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

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

PLAYING ROUGH!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, be prepared to troll.

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

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

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

Which brings up another point.

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

Finally…

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

That’s our story!

Jonathan

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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!

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