Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunseta and the Green Flash

This is our sunset crew anchored by Mac and Linda Lutz in the foreground. Mac is as close to a sunset expert as we have here and he never misses one, in fact I don't think Mac misses much at all. Some nights its just them and us and some nights we have quite a crew like in this photo. The sunsets are always different. Now in Alaska we have beautiful sunsets, in fact spectacular sunsets with the alpenglow and the mountains...BUT...In the summer they're in the middle of the night and in the winter the middle of the day so I seldom see on. But here in Mazatlan we have the edge because they're convienently timed about half way through cocktail hour, everyday. Now thats nice.

The next pic is of my effort to record the infamous "green flash". The green flash is real, it occurs just as the sun disappears. It happens on cloudless days and has something to do with how green is next to yellow on the spectrum and how that relates to the curvature of the earth. Then theres some who think its a simple product of stareing at the sun to much and being half blind when the sun finally dissappears. Or maybe its both. All I know I've seen it many a time and I'm a steady guy so it has to be real, right?
This pic is my favorite sunset, the cloudy one. The sunlight reflects or as some experts say "refracts' around and bounces off the clouds in a wonderful way. This sunset is like a movie, it changes and changes and changes and is sometimes best way after cocktail hour. The only thing better than the cloudy sunset is when you can find it with clouds in various shapes that only you can see. Remember when you were a kid and you'd spot a cloud that looked like horses head but your buddy couldn't see it ?

This sunset is what I call the "airiel assist sunset". Any sunset expert has to keep a close eye out for the help of a gull, pelican or frigate bird. I personally like the airial assist best when its a single bird, it adds a bit of the isolation and tranquility effect to the sunset and reminds us how big the world really is and our place in it. If you click on the pic to enlarge you'll see he's pretty cool. I'm still working out the details of my "fish assist sunset" so stand by and I'll try to get that worked out.
Last but not least is what I call the "human assist sunset". We all know man can screw up just about anything but a sunset is one thing he can't. Boats, planes, choppers, man oh man the human element works for sunsets. The boat you see here is the Patrcia Belle, they do sundown cruises. My friend Patrick who skippers the Belle is magic. He sails out returns from behind the islands and every time does it at just the right time to reveal the sunset. Magic, plain and simple. If you're ever in Mazatlan you need to do the sundown cruise on the Belle, when the sun dissapears and boat rises on a swell you actually see the sunset twice...two green flashes, now thats ultra-super-doublea-magic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Call me Forrest Gump

You know how things just seem to always work out for old Forrest ? Its that old trick of just letting life happen, let it go baby and it'll all workout. Well, let me tell you a story.

Yesterday afternoon I was getting fired up to play music at Joses Bar. Jose went to Hermisillo to get a travel Visa and left MP, the Diva and Diane in charge of the tavern so we all thought a little live country music might boost profits for old Jose. I figure the Takamine guitar could use some new strings and as the high E was rattling a bit a little shimming under the nut. So I take the strings off , build my shim and turn it over and give it a good polish. When I go to install the new strings I'm shocked to see a big hole in the headstock where a sleeve and nut is missing from a tuner. Its kind of essential but at first I know it has to be close....I look and look and look, no shiney sleeve and nut. By now I have mini hyperventalation going so I go find MP and ask her to help look. Being the stable one here she says "don't panic" we'll find it. But we don't, its gone, lost forever and the notion of going the next 6 weeks with no music is horrifying to me.

So at 9 am this morning I'm off to the best music store in Mazatlan in hopes that they have the right tuner. Its record hot here and I know it'll be a tough bus ride, then a hike and maybe they'll have the tuner. But as I walk by the Expert Table one of the Experts, my new best friend Brian from Minnesotta asks where I'm going with the guitar. I tell him it has a broken part and I need to get to the music store. Without hesitation he says " do you need a tuner "? I just about died as he went upstairs and came back with a package of 5 gold tuners. Not only are they tuners but of all the many types made they're exactly....exactly what I need. Yahtzee! I can't believe my good fortune and my friend Phil gives me sound advice " buy more squares on the SuperBowl boards". In the pic you'll notice that one of the tuners had a gold nut, its now my favorite feature of the guitar and tonight we're gonna howl.

Also, I notice I'm closing in on 2000 reads. I'm stunned and about as flattered as a guy can be. I want to thank all of you for reading and as we go on I promise to keep the blog as non-serious, fun, light, chuckly and in a weird way important as ever. You know the age old question of the tree falling in the forrest and if it makes sound if no one is around to hear. Well, I'm on the side of it doesn't....its only music when my friends listen. Me, MP and Google thank you all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris

Thats how good these two guys are. slah says they're the best and coming from Slah thats a pretty darn lofty compliment. On the left is Sergio and then on the right is Geranimo. Sergio is credited with starting the long cast fishing here in mazatlan about 10 years ago. These guys co-operate as a team like Micky and Roger and are both classy guys just like my comparison. They have a reverance for the Roosterfish that is part respect, part awe, part conservation and a big part fun. If theres roosters on the beach, these guys are there, early. When I met Geranimo after talking about the fish right in front of us he asked me if I let them all go...Using the word the 'all' for the few I'm lucky enough to catch was like a huge compliment to me I think.

The other day the roosters were spread out all up and down the beach and mostly were singles I think. So I've learned not to squander my cast and I'm watching one work closer to shore and I'm getting ready when Geranimo pulls up on the quad. I point at the fish and just a few seconds later over my shoulder I a 'whiiiishhh' and his Ranger ( a blue and white one) goes flying directly in front of the Rooster. Splash, set, fish on....snap, fish off. I actually see the Rooster swim away with the Ranger. Geranimo had something locked up in the reel and it parted his 40 pound power pro. No sniveling, just a big smile, a little chuckle and he goes to digging in the bag for another reel. Cool. I learned two things from that....I better cast when these guys are around and although I get distance, accuracy is just as important and thats what I need to work on.Heres a pic of Sergio casting. I call him 'BatMan' because he likes to wear black and he's that good. And like BatMan he has all the right stuff, lots of gadgets. His wind up goes like this...about as much line hanging as his rod is long. He looks over his shoulder and watches it do a kind of figure 8 behind him and at just the right second when there seems to be just the right amount of slack to the lure to give it that snap he explodes with the cast. His trajectory is higher than mine and is the same every time. Its a beautiful thing. So if its true that you're known by who you associate with between these guys and Slah I'm finally in the Majors for sure.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Best Part of the Day

Thats what my grandpa used to say about getting up at 5 am. And its true. Every morning I either meet Slah at 5:30 or I walk the beach here at the house and cast. One way or another I'm always the first person to make tracks on the beach. Generaly I work my way north and look for any movement in the water that would indicate Pargo or Robalo, not seeing that I kick around in the new shell piles for treasure.

But the big pay off is the sunrise itself eh? On our beach theres many new high rises that block the sun for the first few hours. But that doesn't keep it from doing a wonderful job of bouncing off the early morning clouds to the west. I take a picture like this figuring its just about as pretty and bright as it can get and wouldn't you know that 5 minutes later its brighter. Thats a cool deal . Its like the northern lights at home, always changing, just life I guess.

Finally its time to stop screwing around and fish. With my small rod I like to walk and cast to cover a mile of water in an hour or so. Its a bit of choreography as you step sideways, slip down to the water line to cast then back tread to miss the next wave. Repeat. The guys that are dialed in have this body language about them that is hard to miss and a beautiful thing. Lots of times I'm doing this in front of a new condo complex. But even though there may be coffee drinkers watching I'm facing Hawaii and feel totaly, thats nice.

So whether I catch or not I usually end around 9 and either meet MP along the beach or up on the road or I return to the house for a morning fishing critique with my friend Alejandro. Alejandro and I have been friends for years. He prefers to put out a few hand lines with bait and as he monitors them he has a couple rods ready and rigged with different lures for what ever swims by. Its uncanny, he can tell what fish it is by the splash or even how nervous the bait fish are. I don't have the patience for the bait fishing and its to bad because if I did I'd catch more fish. Alejandro and I have our own language it seems. Its kind of a cross of hand signals mixed with facial expressions and alot of the common words like grande, mucho and pescado. But through it all we've learned alot about each other. He fishes for food, teaches school in the afternoon and is my age. He raises wonderful oranges and limons (key lime). He's crazy in love with his wife. When she was in a bicycle accident last year he was worried sick and missed a week of fishing...thats love.....


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Man, thats alot of Fish

Yesterday me and Ernie and Slah went to our Corvina spot north of here past the old Betty Ford clinic. We were on the 4-wheeler so we could work the area harder and stop at more places. We cast and cast and nothing. Ern hooked something that got off in surf and we all tried to convince ourselves that it was a Corvina. But the Corvina seem to be missing this year and by about 10 am I'd been stung by a jellyfish, slapped on the shin by a stick the 4-wheeler ran over and my right arm was going numb from casting....other than that it was a great morning. So we pack it up and head south to the car when we come across this swarm of fish. Incredible.
Thousands upon thousands of Toro had the sardines pinned against the beach and were slowly making there way north. What you see in this pic is just a small portion of the feeding frenzy but you can plainly see the water just boiling with fish in front of Slah. The beach was littered with sardines when we jumped off the 4-wheeler and went to work. Fish on the 1st cast, the 2nd cast and so on. We moved north with them 3 or 4 times eventually ending up at the shade structure the oyster guys use and they were all happy to take the toro we caught. Ernie couldn't keep them off the line. Heres a pic of a pretty typical toro. These babys fight, Slah says they pull better with more endurance than the Rooster when you get one the same size. I can hardly imagine. This fish here might weigh 7 pounds. Tie it tail to tail with a coho salmon and he'd drag the silver backwards.

Usually these early morning trips that I love are done by 10 or so. But yesterday after breaking down the rods, washing the salt off the 4-wheeler and driving to town it wasn't until 1:00 that I got home. MP asked what happened and all I could say is "man you can't believe all the fish". I've seen similiar frenzies right here on our beach but I think this one was like world class....even Slah was impressed and he's seen it all.

Friday, January 15, 2010

10,000 Steps

MP has a pedometer and as part of our workout we try to get at least 10,000 steps a day. Now I don't know how far 10,000 steps are, I just know its far enough to make my right knee ache like never before. I'd guess its about 4 miles. So you know me, never let pain or common sense stand in the way of anything yesterday we decided to walk old town and then to Stone Island. At 8 am we take the Sabalo Centro bus 6 miles into town and get off at Los Pinos where the fisherman come in. This I love to see but this morning I figure they're not doing much better than me. They have some pargo and a bunch of really small mahi mahi,mostly they just hang out and shoot the bull....just like us.

Then we decide to walk the neiborhoods and cut some distance off on our way to the next ocean view. Right away we came across this gym thatwas either closed or out of business, what a cool sign eh? Mazatlan is just waking up and theres little traffic so we walk down the middle of the street because its way safer than the sidewalks. We finally get through the neighborhoods and turn west towards the ocean when I find this elevated foot path that I figure is a shortcut. This path provides access to houses that are built right into the side of a cliff. MP asks me how they got there furniture delivered.

Finally we're back on Paseo Clausen and the ocean. We come across this collpased sidewalk covering at the famous Belmar Hotel. The Belmar is 100 years old and the first nice place in Mazatlan. Its the place that John Wayne stayed at in the day and to this day has a unique charm. But for some reason on January 14 2010 at around 6 am part of it decided to give up. You can see in the pic that the poor apatment dwellers now have extra windows. Nobody was hurt.

We leave the Belmar area and stop at a couple "supermarkets" that are everywhere to try and get a fresh tamale for breakfeast. Its still to early so we hump the hill to the Pacific college and start the last downhill. Stunning views along the water of rock cliffs. islands, the surf pounds the vertical cliff and climbs the wall and then disappears into mist. At a little viewing area I set the timer and took this pic.

It turned out to be 'cruise ship' day and there were lots of people so we bee lined for the water taxi and next thing you know we're sitting under a palapa having Pacificos with our Alaskan friends Mike and Cathy. MP had fried chicken and I had quacamole and some sopes, along with about 8 Pacificos our bill came to 350 pesos, 28 bucks. 10,000 steps and a sore knee....OH, when we got home we had the first hot Toro bite of the trip and I must have caught 20 of them. Man oh man, a great day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Thats all I can say about these two fish. The Corvina that Slah caught is 9 kilos. There are 3 different corvinas and this is about as perfect an example you'll ever see. Its the orange variety which tends to be alone and not schooled like the smaller ones. For table fair its as good as you can get, the meat is sweet and a nice firm white.
The Rooster fish is part of the Jack family like the Toro we catch which are actually Jack Crevalle. I'm not fond of the meat which although white it is pretty strong tasting. However theres alot of debate over that, some people love them and others don't. In any case they are big and supply lots of good protein. Of all the fish I've ever caught in my life hooking the Rooster in the surf is as good as it gets. Just today I got so hinky when I spotted one coming close that I tryed for some extra distance and darn near tossed the rode into the ocean. Buck fever.

I published this pic so you could see why I go to the gym. The surf rod is 15' with a 10 bearing Okuma reel loaded with 40 pound power pro. You'll notice its also set up with a Breakaway Cannon that makes it easy on your finger and creates less friction for added distance. For these fish distance is everything. Like a good golf swing its a combo of timing, quickness and power. Guys that can do it for hours like Slah are real Athletes, I have to say that I'm getting there. We routinely cast a 2 or 3 ounce lure 100 yards and when you hit it right 150 yards. When you wind up for a cast theres so much energy created that you better have it all working right. With a loop around the tip or a closed bale you're going to have a serious screw up and lose a valuable lure. You could also knock you neighbors teeth out real easy so we all keep a safe distance ...usually. The shelter I'm standing in front of is the only place on the beach to find shade. The oyster divers clothes are hanging there on the left. Usually somebody will drape a tarp or blanket over this framework and walla, a place to meet.....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shoulda been here Yesterday

Anybody that fishes knows that there are two universal truths in what we do. You should have been here yesterday and it'll be better tommorrow.

Yesterday still suffering from a bit of the tourista I passed on going north with my friends and instead took the bus to look for the Rooster just a few miles north of our building. They were EVERYWHERE. As I rigged my surf rod I see them chasing bait right in front of me. Finally set I see a school maybe 1/8 a mile up the beach and run up and cast on them. Nodda. I look out to sea and theres schools boiling out of casting range and as I watch they miracleously work right to me. Nodda. Finally I cast right at one that I see kind of lounging in the surf break. He charges my Ranger smacks it so hard it flys 5 feet in the air and is gone....bummer, but exciting. As the morning goes on they seem to move out but there were so many everybody walking the beach would comment, "whats that", "theres roosters in front of the Torres", "how many have you caught?" About 9:00 am I work a school thats the biggest I've ever seen, maybe a hundred fish. Nodda.
I go home knowing that the bad luck will end tommorrow and I rally my friends to go. I tell Slah about the fish and I know he'll be there at sun up as well.

So this morning me and my Alaska friend Mike and our new friend Tony head north to hunt them down. On Tony's 3rd cast he catches a beautiful 10 pound Corvina on a topwater. This is weird as they don't hit topwater, whats even weirder is that its hooked in the side. It starts to become pretty apparent that the Roosters aren't going to show when I see a boil then run and cast. The rooster smashed the Ranger in close and after an exciting 20 minutes I pulled him onto the shore and a fellow took this pic. Pretty ain't he?
So, with no Roosters around we fall back to your basic b.s. session. A casting contest, a knot critique, admiring the hand painted lures, you know the usual stuff. About mid morning a flock of birds arrives right in front of us and Slah caught this nice Toro. As I have Roosterfish fever and not thinking straight I don't have a single castmaster with me or I could have caught many Toro. Oh well. Slah caught this Toro on a topwater which is unusual and goes to prove that he can catch just about anything on anything.

This next pic gives you and idea of what the bird bite looks like. Around 9:30 we pack up and leave. A great day. I was going to stop and get a Tamale at the Scorpio store but my buddy commented that with the bouts of infirma I've had I'd have to be off my rocker to have a tamale this morning. He's right. Our tally for the day, 1 Rooster, 1 Toro, 1 Corvina and our friend Ernie hit a double on the Pelican bite....I know, I know, next time he catches a pelican I'll get a pic. Slah calls them Christmas Turkeys. He says " Ernie you're soooo lucky".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Expert Table

Most people in our building call this the palapa. I call it the expert table. The expert table is at the entrance of the building and gets the first sun in morning so its the perfect place to have the braincenter of our building. Some people come just to visit, some have questions, some like to watch the tennis game and others wait for the daily shrimp and Vegetable delivery. No matter whats bothering you it can generaly be resolved at the expert table. Just this morning some one was wondering why the whole chickens we buy in Mexico have a yellow color to them that you don't see in the states. Well, we all went on with our day in the comfort of knowing its because they eat dandilions. Simple. Sometimes people in our building will have sketchy memories of the night problem. Theres always somebody at the expert table to report what happened. If you're looking for Wasabi Mayonaise, number 4 pencils, the odds on the Bronco problem. Somebody at the expert table has it covered.

The Expert Table is anchored by Dr. Bill Haywa from Edina Minnesota. Docs the only guy from Edina I've ever met that didn't tell me he was from Edina. Doc is a life expert, he knows. Doc is also a sports authority all be it with a bit of Minnesota bias, he actually didn't think Wade Wilson was all that bad a QuarterBack for the Vikes. Docs retired but from time to time things come up that he generously helps with. How can you argue with free medical advice thats 100% accurate when he tells you that " a little rest would be wise". Doc is also one of these guys that laughs easily, in fact he has kind of a chuckle chortle deal that is contagious. He's one of the reasons we love this place, a special guy.

This pic is of our two delivery guys. Gilberto with the camarones (shrimp) and Veggie man. The stuff is sooooo fresh and good and although a bit more expensive than in town its a great service. Sometimes because we are the last stop for both supply is short and an interesting trade dynamic takes place. For instance Gilberto might have on 2 kilos of shrimp and 3 people problem. You trade half a kilo to the guy who was lucky enough to get the last two papayas. Oh, medium camerones with head off are 120 peso a kilo, a kilo 2.2 pounds and a 120 peso 10 bucks. So tonight, surf and turf.....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

" Houston, we have lift off "

This is a pic of my friend Slah fishing the sun up on New Years eve. He picks me up at 5:30 and we drive north out of Nuevo Mazatlan that you can see in the distance. I figure its about 10 miles, the beach is entirely pristine, nothing for miles that I can see. We start out with our long surf rods and cast and cast and cast and .....nodda. All the locals say the water is to warm and we have huge tides with the full moon that I expect complicates things as well. I bear down and throw hard as I figure I need both the exercise and the practice at long casting for when the fish are in, and they will be.
So, about 9:00 my friend Antonio said nuts to the casting and soaked a shrimp bait on the bottom with lead. It wasn't long and he was hooked up with this baby. I was impressed with the way it pulled his huge surf rod and even more impressed when I jumped down and grabbed it from surf for him. This fish is like nothing I'd ever seen before and all of us had a pretty good case of the giggles while admiring it. They call it ' couchy' which translates to Cross Bow in english. It looks like something from your aquarium on steriods. Click on it and take a good luck. Its a gorgeous blue with a demonic green eye, weighs maybe 12 pounds and as he's a shrimp/crab crusher and has teeth that would literaly take your finger off. It has skin like a mule hide Tony Lama and the meat is gorgeous shiney white and firm. Antonio was pleased for such a ceviche treat at New Years.

So then we see some birds working up the Beach. Slah races over in the 4-wheeler and off we run farther north. He drops me off and in no time I have this nice toro or Jack Crevalle. These babies fight, its almost too much fish for 20 pound test on a Kenai Special. I caught another identical to this one and fished for an hour or so when I figured not bringing a shirt or sun screen was pretty stupid. The birds had gone so I looked around for shade. Being desperate to get out of the sun I found a fishing camp and introduced myself, got some vacant looks and sat down in a folding chair under there sun tarp. I think the mexican fisherman knew what I needed but it was kinda quiet there for a while. Finally Slah showed up and we went back to the truck with a total catch of 5 toro, 1 cross bow, 1 seirra and a snakey looking thing that nobody even wanted to talk about.

This a pic of Slah. Looks happy doesn't he? Well, he is. He's funny, intense about fishing and about as steady a guy I've ever met. You know, a guy you trust. Everyone says he's at least the best or second best surf fisherman in Mazatlan. All I know is I wouldn't bet against him in any contest. His creativity is amazing. All the tackle he uses he makes himself. All the gear he maintains himself. Let me put it in perspective....even a guy like me who is consumed with fishing and makes his living fishing has never fished enough, long enough, hard enough to wear things out like Slah. He is a Weapon...plain and simple and I'm proud to know him.

These are just a few of Slahs lures. The lead head jigs speak for themselves but for me the coolest is the silver Ranger Lure. He takes these topwater plugs and builds a mold using Bondo. Then he puts the wire thru and hook loop and cast more Bondo into the mold. A little trimming and some paint and its Rooooooster Fiiiiiiish ON.....