Captain Ken Franke, Sportfishing Association of California along with Kenia Zamarripa, SAC’s Director of Marketing and International Affairs and the “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” crew which included Pete Gray and his sound engineer, Rick Cutler, (Hookup1090.com) was met by Juan Acereto - President of Sinaloa's Sport Fishing Association in Mazatlán on what would be a whirlwind trip leaving on Thursday, April 21 at 5 p.m. and returning Saturday, April 23 around 9:30 p.m. I was fortunate to be included in that group. Encouraged by the results of last year’s efforts, the goal of the SAC team was to promote sportfishing and other recreational opportunities available in the region using the same techniques as they had the previous year, when they successfully encouraged the return of the cruise ships and visiting yachts to Mazatlan.
WE MET AND then crossed at Cross Border Xpress (CBX) at Otay Mesa.
We met and then crossed at Cross Border Xpress (CBX) at Otay Mesa. I had heard many favorable reports about the facility and was eager to check it out for myself. I was impressed!
Since opening to serve the public on December 9, 2015, an average of 2,000 passengers per day have utilized the facility on a typical day, while approximately 5,000 passengers per day have used the crossing during peak holiday travel periods, according to Elizabeth Brown, spokesperson for CBX.
Traveling together in Franke’s truck, which he parked in the adjoining parking lot for $15 per day, we were soon unloaded and headed for the entrance.
It was a simple check-in process. After filling out an FMM, (no charge since we were gone less than a week), our boarding pass was verified, baggage was inspected, and we had a brisk walk across the enclosed pedestrian bridge -- approximately 390 feet long and 33 feet wide. Soon we were in the lobby of the Tijuana Airport and standing at the Volaris Ticket Counter -- the first line we had encountered since entering the building on the U.S. side. After checking our luggage we headed to the Boarding Gate with nearly a half-hour to spare before boarding our flight. All of this took about the same amount of time it would have taken to go to San Diego Airport, go through the TSA line and arrive at the gate for departure. Pretty remarkable!
We checked into the Pueblo Bonito, Emerald Bay later that evening and Friday morning held our first meeting/press conference. With Kenia Zamarripa translating, Captain Ken Franke, Pete Gray, Juan Acereto and Esteban Balderrama – Undersecretary of Tourism Promotion & Operation for the State of Sinaloa, all welcoming the local press and other guests.
ESTEBAN BALDERRAMA LEFT, Mario Aguilar, Captain Ken Franke and Pete Gray
Franke briefly described the goals and successes of the team’s prior visit in 2015, which had been to confirm with “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” radio show broadcast throughout the United States and beyond, that the Port of Mazatlán and surrounding areas had been renewed and revitalized. The beaches, restaurants and hotels are immaculate, and the Malecón has a lively atmosphere with artwork, fountains and palm trees. In addition, the Port of Mazatlán has all the facilities needed to serve cruise ships and visiting yachts but most importantly, the Mazatlán people were eager for them to return.
According to Alfonso Gil, General Director, Port of Mazatlán, there are currently over 90 cruise ships scheduled to stop in the Port, which is a remarkable improvement over the one cruise ship that visited Mazatlán in 2012."
On Saturday morning there would be a similar two-hour broadcast hosting guests Mario Aguilar – Commissioner of CONAPESCA, Alfonso Gil – General Director, Port of Mazatlán, Esteban Balderrama – Undersecretary of Tourism, Sinaloa, Juan Acereto – President, Sportfishing Association of Sinaloa , Jose Gamez – General Manager, Pueblo Bonito Hotels and Geronimo Cevallos – El Cid Marina Manager.
All described the many exciting and diversified sportfishing, recreational and tourism related activities found throughout the city and the surrounding areas and all added their view on the importance of the program, concluding with a robust question and answer session before closing. The attendees were invited to attend the broadcast on Saturday morning at the Pueblo Bonito, Emerald Bay.
The following morning the SAC group and special guests along with spectators and members of the press gathered on the sun bathed Pueblo Bonito, Emerald Bay terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
During the first hour of the live call in “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” show, hosts Pete Gray and Captain Ken Franke welcomed Alfonso Gil, Juan Acereto and Geronimo who discussed sportfishing, tournaments, marinas, charter fleets, weather and the freshwater bass fishing available in surrounding area.
They were followed by Jose Gamez and Esteban Balderrama, who expanded on the number of airline flights available and the convenience of the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) at Otay Mesa.
The second hour was devoted to Mario Aguilar – Commissioner of CONAPESCA, discussing the importance of cooperation between his agency, SAC and National Marine Fisheries. He fielded many caller’s questions and comments, including a call from Scott Sherman, San Diego City Council, representing District 7 on behalf of the Honorable Mayor Kevin Falconer, San Diego. Sherman praised the Commissioner’s ongoing cooperation on behalf of the San Diego Unified Port District and U.S anglers visiting Mexico. As the program came to a close, Aguilar commented, “Twenty-nine- million visitors who come to Mexico every year can be assured that ‘Sportfishing’ is one of Mexico’s most treasured industries that we intend to protect and improve.”
Captain Ken Franke added, “Mazatlán is an important hub of sportfishing in Mexico and simply stated, SAC wants to ensure that U.S. anglers visiting the country have a memorable trip.”
In closing, Pete Gray observed that SAC has developed its website into an important resource for anglers and boat owners planning to visit Mexico in the future.