And so, to complete what has been an almost magical summer for fishing trips, I again climbed in Frank's Bonanza in Bend airport and this time we headed south southeast, past Newberry crater,
Summer Lake, Goose Lake, Pyramid Lake, the Salton Sea, the Colorado River delta, into the Sea of Cortez, down the eastern inner coastline of Baja, past La Paz, to buzz some houses in Los Barriles thirty miles north of Cabo and drop into a sometimes cow-less dirt airstrip behind the hotel Las Palmas de Cortez, and I was finally in Baja, after years of talk and invitations. Joining up with the Carlson's, Lou
Metzler from the Longview club and his wife, we would be staying with Dick and Barbara Maugg in a rented house while Dick is completing the construction of his final Baja hideaway.
Dick, best known as the laconic "ED" in the Bartle and Jaymes (Gallo) wine cooler commercials, an avid fly fisher and member of the Steamboaters, is a friend of Dave Carlson's, and I had already met and fished with Dick for steelhead on the Deschutes.
Frank and I toasted each other for a successful 9 1/2 hour flight while waiting to be picked up and stripping down in the heat. Eventually Dick appeared in an old orange pickup. He suggested we go down to the beach in front of the hotel and see what the charter boats were bringing in.
A crowd of sorts had gathered. Two boats were being unloaded and the catch transferred onto pickup beds. There was one marlin on the beach, about 200 pounds, yellowfin tuna in the pickup, and dorado (mexican), or mahi-mahi (hawaiian/polynesian), or dolphinfish (english) hanging from the hooks under the inevitable sign boasting PALMAS DE CORTEZ. Dudes posed for pictures.
Dick spoke spanish with several of the mexican charter skippers and gave us his fishing report. "They had 90 degree water temperatures last week with really drove the big schools of dorado out. It has cooled some since then and there are dorado around but they are scattered. Fishing hasn't been very good. The weather has really been screwy here as well as up along the U.S. coast. El Nino
and all that."
I was personally so ecstatic just to be in Baja after so many years of dreaming about it that I really didn't care. I had read Steinbeck's "THE SEA OF CORTEZ" and had carried a private torch for the place ever since. I just wanted to soak in as much as I could about the flora and fauna and the people as I could. Catching a new and legendary fish, dorado, would be frosting on the cake. We bounced slowly back to Dick's rented house. Slowly because the truck, like every other vehicle there had checked it's
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