After attending the fishing trade show ICAST in 2014 and seeing all the new fishing products and gadgets, it got me thinking about a new fishing adventure I haven’t done yet. Combine all the new fishing toys with the ever so popular sport of kayaking and bring the adventure down the Baja of Mexico.
At first it seemed like an easy idea at least until my fishing partner Patrick Crawford and I started planning it. I made a phone call to “The Griz”, host of Adventure South of the Border to see if he was interested in joining us on this adventure and if he could help out with the logistics down in Mexico. After a quick phone conversation with Mike, “The Griz” Ritz, the fishing spots and logistics were taken care of. Now it was on to picking out the best gear for the trip and figuring out how to get that gear across the border. First thing was picking the perfect kayak for this epic adventure, which we decided on was the Ascend fs128t from Bass Pro Shops. The Ascend is a great sit on top kayak, perfect to fish out of that can hold a ton of gear and is super stable. We made arrangements to pick the kayaks and the rest of our gear up at the Bass Pro Shops in Los Angeles, California. Next up was getting a rental car to make the drive down from California to Cabo and this was no easy process. Everywhere we called would not let us pull a trailer or was not big enough to carry all the gear. After arranging all the gear, we were struggling on trying to arrange transportation for that gear and kayaks to the point it was looking like we would have to put our trip on hold or drive our own vehicle from the east cost across country. That’s where the amazing folks at California Baja Rental Car came in to save our trip. They went above and beyond to help us arrange exactly what we needed for this trek, a 12-passenger van and all of our extra gear to be shipped and stored at their facility until our arrival. The amount of gear that it takes for four people to travel and fish for a month is amazing to see at least it was when we packed it all in the van. We had to take all of the back seats out and stack it to the ceiling to make the drive down. The one thing we were worried about more than anything was crossing the border with a van full of gear pulling 4 kayaks since it took us a solid eight hours to load the van. The thought of maybe having to unload it all to be inspected scared us not to mention we were on a tight travel schedule so it would put us behind a whole day. In the end we actually made it through the border crossing extremely quick and headed south as fast as we could. Now if you’ve never traveled the Baja here is a few things to expect; there are not many gas stations so always fill up anytime you see one. There are a lot of checkpoints but do not be scared of them, and avoid driving at night because the cows graze along the roads. Our first travel day took us 14 hours to reach the small fishing village called La Bocana where we met with our other 2 anglers Mike “The Griz” Ritz and his son Charlie.
However, before we made it to where we were suppose to meet the rest of the crew we thought we were lost so we decided to turn around. With no cell service and no way to ask for directions since we were literally in the middle of no where and it was already dark, turns out trying to turn around was not the right thing to do. The van sunk in the sand and with the weight of it, trying to get out just made it worse. We were literally in the middle of nowhere at night with no sign of a town close by. We were now officially stuck and scared for our lives. There was no way we were going to be able to push this van out ourselves and after standing on top of the van with my phone, no way to call for help either. Fifteen minutes go by and I saw headlights. I stop the truck and they see right away we were struggling. The guy didn’t speak a word of English but it didn’t matter. He quickly stopped and starting coming up with a solution to help. A few minutes later another car stops. With some rope, truck power, us digging out the van and pushing, we finally get the van out of the sand back onto the road. Everyone who stopped was so nice and I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t have help. We probably would have been stuck sleeping out there because once we got back on the road we drove 45 minutes without seeing another car. We got lucky that just so happen people were driving by at night at that time on the deserted road.
La Bocana is a small town full of some of the nicest people you will ever meet. The whole town is completely supported off the fishing community there. This is where Patrick and I installed all of the gear on our Kayaks, and it was a ton of stuff to put on. The folks at Yak Attack sent us full rigging kits for all 4 Ascend kayaks and Power Pole sent us their Micro shallow water anchor systems. I can say this after using the rigging gear from Yak Attack, I was amazed at how it only took us half a day to rig all four kayaks.
The next morning we loaded the kayaks on to a panga and mother shipped them to the very back of the estuary. This area is protected and no one commercially harvests fish from it to help ensure a healthy system. We spoke with the locals about the area and the species that lived there which helped us formulate a plan on how to fish this location. We used a mix of Livingston Lures and half-ounce jig heads with plastic shad imitations. We were making long casts with our white Livingston Lure Howeller diving down to the rock piles under the water. The sound of the Livingston Lure as it hits the rock piles under the water cue the grouper and spotted bay bass to attack the lure thinking it was a baitfish trying to get away from it. This day was a learning experience for all of us, learning about how to work all of our fishing gear and the new kayaks. We pushed the Ascend fs128t hard that day standing and walking around its deck to see just how far we could push it and it performed extremely well. We all caught a handful of spotted bay bass and grouper. Charlie caught a nice corvenia, which we ended up keeping to make some fresh ceviche for dinner along with fresh lobster from the local fishermen. La Bocana is definitely a fishing gem no one knows about and was exactly what we needed after a long drive down the Baja. This was only the start to our kayak fishing the Baja adventure!