Fishermen are dreamers—big dreamers—and one of the visions that makes a saltwater fisherman's workaday life bearable is the one that transports him to Baja California, dropping him gently on the shore of the Sea of Cortez. Francis Golden—angler and artist—realized the dream, and the palpable evidence is shown on these and the following pages in a portfolio that is the next best thing to experiencing the rugged charm and beauty of this land to the south, where the vivid green and blue waters teem with marlin, roosterfish, dolphin and yellowtail.
Off Punta Colorado, 80 air miles south of La Paz, the artist's eye catches a fisherman who spent a quiet morning fly casting for roosterfish. None of the big roosters showed, but success came with numerous mackerel and ladyfish. Offshore a large yellowtail fell to the mate's gaff (right) after a running fight. Natives, with the help of donkeys, gather stones ashore to be used for building roads and houses.
A common sight at Punta Colorada is the shark fisherman wandering over coastal waters in his small boat with a harpoon ready across the bow. No captured fish are ever left to rot on the docks; this striped marlin, under the watchful gaze of a retriever, is being lugged ashore, where it will be smoked by the natives to make delicious fare.
The resorts on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez are completely devoted to fishing. The best way to get to them is to fly to La Paz—either from Los Angeles via Aeronaves de Mexico or from Phoenix via Air West. Each resort has its own airstrip and can be reached by air taxi from La Paz (about $20). Cabo San Lucas—at the tip of Baja—has three lavish hotels. Farther up the coast are four resorts, somewhat simpler in style.
Bahia de Palmas—65 miles southeast of La Paz—is the oldest of these, roughly built, with concrete floors and palm-thatch roofs. The Rancho Buena Vista, a couple of miles down the bay, is the largest of the four, with 40 rooms. The newest place is the farthest north—Punta Pescadora. It is better constructed and less deliberately rustic. Fifteen miles south of Buena Vista is Punta Colorada. Most of the fishing for roosterfish and marlin is done within three miles of the Punta Colorada's front door. Prices at these places run about $15 per day per person, American plan. Boats rent for $65 a day for four fishermen with captain and mate. Tackle can also be rented for about $3 a day, but fishermen usually bring their own.