CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Gary Graham's Blog



ROAD TREKKER /
WON News Column by Gary Graham

Gary Graham's published credits would fill many pages, two books on saltwater fly fishing, and hundreds of feature articles.

His  current leadership activities in the sportfishing community include: Avalon Tuna Club, member since the 1980s, San Diego Marlin Club, International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Baja California representative; Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF), certified fly casting instructor; Outdoor Writers of California, president; Outdoor Writers of America.

Gary Graham can be reached at: roadtrekker1@gmail.com

Photography with a flair
Photography and the outdoors go together like Rudolph and red noses. If you are looking for a couple of gift suggestions for that special angler or hunter in your life, or if you are looking for a suggestion to put on your own Christmas list, technology continues to deliver a dizzying selection of extraordinary devices which will dazzle their friends with remarkable still and video images. They will embellish tales of exploits whether on the water or in the field: the Nokia Lumia 1020 Cell Phone camera and the DJI Phantom Vision+.

Earlier this year, during one of our monthly family dinners, Geoff, my son and personal technology advisor, thrust his new Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone at me. "This is the best camera you will ever own," he declared authoritatively.


samleimagetaken
SAMPLE IMAGE TAKEN with Nokia Lumia 1020 on the beach at East Cape using one of the many apps available.

He was right. The combination of Zeiss optics and a 41MP sensor delivered more detail in images equal to the combination of DSLR's and lenses than were in my Pelican Case full of cameras. Various lenses and features are accessible with apps available online: Voice camera, Refocus, Nokia Smart Cam, HDR and Panorama are just a few. After experimenting with it for a while, I reluctantly handed it back to him.


Several weeks later, a package arrived addressed to me with a note. "Dad, you have to have this 1020 – Geoff.”


Since then, I've learned plenty: how to zoom into any part of a shot, even after it has been taken; how to crop or enlarge it with no loss of image quality; shoot, crop, and share breathtaking images right from the smart phone. For me, it was the equivalent of the ubiquitous Swiss Army Knife wrapped in a cell phone.


Now, nearly a year later, the 1020 has become my constant companion and the source of many of my photos that you see accompanying my stories. And I have recommended it to a number of my friends.


“The 1020 is remarkably versatile. In reality, it’s a fully-functional, high resolution SLR camera that just happens to make phone calls and slips into the back pocket of your jeans," marveled, WON Baja columnist Jonathan Roldan.


If interested in purchasing the 1020, your best bet is to first check Amazon. Prices listed are generally in the $350 range. Also, your personal cell service provider may be offering a special deal as an upgrade.


Another game changer for me, as well as for many of my friends and others, is the drone. Officially known as a multi-rotor or “UAV” (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), it has emerged from seemingly nowhere and captured just about everyone's imagination. While not manufactured by a camera company, drones come in a variety of sizes and configurations. They provide a very stable platform equipped with a camera that can be operated from the ground.


whileibought
WHILE I BOUGHT the unit for the photos and videos, I discovered flying was addictive as was the revolutionizing shots I was able to acquire from heights and angles only available by chartering an aircraft in the past.

I purchased my first drone, the DJI Phantom Vision+, in April, 2014 and wrote a Roadtrekker column titled "Doing the Drone" a short time later. I chose it because it was self-contained with both video and still camera with a built-in gimbal and an app so a cell phone or iPad could be used as the FPV (first person view), allowing the operator to see from the ground what the camera was seeing. Since then, I have flown the unit both here in California and in Baja. While I bought the unit for the photos and videos, I discovered flying was addictive as was the revolutionizing shots I was able to acquire from heights and angles only available by chartering an aircraft in the past.


Don't be intimidated by this bundle of technology that comes ready-to-fly literally out of the box. There are many instructional videos online that quickly prepare you for the first flight. The most important thing to remember is that the sticks on the remote control are spring loaded which basically acts like a pause button, allowing the pilot to sort out what to do next. For around $1,300, you can purchase the DJI Phantom Vision+ with an extra battery.


An important feature to consider purchasing is the "no questions asked" extended warranty offered by Square Trade and Amazon. A word of caution: you must have the damaged drone to accompany the claim.


Oddly enough, in all my travels, the only drones that I have seen in the field have been the DJI models. This seems to indicate they either have a super sharp marketing team or they are the best the market has to offer at this time.


The company is introducing a new model, Inspire, that is double the price, but offers even more features.


However, if the larger drones aren't in your budget, there are smaller models available with fewer features built by other manufacturers for a fraction of the DJI price and are a great way to get started.


Regardless of the direction chosen, between "YouTube instructional videos," Facebook user groups, as well as individual blogs, it won't take long for the newbie to become an experienced pilot and have extraordinary video and stills for their efforts.


DJI Drones and other models are easy to locate online on a variety of sites including Amazon, B&H Photos or DJI among many others. If you are looking for a place where you can actually see and touch one, Fry's Electronics seems to be the best bet.


I want to thank all of you who have allowed me to share my world: Baja, fishing, drones, family, pets, and photography. I hope you continue to find something in my writing that is fun, interesting, informative or just makes you smile. Your encouragement has been a unique gift that just keeps on giving.


I hope each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas or, as they say in Baja, Feliz Navidad!


oddlyenoughtin300
ODDLY ENOUGHT, IN all my travels, the only drones that I have seen in the field have been the DJI models.



Stephen Jansen: Baja Beach Booster
Ray Cannon first exposed Baja and its phenomenal sportfishing decades ago. Although fishing from boats has drawn the most attention over the years, there are growing numbers of anglers who have discovered the remarkable sportfishing opportunities and challenges available while prowling miles and miles of beaches surrounding Baja's tip.

Technical advances in both tackle and techniques in all disciplines – conventional, spinning or flyrod – have allowed extraordinary catches that would have been unthinkable in the past. 


confirminghoweffective
CONFIRMING HOW EFFECTIVE the Cabo Killer is, Jansen produced a photo of a huge dorado caught the week before my visit with a Cabo Killer hanging out of its mouth.

Jansen Inshore Tackle, located in a corner of the Mar de Cortez Hotel in downtown Cabo San Lucas, opened its doors 14 years ago, specifically focusing on the tackle required for Baja Beaches.


Jansen, a 6-foot, 3-inch tall lanky Hollander with an unbridled passion for fishing, first visited Cabo on a side trip in 1994, during a lengthy outing from Amsterdam to Los Angeles.


"My goal was to catch a marlin," he admitted recently. "The captain caught three and let me reel them in," he continued with a sheepish grin. "I fell in love with Baja … the ability to fish in shorts for giant fish."


Returning to the Netherlands where he worked in a tackle shop, he proposed to his boss that since the off-season was November through January, he would take those three months off to fish in Cabo.


For the next six years, Jansen saved his money for nine months each year, then spent Holland's frigid winter months in Cabo, blowing the money he had saved all year for the trip. He was loving it! Although he purchased a 16-foot outboard, he soon learned that he couldn't afford to go out every day. Fuel and boat maintenance costs were too expensive, so he began exploring the local beaches for fishing opportunities instead.


Then, in 1998, he met the love of his life. After a whirlwind courtship, he and Monica were married in Holland in 1999. When they returned to Cabo they opened Stephen Jansen Inshore Tackle. Their well-stocked shop tucked away in the corner of Mar de Cortez Hotel should be a must visit on your next trip south.


Fourteen years later, that excitement he felt when he first visited Cabo has matured into a passion that he can barely contain. And his one shop located in Cabo San Lucas has turned into two, the second located in San Jose del Cabo, BCS, México. (Addresses below.)


While I'm sure that there is some offshore stuff somewhere in the shops if you ask, his stores are primarily celebrations of Baja Beaches and the fishing adventures they offer.


The walls are covered with lures of every shape and description, mostly designed for flinging from the shore.


Easy to spot, Jansen’s height and blond hair are a dead giveaway. Chances are he will be in an animated conversation with someone about some aspect of fishing. Maybe he’ll be showing them one of his custom designed lures. His enthusiasm is contagious.


His Cabo Killer, in a variety of color combinations, is a local favorite. It is one of his early designs adapted primarily to fish the surf in different conditions. Similar to the popular Ranger born on the East Coast to target striped bass, Jansen's version sports a weighted keel so it doesn’t flip over and tangle; the arrow shape allows long casts and a rapid retrieve. Available in a variety of colors, the most popular are ballyhoo, blue mackerel, and red and white according to Jansen. Confirming how effective the Cabo Killer is, Jansen produced a photo of a huge dorado caught the week before my visit with a Cabo Killer hanging out of its mouth.


Another custom-designed lure nicknamed the Chingón is a popular choice. It’s distinctively long and slender and intentionally weighted in the back to accommodate the fast retrieve that has become so popular.


Rod choices range from 11-, 12- and 13-foot, depending on the height of the angler. As Jansen explains, “If an angler isn't very tall, the longer rods may be difficult to handle. In some cases they make custom rods with a shorter butt so length is not affected. It can be designed in a 7-piece configuration.”


Don't have a rod that long? The shop offers a collapsible rod with a high speed retrieve, spinning reel at a very reasonable price – $225. If you are looking for a surf rod that travels well, they also offer a custom 7-piece rod and case.


While Jansen does offer and recommend a list of several local guides who offer half day trips at reasonable rates, he and his staff are quite willing to share the latest fishing info and which areas are producing if an angler is interested in a DIY trip.


Shop locations:


L. Cárdenas E. V. Guerrero S/N, Interior Mar de Cortez, local 1 Col. Centro, 23410 Cabo San Lucas, BCS, México Telephone (+52) 624 143 58 04


Cabrilla S/N E/Coronado y Guerero Col. La Playita, 23450 San Jose del Cabo, BCS, México Telephone (+52) 624 105 66 88


Stephen Jansen: Baja Beach Booster

Ray Cannon first exposed Baja and its phenomenal sportfishing decades ago. Although fishing from boats has drawn the most attention over the years, there are growing numbers of anglers who have discovered the remarkable sportfishing opportunities and challenges available while prowling miles and miles of beaches surrounding Baja's tip.


Technical advances in both tackle and techniques in all disciplines – conventional, spinning or flyrod – have allowed extraordinary catches that would have been unthinkable in the past.



Confirming how effective the Cabo Killer is, Jansen produced a photo of a huge dorado caught the week before my visit with a Cabo Killer hanging out of its mouth.


Jansen Inshore Tackle, located in a corner of the Mar de Cortez Hotel in downtown Cabo San Lucas, opened its doors 14 years ago, specifically focusing on the tackle required for Baja Beaches.


Jansen, a 6-foot, 3-inch tall lanky Hollander with an unbridled passion for fishing, first visited Cabo on a side trip in 1994, during a lengthy outing from Amsterdam to Los Angeles.


"My goal was to catch a marlin," he admitted recently. "The captain caught three and let me reel them in," he continued with a sheepish grin. "I fell in love with Baja …the ability to fish in shorts for giant fish."


Returning to the Netherlands where he worked in a tackle shop, he proposed to his boss that since the off-season was November through January, he would take those three months off to fish in Cabo.


For the next six years, Jansen saved his money for nine months each year, then spent Holland's frigid winter months in Cabo, blowing the money he had saved all year for the trip.He was loving it! Although he purchased a 16-foot outboard, he soon learned that he couldn't afford to go out every day.Fuel and boat maintenance costs were too expensive, so he began exploring the local beaches for fishing opportunities instead.


Then, in 1998, he met the love of his life.After a whirlwind courtship, he and Monica were married in Holland in 1999.When they returned to Cabo they opened Stephen Jansen Inshore Tackle.Their well-stocked shop tucked away in the corner of Mar de Cortez Hotel should be a must visit on your next trip south.


Fourteen years later, that excitement he felt when he first visited Cabo has matured into a passion that he can barely contain.And his one shop located in Cabo San Lucas has turned into two, the second located in San Jose del Cabo, BCS, México.(Addresses below.)


While I'm sure that there is some offshore stuff somewhere in the shops if you ask, his stores are primarily celebrations of Baja Beaches and the fishing adventures they offer.


The walls are covered with lures of every shape and description, mostly designed for flinging from the shore.


Easy to spot, Jansen’s height and blond hair are a dead giveaway.Chances are he will be in an animated conversation with someone about some aspect of fishing. Maybe he’ll be showing them one of his custom designed lures. His enthusiasm is contagious.


His Cabo Killer, in a variety of color combinations, is a local favorite. It is one of his early designs adapted primarily to fish the surf in different conditions. Similar to the popular Ranger born on the East Coast to target striped bass, Jansen's version sports a weighted keel so it doesn’t flip over and tangle; the arrow shape allows long casts and a rapid retrieve. Available in a variety of colors, the most popular are ballyhoo, blue mackerel, and red and white according to Jansen. Confirming how effective the Cabo Killer is, Jansen produced a photo of a huge dorado caught the week before my visit with a Cabo Killer hanging out of its mouth.


Another custom-designed lure nicknamed the Chingón is a popular choice. It’s distinctively long and slender and intentionally weighted in the back to accommodate the fast retrieve that has become so popular.


Rod choices range from 11-, 12- and 13-foot, depending on the height of the angler. As Jansen explains, “If an angler isn't very tall, the longer rods may be difficult to handle. In some cases they make custom rods with a shorter butt so length is not affected.It can be designed in a 7-piece configuration.”


Don't have a rod that long? The shop offers a collapsible rod with a high speed retrieve, spinning reel at a very reasonable price – $225. If you are looking for a surf rod that travels well, they also offer a custom 7-piece rod and case.


While Jansen does offer and recommend a list of several local guides who offer half day trips at reasonable rates, he and his staff are quite willing to share the latest fishing info and which areas are producing if an angler is interested in a DIY trip.


Shop locations:

L. Cárdenas E. V. Guerrero S/N, Interior Mar de Cortez, local 1
Col. Centro, 23410 Cabo San Lucas, BCS, México
Telephone (+52) 624 143 58 04

Cabrilla S/N E/Coronado y Guerero
Col. La Playita, 23450 San Jose del Cabo, BCS, México
Telephone(+52) 624 105 66 88


Los Cabos renewed community spirit
Still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Odile a month earlier, in mid-October the community of Cabo San Lucas and surrounding areas although still suffering, were energized by the unprecedented international, national, regional and local support offered.

duringtheawards
DURING THE AWARDS banquet on the final night of the event, McDonell announced that $50,000 (100 percent without any administration fees) had been collected to build a minimum of 15 homes for specifically selected families.

Numerous humanitarian organizations, NPO's, NGO's and individuals had gathered the desperately needed food, water treatment equipment, clothes, shoes, shampoo, hygiene products, (feminine products), bedding (limited), and baby needs: Diapers, powdered milk, baby wipes, baby food as well as the many other items which included cleaning supplies (brooms, gloves, cleaning towels and rags, bleach and soaps..), vitamins, electrolytes, mosquito repellent, Ensure (for elderly or disabled), diapers for adults and those who are bedridden, dog and cat food, etc.


However, the key to the success of this monumental task was locating "boots on the ground" groups that could be depended on to distribute these collected items to those in need. Many different groups and organizations were reviewed and recruited.


There were many who volunteered to help. One of the first to step up after the devastating tragedy was Rebecca (Becca) Ehrenberg and her family. Only 25, Becca already had a rich background beginning with a degree in International Development and Sustainability (Honors: Cum Laude) from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Plus she had experience as a volunteer in South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland and Ghana, all of which made her an ideal candidate for the task ahead.


Rebecca’s family owns Pisces Group Cabo, which is comprised of Pisces Sportfishing, Pisces Real Estate and Captain Tony’s Restaurant. On the afternoon following the hurricane, the Ehrenbergs recognized the urgent need to get help to all who had been affected so severely by Odile’s passing. Eight of their employees had been left without a home. Their employees, friends and family formed groups to help with cleaning homes and debris, and meals were served to those who needed them at Captain Tony’s Restaurant.



Zuki Page and Barbara Alvarez made up Rebecca’s 's WON Team.

They realized that clothing was desperately needed. Even though some had clothes, they had gotten completely soaked and dirty, as many had no homes or their homes were without roofs, and because many were without water and power, they had no way to wash.


Thus began a huge push for clothing of all kinds! Captain Tony’s became a collection center and Rebecca had surrounded herself with six key people, consistently and whole-heartedly giving all that they could to meeting the needs of the people who came for help.


Word spread quickly and since the Ehrenberg’s had a generator, they were able to charge electronic devices as well. They began documenting the work and Pisces Sportfishing and the family’s personal Facebook pages shared all the information of what was happening in the area and how best to help.


The effort grew quickly. The Distribution Center was moved from Captain Tony's to Vida Nueva Church (non-denominational) in Colonia Cactus. The pastor, Prospero Alejandro Tapia, stepped in and gave her full use of the church facility. With her help, Becca and her team continued their work of dispensing aid.


Trucks began arriving from the United States. Glenn Ehrenberg, Rebecca’s brother who is studying in San Diego coordinated Cabo expats and friends, organizing donations and donation drop-off centers with the help of two nonprofits, Earth Angels and Fundacion Sarahuaro. Glenn and his friends, the Aramburos, set up a website, www.helpcabo.org with all the latest information on Cabo happenings and how to donate.


The second truck that arrived was filled with much-needed items donated entirely by Stars and Stripes Tournament, the largest charity sportfishing tournament of its kind in the world held annually in Baja, and coordinated by Glenn and Tournament Director, Dick Gebhart.


Waves for Water, an international organization provided much-needed personal water filtration systems. Catherine Murphy, Hurricane Odile’s Project Manager for Waves for Water, praised Becca and her team for their dedication in assisting in the delivery of clean water systems to those in need.


Plus there was a large donation of items such as blankets, towels and food from El Dorado Foundation and other donations received by locals (in-kind) and from other parts of Mexico (mostly medical).


beccainvitedmcdonell
REBECCA INVITED McDonell to tour Colonia Cactus to see the effects of Odile as well as what had been done and what was planned for the future of the residents.

With so many donations, they were able to set up a Community Kitchen in Colonia Cactus to assist the many community kitchens already in place, including the kitchens of Feeding Los Cabos Kids.


Rebecca and her team began moving on to Phase II of their project: Replacing destroyed homes with ones built out of block and cement -- homes that would last, be sustainable, and survive another hurricane.


She explained, “Criteria for those we will help rebuild: 60 percent of the homes must have been destroyed or affected by the hurricane, captains and mates homes. Must have papers to the land (no squatters), must be willing to participate in the rebuild. We want to make sure that the people we are helping also have some involvement so that they appreciate the work done and so that they value it. We want the fishing community to come together and help each other … we have seen this happen in our fleet already with captains and mates lending a hand and helping rebuild and clean each other's homes. In the case of total rebuilds, we will construct a 4 by 6 m block and cement room with kitchen or bathroom and anticipate a cost of approximately $5,000 per unit. Currently we have 18 families slated for rebuilds.”


Rebecca and her team were asked to assist with the recent 15th annual Western Outdoor News/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot by Pat McDonell who was invited to tour Colonia Cactus to see the effects of Odile as well as what had been done and what was planned for the future of the residents. He joined in on the loading of shoes and shampoo and distributed them with other staffers, including assistant director Mike Packard and his family that night. They all sprayed themselves with repellant as the threate of Dengue feveral carries by mosquitos is still very real.


“It was an incredible experience. Very emotional, and the parents and children of all ages, 100 of them who were waiting for the shoes, were so polite, so grateful. The need is beyond comprehension for those of us in the United States.”


Impressed by the recovery efforts he had witnessed, McDonell decided that all of the tournament’s usual charity efforts this year would be dedicated to the construction of the 15 or more new homes and some elements of charity like the silent auction would be added as well.


He praised Rebecca and her team later at the awards dinner on Saturday.


"We lost two key staffers this year and Rebecca and her friends who have been part of the Odile relief efforts were recommended as replacements. I was blessed with having them be part of the event. They were everywhere! They just meshed beautifully with the rest of the crew who also stepped up their game this year to meet the challenges."


During the Awards banquet on the final night of the event, McDonell announced that $50,000 (100 percent without any administration fees) had been collected to build 15 or more homes for specifically selected families. In addition to the efforts on behalf of charity by the tournament, there were spontaneous acts of kindness by individuals, teams and of course our great sponsors.


While Odile will be remembered for the destruction and devastation left in its path, the collective community response bolstered by universal worldwide support seems to have left Los Cabos with a stronger community spirit then it has ever enjoyed in the past. Hopefully over time #Cabo Strong and #Unstoppable will remain an anthem for continued improvement and the community spirit won’t be abandoned or squandered.


There is still a need. More work needs to be done. If you would like to contribute to the rebuilding project, either visit https://www.facebook.com/reconstructcabo/timeline or email bajafly@baja.com and we will pass your message along to Rebecca and her team.


An easy decision
After a quick, one-week trip home, it’s back to Los Cabos.

By the time you read this, I will be in Cabo preparing for the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot extravaganza with the staff. Of course, the in-box has filled up with questions ranging from (old news) Odile’s recovery… through the efforts of thousands the region is enjoying one of the most rapid recoveries from a Category 4 on record… to Hurricane Vance, (more current news) which appeared mid-week, is projected to churn its way northward, bending back toward the mainland by Sunday with its outer band just missing the tip of Baja — according to Chris Dunn, “I think the National Hurri­cane Center forecast track (attached) for Vance is a good representation of other models I have looked at. It’ll pass within 100 miles or so of Clipperton Island, then swing back up towards the north in response to the storm system that moves into SoCal this weekend. The leftover trough will result in a weakness in the atmosphere which will tend to ‘pull’ or guide the storm to the north, then the northeast. As it does, that will introduce some vertical shear which tends to weaken tropical cyclones, which is why the NHC forecast has it going from a hurricane back to a Tropical Storm. Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan will be on alert… and it’s within the realm of possibilities to impact Cabo, even if it is just higher seas and outer rain bands as the storm passes by to the south. That’s probably a best case scenario for Baja.” 


vancefriday

THE FISHING WEATERMAN’S latest observations.

One final note is that there has never been a Baja hurricane recorded in November.


Several road questions are best answered by recent reader reports:


“Returned from Punta Chivato a few days ago; road report is good… La Misión detour still on. Many new stretches of pavement. Those guys are fast! We encountered only a few minor detours with some potholes remaining north and south of Catavina.” — Craig + Jilly Cove First Light, Menifee, Calif.


“The construction project 14 miles south of Loreto at the Mirador is complete including new paving; Mex 1 is once again open with no delays. They are still working on the wall and sidewalk along the eastern edge with a large paved area for parking. They are also securing the western hillside with wire to prevent loose rocks from coming down onto the highway in the future.” — Baja Pony Express


“On the fishing front, the fishing has been spotty offshore due to a lack of porpoise schools last week. We went straight out 30 miles from Cabo on Tues­day and did not find the tuna although the water was beautiful with lots of bait in the area. Most of the boats going out for tuna have had a hard time, but there has been the occasional 100 pounder caught. It’s been very hit or miss.” — Renegade Mike


Pat McDonell, Tournament Director, commented prior to his departure Friday, “I don’t see Vance affecting the tournament that starts Wednesday with fishing Thursday and Friday, but we could see some rain prior to check-in on Wednesday. As with all weather projections, it can change, but it is not expected to be on a track anywhere close to Cabo.”


Monty Hall hosted “Let’s Make a Deal,” the show which famously asked contestants to choose “Door Number One, Door Number Two, or Door Number Three.” Like a contestant on that show, a decision must be made, whether to go to the best “Fish Hard, Party Harder” event in Cabo, procrastinate, or not go at all.


For me, all indications point to Door #1. Hope to see you there.


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