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Posts Tagged ‘salt water’

“CALL OF DUTY SURPRISE”

whaleswdennis 311

 

CALL of DUTY SURPRISE

Originally published the week of Jan. 22, 2015 in Western Outdoor News

There are certain things you do in any job that get tagged “Grin and Bear It.” They are the things you MUST do because it’s part of the job and, as much as you’d rather be elsewhere, you at least have to look like you’re enjoying yourself.

 

Whether you’re a big-time executive…a parent…drive a truck…fly rocket ships, etc., there are those parts of your week that can’t be avoided.

 

Like having to get dressed up to go to a relative’s house for a holiday and “make nice” when you really want to just sit on the couch in your own home and your saggy sweats and watch the big football game.

 

In our business, we label them C.O.D. Days…”Call of duty.”

 

For that that could mean waiting up past midnight for clients that have a delayed flight that doesn’t come in until after midnight.

 

Or hunting around at the last minute for (a) sunscreen (b) hat (c) fishing license (d) cell phone (e) all of the above. Because the client (a) lost (b) forgot (c) never had the thing in the first place.

 

Y’know. Stuff like that. A “Call of Duty” event.

 

It was like that the first time I got tabbed to go whale watching. I knew it was a cool event but one of our other guides had a family emergency and, at the time, I was low man. You know what they say about things flowing downhill.

 

It was going to be all day. I didn’t think it would be that eventful. I wasn’t looking forward to driving 3 hours from La Paz to Bahia Magdalena and 3 hours back. Having to make small talk all day.   And, I had seen whales before elsewhere. No big whoop-dee-doo.

 

As it turned out, it was me that was the doofus. It turned out to be almost a life-changing event.

 

The clients were pleasant, lively, conversational and fun! That always helps on a fun drive through the dessert to Bahia Magdalena that starts in the dark at 6 a.m.

 

The drive takes 3 hours, but there’s a great stop for a huge Mexican breakfast of huevos rancheros with chunks of grilled beef, fresh tortillas, toast, chilaquiles (breakfast nachos) fresh juice and hot coffee to kick off the day.   Any other day, I’d have wanted to take a siesta after a breakfast like that.

 

When we arrived at the Bay, I was surprised how many people were there. Families…tour groups…school kids…It was quite an enterprise. I bit like a Disneyland atmosphere rife with excitement and anticipation and groups lined up then boarded pangas to head out onto the bay.

 

It was quite an amusing production line! Boats came back and unloaded one group and another group would board.

 

Given how much each person paid to go out and with 6-10 persons in each panga, these panga captains were doing banner business. Good for them. Most were hard-scrabble commercial captains and the income for the three months of whale watching season from January to March is welcome.

 

It’s amazing how things have changed. Several centuries ago, grey whales were almost hunted to extinction. But, as with so many things, if you can label it “eco tourism” and make a living at it, the winds of capitalism blow favorably.

 

Again, good for them. Win-win for all!   Especially the whales!

 

From where we were on the land, the bay is extremely narrow and occasionally, whales could be seen breaching not far away as folks oo’d and ahh’d from the beach and pointed.

 

We boarded our own panga with about ½ a dozen other folks. Having been on other whale watch tours before, I hoped we would MAYBE see one or two and go off chasing them around with everyone trying to get a glimpsing or photos.

 

Not this time!

 

Within minutes we were in the calm waters of the bay having our first “interaction.” A mom and her calf.   The mom stayed about 20 yards off our starboard but the calf…all 15 feet of it…seemed curious.

 

Our captain suggested we all splash our hands in the water. Little by little, the baby got closer . Until…it was right next to the boat.

 

Eager hands reached out to touch the “little guy.” It seemed eager itself and seemed to enjoy being petted. Cameras whirled and clicked. Video cameras jockeyed for position.   People laughed and smiled.

 

I did the same. For a brief moment, it’s eye came out and looked at us and I reached out and gave it a rub! I pulled back laughing as if doing something I wasn’t supposed to do. Like getting caught with the cookies.

 

And everyone laughed.   And it seemed to wink then moved along the side of the panga as if asking everyone to “rub me more.”

 

It blew a misty flume of water that showered everyone and had everyone ducking with laughter and covering their cameras. And the baby moved away under mom’s wing. “That’s enough playtime with the funny creatures in the boat, Junior.”

 

That day, I think I counted more than 40 whales. I would touch at least 4 or 5 and most whales were within a few yards of us all day.

 

One would leave and two would pop up. We’d see others glide beneath us or others spy-hopping (holding vertically in the water to see what’s going on!).

 

It turned out to be an amazing day.

 

After a few hours we returned to shore to a huge shrimp and lobster lunch that again had me wishing for a hammock siesta, but the long drive back kept me smiling. The clients were passed out behind me asleep.

 

The whales are here in Baja until mid-March or so. It’s the longest migration of any animal on earth as they come from the Bering Sea each year to the calm lagoons of Baja to give birth and mate.   Give it a try!

 

That’s our story!

Jonathan signature

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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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BILLFISH 101

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BILLFISH 101

Originally Published the Week of Sept. 2, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

There are probably few places in the world where you have a better chance of hooking that billfish you’ve always wanted than the waters in the lower Sea of Cortez and the southern Baja Peninsula.

 

These “glamour” fish include both sailfish and marlin which are drawn to these waters by a number of variables. The landmass itself drops off quickly into deep water trenches that bring cool upwellings and nutrients from the abyss. These, in turn are the food source for the baitfish which attract all manners of gamefish to these waters.

 

Sitting at the apex of the foodchain the big billfish can attain sizes up to half-a-ton. At the lower end are the smaller sailfish. In ascending order (and size) come the striped marlin, black marlin and then blue marlin as the largest of the hunters.

 

Not only do they feed on the small baitfish like sardines, caballitos, jacks, mackerel and others. But, they feed in the middle of the food column as well regularly dining on the other predators such as tuna, bonito, dorado and other bluewater species. Basically, if it can fit in it’s mouth, it’s a possible meal.

 

So, if marlin are on your bucket list, like anything else, it’s all about “WWH” (WHEN? WHERE? HOW?).

 

Generally speaking, warmer months are better. But even then, that is not always the case. Every place is different.

 

Around Cabo, striped marlin have been known to “ball-up” in abundance just off the Pacific Coast between Bahia Magdalena and Cabo San Lucas. This takes place from November to January.

 

It’s a bit of a run from Cabo and it can be rough because it’s winter, but you can also catch a boat from several spots around Bahia Magdalena, but not many. Most anglers run up from Cabo.

 

It’s a long run, but the fishing can be incredible. It is not unheard of to hook and release dozens of marlin PER DAY! Again, food is the key. The marlin are there feeding on the huge schools of mackerel.

 

As the year ends, the stripers start to migrate south and around the tip of Baja and with each proceeding month start to move further and further north up into the Sea of Cortez.

 

So, while Cabo can see marlin year-round, the East Cape, La Paz, and to a lesser degree Loreto and cities north will see the billfish from spring to fall. But, not much in the cooler months.

 

So, pick your times carefully. Summer and fall are predominately the best opportunities to get into billfish in all areas.   Also waters are warm and seas tend to be calmer.

 

As for location…

 

To that end, generally speaking, the further south you go, the better. Although billfish can be caught in a multitude of spots in Southern Baja, you have a better shot at them in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and East Cape (Los Barriles and that area) than say Mulege or Santa Rosalia, although billfish are not out’ve the question in those great areas.

 

(No disrespect for northern areas which have their own spectacular fishing and their own particular claims to angling fame and shots at species not usually seen in some of the southern cities, e.g. yellowtail!)

 

Regarding fishing methods, there are a number of ways.

 

Be prepared to cover some water. So, a larger, faster boat might be preferred since these are rangy fish always looking for sources of food and capable of moving great distances very quickly.

 

Since you want to cover some water, trolling lures has been effective world-wide, especially, if you’re trying to locate fish.   If you’re in an area such as the East Cape or Cabo where the fish can be quite far, then a cruiser would surely be more comfortable, especially in Cabo which faces the open ocean.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you ALWAYS need a cruiser. Areas such as Loreto and La Paz do very well catching billfish using pangas insofar as fish are much closer to shore and the areas are less subject to big waves and rough seas.

 

Another method is to slow troll larger live or dead baits such as smaller bonito, larger mackerel and even small tuna properly rigged and dragged behind the boats.   There’s an old rule about “big fis-big baits” and you’ll be surprised how a huge bait that seems impossible to eat suddenly entices a big billfish to bite it!

 

One of my favorite methods is to simply troll a lure or dead bait behind the boat that has no hooks. This is a “teaser” method and requires that someone always keep an eye on the troll lines.

 

When a big billfish comes slashing at the teaser, another lighter rig with a live bait is then cast to the billfish. The live bait has a hook in it and the billfish will break off from the teaser and jump on the live bait.   Battling a big marlin or sail on this lighter live bait tackle can be incredible sport!

 

This same casting method can be used on a “sight-fish.” Basically, keeping a sharp eye on the water until a billfish is seen on the surface. Using some bit of stealth and a steady hand on the wheel, the boat is maneuvered so that a live bait can be properly cast directly in front of the fish…hopefully resulting in a big hookup!

 

Whatever you do, consider “CPR…Catch Photo Release” before you go fishing. Decide that you are going to release your billfish BEFORE you’re in the heat of battle. No matter what your captain tells you. Let him know that you plan to release your billfish and that his tips are NOT dependent on him killing the fish.

 

Try to keep the fish in the water to release it. Bringing the fish aboard not only damages the slime protection on it’s skin, but without the negative buoyancy of the water, internal organs can also be damaged by hauling it into the boat no matter how well intended.

 

Get as good a photos as possible then release it. All the best taxidermists now do fiberglass mounts that are incredible. All they need are a good photo or, in many case, not even that. All they need is an estimation of size to make that perfect keepsake trophy for your den!

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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LESS IS MORE…or MORE THAN ENOUGH?

So so so many toys!  But we can only fish with one-at-a-time!

So so so many toys! But we can only fish with one-at-a-time!

LESS IS MORE…OR MORE THAN ENOUGH?

Originally Published the Week of Aug. 20th, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

It was almost comical and I didn’t want to say anything. After all, they were our fishing clients.   But it took 4 of us to load all their fishing gear on the panga. It reminded me of an Everest expedition where the intrepid explorers are followed by a line of sherpas.

 

Artic ice chest…spinning rods…fly rods…bass rods…conventional rods…three jumbo tackle boxes…video camera case…Gopro camera water proof case…underwater extension rods…special seat cushions that had beer holders in them…even “catch flags” they planned to fly from rods for when they returned to shore.

 

Ahhh…God bless ‘em.

 

They were so excited. First time Baja fishermen. They were like little kids. It was like Christmas. They had a list of all the species they planned to catch. They had a GPS pre-programmed with all the “hot spots” they had read about. They had waterproof maps and fish i.d. charts.

 

So much enthusiasm. Between my captains, deckhands, drivers and other fishermen, it was hard to suppress the chuckles.   I really wanted to say something. But what could I say?   They had all the toys and they planned to use them.

 

They took to heart the saying, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. “

 

Here’s the rub…I was supposed to go out on the panga that day with them. I rolled my eyes.

 

My captain had to leap over all the gear to get to the tiller on the motor. There was barely any room to sit. I squeezed on top of an ice chest as we headed out. This was gonna be interesting, but I was grinning. Whatever. Let’s go fishing, guys!

 

With all the rods jutting out, we looked like a CIA boat bedecked with prickly porcupine radar antennas as we zoomed to the fishing grounds.   I counted…1, 2, 3…8…11…15…19…20…26 rods! Custom wrapped. The latest hi-tech reels. Spooled full of shiny new line.

 

When we got to the spot, it got a little awkward.

 

Do remember watching your kids at Christmas barrel into the goodies under the tree? Ripping and shredding and laughing…oh the carnage! Oh the humanity!

 

Well, the gear boxes opened and out came hooks and lures and feathers of all shapes and sizes. Leaders and gadgets and wires and do-dads and thing-a-ma-jigs and watcha-ma-callits and chingaderas came pouring out. ! Many still in their wrappers.

 

All organized. Color-coded. Size-coded. Species evaluated. Things for tuna. Things for dorado. Things for dorado AND tuna. Things for wahoo. Need a purple pink speckled marlin lure? Got it! Surface lures…bottom lures…mid-water lures. Everything had a pouch or pocket. Everything in it’s place!

 

I’ve done plenty of long range trips for 12 and 14 days where I didn’t have this much stuff. We were only going a mile offshore for a few hours. Fishing 2 days total!

 

And stuff for their belts…pliers, dikes, hook disgorgers, hook pouches, sunscreen holders.

 

My gosh, they must have accumulated enough points on their Cabela a dn Bass Pro visa cards to fly around the world!

 

And just like kids oooh-ing and ahhh-ing…each guy was as eager to show off his “toys” to me and the captain.   Simultaneously, he was in showing them to his fishing buddy and also seeing what his buddy had brought along.   Like opening two picnic baskets at the church luncheon!

 

I just stood back. Tried to look really really realy gosh darn excited! I mean, I hate to discourage or curb anyone’s enthusiasm. So, I smiled and gritted my teeth.

 

“Wow…that’s uh… really great you found one of those lures.”

“You got 4 of them in each color?”

“You bought 100 hooks of each size too? No way!”

 

But, we were burning daylight. I could tell on the radio that some of our pangas were already into fish.

 

There was stuff scattered all over the decks!

 

I finally said, “Guys, time’s-a-wasting. Let’s get fishing.”

 

They looked at me. They looked at the captain like eager kids. The captain shrugged his shoulders and dropped a bomb.

 

“Tie on a hook. We will fish with bait.”

 

Silence. They looked at me. I looked at them.

 

I said, “Yup…bait’s working. No leader. Let’s just tie on hooks. Maybe later we’ll get to use some of that great gear you brought.”

 

They looked at each other and I could sense the puzzlement and disappointment from their quizzical looks.

 

“C’mon, guys, “ I tried to say gently with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. “The fish are biting so let’s get in on it. Get out some hooks and stow the rest of the gear for now so we don’t miss the bite.”

 

While they stashed all their stuff, the captain and I tied on hooks for them to save time. I didn’t want to look them in the eyes. I felt like I had taken away their toys. Or had told them there is no Easter Bunny.

 

But, the fish bit. The sun came out. The water was blue. And the fish bit again. And the icy beer and lunches always taste double-good outdoors on the water.

 

There was a point later in the day when their fish box was filling and the fish were swarming and I asked if they’d like to try out some of their fancy gear. But, they laughed and were too busy hooked up to want to change.

 

The whole day, they ended up using one rod each. And maybe half-a-dozen hooks. And were happy. Beyond happy.

 

As one of the guys laughingly said to me headed back, “Somehow, I still have to explain to my wife why I needed to buy all this gear.”

 

His buddy said, “I once asked my wife why she needed so many shoes.”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“Because I say so, Dear. Because I say so…”

 

“I don’t think that will work on my wife.”

 

We all laughed.

 

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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ENSO-states-viz_0

Equatorial tropical waters getting warmer and might be the vanguard of a super el nino on the way.

 

SUPER BABY ON THE WAY?

Originally published the Week of April 15, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

I waited for awhile to write something about this. I’m no expert and even the experts had differing opinions. But, the more I read and the more I see reported from fishing around here and in other areas of Mexico, I guess it better be addressed.

 

Plus, everyone is asking me as well.

 

Things are looking like we might have an “El Nino” on the way. In fact, it might be a Baby-Huey-sized “Super Nino,” if things continue to shape up.

 

Everyone talks about it but few understand what it is and what really happens. Mostly, absent all the scientific-speak, most of us just want to know how that’s going to affect the fishing, right?

 

Originally, it was recognized by fishermen in South America when anomalies in the water temperatures started showing up around Christmas time. Hence, “El Nino” means the “little boy” or Christ child.

 

According to the folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), in a normal year (whatever that is) trade winds blow westerly across the Pacific.   That means waters around Indonesia are warmer and as much as a half-meter higher than say, Ecuador.

 

In an El Nino year, it’s just the opposite.

 

For those of us geographically challenged, that means the Eastern Pacific, including the western U.S. and Mexico, get much warmer water temperatures. Among other things.

 

Whether that’s good or bad depends on your perspective.

 

On the bad side, it dries out places like Australia and can lead to heavy brushfires. On our side of the Pacific, rain follows the warmth. Accordingly, the likelihood liklihood of hurricanes and destructive rainstorms increases as do heatwaves in the same areas.

 

For those in drought-stricken western U.S. states, I guess you have to watch what you ask for.

 

But, what does this mean for fishing, besides maybe some having to break out the rain ponchos?

 

In real terms, the warmer water usually means the presence of warm water fish, much to the thrill of anglers in the western U.S. In past years, this meant “exotic” fish like marlin and dorado showing up occasionally in Seattle catches.

 

It means that California anglers, especially those in Southern California might not have to venture to Mexico to catch these same species. Weekend warriors on half-day boats could be taking home dorado fillets!

 

For us in Baja, we’re still wondering.

 

There’s no doubt that we’ve been experiencing much warmer than normal waters.   Since last season here in La Paz, water temperatures never did drop that much near the end of the season. To wit, we never really had “winter fishing” per se.

 

In fact, as in many places around Baja, the warm water species, like dorado and tuna stuck around or showed up much earlier than normal.   Here in La Paz, we encountered water surface temperatures into the 80’s several months earlier than normal.

 

Great for swimming. But, in terms of how this will affect the fishing season, vamos a ver…we’ll have to see.

 

Here’s the rub with el Nino.

 

With the warmer waters, the nutrient-rich cooler waters that come up from the deep-water upwellings don’t show up either Those nutrients support the bait stocks. Bait dies or moves off. That doesn’t bode well.

 

One other issue.

 

The science folks speculate that this might be the “big baby”…the super nino! The last big El Ninos was the one that bridged the 1982-1983 and the 1997-98 seasons.   With the latter being the strongest recorded.

 

This April, water temperature increases along the equatorial Pacific are already even higher than those previous El Nino years. So, this could be a record-buster if it happens.

 

So, brace yourself one way or the other.   Nothing is completely definitive at the moment, but all signs are pointing that way. Me? I’m still going fishing! It still beats working.

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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“Just Ask”

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“JUST ASK”

Originally Published the Week of April 3, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

The pangas had all returned to the beach with happy fishermen.  Fish had been cleaned and were either getting icy in the hotel freezers or were in the kitchens getting prepped for the grill and tonite’s dinner.

 

Most of the guys had headed to their rooms for siestas and shower.

 

Others, had dragged themselves directly to the pool and the margarita bar foregoing the showers…and the siestas. But, I knew that for most, one drink and they’d be passed out contentedly in a lounge chair…dreaming of the fish they caught and the ones that got away.

 

I was already in the office, putting away gear and breaking down the days’ events.   I had to get ready for another group of anglers coming in that evening on the next flight.

 

I brisk knock on the office door turned out to be one of the dad’s who had been fishing that day.

 

“Jonathan, I can’t find my son, Joey.  He helped me carry gear back to the room and I went in to take a quick shower before dinner. I came out and can’t find him anywhere. I hate to be a bother. But, I looked everywhere.”

 

I told him not to worry. Ten-year-olds don’t usually stray too far and many of the other anglers knew or were familiar with the youngster.

 

We checked the restaurant and the pool.  We hit the Jacuzzi. We walked to the kid’s playground. We asked a number of other anglers. No one had seen Joey.

 

“Let’s walk back to the beach,” I suggested to dad.  And we took a short little hike to the little cove next to the hotel where our pangas drop off the anglers.

Sure enough, there was Joey sitting in the panga with our Captain Lorenzo.  We could see both of them had their heads down and were concentrating on something.

 

As we got closer, Dad said, “Joey, we’ve been looking all over for you.  What are you doing here with Lorenzo?

 

Both the captains and Joey looked up with big smiles.  Joey held up a hook and some line!

 

“I came walking back to the beach and found my friend, Lorenzo.  And I asked him to show me how to tie a fishing knot! Look dad!”

 

He held up the hook and proudly showed off his knot.

 

“I did this one all by myself!”

 

“Wow!,” said dad with raised eyebrows.  “Even I don’t know how to tie a fishing knot.”

 

Captain Lorenzo looked just as pleased.

 

In broken “Span-glish” he explained that Joey had just walked up and asked how to tie a knot. It reminded him of his own boys and how he had shown them many years ago how to tie a fishing knot.

 

“They are grown men now, but I remember those good days,” he said wistfully.

 

“You are lucky to fish with your father,” he said to young Joey.

 

“Captain Lorenzo, will you show me how to tie a knot also?” asked dad.

 

Claro que si…of course, mi amigo.  Es un placer…it is a pleasure!” replied the Captain.  “Here take a hook and some line…”

 

And with that, I backed away smiling down the beach.  The lost had been found.  And perhaps some other things had been found along the way.

 

An hour later, I went back down to the beach and half-a-dozen guys were surrounding the panga, all intently learning to tie knots.  Captain Lorenzo and Joey were “holding court.”

 

One thing I learned long ago was one of the fastest way to get a “group session” going was to tie a knot in front of a bunch of fishermen.

 

Whether it’s a “San Diego jam,” a “Palomar”, an “Albright special”, a “Cat’s Paw”…whatever-you-want-to-name-it…tie a knot.

 

And someone will say “Hey, can you show me that again?”  Or, “But, I tie it differently, like this…”

 

And there you go! Instant…constructive debate discussion and discovery!

 

It also occurred to me that one of the least utilized sources of fishing education are the Mexican captains and deckhands who take us all out fishing.

 

These guys fish more days in a year than most sportfishermen and women will fish in our lives. Most of them started as commercial fishermen and have been doing nothing else their entire lives.

 

You get pretty good when catching a fish puts food on the table and buys clothes for the family. Often, without all the fancy technology available to the rest of us, they have to be better than the fish as well as their competitor captains and crews.  Proudly so.

 

I talked to Captain Lorenzo a few days after the knot-tying beach party.

 

“Everyday, there are new gringo clients. And they all want to catch fish. They come.  They go.”

 

“To many, I am just the Mexican captain and the guide.  And that is fine. We have a good time and I have been doing this more than 40 years and I am proud of what I do.”

 

“But, sometimes the clients get angry because they want to do everything.  That is fine too.  But, then I watch them and they have many problems.   And they get angry and do not catch fish.  Angry clients are not happy.”

 

“It is OK if they know how to fish, but many make mistakes.  And they do not want help.”

 

“I wish they would ask. I like it.  I am happy to teach. Then everyone has a good time.”

 

“No one ever asks.” He said with a shrug.  “Except one little boy.”

 

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: 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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“But Will They Eat a Yo-Yo Jig?

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YELLOWTAIL FARMING?

BUT WILL THEY EAT A YO-YO JIG?

Originally Published the Week of March 20, 2014 in Western Outdoor News

While at the Long Beach Fred Hall Fishing Show a few weeks ago, I was directed to an interesting article by a friend who is a commercial fisherman and sportfisherman.  The title kinda piqued my interest:

“NEW FARMED YELLOWTAIL HITS U.S. MARKET”

According to the article published in Seafood Source.com on March 7, 2014 (http://www.seafoodsource.com/en/news/aquaculture/25678-new-farmed-yellowtail-hits-us-market),  these forkies are being formed right in Baja out’ve Bahia Magdalena.  Yes, real yellowtail ranches!

Here’s the article:

“California-based seafood distributor Catalina Offshore Products, and Baja Seas have partnered to bring a new farmed yellowtail to the U.S. market.

Baja Seas will officially introduce its Baja farmed yellowtail, also known as Baja hiramasa, at Seafood Expo North America in Boston on 16 to 18 March. Catalina Offshore Products has been test marketing the fish and it has already appeared on menus in from San Diego and Chicago.

The original stock was bred for Baja Seas from fingerlings produced at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. The fingerlings were transferred to Baja Seas’ grow out facility on Bahia Magdalena, a bay in southern Baja California. Future seed will be sourced from Baja Seas’ own hatchery, Ocean Baja Labs.

Baja Seas uses Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) to create a small water footprint by diminishing pollution and disease; fish are fed sustainable protein- and omega-rich meal derived from sardines in a low Fish In-Fish Out (FIFO) ratio; the fish are raised without antibiotics or paraciticides; and semi-automated feeders and feed cameras prevent overfeeding.

“With consumers demanding more seafood and pressures on wild harvests increasing, we believe aquaculture is the one true sustainable model,” said Luis Astiazarán, Baja Seas’ director general. “Because of their growth rate when compared to other species, marine finfish are the future of aquaculture.”

“The debut of this Baja hiramasa is very exciting for us as it marks a major milestone for Mexico and for the U.S.,” said Dave Rudie, Catalina Offshore CEO. “It is not only a great, local alternative to Japanese or Hawaiian yellowtail, its presence in the domestic market will increase people’s access to a highly valued food source while decreasing pressure on our wild populations.”

It sounds like a good deal.  I like eating yellowtail.  I like catching yellowtail.  I don’t know about the taste, but I have a feeling that the wild fresh stuff is gonna taste a lot better.   I know wild salmon blows away farmed salmon.

But, I’m pickier than most because I grew up on Pacific coast fish.  But, most folks I know wouldn’t know the difference.

I doubt that 90% of those ordering yellowtail in say, Red Lobster in the mid-west, would know the difference between wild or farmed yellowtail either.  It’s probably going to taste just dandy to them.

Just like my friends from Montana and Idaho and Wyoming who are hunters.  They can tell the difference between wild elk and ranch-raised elk meat.  To me, it’s just good eating!

However, if there’s a viable way to take the pressure off the wild stocks so us sportsfishers can still throw an iron or dropper loop a bait yet help meet the demand of the market, I’m all for it.  Win-win!

I’m especially interested in the aspect of this “farmed” yellowtail (no pun intended) if they’re raised with a small ecological footprint.  Not using additives and anti-biotics in their food means the “fish poo” (excuse my Spanish), isn’t polluting the water.

That has been an issue in other aquaculture situations.  Especially, since fish eat a tremendous amount of food to grow.  What goes in…has to come out!

Additionally, if they’ve found a new way to feed these fish and NOT deplete the local bait situation, that’s a major plus for anglers.  No bait…no fish!  No fish…no fishing!

I talked to an amigo of mine, Scott McKenzie, Director of Quality Assurance at the huge American Seafoods in Seattle WA.  Scott is also an avid Baja angler.

Here’s his take:

“The vast majority of Yellowtail consumed globally is farmed. Most of the farmed yellowtail comes out of Japan, with some small production in Australia and New Zealand. From what I’ve heard it is typically a 5:1  feed fish, meaning 5 lbs. of feed to return 1lb of  fish weight. Not the most ideal species to farm with regard to feed conversion rates as those are typically down around 3:1, some are even down close to 1:1 these days.

One of the unsavory part of a lot of these farmed fish operations is they are often using low trophic species as the feed (sardines, mackerel, menhaden, anchoveta,…). The feed coming out of global fisheries that are nothing more than rendering fisheries ( primary products being fish oil, meal) rather than a by-product of a food fishery. In a nut shell, the ocean gets stripped of bait fish to be converted into feed for a farmed fish somewhere around the world.

The amount of antibiotics and crap that can go into them I will leave for another day…

Sad thing, most consumers get all warm and fuzzy thinking they are making green decisions when they opt for a farmed fish to eat- in so many ways, it is more environmentally detrimental than the wild caught equal.”

The world is growing.  There’s more people to feed.  Yet,  we want a balance with our recreational activities.  Everyone has an interest and a stake in things.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I wonder if farm-raised yellowtail can be released into the wild?  I know they do it with salmon!

And, I for one, wouldn’t mind giving it a whirl on my dinner plate too!

That’s my story!

Jonathan

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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“SOMEONE TOOK THE TIME!”

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For all of us…our affinity for the outdoors had to start somewhere and with someone!

SOMEONE TOOK THE TIME!

Originally Published the Week of January 23, 2014, in Western Outdoor Publications

As I write this, I’m in a motel room in downtown Denver.  We just finished our first day at the Denver Convention Center for the International Sportsmans Expo.  It’s annual  the big fishing, hunting and outdoor show.

We have our booth here every year promoting our fishing operation in La Paz and there’s several hundred other booths here as well with operations ranging from Canada to South Africa and the Amazon River to South East Asia.

Last week we were in Sacramento at a similar show.  From here we zoom off down the highway to another show near Seattle.

And so it goes for 3 months of the year.  A different show in a different part of the  country every week.  This year, eleven cities.  Fifteen thousand miles of driving.   Talking to thousands of fishermen, hunters and travelers and outdoor folks.

In many respects, these shows are a gathering of tribes.  There’s  outfitters and fleet owners.. .guides and captains. . .mountain climbers and deep divers. . .hunters and gatherers.

They’re a unique blend of the last of the outdoor frontier people who make their livings at the whims of nature.  In some ways, the best of the best.  You have to be well-above the norm to make a go of taking others out on the mountains, plains, jungles, rivers and oceans of our vast planet.

I’ve been at it now some 20 years.  Others have been at it 30 and even 40 years and it takes a pretty special individual…some would even say nut or knucklehead to have lasted that long.

Many of us have known each other for many years and during these several months of shows, it’s good to re-connect.  Find out about each others’s seasons and families.  Who survived another season.  And who had to fold up their tents.

But, it’s great to see our Baja and Mexican compadres.  Yes, even our competitors.  There’s the folks from Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.  Our amigos from the East Cape, and Loreto, Ensenada and San Felipe.  Cedros Island and points obscure, but each in their own way ecking out a living south of the border.

But, I noticed something else.  We’re getting older.

The first generation of resort and fleet owners like the Chuy Valdez’s and the Bobby Van Wormers of the East Cape…Tony Reyes of the Tony Reyes Fleet…and so many others, have either passed on or have given way to the 2nd generation of owners.

And many of those operators themselves are getting longer of tooth as well.

And I don’t see too many to follow.   The next generation doesn’t seem to be there to fill in the ranks.

As a matter of fact, as I stand in my booth and watch the hundreds and even thousands of visitors pass by or stop to talk,  I see a lot of seniors.  I see a lot of older guys…guys like me.

I don’t see many below the age of thirty!

I don’t see many kids at these shows.  I don’t see many teens.  Often, if I see a family, it’s a dad with the family in tow.  Mom and the kids trail behind while dad gets to have a day to shop.

Mom and the kids honestly look like they’re rather be at the mall or anywhere rather than trailing dad, but they’re indulging him.  Just like so many dads wait patiently for wives and moms buying shoes or kids trying on clothes.

The kids themselves often have noses buried in smartphones and thumbs tapping away as they walk down the aisles.   They show little or no interest in the marlin trips; backpacking outfitters;  white water rafting adventures or scuba diving boats.

It’s too bad.

I would venture to say that almost all the the vendors working in their booths and most of the visitors walking the aisles.share a commonality.  They share the fact that somewhere back in the day, an adult showed them how to tie a hook…how to aim a gun…how to build a campfire…how to pitch a tent or ride a wave.

Simpler times.  Grand times.  The BEST of times!

That’s where it started.  With an adult.   A father, grandfather, uncle or brother.   Scout or church leader…even moms!  And we don’t have that anymore.   That commonality is gone among the youngsters.

Parents are too busy these days just trying to keep things together.  Or the facilities or open spaces you that were so easy for you and I as kids just aren’t there or as abundant…or as fun.  I’m talking about the beaches, boats, rivers, mountains and wilds that you and I just took for granted as kids.

Conversely, kids are different too.  You and I often played in the outdoors because that’s just what we did.  We didn’t have the distractions now of social media, cable TV, techno toys and so many other things that fill the lives of our kids.

If we weren’t already headed outdoors, Mom was kicking us out the door with a , “Go play outside and don’t come back until dinner time.  Stay outta the house!”

So, we grabbed our fishing rods, our skates, our hiking sticks, our bikes, our bb-guns our tennis shoes…and we went out and got dirty!  The outdoor world wasn’t the scary place it can be now.  We also didn’t have to travel across town to find quality places to play.  The outdoors was often right off the back porch.

It was what we knew.  It’s what made us.

If you have a chance, find out about one of these outdoor shows in your community.  Bring the family or the kids.  Do it TOGETHER. Take the time.  You only get once chance.

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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“Si Se Puede…You can do it!”

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Yea…this could be YOU up there! Or not…but it’s all about the fun!

“SI SE PUEDE…YOU CAN DO IT!”

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 30, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

Do you remember the days as a little kid when the Sears Christmas catalog arrived in the mail?

If you were like me, I squirreled it away.  I spent hours staring at it.  Page-after-page.  Dreaming. Longing. I would take it under the covers with my flashlight and make notes on it.  Santa, puh-LEEZE bring this… and this… and this!

Then, I got older.  And fishing magazines took over. I would save my allowance to buy “Field & Stream” and “Sports Afield” and among others.  Later, it was magazines like Western Outdoors.

Here were all the things I wanted.  And here were all the places I would visit and the fishing I was gonna do when I grew up.  Yea…that was me up there on a flying bridge with a jaunty sailor cap and some bikini gals aboard.  Being young,  I wasn’t quite sure what the bikini girls had to do with it.  But all the photos had bikini girls so I figured that it was important to have them if I was gonna do it right.

And I was surely gonna fish a “big game tournament.”  I wanted to be a fishing rock star.  I wanted to be under the lights and, of course, there’s those bikini girls that get to help you with the big check.  Yup…that was me.

And here I am…many decades later.  And yes, I’ve had the opportunity to fish and work many of these tournaments. I have caught some great fish.  I’ve enjoyed grand times with friends.  I have exceeded curfew more times than I will admit.

I never did get to be the fishing rock star.   I never got to stand under the lights and no one ever interviewed me about my big winnings let alone getting to pose with the bikini girls.

But, oh well.  I never got everything in the Sears catalog either!

But, I have always had a blast.   No regrets!

We’ve got our annual Western Outdoor News Tuna Jackpot coming up again.  And it always lives up to it’s slogan, “Fish Hard.  Party Harder.”

It’s in Cabo San Lucas and both Jill and I get to work the tournament every year and what an event it is with almost 140 teams from all over the world revved up to play.

We’re there for the whole week although the actual tournament is only a few days.  But the event brings out the whole town of Cabo San Lucas for the circus.  And, it draws so many lookie-loo tourists as well just out enjoying the day and walking the marina.

As we work the crowds, it’s hard not to easvesdrop and hear some of the conversations that take place among the bystanders as they watch the festivities…the big boats…the fish coming in to be weighed at the scales or the huge evening parties.   It’s an electric atmosphere when it’s “tournament week!”

“Someday, I gotta do that.”

“I can’t believe they catch big fish like that!”

“That fish is worth how much money?  Wow!”

“Man, that sure looks like fun.  We should try that sometime.”

There’s a lot of ooo-ing and ahhh-ing going through the crowds.

Y’know, it’s not that far outta reach to play with the big boys. It’s about dreams.   Lots of folks want to do it, but there’s a lot of hesitancy as well.

You’re worried that you don’t have much experience. Or the boat  Or the gear. And a dozen other reasons.   Or, logically, there’s the issue of money.  Especially as you watch guys in Tommy Bahama shirts and thousand-dollar sunglasses cruise by in multi-million dollar fishing-machines yachts.

Your logical mind tells you that you have no business even thinking about it!

Well, tell your logical mind to take a hike.

Most of the folks who fish these things are just ordinary Joes and Janes.  There’s tournaments to fit all budgets and tournaments to fit pretty much whatever gamefish you want to target…from billfish to tuna and yellowtail to sharks.  Heck, some of the biggest tournaments I’ve seen put together are for inshore fish like sierra and barracuda!

Sure, there’s pros and semi-pros in the lineup, but from what I’ve seen many of the folks have little or no experience at all.  They’re out there for the fun and honestly, they have as much chance of winning as anyone else.

And none of this has to break your mortgage payment either.  Entry fees for a team or individual can be just a few hundred bucks.  Get a cheap clean hotel and eat tacos and enjoy all the free banquets and you’ve got your ticket punched for a grand time.

And don’t let the size of the boats deter you either.  The big cruisers might be a bit more comfortable (understatement), but I’ve seen plenty of pangas and smaller cruisers do just fine and run circles around the larger mega yachts.

Some of the largest tournaments have been won by a couple of guys who had enough money to charter a panga for a few days.  They threw in a cooler full of beer and some sunscreen and just tore it up out there.

More important than the boat is a good skipper and/or crew.  If they know the waters, they’ll give you your best shot at doing well. I’ll take a great skipper and a so-so boat over a Gilligan and his mega-yacht.

And, that’s really what it’s about. Come play.  You can’t win and you can’t play if you’re on the outside looking in.  If you don’t wet a line, for sure you will never win.  Playing in a big game tournament is a lot like running away and joining the circus for a few days!  The most important thing to join in is just a desire to try it for once!

Hope to see you on the docks in Cabo for the tournament!  I’ll be working the scales so stop by and say hello.  Or better yet, I hope you bring me a winning fish to hoist up on the scales so the bikini girls can help you with that fat check!

Si se puede!  You can do it!

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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“Through the Looking Glass”

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The famous arch on the public pier in La Paz welcoming visitors to the “Port of Magic.”

“THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS”

Originally Published the Week of Oct. 15, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

Here in La Paz, we call the waterfront area, the Malecon.  It’s the Mexican equivalent of “fisherman’s wharf” in so many ocean-front areas in the U.S.  And, like it’s counterparts north of the border, the malecon is a hub of commercial and social activity.

Restaurants, stores, cantinas and tourist shops dot the area and cater to the numerous locals and tourists enjoying the mile-long stretch of beach and concrete boardwalk.

Smack dab in the middle is the city pier.  At the entrance to that pier is an arch proclaiming “Bienvenidos al Puerto de Illusion” (Welcome to the Port of Magic).

I never really gave it much thought.  Just another chamber-of-commerce slogan to welome tourists.  Yawn.  Lo que sea (whatever).   A bit like U.S. towns annointing themselves the “Cucumber Capital of the World” or “The Place Where Teddy Roosevelt Went to Middle School.”

And I live and work in the “Port of Magic.”  Right.  OK.

And for about 10 months of the year, we are myopically focused on running our fishing business and restaurant 24/7.  Boats in and out.  Clients and amigos coming and going.  Flights to catch and meet.  Luggage and fishing gear hauled and carried.  Fish to be packed and frozen.

We’re out’ve salsa.  The  pork ribs didn’t arrive. There’s a busted toilet.  The beer truck only brought half our order.  The drummer in the band is sick.  Two TV’s are don’t work and we have a full house for football games.

Did I just hear a bunch of glasses shatter? What do you mean we have no tortillas tonite?  Which panga just broke down?  Your buddy just heatstroked and needs a doctor?  No, I don’t know where you put your passport!  I don’t know why the bait is so small this year.   Yes, it’s OK to drink the water.

It’s crazy.  It’s hectic.  We’re little gerbils on a treadmill.  We love our lives and are immeasurably blessed.  But, after months with zero days off, we’re human.

We bump into walls.  We growl at each other.  Patience is thin. Sometimes our smiles aren’t as ready or as genuine as we would like.    How many times can I answer, “Where are the tuna?”  or “So, how come the captains don’t speak English?”

But every now and then the cosmos send down a message that gives us pause to remember where we are and what we really do.

It happened just this week.   Rick was on his 2nd trip in two years with us here at Tailhunters.  He’s a fireman.  He pulled me aside one evening at the restaurant.  He grabbed my hand in his big paw, shook it and gave me a big brotherly-bear hug.

“Hey man, I just want to thank you for having me here, “ he said sincerely.

“Oh sure, glad you’re having a good time!” I replied somewhat generically.  I was kind of in a hurry and didn’t really have a long time to chat.  The restaurant was filling up and I was expecting a big load of arrivals from the airport.  My anxiety was a little piqued.

“No, Jonathan, I really appreciate being here with you and Jill, “ he replied a bit quietly.  He wouldn’t let go of my hand.  “This place stitches my soul.”

Pause.  He looked at me eye-to-eye.  It slowed me down.  “Stitches my soul?”

“I’m a fireman.  I see a lot of things.  For a few days a year, being here in Baja helps put my soul back together.  For a few days on a boat and with my friends, it helps me make sense of things again.  When, I’m fishing my reality is simplified down to a bit of nylon string and a bit of bait.   Things start to make sense again.  It’s my happy place.  It helps me do what I do the rest of the year.  Thanks, man.”

With that, he gave me another bear hug  and let go of my hand.  He grinned and went upstairs to join the rest of his amigos already into their beers.

I stood there in my own moment.

Stiches my soul.  A place where things make sense again.  His happy space.

It’s good to remember that this isn’t just about how many fish you catch.  It’s not about “just a vacation.”

There’s often a bigger picture here.  I have to remind myself that we’re especially blessed to be part of it.   It’s indeed a magic place and a magic space through which we pass.  Vamos al Puerto de Illusion!  Find your happy place, amigos.

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: 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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“That’s How We Rolled”

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“That’s How We Rolled”      

Originally Published the Week of October 2, 2013 in Western Outdoor News

You can always tell when people think you’re a knucklehead.  Their voice goes up at the end of their sentence.   Try it.

“You’re going… SKYDIVING?”

“You ate …SUSHI?”

“You’re going to school in…THAT ?

“You went to Vegas and did… WHAT?”

And my favorite:

“You’re going to drive to…MEXICO?”

Followed by the leave-no-doubt-affirmation:

“Are you a knucklehead, or what?”

Love the, “Or what” part.

To true Baja rats, “driving the  Baja” evokes some great sensorial memories. Having taken the wheel several dozen times from border-to-tip and back, to me, the drives were truly an adventure back in the day.

Once you passed the border checkpoint, you could just feel that you had left everything unimportant behind.  Back there…back with freeways and office buildings…crowds and social vampires sucking out your essence.

Now you were in “the Baja.”

Cassettes or 8-track cartridges littered the  inside of the  truck.  Jackson Brown or the Eagles eased me down the highway and my dog cocked an eyebrow every time I hit a s sloppy high note.  Generally, he was more interested in the bag of Doritos on my lap while I sipped out of a real Coke bottle picked up at a roadside Mexican mercadito.  “I’ve got 7 women on my mind…”

Stashed among my fishing, diving and camping gear were cans of motor oil, rope, duct tape, gas can, flashlights, ice chest, tarp, flares, two extra tires, a shovel, extra hoses and, the most important thing…toilet paper!  “Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, I’m such a fine site to see…”

You prepared for the worst.  You hoped for the best.  Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

And everything including me, powdered with a good layer of Baja dust.  On the dashboard.  On the seats.  On my lips.  On the dog.  The grit of La Frontera   “It’s a girl my Lord in a flatbed Ford…”

You got there when you got there.  If your head was right, you realized that you’re south of the border so you’re already there.  No stress, Dude.  Already there.

You stopped when you stopped.  Slept in the truck, pitched a tent or paid a few bucks for a room with a single lightbulb and a great taco stand out front with plastic seats and a smiling senora searing chunks of beef and spooning up salsa to die for.

You had a general idea of where you needed to be but often a side road beckoned to a deserted beach or spectacular vista.  Sometimes the side road was a necessity.  You had no choice as parts of the highway simply weren’t there.  Washed out or under construction.  Potholes the size of your car.  Rocks and goats.  Cows and arroyos.  You got used to the word, “Desviacion” (Detour) posted on a makeshift sign.

Time was measured by the sun coming up and the sun going down and the growl in your tummy or the thirst in your mouth.  The sun gave no quarter.

Gas was sold by a guy with a hand pump and a 55-gallon drum.  You strained it through a t-shirt and were grateful it was available.  You didn’t argue about the price.  No, he didn’t offer to wash your window or check under the hood.

You drove as fast or as slow as you dared.  There were no shoulders.  Wrecks could be seen at the bottom or deep canyons where other intrepid vehicle before you didn’t make the turn.  Trucks coming the opposite way came close enough to see the color of the other drive’s eyes.  Your fingers always tightened on the steering wheel reflexively.  And eased as you continued past.  You also stopped holding your breath.

And that’s how we rolled back in the day.   The trip WAS the destination. It was the whole point…being on the road.  Whether you reached your destination was almost secondary.  You KNEW you’d be seeing gorgeous beaches and incredible mountains.  You were going to eat some great street food and make new friends along the way.  Every day was going to be it’s own “Kodak moment!”

But now…fast forward in the time machine.

There’s now pretty much a super highway from border to tip.  Mostly four-lanes of good highway.   And there’s mini-super markets along the way.  And actual gas stations with real pumps.  The Mexican government has “green angels” driving up and down the peninsula checking for and offering mechanical aid to tourist cards that might have problems along the way.  In the major towns, you’ll find the golden arches and the colonel from Kentucky smiles down from his red and white bucket .

Chain hotels dot the landscape and if that’s not your style actual developed campgrounds beckon your stay.  Police along the way greet you with smiles and are instructed in “tourism sensitivity.”  “Tenga un buen viaje senor.  Bienvenidos a Baja.” (Have a great trip and welcome to Baja, Sir!”)

Car parts?  If you need them, Walmart and Auto Zone are here now.

It’s just the way it is now …for better or worse.

But, in between all of that, there’s still adventure.  There are still deserted white beaches and aqua waters.  Somewhere along the way is a palm tree next to a palapa with a hammock waiting.  Just for you.  And you know it as you tool down the road.  You have no doubt.

And, the only snow you see will be in your ice chest or in a margarita glass.  Shoes not optional.  Shoes are discouraged!

“You’re going to…MEXICO?”

“Yea, I’m going to Mexico.  And I’m driving.  Don’t be a knucklehead.  Come with me!”

And the DVD player kicks in…”Take it Easy…”

Let’s roll.

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: 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.”

Read Full Post »

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