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SHOPPING FOR ONE

 

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SHOPPING FOR ONE IN MEXICO

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 24, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

 

The times they are a-changing.

 

Jilly just sent me down to our corner mercado a few blocks away to pick up some things for home.  It’s your usual typical Mexican neighborhood market.

 

All the basics are there.  Meat, milk, tortillas, fruits and veggies.  They might not have 30 different kinds of mayonnaise or mustard like back in the U.S. but, they’ve got 3 or 4 to get you by.

 

But, little-by-little, I’m noticing some real changes in the aisles and shelves.  And it’s indicative of the changing culture and tastes of the locals.

 

Gluten-free tortillas?

Lactose free almond milk?

Non-GMO organic parmesan and cheddar cheese?

Basil…mint leaves…portabello mushrooms?

 

Are you kidding me?  But yea.  How long until there’s a sushi counter?

 

Back-in-the-day, I remember having to “smuggle” in stuff like ordinary cheese…Polish sausage…mushrooms…steaks…wasabi for sashime…Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage…bottles of wine!

 

All the things you couldn’t get back then and craved.  All of us would bring things down for our friends and neighbors too.  Everyone got a turn at being the “burro.”

 

Personally, I would bury the treasure deep in my luggage or ice chest.  Always put it under your underwear.  No custom inspector ever goes below the lair of underwear!

 

Or put a layer of women’s hygiene products over it.  It worked every time.  Inspectors stopped digging immediately! You’d watch them rustle around but when they hit the layer of underwear or sanitary pads…they’d look up at you.  Smile.  Close your luggage or ice chest and move onto the next person.

 

Of course, this was all pre-911.

 

But nowadays, you don’t have to bury booty in your luggage.  You can find almost anything.  It’s a little pricier, but when you really have to have extra virgin olive oil…well…

 

It’s a far cry from my first “shopping experience” more than 20 years ago, when I moved to a little pueblo south of the East Cape.  It was really not much more than a concrete block house on a dirt road.

 

The owners lived in the back.  A kids bicycle was propped against an outer wall. I had to step over the family dog who could care less except for his siesta.

 

But, it had a sun-faded sign that said, “Mini-Super San Juanita”and there weren’t many other choices.

 

Bare concrete floors housed some shelves and tables while some lightbulbs strung from the ceiling provided light in the windowless room.

 

Crates and 5-gallon buckets on a table held the fruit and vegetables of the day in varying degrees of ripeness.  Especially in the hot Baja climate.

 

Six potatoes…several dozen tomatoes…3 or 4 bunches of rather dark bananas…1/2 a bucket of white onions…5 heads of soft lettuce.  No worries about an artificial waxy “sheen” on the apples.  There was a soft layer of dust on everything.

 

A cold case held the really important stuff.  Of course, lots of Coke and bottles and cans of Tecate beer.  Plus lots of other sugary soft drinks.

 

Another cold case had cold cuts and some varying types of cheese and meats. The the only ones I could identify were hot dogs.

 

Not to say the meat was bad.  As I found out over the months, it was actually not too bad at all.  But, just at that moment I certainly couldn’t identify it as it was wrapped in plastic wrap with no labels.  The flickering light in the case also glowed over a couple flats of eggs.

 

Shelves had the usual staples.  Some cans of soups and sauces and vegetables.  Soap and shampoo.  Spam and of course, cups of Maruchan noodles.  And lots of candy and junk food.

 

Insofar as I lived 10 miles outside of the little village down a dirt road, I picked what I needed and proceeded to the register where a smiling lady (presumably Juanita ?) helped me out.

 

I needed something from the chilled meat counter.

 

That’s when I think I made her day.

 

I asked for eggs.

 

She said “How many, Senor?”

 

“A dozen, por favor.”

 

“Verdad?  Really? More than one?” She perked up.

“Uh… por favor. Claro!  Sure!”  

 

She explained to me that most people only buy 2 or 3 at a time.  She rang it up.

 

I also wanted some of that wrapped cheese too.

 

She handed me one slice.  And rang it up.  One slice.

 

I wanted the whole pack please!

 

Another big smile.  Cha-ching.  She rang up 10 slices of yellow cheese.

 

I also wanted to buy some hot dogs.  She went back to the case.  Took a knife.  Cut it open and pulled out…ONE hot dog.  Cold and wet!

 

I smiled back as she handed it to me on a piece of wax paper.

 

Uh…hmm…” Todos por favor.” 

“All of them. Can I have the whole pack of hot dogs?”

 

“Claro, senor! Of course!”

 

Seeing the bemused confusion on my face, she explained that most folks can only afford one hot dog…maybe one egg or two…a slice of cheese…even one cigarette or just one beer at a time.

 

I pretty much cut her inventory in half!

 

But, I think I made her day when I said that I also needed some paper.  I had eyed a stack of stationery behind the counter that included…you guessed it…individual pens…pencils…erasers and a ream of paper.

 

She picked up the ream and pulled out…one sheet! A single piece of paper.

 

I told her that I needed about 50 sheets!  It was her eyes that got wide this time.  She meticulously counted out…25…26…27… 28…

 

Fifty sheets of paper and put them in a zip lock bag for me and rang it up.

 

“Adios, Senor, come back soon!”

 

I walked out the door into the bright dusty sunshine with two bags of groceries that would hopefully hold me for a week.

 

I un-wrapped one slice of cheese and one cold hot dog and started to munch.

 

With a smile, I stepped over the sleeping dog.  Who still couldn’t care less.

 

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

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 http://www.tailhunter.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 beach!
_____________
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International

Website:
http://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:
https://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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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

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WHEN NOTHING WAS EVERYTHING

Originally Published the Week of Aug 28, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

Back in the day, I used to teach fishing seminars and give fishing classes at the venerable old Hotel Las Arenas east of La Paz and about 30 miles north of the East Cape.  Sitting on a small hill on about 9 miles of beach, it looked right across at Cerralvo Island.

 

It’s been closed for many years now, but it was a gem.

 

Some sprocket guys from Europe in skinny tight black pants and “Flock of Seagulls” bleached-gel haircuts bought it to turn into a Club Med or something (“We don’t want ‘stinky fishermen’ in our hotel!” they told me.), but it never got off the ground.  LOL.

 

I’m glad it didn’t.  The old girl was too good for that indignity.

 

The last 10 miles were on a dirt road. As the hotel was built on the reverse slope of a hill facing the sea, you never saw the hotel until you came over that last rise.

 

And suddenly you were there!

 

What a place.  Old Mexico.

 

An oasis of two long white 2 story buildings nestled in the palm trees with curved tile roofs.  An administrative building where Patricia, the manager checked you in; assigned rooms and gave you the fishing schedule.  (She loved getting a bottle of red wine!) And a dining hall, bar and the swimming pool.

 

Carry your own bags, Senor.

 

You know how hotels have marquee signs that tell you all the amenities they offer?  (pool…cable TV…etc.)

 

The wooden sign for the Hotel Las Arenas would have been funny.

 

“Welcome to the Hotel!” 

No designer beds. No laundry. No in-room coffee maker or hair dryer.  No TV.  No ice machine.  No phones.  No room-service.  No spa.  No Air.

 

What else did you need?

 

You kept the windows open and let the breeze blow through.

 

The hotel had thick old walls that held out the Baja heat and cool tile floors you could lie on after a long day of hot fishing.  The tiles would simply pull the heat out’ve your body while a tired overhead ceiling fan bumped and whirred.

 

But, the hotel had the three most important things in a hotel back then.  It had a bar.

 

It had a great bartender who had a mighty arsenal of all the drinks he could concoct.  And Gabriel had a great memory. He not only knew everyone’s name he could remember your favorite drinks.

 

And it had ice.

 

No craft beer.  They had Corona, Pacifico and Modelo.  They were cold and that’s all that mattered.

 

It had an old tile pool that was just deep enough to reach your shoulders.  Any deeper and your beer would get wet.  No one swam. That would have been bad form.

 

Everyone just sort of bobbed with a beer bottle in hand.  It wasn’t a swimming pool.  It was a bobbing pool.  A dozen fishermen with a Corona-buzz would have laughed you out’ve the pool if you started actually swimming.

 

No menu.  It was whatever the great kitchen staff cooked.  But it was always fresh and no one complained and always centered around homemade Mexican dishes the Mexican moms in the back whipped up.
Tacos…enchiladas…bistec ranchero…ceviche…guacamole…fresh fish and salsas… You have not eaten until you’ve had a Mexican mom cook for you!

 

You could always smell the fresh tortillas, chorizo and other spices across the compound.

 

Three hearty meals a day.  If you missed it, you waited until the next one.  It was always communal and a great social event.  No one missed!

 

Breakfast was early because everyone wanted to get going fishing.  Lunch was a bag carried down to the waiting pangas on the beach along with ice and your fishing gear.  Those were exciting mornings.

 

Dinners were always fun and lively after a long fun day of fishing.

 

You definitely did not skip dinner which was always followed by bull-sessions around the pool or back on your room balcony to watch the sunset over the ocean.

 

The lights of the hotel would wink on while the setting sun painted the Baja twilight.

 

With no TV’s and in the halcyon days before laptops, ipads and smartphones, people actually talked.  After a day of fishing; a full happy tummy and some sipping tequila nothing better than fun conversation among fishing friends.

 

No one retreated to isolation unless it was to sleep or read a good book.

 

With nothing else around, darkness would come quickly.

 

But the ambience always held the congeniality of a campground as ambient laughter or the sweet smell of someone’s cigar wafted through the evening.

 

Like all fishing trips, mornings would come early.  Sometimes too early.

 

With no alarm clocks in the rooms or cell phones to set a wake-up, one of the staff would knock on your door about 4:30 a.m.  to tell you to come down for breakfast.

 

One evening, I had just gone to bed.  Having about 20 anglers there at the hotel taking one of my seminars, I was beat.

 

When you’re tired, the nights go quickly.  It seemed like I had just gone into deep sleep when I got the wake-up knock on my door.

 

I opened the door and Salvador, the night manager told me it was time to get up.  It was still dark.  Of course.

 

So, I sleepily went around from room to room and woke everyone up as was my habit when I had a group.  I then went back to my own room to get ready for the day and get down to breakfast so we could get to the boats.

 

It was then, Salvador came running frantically up to my room.  In a panic. It wasn’t 4:30 in the morning.  It was only 2 a.m.!!!!

 

Salvador’s battery-operated clock in his office had stopped.

 

Guys were already coming down with fishing gear…bleary eyes…and looking for the coffee pot.  If anyone had actually looked at their wrist watches, they’d have figured something was wrong.  But no one questioned the wake-up!

 

He and I crazily had to run around to all the room to tell everyone they could go back to bed!  We also had to tell the hotel staff as well, as they had already started cooking breakfast! Turn off the ovens and stoves! Put the eggs back in the frig.

 

There was a little grumbling and a few choice words were thrown my way, but everyone was more than happy to go back to bed.  Me included.

 

I can’t imagine that happening these days at a Hilton or a Wyndham Hotel.

 

Old Baja, back in the day.  You really had nothing, but you had everything.

Thats my story!

signature June '18 two 1

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:

https://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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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Originally Published the Week of June 28, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

In my last column I chatted about some “hacks” to get your best airline flights if you’re coming down here. Given that summer vacations and fishing trips are now upon us, here’s some suggestions about actually packing for the adventure.

There used to be the times when I would personally bring down two rod tubes and 8-14 rods and reel set ups. I remember the days of 70-100 quart ice chests too. What was I thinking?

Those days are long past. My old back can’t haul those anymore. My tolerance of running through crowded airports or standing in line has diminished as well.

Besides that, airlines charge a mortgage; a small farm animal; and first-born child for being over-weight…over-sized…over-long…Holy Moly!

Fortunately, over that years, I’ve discovered that I can get by with carrying a lot less.

Sure, there’s the inclination to bring all your toys. The latest reels, rods, lures and gadgets. But chat with whomever you are booking with.

What do you REALLY need? And perhaps more importantly, what will you actually use?

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A perfect example is lead.

I’ve had guys bring down a couple of pounds of lead. In a whole year here in La Paz, I MIGHT use 6 total oz. of lead. That’s it! If they had asked me ahead of time, I would have told them.

If fishing with a partner, do each of you honestly need 8 trolling feathers per person? Or a giant 3-pound filler spool of 60-pound test line? Or 10 casting irons each?

 

I don’t know about you, but that’s too much to carry and my buddies and I can share without taking up all that space and dead weight.

Same with coolers. Figure out how much you really want to take home or need to take home. An empty 40-quart ice chest, with nothing in it but air, weighs 8-10 pounds.

If it has wheels, it weighs 12-18 pounds. If it’s one of those 5-day coolers, it weighs even more. If your airline weight limit is 50 pounds, that doesn’t leave much room for frozen fish.

For most of you, you’ll be home in a few hours the same day you leave Mexico so your fish only has to stay solid for that long.

Seriously, consider the lighter more efficient soft-sided coolers. Or one cooler for two of you.

I’m not talking about the flimsy ones you bring ice-cream home from the market. Yeti and other companies make some nice soft ones, but they’re really pricey. I’ve found that American Outdoors, Nor Chill and others make some awesome soft-coolers for a fraction of the price. They don’t weigh much and I’ve had stuff stay frozen for as long as 3 days in ours.

And just a word of common sense. While TSA and other security measures are not as relatively drastic as post 911, there are certain things you still should not try to carry-on into the plane.

I’ve had folks incredulous that they were separated from machetes, Leathermen multi-tools, fillet knives, bait harness needles, lures and hooks. Look, if it’s sharp pack it in your suitcase. Don’t bring it aboard. On year, I had a guy try to bring his own portable anchor. FAIL.

Also, Mexico inspectors are a lot less forgiving than TSA. Whether I agree with them or not, I’ve been or seen folks relieved of tactical flashlights, masking tape, fingernail clips and dikes. Be forewarned.

For actually packing, there’s a few tricks to lighten the load.

Try rolling your clothes instead of folding them. You’ll fit more and your clothes will have less tendency to wrinkle. Although I really don’t care if my fishing shorts and shirts are wrinkled! Inside a roll is a nice place to keep fragile things too.

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I’ve had a lot of guys and gals over the years, buy cheap t-shirts at the swap meet or outlets. Two bucks apiece or something.

They wear them once and then leave them in their rooms upon departure. Grateful cleaning staff loves finding barely used items. And for you…That much less to bring home.

By the way, if you are bringing stinky clothes and shoes home, toss a dryer sheet into them and it’ll help relieve the smell.  Also, a cheap shower cap works great for smelly shoes and flip-flops.

Also, do you really need the family-sized shampoo or toothpaste? Hand lotion or sunscreen? If you’re only here a few days, do the math.

Bring the travel size or, buy it here when you hit the markets. You have to stock up on beer anyway, right?

There was a time when you really needed to bring whatever you’d need. There was no guarantee that you’d find whatever you’d forgotten in the local stores.

But, for the most part now, everything from toothbrushes and shaving razors to your favorite flower-fragrance shampoo is available here in Baja. The markets contain things you would never have thought of even 10 years ago like craft beers, Japanese wasabi; gourmet cheese and Angus beef; imported wines and fancy mineral waters.

COSTCO, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Home Depot plus good Mexican chain stores are everywhere. You can even get a hot dog while you shop.

I don’t know what happened to the “frontera” (frontier), but this isn’t your daddy’s Baja no more! You can get almost anything. Beyond that, you probably didn’t need anyway.

So pack light and save the extra room for bringing back fish fillets!

That’s my story!

signature June '18 two 1

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:

https://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 SMORGASBORD

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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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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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Tell Them Bring the Salad Next Time!

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PEACE OFFERING or DID THE SPANISH GET PUNKED?

NEXT TIME TELL THEM TO BRING THE SALAD INSTEAD!

Originally Published the Week of March 14, 2018 in Western Outdoor News

I’m a fan of history and enjoy finding little obscure bits of historical trivia.  I recently came across a story about our own city of La Paz where we live.

 

If you ever have a chance to visit the city,  I hope you get  the opportunity to visit the city cathedral in the town square.  It’s not a big city.  The cathedral is not hard to find.

 

 

The first thing that will strike you is that it sure doesn’t look like your typical Spanish-style mission so common up-and-down the Baja and into California.

 

It is strikingly absent of the long sepia-colored arched breezeways and adobe walls usually associated with mission architecture.  On the contrary, the La Paz cathedral is kind of square and blocky-looking.

 

It has two atypical  massive bell towers that look more fortress-like than other mission churches.  Heavy stone blocks and concrete masonry have been described as “sober neo-classical” in design.  It doesn’t sound too exciting, but nonetheless, it’s a big church!

 

Indeed, it looks different because it is.

 

Most other missions were constructed by Spanish Jesuit missionaries and conquistadores in the 1600’s and 1700 hundreds.  La Paz didn’t complete it’s house of worship until the latter part of the 1800’s.

 

According to the history, when the Spanish first arrived, they didn’t come as benevolent emissaries of church and crown.  Actually, they showed up as violent buttheads and took a heavy brutal hand to the local indigenous population.  They had no problem applying armor, cannons and musket to get their point across.

 

The locals didn’t take kindly to it and battled back.  And won.  Booted the Spanish right out.

 

This happened again and again.  Something between 5 and 8 incursions by the Spanish were made in La Paz to set up a colony.  In each case, the locals either whupped up on the padres and their military escorts or simply made it difficult to for the Spanish colonists to sustain the outpost.

 

The natives would cut off water; damage crops; and made it impossible for supply trains and ships to replenish and re-inforce the beleaguered  colonists. Life in the New World was hard  and brutal enough let alone being harassed by belligerent tribes.

 

So, the Spanish would pack up and sail away.

 

At least until the next intrepid group of helmet-headed imperialists showed up.

 

According to the story, during one of these attempts, the Spanish thought they were making some headway with the locals.  Rather than attack, the tribesmen presented the Spanish with many loaves of native papaya bread.

 

A welcome gift and gesture indeed!  The Spanish were thrilled with this apparently peaceful overture.  So, thrilled that they decided to have a fiesta to celebrate the wondrous gift of the delicious bread. A bit like the colonists at the first Thankgiving.

 

It was during this fiesta that the Spanish found out that the natives had a special method to making their bread.

 

The natives loved papaya and would consume the entire fruit wasting nothing.  This included the skin, meat and seeds.  It was their traditional way.

 

So far so good.  The key words are “wasting nothing.”

 

The most interesting part was that the tribespeople would then gather up the “previously digested seeds.”  Use your imagination.

 

The seeds ground into the flour used to make this special “Baja Bread” …wasting nothing!

 

Upon hearing this, the Spanish pretty much choked and gagged in” mid-chew” thinking about the origins of their yummy bread.

 

They were mad. Fighting mad at what they perceived was a cruel and sinister joke.  No one was laughing.  The Spaniards thought they got punked big time.  Talk about a “party fail!”

 

And once again, hostilities broke out.  The Spanish had no sense of humor and much blood was spilled over breaking bread.

 

A peace offering misunderstood and gone awry?  Or a dastardly prank pulled on the Spanish masters and padres?

 

We will never know.

 

But the natives again rose up and pummeled the Spanish back to the mother country.

 

I love history.

 

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


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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FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Tony Reyes

FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 1, 2018 in Western Outdoor Publications

We’re on the road doing our fishing/ hunting show circuit these days.  We just finished shows in Denver and Sacramento and, as I write this, my loptop is bouncing on my lap as we rumble down up the highway towards our next show in Seattle.

 

God bless her.  Jilly is driving our rig through the rain so I can tap away on the computer and make my deadline!

 

We’ve been at this now over 2 decades and I field a lot of questions at these shows while we meet-and-greet in  our booth.  At the last show, I got into a little round-robin with some old-timers and Baja rats.

 

A lot of the “opinions” started with…

 

“Back in the day…”

“I remember this time when…”

“You should have seen…”

“You would not have believed what we saw…”

 

Most were of the opinion that Baja fishing is not what it used to be or that it’s been ruined.  Most of these guys were fishermen that used to come down a lot and had great memories and stories of “the way it used to be.”  Most of them don’t come down much or at all these days.

 

Either their travel days were behind them or they just didn’t think it was worth it anymore.

 

Some incredible stories to listen to.

 

I had to agree with them…somewhat.

 

The days of Ray Cannon and John Steinbeck are long gone.  I’ll agree with that.  It’s not the same “frontera” of crystal waters, dirt roads and remote fishing villages.  But what is the same these days?   Everything changes.  Some for better.  Some for worse.

 

I’ve seen a lot of changes in my own time.  My first Baja experiences took place 40 years ago.  I’ve been running a fishing operation almost 25 years.  I think I have a pretty unique perspective.

 

I’m not a visitor or a tourist.  I don’t come fishing for 3 days a year every other year during the summer.

 

I’m at ground zero every single day.  I don’t get my reports reading the internet or fishing magazines.  My hands smell fishy every day and it’s my reports that others read!

 

So, yes, I do remember the days when there were so many dorado and the roosterfish were thick.  I remember those halcyon days of catching a dozen marlin before breakfast.

 

I remember having to siphon gas into the outboard very morning with my mouth before fishing.   I remember chasing burros off the dusty airstrip so the plane could land. I remember commercial flights for $69 and how pissed I was when it was raised to $89!  Robbery!!!

 

I remember days when ice was a luxury and gasoline was hand-pumped out’ve 55-gallon drums and filtered through a t-shirt.  And the gas was green!  Toilet paper and fan belt hoses were equally valuable if you were travelling.

 

And, I’ve straddled the “new age” when convenience stores dot the highway.  Any hotel without a foo-foo day spa isn’t worth staying it.  Cruisers with more electronics than a moon shuttle ply the ocean.  Fishermen travel with nannies and instead of Volkswagen mini-vans, Hummers and Mercedes now pull up next to me at traffic signals.

 

And then there’s the fishing.

 

I don’t think it’s bad.  It’s just different.  And it’s still spectacular.  And there’s no place else like it in the world.  This giant finger called the Sea of Cortez is still a big giant fish trap ripe for exploration and discovery.

 

What I tell folks is it’s all cyclical.

 

If you based your fishing opinons on fishing only occasionally or fishng  the last few seasons, it was honestly very very scratchy.  Those were El Nino years.  Atmospheric and meteorological phenomenon subjected the Baja to crazy ocean temperatures; tides; currents; and anamolies.   It surely affected the fishing.

 

If you just used that as your criterion, then Baja fishing was in the dumpster.

 

But, like so many things on the planet, it’s all part of a cycle.  El Nino wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last.   Mother Earth has been doing this long before T-Rex trod the dirt and will continue doing it long after you and I are gone.

 

But, during those same years, areas in northern Baja and S.California experienced and continue to experience some of the best tuna, wahoo, dorado catches in decades.  It’s still going on in record numbers.

 

Eventually, it will also end…and something new will start.  Right?

 

Last year, down in Baja, water conditions were more normalized.  El Nino went it’s way.  The bait came back.  The water temperatures were more conducive to the deep-water nutrients returning to the waters.

 

And sure enough, last year was a largely great year for much of Baja.  Fish were bigger and more plentiful.  Tuna, wahoo and giant roosterfish came on strong. Billfish moved back in.  It wasn’t like the “old old days” but by golly, it was like the “good new days.”

 

The other side of the equation is that I think fishermen and locals alike are taking better care of the ocean than they used to.   There’s a stronger awareness that this is a finite resource.

 

Seawatch groups have sprung up to monitor illegal poaching and activities.  Marine parks have flourished.  There are restricted areas where fishing is prohibited to allow species to proliferate.  There’s much more catch-and-release by sportsmen as well as locals.  Efforts are being made to keep and maintain the pristine nature of the ocean.

 

 

It’s a constant vigilance and awareness and there’s still so much to be done and there’s still a lot of bad stuff going on.  There’s a constant battle with legal and illegal commercial fishing and the political/ economic battles in a country that struggles to feed it’s people.

 

There’s the push-pull of development and the ecology.  There’s still pollution.  Just like every other country.

 

I don’t have my head in the sand and I’m not saying this because it’s my business bringing fishermen down.   Battles are being won and lost every day.  There’s some incredible problems to be faced.

 

But, overall, fishing in the Baja is still a place unlike any other.  There are more species than anywhere else.  You can still catch your dream fish and you can bend a rod until your arms are sore.  There’s still so much to see and discover.

 

I’ve seen a lot in my time here in Baja.  And there’s still not a day on the water that I’m amazed.  And blessed.

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
 
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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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