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JUST BITE ME

just bite me

JUST BITE ME!

Originally Published Week of Aug. 31, 2017 in Western Outdoor News Publications

It’s that time of the year in Baja.

 

In my opinion, nothing beats the late summer and fall for fishing.  The sunny days are long.  The waters are flat.  The non-fishing tourists and families have left to go back to school.  And the fishing just seems to ramp up.

 

Oh…and airline tickets are cheaper too!

 

More importantly…

 

The “glamour” fish seem to know it’s “showtime.”  Billfish, wahoo, bigger dorado, larger roosterfish, tuna and others play to the crowds during prime time.  It’s big boy time on all levels.

 

But, there’s some small-time players who also come to the party and can ruin a night or ruin a vacation faster than a wahoo blasting after a trolled lure.  It’s often a reality that can’t be avoided.  Or can it?

 

I’m talking about bugs…yea…creepy stinging flying annoying biting critters that can put a buzz kill (no pun intended) on a fun time really fast.

 

Mostly I’m referring to mosquitos, flies and no-see-ums (invisible biting gnats).

 

At best, they’ll pester you into submission as you slap yourself silly while trying to down your margarita; or catch a siesta on the beach; or ruin your evening with that (we’ve all been there) annoying drone in your ear followed by the inevitable bites and scratches.

 

At worst, they can cover you in bites. However, in the ultimate scenario, they can send you to the hospital with a severe case of dengue fever or other sickness.  Nothing to laugh about.

 

Here in Mexico, we call dengue fever the “broken bone flu” because it’s very painful.

 

It starts with water.

 

The summer and fall is when we get our tropical storms and rainfalls.  Water puddles and collects. By the roadside.  Little containers.  Trash.

 

Bugs lay eggs where it’s warm and wet. The heat hatches them and then they go on the hunt.  In swarms.   They search for food and pro-create other nasty critters!

 

You, sir and madam, are the perfect host!

 

You have all that unprotected exposed skin.  And you smell!

 

Perspiration. Fruity fragrances like perfume and cologne; hair products like shampoo and mousse; your sunscreen; the “spring fresh” smell of detergent in your clothes…you’re just a walking neon sign that says “Bite Me!”

 

What’s that they say about an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of pain?”  (or itch?)

 

Let’s start with basics!

 

For Pete’s sake…keep your hotel doors and windows closed or at least keep the screens closed. Keep the bad critters outside.

 

A mosquito doesn’t care that you spent $1000 bucks-a-night for that ritzy hotel room with the 700-count-thread Egyptian cotton sheets. It’s gonna buzz your ear and you know it!

 

If you’re camping, that screen isn’t called “no-see-um” screen so people can’t see you change your clothes.  It’s because the mesh is so small that the almost invisible little gnats with the mean sting can’t get through.  So take advantage of it!

 

Once no-see-um get to you, they will attack in hordes and you’ll never know what hit you.

 

They’ll bite through your hair; inside your clothes; in the crack of your you-know-what; in your ears and under your armpits and you’ll never see a single one of them.

 

I was once working a photo shoot for a magazine with a bunch of models on a beach.  Within 10 minutes of setting up, the girls and photographer were screaming back to the van covered in dozens of red itching little welts.  The girls had been bitten even inside their bikinis and in their hair and weren’t able to work for over a week.

 

Which leads me to location.

 

Flying bugs have a hard time in the wind or breeze.  Don’t set up your beach chair near the bushes or your campsite in the trees.   For the photo-shoot I mentioned above, the photographer wanted to shoot the girls on the white sands next to a grove of mangrove trees.

 

If your boat is mooring up in a cove, get up-wind from brush as well.  These bugs will fly out to your boat and create havoc.  Near one remote island, we once had to sleep in our wetsuits on deck because of the bugs.  Imagine trying to sleep in a rubber suite in 95 degree night heat.

 

Obviously too, as alluded to above, fragrances are your enemy.  Avoid them.  Almost impossible with all the chemicals we use on ourselves these days, but at least be conscious of it.  If you spill food or sugary things, likewise, clean it up.  It’s common sense, but bag of your trash.

 

Fragrances can also be your friend.

 

There’s a lot of bug repellants out there.  Fragrance is their major component.

 

I’m not a big fan of putting more chemicals on myself, but there’s some newer and better natural and organic repellants that you can purchase that work well.  Spray your clothes especially the openings.  Lighting a citronella candle or two works great as well, especially at night.

 

In a pinch, acid things like a lime will work also!

 

Gringos like to stick a lime in their beer bottles.  Well, that wasn’t created by beer company advertising.  Squeezing lime on the rim kept flies away from crawling on the bottle or rim of your glass!

 

When I have nothing else, I’ll rub some lime or lemon juice on my skin.  It’s better than nothing especially against flies!

 

Also, if you can, cover up.  Long loose sleeves help protect against sunburn as well as bugs.

 

Critters like paradise too.  And there’s more of them than you.

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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IS THE WHOLE ISLAND SURROUNDED BY WATER?

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Is The WHOLE Island Surrounded By Water?

Originally Published the Week of May 8, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

Yes, you know who you are. I don’t think any worse of you for asking me that question.  Thanks for making me smile.

 

Any of us who are down here working in whatever capacity could come up with lists of similar questions.  Whether we work in fishing, diving, restaurants, day trips…whatever…We are the humble conduits of information for all our Baja visitors.   Good, bad, or otherwise.

 

Many are the same questions over and over.  That’s par for the course.

 

Where’s the best place to exchange money?

Is the water OK to drink?

Who has the best margaritas?

What’s the temperature going to be like this week?

 

And then there’s the other ones…

 

What kind of meat do you use in your teriyaki chicken dish? (BEEF)

 

Does the sun always rise in the East over the Sea of Cortez? (IT CHANGES DAILY)

 

Why can’t I take my top off and walk down the street like in France? (IT’S NOT FRANCE?)

 

Can you do something about the wind blowing in the morning when we’re fishing? (LET ME JUST WAVE MY MAGIC WAND A FEW TIMES)

 

Can you catch one of the dolphin so my son can ride it?  (YES, I AM A FULL SERVICE OUTFITTER)

 

Hey, it’s what we do and the folks are good folks with good honest questions.  I’m thankful for them for putting a little grin in my day!

 

But, if you’re coming down to Baja it helps to do a little research first.  At least a little.

 

No matter where you go for your travels, especially with so much social media and information out there, a little knowledge will help any trip go smoother.  This is even moreso with Mexico and Baja.

 

The phone systems are very very different.  Internet, while growing, does not always work.  Or when it works, it can be very sporadic even in the most urban areas.  Forget it if you’re out in the bush or out on the water.

 

I mean, c’mon.  Admit it.  It’s one reason you come down here so you can’t be reached, right? It’s still the Baja frontier.

 

But what if YOU need to reach out? Especially if something goes hinky with your vacation.

 

It’s far better to have the details and plans worked out ahead of time so that there’s as few glitches as possible.

 

There’s nothing like having your wife, girlfriend, family members or buddies giving you “stink eye” because something is amiss and it’s YOUR fault! Or maybe not.

 

Especially in Mexico.

 

Even moreso in Baja. Double-dog affirmative in Baja where not only might technology be a little sticky, but don’t forget…they speak Spanish here!

 

It’s kind of a national thing.

 

Yes. Surprise.  Spanish is the language here, and I am often perplexed at how many visitors are equally surprised that Spanish is spoken and(“surprise again”)…not everyone speaks English!

 

So, if something goes wrong…if something on your tour itinerary goes screwy…

 

…if the 5-star hotel you booked only has a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling and has a lovely view of a parking lot…

 

…if they send a four-seater Nissan Sentra Taxi for your group of 10…

 

…if your fishing tackle goes to Cleveland and your wife’s make up case got left in Seattle…(you better know which bag has priority in your life!)

 

Things might not resolve as quickly as making a simple phone call or dealing with the person “in charge.”

 

Some folks just “book it on whim.” They find something on the internet and run with it.  Many don’t even do that.  “Let’s just be wild and free!”

 

A little pre-planning takes the guess-work and stress out of your vacation which should be YOUR time to enjoy.  Not sweating the details.

 

Just because a website has pretty pictures is not enough.  Exactly what does “close to the beach mean?”  How far is “walking distance to restaurants?”

 

And, if it’s on the beach, can I swim there? Or use the beach? I know several hotels in Baja where they warn you NOT go to in the water. Too rough.  Too rocky or dangerous?   I know one that looks awesome but it’s built next to the outflow of the sewage treatment.

 

Just because one city is “two inches” away from another city on the map could mean 20 minutes apart or two hundred miles away!

 

Will the owner of your charter operation be there on site to answer questions?  Can you just walk to the docks and book a boat any time?  What does “all inclusive” really mean at the hotel?  It didn’t include lobster or steak or mixed drinks?

 

I’m a vegetarian…vegan…Kosher…diabetic…have food allergies.  Good idea to check.

 

I do need to still keep in touch with my family/ work/ office.  Will my phone, computer, texts work?  If they need to reach me, can they?

 

There’s great resources.  Talk to others.  Get other opinions.  A great starting point are Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google and others.  Compare.  Ask questions.  Also, even 10-star places have a bad review or a bad day or simply had a bad customer that loves blasting places.  Don’t rely on just that one single bad review or two.  A place that has 200 reviews but only 2 bad reviews is better than a place that has only 20 reviews and has 2 bad reviews.

 

Take that into account and make informed decisions!  Take the guess work out so you can enjoy your time!

 

And yes, find out if that island really is completely surrounded by water.  Anc check on those dolphin rides while you’re at it.   A good thing to know!

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!

_____________ 

 
 
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.”

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

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WHAT DATE WILL THE DORADO SHOW UP?

 

Calendar

What Date Will the Dorado Show Up?

Originally Published the Week of April 25, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

So, can you tell me what date the dorado will show up?

I don’t know.

Fishing is not an exact science.

Dorado don’t participate on social media.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No cute dorado tweets.

They don’t answer my text messages either.  Party foul.  Just rude.

Come to think of it, the tuna, marlin, wahoo and yellowtail don’t respond to me either.  Yes, there are days when I take that personally, especially when I have fishing clients here ready to burst.

Or they’re trying to make travel reservations and want to know specifically when to book their airlines.

“C’mon, Man!  You’re supposed to know stuff like that, Jonathan! “

 Right. Right. Right.  I’m the “expert.”

Honestly, however, most times, it’s said with a smile.  I’m never afraid to say that I don’t know something.

And the questions are good honest intelligent questions from fishermen who are just enthusiastic and want to get as much of an edge as possible.  I get it.  I’m the same way.  Especially with fish.

But, there are some things that are just not controllable.  If I was as good as some guys think I am, then I’d be able to wave my rod over the water and the fish would just jump in the boat.

I don’t have those Biblical abilities yet.  That one is right up there with the miracle of loaves and fishes or parting the Red Sea. Nope.  That’s up a few levels…actually a lot of levels…above me!

So, let’s work with what we have.  If you’re simply going to use the calendar, let’s just say it’s a start.

There’s so much more that will allow you to fine tune things.

A calendar is just a bunch of numbers on a page.  The fish don’t get calendars. They don’t know that your yearly vacation starts June 1st.

They don’t care about Christmas, Memorial Weekend or that you always fish on your birthday in November. They could care less that you always caught yellowtail in March or that on your last three Baja trips the tuna were great in August.

So, don’t curse the fish or the fish gods if things don’t always go as planned.  If you fish by the calendar, you take your chances for better or worse.  Go fish.  Have a good time.  It’s still better than working!

What the calendar can tell you is about the seasons.  Don’t look at it as specific dates.  Look at the calendar to tell you if it’s winter, spring, summer or fall because “generally speaking” certain fish usually show up during certain seasons.

For example, sierra, yellowtail and pargo in the later winter winter and spring.  Dorado and billfish show up when waters are warmer.  And so on. Like I said, it’s a start.

What fish do care about is food.  Big fish.  Small fish.  All fish.  They gotta eat.  And they will go where the food is located and show up when and where the food can be found.

If you want to track food, track the water temperatures because even “food fish” have to eat as well.  So, don’t watch the calendar.  Track the water temperatures instead.

Even a few degrees can make all the difference.  Warmer water is bluer.  Colder water is darker, greener and cloudier.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It depends on what species you’re hunting and several different water temperatures can be found in the same areas.  And that’s not unusual.

So, if you’re hunting yellowtail or amberjack, you’re looking for cooler waters.  Billfish or dorado?  The warmer waters are where you want to be fishing.  Tuna?  Well, that depends.  What kind of tuna?  Yellowfin tuna like warmer waters.  Bluefin and albacore like the cooler end of the blue water.

And that’s just the surface temperature!

Below the surface, there are thermoclines where water temperatures also vary.   The surface temperature can say 80 degrees, but 30 feet below that it’s only 70 degrees!

Confused?  Too much to wrap your brain around?

Might as well put technology to work.

That’s where I take my personal fishing to the next level beyond just looking at the calendar.  Veteran fishermen will back me up.

Websites and services such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has excellent satellite images of surface temperatures put out the by the U.S. government.

Here’s a sample:  www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/contour/gulfcalf.cf.gifgulfcalf-cfTerrafin has been online for years and is a awesome resource (www.terrafin.com) and specifically directed at fishermen up and down the Pacific Coast.

Another fine service is Fish Dope put out by Bloody Decks (www.fishdope.com) that not only has water temperatures specific to certain fishing areas, but also various other fish finding services.   It’s well worth it to check out before you go fishing or setting up a trip.

It’s all in the details and a degree or two in water temperatures can make all the difference in the world.

Still waiting for the fish to answer my text messages.   Until then, I guess I’m stuck with the technology at hand!

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

______________

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!

_____________ 

 
 
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.”

Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

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Your Negligence. My Emergency?

Ouch1

Your Negligence.  My Emergency?

Originally Published the Week of March 12, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

Over the last two months of being on the road and talking to hundreds of fishermen at these fishing and hunting shows,  there’s a lot of story-talking that goes on.  I mean, that’s part of the fun of fishing, hunting and the outdoors, right?  Talking smack.  Telling tales.  Mine-is-bigger-than-yours.  It’s a guy thing.

 

And it’s not all about fish, either.  Ever since we were kids, we showed off skinned knees and cut fingers; missing front teeth; and plaster-casted arms.  We wore them like badges of honor.

 

Mom might have hated it, but ripped blue-jeans weren’t a fashion statement.  It meant you played hardball with sticks and rocks not Barbie and Ken dolls.

 

Nothing against girls who played with dolls, but there was something about girls who could lace ‘em up and slide into homebase or didn’t mind a good game of football in the mud.

 

And so it is with fishermen.  You can’t take the kid out’ve the man.  Like Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider in the “Jaws” movie showing off their scars.

 

So typical.

 

“This scar is from when I tried to pull a hook barehanded out’ve a wahoo mouth!”

 

“Well see this scar?  It’s the operation from a tendon they had to repair when I was barefooted and tripped on an anchor chain reaching for a beer!”

 

“That is nothing.  Here is where a gaff went through my hand, when I tried to do a trick!”

 

There’s that joke about why women live longer than men.  Yes, we remain little boys deep inside.

 

Yea, “poop happens” as the saying goes.  And a lot of it is our own fault and could be avoided.

 

Usually, most of us are pretty careful.  But, fishing is a sport inherently rife with sharp things; slippery things; pointy things and simply an unforgiving Mother Nature.

 

There’s things I always carry with me on my Baja fishing trips.  There’s the obvious things geared towards prevention.  Like a good hat.  A windbreaker.  High-end sunscreen.  Sunglasses.  Or water (Duh!).

 

Prescription medications.

 

These are the things that even the most veteran anglers sometimes forget but missing any one of them can really crimp your day. Or a vacation.

 

But what about other things?

 

Use common sense.  For some individuals that’s asking a lot. You should know if you can fix it yourself or you need to run to the hospital.  Nothing I say here is a substitute for real medical opinions and knowledge, especially in a true emergency.

 

But…

 

I once had several very well-respected surgeons fishing with me as part of a group.  One of their buddies who was an attorney cut his finger on a lure.

 

It was bloody, but not serious.  It was funny listening to them “go into conference” about the best procedure to fix the finger. Blah blah blah blah blah.  Three surgeons, mind you.

 

It took so long the attorney fisherman looked at me and rolled his eyes then started making jokes about “malpractice lawsuits.”

 

I pulled the attorney away from the group.  Splashed water on the cut.  Told him to hold it high and apply some pressure.  Pulled a band aid outta my tackle box and slapped it on.  Back to fishing for me and the attorney.

 

Silence from the “over-thinking” surgeons.   The doctors mouths dropped then they started laughing.

 

But seriously, even small cuts or punctures can be critical. Not because of the wound itself, but because of infection.  Especially, in Mexico, that can be an issue.  You don’t want thing going septic on you.

 

So, clean the wound as well as you can.  Water, even clean saltwater is good.

 

I always bring some mouthwash with me. One of those little travel sizes works.  It has alcohol.  (It’s also good to chase away onion breath from the lunch burritos).

 

Splash some on.  Beer or other alcohol works in a pinch as well.

 

I always have some assorted band aids.  Keeping the wound clean and covered is essential.  Keeping it dry is important too.  So, I bring some first-aid tape to wrap around the bandage.  I usually have some kids balloons as well to roll over a finger.  We once used a condom (whatever works!) and then taped that on.

 

My tackle box also includes something antiseptic like Neosporin or similar that helps healing and fights infection.  I also carry super glue.  It stings a bit, but it can help seal a cut really nicely almost like brushing on some new skin.

 

If gets a puncture from a fin, tooth or spine, especially something toxic like a scorpion fish, have a bucket handy or plastic tupperware.  Clean the wound and as well as possible. Immerse the body part in the bucket.  Obviously, pull out the barb or fin.

 

An old trick we used when I worked on boats commercially is to add some bleach to the water, but also some meat tenderizer.  The bleach helps cleanse.

 

Meat tenderizer breaks down proteins and helps draw out the venom.  Works good on insect bites as well, if you make a paste out’ve it and apply to the skin.

 

Also from the galley…if someone gets a mild burn, honey on the affected area then covered up works like a charm!

 

For jellyfish stings, obviously get the jellyfish of you.  Scrape with an edge like a credit card or even the edge of a knife or shaving razor.

 

Rinse in salt, not fresh, water.  A paste of baking soda and SALT water works as does white wine vinegar that can be diluted with salt water.  Ice can help swelling.

 

Get back to fishing, but once back to shore, don’t ignore the wound. Clean and dress it again.  And keep it clean so it doesn’t get infected.  Get to a doctor if you need to.  Or it gets worse.

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

 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: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g

“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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BAJA BITS PIECES and TACKLE BOX STICKY NOTES

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BAJA BITS PIECES and TACKLE BOX STICKY NOTES!

Originally Published Week of Feb. 28, 2017 in Western Outdoor News Publications

Insofar as lots of you are making or possibly thinking about making a Baja trip this year, and this is the time vacations are made,  there’s a few notes to pass along you might find interesting.

 

There’s good news as far as airline travel.  For one, Southwest has jumped into the already jammed list of carriers flying folks into Cabo San Lucas.  This has several great benefits.

 

I’m not a schill for Southwest.  But hey…in the age of getting nickel-and-dimed by the airlines these days who are trying their best to stay aloft and competitive, Southwest does allow those awesome two free bags!  For fishermen transporting rods, reels, ice chests, boat parts and frozen fish, this rocks.

 

Secondly, Southwest has made a name for itself by being relatively lower-priced than other airlines.  Sometimes a lot lower.   Super.

 

However, by jumping into the mix, their presence has forced other airlines to lower their fares in order to stay competitive.  Winner-winner chicken dinner for us Baja travelers!

 

Also, while on that same subject of airline fares, there’s more good news.  Even on those Mexico routes where Southwest has not started, overall, airfares seem to be substantially lower than last year.

 

I don’t know why, but I’m not arguing either.  I was told that it was because fuel prices have remained lower for several seasons.  Since airlines make their fuel purchase contracts in advance, they have cheap fuel inventory which then gets passed onto us consumers.

 

The downside is there are still some dates, you might want to re-think flying or, at least be prepared to pony up some extra dinero.  One of those is April.

This year, Easter falls smack in the middle of the month.  On either side of that you’ve got a big demand for airline tickets for the springbreak kids and families that flock to Mexico.  The airlines have no problem filling planes.  So, prices are jacked-up.

 

Simple supply-and-demand economics 101.   You’re lucky to even find tickets by this late date for many routes to the most popular places.

 

On top of that, Easter and Holy Week (Semana Santa) are the busiest times for Mexicans to fly.  It’s not Christmas.  It’s not Thanksgiving (an American holiday, not Mexican!).

 

Many local families fly domestically to visit other parts of Mexico and vice versa.  Likewise, many Mexican families fly out of the country and many from the U.S. also fly into Mexico for visits.  That just creates a glut of travelers all vying for limited seats and willing to paying premium prices.

 

So, if you’re wondering why you’re seeing such high prices or non-existent airline seats in April, that’s the reason.  Oh, and many hotels also charge more during the holidays, as they do in the U.S.

 

If you are planning to make a trip, don’t forget to purchase your fishing licenses online.  Many outlets no longer sell the paper fishing licenses.  We use such sites as www.bajasursportfishing.com to get those purchased.

 

It’s actually fast and easy and for once, the Mexican government has a functional well-organized site that doesn’t break down or eat your visa card numbers!   In the past, even Mexican officials would tell me with rolled-eyes that the old sites looked like they were built by high-school interns.

 

If you do get on the site, just don’t panic when you see the prices.  They are in pesos and are not a house or car payment.  Simply divide by about 20 and it’ll show you that the licenses are actually very affordable.  Also, revenue raised from the permits help fund conservation and anti-poaching in Baja and keeps the inspectors out there and vigilant.

 

Just remember, everyone MUST have a fishing license.  Even if they are not going to be fishing.  If they are on a vessel where others are fishing, even if it’s your 90-year-old grandma who wants to knit or your 2-year-old who sleeps through the whole thing, they must have a permiso.

 

If you’re thinking about driving or have not driven the Baja in a long time, prepared to be surprised.  This is NOT your daddy’s old Baja road.

 

Much of the Mexican Highway 1, is two or four lanes in each direction and about as modern as you might want to find.  This is especially true between towns and cities.  The towns and cities is where you will probably get bogged down with street lights, stop signs and construction.  But, it’s getting there!

 

However, the days of looking for a gas station or being relieved to find someone pumping green PEMEX gasoline from a 50-gallon drum and filtering it with a t-shirt into a milk carton are gone.  Gas stations with convenience stores are everywhere and emergency road-side service is not difficult to obtain.  Cell phone reception gets better each year although there’s some stretches that are still thankfully still quite desolate.

 

Lastly, a word on El Nino that played havoc on the weather; the fishing; and the bait for the last two season.  The experts say it’s over.

 

But, it’s been a tough winter in Baja.  If there’s storms in the U.S. they don’t stop just because there’s a border.  High winds, big seas, and even rain have pummeled the Baja just like in the U.S….only it’s warmer!

 

However, general temperatures look to have returned to normal and my observers are telling me they’re seeing more bait around than they’ve seen in the last two years!  Perhaps a harbinger of a great season to come!

 

This week is the big Fred Hall Fishing and Boating Show at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach.  It runs Wednesday to Sunday March 1-5 and it’s huge!  We’ll be in our regular booth as we have been for over 20 years in the fishing tackle area.  Everyone who is anyone in the fishing industry is there!  Bring the family and come say hi!

Dos centavos.  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

 

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: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g

“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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THE REWIND BUTTON

Too have been there in the 60’s when Cabo was just a beach…when people like Bing Crosby walked the halls of Hotel Las Cruces…when big fish were the norm in the Sea of Cortez and in the heyday of such great places like the Serenidad Hotel when the Johnsons hosted the Flying Samaritans and the aroma of barbecued pork could wafted down the coastline.

THE REWIND BUTTON

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 15, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publications

I was asked the other day how I might have done things differently now that I’ve marked more than 20 years working and living in Baja.  I had to think about that because I’ve never given it much thought.

 

I confess much of my time, especially the early years, was spent dealing with the immediate present.   I was more concerned with things like, “Where is my next meal coming from?”   Or, “Dangit, do I have enough gas in the boat to make it back to the beach?” And, “How far can I make 200 pesos stretch until I get paid?”

 

Whew.

 

I gratefully have not had thoughts like that in a long time.  Life doesn’t guarantee anything.  I don’t take things for granted.   However,  at least at this stage in my life, I’m usually laughing to myself if those questions inadvertently race through my brain’s neurons.

 

But, looking back, I guess I would have changed a few things.

 

For one, I would have come to Baja sooner.  I didn’t make it down to Baja until my early 30’s.  I would have loved to have seen the Baja 10 or 20 years earlier…like the during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.   I would have loved to have seen Cabo San Lucas “back in the day” when it was still a fishing town.

 

I would have loved to have seen the Baja of Gene Kira, Fred “Baja Ha-Ha” Hoctor, Neil Kelly and Ray Cannon and other great writers who saw Baja in the days when it was truly “la frontera” (the frontier).

 

If my time machine was powerful enough, what I wouldn’t give to have experienced the Baja of John Steinbeck on the Western Flyer with Ed Ricketts!

 

Looking back, I would  had taken the time to have seen some of the great legendary landmark resorts and hotels in their heyday like Punta Chivato; Punta Colorada, Rancho Leonero, Las Cruces,   Hotel Las Arenas or even The Old Mill in San Quintin and so many others.

 

Some are still going strong, but to have seen them “back in the day” would’ve been pretty special.   So many are gone now or are a shadow of their previous glory when they sat alone on pristine fishing waters.

 

Likewise, the “old Finnie” Finisterra Hotel, Hotel Cabo San Lucas and the Hacienda Hotel  hewn out’ve rocks and cliffs would have been something to have experienced in their days of elegance.  I was fortunate enough to spend some time during their waning years, but to have been there when mariachis roamed the halls and played for well-heeled celebrities and guests must have been something to see.

 

Looking back, I would have brought my parents to Baja sooner.  Lots of kids are brought down by their parents, but I was the first in the family to venture south.  It wasn’t until many years later that I got my father to travel with me.  Other family members followed over the years.

 

Those times remain some of the best memories with them.  That “window” closed too soon and before long they had either had passed away or were too old to travel any longer.  And all we have are the memories.

 

As another afterthought, why did I take so long to stick my head underwater? I was raised in the water.  I spent many of my younger years in Hawaii.   I was so intent on fishing from “above the surface” I never stuck my head “below the surface.”

 

Then, I got SCUBA certified.  It opened up an entire new spectacular world that so enthralled me, I kept going until I got my divemaster certification and became a working divemaster.  The waters surrounding the Baja are some of the most incredible in the world.  It also made me not only a better fisherman, but also gave me a greater appreciation for all for the ocean and especially Baja.

 

I surely would have spent more time in the bush.  When you’re living hand-to-mouth, you like to be somewhat close to things like water, gas, electricity and transportation. . .  No matter how primitive.   I would have spent more time as far away from those things as possible knowing that with each approaching year, it would be increasingly difficult because those places are disappearing.

 

In the same vein, I would have literally “taken the roads less traveled.”  More deserted roads should have been explored.  I should have followed more goat paths.

 

They should have been followed to find out what beach, canyon, vista or adventure lay at the end.  Nowadays, too many others have already been down those roads.

 

Finally, I would have learned Spanish earlier and worked at it harder.  It’s my greatest regret that I’m not more fluent. Language is the ultimate “code.”

 

I’ve gotten better, but I think of how so many previous experiences would have been enriched by knowing and understanding Spanish better.  I can only think of what I missed by not understanding a word here or a phrase there.  Likewise, if I had a better command of Spanish, I could have contributed more as well.

 

Yes, it would have been great to have done so many things earlier. Still,  I’ve got no regrets!  But, I guess it’s not too late.  And that’s the beauty of Baja.  There’s still so much waiting to be experienced and folks continue to discover what a special place it is!

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

 

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: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g

“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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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

 

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DARK CANYONS OF CATAVINA

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of January 3, 2017

The rocky canyons near Catavina at night in central Baja are lonely and cold in late December. Mounds and hills of building-sized boulders dot an ethereal landscape eerily beautiful but desolately forbidding, especially in the dark.

 

We had pulled the Chevy truck off the road for the night up. We negotiated a sandy arroyo and found a sheltered lee against a wall of rocky overhang several hundred yards from the highway.  Clear, cold mountain air held nothing but a million stars overhead.

 

A quick fire of mesquite held back the chill and the worn green Coleman stove propped on the  tailgate soon had us warming tortillas, beans and sizzling chorizo (ground pork sausage) by flashlight.  The big camp pot sure smelled good.

 

“Shhhh…listen!” hushed my buddy Brian abruptly from the other side of the truck. “Did you hear that? I think I heard something out there.”  His head swiveled nervously into the darkness away from our little intrepid fire,  banked against the rock wall.

 

We all stopped talking.

 

“I don’t hear anything,” said Laura nervously, also swinging around from staring into the warming flames. She tried hard to pierce the shadows unsuccessfully with temporarily blinded campfire eyes.

 

Silence.

 

“Wait, I hear it.  Listen.” I told them while at the same time needlessly and unconsciously motioning them to be quiet.

 

The smoke from the crackling mesquite wasn’t helping my night vision.  But something…or someone was out there in the boulders and shrubs.  And it was moving very quietly.  Treading lightly.

 

I was keenly aware that our little campfire made us perfect silhouettes. Subconsciously, we had all huddled a little lower and blinked to focus into the cold Baja dark.

 

There.  We all saw.

 

Through the smoke. Just beyond the edge of light. Ghostly gray.   Dimly at first and moving cautiously.

 

Hatted heads. Dirty faces.

 

Two men.  Shoulder -slung assault rifles in hands.

 

I could see only their upper torsos above the shrubs and rocks.   One young. One a bit older.

 

 “Hola,”said the older one in a flat monotone. In the reflection of the fire his dark eyes took in everything.

 

Just three of us gringos.  An isolated campsite in a rocky arroyo under the stars on a cold December night.  Our truck and provisions.  Exposed. Vulnerable.  Crap…

 

I kept my own eyes on them not daring to see how Brian and Laura were doing, but their nervous vibe was easily perceived. Being the only Spanish speaker I cautiously said, “Hola Senor,” as casually as I could.

 

Danged cotton mouth.  Swallow hard.  I think I raised my hand in a meek greeting.  So much for bravado.  You think you know how you’ll act when someone has a gun.  You don’t.

 

Voice betraying nothing, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”  said the older figures in Spanish.

 

My normal wise-guy response would have been “Who wants to know?”

 

This was not that time.  I didn’t want to say too much, but explained in my limited Spanish that we were campers and worked for a magazine taking photos of the dessert and driving back to California from Loreto.

 

I had both of my hands up. I would guess Brian and Laura did too.

 

At first the older man said nothing.  Too long of a pause.  Uneasy silence. Not good. He looked and studied us with a blank expression.

 

Then, he and the younger man stepped from behind the rocks. Military camouflage uniforms. Boonie hats.  Mexican army. The rifles weren’t pointing at us, but they were still arms-ready. My hackles and senses were still lit up.

 

Two army guys? In the middle of the desert? At night? My body wasn’t moving, but my brain raced through scenarios…and horror stories.

 

“Gringos? From California?”

 

 “Si.Yes. Driving back to San Diego.” I pointed cautiously to the dirt and bug-caked California license plate on the Chevy truck.

 

In that flat Spanish he said, “I have an uncle and cousin in Chula Vista. I like the Padres ‘beisbol.’”

 

  He grinned tightly and he lowered his weapon. So, did the youngster.

 

A communal exhale.   As Laura told me later, she about peed herself. I never admitted I was pretty close as well.

 

“We have a small camp over the ridge.  I have 7 men and we work the checkpoint on the highway to the north.  We smelled coffee and cooking meat, then followed it to the glow of your fire and the sound of conversation.”

 

He explained that they had watched us for a bit.  Narcos? (drug traffic)  Coyotes? (human traffic)  Borrachos?  (drunks).  They had approached cautiously. If we were just innocent campers, they didn’t want to scare us.  (No kidding)

 

“My name is Sargeant Ramiro and this is Private Antonio.”

 

The sergeant, who was no more than maybe 25-years-old, revealed he was as scared as we were!

 

“Mucho gusto and I am sorry we made you nervous,” he said extending his hand which we all shook with relief.  Antonio,  smiled and shook hands warmly as well.  Looked like he should be on a skateboard. Really young.

 

They gratefully accepted an invitation to the fire and cups of hot instant coffee in styrofoam cups.   We huddled close as the fire lit our faces and learned that they were not allowed to have fires while on duty or training.

 

“Military rules…” he shrugged. He sipped. Steam from the coffee held in two hands rose around his face.

 

In that clear high desert air in December, the wind in the rocky canyons was bone chilling.

 

An invitation to spoon up some burritos was not turned down.  Romero and Antonio had only eaten cold military food in four days. The three of us also packed some ourselves and wolfed them down with our own coffee.  I think it was also the adrenaline coming down.

 

Not much conversation, but smiles are smiles in any language.  And everything tastes good in camp.

 

As we had that big pot of beans and chorizo and several packs of tortillas, we told the two men to make more burritos, wrap them in foil and take them back to their camp.  Their faces brightened.

 

Soon, we had a little assembly line. Several dozen burritos wrapped in foil    Everything into some plastic grocery bags.  As we expected to hit the border the next day, in went a bottle of salsa;  bags of chips;  jerky; some oranges and cans of Coke.

 

With appreciative handshakes and smiles they trudged back out into the dark bushes anxious to bring their haul back to their own camp.

 

We waved as the blackness quickly wrapped folded around them.  The chilly darkness did not hesitate.

 

Laura looked at Brian.  Brian looked at me. I looked at them.

 

Whew! The sounds of our hearts in our throats.  We all started laughing.

 

In the morning when we woke up, a handwritten dog-eared note left on our windshield from a stealthy visitor.

 

Millones de gracias, mis amigos.  Bien viaje y que Dios les bendiga. Viva los Padres beisbol.   Feliz Ano Nuevo.  A million thanks, my friends.  Travel well and God bless you. Go Padres.  Happy New Year.

 

Seven scribbled signatures in at the bottom. A salsa smear on one corner.

 

We all smiled. I had forgotten the new year was upon us.  A few days.

 

The  morning sun was already chasing the vapor from our cold breaths.  Time to break camp and head for the border.

 

The note went onto the dusty dashboard. Next to the gum wrappers and sunglasses and sunflower seeds.  To be read and laughed about.  For the trip.  For years…

 

Happy New Year

 

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

______________

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

 

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: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBLvdHL_p4-OAu3HfiVzW0g

“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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