Sunday, January 26, 2014


I was standing in line to use the ATM at Banamex the other day and this attractive black woman behind me asked what part of  Canada I was from. I whispered to her "the hats just camouflage, I'm not really from Canada, I'm trying to fit in" , " why would you do that ?" , " well I'm really from Alaska and even though its been 6 years all people ask about is Sarah Palin" , " oh of course, well I won't blow your cover", "thanks, and I've noticed that people are really nice to Canadians"....she said " yup I've noticed that", " oh, you're from Canada ? " , " I can't tell you, it's a secret", " Oh, really....well it's my turn at the machine, I'll see you around", " I doubt it"....

And I guess as we were driving home from Dimas the other day  as I ruminated the importance of my place in the world I figured out my role with Team X...I'm like the team photographer/ biographer/ morale officer ....maybe just the Team scribe to steal a phrase from the days of yore. My friend Slah is an incredible surf fisherman, he can turn a slow day into a spectacular day with just one bite like he did the other day. And he'll cast until he gets that bite, he reminds me of the time Ari Lyendyk won the Indy 500 when the car in first place ran out of gas on the last lap. When asked if he got lucky Roger Penske replied " people that work hard get lucky".  So here's a pic of Slah and Adrienne with a couple of the prettiest yellowtail Corvina I've ever seen. Watching Slah and Ramon land that fish in the rocks was like watching Tiger Woods shoot out of the rough.  Slah takes his time, at one point lets it swim away with slack line because it was caught in some rocks, then 10 minutes in he steers it into a crevasse and hands the rod to Ramon as he climbs 5 feet down with the gaff hook and perfection.
 Around here we've got tons of sunset experts. It's a  Mexico ritual, everyone meets on the terrace 15 minutes before and then predicts the sunset quality, green flash ? sailboat assist ? rebound effect ?  But me...I like the sun ups best. It's simple they signify the start of something and not the end, that's where I wanna be in life. So I'm up every morning...and I mean every morning to celebrate the break of day. I guess it's part of the hardcore fisherman's DNA. The other morning I took this shot so all the people that listened to me play music the night before and were still in bed could enjoy it to. 
Here's the deal at the Shrimp ladies. No matter how hot it is, no matter how effected you are by smells and diesel's what you do. You walk the entire line-up judging size and freshness mostly, some ladies mediums are another ladies smalls and of course you notice who has ice and who doesn't. Then like all roadside stuff in Mexico the biggest thing is to notice who's moving product and who isn't, if it's being turned over whether it's a taco stand or a shrimp lady it'll be excellent.  Then after you have the price you say....those ones....right there...and walla, wonderfully fresh ocean shrimp for 160 peso's a kilo, about 7 bucks a pound.
Music is every where here in Mazatlán and unlike our part of the world where they only dish up one course at a time around here you can get music from all directions as you walk the street. In the restaurant I'll give the Mariachi 100 peso for a nice love song for me and MPeasy and they'll play it to the accompaniment of a loud techno sound from kids partying on the beach right outside. I've often played for folks in a bar with the TV playing loud Mexican Soup's just the way it is and I love it....all except that techno sound of course....and I really don't understand the romance of playing the ' Blues' in Mexico. I mean you're wearing shorts, sipping a dollar beer with a lovely woman...and you're listening to the blues??? hold it a second now....well that's another story. But behind it all is the Mexican culture of big and brassy and bold and ....well this boom box for sale at the local Coppel store illustrates the deal. Is that a beauty or what? And yup, that's all on system, I promise.
As we walked one morning we came across these messages, left on the beach stones and undisturbed. MP says they are some kind of Novena, a special prayer in special place for a special person or circumstance....mmm...Lately we lost my aunt Lee and I have an 8 year old nephew fighting Hodgkin's disease, one of our oldest and best girlfriends got pancreatic cancer and...well....sometimes I just wonder, what did I do, how did all this happen, why am I personally so lucky and always have been...just the fact that I'm alive is enough...a recipient of that Novena I'd say. So if I was scratching out a message on those stones I'd tell the world....I'm trying really hard to be a good guy, I know the frailty and shortness of life and I hope some how some where I've helped people learn it along the way, have fun and be healthy, create and keep love, respect and try to understand, be true...  maybe this could be my gift to the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's been a Hard Days Night and....

I've been working like a ......well....that ain't exactly true. But I do work at life, in fact I train for it. I remember my friend Mike Dinkel asked me one day in the gym why'd I train so hard. I was working hard on my muscle tone, body fat and cardio endurance. I told him 'life Mike, I'm training for life".  In fact I try to lose 10 pounds every year before we hit Mazatlán so that I don't get to big when I indulge in the wonderful cuisine that is Mexico.
But back to the Beatles song, we seen em just the other day. Actually we saw the Mexican tribute band Help, and it was fantastic, way more than I thought it might be.  Mazatlán being an old working city it has a restored 150 year old opera house called the Angela Peralta Theatre. It's so cool, maybe a bit like the theatres were in the cities of the east coast in the 1800's. I'm a bit embarrassed to confess that I've only been to a couple plays in my life, like my kids plays in high school and my niece Molly when she was in Brigadoon. But Jeff knows concerts and let me tell you, this venue and this band were about as good as it gets. Here's a pic of me and my running partner in the front row of the 2nd balcony. Gorgeous is all I can say, and MP too eh ?
I have to tell you the truth about the music. When the curtain opened and four Mexican guys in costume broke into a perfect rendition of Hard Days Night I leaned over to MP and said "this is so weird it's stupid"....mmmmm....well I looked around, the power of the music astounded me. People were captivated, transported to another era. It was amazing and never mind the fact that this band was so polished, so perfect there was no way to find fault with any part of the performance. The era correct props were accurate right down to Rickenbacker guitars they played, the bass player left handed of course. In fact towards the end the bass player went to play the piano just as Paul McCartney would and handed the bass to the lead guitarist who played it left handed....THEN he handed the bass to the keyboard guy who played it...left handed. Crazy, I've never seen anything like it, a band full of ambidextrous multi instrument musicians.
So I guess these guys are the ultimate 'cover' band. I've heard people say derogatory stuff about music that's 'covered' by other musicians...well I know this. Every time its played its new and fresh, that's live music. It's the rawness, it's the subtle differences each time, it's the mood, it's the's the power of real live homemade music. And I got to thinking about the Beatles. Ya know the music was a gift to the world, which we all really paid for when you think about it. So thanks guys, but it's partially our music now and the music world oughta do what they want with it. And keeping it alive, fresh and vital like the other night with so many people having fun is the ultimate tribute I think. It's funny, the Beatles are as popular now in Mexico as they were when they hit America and I was in  Alaska , 1964. So the other night I did a tribute to the tribute and sang one of my favorite love songs, In My Life. ' ya know I'll always stop and think about them, but in My Life, I've loved you more'.
My Robalo quest continues. And let me tell you it's not going like the vision I had for it. I catch a Corvina, Ernie catches a large Robalo. I catch a toro, Ernie catches a large Robalo. I catch a Raton and Ernie catches a large Robalo...In fact the only thing that didn't go Ern's way the other day was that Slah's Corvina was bigger than his Robalo. Bad deal Ern, I feel terrible for ya.  But I feel like I'm getting closer , I actually got to bare hand that Robalo onto the beach so I guess I can say I helped, and that's about it. But all in all for Team X this was a pretty good load the other day.
This morning I had not one but two good 'follows' by the Roosterfish...well, they could have been Toro's....But, the point is I'm going to catch one of those darn things real soon and when I do two things are happening. I'm going to announce it in the local paper along with the babies and then I'm going to post the pic right Mile 14...and that picture will still be quivering.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The thing about doing nothing is you never get done....

I took this picture of my friend Ramon out at Oceanica the other morning.   It really captures the contrasts that is surf fishing...we're all together but really alone, we're out of town for a while and even though we see it like here and even when we don't we know it's there, you have to go back. Every morning we're the first to see the sun and the hope, the newness that each sunrise brings. And of course the fish, that's the trick....every day is going to be 'that' day when we start, sometimes it is, lots of time it isn't. I love it.

But don't get the idea that all I do is fish, I mean we have projects to ya know. The other day we had the opportunity to see one of the worlds finest sailing vessels and we took it, in fact we were the first gringos there. I'm not going to say anything about the politics of this deal but I will say this...the world needs a little conscious now and's kinda like me and my music, we do our best work when somebody is watching.
And lucky for us that they moored the boat right next to my favorite hike back into town. We gain 500 feet of elevation with stunning surf and city views. I never get tired of this area that drops off into the Olas Altas area of Mazatlan, the area that started it all for North Americans back in the 1950's. I'm not sure of the connection, maybe there isn't any and it's just fun but along the way we found Van Cliburn for a duet. Behind me you can see the city, the vistas that have become our 2nd home.
I know, I know, cut it with the 'happy wife , happy life' stuff and give us a fishing report. Right? Well....mmm....It was unbelievable, no kidding ( always be wary of that story that starts with 'this is no b.s.' ) but this is not b.s......Me and Ern were fishing the rocks at Sabalo point across the harbor from here yesterday morning. I just love fishing the rocks because it's mother nature amplified. And it's a little dangerous as you watch your footing and only with fairly flat seas do venture out where you could get washed into the ol briney. Even though we're both there for each other if you ended up in it I kinda have the feeling there'd be no getting out, at least alive. Here's a couple pics. One is how it looks where I stood casting and the other is Ern and the hillside we traverse, in the background is the old Faro resort which is deserted now. The place is so picturesque that it's a shame, but its closed up and that makes it just easier for us to go fishing.
But what happens was this....after casting and casting we work our way back and on that outcropping you see right in front of Ern he yells at me...."Jeff, Jeff, roosterfish ! wow, I look over and a rooster has chased a mullet (lisa) right onto the rocks. I run out as fast as I dared and cast my Ranger lure but when this fish is so focused on the bait he doesn't see anything else but that. I look down and the Lisa is laying there on the rocks, he's jumped out of the water high and dry to avoid being a meal. I don't have a bare hook handy so it takes me a minute to get the siwash off my Ranger and I hook the Lisa by the lip and let him swim's brilliant, it's real bait, it's the best way to catch them....and it doesn't work. This mullet is impressive, it's what we call a 'macho' and I actually should have taken it home for supper. My friend Billy Carter says they're good 'when you cook em just right'. Kinda like our hooligan I suppose. That would be a 3 ounce Ranger to give you perspective.
It's driving me nuts. The water is warm and theres roosterfish around. I see them daily and I can't catch one. I really don't know whats going on but I think we're mostly seeing singles and like I said when they chase bait they're so focused that they need more roosters around to create that competition for the bite that I need on the end of my line, soon.  But I did manage this nice perfect eating size Robalo the other day. We took it to our favorite restaurant where they fry it 'entero'. I have him perfectly cleaned and scaled and the skin ends up so deliciously crunchy. And because we brought the protein it's a pretty inexpensive supper...but of course we made up for that with a couple extra Pacifico's and Margarita's. I guess it's something I learned years ago...when you get a good deal, buy more !
This next week is a big one for team X. The flat tide cycle has run it's course and the water seems to be cooling a bit so things might be in our favor for a good Corvina day or two. And, I've casted the paint off one Ranger Lure already so I figure it's simple math....I'm due for a rooster any day now. I hope you come back to see....

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I got a great idea....lets hire a fishing guide !

With the holidays and a side order of warm water and poor Corvina fishing Team X is kind of on  a 'launch hold' mode as they say at NASA.  So when my friend Dave the bum invited me on a freshwater Bass trip to a new lake just  35 miles from Mazatlán I jumped on that deal. The lake is an impoundment that's finally full after 6 years and is kenai sockeye like full...and I mean full of bass. The problem is they have no infrastructure yet, we were some of the first to ever fish this wonderful place. As a matter of fact it was a day of firsts for me, I'd only bass fished once with few results and being a guy who has spent more time in a boat than 99% of the world I set a new personal speed record....holy moly 50 mph in a boat....
That's our guide Louis Gamez, what a guy. We got handed off to Louis in the small town of El Habal by Daves friend. He drove us to the lake in the back of a Chevy truck that's much like mine but missing the Mexican custom features if ya know what I mean. I had a bit of a flashback. Louis really reminded me of somebody.....he's so passionate, so happy to be fishing while knowing he's lucky to have this lifestyle. He's so patient, we pitch it into the trees for the 30th time (literally) and he just smiles and takes care of it....and he laughs so easy and fishes so well, he's just in tune and that's what it takes to make the A-team.

We get to the lake and its so new that there are only 3 other boats on the entire lake. Its just getting light and the lake has that flat light glow of sunrise as Louis motors out. It's been a few years since I've been around 2 stroke motors so I was kinda smiling by the way it coughed and belched. He had a 4 blade stainless prop that seemed to be wrong as it took forever to waddle up on step. It was painfully slow as the bow stuck up into the sky and ever so slowly started down towards the level when it went WwwwwwwwwAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa 50 mile per hour....jeez. I've never gone that fast in boat, heck I didn't know they could do that. The speed reminded me of that first liquid cooled snowmachine I owned.
So being a brand new lake we're fishing trees that look to be still growing and around fences that just disappear into the water. But where those bass really like to hide is in the that's my idea of fishing the 'structure'...I don't know what ol Pablo did in life but he's sure helping us out in death.
If we caught one bass we caught 80, I would guess Dave and I caught 30 to 50 apiece and Louis, well he manged to clear lines, run the electric, eat a burrito, release fish and still catch as many as me. Here's a pic of Dave fishing in a typical area. We caught them on everything and in every way. I felt like I was on ESPN doing some crankbaits, worms that were texas rigged, looney worms, Carolina rig...I had it going on. Then the topwater action, what can I say you throw your popper or spook or a top dawg on. Accuracy of your cast is everything. The bass are right next to the trees so whether you're flipping or casting you have to get close and of course theres a few tangles...mmmm...maybe more than few.
And a pic of Dave with what might be the biggest of the day. I'd guess that most of the fish were 2 to 4 pounds. But Louis says that if we keep sorting through them someone will catch a 10 pounder, next time Louis, next time.
Ol Dave there was pretty hard on them with a crank bait. The one that worked the best for me was a Pirate colored Magnum Wiggle Wart that I brought from Alaska. It was as deadly on Bass in 2014 as it was King Salmon in 1988. I remember the first Wart I ever was.......ahhhhhh, that's another story. But hows this for deadly, two fish, one still got it Jethro.
And a picture of yours truly, the guided guide. Ya know, I've hired a charter before but yesterday with Louis the light went on....People who are really good at this craft like us polish a great day into an exceptional day. I always say the best fishing trip I've ever been on was the one I'm on right now...well yesterday was an exceptional memory to make. I learned so much, saw new things, made new friends, it's the essence of guiding. For those hours we're only about three things, each other, the fish, the smile. It's us.
Here's a pic of us at the end of the day. Louis is on the ground floor of this new place and excited for it like I was when I started. He has a lot to overcome, they need reliable transportation and he needs to get Gringo's feeling safe to come to these area's. He needs a network of people who are trusted to show others the way....well Louis, you met a couple of the right guys yesterday, we can help.....and mucho gracias for a day. One of the best I've ever had and that says a ton.
And oh....its not just fish. We had eagles, gorgeous yellow Oriole birds, deer and how about his guy sunning himself in the middle of the lake. Just like the Galapagos islands, a marine Iguana.