Tag Archives: fishing

Our Baja Article in Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine

Check out our recently published article on Baja, Mexico in Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine. I posted the article below, along with some screen shots of the magazine, but I recommend you go to their website and check out the entire issue. CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE ENTIRE ISSUE.

“You’re driving through Mexico, are you crazy, it’s so dangerous, you might die.” This is a common response we receive when telling people about our upcoming travels through this unaccustomed country. My usual response entails something along the lines of, “Really. What do you mean? Have you ever been there?” This is traditionally followed by an answer  of, “Nooo. No, I’ve never been there.”

In the overlanding community, it is a fact that Mexico stands out as a major highlight of any Pan-American adventure.  This is mostly due to the country’s abundance of culture, incredible food, warm people, and one cannot forget that it’s great on the budget. As these parking lot conversations arise before your departure, attempt to just nod and smile. Don’t be rude. You know the real deal. You did your homework.

On Halloween 2013 we headed West in the Toyota Tacoma (the Taco) on the Southern most road in California. We were making our final preparations to cross into Mexico, at the Tecate border. This sleepy border town had no line and no stress, but we were rookies. There was no denying that we were nervous. After all, it was our first international border, and with us we carried a truckload of personal possessions that would be bringing us to the southern most tip of South America. In the end, we psyched ourselves out for no reason. It was easy, and Baja awaited with an abundance of possibility.

Baja has fish, and fish is good. We camped in Punta Conejo close to the river mouth. When I say river I actually am referring to the dried-up dirt arroyo that bared more resemblance to a Fred Flintstone highway. But over millions of years of floods and river deposits, a giant river rock reef translates into an abundance of fish to eat and waves to be surfed, making this desert wasteland paradise to some. It was paradise to us. Sunrise surfcasting off the point was a guaranteed meal, or should I say meals. It was here that enough fish were caught, in 45 minutes each morning, to not only feed ourselves everyday,  but also our fellow campers. The fish was also provided to the landowner who happily accepted Pargo instead of the small suggested camping fee. In the surf lineup they called me “the fish slayer”. This was a good thing. Amongst the catches were Snapper, Corvina,  and trigger fish, just to name a few. As a result of the ocean’s bounty, we were able to invent new recipes and make some new amigos.  When you catch your own food, you don’t have to buy food.  It is like putting money in your pocket, which extends your trip. This is Baja.

On the Sea of Cortez we managed to find a less traveled nook not far from the highway and we were able to park right on the beach. The sea was calm and clear, like a toilet for the gods. There was no one around. “Lets get snorkley!” After about an hour of diving in the shallow crystal sea, I counted over one hundred chocolates in my black mesh bag. Chocolate pronounced, “cho-ko-la-tae,” is a clam native to Mexico. “Clams for days” was the phrase of the week. When we craved some variety, we switched over to scallops. These were additionally as abundant as the clams, but required more work.  In hunting for Scallops, the end of the shell peeks out of the sand like a shy man at a singles retreat. Armed with a gloved hand, I wrenched at the creature. After a period of strangling and struggling, the ten plus inch shell fish finally revealed itself in its entirety. The process of cleaning scallops is messy and takes some time, but when your camping in Baja, time you have.

There are fish stories for days when overlanding Baja. I’m only scratching the surface. In addition to the surfboards and fishing gear, it is wise to pack a camera, because your friends won’t believe you. When you are not surfing, you will be fishing, and when you’re not fishing, you will be eating your catch. This baron desert is surprisingly abundant in sea life and if you should have the urge to fish, you will be successful. Besides remote camping and hunting for your meals, Baja provides plenty of opportunities for organized campgrounds (with hookups), cheap accommodations, and fish taco stands for miles. After not showering for weeks at a time, and finding fish scales in your pockets, campgrounds begin to provide a certain unprecedented sense of comfort.  There is an ability to get a room in town, or gorge one self on the never-ending array of tacos, simply due to  amazing affordability of this region.

If you’ve spent time in the desert you know that it possesses a magical quality. You know the polarity of it’s landscape, representing both strength and an undying sense of unforgiveness.  Baja is all beautiful, spellbinding, and dangerous rolled into one narrow peninsula jutting off California. It is best to remember that one must always travel with water, the proper recovery gear, and perhaps extra gas.  On some of the roads, you might not get a passer-by for weeks at a time. Also bring  your warm cloths because Baja can be cold, depending on where you are at any given moment. And always bring paper maps because your GPS might stop working all of a sudden.

We spent over 6 weeks surfing, fishing, driving the dusty dirt roads, buying hundreds of fish tacos, and traveling with friends we made in the desert. The stars were bright and the whales were swimming, but, as always, there is a time when one must move on. We drove the Taco aboard a two-story ship, parked on the top deck exposed to the sky. We were the only noncommercial, non tractor-trailer truck aboard the crowded vessel. The sky was clear, the truckers were drunk, and we departed La Paz before sunset. We set up camp as if we were back in the lonesome desert, popped the top, and spread the blankets. On the chilly clear night, the constellations were stunning. In less than twenty hours we landed in Matazalan, Mexico.

 

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Baja Fishing Update!!!

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We have all heard the rumors that Baja is abundant in the fishing department. Well, we can confirm that this is, in fact, true. Between diving for shellfish, spearing, and surfcasting we have been successful in gathering many meals, for ourselves, fellow campers, and friends. The ocean has been good to us. The act of sharing the daily catch, as well as knowledge regarding the local sea life, is a wonderful way to meet fellow travelers.  A camp can take on a true community feel when people come together to talk about fishing. In addition, finding creative ways to prepare newly identified sea life, with limited resources, can be a lot of fun!

You have all seen the famous Sardinetaco barracuda fishing video, but that was just the beginning. Once we departed from the Bahia de Los Angeles, we headed for Concepcion Bay. With a little advice from an expat who ran the local fishing supply store in Mulege, we were confident that the shellfish we saw while snorkeling were, in fact, delicious. We dove for fresh scallops and clams, gathering about 4 dozen scallops (in a couple hours).  The next day we gathered an estimated 100 clams in under an hour. The satisfaction of self-sufficiency and the fresh taste of the ocean left big smiles on our sun-beaten faces. These meals were not only delicious, but they were great for the budget as well.

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snapper

A few days later we arrived in Scorpion Bay (San Juanico). At this location we had no luck diving for shellfish, or surfcasting, but the spear (Hawaiian Sling) was the big winner. We were spearing small fish that I believe are called grunts, but I am not exactly sure. Either way they were plentiful, fun to spear, cooked whole with Old Bay, and super tasty.

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snapper, tuna, corvina

We hit the hot spot when we headed to Punta Conejo. With a little advice from the dude who ran the RV park called Palapa 206 in the city of Ciudad Constitucion we had bueno luck. The first morning we woke up at Punta Conejo, I was surfing by sunrise and amazed at how I was surrounded by fish in all directions. At any given time, in the early morning, there were countless fish jumping all around me.  Being surrounded by fins in the water left me with an eerie feeling, especially because no one else was out there (or on the beach). The next morning I was fishing before the sun came up and BLAMO!! 10 casts later I had snapper, tuna, corvina, etc. The next day it was the same thing, and so on. The Corvina was huge and one of the snappers was also a beast. While I was gutting the fish on the beach I was attracting attention at the surf break. People in the camp were stoked because we all got fed, I negotiated our camping fee with fresh fish, and there was some epic surfing to boot. And the rest is history. Thanks dad for teaching me how to fish back in the day. I guess I remember all those things you taught me.