Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Thursday, July 20, 2017
Dining in the dark
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Woulda — Coulda — Shoulda

So close, so far?
There’s an old saying that goes something like:

“If you believe something will work, chances are it will. If you don’t believe in it, it probably won’t work.”

THIS MIGHT BE your first visit or your 20th visit. You might have fished all over the world. You really think you know more about fishing these water than these guys who have fished in one spot their whole lives for several generations?

I have often believed that when it comes to “local knowledge,” there’s nothing like it.

It’s home court advantage.

It’s the dealer’s table.

Home team’s locker room.

It’s the golf pro’s home course.

It’s being on a first-name basis with the owner of the butcher shop.

It’s the difference in having “an edge,” whether real or imagined. Sometimes being “imagined” is all it takes.

Like having your favorite baseball hat, or the pink-striped neck-tie.

Or tying your shoes a certain way before the bowling league.

Or that raggedy-A fishing t-shirt that your family wants you to destroy.

You know it works and you could care less whether anyone believes you.

It’s like that down here where we live in La Paz.

We own and run two fleets of pangas. Technically, they fish the same waters… the Sea of Cortez. In fact, their areas of operation often overlap. One works more north of the city. The other works more south of the city.

There’s a ven-diagram patch-of-water, however, that is common to both.

Use the same boats. Fish for the same fish. Dorado, tuna, billfish, wahoo, etc… your typical Baja sportfishing fare.

Heck, many of my captains in one fleet are related by blood or marriage to the captains in the other fleet.

However, I have always found it amusing that each fleet claims the other fleet “doesn’t know how to fish!” Or how their uncle, cousin, brother-in-law in the other fleet “fishes like an idiot.”

It’s always said with a roll of the eyes or a grin, but the words carry sincerity. Strangely, they do fish differently.

Same waters. Same fish.

One believes in only using feathers to troll. The other fleet would rather drag Rapalas behind the boat.

One believes in heavily chumming the waters. The other thinks that’s overdoing it. The fish will get full. They will lose interest. Only one or two pieces of chum in the water at a time, please.

One fleet readily uses circle hooks. The other thinks clients lose too many fish with circle hooks.

One likes to troll with the lure way, way, way back in the wake at a high speed. The other insists lures should only be fished slowly close to the boat.

One fleet considers fluorocarbon to be golden. To the other fleet… meh, pretty much indifferent. Fluorocarbon is expensive in Mexico and a waste of money.

One fleet catches bait one piece at a time with a single hook. The other prefers Lucky Joe’s and Sabiki rigs to catch several at once.

You get the idea.

And my comment about “home court advantage” and “feeling lucky?”

Many of my captains have worked for us almost two decades, so I’ve fished with all of them. They will certainly suggest you fish their way, but if you want to try something different, go ahead. They’ll grudgingly tell you it’s okay.

After all, you’re the boss. The client is always right.

You want to use some of those techniques that the other fleet uses? Go ahead. Oh, you fished a lot in Loreto or the East Cape and want to fish the way they fish? Sure thing.

Oh wait, you’re an “expert” fisherman and you’ve fished all over the world and read all the books about Baja and you want to throw lures all day? Be my guest.

The captains are very accommodating. They know who butters their bread.

But, at the end of the day, nine times out of ten, the clients who fished the way the captains suggested end up doing better. The ones who realized during the day that other boats are catching fish and make the switch to let the captain do his thing, do better.

If you want to fish, there are lots of different ways to fish. If you want to catch fish, how­ever, there’s nothing like local knowledge.

It might not make sense at first why one method works better than another. The captains in a certain area have probably fished that area all their lives and for generations at that. They have fished no other areas. Send them 100 miles away to Cabo San Lucas, and a lot of them might be lost. I’ve seen Cabo captains come up here and fall flat on their faces as well.

A certain technique works because the locals believe it works, whether it’s logical or not. I put my fishing day in the hands of the local. I listen to what he says. And I will NOT throw away my lucky t-shirt either!

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