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Posts Tagged ‘packing’

Tackle Packing & Juggling

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There’s a right way and a wrong way to pack for a fishing trip to Baja. And then, there’s EASIER ways to do it right!

 

“TACKLE PACKING & JUGGLING”

Originally Published the Week of Feb. 18, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

It’s an irritation, but something we’ve gotta learn to live with these days.  Like taking your shoes off at the airport.   Like having your expensive shampoo taken away at check-in.

I’m sure greater and bigger minds than ours have figured out why they are important aspects of airline travel these days.   We empty  and open our bags and pass our stinky shoes through the conveyer belt and do our little spin in the x-ray scanner.  Like the hokey-pokey.  That’s what it’s all about.

One thing for sure is that the days of free luggage are something we use with words like “back in the day” and “in the olden days.”   The more you bring, the more you’ll get charged.

It kinda makes you cry as you stand in your garage and you look at all your custom rods, reels, feathers, jigs and other toys.   You want to bring them ALL!

Almost 30 years ago, I remember my first trip flying to Baja.  I took 10 rods and reels  (two tubes); a tackle box that weighed about 50 pounds and almost 30 marlin lures (that my buddy had borrowed from WON editor Pat McDonell who didn’t know who I was at the time!).   Oh, and two 85-quart ice chests as well.  And this was for fishing in a panga for only 2 days!

Nowadays, you get one piece of luggage.  If you’re lucky.

Economy airlines charge for each piece of luggage.

Rod tubes are oversize.  Pay extra.  Cha-ching!

Reel bags too heavy.  Pay extra.  Cha-ching!

Ice chest…even with nothing in it.  Pay extra.  Cha-ching!

But, a man must do what a man must do and the fish are calling!  So, we just have to think from a different angle.  Consolidate and downsize.

Before purchasing your airline tickets, find out if the airlines has a special luggage allowance you can purchase.  Some airlines (Volaris comes to mind) allows you to pay a little extra up-front when you purchase your tickets online.

This allows you to bring more luggage and more weight for a fraction of the cost.  If you just walk up to the counter with all the extra weight, they charge BY THE POUND!

For example, we had some clients who purchased $200 round trip tickets to fish with us in La Paz.  We told them to purchase the extra luggage allowance.  They declined to do so.

When they flew back to the U.S. they had several very full ice chests.  It cost them almost $600 to fly the fish back.   OUCH!

For practical purposes, take a look at your own gear, if you’re planning to travel.

“Back in the day” multi-piece travel rods were junk.  Nowadays several very good manufacturers and a number of custom rod wrappers are making some super 2 and 3-piece travel rods in varying lengths and strengths.

Many of them come with handy cases and can literally be carried in the overheads or packed into suitcases.  They even make break-down trolling rods.

For reels, here’s my suggestion.  Pair it down to some essential reels.  Match your reels to what you’ll be fishing for.  You don’t need a bowling ball-heavy 5/0 wide reel if you’re going to be fishing inshore in 100 feet of water.  With the new aluminum reels and their horse-strong drags, you can use smaller/lighter reels to get the job done.  Even for trolling.

I would also suggest putting spectra on the reels then put 150 yards of mono top-shot on them.  That way if, for example, the 40-pound test mono isn’t working, all you have to do is change the top-shot to whatever line is the hot ticket for the bite.   You won’t need a separate reel for that.

For terminal gear, be practical.  If you’re only fishing 3 days, you don’t really need 500 hooks of all sizes.  You don’t need 20 throwing irons.  You don’t need 10 feathers of all colors.   If you can, contact your outfitter ahead of time and find out what’s really working.  Bring the essentials.

While you’re at it, pow-wow with your fishing partner.  Consider packing all your rods together.  In one tube.  Each of you doesn’t need to bring a whole set of lures, hooks and other essentials either.  You can both share and thereby cut down on weight and gear.

As for bringing the fish home,  if you’re like me, it always irritated me to pay to bring an empty ice chest down to Mexico.  Paying for air?  C’mon!

What I’ve been suggesting lately is using the newer soft-sided coolers that are airline rated heavy duty;  keeps things frozen for days; and can be folded and packed into your suitcase on the way down.

We’ve had one made by American Outdoors that has worked like a champ for about 5 seasons.   Another nice thing is that these weigh less than a traditional cooler.  Since most airlines limit you to 50 pounds on luggage,  you can get more actual frozen fish in a soft-cooler than a hard-sided cooler that weighs 8-20 pounds with wheels on them.

One last thing.  In the old days,  my buddies and I brought down one or two sets of shorts and t-shirts with us.  That was it.  Our motto was, “if you can’t wash it in the sink, don’t bring it.”  That was a great way to save room for more tackle.

Of course, that was in the days when my buddies and I were all bachelors.

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

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

What do you think?  It looks to me like Aiden's self-esteem is just fine!

Yes…I think we can bring this one home!

You Mean I Can Keep It?

Originally Published the Week of September 20, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

You Baja veterans should probably just web surf something else.  This might be old stuff to you.

But, often when you do something so long or something is “old hat” you forget that there’s still newbies out there who have valid questions about things that old Baja rats like us take for granted.

It’s a simple, but important issue.  I receive enough e-mails and phone calls asking if it’s OK to bring home fish.

Sometimes, my auto-response in my brain says, “Well..duh…that’s kinda dumb!  That’s like asking me if it’s OK to dip you chips in salsa!”

Of course, I can’t and would never say that because there are no such thing as dumb questions.  It’s a legitimate question and well-asked.   I mean, if you’re coming fishing in Baja, one would need to know if it’s OK to keep your catch.  Corollary to that, is it OK to bring some home!

But, I get asked about it enough as new folks are discovering Baja that I figured it was time to do another column about it and update my thoughts.

The question used to surprise me more.  But, having been in the industry now for almost 2 decades, us west-coast anglers might be surprised to learn that  there are many world-class fishing destinations that severely limit what you can keep.

Pay several thousand dollars a day and you get to keep say…one fish!  Or, you must release all fish.   Yes, it’s true!   For most of us who have fished the Baja since the age-of-dirt,  we pretty much always assume that as long as we’re within limits, everything hooked is coming home.

There may come a day when severe limits will be enforced, but that’s the subject of another column and someone with a lot bigger brain and bigger column than mine.

For now, the simple answer is yes, you may bring home your fish that you catch here in Baja.   As long as you’re within limits, by all means, bring some home.  Or have some cooked up while you’re still on vacation.  Nothing will taste better than fresh caught fish that was swimming around earlier that day!

Bringing fish home starts with taking care of the catch.  Treat it well and you’ll preserve the quality.

Once the fish is caught, if you can, have your captain or deckhand bleed it.  That’s not always possible when the action is fast-and-furious and lines are flying and it’s a three-ringed-water-circus out there.  However,  bled-fish…even lower-grade meat fish like bonito or skipjack will taste world’s better if it’s freshly bled.

Maybe the most important thing whether it’s bled or not is to keep it cold.  Warm water fish are…well…they’re warm!  As soon as they’re dead, like anything, they start to deteriorate.   And the hot Baja sun is not a friend to your future dinner!  Leaving a fish on the deck or even in a fish box without ice is pretty much like putting the fish in the oven.

So, at all levels from catch-to-stove or barbecue…keep your fish cold.  Ice is your buddy.   It’s a good question to ask when you book your trip if there’s ice aboard to keep your fish chilled.

After that, you need to store your fish while you’re still on vacation.

I see two cardinal sins all the time.  One is rinsing your fish in fresh water.  Or, even soaking it in fresh water.  That takes out all the flavor.  Secondly, the fresh water gets in and then freezes and now your have fresh water crystals in your fish which detracts from the quality and flavor.

Additionally, I often see people rinsing their fish in warm or tepid water.  Especially in Baja!  Water coming from pipes here is often very warm…or hot!  Amigo…not only is it fresh water, but moreso, you’re cooking your fish in the warm water.  If you have to use fresh water, make sure it’s cool water!    Ideally, clean saltwater is best.

The ideal method is to have your fish vacuum sealed.  It’s worth it!  Nothing is worse than beautiful fish fillets in a big giant frozen ball in your freezer.  You take it out and it’s either freezer burned or you now have a 10-pound ball of thawed fish.  And you really only need two fillets for dinner!  The rest get wasted.  Or the cats get it.

Vacuum sealing is the difference between fish that lasts a few weeks or fish that can last many months in your freezer so that your dorado caught in June tastes great in December!

If you can’t vacuum seal it, at least put it in good quality zip-lock style freezer bags.   Only put in what you’re planning to thaw for a meal.

An old Mexico trick is to put fillets in the freezer bag then lowering the bag into a bucket or sink of water.  The water forces the air out and then press the seal.  You get instant Mexican vacuum sealing!

Lastly, it’s really important to keep your fish in a good place while you enjoy the rest of your vacation.  As crazy as it sounds, we often encounter folks here who book their hotels and either do NOT have freezer or do not allow fishermen to store their catch.   That’s gonna be a buzz-kill.

Others, simply put, have crappy freezers that aren’t worth a hoot.   So, check on that.  The places that cater to fishermen or have a reputation for good fishing also have good storage facilities.  Or, if you’re booking through a charter operation, ask them about storing your fish in freezers.

Remember, that warm fish often takes awhile to freeze.  Or the freezers at a given hotel get a load of fish every night from all the anglers.  In even the best freezers it sometimes takes 24-hours to get solid.

If you’re leaving the next day, that could seem like a problem.  It’s not.  Put your least frozen fish on the bottom of your cooler.  Put your most frozen fish on the top (cold travels down).  Add extra insulation with crushed crumpled newspaper or your dirty fishing clothes and your fish will be fine!

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: Box 1149, Alpine CA  91903-1149

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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