Story by Jonathan Roldan
I'm a professional fishing and diving guide in Baja, Mexico. I'm used to being in HOT weather., but as I'm here in the states at the moment on business, I"ve got a jacket and my wool boots on. Yes, it's winter and off-season for fishing. I'm sorting through all the thousands of fishing photos I accumulate all season and keeping fishing videos playing on the TV in the background, jumping every time the clicker sounds off on a fishing reel.
So what now?
First things first, it's a good time to go over your gear. Check what you lost and replace what you busted. Don't wait until the fishing reports are starting to rage in the spring or summer and everyone and their brother starts to scramble. Sure, there's the holidays and relatives and those unbeatable underwear sales after Christmas, but a little forethought goes a long way right now.
Check your rods for nicks in the guides that can shred line at the worst possible time. Get those replaced or re-wrapped. Finally give your rods a proper cold water and soap wash, then lightly spray and wipe with WD-40 that will give it a nice sheen again and help remove some of the minor dings. Store them covered or at least standing straight up or straight across in an un-stressed position. Make mental note to return the rods you borrowed, especially your neighbor's classic Sabre rod you've now had for 2 season. Resist the temptation to wave your rod in the air like a sword when no one is looking. Kick gravel in driveway as you realize there was no warranty on that $29 swap meet rod you broke on that barracuda. Curse yourself for spending so much money and the vendor who "ripped me off, man!"
Take a look at your reels. Bust a lot of tuna or yellowtail this season? Go hand-to-fin with a marlin or two? Get rid of all the old line. Check the drags. Replace them if necessary. Take the reels to a shop and have a full maintenance done on them. Again, a nice light coat of WD-40 helps to buff them up. Don't put line on them until you're ready to fishing again so that the line doesn't retain memory and go stiff on you. Mentally remind yourself that this is what you're going to say when you return the borrowed reels with no line on them to your brother-in-law.
Terminal tackle? This is the fun part. We call it "tackle twitching!" You know what I'm talking about. This is where you plant yourself in front of your TV during football games and spread everything out on the floor. Even if you're in your boxers put some shoes on so you don't impale your foot on a hook! You then sort and re-sort all the red lures, chrome jigs, half-ounce egg sinkers and every single hook over and over and over again into their neat little compartments and make mental notes on what to replace.
You take out the feather and trolling lures and you make them "swim" through the air making "whooshie" noises as you envision some sea critter attacking it in a froth of foam. You take all the rusty stuff and put them in a "special" container. You know darned well that you might just need that $2 rusty hook again sometime so you add it to the thousands of "vital" rusty hooks you've accumulated over the past 10 years. You also make a bold mental note that you now MUST visit the tackle store which now takes on the importance of say . . . attending your daughter's graduation! You also make mental notes as to what fishing trade shows you must NOW attend in order to get the best deals and how you're going to justify all this to your significant-other under the guise of "saving money in the long-run!"
Oh, by the way. . .check your freezer! Remember all that albacore you absolutely HAD to fillet for canning, smoking and giving away to your brother-in-law, the gardner, neighbor and mailman? Forget it. That was 4 months ago. The foil-wrapped/ zip-locked plastic bags in cold storage are so freezer burned that the only thing you can do is steam it for the cat. Make another mental note to release more fish this year. Uncle Joe can catch his own fish!
Take out all your fishing magazines and from the pile in the bathroom library. That's right. .. the one on top of the clothes hamper. Stack them by region and dates, freshwater and saltwater. Remind yourself that this is the year you make a real FILE system for these. Throw away anything dated more than 3 years. Make a mental note not to let so much steam from the shower ruin the great photos. Re-read several articles about that new Mexican resort you've always wanted to try. Drool at the pictures of big tuna and dorado. Imagine the warmth of hot sand under your bare feet and salivate at the thought of an icy Pacifico exploding at the back of your throat. Start to cut out advertisements reminding yourself to call and check on prices. Spread map on floor while sitting in your boxers. Put t-shirt on and watch that fishing video again.
You start to make a mental list of your fishing chums who will stop whatever they are doing to go with you. How much vacation time do you have? Can you invite the boss? Hmmmm. .. some of the guys wanted to make this a "couples trip" this year. "NO!!!" you scream from the depths of your brain as the testosterone levels rise like a billfish to the bait. "That's what Vegas is for!"
It never hurts to dream! Best fishes to you and yours for the coming year and season!
Editor's Note: Jonathan Roldan is an expert on fishing along the Baja coast and leads several trips each year from San Quintin in the north to the East Cape in the south. You can reach Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at Tailhunter International Sportfishing
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