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Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category

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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I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG

exaggeration

I SWEAR IT WAS THIS BIG! 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Honest!

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

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

 

 

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A Better Fish Fillet

Pancho gaff

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

Sasime tuna chunks

Unbruised firm chilled and ready!

A Better Fish Fillet

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A little thought is well worth it.

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

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BUDDY DO YOU HAVE SOME CHANGE?

 

money exchange

Buddy Do You Have Some Change?

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

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

 

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

 

The answer is yes.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let me explain.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WRONG!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Some are just little kiosks.  Others have small offices.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

However, secondary and tertiary options can be found.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story!

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

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

 

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-53311
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

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SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR

SO CLOSE SO FAR

This might be your first visit or your 20th visit. You really think you know more about fishing these water than these guys who have fished in one spot their whole lives?

SO CLOSE SO FAR

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 13, 2017 in Western Outdoor News

There’s an old saying that goes something like:

“If you believe something will work, chances are it will.  If you don’t believe in it, it probably won’t work.”

I have often believed that when it comes to “local knowledge,” there’s nothing like it.

It’s home court advantage.

It’s the dealer’s table.

Home team’s locker room

It’s the golf pro’s home course

It’s being on a first-name basis with the owner of the butcher shop

It’s the difference in having “an edge” whether real or imagined.  Sometimes “imagined” is all it takes.

Like having your favorite baseball hat or the pink striped neck-tie.

Or tying your shoes a certain way before the bowling league

Or that raggedy-A fishing t-shirt your family wants you to destroy.

You know it works and you could care less whether anyone believes you.

It’s like that down here where we live in La Paz.

We own and run two fleets of pangas.  Technically, they fish the same waters…the Sea of Cortez.  In fact their areas of operation often overlap.  One works more north of the city.  The other works more south of the city.

There’s a ven-diagram patch-of-water, however, that is common to both.

Use the same boats.  Fish for the same fish.  Dorado, tuna, billfish, wahoo, etc.  Your typical Baja sportfishing fare.

Heck, many of my captains in one fleet are related by blood or marriage to the captains in the other fleet.

However, I have always found it amusing that each fleet, claims the other fleet “doesn’t know how to fish!”  Or how their uncle, cousin, brother-in-law in the other fleet “fishes like an idiot.”

It’s always said with a roll-of-the-eyes or a grin, but the words carry sincerity.  Strangely, they do fish differently.

Same waters.  Same fish.

One believes in only using feathers to troll.  The other fleet would rather drag Rapalas behind the boat.

One believes in heavily chumming the waters.  The other thinks, that’s overdoing it.  The fish will get full.  They will lose interest. Only one or two pieces of chum in the water at a time please.

One fleet readily uses circle hooks.  The other thinks clients lose too many fish with circle hooks.

One likes to troll with the lure way way way back in the wake at high speed.  The other insists lures should only be fished slowly close to the boat.

One fleet considers fluorocarbon to be golden.  To the other fleet…meh…pretty much indifferent.  Flurocarbon is expensive in Mexico and a waste of money.

One fleet catches bait one piece at a time with a single hook.  The other prefers Lucky Joe’s and Sabiki rigs to catch several at once.

You get the idea.

And my comment about “homecourt advantage” and “feeling lucky?”

Many of my captains have worked for us almost 2 decades so I’ve fished with all of them.  They will certainly suggest you fish their way, but if you want to try something different, go ahead.  They’ll grudgingly tell you it’s OK.

Afterall, you’re the boss.  The client is always right.

You want to use some of those techniques that the other fleet uses?  Go ahead.  Oh, you fished a lot in Loreto or the East Cape and want to fish the way they fish?  Sure.

Oh, wait, you’re an “expert” fisherman and you’ve fished all over the world and read all the books about Baja and you want to throw lures all day?  Be my guest.

The captains are very accommodating.  They know who butters their bread.

But, at the end of the day, nine out’ve ten times, the clients who fished the way the captains suggested do better.  The ones who realized during the day that other boats are catching fish and make the switch to let the captain do his thing, do better.

If you want to fish, there’s lots of different ways to fish. If you want to catch fish, there’s nothing like local knowledge.

It might not make sense at first why one method works better than another.  The captains in a certain area have probably fished that area all their lives and for generations.  They have fished no other areas.  Send them 100 miles away to Cabo San Lucas, and a lot of them might be lost.  I’ve seen Cabo captains come up here and fall on their faces as well.

A certain technique works because the locals believe it works.  Whether it’s logical or not.  I put my fishing day in the hands of the local.  I listen to what he says.  And I will NOT throw away my lucky t-shirt either!

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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DINING IN THE DARK

tacos in the dark

DINING IN THE DARK

Originally Published the Week of July 18, 2017 in Western Outdoor Publiations

 

Many many decades ago on one of my first forays into Baja, my buddies and I found ourselves to be tragic victims of a common Baja disease of unsuspecting tourists.  It’s called “over-serving.”

 

Poor us.

 

It started with “just one” innocent drink.  The next thing you know those sneaky bartenders are “overserving” you and pouring you another round.  Then another.

 

Who ordered this round of slammers?  Well, I can’t let it go to waste, can I?

 

Followed by other rounds of something else with only slight intermissions of spastic dancing; howling; smack talking and lots of “bro-love.”

 

“Bro, I REALLY love you, man! No, I mean I REALLY love you!”

 

And so us “bros” found ourselves just a few hours short of dawn, cotton-mouthed and stumbling down the street looking for our hotel. We are hungry as heck and know we’d better eat something.

 

Who’s the idiot who booked us to fish in a few hours? I used to love you.  Now I hate you, Dude!

 

No Denny’s or Jack-in-the-Box here in Baja.  All the restaurants are closed.  That crushed granola bar back at the room is sounding pretty good right now.

 

“Forget ‘bro-love.’  I’m not sharing it with any of these drunken boobs…” says my buzzing brain.  Every drunk for himself!

 

It was then we ambled upon the dusty street corner.  Like an oasis of light, a string of overhanging light bulbs beckoned to a bustling cart surrounded by other like-minded booze-addled wanderers. The sound and smell of searing chunks of meat drew us in like a Star Wars tractor beam.

 

Plastic chairs and tables surrounded a portable table filled with colorful salsas while fresh tortillas were coming off a flaming grill; filled with sizzling meat; and handed over to hungry revelers as fast as they came off the glowing coals.

 

Paradise found. My first ever street taco stand!   Each of us devoured a half-dozen tacos like ravenous wolves and washed down with an icy Coke from an old-fashioned bottle.  We would surely pay for our indiscretions in the morning, but for now, happy tummies accompanied us back to our hotel rooms.

 

I can’t remember if we ever made it to fishing.

 

But, I do remember the beginning of my street-food love affair in Baja.

 

If you ever want to eat “real Mexican food” you’ll find it on the streets.  It’s estimated that 70% of locals eat more than 50% of their meals at street carts.  It’s fresh, fast, cheap and muy sabrosa!

 

If you’re ever stumbling around at night like we were, you probably won’t find a restaurant.  No Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast or short stack at the International House of Pancakes in Baja.   But you will find street carts everywhere and probably a line of hungry people around them.

 

Each of them can be very different because each of them is probably a family-run venture.  Each has it’s own specialty salsas (reds…greens…spicy…sweet…fresh…cooked).  Each has it’s specialty condiments (cabbage…marinated onions…picked vegetables…chiles…nuts…spreads…guacamole).

 

Each might have it’s own particular meats, cuts of meats or seafoods.  Usually at night, it will be mostly meats.

 

These are not the same as American tacos.

 

Real Mexican tacos are usually served in soft corn or flour tortillas so be prepared to tell them what kind  of tortilla you want.  American tacos (Taco Bell/ Del Taco) are in a strange pre-cooked hard “folder” of corn.

 

Americans are used to having their tacos with meat then buried under lettuce and tomatoes.  Your Mexican tacos are filled with meat then you get to have the fun of packing it yourself with all the different fillings.    It’s really what makes each taco stand different from it’s neighbor right next door!

 

Here’s a quick primer that touches just the tip of all the varieties:

 

Carne Asada – Grilled beef either on a flat grill or open flame then sliced or chopped and served in your tortilla.  Different cuts of beef make a difference in the flavor and texture from cart to cart.

 

Al Pastor – thin sliced pork marinated in spices and pressed into a rotisserie “log” much like gyro meat or shwarma with a fiery brazier cooking it from the side as it slowly turns.  Brought over from the middle east at the turn of the century pork is used instead of lamb. Often topped with pineapple, it’s sliced from the top down in thin strips right into a handheld tortilla.

 

Chorizo – Mexican pork sausage flavored with garlic, chile, vinegar and other spices chopped then grilled.  Some folks like it dry.  Others like the good greasy chorizo!

 

Carnitas – Chopped and shredded pork shoulder usually or sometimes just cut-off chunks of whole suckling pig.  A big favorite.  Try it mixed or topped with chopped crunchy bits of deep fried or grilled pork skin (cueritos/ chicharrones).  Basically think deep fried pork belly chopped and fried! Who doesn’t like bacon?

 

Arrachera – Personal favorite.  Tender flank steak that has been marinated in citrus juice, garlic and other spices sizzled on the grill then slices into my tortilla!  Way better and more tender than plain carne asada.

 

If you’re at an authentic place, you’ll know if it they serve these.  Don’t turn your nose up at it.  Get past the names and it’s tasty stuff and often a line waiting to eat these tacos:

 

Lengua – Trimmed and cleaned beef tongue. Grilled and tender.  Has a chew texture and mild flavor.

 

Buche – Pork throat and stomach.  Actually very flavorful and delicious on a corn tortilla.

 

Cabeza – Steamed cow head / cachete cheeks – meat cut from the head and those tender cheeks.  Eat this and you’ll get high-fives from the locals eating next to you!

 

A word about taco cart etiquette.

 

There may be a line, but you have to sometimes step up and tell them what you want.  They’re jamming and busy.  Raise your hand if you have to.  On a Saturday night, it can be like a mini-version of the stock exchange.  Everyone is hungry!  It’s not impolite to yell out your order!

 

Reach into the ice chest for your sodas.  Keep count of your tacos.  It’s an “honor system” and often everyone there is a neighbor of the owners.

They trust you to keep count of how many sodas and tacos you scarfed down.

 

When your tummy is full, they’ll tally it up for you.  Don’t wait for a bill to show up.  There usually isn’t one!

 

Now go back to your hotel room and don’t forget to set the alarm to wake up for fishing! And drink lots of water.

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.”

Read Full Post »

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