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THE BAJA HANDFUL OF KNOTS

They come in all shapes and sizes!

They come in all shapes and sizes!

MY BAJA HANDFUL OF KNOTS

Originally Published the Week of June 26, 2013 in Western Outdoor News Publications

If you ever want to start up a conversation among a group of fishermen or suddenly get a room of yakking party-ing guys to stop talking and gather around, there’s one sure-fire way that I’ve found.  It never fails.  Instant focus.

Just start talking about fishing knots.

Instant Pavlov’s dog and the dinner bells with 100-percent success.   It works even better if you happen to have a spool of line and some hooks.   If the crowd is relatively inexperienced, there’s almost a hush.

If the gathering has more veteran fishermen, it’s instant debate.  It’s like throwing bloody chum in the water or handfuls of  live bait into boiling tuna.  No one can resist plugging into the conversation!

I’m not even going to touch opening the subject with flyfishermen who’s knowledge and propensity toward complicated knot tying requires a PhD. In physics.

But for your average fresh and saltwater  weekend warrior and occasional Baja and long-range guy, everyone has an opinion on knot tying or is certainly “all-ears” to see what’s new and exciting or missing in their knot-tying arsenal.

I think almost all of us who have spent even a little time on the water know or, at some time back-in-the-day, learned the clinch knot or the improved clinch knot.  It’s the one they use to print on the back of packs of hooks and other accessories.  If  my fuzzy memory serves,  it was printed on a lot of Berkely produces and some still call it the Trilene knot.

I’m pretty sure it’s the one my dad first showed me.  Boy, did I practice and practice that one.  In fact, I remember mom catching me in my bedroom  floor long after bed-time.  I was  tying knots by the light of a flashlight  and using my 2nd grade scissors to trim off the tag ends! Mom just said, “Oh Jonathan…” and left me alone! I know when she told dad, he cracked up.

I guess in the passing of time, I’ve learned quite a few knots.   All serve their purposes.  What great names!  They sound like cocktails…The Bimini Twist…the Cat’s Paw…the Arbor…the Australian Braid…the Bristol…the Nail…the Blood knot…the Albright Special…the Orvis.  There are hundreds!

I once had a friend who would spend hours trying to develop some new knot just so he could claim it and have his name on it…forever…his legacy sealed in angling lore.  Terrible fisherman, but he sure knew how to tie knots!

Anyway, between you and me…frankly…the only reason to know that many knots is to impress people.  Like a name-dropper at a cocktail party.  People’s ears perk up when they hear names like the Palomar and the Spider Hitch.  And, I admit, when I want to direct attention to myself…like I said, start talking about knots and throw in some fancy names and it’s like a magnet!  Try it sometime.

Go get yourself a knot tying book or look up on the internet or youtube and there’s some great stuff to learn.  Then pull out some fancy names next time you’re among friends.  Like some guy who learned some card tricks, every fisherman within ear-short will be listening to you!

But, in full disclosure, for the several dozen knots I know,  there’s maybe only a handful that I ever really use and maybe only 3 or 4 that I use 95 percent of the time.  These are knots that you SHOULD know and with them under your belt, there’s not too much you can’t do.

It’s like rock ‘n’ roll.  If you know 3 simple chords and a decent 12-bar progression, you can probably play…well…just about anything!

The most important knot that I use is the San Diego knot.  I call it the most important because it’s the knot that joins my line to the hook.  It’s the last line of  attack and the part that attaches me to the fish.  So it better be a good knot!

It’s a variation of the Uni knot (you can look all of these up) and I’ve also seen it called the Duncan knot and the San Diego Jam knot.   It takes a few minutes to grasp the concept and a few more to learn it well.  But it’s worth it.

It has never failed.  The line might break but, in my experience, the knot has never broken, even on the largest fish I’ve tangled with.   I’ve seen tests run and it’s pretty hard to beat it’s breaking strength.  It’s variation called the  Double San Diego knot (merely doubling the lines) is even better and a standard knot here in Baja and on the long range San Diego fleet.

If you learn it well, it is also a handy knot to join to lines together like a mainline to a leader.

Which leads to my 2nd most important knot which is the Overhand knot.  It’s my personal favorite not only for joining lines, but especially to join lines of dissimilar diameter.  When you’re in a hurry to join  mono leader to braided line (not the best, but serviceable) it’s also handy.  If you know how to tie your shoe, this knot is that easy.  Learn it and remember it!

My last knot would be the Surgeon’s Loop.  It’s pretty much as easy as over…under…and through.  And you’re done!  Like the ads on TV…”even a caveman could do it.”  It’s great for …well…making loops to hold sinkers…to hold hooks.   I use it a lot.  I use it a lot more than the  dropper loop if I’m tying the loop to a sinker.

Fishing in rocks, if the sinker gets stuck on the bottom, the dropper will break easier than the dropper loop and at least let you get your main line back.

If I need a loop to tie the hook to…then the Dropper loop is my choice.

And that’s it!  Not much you can’t do with this handful!  Learn them and it will cover almost everything but the most specialized situations.

That’s my story

Jonathan

_______________

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

______________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

Website: 

http://www.tailhunter-international.com

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

U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, P.O. Box 1149, Alpine  CA  91903-1149

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

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

Tailhunter YouTube Videoshttp://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate

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

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Hard to believe it’s been almost 17 years now in Baja. It’s been grand, but where did the time go? Comes a time when you realize you’ve got more fishing days behind you than ahead of you and you count all the blessings!

NEED NOT GREED

Originally Published the Week of  April 4, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

I’m reminded of a father and son who attended a fishing school I had been giving many years ago at the old Hotel Las Arenas near La Paz.   We were fishing along the shallows on the east side of Cerralvo Island and my fishing school was all about fishing for rockfish like pargo (snapper) and cabrilla (seabass).

Papa Fred and young adult son, Todd, were with me on the panga that day.  It was their first time fishing in Mexico and it had been a number of years since they had fished together.

It was early morning and we were slow trolling the shallow reefs that ring the eastern side of the island.  Dad had taken several nice three or four-pound cabrilla and had flipped a few smaller ones back into the water.

Todd, the son, hadn’t caught any of the the larger ones, but had kept several of the smaller ones.   He had just hooked another and deftly popped it off the hook and tossed it into the fish box.

“Why don’t you let some of those smaller ones go, son?” asked Fred.

“The smaller ones are good to eat, Dad,” replied Todd.  “And besides, if we let them go, commercial guys or someone else is going to catch them anyway so we might as well keep them,” he said with a smile and a shrug.

The older gent squinted into the rising morning Baja sun and said,  “There’s this story I once heard about a big nighttime storm on the gulf coast.   In the morning, the beach was littered with starfish.  As far as the eye could see.  The storm had washed all these starfish up on the beach above the water line.  With the sun climbing into the sky surely, they’d start to bake and die off. “

A morning jogger came upon a young teenager walking from starfish to starfish picking them up and tossing them as far into the ocean as he could.  One at a time.

“What are you doing?” asked the jogger casually, as he pulled up to catch his breath.

“The storm washed all these guys up here onto the sand,” replied the youngster.  “I’m saving starfish,” as he picked up another and pitched it seaward.

“You’re crazy,” laughed the jogger standing tall and surveying with squinted-eyes all the starfish dotting the sand.  “There must be thousands.  You can’t hope to make a difference!”

“It makes a difference to this one…” said the teenager as he smiled at the jogger and picked up another starfish and tossed it back into the waves.

Little bits make a difference.

I will readily admit that in my fishing career, I’ve taken more fish than most.  That “career” has now spanned more than 50 years (ouch!) and started with my first bamboo rod and some shrimp for bait.  I’ve had the “bloodlust” where excitement over-rides better judgement and nothing is as important as hooking fish.

In those early days, it was about chest-thumping and high-fives. It was about catching more fish than the other fella and big heavy stringers.   Who hasn’t gone down that road a time or two…or more?   For me, that “road” was often a four-lane express-way and I was at the helm of a mack truck.

But somewhere in the last few years, that changed.   I don’t know when or where fishing became more important than catching.  Maybe it was realizing that I’ve probably got more fishing time behind me than ahead of me these days.

At some point, a day with my wife, family or friends on the water and  a bit of sunshine has become more crucial to my well-being and self-esteem than tight lines.  Reveling in a simple day when four walls…cell phones…and the internet weren’t sucking my soul dry were the best 5-star vacation ever invented.

Need vs. Greed.   My need to just take a breath  and put my toes in the sand trumps my former greediness to be putting fish in the boat…everytime…all the time.

And, although I still love catching fish and can do it with the best, maybe keeping just one or two for dinner, is enough.  Especially if it means breaking bread…er…tortillas to share with family and friends!

And more than it ever did…releasing fish to swim away is even more of a kick and makes a big difference in a small way…to that one fish.  And yes…to at least this one fisherman as well.

That’s my story!

Jonathan

________________

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

________________

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

Website: http://www.tailhunter-international.com

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

U.S. Mailing Address:  Tailhunter International, P.O. Box 1149, Alpine  CA  91903-1149

Phones:

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://www.tailhunter-international.com/fishreport.htm

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:

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

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

 

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There are times when it's just better and safe to hang by the pool for the day, but if you're headed out,  there's a few things you can do to make it easier to fish in rough water!

There are times when it’s just better and safer to hang by the pool for the day, but if you’re headed out, there’s a few things you can do to make it easier to fish in rough water!

PLAYING ROUGH!

Originally Published the Week of January 3, 2012 in Western Outdoor News

Memories of those calm balmy days fishing the Sea of Cortez definitely weren’t going through my brain this afternoon.  On the contrary.

Although the sun was out, I was relatively “bundled” for Baja fishing.   I was still customarily barefoot, but my fishing wardrobe long loose sweat pants and a layering of t-shirt; long sleeve Pendleton and waterproof windbreaker with hood over my head.  It hardly sounded like Baja fishing couture!

But, that being said.  I was chilly.  It was blustery and spray from the wave-tossed northern winds that sweep the Cortez had my clothes damp and my panga captain and I fishing with our hoods pulled way down!  Out of the corner of my mouth, I said in Spanish, “This is why we get paid the big money!”

He grinned and wiped the seawater that was splashing his face and he held onto the tiller!

It was choppy.  White caps tipped the waves even though we weren’t far from shore.  Brrrrr…

My client, a great guy from Oregon, used to fishing the dangerous mouth of the Columbia River was having a great time in his shorts and t-shirt!  “Heck, this is nothing… it’s cold and raining back home!” he laughed.

Well…yay.  Winter is still not my favorite time to fish, but when you gotta work, you gotta work.  Often fishing in winter in the Sea of Cortez or any of Baja waters can be a challenge.  Forget all the fancy brochures.  Weather is still weather and there are some times of the year that are better than others to fish!

That doesn’t mean there’s no fish, but you have to change your tactics a bit when playing in rougher water.

For one, there’s a good chance you might be doing more trolling than normal.  When waters are rough or when it’s off-season, it’s often difficult to purchase bait because either the bait guys aren’t working.  Or, it’s sometimes too rough to net or hook sardines, mackerel or other baitfish.

So, be prepared to troll.

If you have a water temperature gauge, at least try to find the warmer temperature breaks to work.

Also, given the turbulence on the surface,  certain lures work better.  I put away all the “bullet” headed trolling lures and reach for lures with heads that are heavier to dive beneath the chop.  I like using heads that have slanted or flat heads or have “jet holes” that will also create more action as they are pulled through the waters.

You have to be careful about your lure speeds.  It’s not like you can put it on auto pilot on the console or in your brain.  If you’re in waves and swell, your boat speed will vary constantly depending if you’re going upswell or surfing downswell or getting hit sideways.

Which brings up another point.

In heavy weather, use fewer lines.  And run them equidistant from the transom.  Some guys like to run them close.  Others far from the prop wash.  But either way, fewer lines and keeping them equidistant reduces the frequency of tangled lines, especially if you’re doing “S” patterns or the chop is really pushing the boat and the lines around.  Personally, I like running the lines a bit closer than normal.  Don’t worry about the fish.  Believe me, most fish out there can swim faster than the boat can move so if they’re inclined, they’ll hit your lures even if you’re having to run a little faster or slower than normal.

Finally…

It should go without saying to use common sense at all times.  If it’s too rough, no fishing is ever worth jeopardizing anyone’s safety.  Keep it fun!  Either stay onshore or know when to head for the beach and call it a day!

That’s our story!

Jonathan

________________

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

______________
Jonathan Roldan’s
Tailhunter International
 
TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor
TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor
 
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Website: www.tailhunter-international.com
U.S. Office: 3319 White Cloud Drive, Suite A, Hacienda Hts. CA 91745
Mexico Office: 755 Paseo Obregon, La Paz, Baja Sur, Mexico
Phones:
from USA : 626-638-3383
from Mexico: 044-612-14-17863
.
Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report:
http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

Tailhunter YouTube Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/pangapirate


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

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