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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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squid martis tags

Giant Humboldt squid surprise alot of anglers when they first encounter them and find them to be voracious feeders and tough fighters when hooked!

squid

Squid can go upwards to…20, 30, 40 pounds or more…they don’t call them “giant” for nothing!

squid_beaktags

The beaks of the giant squid aren’t something to fool around with when still attached to their owners! They’re like big parrot beaks!

THE BIG UGLY

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 28, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

The Captain Victor tied on the heavy leaded lure and handed it back to the angler who looked at it curiously.   He hefted it in his hand and like a weapon.  And indeed, it looked like one.

“Pretty much looks like a medieval club or a torturing device,” he smiled. “a knight could do some damage with this sucker!”

He turned it around in his hand.  The heavy leaded pipe was about a foot long and filled with cement.  It was painted white.  The line was tied to one end.  At the other, it looked like a multi-pronged grappling hook with about a dozen 2-inch long up-turned sharpened spikes.

“Whatever bites this is gonna be interesting,” he said as he put his heavy 4/0 reel with 60 pound test into free-spool and dropped the lure over the side.  Weighing about 2 pounds, it dropped quickly into the depths about 500 yards off the rugged Baja coastline.

Mas linea..more line…more line,” said the captain with a mixture of hand gestures and broken Spang-lish.  “Muy profundo aqui…very deep here, “ as he pointed down into the cobalt morning waters.

“Ok-dokie, amigo” said the angler with a shrug.

The heavy rod and reel continued to play out line.

The captain touched the rod as a sign to stop.  The angler put the rod into gear and figured he was about 400 feet straight-up-and-down.

The Captain Victor motioned for the angler to reel slowly, but at the same time raising and lowering the rod in a sweeping motion stopping the retrieve and letting the heavy jig drop back and winding a few cranks more.

The angler took about half a dozen sweep-and-cranks and suddenly the heavy beefy rod went over double nearly pulling the angler to his feet!

“WHOA!  WHAT THE…???”

Grunting he struggled to turn the handle of the straining reel.  He looked up at the grinning captain now smiling smugly.

“Big squid! Calamar grande!” said Captain Victor with a big satisfied grin and arms folded across his chest.

Sometimes you really have to watch what you ask for.  Often folks want to know if the squid are biting and this just happens to be about that time.  They’re not always “on time” and the bite is cyclical,  but at least for us in La Paz, we get a run of squid in the spring and summer.

Like other sea creatures, it’s not like they send out a memo or anything.

But, when they show up, they generate alot of excitement.  Not only are they fun to catch and extremely feisty when hooked,  but they are just plain fascinating.  They’re the stuff of story, legend and sea-monster!

When folks come down, they normally, aren’t quite ready for what awaits.  The “Humboldt” squid we normally get can be as small as 5 pounders, but 40-100 pound beasts are not uncommon.

When the squid “float” (come near the surface from the cold depths) to where they can be caught, often many boats and pangas will pack the area.  If the big squid are there, it’s not long before heavy rods and double-bent anglers are pulling mightly as if small refrigerators are hanging on the ends…which isn’t too far from the truth!

The vessles are often quite close and once the bite starts, it can get pretty crazy as the wiggling-squirting cephalapods get close to the boats.  A good tip is to let the struggling animals finish their squirting BEFORE bringing them aboard! Between the vessels,  big firehose-sized geysers of water and ink are often seen raining down and spraying anyone within range.  Yells and laughs as well as choice bits of profanity often permeate the scene.

In fact, it’s often a good idea to dispatch the big uglies before bringing them aboard at all.  Squid are voracious and aggressive.  Just because they’re hooked doesn’t mean their beat.

A third of their body length is a mass of tentacles.  An, unlike an octopus, the “suckers” on a squid’s tentacles aren’t little suction cups.  They are concentric circles of teeth surrounding a little beak that can easily break skin when wrapped around the nearest leg, arm or finger.

Certainly, you don’t want to get an appendage near to it’s parrot-like beak which is capable of really doing damage and can take off a finger.  Or they can quickly gouge out a chunk of an angler.

Make no mistake, while small squid in a bait tank can be fun to play with, the Humboldts are dangerous critters.  They are opportunistic feeders and the large ones have been known to attack sharks, tuna and even the occasional diver…not to mention each other.

In fact, the heavy jig used to catch them is painted white to resemble a smaller squid enticing a larger squid to attack it.  Indeed, the squid are cannibalistic and many times, as you’re bringing a squid to the boat, it will often feel like it’s no longer struggling and has turned to dead weight.

If the water is clear enough, you can often see other squid attacking and hacking the one squid impaled on the jig.  There’s no fraternity below the surface.  Eat and get eaten!

It took some grunting and no shortage of sweat and elbow grease to get the big 50-pound squid to the panga.  As per the captains instructions, the angler let the big animal empty it’s jets of water and black ink before bringing it into the panga.

Wiping his brow, with the back of his fist, the angler laid down the rod in exhaustion.

Muy bueno por carnada…good for bait,” smiled Captain Victor as he hacked off one tentacle and wrapped it around a larger bait hook ready to go look for some real fish.

“Like heck!” laughed the angler, cutting off a huge chunk himself and bagging it for the ice chest.  “It’s going into some beer batter for fried squid dinner tonite!”

“But first, let’s catch a few more!” he added tossing the  heavy jig back overboard.

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

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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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An effective line up of "iron"

An effective line up of “iron”

"Fresh one!"  A yellowtail hanging on the iron!  These guys will slam a fast-retrieved iron hard enough to hank the rod from your hands!

“Fresh one!” A yellowtail hanging on the iron! These guys will slam a fast-retrieved iron hard enough to hank the rod from your hands!  A chrome-pattern did the trick on this big yellow.

BAJA PRIMER – “IRON” THE NEXT STEP

Orginally Published in Western Outdoor Publications

You’re ready to try something different.  You’ve got a bit of strut in your step.  You’ve been on your share of fishing trips.  Into Mexican waters from San Diego.  Some trips from Cabo and the East Cape.  Maybe some mother-ship trips from San Felipe.

You’ve put some fish in the bag and a few fillets in the ice chest.  You’re no rookie and think you can pretty much hold your own and know how to tie a knot and which side of the reel is up.

So, now what?

You’re been watching some of the other “hot sticks.”  You realize you’ve caught all your Mexico fish with bait or trolling.  Although it’s exciting and you fill your sack,  you’re ready to step-up your fishing repertoire.

Yawn…

It dawns on you that everyone and anyone can catch fish with bait.  And it’s a no-brainer to drag lures around the ocean waiting for a bite.  In the fish-rich waters of Mexico, if the fish are hungry, they’ll eat a bait.  If you drive the boat over the right patch of water, you get bit too.

What’s the challenge in that?

But, you notice the bit of swagger and yes, maybe even cockiness in the guys they call the “ironmen.”   They’re the guys who can put a fish in the boat when nothing else is biting or no one else is getting bit.  They get the bigger fish.  They win jackpots.  Plus it looks like fun and you want a piece of that!

It does’t take much to get started.  Your local tackle shop can get you started.  Do not be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to admit you’ve never fished “the iron” before.

The best thing is that many of the most popular Mexican game fish like tuna and yellowtail are not only some of the most fun to catch on the iron, but also will readily bite iron lures.

“Iron” refers the class of lures that generally  look like pieces of heavy sculpted elongated metal…a bit like a metal candy bar.  Hence the moniker “iron.”  They come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and colors, but just for learning sake,  you can get by with just a handful that will cover most situations:

They involve combinations of chrome/ white/ blue/ green/ yellow/ brown.  Have your tackle dealer point them out.

Manufacturers of many of the most popular include:  Tady / UFO / Fire / Salas/ Raider / Hopkins / Williamson/ and Candy Bar…just to name a few.

Unless you know how to cast already, start with the heavier jigs.  Something that will sink and cast easily like 3-6 oz lures are typical for starters.

If you don’t know how to cast yet, don’t let that stop you.  You can “fish the iron” even if you don’t know how to cast.  If you can do a simple underhand cast or sidearm cast or even just drop the jig overboard, you’ll do just fine.

The real secret in fishing the iron isn’t necessarily in how far you can cast.  The real secret is in getting the jig to “swim” imparting it with a life-like action that will entice a fish to bite.  And that’s where the fun comes in.

If you’ll notice, all lures have “edges.” These are the cuts and angles molded into the lures.  They might give it the appearance of an elongated diamond.  Or a twisted piece of metel or give it little indents or the appearance of “shoulders.”  But these little bits and cuts make the lure “swim” as it’s retrieved through the water.

Some dart and dive.  Others shimmy.  Or spin.  Or wiggle.  All have their own characteristics which change depending on how you retrieve or use the lure.  Some are even cut to flutter like a dead bait when simply sinking in the water.

There are different techniques to do all of this.  One of the most common and the easiest for a beginner is to fish “on the slide.”  While the trolling rods are out, I like to have a nice heavy chrome lure ready and tied to a shorter rod and and least 40-50 pound test.   When the trolling reel goes off, the boat usually coasts or “slides” to a stop while someone battles the hooked fish.

Fishing the “slide” simply entails taking the reel out’ve gear and letting that heavy jig flutter down behind the boat.  If there’s a school of fish, especially tuna following behind the hooked fish watch out!

This is one of the deadliest means of hooking that next fish as they swarm to the boat.  A ferocious strike often occurs as the jig falls or when the reel is suddenly put in to gear!  Hold on!

The second easiest way to learn to fish the iron is called “yo-yo” fishing.  Again, this is as simple as dropping the jig overboard from a stopped boat.  If you can do a side cast or a long under-handed cast all the better.

Let the lure fall.  Once more, don’t be surprised if the lure is hit on the drop as it flutters down through the zones.

After a reasonable time, start winding.  Now, this take a bit of watching.  With some lures, if you wind too fast, the lure “propellers” and just spins.  Not good.  Too slow and the lure doesn’t move at all.  It just hangs there as it comes back to the boat.  Not good either.

So, watch and get a good “swim” on your lure.  Some fish like yellowtail really go after a lure that’s moving fast.  The faster the better.  Others like tuna aren’t so picky.   Remember, the point is to make the lure imitate a live bait that will interest the fish in biting.

Once you have that, try different motions.  The “sweep” involves winding and lifting with the rod at the same time in a “sweep” motion.  Then stopping and letting the lure flutter down again.  Then winding again.

“Ripping” involves a fast  vertical retrieve, then stopping.  Throw the reel into free-spool and letting the lure fall back down.  Then back into gear and winding quickly again.

If you can get a short cast out, try the “Z-pattern.”  Winding back towards the boat.  Stopping and letting the lure fall…then winding again….then letting the lure fall…then winding again in a “Z pattern” back to the boat.

Practice and watch.  You’ll get better in now time and add something new to your fish-catching arsenal.

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

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR #1 Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

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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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
 
Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO
 
 
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.”
 

Read Full Post »

It didn’t look that deep! Huge sinkholes often appear suddenly as chunks of road just drop away when it rains!

“Dry arroyos” suddenly become hazardous waterways of mud when it starts to pour.

There’s normally a bridge there! Check out how green the surrounding hills have become after a few weeks of rain in the thirsty desert!

It doesn’t take much for flooding in many Baja towns and cities. This was just after a few hours in downtorwn La Paz. The “heavy rain” had not even started falling yet! Folks shopping in the windows are stranded for awhile.

Happy cows! Getting fat on real GRASS growing along the sides of roads. Grass is an unusual sight in Baja! Note that the cows are properly observing the “cow crossing” sign.

“POST- CHUBASCO BLUES…and GREENS”

Originally Published the Week of October 24, 2012 in Western Outdoor News

I watched them clean up the street in front of our restaurant..again.  I’m losing count.

The army of street sweepers are out.  I don’t mean the big machines with the twirly-brushes like in the U.S.  I mean, the “army of sweepers.”  Literally.  The city pays hundreds of workers to walk out en masse and sweep the street with a hand brooms.  Labor is cheap and they really do a good job.

There sure is a lot of dust…clouds of it.  Kicked up by the sweepers and then by the cars that go up and down the road.

When it rains…which is rare…all the gunk that has accumulated in the streets and the drains gets sluiced out.  Maybe the better word is “flushed” out, if you get my drift, and can imagine some of the accumulation in drains that don’t see rain for years!

Well, all that stuff turns to mud.  After the storms, that mud dries up and turns to…dust!  That dust all gets kicked up into the air.

We do our best not to breathe dust or to stay out’ve the dustier zones.  People get all kinds of nasty allergies to the stuff in the dust.

Whatever is not being wisked away by the sweepers, they bring out bulldozers and backhoes and just scoop it up onto the beach or the nastier stuff into trucks.  Again, a dusty business.

The road repair boys are also in full swing.  There’s little and big rock and mud slides.  Bridges get damaged or even swept away, especially across dry arroyos that turn into raging rivers during the storms.

During rainstorms, huge potholes open up in the road.  Some of them are large enough to be classified as sinkholes.  Chunks of road just drop away.

Some of the roads that looked great a few days ago before the storms now look like the cratered surface of the moon.  They require the deft driving hand of a NASCAR driver to navigate through them swerving left and right trying to avoid them.

It’s an exercise in failure. Your teeth and kidneys get jolted and you cringe along with your car’s groaning suspension with each whack and thump as you hit another deep pothole.   Some are the size of a basketball.  Others large enough to drop a tire sideways into it.  If  you’re a tourist in a taxi that has no suspension…you just have to laugh as your head gets bounced on the inside roof of the taxi!

Others are like gaping maws waiting to swallow vehicles.  Standing water can be deceiving. Some cars going through standing water don’t realize that under that muddy water is a big sinkhole or two or a trench lying in wait.

Un-suspecting vehicles go  plowing through the water and CLANG!  It’s like watching a clown car blow up.  It rips through a front axle or, in some cases, the whole front end just disappears into the watery hole…trunk butt up in the air!

Rain is so rare down here that the Mexican infrastructure just wasn’t built for handling too much! After it’s over, we repair things as best as we can and life goes on. We may not see rain again for a long time so we don’t worry about it again until then!  Es la vida!

I think I’ve lost count of all the rainstorms we’ve had this year.  But, I was just informed that Baja has had more rain in the last month than in the last 5 years combined.  I know here in La Paz, we had one 16-hour period several weeks ago where 12 inches of rain fell on us and flooded the town.

I was once told that despite the arid nature of the state of Southern Baja, we actually get more rain in a “normal year” than say…Los Angeles.  We get about 17 inches of precipitation a year.  The only problem is that it can all fall in one day!

Hurricanes aside…dangerous and deadly…mostly what we get are thundershowers.  We call them “toritos” (little bulls) that can rise up in the afternoons and unleash the fury of the heavens for an hour or even minutes.

Huge dark storm clouds with thunder and lightning rear up from otherwise balmy afternoons and send boats scrambling for shore and folks ducking under palapas and headed indoors as the rain often comes down in warm sheets of water.

If you’re indoors or out of the rain, it’s a great show.  The thunder and lightning can be spectacular and watching the desert turn into rivers or the streets into Venetian waterways are incredible.

Then, as quickly as it starts.  It stops.  And the sun comes.  And the waters recede quickly and the heat literally steams up the standing water.  Life in the tropics.  It stops just like that.

It’s just that this year, it stops then it starts again the next day.

On the upside…

The brown countryside has been transformed into an incredible carpet of green.  Emerald green!  Grass is growing.  Flower are blooming.  Normally barren trees are covered with foliage.  In fact, the desert has been turned into a jungle.   I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so verdant.

If you’re out fishing and look back towards the land, you could easily be convinced that you’re in Hawaii or Central America.  The forrest is THAT thick!

Oh..and the fish are still biting! It’s a nice time to be down here.

I just wish they’d get done sweeping away the dust.

That’s our story

Jonathan and Jilly Roldan

__________________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife, Jill, 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

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO


 
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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With their acrobatic abiities, dorado often have a habit of “self-releasing” all on their own! But, knowing how to properly release a fish has alot to do with assuring that it lives to grow and fight another day!

“THE ART OF THE RELEASE!”

Originally published the week of Sept. 11, 2012 in Western Outdoor News

I had conflicted feelings that day.   The client and his wife just got their first ever sailfish. The “glamour fish” they had always wanted to cross off the bucket list.

Not only that, they wanted to release the fish!  Bravo!  It takes a lot for people to release that first big trophy fish…or any fish.  And I had to applaud.

But then the other side of me was in turmoil. Photo time.

Although no gaff was used, the fish was hauled out of the water and photo’d from every angle.  Everyone got to hold it.  Every possible combination of photo.  With the deckhand.  With the captain.  With both of them.  With the wife.  With the wife and captain, but not the deckhand.

I tried to impart a big of urgency to the situation about wanting to get the fish back in the water.

I can only imagine the stress on the fish.  A lot of hands were all over it, and it  had it been a long battle for the exhausted fish.   But, it was now out’ve the water as the seconds ticked by.  Even moreso, I always worry about the internal organs of the fish.

In the water, the mass of the fish and it’s innards are neutrally buoyant.  Outside of water, gravity takes effect.  Already exhausted organs collapse on each other further creating potential injury to the animal.

The fish was already turning colors from strikingly  iridescent blues and purples to the greyish pallor of a dead fish.

Into the water we go off the gunwale and slowly tried to work it back and forth to get water over it’s gills. It was a team effort and while at first sluggish, the fish slowly gained strength.  You could feel it surge until we couldn’t hold it any longer and we watched it sink into the blue waters and with a flick of it’s tail descend to depths.

There were lots of high-fives that were well-deserved, but deep inside I doubted.  I could only hope it wasn’t sinking to die.

Almost two decades now down here in Baja and it’s gratifying to see the increased interest in catch-and-release.  I’m all for it. We have a finite resource that is under tremendous pressure.  Keep what you need and release what you don’t.  Hell…release it all is fine with me.

But what good does it do if the fish dies later?

To me, there’s a right and a wrong way to release a fish.  It should really start BEFORE you ever hook up.  Mike Fowlkes, the award-winning  TV producer, director  of “Inside Sportfishing” said it best.

He said something to the effect, of making the decision to release your fish BEFORE you ever go out.  Don’t make the decision AFTER the heat of battle when the blood lust is going full turbo and everyone is back-slapping you and hoisting beers in the air.  I never forgot Mike’s words.

To that end, think about how you’re going to fish and the equipment you’re going to use.

If you know how to use circle hooks, use them.  They have a knack of hooking fish right on the corner of the mouth when used correctly.  The hook doesn’t go down their gullet and instead lodges perfectly where you can usually get at it easily for a fast release.  Or, as many fresh water anglers do, use barbless hooks or pinch off the barbs of your hooks!

Likewise, as much as I love light tackle, if I plan to be releasing fish that day, I tend towards heavier gear.  I want short battles so that I can get the fish to the boat faster.  Long battles stress the fish.  Exertion causes oxygen deficit in the tissues.

According to one study:  “This causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle tissue, and then to diffuse into the blood. Lactic acid acts as an acid in the blood, causing the pH of the blood to drop. Even slight changes in pH can cause major disruptions of the metabolic processes, ultimately killing the fish. If the fish is quickly released, its blood pH usually returns to normal and the fish will be unaffected. Some fish, after a long tow, may appear to live once released, but the imbalance in the blood chemistry may kill them as late as three days after being caught.”  http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/factsheets/catch-release_fs.html

I’ll vouch for that.  I’ve seen huge marlin and tuna sometimes simply “give it up” and die while still on the line.  You definitely don’t want that to happen.

Once the fish is to the boat, the less you handle them the better.

If the fish is small enough to “lip” grabbing by the lip, this is better than sticking hands or fingers into their gills.  They’re already stressed and gasping for oxygen so lip them and use pliers or hands to quickly remove the hook or lure.

If the hook is too deep, reaching in and prying around only damages the fish.  Often I’ve seen anglers stab around and wrench hooks from deep in the gullet or reaching in through the gills to get their hooks.  Then, just because the fish is still thrashing,  toss the fish overboard thinking they executed a good “release.”

If the hook is deep, best to just cut the line as close to the hook as possible.  Studies have shown the fish are very resilient if handled correctly and hooks will often dissolve or rust out on their own, whereas huge wounds from torn-out hooks can often become infected.

It would also seem obvious to keep the fish in the water as much as possible.  But, as mentioned earlier, the urge to photo and touch the fish are sometimes just too hard to resist.  All that touching removes the protective slime from the skin of the fish making them susceptible to disease as well.  Plus, just being out of their neutrally buoyant environment can harm internal organs when lifted out of the water and gravity takes effect.   Even contact with dry and foreign surfaces like nets, decks, fish gloves and boat rails can be detrimental.

The two biggest causes of fish mortality are stress and wounds.  Keep that in mind and you’ll help insure that the fish that goes back in the water lives to battle another day!

That’s our story!

Jonathan and Jill Roldan

Tailhunter International

___________________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife, Jill, 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

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO


 
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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Edmond Locard was known as the “Sherlock Holmes” of forensic criminology during his time. But his principles can be applied to many things!

“LOCARD’S EXCHANGE THEORY”

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of Aug. 15, 2012

Around the turn-of-the-century, there was a famous French criminologist.  His name was Edmond Locard.   Most folks have never heard of him.  But, if you’re a fan of some of the popular TV crime dramas like “CSI” or “Law and Order” or any of those other shows that focus on forensic investigations, you’re familiar with Mssr. Locard’s work.

It was way back in the day that Locard came up with “Locard’s Exchange Principle.”  Named it after himself and everything.   Like Murphy and his “Law”.  You think of it, you get to name it!

It was Locard who believed that at every crime scene an “exchange” takes place.  Every criminal takes something.  Every criminal leaves something behind.   It’s inherent.

The TV shows focus on it all the time. The high-tech crime labs in the TV shows prove it.   A hair follicle.  Some skin cells under a fingernail.  A drop of blood.  A pebble.  The smell of perfume or aftershave.  A fingerprint.  Chemical residue.  Something leaves the scene.  Something is left at the scene.

Modern philosophy extends that a little further.

Anyone who goes into a room and leaves a room, inadvertently leaves a little bit of themselves in the room and takes something of the room with them.  Dust…dandruff…pet hair…or let’s get really touchy-feely-esoteric…a memory…a smell…

Locard’s principle in action.  An “exchange” is always taking place.  Something leaves.  Something is left behind.

I believe we can carry it even further.

I see it every day.  It’s not on purpose.  But, the “exchange” takes place nonetheless.

People come here to Baja on vacation.  The exotic Mexican fishing trip with family, friends or loved ones.

Maybe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Maybe it’s a regular yearly holiday.   For a few days or weeks, folks come down.  They “pass through” as it were.  Through another country.  Another culture.  Another way of living.

They leave with the usual.  Maybe a cooler of fish.  A t-shirt or two.  A funny hat.  A necklace from a beach vendor.  A sunburn.  Five extra pounds from too many tacos. A hangover. A digital camera full of photos.

And those are just the tangible items.

They carry away  with them memories and thoughts.  Ideas and perspectives.  Smiles and knowledge.  Laughs, discoveries and grins.  The things you can’t put a price or a finger on.

It’s why people travel.  It’s why they go on vacations.

But, I think few folks think about what they leave behind when they depart for home.  Locard’s Exchange Principle continues to hum right along.

When you head home, you forget that, you didn’t just leave some vacation money back here in Mexico.  You left a little bit of yourself as well.

In your wake you leave impressions as well as memories.

Were you respectful of the language?  The people ?  Were you a drunken idiot?

Did you leave as many smiles as you took?  Did you try to interact or did you adopt an “us” and “them” attitude?   Did you forget basic courtesies?

I have had dozens of employees over the years.  They have worked for me as captains, deckhands, drivers, waiters, cooks, cashiers, guides and numerous other positions.  They talk to me quite often about such-and-such a guest or client.  I hear them talk among themselves about tourists in general and in particular.

Much of it is great.  They really enjoy the meetings and interactions.  Some of it is plain amusing.  Some of it makes me grimace and cringe.

A good example my panga captains.  Many have been with me 8, 10, 14, 15 years or more.  They have a remarkable memory for some clients they see maybe every few years or every other year.

They often ask  if Mr. So-and-so will be coming back.  They remember who tipped and who didn’t. They remember those who said thank you or wanted a picture with them.  They remember who took the time to bring down a baseball for their kid or left a nice pair of fishing pliers as a gift.  They remember the fun day fishing and talking about mutual families.  Smiles are universal.

My waiters and drivers are the same way.  They may not remember names, but they remember faces and families and couples.

They remember which kids and parents were courteous and who was “high maintenance” and who had the wife who loved to sing and which little girl gave a hug.  And they remember the  guy who never stopped bragging about how rich he was “back in ‘America’ and how ‘you people’ have everything backwards.”

Oh yes…they remember.

Even I have to constantly remind myself.  Something gets taken.  Something gets left behind.

Hopefully, I leave more smiles with each passing day. Hopefully, I take a new good lesson with me to bed at night after a long day.  Or some new memories.   Hopefully, I left a good thought or impression or someone learned something from me as well.

I try. Locard was a criminologist.  He was right.  It’d be a crime passing through life without taking and leaving something good.  Take a gift.  Leave a gift.

That’s our story…

Jonathan

__________________

Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004.  Along with his wife, Jill, 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

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO


 
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.”

Read Full Post »