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Posts Tagged ‘hurricane’

THE REWIND BUTTON

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

THE REWIND BUTTON

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

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

 

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

 

Whew.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

That’s my story

Jonathan signature

Jonathan

______________

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

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

_____________ 

Jonathan Roldan’s

Tailhunter International

 

TAILHUNTER FISHING FLEET #1 Rated on Trip Advisor

TAILHUNTER RESTAURANT BAR Top 5 – Rated in La Paz on Trip Advisor

 

Now follow us on FACEBOOK TOO

 

Website: www.tailhunter-international.com

U.S. Office: 8030 La Mesa, Suite #178, La Mesa CA  91942

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

Phones: 

from USA : 626-638-3383

from Mexico: 044-612-53311

.

Tailhunter Weekly Fishing Report: 

http://fishreport.jonathanroldan.com/

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

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

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“How We Rolled Rumbled and Stumbled”

 

donkeys

Road trips where you wrote you own captions and every curve there was something unexpected!

“HOW WE ROLLED RUMBLED AND STUMBLED”

Originally Published in Western Outdoor News the Week of January, 6, 2014

Driving the Baja…

 

There was a time not long ago when I actually had the time to drive up and down the Baja Transpeninsular Highway. Time was not “of the essence” and even with cheap flights, gas was still so cheap it was more economical to drive.

 

These were the days several decades before there were regular convenience stores and Pemex gas stations dotting the landscape.

 

Yes, the Transpeninsular was a relative Mexican engineering marvel for its day. Officially called Federal Highway 1, it was quite a feat.

 

Being in the U.S. we take highways for granted and few who visit Baja today remember what it was like before the highway. Even those first years after its completion in 1973 were a bit rugged.

 

Highway 1 dotted-dashed-scurried-and-ribboned the entire 1,000-mile length of the Baja corridor from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. No doubt, to have one solid-length of pavement was a vast improvement over the previous road(s) which required the abilities of a world-class off-road driver and a vehicle that was about as indestructible as an Abrams tank.

 

Even in its completed state, it was politely called a “highway” sporting just two lanes. Laughingly and affectionately, it was called a “leveled goat trail” by its fans who still saw it as a vast improvement.

 

But, the word “solid” is relative. Like so much in Mexico. “Pavement” has many meanings!

 

There were sometimes more detours around missing parts of pavement than actual pavement. That meant forays into the nearby desert.

Potholes stretched for miles and trying to navigate in-around-and-out of them was like trying to dash through a minefield.

 

Sooner or later, the odds were you’d get rocked. The Spanish word for “pothole” is “Hoyo” (OY-yo)…as in OH-no! Which is what you said as your suspension or axle suddenly groaned in agony as it slammed into crater after crater. And you hoped you still had an oil pan.

 

But, so many of us drove the trek regularly, and looked forward to it. It was an adventure of adventures. It was almost a rite of passage to tell someone, “Dude, I just DROVE the Baja.” You didn’t “drive TO Baja.” You didn’t “TRAVEL to Baja.”

 

You proclaimed your coolness and told folks, you “DROVE the Baja.” It was sorta like “riding the Banzai Pipeline.” Or “running with the bulls.” Or “scuba diving with sharks.”

 

Instant cred. Very high on the “neato scale.”  At least a 9 in the ooh-aaa factor.   A bucket list things for guys.

 

Yup…Us cooler dudes, “DROVE the Baja.” Back in the day, the coolest of the cool folks declared they “SURVIVED the Baja” because that was always a pre-cursor to a good story, too! Driving the Baja was one thing.  “Surviving the Baja” meant that a good tale was to follow.

 

The “survivors” brought back great stories and tall tales of roadside frontier adventure. There were flat tires…busted fan belts and axles and green unfiltered gas bought from a guy with a 50-gallon drum and a handpump.

 

How about those swarming mosquitos and flies? Sunburn…hangovers…stalling in sand-filled arroyos and waking up in strange places. And what’s a good story if it didn’t include Montezuma’s revenge… a hurricane… a sandstorm or the occasional ill-advised romantic liason?

 

But, there were also golden gems of deserted white sand beaches and glorious crimson sunrises…mouth watering handmade roadside tacos… ferocious fish that had never seen a hook… perfect thick-lipped waves that had never been surfed…friendly warm people…icy beers and barbecued lobster eaten with fingers and campfires under carpets of stars.

 

And always, there was one more dirt road off the beaten path that beckoned to be explored…begged to be explored. Every adventure started with the words…”We decided to pull off the highway…” Or “We stopped in for just one small tequila…” Or, “I was eating a greasy taco and my eyes locked on this pretty girl…”

 

Federal One has become bigger, better and safer after all these years. There are still stretches of the wild Mexican frontier that go for miles. But, you’ll see more gas station. More convenience stores. RV parks and hotels too.

 

It’s just not the same anymore. You climb on a plane in the U.S. You ride the sterilized tube through the air and maybe see a bit of dessert or ocean below. You exit into an air-conditioned terminal with a thousand other people.

 

The biggest adventure and closest brush with danger is running the gamut of airport vendors trying to rent you a car or get you on a time-share trip.

 

“Free fishing trip, Senor? Just need two hours of your time for a small presentation.”

“Eh amigo, do you need a taxi?”

“Discount snorkel trip for you and your family?”

 

The height of your anxiety and adrenaline level is wondering if your luggage will get searched by duty inspectors at the airport.

 

You remember that undeclared bottle of Jack Daniels hidden in your boxer shorts.   Your wife thinks they inspectors will pull out her lingerie in front of everyone.   Blood pressure zooms.

 

Or major panic. Now that you’re through customs, you can’t find the shuttle driver who was supposed to meet you at the terminal. Whew…there he is. He was hidden behind all those other shuttle drivers!

 

Man, that was stressful!   Gonna have a double margarita at the pool bar as soon as I dump this stuff in the room.

 

It’s just not the same anymore. And neither are the good stories.

 

“The room service didn’t have cheesecake…” is a lot different from

 

“Did I tell you about the time these Mexican fishermen with lobsters came to our campsite and wanted to trade for a 6 pack of Budweiser? And one guy had a guitar…and my buddy Dave pulled out a bottle of Cuervo?”

 

“Man…let me tell you…”

 

Editor’s Note:  Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International Sportfishing (www.tailhunter-international.com) in La Paz make the Mex 1 run often. They are at their first show of the year for them, at the ISE show in Sacramento that starts Wednesday at Cal Expo, with stops in Long Beach and Del Mar on the SoCal schedule.

That’s our 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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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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NOCHE BUENA and a MIDNIGHT CLEARLY

Mexico night sky

NOCHE BUENA and a MIDNIGHT CLEARLY

Originally Published the Week of December 9, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

I was only going to be in Baja for a year. Has it been almost twenty?

 

The longer I am here the more Christmas seems to change a bit.   The early years were surely different.

 

I was living out in the “country” then. Well…10 miles down a dusty dirt road far off the pavement in the cactus and Baja scrub in a little remote Mexican bay. Far away from the city lights, I worked for a little off-the-grid hotel that only had 4 rooms.

 

And that’s all there was out there. Today, you still have to drive down a dirt road to get there and the hotel is closed and being re-claimed by the Baja sands. As so many Mexican dreams go.

 

I had very little then, but I often felt like I was king of the world at times. I was only half-a-step from living out’ve my old Dodge van at the time with fishing rods and an old one-room adobe. “Living the dream,” as many would later tell me!

 

I spent most nights sleeping outside in a hammock under a weathered palapa made of sticks.   Jimmy, my little dog and I lived much by candlelight and a propane stove. No phones. No electricity to speak of.

 

And I remember it was Christmas. In the Baja. In Mexico. So far from Christmases remembered.

 

I remember the brisk wind and the clear starry skies overhead where clusters of the galaxies were so thick as to appear as if a huge black canvas had been lightly airbrushed with white.   With no city lights, shooters streaked criss-crossing tracers from horizon to horizon.

 

I wore the same faded shorts and some awfully thin flipflops that had long since lost their tread. I’m sure I smelled like fish most days which is how I earned my living for the hotel taking their few clients fishing and diving.

 

No one ever complained about how I looked or smelled. I was part of the landscape in my ratty straw hat and cut-off t-shirts.

 

Mesquite was abundant so it was often just as easy to cook over a jumbled stone firepit I had made outside my little casita on the bare ground. It wasn’t much more than a rocky rise of hardscrabble Baja dirt. But…during the day, the little spot had a zillion dollar view of the beach and bay that would make a realtor drool.

 

But not tonite. A moonless crispy December night in Baja. I could hear the waves of the bay lightly crashing against the sands down the beach somewhere in the darkness below. With barely more than the stars above, the orange glow of my little fire fought a losing battle to penetrate the darkness.

 

But all is calm. My fire bright. Noche Buena. Christmas eve.

 

I pulled my thin flannel shirt a little tighter against the chill. Me and and Jimmy the dog. I tossed another branch of twisted mesquite into the flame.

 

I had come a long way from American cities and holidays past. Never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned spending Christmas like this. Life takes funny turns. There’s a thin debateable line between an idiot and genius.

 

No tree. No carols. But, I had nature’s own magnificent light show overhead and the dancing flames of a mesmerizing campfire to hold gaze into.

 

Completely alone but not the least bit lonely. On Christmas. And it felt like it just couldn’t get any better.

 

And then, just outside the ring of flickering firelight, a shuffle of feet. A bit of laughter. Faces and smiles materializing on the other side of the orange haze of whispy smoke. The spectral ghosts of a Dicken’s Christmas?

 

“Que onda? Que tal, Jona! Feliz Navidad! Felices fiestas, Mano!”

 

It just got better.

 

Some of the commercial fishermen and their wives had trudged up the rise from the beach. Several packs of beer in hand and tattered beach chairs. Uninvitedly always welcome. Saw my fire. Come to join. Come to laugh.  Share the warmth of a chilly evening.

 

My Spanish was barely elementary back then. But, some things are universal. Bridges are easily crossed with smiles, high-fives, back slaps and shared fraternal cervezas. Especially on Christmas Eve.

 

They already had an obvious head start on me. No formalities needed. They plopped down around the fire and it was on. No need to break the ice. I toasted and laughed and did my best to sing.

 

In any language…”Noche Buena” is still “Silent Night.” I had no clue about some of the other rowdy rancho songs they sang.

 

We whooped at the top of our lungs and lifted Tecate cans to health and family, love, life and the star-filled night. Or nothing in particular.

 

You know that saying about “Dance like no one is watching and sing like no one can hear?” There’s a special child-like exhilaration attached to that.

 

Of all things, they started singing “Jingle Bells” in Spanish. I doubt my amigos even had a concept of a sleigh or reindeer or even snow. Ni modo…no matter! One more time with feeling from the top!

 

Then they asked me to teach them the song in English. Por favor!

 

Me leading! Oh my…ever fall over laughing? I don’t think there had ever been such a bawdy version…Christmas angels winced but couldn’t help smiling…

 

DOSHING TRUE DUH SNO

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY!

ODOR FEELS WEE-GO

LOFFING OLE DUH WAY

 

HO! HO! HO! (Everyone jumped in on that part with gusto!)

 

 

And we laughed and snorted and guffawed and stomped our dusty feet. I stared into that campfire and thought of perhaps another chilly night in the desert many eons ago. That brought others to a spot in the desert.

 

Some wise guys and sheep ranchers. Amigos of different languages and cultures. Pulled in by the flame and warmth of a beckoning light.

 

And here we were… A bit of light in the darkness on a windswept beach knoll in Mexico. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. As primal as that. Some friends. A few beers. Laughs and smiles. A song and and a welcoming campfire in the dark. Christmas Eve and all was right.

 

Noche Buena. Noche excelente.

 

EN WUN WHORE’S O-PEN SLAY ODOR FEELS WEE GO LOFFING OLE DUH WAY…indeed!

 

Only in Mexico! Andale and Feliz Navidad, mis amigos! God bless us everyone. Peace to you my fish brothers and sisters.

 

 

Somewhere even the angels were singing along. Once more with feeling.

 

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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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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El NINO NEENER NEENER

blog_el-nino-waves1

“EL NINO NEENER NEENER”

Originally Published the Week of Nov. 10, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

It’s inescapable. There are just certain things that puzzle you so much and make you sit back and go “hmmmmm…”

Like, how come a pair of socks go into the dryer and only one side comes out?

Or how come birds overhead ALWAYS know when you’ve just washed your car?

Or two treble hooks left in a tackle box will ALWAYS hook into each other?

Anyway, I’m writing this while overlooking the marina here at Cabo San Lucas waiting for the start of the Western Outdoor News/ Yamaha Tuna Jackpot Tournament.

It’s a lively place and the excitement that’s going to kick off is pretty palpable. It’s quite the circus atmosphere as more than 130 teams from around the world get ready to fire it up.

But, for the rest of Cabo San Lucas, life goes on as “normal.” Whatever “normal is, in this fun place!

The cruise ships are downloading swarms of sandal-wearing sun-seekers looking for t-shirts and “authentic pottery”. The booze cruise has a deckload of bikini-wearing gals and tattoo’d boyfriends whooping and vibrating to some bass-laden song my kids would know; and the street vendors descend on tourists swaying down the sidewalk with red Solo cups in hand and “Cabo Wabo” t-shirts stretched across sunburned shoulders.

“Cuban cigars. Best price, amigo!”

“Silver jewelry. Almost free, pretty ladies!”

“Two for one tequila shots all day, right here, senores!”

But part of “normal” all of the folks fishing here who aren’t part of the tournament and this afternoon, I’m watching sportfishers unload their catches. Catch flags are flying and it’s always interesting to see what gets off-loaded.

There’s some dorado. There’s a few tuna. Hmmm…a marlin.   Wahoo on that boat, nice one. A few more dorado over there. Looks like a decent day on the water.

But one fish catches my eye and seems to be drawing a crowd. It’s about 15 pounds and in a plastic bucket and I hear someone say, “That’s the strangest yellowfin tuna. It’s a mutant.”

But, it’s not. It has the familiar football tuna shape, but the elongated pectoral fins…that’s no yellowfin tuna! It’s an albacore.

Yes, the “chicken of the sea.” Highly-sought commercially. Normally associated with 57-62 degree water. Caught in the dark-blue-purple oceans from California to Washington. But, caught here in Cabo? In 85 degree water?

I guess it’s just one more thing to chalk up to El Nino. Or is it?

After experiencing a season’s worth of signs indicative of El Nino conditions, the scientific forecasters have finally “decided” that we are surely in an El Nino year.

It has been highlighted to the delight/ dismay of many depending on where you live and what you do for a living!

  • Warmer waters than normal played havoc with fishing season. Dorado and marlin up the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Massive tuna schools in southern California. Wahoo on ½ day charter boats out of San Diego.
  • Those same unseasonably warm waters killed off the bait south of the border in many areas which meant the fish schools moved elsewhere or, there was little or no bait for the fishermen to use
  • The same conditions lead to more storms on the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Some 2 dozen big storms were charted as evidenced by the recent “Hurricane Vance” that just skimmed off Baja the week of Nov. 4th. But it numerically underscores the fact that the storm folks have almost gone through the whole alphabet naming all the storms.
  • Highly unusual to even see storms in November in Baja, but warm waters draw storms!
  • The highlight/ lowlight of the year was the devastating “Hurricane Odile” in September that ripped Baja and was the strongest storm in Baja history registering winds in excess of 150 mph.   Months of repairs and recovery continue almost 8 weeks after the blast.
  • Should “El Nino” continue as predicted, heavy rains might show up this winter and early next year for much of the drought stricken western U.S.

So, if this actually is an official El Nino season (they usually span parts of two successive years), then one would expect that warm water fishing would continue for Baja fishermen for species like marlin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna and dorodo. Conversely, fishermen on the West Coast of the U.S. should continue to enjoy their phenomenal year on unusual species as well.

But, hold on. Something doesn’t fit.

Colder winter winds are already starting to blow into Baja. Water temperatures are dropping in many areas.

The fishing is already changing too. I doubt we’ll see a full-blown “albacore” run in Cabo San Lucas, but the fact that an albacore was caught says something about a fish that has a messed-up directional radar or, has followed a cooler current of water. I tend to think it’s the later rather than the former.

Where we are in La Paz, we’re seeing fewer dorado and other warm water species and already getting sierra, amberjack, roosterfish, cabrilla and pargo. These are all fish associated with cooler conditions.

Our air is already many degrees cooler than normal and humidity has dropped considerably. Winds are blowing stronger from the north and there are areas that are already too rough to fish on some days.

Everyone asks me , “What do you think, Jonathan? What do you predict if we come fishing?”

I’m stumped. It’s one of those things that make me go, “Hmmmm….”

One of my captains just taught me the word, “Perplejo.” It means “perplexed.” And that’s me.   None of this year has made sense.

Roosterfish or dorado?

Bait or no bait ?

Full moon no moon ?

Rain or sunshine ?

I’ve been wrong more often than not this year. My crystal fishing ball is on the fritz. I stopped trying to over-think it and ultra-analyze it. I just tell people, “Come fishing.” Then I shrug.

It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. Maybe we should be more concerned with fishing than what we’re gonna catch. It still beats work. And it’s still Baja!

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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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 »

ODILE’s ORDEAL and THE AFTERWRATH

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He’s not lamenting a messed up fishing vacation. Many of those who had the least, lost the most. (Photo from British news) 

ODILE’s ORDEAL AND AFTERWRATH

Originally published the week of Sept. 30, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

When I wrote my last column two weeks ago about making the best out’ve your situation if your vacation gets slammed by a hurricane or other natural disaster, I had no idea. As I wrote that piece, it was your typical sunny Baja day on the beach. As I closed out, it was just starting to get a little cloudy. Rain drops were starting to fall.

 

I used that to underscore how quickly things can change. Especially in Baja. Especially in this el Nino year.

 

I was just trying to get my column out. Put some words together. I had no clue just how fast things would change. How fast life itself would change.

 

The “bit of rain” was part of a weather cell we had been watching half-heartedly watching for several days.  It was just another ho-hum rainfall that started our way with a roar, but like a dozen others this season, we expected it would eventually bend out to the Pacific Ocean. We might get a “little afternoon precipitation.”

 

It was an understatement of historic proportions.

 

In the span of less than 12 hours the storm did the unexpected and put Baja right in it’s crosshairs.   By midnight, Sunday the 14th, Hurricane Odile had turned into the largest and most powerful hurricane ever to hit Baja.

 

It slammed into Baja with Category 3 and 4 strength winds including gusts up to 140-150 miles and hour. By comparison, Hurricane Sandy that devastated the East Coast in 2012, had winds of “only” 115 miles and hour.

 

Those, like us with a fishing operation in La Paz, or have businesses that are affected by weather or happen to watch weather, had at least a bit of time to get ready. Get the batteries and water. Tape the windows. Get the rain gear. Tie and chain things down. Pull our boats onto dry ground.

 

Most of Baja was not ready.   It was the weekend. It was the start of the 4-day Independence Day weekend festivities, the largest biggest holiday in the country.   Folks were in a big-time party mode.   Most government officials and civil workers were long gone. Thousands of tourists had no idea either.

It was pretty bad. You’ve probably seen the photos or watched the news. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been in one. It’s like being inside a vacuum cleaner. It’s THAT loud. But add the glass breaking. Trees snapping. Our ceiling collapsed. Things shattering. It’s difficult to talk. To think.

 

This was my 10th big one and they are never the same. Like some perverse amusement park ride you know will end, it’s fascination, panic, awe, self-preservation and terror roller-coastering with each blast of wind.

 

And then it passes. It whimpers; runs outta steam; and moves on.  And you sigh. And you exhale and like little Hobbits you gingerly creep out with everyone else into the light.

 

But, it’s not over.

 

In reality, it’s just starting.

 

The destruction is devastating. It looks like Godzilla danced on the town. Phone poles snapped in half. Giant old trees uprooted. Entire walls of buildings simply missing. Boats and yachts sunk or blown to dry land. Not a single window unbroken. Cars upended. Power lines draped limply across roads. Entire neighborhoods destroyed.   Roads and bridges submerged.   Hotels collapsed.

 

More than 30,000 tourists stranded with no immediate resources to handle them. An equal number of residents homeless.

 

And no water. No power. No electricity. No phones. Gasoline runs out. The brand new airport looks like it took an artillery barrage. It no longer exists.

 

Like being no a deserted island. No way out. No way in. No way to call home…or anyone else. No supplies.

 

One day post storm, it was shock and disbelief. Day two, it’s assessment.

 

By day 3, it was starting to get ugly. Tensions rising. Tourists are now ramping up the panic. Tourists and residents alike hit realization. And it’s nasty and ugly and scary.

 

The vacation has been trashed. The novelty has worn off. The margarita bar has been blown to Mazatlan. The fishing boats are sunk. And there’s no water, showers, food.   Everyone is sleeping on the floor.

 

And worse…there’s no communications. Off the grid. That is especially terrifying . In a world where everyone has their nose stuck in a smart-phone, it’s the stone age. No way to notify family and relatives. No access to news. Still no way off the island. No airport. No planes.

In the cities, the afterwrath is worse.

 

Wholescale looting erupts. And it’s not just the dad trying to get some milk and tortillas for the family. Mobs break down windows, doors and metal barriers. Some gleefully. Large scale jubilant Christmas looting.

 

The big chain stores are attacked and emptied by the hordes. TV’s…clothes…exercise equipment…alcohol. If it’s not nailed down, it’s gone. Fighting breaks out. Police and law enforcement, already strained with the disaster are powerless. Rioters barricade streets so police cannot interfere. They don’t. They can’t.

 

In the neighborhoods, more looting. Assaults. Rape. Gangs roam the streets with machetes and arms. Neighbors set up their own security to protect their neighborhoods with guns, rocks and re-bar. Carjackings take palce. Fires are set to illuminate the dark. Neighbors dress in white to set themselves off from the bad guys.

 

Families fight off looters from the roof with bricks and chunks of concrete. One group beats back several assaults from gangs attempting to breach their walls by using sticks, rocks and baseball bats against knives and clubs.

 

Gunfire can be heard in the darkened streets at night. As one escaped resident told me, “It was medieval and primal. Complete lawlessness.”

 

The army finally rolls in and things quiet down.

 

Two weeks post-storm, the recovery is remarkable. The government, the phone and power companies; constructions companies and many others are still working around-the-clock to get going. The phoenix rises.

 

They said the airport in Cabo would be out for the rest of the year. By the time you are reading this, some limited flights might already be working. The La Paz Airport is already open.

 

La Paz is 95% back on the grid. Most of the city is cleaning up and back to normal but dealing with the huge influx of refugees. Cabo is 15% on the grid. Some hotels are actually back in business if somewhat limited.

 

Cell phones were not supposed to work for a month. They were back online in about a week.

But, it’s not over yet. Far from it. Odile’s “ordeal” continues on so many levels.

Many of those who had the least, lost the most. Or everything. The poorer areas, if not destroyed, have not been high on the list to restore services.  It’s alot more than “my vacation got screwed” or “I never got to catch a fish”  or  “I went two days without a hot shower.”

Much more…

 

Many still have no water. Electricity is a flashlight at best. Or a candle. Food is scarce and many are in residences missing a roof…doors…windows…a wall. As one told me, “My family of 3 shares two buckets of water in the dark to wash, drink and cook.”

 

From others, “I have had no hot food in two weeks.  Several days there was no food.”

 

“We sleep in the doorway because there is no light.  By the doorway there is light from outside because we lost our doors.  It is also cooler. But now the mosquitos come.”

“Our barrio (neighborhood) has yet to see a repair truck or anyone.  They fix the tourist areas, but in two weeks we still have no electricity or water.  We are forgotten. ”

Many businesses will never recover. If it was tourist related, there’s no tourists. If the building got blown away, there’s no insurance. It doesn’t matter if your family ran it for 2 generations.   And there’s no “bailout” programs here in Mexico.

 

Odile shattered more than just some hotels and vacations. The most powerful storm ever to hit Baja indeed.

 

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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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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Making Lemonade Safely

storm coming 2

In a matter of minutes…here it comes! Out’ve a blue sky.

HURRICANE PARTY!

One way to handle it…

 

MAKING LEMONADE SAFELY

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 17, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

As I sit here writing on the 2nd story terrace of our Tailhunter Restaurant here in La Paz, it looks like a postcard.   The waters of the bay shimmer in the sunshine while I can see birds diving on a school of jacks near one of the buoys.

 

Sailboats and motoryachts drift on their moorings while a larger cruiser heads out. Palm fronds from the waterfront trees give a hint of the salty breeze blowing through siesta hour.   If I weren’t writing, I’d be like a few guys I see on the beach with their feet up under a shady palapa with cold ones in hand just watching the world go by.

 

Hard to believe that just a few days ago, Hurricane Norbert blew through here. Life returns quickly to normal once the sun comes back out. Conversely, everyone is now watching and talking about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Odile which has Baja in it’s crosshairs and might be hitting us as you’re reading this.

 

Actually, there’s two other storms (Tropical Depression 16-E and Invest 96E) which are yet un-named, but accompany Odile into our area. Sigh…can’t get a break! So, a trifecta might be in the making.

 

But that’s life in a tropical zone during an El Nino year! We expected them. By one count, these are the 14th or 15th storms of the year.   Most have fortunately glanced off and gone spinning into the Pacific with apologies to my family in Hawaii. (But Hawaii knows how to deal with rain! Baja is still working on it.)

 

Until Norbert last week the storms did some tremendous damage along Baja’s Pacific Coast. However, they really haven’t done much to Baja except rattle our collective tranquility.

 

Along with some heavy occasional downpours, street flooding and thundershowers , they remind us that Mother Nature still has a roar.   But, mostly, all we’ve had is roar.

 

And roaring is fine. To a point.

 

As long as it doesn’t screw with our vacations, right?

 

But, it happens sometimes. Baja is the “frontera” (frontier). It’s not some hermetically-sealed-Disneyland where everything is somehow controlled by someone behind a screen like the Wizard of Oz.

 

It’s beautiful and rustic and rugged. And in it’s own way, still dirty and dusty and raw. And when it rains or gets weather, it can get dirtier and muddier and wetter and uglier and yes, even dangerous.

 

So, what do you do if Mother Nature hangs one on you?   It’s not likely, but it CAN happen and co-incidentally, “hurricane season” just happens to be when the best fishing takes place.

 

You can watch the weather reports and, if you see something looming, take pre-cautions. Check with your outfitter and reservation people. Take out vacation insurance if it looks like you might not get refunded.

 

Don’t outright cancel your trip without first checking if the area you will be in will even be affected.   Baja is a big place. Mexico is a big place.   Weather patterns change rapidly. A storm affecting one area, might not even drop rain a few hundred miles away.

 

If you’re already on vacation, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing to be done. Storms can orginate from clear blue sunny skies in a matter of hours during certain times of the year.   No amount of foresight or weather scouting on your part could have predicated the onset.

 

If that happens, use some common sense.  Vacations are important, but nothing is more important than personal safety.

 

If your outfitter has to cancel a trip, so be it. See if there’s a refund or you can re-schedule.

 

Even if the outfitter or operator is NOT canceling the trip, ask if it’s going to be rough or even worth going out. Remember, it’s supposed to be safe and second, it’s supposed to be fun. This shouldn’t be an exercise in stamina and miserableness. Ask to re-schedule.

 

Some shady operators will send you out knowing full well it’s gonna be a boatride just to pocket the money. But, most aren’t like that. Especially, if you have the ability to re-schedule. They don’t want to be out there bouncing around either and happy satisfied clients are a priority.

 

If the hotel recommends you stay close or even indoors…by gosh…have a clue and don’t be running around outside when all heck is breaking loose.

 

I’m reminded of tourists I saw in the middle of a hurricane cavorting in the pool while bits of roof were spinning around like shrapnel in 80 mph winds. They were still laughing as 20-pound coconuts started dropping from coco trees like cannonballs around them. WHOOSH! WHOOSH! BOINK!

 

Another time, with thunderous bolts of electricity blasting La Paz Bay, I saw frustrated anglers still casting rods in horrendous wind and rai. They were trying to make-a-point to their amigos that they were “hardcore” fishermen. With every jag of lightning I expected nature to take aim at one of those “rods” and teach them something about “hardcore.” More like “burned-to-the-core!”

 

It’s pretty funny now, but back in the day, some other clients grabbed kayaks in the middle of the maelstrom and attempted to row around playing “kayak water polo” in a flooded parking lot where cars were submerged up to their windows.

 

Like the saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”

 

The point is, stay safe. Don’t tempt the powers, curse the devil or spit into the wind. So to speak.

 

From a secure vantage point, try to enjoy the adventure, as it were. Nature can be pretty amazing.  Put your feet up. Crack a cold one with your other stranded travelers.   There’s not much more you can do outdoors.

 

I’ve seen folks organize poker parties for others. One hotel set up a DVD and casino night in the lobby.   Another hotel sent out for pizza for everyone and kept the bar open 24 hours.

 

Another put giant trash bags and scissors out so people could make their own “rain panchos.” Snip three appropriate holes and you’re ready to go.

 

Bottom line. Make the best of a crazy situation that can’t be helped. Don’t blame your travel agent, outfitter or the weatherman. It is what it is.

 

People get hurt during these things but MOST of the time it’s because they were doing idiotic things like trying to swim in raging surf or crossing swollen arroyos with cars. Or getting hit by flying debris.

 

No one ever got hurt watching a storm while eating a taco and drinking a margarita indoors.

 

I’m shutting my laptop right now. Three hours ago when I started typing, it was sunny and hot!   Honest…the winds suddenly came up with dark clowds and it’s staring to rain…again! Where’s my trash bag pancho? I’m out!

 

(Within hours of this, Category 4 Hurricane Odile hit…)

That’s our 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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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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RAMPED DOWN EL NINO?

tromba-marina-la-paz-4

UH…yea! I think it’s time to crank up the lines and get the heck ou’tve the way! It only took minutes for the skies to darken and go from blue…to grey…to black and put down this incredible waterspout!

tromba-marina-la-paz- el sargento

They can come out’e nowhere in a matter of minutes. You can see the huge waterspout and the rain coming! Best to let it pass. It can be over in minutes.

RAMPED DOWN EL NINO?

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 5, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

At the mid-year mark of the calendar as well as the Baja fishing season, maybe it’s time to take another look at the El Nino phenom we may…or may not be having.

 

At the onset of the season, many of us, me included, wrote about predications that this would be an El Nino season. In fact, scientists strongly suggested 2014 to possibly be one of the largest, if not the biggest one in recorded history.

 

In a nutshell, the El Nino event is characterized by abnormally higher water temperatures, higher rainfall (including hurricanes), higher air temperatures and humidity, and for us fishermen, big differences in the fishing season along the eastern side of the Pacific ocean. Basically, the western side of Mexico and the U.S. are affected.

 

Early in the season, it was looking pretty ominous. When so many of us down here in Baja and along the Mexican coast base our livlihoods on nature, the weather and the fishing, it’s hard to ignore the predictions.

 

According to the experts, all the signs were there for a whopper of an el Nino on it’s way. Understandably, it was with some trepidation that many of us kicked off our respective seasons.

 

Well, now several months into the season, an assessment of sorts can be made. Yes, the waters got really warm really fast. In many places they are higher than normal.   In fact, in some spots, it never cooled down from last year. The cold waters never materialized.

 

No doubt, it doesn’t take a meterolgist to tell you it surely seems a lot warmer and a lot more humid this year. Just walk outside. It blazes. The air is thick and heavy in the heat.

 

And the fish?

 

I think I can speak for a lot of us down here and a lot of folks who have visited. It’s really weird. It’s really crazy.

 

At the base…there’s very little live bait. That’s all I seem to hear folks talking about. Well, you see, when there’s an el Nino, the cooler waters from the deep carrying all the nutrients don’t make it up.

 

The nutrients bring the bait. No food. No bait. Or, the waters are so warm, the bait goes elsewhere…or dies.   It’s just part of the cycle.

 

If there’s no bait, that’s gonna eliminate a food source for the gamefish, not to mention make life a little difficult for sportfishermen. Certain species don’t show up…or they show up someplace different.

 

Like slow tuna in Mexico, but tuna show up in big numbers in California and strays of tuna, dorado and marlin make their way up as high as Washington state! Talk about getting lost!

 

But, now at the mid-way point, the pros are saying, maybe it’s NOT going to be a record-breaking el Nino. They are revising their predictions.    Yes, it’s here, but well…maybe it’s not the BIG one!

 

That’s good news and bad news.

 

Bad news…like all weather, El Nino is cyclical. It’s the way of the world so-to-speak.

 

Yes, it brings more rain, but that’s exactly what so many places need along the west coast continents to break extreme drought conditions. In fact, I saw where one meteorologist called it the “Great Wet Hope.” Lord knows rain is needed.

 

If it’s true that we’re not going to see the historical El Nino, I guess many of us can breathe a little easier knowing that the likelihood of hurricanes is diminished. However, truth be told, even ONE hurricane/ chubasco can be a deal breaker here in Mexico.

 

Mexico needs water as much, it not more than anyone. And it’s not for golf courses and swimming pools and watering lawns and washing cars. Just basic drinking water is in short supply as well as water for crops.

 

A little rain here and there or short burst in the afternoons are great. It’s perfect.

 

But even a good “tropical storm” of any intensity would be devastating in a country where drainage is a problem as well as basic construction. Arroyos become deadly rivers in minutes. Streets become lakes. Neighborhoods become isolated islands.   Mexico’s infrastructure doesn’t do well with rain.

 

A similar storm in the U.S. would generate some fender benders on the freeway. Surfers in Orange Co. would rush to catch “the gnarly break.” And the evening news would show someone trying to kayak down the concrete “Los Angeles River.”

 

Here… A realatively minor storm of moderate intensity in a few minutes can wipe someone out…destroy businesses…kill people.  Let alone screw up the fishing day.

So, if you’re coming down in the next few months, don’t alter your plans. But be prepared.   It might just rain.

 

If there’s something on the radar and the local port captains close the port or put out warnings, common sense dictates that you might be better served sitting by the pool with a cold one.   Don’t chance it.

 

Fishing is supposed to be fun. Safety first.   It’s not supposed to be an exercise in survival or miserableness or futility. Many of these “storms” are short-lived, but can be strong. We call them “toritos” (little bulls) that hit with the intensity of a hurricane.   In fact, these toritos can come up in minutes and there will never be a warning.

 

If that happens, by all means, clear the water. If you’re close enough to cover go wait it out. You can go back out later. If you’re that’s not an option, call it a day.

 

Two weeks ago, we had a waterspout come up that was the size of a city block and sounded like a freight train from several miles away.   You could see water gushing up off the ocean. It took a matter of minutes for that to form!

 

The other side of these storms is that it washes a lot of debris into the water. This includes mud, trash, and vegetation like trees and bushes.

 

Let it all settle and waters clear. Then look for the temperature and current breaks holding all this floating stuff. You’ll find some of the best fishing around these areas!

 

Just go with the flow. Be safe. Be prepared.

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 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: 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: 044-612-14-17863

.

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 »

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