By Gary Graham
As the 2018 fishing season begins to heat up, it always seems like a time to reflect on change. Witnessing Baja’s earlier years in 1969 when my son Gregg and I made our first fishing trip to Loreto, there was no paved road, nor gas stations, nor other conveniences my Roadtrek and I have come to rely on.
We flew down for that adventure, and what an adventure it was for the eight-year old and his dad. Little did I dream that I would come to know and love that peninsula as I have over these 49 years.
Our adventures in Baja continued when the “Carretera Transpeninsular Benito Juarez” or Benito Juarez Trans-Peninsular Highway (named in honor of one of Mexico’s most revered heroes) opened in 1973.
The attraction that first drew me was the descriptions of the unbelievable fishery depicted by Ray Cannon in his columns in the paper, stories of wahoo and snook, many of which were hard to believe.
But I discovered he was right; the volume and size of the fish found inside the Sea of Cortez and on the Pacific side demanded a dizzying array of rods, reels, and terminal tackle, not to mention tackle boxes filled with a variety of lures and artificials in assorted sizes to entice the multitude of fish.
Tackle, terminal tackle, and techniques were primitive by comparison and tackle shops were non-existent up and down the entire length of the peninsula in those days.
Throughout the years as sportfishing came of age, the sophistication of the tackle and techniques has improved. Slowly—very slowly—a small contingency of dedicated sportfishing tackle stores has emerged, filling the needs of the hordes of anglers who visit Baja annually offering an unprecedented level of expertise and local knowledge to their clients.
Many tackle manufacturers have that small group of local, aspiring entrepreneurs that have sprung up as clients, stocking them with the ‘latest and greatest’ fishing equipment for their customers.
There are finally enough tackle shops scattered down Mex 1 to Baja’s tip to allow visitors to haul less tackle and to restock along the way if need be.
Here are some of my favorites:
Julio Meza, a San Quintín grower and family man who happens to be an avid sport fisherman, opened his own tackle store in Ensenada in 2011. Since that time, his shop has become a popular spot to pick up those items remembered after crossing the border, or to stop and talk about the latest fishing.
Fishco Pesca Deportiva
Blvd. Costero S/N, Plaza Marina Int. 6 y 7
22810 Ensenada, Mexico
Mobile Phone: 011-52-646-116-3337
BajaMark Fishing Tackle was opened in 2011 by Mark Callahan, a well-known competitor in Baja sportfishing tournaments. He has earned the respect of fellow participants over the years, as well as gaining a reputation for having a well-run tackle store with an extensive inventory of sportfishing equipment in La Paz.
BajaMark Fishing Tackle
Allende 165 entre Revolucion y Madero, 23000
La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico
In 2009, East Cape Tackle was purchased by Cindy Kirkwood, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada from Karen Kennedy, who had opened the store in 1996. Cindy soon doubled its size and continues the day-to-day management.
East Cape Tackle
Centrally located, just off Highway 1 in the Plaza del Pueblo, #4
Local Phone 011-52-624-141-0366
Soon after graduation from high school, Minerva Saenz Valenzuela met Bob Smith, a passionate fisherman, who spoke of a small fishing village at the tip of Baja, vowing that he would move there someday.
In October of 1976, they arrived in Cabo with a boat called NO PROBLEMA and a small travel trailer crammed with their sparse belongings. They found a beautiful piece of property a few blocks from the beach where they parked their trailer and set up shop chartering the NO PROBLEMA.
In 1989 their dream of opening a one-stop tackle shop became a reality that continues to prosper.
Minerva’s Baja Tackle has grown into one of the most respected business of its kind in Cabo San Lucas, where sport fishermen can charter fishing boats, buy tackle, clothing, or have rods and reels repaired.
Minerva’s Baja Tackle and Sportfishing Charters
Toll free U.S. and Canada: 1-888-480-7826
Calling from the US: 011-52-624-143-1282 or 011-52-624-143-2766
U.S. PHONE/FAX: 1-909-266-3154
When Stephen Jansen, a 6-foot, 3-inch tall Hollander, traveled to Baja in 1994, he succumbed to the siren’s call of fishing that could not be experienced in his homeland. He returned every summer and in 1994, he met his future wife, Monica Aragon in Cabo and they made a trip to Amsterdam in 1999 for their wedding. Upon their return, they started their own tackle store that has become renowned for their custom designed “Cabo Killers” lures and Baja beach fishing expertise.
JANSEN Inshore Tackle
Walmart Square, Cabo San Lucas, BCS
JANSEN Inshore Tackle San Jose
Cabrilla Street Mza 3 L te 2, Colonia la Playita,
San Jose del Cabo
There are also a series of Ferre-Mar Tackle and Marine stores located in Loreto, Insurgentes, Constitution, La Paz, and San Jose that carry fishing equipment and other marine products. Although I’m not familiar with them, I have received good reviews from local fishermen.
The advantage of having reliable tackle shops that provide the luxury of rental tackle as well as a well-stocked inventory, plus local knowledge and insight, is priceless and undoubtedly an important “game-changer” for both local and visiting anglers.
The peninsula that first brought my son and me to fish has changed. Equipment is easy to come by. There are few kids on beaches with tin cans hand-lining fish they caught in the surf. There is less hassle in packing your gear on flights, because of the excellent quality of tackle on most charter boats and the availability of stores along the way with modern tackle. Enjoy your Baja fishing in 2018.
With more than five decades of fishing experience – from light tackle and fly to offshore billfish – Gary Graham has experienced all aspects of fishing in the Southern California and Baja waters. His observations of species behavior, tackle and techniques are always from his unique perspective, earning him the respect of his peers as well as anglers who eagerly follow his Baja reports and features.
Gary maintained a home at East Cape in Baja Sur for more than 18 years and still spends nearly half of each year exploring the entire peninsula in his self-contained Roadtrek van. He observes everything Baja, from the mysteries of a tide pool on a deserted Baja beach filled with tiny sea creatures to the largest billfish in the sea.