YELLOWTAIL AND GROUPER FISHING, AND MORDIDA AT TIJUANA
Nov. 21, 2006, Herm Meister, Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico:
We had a great time in LA Baj and fished 3 days with "Enrico" on Igor Galvan's boat. Enrico has been learning from Igor and since Igor was driving in the Baja 1000 we didn't get the chance to fish with him. Enrico is a hard worker and did a fine job. We'd definitely fish with him again.
We fished 3 days and the last day the wind literally blew us off the water. Enrico kept trying to put us on the fish and was willing to try more spots, but we pointed to the lighthouse and town. Wind from the west and the north is too much to handle and fish at the same time.
On the other two days Bahia de los Angeles, we went about an hour north and dropped live bait using 10-12 ounce lead. I was basically the sandwich maker and ballast. My son Jon Meister was a fishing machine and Gary a close second. I think the first day "we" limited on yellowtail in the 10-15 pound class and a grouper. Gary Whelan of Portland, Ore., also caught several yellowtail and a couple of very nice grouper.
The fishing was the same on the second day except "we" got a couple of nice grouper.
At Bahia de los Angeles, we also had a great time watching the Baja 1000. We spent Thursday at a friend's place about 6 miles south of town watching the racers go past us. We'd watched the video "Dust to Glory" at Guillermo's the day before and it was a super tune up for us. The first racer on a motorcycle came by and the next racer was about 50 minutes behind him. It was a fantastic event and the other spectators we met added to the experience.
We were a little apprehensive about the drive down Baja after reading the articles about the murder and then about the fellow assumed to be on drugs with gang tattoos observed at the gas station in LA Bay. Speaking for our group we saw nothing amiss on the trip down or back, or in LA Bay. Everything seemed just fine. From the reports we heard in town a suspect related to Raquel's murder is a gringo that Larry and Raquel had hired to work for them. Apparently he has a "nasty" past and they fired him. This could have been a retribution or robbery attempt. Based upon what we saw in LA Bay, things seemed just fine. No meth labs. Same nice people and more amenities each year we visit.
Bahia de los Angeles had received about 6 inches of rain from the edge of Hurricane Paul and that turned the entire place green. Very pretty, but the downside of that was the bugs and especially the mosquito's. Just before sunset we covered ourselves with repellent each night. This was an unusual happening due to the rain, but we found more bugs in LA Bay than during our fishing trip in Alaska in September.
One thing we do want to report as a real downside to the trip was the treatment we received from the local police in Tijuana.
I'm sure many people have experienced this, and perhaps it's a "seasonal" event, but it just put a black mark on the trip and if this had been my first experience in Baja I'd say that I would never go back.
Our prior Baja trips have always taken place in the spring or early summer. During our prior visits we have taken extra clothing, school supplies and Gary has taken a lot of medical supplies for the people in LA Bay. We enjoy doing this when we can. The people of Bahia de los Angeles are wonderful. The problem is that if more and more Americans are treated by the Tijuana police the way we were then they are stealing from their own people and will cut off the "supply chain" by discouraging people like us from donating what we can.
I know I might sound naïve and many people will say "What did you expect?" but maybe if enough people complain they might get the point and see the big picture. The United Nations can't even prevent this from happening in third world countries, but somewhere reason has to take root. Perhaps the mayor of Tijuana and those in other towns might try and make a change. If not do we just continue to build bigger fences, not visit and let them continue to destroy their own country? Their choice.
Here's what happened to us:
On Sunday morning as we got to Tijuana we got "caught up" in a police "sting" ring. First let me say that I use the term "police" only to describe these uniformed and trained thugs. I imagine I would have felt more prepared if I'd encountered a gang member with prison tattoos since then I would know exactly where I stood.
We got pulled over by a motorcycle policeman for "speeding". I suppose driving a van with California plates and keeping up with traffic is "speeding" in Mexico. The reason really didn't matter.
The "officer" was very polite and only wanted $180 and my license and for us to go to the police station with him. We really needed to get to the airport that morning so for a "donation" of only $50 he sent us on our way.
About 2-3 miles further when we got into town and just before the ramp to head to the border crossing there were 5-6 police directing traffic to pull over for:
1. Not signaling.
2. Not having contractual permission to have a rental car in Mexico.
3. Being American.
4. Having California plates.
5. Voting for Bush, which, by the way is a valid reason to get arrested.
Both the motorcycle policeman and the other uniformed extortionist who pulled us and many others over near the border asked for license and registration.
On the rental car contract they always pointed at the lower left hand section of the contract that says "Travel to Mexico is prohibited unless authorized, in writing, by the rental car company and required Mexican insurance is purchased at the time of rental." We were fine on both counts, but when I handed this fine member of the law enforcement community the paperwork and he appeared to be reading the documentation what he was looking at was the cover brochure for the rental agreement.
Now, I admit that I can't speak or read Spanish, but he took his act to a new level. After much discussion, and personally embarrassing "pleading" by me to ask him why he was doing this, why it was wrong and why he needed to let us get to the airport, he "reluctantly" agreed to take our last $50 rather than the $180 ticket and my license, and send us on our way. I'm sure he must have had an injured hand since he asked me to take his folder, lower it beneath my side window and slide the $50 into the pages. No doubt he didn't want his commander to see this since he wanted to surprise him back at the station when all the members of the police force tossed their money into the pot to give to the local orphanage or some other charity. If I spoke Spanish I would have loved to ask him for a receipt for tax purposes, but then I'd still be in Tijuana I suppose.
Probably for purely anger management therapy I plan to write or call the American Consulate, friends in LA Bay and anyone else I can think of to voice our displeasure at being "held up" by such extortion. I'm realistic enough to know that this is a way of life for them, but maybe somehow someone will get the picture. If not there are other places to fly into and fish. We would dearly miss the people and beauty of LA Bay though.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from Bahia de los Angeles and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Bahia de los Angeles may be found at Mexfish.com's main Bahia de los Angeles page.