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Central Mexican Pacific Trip September 2006

Page history last edited by Todd 14 years, 2 months ago

Chilicon, Airnuts , and HPD blow into Mexico"



















Sorry if this is a little long. Grab a cold one and settle in....

Some things get your attention. In our circumstance, a large leafy tree sliding down the mountainside into the road was to be expected. The fact that it did this in a perfectly dignified and upright position grabbed our attention. It was as though it was coming to say hello and shake our hand. Our better judgment dictated that we decline the courtesy.

Two hours ago, it was raining as my two new amigos and I met in the airport. It was raining as we shuttled to the car rental agency to squeeze, an abundance of gear, six surf fishing rods and ourselves into one jeep. It was raining as we endured an hour of stop and go traffic through the city. It was raining as we finally hit the blacktop highway and drove to the top of the mountains. It was raining as we started the usual two-hour decent on a small gravel road. Then it started to pour. Sheets. Buckets. Deluges.

The evening before our departure the weather maps had shown a large storm to the north west of our destination. Little did we know it had become an official hurricane and backtracked into our route. I’ve never been in a hurricane. Now I have. It’s very impressive. The gravel/dirt road through the mountains is usually exciting in dry conditions. Now, the massive rainfall had dropped trees across the roadway, created mud and rockslides, and gouged huge gullies deeply into the surface. Small creeks were roaring under bridges and dry washes had forsaken their name.

Eddie was riding shotgun as I peered through the windshield wipers. Chilicon was crammed in the back seat with the gear. We drove like a drunken sailor wandering from ditch to ditch searching for the best route around disaster. Many times, Eddie exited the car into the rain to move trees and lead the way around deep washouts. Chilicon was a rock of encouragement and could not hide his exhilaration in the adventure. I will tell you these two people, who I only previously knew through internet correspondence, were the perfect choices. These guys can watch my back any day. We watched each other’s backs for the next six days.

I wish I had pictures of the road trip through the hurricane for you. Cameras were the least things on our minds. Suffice it to say the road was shutting down minutes behind us. Here is a photo from several days later.

We arrived in XXXX just minutes before dark and we will tell the story of the drive many times in the years to come. The locals said this storm was much worse than hurricane John two weeks before. We knew the next five days of surf fishing were going to be very tough.

We arrived intact at a nearly deserted four-room hotel/ restaurant run by my good friend Candie. He, his wife Silveria, and his daughter Roseario were sweeping water out of the hallways. They were very glad and a little surprised to see us arrive. The rest of their wonderful family of gorgeous and intelligent women and engaging men had gone to the city for a large overnight soccer match. We sat in the hall and entertained each other for several hours while the rain beat down. Supper was not possible so we chewed on some energy bars and crackers before falling into bed. We hoped for the best tomorrow. It was going to be a true test of tackle, skill, and determination.

The alarm clock went off well before dawn and we were relieved to see the rain had become a light drizzle. We thoughtfully packed our lumbar packs with the minimum of essential gear. Mobility and stamina would be key. A ten-minute jeep ride in the dark found us at the edge of an eroded beach next to a rocky point. The sand had been carved away by the storm and there was a high vertical sand drop down to the running surf. It would be madness to fish below the sand shelf where we could not escape a big wave so we fired away while perched on the elevated lip. The water was not as rough as I expected and the water was only a little dirty. Fifteen minutes of casting Roberts Rangers and Super Strike Poppers did not meet with the usual success so I clipped on a Rapala X-Rap SXR14. It’s a large diving plug with a long casting weight transfer system. Two casts and a large jack crevelle smashed it. A crevelle know how the use the force vectors in a wave to his advantage and the battle was long and satisfying. Things were looking up.

Chilicon clipped on the same lure and fired it out with his 12 foot Conoflex Nevada. Quickly, he was onto a big fish. His fish was very powerful and the fight was very long with the fish in control. After many drag peeling runs I executed a well-timed leap off the sand shelf and grabbed a big crevelle by the tail. I was having trouble getting back up the five foot sand face so Eddie grabbed my hand before the next big wave came. We had already come to trust and depend on each other. The crevelle was a twin of mine and Chilicon had a broad smile on his face.

A few minutes later, Eddie had a big fish smack his Roberts at the end of his 100+ yard cast. It quickly ran directly at him as he furiously reeled. I saw a large rounded orange tail come out of the surf right at the beach before his fish came off. This happened at the same lone off shore rock where Qtiep had lost a huge cubera snapper (Ophelia) six weeks before. Ophelia was again safe and Eddie was pumped!

My fish confidence was bolstered but there were no more fish as we worked north for an hour or two. As we worked our way back Chilicon let out a rebel yell. His modified Super Strike Popper hand attracted a big fish and it was on. Suddenly, a big wave washed a nice roosterfish onto the shore. This was quite unusual as roosterfish are determined and strong fighters. Maybe the dirty water had confused it. A quick leap off the sand cliff resulted in tossing the first roosterfish onto the safety of the flat sand above. YES! Maybe everything would be fine!

We could find no more fish at this location so we piled back into the jeep and drove north. A series of beaches and rock points were in my mind. As we neared the bridge over a normally dry riverbed I saw it was quite different. We drove over a raging torrent of milk shake colored water. The rain had quit but we still had to deal with a severely gullied road as we drove north. In a mile, we found several locals sitting on a small truck. The truck was stuck in the middle of normally dry wash that was now a swiftly flowing creek. It would not be possible to get to my fishing spot. We offered to help the men push their truck to dry land but they preferred to simply wait until the water subsided. The Mexican way is to be in no hurry. But the American way is hurried so we turned around and went back to the hotel for a meal. We had not eaten a real meal in over 24 hours and the camerones (shrimp) were delicious!

Candie told us the large freshwater fed lagoon to the south had broken through to the sea and there might be good fishing at that location. In particular he mentioned robalo (snook) and this really caught my ear. So, we headed south through the flooded dry washes and deep road gullies. The lagoon had in fact been breached. A huge volume of thick trash laden water was tearing into the sea. Large waves were churning the mixture into frothy chocolate milk. It was obvious a surface lure would be unseen and the outside edge of the muddy water was a long way off shore. My thought was choose a lure that would cast far and swim near the bottom. I chose a three-ounce T-Hex metal. After a half dozen casts my line came tight. I thought a first I had snagged one of the many logs, branches, or coconuts that littering the water. Soon, I realized I was onto a very powerful and determined fish. It did not peel line in long sizzling runs or shake it’s head like a crevelle or a roosterfish. It was raw power and undefeatable endurance. I cranked my drag down as tight as I ever have. I knew the doubled line five turn uniknot gave me almost 100% strength with my 30# braid. My 40# Ande mono leader had been tied with an overhand knot a few inches below the swivel so that it would break a couple of pounds below the braid. For one-half hour, I applied all the pressure my rod would allow. Suddenly the big fish made a big mistake. It dashed up the freshwater torrent into the lagoon. After a 100-yard run it ran back down the raging torrent and I could not keep up with my 5.2:1 Tica Dolphin SF (super fast) spinning reel. The line went slack and I thought the fish was gone. It abruptly came tight and a spent 40-pound cubera snapper thrashed in the shallow shore water at my feet. It had not been able to breath in the fresh water. Several young cheering boys grabbed the trophy and deposited it on the beach. Here is a video of the fight and pictures of the fish.


We release all roosterfish but a snapper is delicious and this one was a good meal for many people.

I drove the cubera back to Candie for cleaning and chilling. Eddie and Brian kept fishing. The big cubera caused quite a sensation back at the village. It is novel and exciting for them to see such big fish caught form shore. Fishing bridges people and they are very pleased to have something in common with strangers from so far away.

Back at the lagoon breach, Eddie and Chili had not found any more fish. They were eager to try a new spot so we headed south. Once again we crossed a bridge with a raging torrent below. I had a spot in mind where the sand shelf was close to shore. A 3000-foot trench approaches shore near there as the result of a geological fault line. We usually drive a car tire path to the ocean to get there. I saw a truck parked near the turn off to this track and sensed something was wrong. As we approached we saw the car path was now a large swiftly moving creek. A quick glance at each other showed we were all game so we waded into the waist deep water and tiptoed down the current to the ocean. How many times have you had to avoid prickly pear cactus propelled by water??

The muddy creek water flowed swiftly into the ocean creating conditions much like the lagoon breach. We tried very hard but could not find fish. We did find new friends in the some villagers that were hand-lining and frolicking there. They were having a lot of fun and we joined in the conversation and got to know each other. We walked a dry path back to the road with them and it was very pleasant to be accepted by these wonderful people as friends.

It was now approaching evening and we thought we should go back to our morning spot. A one-half hour drive got us there and Chilicon started casting with a F-14 metal. Very quickly, he had a big fish on. A large group of families was on the beach there and soon he was surrounded by cheering adults and happy children. The battle was long and satisfying. The crowd was enthusiastic and Chilicon was the star. Eventually, a nice roosterfish came to shore and was grabbed by a less than sober hombre. Everything was good and the crowd was happy. So was Chilicon. A few quick pictures and the fish swam away strongly. Chilicon will remember this moment for the rest of his life.

The sun fell and we headed back to a big meal of octopus diablo and cerveza. Eddie is from Columbia and fluent in Spanish. He is also fluent in charming the girls and it was great sport to watch this.
We went to bed happy and dreamed of big fish.

We slept well in the unusually cool air. We woke an hour before light and dined on energy bars, prunes, and Gatorade. The breakfast of champions! How many people bring a coffee maker and Columbian coffee in their luggage? Eddie does. Thanks Eddie!!

The jeep was loaded in the dark and we set off to the north hoping the flooding creek with the stuck truck had gone down. It had not. I was beginning to feel hemmed in. We backtracked south to the breached lagoon to find the water extremely dirty and the waves high and turbulent. We made a few halfhearted casts and continued south only to find the creek we had waded yesterday impassable again. Is it possible to feel claustrophobic outdoors?? We had burned up much of the morning with nothing to show for it. What to do? Like all good fishermen we found a nice little restaurant and ate quesadillas and drank beer. The fish lust soon drove us from the table and we fished a long stretch of sand hard. Nothing. The water everywhere had become quite dirty and the high surf was busy redistributing the storm-eroded beaches. We had gotten skunked in one of the finest surf fishing spots in the world. The hurricane was extracting its toll. The bad fishing vultures were circling.

That night we ate well and kibitzed with the hombres and mujares. Stories of years of compressor diving in the dark for lobsters, octopus, and huge rays riveted our attention. Eddie told fabulous stories of growing up in Columbia. The girls giggled and the men laughed. We walked to the small tienda (store) and bought cookies for Chilicon and candy for the children. Life is good!

We arranged to go Panga trolling with Juan the next morning. Perhaps the dirty water had moved the fish off shore and they needed another day to return to the beaches.

Poor Juan hadn't met the panga trolling departure time. "Juan! Get out of bed! You are late!" Eddie wouldn't let Juan off the hook. He and Juan had developed a brotherly bond and the teasing and joking was a sign of this. Juan sheepishly appeared with a broad grin. He knew he would be the butt of some abuse. In fact, we started betting on his wake up time in the mornings.

Juan has been compressor diving this area his whole life as his father did before him. He knows every square inch of the ocean floor. If there are fish to be found, Juan and his panga will find them. We rigged up some trolling plugs and gave it a go. Very soon, we hit some black skipjack which are fun to catch but not a sought out quarry. We trolled up and down the coast. In and out of the dirty water line. Nothing. The fish had disappeared after the storm. The view of the coast from the water was inspiring and the day was beautiful but no real fish. Juans eyes said "lets go home" so we did. I never imagined this prolific place could be fishless. The bad fishing vultures continued to circle.

We grabbed lunch at the hotel and Eddie settled in. He was having fun chatting with the local characters and was content to stay there. Chilicon and I lusted for adventure so we jumped in the jeep and headed for the end of the road which is a light house at the end of the peninsula. The road remained poor due to the deep rain gullies but the little Jeep Wrangler was not to be denied. That is one tough little 4X4! We drove through country little seen by outsiders. Beautiful. Breathtaking. The pueblo at the end was charming and a very drunk hombre was convinced we should rent his services and go panga fishing. We said no and backtracked home. In the distance, we could see a beautiful long beach and became obsessed with setting foot on it.

We explored many paths, car tracks, streams, and dry washes only to be foiled by dense thorny brush. Dr. Livingston I presume? Someday, I will find myself on that beach. I have promised myself that. Chilicon found the 12 year old boy in himself that afternoon.

The next couple of days were basically fishless with the exception of a few small jacks. The surf was rough and the water had become quite dirty. But, even a crappy day in paradise is good. The scenery was stunning. The food was excellent. The people were engaging and entertaining. We poked around the shorelines discovering hidden treasures and priceless moments. We introduced Juan to surf fishing and he had the time of his life catching some small jacks. I am sure Eddie and Chilicon anticipated better fishing. So did I but sometimes stuff happens (like hurricanes). I hooked up with a nice rooster on the morning of our departure. I desperately wanted Eddie to catch a rooster, not me. I did not want to catch this fish and subconsciously applied too much pressure. The hooks on the Super Strike popper straightened out and the fish was gone. I found myself glad to not have a rooster on shore with Eddie empty handed. Mexico wants Eddie to come back and this is why it withheld fish from him. Chilicon needs to come back to find the young boy in himself again. I am sure my two amigos will return with me someday. They are more than fair weather friends. - HPD

PS - Here is a video of Airnuts Eddies big catch!



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