FISHERMEN, FARMERS AND FUN
While attending the ICAST tackle show in Las Vegas this past July, Ali Hussainy, founder of www.BDOutdoors.com, introduced me to Julio and Alma Meza, who own and manage one of the larger produce operations in the coastal community of San Quintín, Mexico.
The huge agricultural area on the shores of Bahía de San Quintín is located 187 miles south of the San Ysidro border crossing on the west coast of Baja Norte. It is very similar to the San Joaquin Valley in central California south of Sacramento with one exception — it's on the coast. In addition to agriculture, San Quintin offers fishing, boating, camping, bird watching, surfing and clam digging.
While strawberries are his business, fishing is Julio's passion. It's not surprising that he also owns FISHCO, a rapidly expanding retail tackle store based in Ensenada with a growing handful of small shops throughout Baja.
Since 2004, Julio has sponsored a variety of tournaments but the one series that evolved from his efforts and has gotten the most attention is the Governor's Cup. This series is not to be confused with the "Copa de Gobernador Tournament," made up of individual events that were first conceived during the term of Baja Sur's El Gobernador Narciso Agúndez Montaño in 2006 and designed to introduce sportfishing to the locals.
Julio's series, III International Sport Fishing Circuit or "Governor's Cup," involves not only adults, but the children as well. It features a three-venue competition that includes San Felipe, San Quintin and Ensenada, allowing teams to accumulate points from each event to determine which anglers are declared the champion in their division (men's, women's and children).
If you took the time to research it, I would guess that there are fishing tournaments every month of the year somewhere in Baja — from small localized affairs to the internationally recognized Bisbee's Black & Blue in Los Cabos. I usually attend a number of the events, so adding another tourney to the travel schedule didn't seem possible. However, Julio Meza's enthusiasm convinced me to attend at least one of the Governor's Cup series, and we agreed on San Quintin, which took place the last weekend in August.
I traveled down with Pedro Sors, host and producer of one of the most popular Mexican television sportfishing shows, Con Caña y Carrete, along with his cameraman and Julio's mother, Amalia Meza, who entertained us with stories during the trip. I am usually the driver and seldom a passenger, so just sitting back and watching the landscape whiz by was a treat.
We were met in a restaurant in San Quintin by Julio and his family where we were served an excellent lunch before driving the few miles out to the Old Mill Hotel overlooking Bahía de San Quintín. It was like stepping out of a time machine as memories of my past trips flashed all the way back to the 1970s when founder Al Vela and his wife owned and managed the hotel.
The crowd in front of the registration table grew as the afternoon turned to evening. A mix of locals, farmers, and participants from the first event in San Felipe, as well as tourists arriving from the U.S. began to line up to register for the one-day affair.
Stories were told and laughter rang out. A couple of Vagabundos del Mar members who I had met earlier in the summer at their Dorado Tournament in Loreto called out to me from their table. They had driven down from central California to check out this tournament. I introduced them to Pedro Sors who explained the tournament to them and I later watched them sign up.
By late afternoon, the Mexican band began playing and the party swung into high gear. I spotted one of the Vagabundos posing with a couple of the Corona girls — he was wearing a big grin from ear to ear.