are the fish we took away from our fishing expedition on the Mar de
Cortés — all good for eating. We ate some of the catch in La Paz before
we left, the rest made it, frozen, to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where
it served for a couple more wonderful meals.
We caught other fish on our expedition — including a few bonito, all
but one of which was thrown back. The biggest of them was saved to
serve as shark bait for a friend of our captain. We caught
several needlefish — nasty looking things with long pointed snouts
which are no good for eating. “Banditos” our captain called them,
disdainfully, because they steal bait. If one got hooked, the
captain had to beat it senseless with a wooden club before he removed the hook, to avoid
having his hands lacerated by the needlefish's sharp teeth.
Nora watched this procedure with burning eyes. “I almost can't
stand to look,” she said. “But it's also kind of exciting.” This struck me as a very Spanish response, with the
appeal of the bullfight in it.
In any fishing tale there's always the part about the one that got away.
Just before we headed back to shore, with our bait almost used up, I
hooked a huge fish. It felt like the big bonito I'd caught
earlier — maybe heavier. It kept wanting to sound and came up
slowly, when I could move it towards the boat, like a massive lead weight at the end of the line. When I got it to
within four or five feet of the surface we could see, in the dappled sunlight rippling through the water, that it was a gigantic
yellowfin tuna. The captain was very excited — this was
a stupendous fish. I was too excited. I jerked the line a
little too hard and the hook slipped out and I watched the amazing
thing swim away again into the depths. I was sad but also oddly
moved by the encounter.
Below, pelicans feed on the remains of our fish, after the captain had filleted them:
After I dropped our catch off at the restaurant at the Los Arcos I went
up to the bar for a beer. I was exhausted from the long drive to
and from the beach and the hours out on the water, all on far too
little sleep. But my nerves were singing. I knew I had
experienced something extraordinary. There was no way I could go
That's the moment I come back to when I think about Baja California —
the way the cold beer tasted, and the image that kept going through my
mind of the big tuna swimming away into the Mar de Cortés, its
silver sides and yellow fins flashing a few times before it disappeared
into the deep blue.
Part of my heart went with it, and is still there — lost at sea.
For previous Baja California trip reports, go here.
[Photos © 2007 Harry Rossi]