Hooked On Baja, By Tom Gatch, (The Countryman Press, Woodstock, Vermont, 2007, 206 pages.)
Book Review: By Dennis Moore
November 11, 2010 (San Diego) -- Tom Gatch, who has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and photographers focusing on outdoor and recreational topics in Southern California and the Baja Peninsula, has written the definitive book on where and how to fish Mexico’s legendary waters, Hooked On Baja.
This book is chock-full of pictures and stories of anglers navigating the waters of the Baja California peninsula for that “big catch,” be it Pacific dog snapper or roosterfish (pez gallo), one of the most coveted gamefish in all of Baja Sur.
The book is much more than a fishing guide, as Gatch incorporates helpful information on how to go about purchasing and legally securing real estate property along the picturesque coast of the Baja California, as well as deliciously authentic south-of-the-border recipes, such as Ceviche La Fiesta and Scallop Ceviche. (see recipes in food section of East County Magazine).
The Baja fishing maps that Gatch includes in Hooked On Baja are valuable tools for fishermen desiring to navigate waters of the Baja California peninsula, serving as guides for anglers to use as starting points in their quest to find fish. One such map is for “Isla Los Coronados,” located just below the border barely 18 miles southwest of San Diego. The Coronado Islands are the closest fishing venues in Baja for United States anglers who are targeting summer favorites such as yellowtail, bonito, white sea bass, and occasionally, even bluefin or yellowfin tuna.
In the introduction to his book, Gatch refers to “The Magic of Baja” as “A magical place where the sun shines practically year-round and squadrons of hungry pelicans cruise mere inches above the surface of the ocean each morning in search of their breakfast. It is a land that is almost completely surrounded by seas that range in color from light turquoise to a deep, intense indigo.” The vivid pictures throughout the book, some provided by Gatch’s wife Lynn, will attest to that.
Gatch indicates in Hooked On Baja that his love affair with the Baja California peninsula began more than five decades ago when his family used to go camping near the Punta Banda Estero south of Ensenada. After a day of fishing and swimming on a sun-drenched beach, he would reluctantly slip into his sleeping bag and allow himself to be lulled to sleep under a blanket of stars by the sounds of the pounding surf and the changing of the tides at the mouth of the sandy inlet. The way the author describes it makes you feel as if you are actually there.
In his book, Gatch speaks of driving down the highway from the famed lobster village of Puerto Nuevo, which I myself had the pleasure of partaking in a lobster dinner at, after leaving the Baja Book Festival in Cantamar. Incidentally, it was at this book festival in Cantamar where I obtained from the author this book rich in Mexican history and points of interest.
The author has actually written a companion piece to this book in the East County Magazine that further defines his experience in Baja California: “Weekend Getaways: Up on the Hill.” (October 25, 2010). It explores the beauty and tranquility of “Punta Banda,” a narrow, mostly barren finger of land that pokes out into the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of Bahia Todos Santos near the City of Ensenada.
In addition to providing extensive information on how to get the most out of your Baja California experience, this book will also focus on the great fishing to be found along both coasts of the peninsula. You will learn the best ways to take advantage of an opportunity to experience the kind of angling and outdoor adventure that most people only dream about.
The author sums up this picturesque and enlightening book by indicating that by the time you finish reading it, his sincere hope is that you will be “hooked on Baja” every bit as much he has been. I’m definitely hooked!
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, California, and the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.