George (Osprey) Bergin – Author / Storyteller
Prolific author / storyteller who entertained so many of us over the years with his creative writings... View more
Prolific author / storyteller who entertained so many of us over the years with his creative writings before passing in 2018 at his home in La Ribera
Are you sure you want to leave ?
Big Baja Fish
Big Baja Fish
By George Bergin
There is a club for liars. I think the official name is the International Liars Club. I do not know the requirements for membership.
From time to time, on a slow news day, perhaps you can recall, like me, reading or hearing about their annual meeting/contest and the announcement of the winner of the year. The winner, that is, of the biggest lie contest. I can’t guess at what other things could jam the busy schedule of this once-a-year gala but the lie-off, I’m sure, is the big thing for these folks. The liar who won in l989, took the honors with “I once met an honest fisherman”.
I have been a fisherman all my life and, like most fishermen, everywhere, I can take good-natured kidding. This Liars Club thing just went too far. It is a sad commentary on the media people when they publish hurtful things just for the sake of profit. I suppose, in this case, they felt comfortable publishing such slanderous stuff because “fishermen” are such a large and diverse group. They believed that if they offended everyone who fished, the insult would be diluted by the number of people they slammed.
Who are these “fishermen”? The term almost defies definition — I will give you my idea of the kind of people who are not in the group. A true fisherman is not a person, age 71, who for the first, last and only time was invited to go fishing, in a boat, on a lake. We are talking about a group of people, who, once hooked, cannot NOT GO FISHING. These are not people with a hobby or a passion, they are analogous to groups called “people who eat food” and “people who breath air”.
Where the rumor started, that fishermen lie, I do not know. If I were pressed I would have to say it had something to do with the description of the fish they didn?t land; those wiley creatures that evaded capture. The ones that got off the hook right at the boat, shore, ledge, bow, log, ice, etc. The fish are gone and can’t set these stories straight but I can tell you there is a big, big gap between an out and out lie and a little exaggeration. Even in the Mexican culture here in my little fishing village in Baja California Sur, the distinction is very clear. A liar is a “mentiroso”, one who tells untruths but an “hablador” is a storyteller, a teller of tales.
If I’m right, it’s this occasional exaggeration about a lost fish that keeps the fire burning. Is it impossible that out there, in every fishable body of water, are fish that are unusually large and strong and aggressive? Is it so hard to believe that these anomalies of the fish world exist? If they are bigger and stronger and fight harder, does it not follow that they are the very ones most likely to escape?
Where are these wondrous fish? Did they all die? Are they still out there waiting to be caught? I’ve been pondering this for a long time. I dreamed of fishing the waters of the Sea of Cortez when I was just a kid. My dream began to come true 30 years ago–I have been able to fish this wonderful sea on vacation outings almost every year while I worked in the U.S. and now that I am retired here I can jump into my little “panga” fishing boat anytime the urge strikes me.
There are grumblers complaining that the Sea of Cortez is “fished out”. “It’s not like it used to be”, “the long-liners have got em all”, “the shrimp boats have ruined everything”, “the hotel boats and commercial fishermen have damn near wiped them out”, etc.,etc. These comments, and worse, mostly from fishermen who lack skill or luck. Lately I have heard happier banter right here in my village. The fishermen here, “pangueros”, are talking about the “pez de historia”, the “story fish” that still abound. Some say they sometimes school up and they have been seen around Cerralvo Island, north of here and as far south as Punta Frailes. I believe them.
Exactly 12 days ago Julio and I were trolling slowly with dead macerela at the nine mile mark – west to east, looking for scum lines or signs of surface action. At 10:20 my big Penn reel went off, singing a loud, sweet song of disappearing 80 pound tournament mono. We could not believe our eyes when a huge Dorado, estimated at 150 pounds, almost seven foot of fish, went thrashing at the end of my line.
Since the largest Dorado caught in this area, in all of known fishing records, was 76 pounds you know our hearts were at full throttle and all the juices were flowing. My 55 HP Johnson outboard motor thrust the small craft forward to set the hook deep in the mouth of the monster. He was hooked good, took two more beautiful leaps, took another 150 yards of line in what seemed like parts of a second. Julio took the helm and was after him, I reeled as fast as the brute would allow and just as we both felt good about the control, the line went slack.
I did not hang my head about the loss of this great fish — I finally got my chance at a “pez de historia” and now have a genuine fish tale to tell my kids and grandkids (and anyone else who will listen). I’m just glad it happened now, before all the big ones disappear.
Log in to reply.