Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017
‘Scrooged’ at the border?
Friday, January 19, 2018
Kings of the Wild Frontier

I swear, it was THIS BIG!
‘All fishermen are born
 honest… but they eventually grow out’ve it.”

… Anonymous sign posted on a fishing shack

“Jonathan, come down quick, I’ve got a huge fish. It could be a record!”

Over the several decades in the fishing business down here in Baja, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

There was a day and time when I’d go rushing over with camera, scale and tape measure. Hey, it’s Baja!

More world records pop out’ve Baja waters than any other place on the planet. Line class and weight class records are set every year.

I used to stumble over myself sprinting over to the massive fish and beaming fisherman. Couldn’t get there fast enough.

If it wasn’t a call for a “world record,” it was a call to check out some no-less-massive creature from the deep.

I admit, I’ve gotten older and slower through the years, and I don’t quite sprint over like I used to. At least not with the same urgency!

I have not curbed my enthusiasm by any means. If an angler is excited and thinks it’s a big fish, then by gosh, I’m excited about that big fish too!

But logically, not every fish is going to be a “world record.” Logically, not every dorado is a “50-pound beast.” Not every roosterfish or wahoo weighs 80 pounds!

But, if someone is excited about it, then it’s very likely the largest fish that proud angler has caught… or the first… or prettiest… It really doesn’t matter.

It’s an important fish, and I’m excited about it too.

And, despite jokes to the contrary, “size matters.”

Actually, it’s all that matters. But, like we all know, size is relative.

I’ve gotten pretty good after all these years after handling thousands of fish. I can eye-ball the size of a fish and give a pretty decent estimate.

So, like I said, I don’t quite hustle down the beach with all available speed any longer.

I don’t want to bust anyone’s bubble or temper their excitement, so I’ll “conveniently” say, “Darnit, I forgot my scale, but that’s a dandy fish!”

I’ll give a generous estimate and I make sure I take a photo if at all possible, with lots of well-deserved, genuine high-fives… low-fives… knuckle-bumps and back-slapping.

The best part is listening to the tales of the great catch. Having clients who return year after year, it gives me a great opportunity to hear the story over and over.

Having our own restaurant and bar is also an excellent venue to hear the stories, especially as the beer and margaritas flow.

And sometimes, oh my… how the stories and size of the catches seem to change!

There’s the quote that goes, “May I catch a fish so big that I don’t have to lie about the size when I tell the story later.”

Fishermen are among the best storytellers on the planet. Ever since the first cave dwellers came back from the hunt to share exploits around the primitive fires with the rest of the tribe, storytelling is part of the excitement and fun.

But, y’know, there really ARE some fish that need to be put on the scale and have all doubt removed.

We finally got a very expensive IGFA scale that will weigh fish up to 2,000 pounds, and it has to be certified ever year. It’s come in handy a time or two.

Now, I don’t suggest you go out and do that. For years, I got along very well and still carry some inexpensive hand-held devices in my tackle bag.

One is a little battery-operated hand-scale. A number of companies make them and, although there are still numerical scales, the digital ones are handier and seem more accurate.

They have a big hook on them to hang the fish and they will give you a pretty accurate read-out of the weight of a fish. They’re pretty handy to weigh your luggage with as well.

They come in several sizes, but for Baja purposes, I have the ones that have 50-pound limits. It seems to cover most Baja fish.

While normally not certifiably accurate, I’ve actually had several of my devices sent in to check their accuracy. They were all within a ¼- to ½-pound of our expensive certified rig. Surely close enough!

Great for settling debates among friends. Great to decide who wins the jackpot over the largest fish and who will be buying drinks at the cantina that night.

For larger fish up to 100 pounds, there are the boga-type grips that look like a handled tube with a claw on the end. They’re a little pricier and spring loaded.

They’re also a bit heavier, since they’re made of steel, but they also fit easily into a tackle bag.

Using the trigger on the device, the hooks grab a fish by the lips. When lifted, the springs inside the tube give a read-out of the weight.

Works great on larger fish, although if it’s a long fish like a wahoo or dorado and you’re short like me, you might need to stand on something so the fish is off the ground.

But, it’s also handy if you plan to release the fish. By “lipping” the fish, you minimize harming it. You weigh it. You take a photo and you release the fish to fight again another day.

But, now you know the truth! What you do with it and how you tell the story is still up to you…

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