Follow the trout bums on their first epic fishing adventure. 8,000 miles of Pacific coastline, from Oregon to Mexico, powered by determination, guts, and vegetable oil.
Our Homemade Truck
Our budget for this trip was tight as usual and it wasn't going to work if we had to pay for gas. So, we asked Mad Scientist Joel Woolf to convert our truck-which was on its last leg-to run on vegetable oil. Neat, huh?
Tecate isn't just a great beer, it's a fun town, too. Of all the Frontera towns, Tecate is the closest to a mainland Mexican village, and it's pretty laid back. Tecate is 55km east of Tijuana by Highway 2 and produces two of Mexico's best-known beers, Tecate and Carta Blanca. If you're looking to cross the border into Mexico from California, you should skip Tijuana or Mesa de Otay and head for the less congested border crossing in Tecate. However, if you decide to cross at Tecate, 55-gallon drums filled with used vegetable oil will inevitably cause you problems.
Crossing the Border
Ever try to transport a bunch of 55-gallon drums filled with vegetable oil over the Mexican border? These guys hadn't, either.
Welcome to the middle of nowhere. If you want to get off the grid fast, then head to Punta Abreojos. At the end of a long, dusty dirt road you'll see a tin shack. Knock on the door and introduce yourself, and you'll be eating like royalty for the duration of your visit. Don Fidel and his family run a small fish camp in Abreojos and make hospitality an art form. Be sure to bring Don some beer (he prefers Tecate) and stock up on any other additional rations before arriving.
A Beachside Feast
While fishing for Spotted Bay Bass in "the middle of nowhere," the Bums stumble upon a fish camp and receive an unexpected invitation to dinner.
Spotted Bay Bass
This small Spotted Bay Bass was about all we could catch that day. We arrived with promise and left with broken hearts.
Santa Rosalía is a must-stop for anyone heading south down the Baja Peninsula. The city is situated right on the Sea of Cortez and offers anglers a wide array of fishing opportunities. If you're a budget camper, then the remote beaches north and south of town offer plenty of spots to pitch a tent. In the morning you can wake up and walk the shorelines for roosterfish. There's also a handful of good restaurants downtown and at least one well-stocked auto parts store.
Speargunnin' For Fish Tacos
On a remote beach, Chris Owens dons on a dive suit and grabs a spear gun for the first time, hoping to snag breakfast for the guys.
When you're on a budget, lodging is always kind of dicey-and usually the cheapest spot wins. This place didn't have room service, but it came with a great view.
At The Bar
We stopped in this cozy bar, called The Whale, for some much-needed refreshment. The beer was cheap and cold, and the food, delicious. Win.
Anthropologists consider the Loreto region to be the oldest human settlement on the Baja Peninsula. A water sports paradise, Loreto is home to one of the biggest commercial sport fishing fleets in Baja. At night, visitors can enjoy strolling the streets of Loreto for good food and moderately priced beer. But unless you enjoy falling asleep to the sounds of a dozen roosters crowing all night, stay far away from Loreto RV Park.
A Fine Mess
The Trout Bums' vegetable oil-powered truck springs a leak, drawing unwanted attention from Mexico's finest.
Puerto Lopez Mateos is a small coastal town located on the mainland, just northeast of Magdalena Bay. Its surrounding waters offer mangrove-lined creeks, deep channels, open bays, barrier islands and isolated beaches that host a variety of game species. In town, visitors will find several small restaurants, ice and cold beer. If you're looking for one of Baja's most diversified fishing experiences, contact Bob Hoyt at Mag Bay Outfitters.
The Bums make a stop in this small coastal town and find blue waters, cheap beer-and a new notebook for Thad.
Offshore, inshore, and surf zone environments for fly fishing abound on Magdalena Island, one of the most awesome estuary systems in all of Mexico. Magdalena is pretty much uninhabited except for a small lobster fish camp and a couple seasonal ecotourism outfits on the south end. The surf break off the southern tip of the island is rumored to be one of Mexico's best. In the fall, striped marlins that migrate to the blue waters off the coast of Magdalena offer a fly fisherman a life-changing experience.
After crossing a remote bay in a Suburban on a homemade barge, the Bums make a startling discovery.
This Marlin, reeled in by Jay, was the first successful targeted catch of the entire trip, and it was good to get that under our belts. Despite being seasick for four days straight, the perfect storm of badassery hit—and we actually landed one.
Aside from the stray gringo during whale-watching season, tourists are rarely seen in Ciudad Insurgentes. If you're hungry, right near the town's Pemex station is Pollo Real, the best open-spit chicken in the region. And if you happen to catch the Baja 1000 race as it passes through this tiny town, make sure to stay well hydrated because you're in for one hell of a party.
This reservoir, known as Lago El Salto, is arguably without exaggeration the greatest Bass lake in the world. It's near the small town of Cosala, and unfortunately, security in this region can be a bit dicey these days. A visual bonus: peeking out from the reservoir's waters are the tops of ancient submerged cities.
Fishing From the Treetops
What you're looking at here isn't a lake but a flooded valley. Those trees you see are halfway covered with water.
A giant wall that protected the city from pirate attacks still stands around the historic city of Campeche. Without question, Campeche has one of the most well-preserved towns in Mexico. During your visit, don't forget to try the tamales with chaya leaves and the pan de cazon (tortillas stuffed or layered with shark, beans and salsa). And if you're into tarpon fishing then look no further than Tarpon Town Outfitters. The owner, Raul, runs a first-rate operation, and it's some of the best fishing in all of Mexico.
The Bums fish for juvenile tarpon after exploring this historic town, originally built by the Mayans.
Near the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula is a tiny peninsula some 30 miles long and less than 100 yards wide. On one side is a rich lagoon offering world-class snook and tarpon fishing. On the other is the Caribbean, where anglers can cast their flies into the turquoise water for permit, bonefish and barracuda. There are numerous outfitters in the area, but for the adventurer on a budget, the white sand beaches along Ascension Bay offer plenty of camping opportunities. A warning: wear bug dope or prepare to be on the losing end of a battle with swarms of black flies after sunset.
The Bums discover a treasure trove of huge snook in a remote lagoon—and a lot of nasty bugs.
Through the Jungle
One of the toughest aspects of this trip was that we had to push and drag our boats through thick jungle to get to some of these really remote lagoons. And that could be hell on Earth. The payoff was finding a completely untouched, unspoiled spot that was loaded with huge snook and tarpon. A dream come true.
Those huts you see near the beach are lodging. For a price, you can spend the night there. Not on our budget, though. This view is from the restaurant.
The rickety wooden houses, beached fishing launches and proximity to great fishing make this middle-of-nowhere village the perfect destination for anyone seeking a remote Yucatan experience. A protected biosphere to the north offers miles of exploration, and the reef structure that parallels the coastline provides world-class snorkeling. Obtaining access to a panga boat for fly fishing, diving or sightseeing is easy. Also, be sure to visit Costa De Coco's resort on the outskirts of town where you’ll find the best mango lobster pizza on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Costa de Cocos
At the scenic Costa de Cocos lodge, the Bums find plenty of sun, blue crabs and bonefish.
Chris attempts to snag what's known around these parts as a Bamboo Chicken. He was successful, and we can attest that they're quite delicious.