Do You Have Some Change?

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 10, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

In all the years and all the columns that I’ve written, I don’t know how I could have passed up the subject of money changing.   But, lately, I’ve gotten a number of folks asking so I guess that’s the genesis of this week’s subject.

 

If you’re coming to Mexico, is it a good idea to change dollars to pesos?

 

The answer is yes.

 

Using the “coin of the realm” is always a good idea, but especially now.  With the dollar-to-peso exchange rate at 16 to 18 pesos to the dollar, you stretch your purchasing power by having a pocketful of pesos.

 

There’s more “bang for the buck” as you wander around buying t-shirts for the kids; a sombrero that will end up in a garage sale; and another round of tequila against your better judgment.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  U.S. dollars are really welcome down here and we love having you spend them, but pesos are just handy to have.

 

With pesos in hand, if you see the shrimp dinner costing 150 pesos, you don’t have to do the mental gymnastics to figure how to convert to dollars.   It’s sure easier to figure out the 10% tip too.  It’s also easy math  to calculate if you received the correct amount of change.

 

Additionally, many local business, charge a little more for taking dollars.  We accept them as a “convenience” for visitors like you, but it actually costs us to accept those dollars.  So, there might be a small “visitor tax.”

 

Let me explain.

 

In order to deposit our earnings into the Mexican bank we have to convert them to pesos.  There’s a bank transaction fee attached so Mexican businesses lose some money by doing that.

 

Additionally  some Mexican banks only allow a certain amount of dollars to be deposited by the week or month. If you have more than that, you have to hold onto it and sit on it.

 

For a business, money sitting there doing nothing is not doing anyone any good.  Can’t pay bills.  Can’t make payroll.  Can’t purchase inventory with money that has to sit and, at some point, be accounted for.

 

So that begs the larger question for visitors.  Where should I exchange my money?

 

Out-of-hand, I used to  tell folks to change your money at the airport.  You’re already there.  It’s handy.  They have plenty of money. And the rates seemed about right for the market.

 

WRONG!

 

I didn’t realize that those exchange offices at the airport tack on huge “transaction fees” that pretty much erase any real pragmatic reason for using them.  If you have to use them, use them.  But, there’s better places.

 

For one, there’s your bank at home. Start with them.  You know them.  They know you.  You have an account or two with them. They won’t ding you so hard.

 

If you didn’t get it done before you left home and now you’re in-country, the next place I’d hit is the various money exchange houses around town.  In tourist places like Cabo San Lucas or larger cities like Ensenada or Tijuana, you’ll find them all over.

 

Some are just little kiosks.  Others have small offices.

 

But, they’re easy to find.   And they’re competitive.  Not just with the market rates, but against each other.  The want your business.  They want your dollars and are eager to hand you pesos.

 

Also in the larger tourist areas, they’re open all the time.  You suddenly realize you’re out’ve pesos for a late night taco run.  Or, you know that no one will be able to accept or break your $100 bills, you can usually find someone to change your money.

 

If you’re in a smaller community like La Paz, where we live,  or even smaller places, the money exchange houses will be harder to find and their hours will be more limited. But, they’re there.

 

So, try to think ahead.  If you need change after 5 p.m. you might be out’ve luck.  They‘ll be closed.

 

However, secondary and tertiary options can be found.

 

If you’re at a larger hotel, they can often exchange smaller amounts at the front desk.   For example you need to change $40 bucks that’s fine.  If you’re trying to change $500 dollars, not so fine.

 

But it’s subject to them having dinero in the til.  Don’t always count on the reception desk being able to make change or conversions.  But, it’s an option.

 

There are also larger grocery store chains that have “customer service desks” just like back home. They usually have more money on hand and offer pretty good exchange rates.

 

Just be aware that many places do not accept bills over $20 because of fear of counterfeit.  So, bring five $20 bills.  Don’t bring one $100 bill.

 

There are also ATM machines all over.  Personally, I avoid them.  There’s too many opportunities for fraud, especially in ATM’s on street corners or willy-nilly in markets or bars.  If your card gets eaten by the machine, it’s not like you can ask the bartender to get it out for you.

 

If you have to use an ATM, use one at a bank.  That way if there’s an issue, there’s bank personnel who can assist.  The ATM’s will dispense 200 peso notes (about $11).  And you’ll see a transaction fee on your next statement.  But, in a pinch, it’s better than nothing!

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: jonathan@tailhunter.com

Or drop by the restaurant to say hi.  It’s right on the La Paz waterfront!

_____________ 

 
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

“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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