Sep 12, 2012

La Paz Offers a Great Blend

Just like championship sports teams, fly fishing trips are greater than their individual parts. On one hand, you have trips where the fishing is so fantastic and plentiful that you will put up with sleeping on the ground, eating dehydrated food, squatting over a hole in the ground, and having your head encircled by a mosquito net. Other trips are defined not only by good fishing, but nice lodging, foodie worthy cuisine and most importantly, fantastic company. Perhaps the best part of fly fishing travel is that both types of trips generate stories; some glorious and some embarrassing that will be retold for years.

I have had the pleasure of two trips to La Paz, Mexico where clearly the value of the trip is in the sum of multiple components. A number of outfitters service this area, but I’ve been more than satisfied with Jay Murakoshi and Baja Fly Fishing Adventures. Jay has been to La Paz more than Lindsey Lohan has appeared in court. He essentially lives out of the hotel during the fishing season where he can attend every detail of your trip Not only is the trip well worth the effort, but the total cost is $1750!!! I’m sure you are guessing that some hidden cost equalling thousands of dollars must not be included, but you would be wrong. That price includes 7 nights lodging at Hotel La Concha (about the quality of a Days Inn or Super 8 meaning clean, comfortable), 6 days guided fishing, breakfast and lunch, and transportation to and from the beach. Expenses not included are tips, bait, dinner, and airfare. Fortunately, you can fly in and out of Cabo San Lucas where Jay can arrange a shuttle to La Paz which is located on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula.

Each day, you muster in the lobby before the sun comes up to take an air conditioned shuttle to the beach across from Isla Cerralvo to meet your boat captain. Boats are the standard Mexican panga and one word of warning, the captains may have limited fly fishing experience, but they know where to find fish. You hit the water right at first light, where the first order of business is to either buy or net bait which is used to lure fish further up the water column.

Then you head out to any number of areas depending on what species you’d like to catch. Here’s the amazing thing about the area, there are a lot of species to target depending on when you decide to go. We usually try to go later in the season (May - June) when dorado, roosters and even sailfish are available, but you can also look for jacks, bonita, tuna, wahoo, sailfish, yellowfin and much more.

Two guests fish from each boat primarily using 10-12 weights with shooting sink tips like Rio’s Outbound Short but some conditions will allow a floating line with a popper. Don’t skimp on the quality of your saltwater reel because these species will make any freshwater species seem meek. After my first encounter with Bonita, my forearms despite their Schwarzenegger-esque diameters were aching so badly that I begged off trying to catch another one.

But here’s where the trip really excels, after 6-7 hours of fishing till 1 pm, you head back to the hotel before the heat really gets going. You get a nice shower, and walk down poolside for a tropical drink or Michelada with a cigar while sharing stories with your buddies. In the evening, a 10 minute taxi ride will take you to La Paz proper to have dinner at any number of quality restaurants that aren’t overrun with tourists. You can continue to save money by eating at El Rancho where you buy your meat of choice (hint: Arancherra) for a few dollars per kilo which is served with a variety of sides to make your own delicious taco washed down with a frosty beer.

After dinner, walk down to the oceanside Malecon to work off all that meat or stop for an amazing scoop of ice cream. I love La Paz because it’s not an Anglicized Mexican city like so many oceanside cities overbuilt with Senor Whatchamacallits.

The fishing/drinking/dining schedule really sets up well for a group of anglers or a trip with a nonfishing partner. Now please excuse me while I go to the garage to find my mosquito head net and set it on fire.

      -Charlie Chambers

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