Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Timing is everything....but luck is good to.

The right place, at the right time, with hard work and the right gear... sometimes works, sometimes not. This morning found Team X a bit fractured, Ern and Jay went to 4th point and Slah and me and a new guy named Mike went far afield to Marmol. Slah is on injured reserve, his shoulder is as bad or worse as mine was when I first injured it several months back. I'm very concerned as he can't lift his arm over his head. My doc at home said go straight to the doctor if you have tingling, can see it deformed....or lose mobility, like Slah. So with Slah only coaching we're severely weakened as a team. Plus its low tide at Marmol and we know in this game distance is everything so theres only one thing to do to get out to where old slimey lives...its into the water.
Considering the situation I know I need to turn my game up a notch. Mike is new to the long cast and he's just not getting it there so wade and cast....2 full hours with just one bite and the loss of 3 metal lures. It becomes apparent that no matter how hard you try, you can't catch what isn't there. I'm wet up to my arm pits so I strip down a and get dried off with fresh clothes and we drive north towards Mazatlan. We get on the beach at Gringo point and our friend Ron is there without a bite. We continue on to 4th point and Ern has 3 Chata on the beach. He caught the last one 5 minutes ago. Mike and I rig as quick as possible and with about 3 casts in I catch a nice one...theres a school of corvina here. Within 15 minutes we have 4 on the beach and both Mike and I have missed a few, I lost  a really good one in the surf, a really good one. Mike is on fire and gets 3 of the 4, even with taking time to re tie.  And that fast its over....we're finally in the right place, the right time.
I have to tell you about my friend Jake Marquis and his bird abatement project at our building. MP says they' brewers blackbirds and we have hundreds...no thousands of them. Its interesting in that at dusk and dawn they perch in the wires to get that last and first bit of sun on them. In the evening they face the west and in the morning the east. Unfortunately they adopted our building, this is what the cars in the lot look like every morning...you can see those darn birds
So enter Jake, our buildings ambassador, poker expert and chief of special operations. I had my doubts with the success of the mission and knowing Jake I guess I shouldn't have. With several days of fireworks, camera flashes and the addition of this owl its problemo solved, I'm impressed.
Below is a pic of the problem so you'll know what Jake was up against. If you're squeamish around birds like my mother was this is not the place for you at sunset. But the guys who wash cars for a living have to be a little bummed, that industry moved down the street to new building.

So if you're in Alaska and need an excavator Jake Marquis at Knik Construction in Wasilla gets things done. I took this pic of him last July, as luck would have it he came down to fish and wouldn't ya know  it turned out to be the day after my emergency surgery, my good luck. I was rung out, way less than my usual energy charged fishing guide so with MP's prodding me to go to work and Jakes pitching in we had a great day....actually he did more than pitch in, he did everything, I was just kind of there. But, he caught a nice King, his friend Dubie's wife caught her biggest King so I'd say that catching 2 out of 3 and running on 7 cylinders was pretty darn impressive, that's Jake....thanks buddy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Every Day Life

I would have posted pics of us catching these fish but as much as I like my Lumix camera....it doesn't do so well when its dark thirty at the 4th point. As we pulled up to the spot and hour before sunrise the guys ahead of us already had a few corvina laying in the sand, so expectations are high as we silently and quickly assemble the surf rods. These 'chata' like I'm holding below are real school fish, its a bit like salmon fishing in that you seem to either do real good....or real bad. Our friend Stan caught a corvina on his first cast and I followed up with this one only minutes later. I've caught many of them but this was the first on the rubber swimfish and jighead that my expert Mexican friends prefer. I always seem to do better with the iron, it just go to show that what I tell the young guys all the time....what works for one guy doesn't necessarily work for the next guy.
The pic below is our mornings effort, a few corvina, a couple ladyfish and one snapper as well as a monster sierra that Ernie caught. For distance the guys seem to be going to lighter and lighter line so for Ernesto to get this spainish mackeral on 15 pound test is a pretty good trick, lots of civiche in that deal.

I guess you kinda know you're settling into middle/old age when you're out shopping for binoculars that cost more than you college education for bird watching. Who'd a thunked it, Jeff King...bird watcher. Well, its partly a concession to love, MP's crazy about the birds, and its partially something I can learn because its fun. And Mazatlan is a birders paradise, I'll post more pics soon but trust me, we have huge Egrets, Herons, Flamingos and the wildest colored Orioles I've ever seen....but...When MP spotted this Vermillion Fly Catcher the other day it was her days big event. I guess the closest thing we have in Alaska with such vivid colors are the Stellars Jays that run the bird world at Mile 14.
My Lumix has 7 power zoom so its trade off. Its a nice sized pocket camera to always have with you but even having got as close as we can and using max zoom, this pic is the best we can do. The good news is that we have lots of pixtels so when I get home and have time to mess around I should be able to turn this into a prety cool close up.

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist. Francisco's office  and home are near the Aquarium and maybe a 4th of the way down the malecon. The Aquario is one of my favorite things, we watch the seals splash the school kids then to the big tank and watch my favorite fish, the toro, swim nose to tail, the fastest fish in the tank. What I need to do someday is be there at feeding time so I can see the bite....so we decide to walk a mile or two on the malecon.  Yesterday we set a new record for this year, 17,000 steps on MP's pedometer, about 8 miles or so. This next pic is the view north.
Its one oclock in the afternoon, the temp is 80 degrees and theres nobody on the beach or even walking the malecon. Tourist related businesses here report that they're 80% down, well this day it might as well be 100%. The vibrancy that we're used to seeing is just not here, theres low energy everywhere and people just seem resigned to it all.
I stood in the same place and took the shot north and this one to the south. In the right of the frame you notice a fruit salesman, one of every body's favorites on the beach. He has melon, strawberry's, mandarins and my favorite, coconut with lots of the red peppery chili sauce. I watched him go, maybe a mile between potential sales. If I'm ever in his shoes I hope I can show the same strength, the same resolve, He didn't cause it, he can't fix it...he just does what he does, keep moving, keep trying, keep the faith.... I hope he knows some how that we notice, a guy true to himself.

Friday, January 20, 2012

In the Flow

Well,that's where we're at,  going on 3 weeks in Maz we're finally in the flow....life has slowed right down. A little speed bump last night with MP being the first on injured-reserve with the tourista. The only thing she ate different than me was an unwashed apple so I'd guess that's the culprit. It hit her about 3 am. So I have her some Electrolit to rehydrate and shes on the mend. Mp has always had a strong constitution, she says she got it from picking up bubble gum from the sidewalk as a kid...well, the immunity wore off.

My friend Charlie McDonald says that at our age and with our level of activity that if you're ever completely pain free theres a good chance its because you're dead...well, I'm almost there and I attribute it to the Reumofan Plus regime that me and half of Mazatlan are on. Its only sold in Mexico and is an mix of all natural ingredients some of which we know to work in the USA.  It has Holm Oak form the Mexican Province of Durango (this is reputed to also be an anti carcinogen) , Shark Cartilage, glucosimine, Vitamins, Calluna Vulgaris from Mexico and a thing called Gausima from Cuba. So my shoulder is way better and I'm casting the 3 ounce lures like a young guy....the problem is, this week our bite kind of disappeared.

This morning found Team X with great tides, a nice surf break and a beautiful sunrise...no pescado. The first pic is the sun coming up over the 4th point 15 miles north or Mazatlan. The surf was washing up the bank real well so I got down to get the foamy white water into the show, I just love  that.

So below is Jay, Alberto and Bernardo. You can tell  by the looks on their faces that they're not stressed about our poor showing, been skunked before...gonna get skunked again. The highlight of the day was a new guy named Ron we met who showed up with a brand new type of Power Pro line that nobody had seen before, so ol Ron ramped things up in the cool 'gotta have gear' program.
So theres a lot of talk going on and more testosterone floating around than the last Kenai River Guide meeting I attended. But Ernies got to keep throwing, his persistence and stamina for guy his age is ultra impressive...And walla...he hits the payoff. Well Erns a little hot headed and this thing came close to what he calls a 'schamozle'. We're howling, it ain't much, I don't know what it is and it looks semi poisonous but by jiminy its more than anybody else caught, even the legendary Slah Sali who's directing as you can see.
Me and MP road tripped the other days to get my meds...even with insurance this stuff is way cheaper in Mexico, I wonder why? I take enalapril for my blood pressure and now I'm on omeprazole (prilosec) for my acid reflux which caused my throat to lock up last summer that caused half of Soldotna to laugh and recommend I chew my food better. So on the way I came up with a new advertising plan, always networking you know. So this summer if I get a guy who says he heard about me on the Sablo Centro Liguid Courage bus in Mazatlan Mexico I'm supplying the Pacifico's....for sure.
I consider myself a pretty creative guy with a healthy imagination.  Sometimes when I'm singing I imagine that I sound like Gary Allan and sometimes when fishing I imagine that 30 pound king is really 52 pounds. So it was kind of cool to come across this blue print on how it all really works....ya just gotta open up your mind baaaaaaaby.....just let it flow, get in the flow, be the flow, feel the flow, know the flow...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

If it hadn't been for that darn.....

Bronco game, I'd of had about a perfect last 24 hours. Of course I also lost the Saints game but I'm used to have my hopes dashed in that deal. At half time time of the Saints game I couldn't stand it....I had to go fishing and schools of toro where everywhere on the beach, I must have caught 40 of them all around 2 to 3 pounds I'd guess. Well right at the end of one cast in the whitewater I hit a fish that feels different, walla, a gift of the best eating fish in Maz, a nice little robalo.
Now I've eaten fresh fish before, lots of it. But I don't think I've ever eaten a fish that I caught one hour and cooked the next. It was magnificent, white flaky fish done with the Minnesota shore lunch batter that my friend Keith Holtan taught me....muey bueno.

So this morning I tell MP I'll stay close to home and we'll have a hand holder when she's had her coffee. Its dark thirty and I throw a rubber swim fish next to the jetty with no results. My friend Alejandro usually fish this spot so I figure I'll cast the rocks in front of the next building with the top water and try to catch a snapper. Having been a salmon guy for so long I just love the top water, to see the fish take it adds so much excitement.....Well, I get to seeing some mullet jumping and theres some big fish after them . So with it being low tide and a pretty good surf break I carefully negotiate rock to rock until I'm 30 feet off shore amongst the boulders. The water splashing up around my waist and I know just to stand still so you don't lose your footing. I see a big boil and make the cast and the fish bites once....twice...and then after still following for 7 or 8 cranks of the reel he's hooked hard on the line. I only wish King salmon would bite a bait this aggressive, my life would be sooooo much easier.  Anyway, I have this hard pulling fish on and in this precarious position that if I can get him through all the rocks I still have no place to land him. So I stay put, 15 minutes in he's at my feet and I grab his tail and then wade him to shore. A dandy toro, soon to be on my wall.

 Thats my friend Alberto, through the years we've spent a lot of time together. Its a funny deal,theres only a hand full of passionate surf casters in Mazatlan so when the bite is on here or there we all converge, kinda like the tide bite in the lower river. The next pic is a close up of the toro so you can see what we're dealing with. They're fast and strong like the roosterfish, one of my friends characterizes them in a cool way....he says they're a 'noble' fish.

So I give the Toro to one of Alberto's friends and MP and I are off on the hike. Its 3 miles to the end of the road and Alberto tells me that theres a mexican outdoor comida where I can get my sunday morning menudo  about half way there. I'd been by this place lots of time and just didn't recognise it as an outdoor restaurant, its perfectly  clean, fresh blue corn tortillas that MP said are the best ever. she has eggs ranchero style and I have my menudo....Its a tripe stew that has a tasty broth and lots of hominy, you sprinkle onion,cilantro and this morning some mint on top. No juice, just this wonderfully sweet fanta pops that remind me the pop machines in the gas station when we traveled as a kid.
 The next pic is the avenue so you get an idea of what its like. After breakfast its approaching 80 degrees, shirts off and the sun on my back...man I like that feel.
Right across the street from the new fancy Riu hotel is a wetland full of ducks we've never seen, Mp says some kind of spoon bill....and these really cool turtles, which reminded me. Thats something I gotta do, track down for myself some turtle soup, you know me,I gotta try it all. I'll report back on the turtle soup....did I ever tell you about the frog legs I had at Pancho's last year?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pescado fresca

Thats a nice Sierra I caught the other day, they're actually a spainish mackeral and for us surf guys they are kind of like a budget Wahoo. This fish is the favorite for civiche and Slah's neighbor makes some of the best in Mazatlan.

I just had to post a pic of Ernies surf set-up....the envy of the beach. I have a Saltiga reel but Ernie has the rod as well as the reel so I guess he wins. Most of us have seen or even own the best of the best when it comes to salmon fishing, maybe a Loomis IMX with a Calcutta reel, maybe 300 bucks a copy....well Erns setup is a cool grand and let me tell you it casts a mile, smooth, light and durable. So when we load up like this to move on down the beach everybody takes a bit of care to make sure all the equipment is set just right. You'll notice the jeep is set up for doing what we're all about, fat tires, rod holders and fishing stickers.

But with all the gear, experience, hard work and luck....we don't always catch them so its on to plan B, one of my favorite things, 9 am on Los Pino's beach where you can buy just about anything you might desire from the sea, nice and fresh. Some mornings MP and I show up and watch the fisherman come in and set up and then we just wander through old town and find a place for huevos rancheros, my favorite breakfeast. The first pic is a fish I'd never seen before, unbelieveable, its like a huge fresh water aquarium fish. Click on the pic to enlarge it and I think you'll agree, thats a gorgeous creature.

The next pic is a typical set up for the guys selling. A lot of times they don't fillet the fish as much as they 'break' the fish. I really don't know what or why the uses might be but a clever is used to whack the cleaned fish into pieces, most likely for soup I'd guess. The lobster were jumpin out of the tote fresh and for 200 pesos ( about 16 bucks) you could fanagle a purchase of at least 5 and maybe 7 depending on there size of course. The lobster are awful good here.....but us northerners all kind of agree that the dungies and king crab we get are pretty hard to beat.

The picture below was taken just a couple blocks away, the 'shrimp ladies' are a Mazatlan institution. Everyday they have it all , Camarones in large , small, grande, head on, head off, even dried shrimp that I really like, its kind of like a shrimp jerky. Even though we usually get our shrimp delivered to the house, the shrimp ladies have the best in fresh and prices, not to mention that the shopping experience is a fun social exercise, i love it.

So this morning we end up at Revolution park where Mazatlan always has their official Christmas tree. Well this year they went all out, a nativity scene with real live animals and people. You notice I didn't get to close to this mule, I seem to remember somewhere from back in my cowboy days that those things are kind of unpredictable, I kind of need all my fingers to play the musica tonight....

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I'm up at 4:00 am, this time I'm smart and have all my gear ready. At 4:30 we're on the road to Marmol only 25 miles from town but we have a lot to do to be set up and in the water at first light. Just right here past emeradl bay we go through a check point to get on the maxi pista. Through the fog we see the flashing lights so being as savy as Slah is he turns on the dome lights so the police can planely see that we're the good guys. In the 25 miles north we see every bridge has flashing lights going, lots of security and we feel good about that.

We have it set up to get through a private gate and gain beach access with a bottle of tequila but the security guard is no where around.....mmmmm....Slah and I walk through the dark to his house but he's obviously not home but his 5 or 6 howling watch dogs were, that was a bit exciting, haven't wet a line yet and already I've got a good adrenaline rush. So its plan B, park as close as we can get and hoof it down the beach to the point we want to fish, about a mile and a half.  Its just light and we start out throwing the 'small' rods. Its the perfect morning with a high tide and we're on a point in the rocks. An hour goes  by and Slah is the first to switch to the big rod and it doesn't take  him long to have our 1st corvina. Ern gaffs it for him and we're on the board.

So I start throwing the big rod and an hour in I'm happyily surprised how well it feels, no shoulder pain at all...I can do this. Heres a pic of Slah and the beach we walked to. He's throwing a home made 2 or 3 ounce jig head and I promise you...thats a legitimate 150 yard cast. Pretty cool huh?
We ended up with Slah catching 2 corvina and I caught a nice snapper. We were semi disappointed with the catching but absolutely wild eyed about the fishing, not  a soul in sight. Heres a pic of our catch, I know it looks like we don't take care of it but its the beach and well, we've got lots of stuff to carry.
This is our bivouc spot. Mid morning we sat and had breakfeast, for me it was a bag of peel and eat shrimp and an avocado which I washed down with a Jumex sports drink. Thats pretty good living if you ask me.
On the walk back we came across our watchman. I guess I missed the hand carved stairs in the early morning dark. We stopped and threw the lures a bit here but the tides leaving, parties over.
Sometimes I get to wondering....what am I doing working this hard for fish in Mexico ? Its simple, these guys are the best of the best, drawn together by a driving passion... I got to thinking about when I was learning carpentry and having trouble with heights and walking the walls, it scared me. My foreman, a wise man named Mert Gertin told me...." Jeff, you just gotta want to do it ".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A walk through

Well Marci wants fish pictures from Mexico, we can do that....the picture I've had a little trouble with for her is the one where she's in guide boat #003 holding up a huge King Salmon. But we had a great toro bite two evenings ago and yesterday morning Team X did what the thespians call a 'walk through', we fished just hard enough to catch a few but not hard enough to hurt ourselves. The surf casting deal really is hard work, we earn these fish so with my shoulder just about healed we went kind of easy. This first pic is sun up at Black rock....off to the distance you can see the high rises of Nuevo Mazatlan.
Even though I'm prepared and brought  pounds of iron we're fishing the rocks and I really don't want to lose to much gear. Right off the bat I lost 3 jig heads with rubber swim fish and then I lost a nice new Krocidile spoon. So, my budget side kicked in and I put on a 2 ounce Lujon....yup, the same lure we used to snag reds when I was a kid because they cast like a bullet and walla,,,,on my third cast with it I caught this nice Black Snapper.
Slah figured it weighed 8 to 10 pounds. I've caught a few of them that were smaller on top water lures so I'm a pretty happy guy to have caught the biggest snapper of my beach fishing career on the 1st trip...if you ask me its a sign. I think this fish is actually what the book calls a Hounds Tooth Snapper, very good eating when matched with a nice bottle of Mexican Chardonay.

So heres a pic of me Ern and Slah....Team X was awful happy to be reunited and we actually spent a good part of the morning just talking and catching up and wrestlin in the sand a bit. I brought down team shirts but forgot to wear mine.
As I've mentioned before, Mazatlan runs on Pacifico Beer, the brewery is just down the street.  So here at our house this is how a case comes to you. A recycled box with 24  returnable only bottles delivered within 2 hours to your door for 190 pesos, about 15 dollars....We keep ours in the vegetable bin, a trick I learned from my old friend Bill Forrest.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thats a mighty long airplane ride

I wanted to post about the trip yesterday but as much as I love Mexico, my computer doesn't. It took me a day just to get it to speak english to me so I could re figure out how to down size my pics. But perserverance is one of my things and we got it figured out....

Me and MP just gained 5000 miles and 100 degrees. That jet is an amazing deal when you  think about. we leave my house at 7 pm and its -15, 15 hours later its Mazatlan and 78 degrees....As happens in our small state of Alaska we ran into our friends Jeff and Pam Breakfield at the Anchorage airport. They're on their way to Cabo to fish and Jeff works for Fish and Game so guess what we talked about ? Wow, we're off to a good start on this deal.
As we're walking through the Sea Tac MP notices these kids, pretty cool. They're obviously triplet and they are pulling identical bags with there mom having them lined, ducks in a row. Pretty darn cute if you ask me.
One the way down we always sit onthe right side of the plane so we can see the ocean, in fact I have a ttradition that when I first see the water is when I go in the bathroom and get on my shorts and a wife beater shirt. I wanted you to see the beach we fish so there it is. The point to the left is Point Cerritos and our building and many others are just up from it, the isolated beach to the right is Oceanica and the place we go to is about 3/4 the way down in this pic a place we call Gringo point. Its a pretty cool dynamic in that when we fish there its totally undeveloped, you can't see a single house or building looking up or down the beach...but off in the distance are the skyscrapers.
My favorite thing on this trip is that first smell and feel of Mexico. Here they don't use the jetway, we just walk down the stairs and you are greeted by that humidity and smell of Mexico. Its hard to describe and I'd bet some people don't like it but I sure do....that smell is a like a cross between diesel fumes and good organic farm dirt with a little human smell thrown in, I guess to describe it right...its just smells like Mexico.
Showing up at our building although jet lagged is just tooooo much fun. everybody is happy to see us and in total Jethronian style we're told that the weather just broke for us. It had been cold and windy but the day we arrived its normal again, 75 degrees as we watch our first sunset. AND....our first sunset has what I call the 'human assist'....pretty cool.

So my friend Slah will download me a program to reduce the pics and I'd bet dollars to donuts that our first real day of fishing tommorrow will produce divedends. So please come back, we'll have dead fish soon....OH, as I walked and fished right here this morning it gave me great optimism for the roosterfish. The waters warmand there are a lot of mullet around and we know where theres mullet also is the guyo. So I think we'll be catching them, don't bet against us