Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Rosarito Beach

Veteran angler Steve Carson hosting free fishing seminar Monday at Sport Chalet, Marina del Rey

Carson_tuna Veteran angler Steve Carson, whose Irvine Lake fishing reports appear weekly in Outposts, will be hosting a sport fishing seminar Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sport Chalet in Marina del Rey.

Carson will be sharing tips on how to catch more and bigger fish -- and have more fun doing it -- in Southern California, Alaska, Mexico and elsewhere, and covering fish including  albacore, yellowtail, trout and tuna. He'll also discuss teaching kids to fish, and how to hopefully keep their interest up while fishing.

Carson, Penn Fishing University program director, has an impressive resume. He's ranked No. 3 in the world among International Game Fish Assn. membership for the most different species of fish (235) caught on rod and reel; named one of the "Top 30 anglers in the West" by Western Outdoors magazine in 2006; and inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2010. Carson is also a radio personality, outdoors writer, pro staffer for Penn, Rapala, Luhr Jensen, Berkley and Flambeau (to name a few), and tournament director for the Berkley Alaska Grand Slam, Lake Oroville Open Bass tournament and Penn International Baja Grand Slam tournament.

There will also be a prize drawing, with the chance to win an overnight trip from Fisherman's Landing, a pair of admission passes and boat rental at Irvine Lake plus additional prizes from Rapala, Berkley and others.

Admission to the seminar is free, but attendees are advised to arrive early as seating is limited. The Marina del Rey Sport Chalet is in the Via Marina Marketplace, 13455 Maxella Ave.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Steve Carson with a nice tuna caught last fall out of San Diego. Credit: Steve Carson

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Rosarito Beach Pro-Am surf contest rescheduled for Aug. 22-23

RosaritoProAm22agosto The inaugural Rosarito Beach Pro-Am looks as though it will finally become a reality Aug. 22-23, next to the Baja California city's pier.

The surf contest, which offers $10,000 in prize money, is open to pro and amateur shortboarders, who can register at Active.com or by calling (858) 272-2191.  

The event was planned as an ASP World Qualifying Series tour competition to be held much earlier this summer. The once-thriving tourist destination 30 minutes south of the U.S.-Mexico border had hoped the contest would distract from so much negative publicity generated by Mexico's warring drug cartels.

But the ASP dropped its support and contest organizers had trouble landing sponsors, so the event, with a pro-am format, had been scheduled for last weekend. But that conflicted with the inaugural Quiksilver Pro Puerto Escondido, which is still in progress on the Mexican mainland.

So the dates were changed again and, finally, all the pieces appear in place. Monster Energy is the presenting sponsor. Quiksilver Mexico has climbed aboard. So has Swatch watches.

“We have made some large strides in the last week or so and feel that the new additions will not only help with the branding and promotions of this year’s event, but help the idea that this could be an annual event for the City of Rosarito," said Jeff Stoner, contest director.

Registration is $100. The contest will stream live via webcast and the Rosarito Beach Hotel is offering discounts for competitors. Now all that's needed is a swell!

-- Pete Thomas

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico begging tourists to come back

Pisces Sportfishing crew in front of waterfront Cabo San Lucas office. The owner of Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas e-mailed me the accompanying photo of her crew with the caption: "Come on down, everything is fine here, weather is fantastic and we are waiting to catch you some fish.”

Everything is not fine. The mega-resort community at the tip of Baja California is in dire straits, thanks to the same factors that affect tourism in all of Mexico: global recession, drug-related violence and the swine flu scare.

It doesn't matter that the latter two issues are localized in other areas. As far as many non-Mexicans are concerned, because of what they've seen on TV or read, the entire country has plague.

In Cabo, which was built initially around sportfishing, the main drag is all but deserted. Hotels are nearly empty. Cruise ships aren't coming. The number of flights have been reduced. Tracy Ehrenberg, longtime Pisces fleet owner and wife of a prominent politician, said the town is emptier than it was in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes and a subsequent devastating hurricane.

But tourist destinations throughout Mexico, as the worst of a flu-related heath crisis seems to have passed, are begging people to come back--and some are doing so imaginatively. 

Continue reading »

Swine flu: Is it real or merely an excuse for when economy plummets again?

Conspiracy theorists abound. I know a guy who's certain those contrails streaking the sky are caused by pilots secretly spreading diseases, for whatever reason, and he undoubtedly is curious about the recent outbreak of swine flu.

This same guy, an avid hunter and fisherman, has a gigantic water tank in his house, for when disaster strikes, and an arsenal with which to defend himself when anarchy reigns. He thinks Twitter is a tool used by the CIA to spy on citizens.

So it's no surprise that, as the CDC is advising Americans against travel to Mexico (putting a damper on my upcoming fishing trip to Cabo San Lucas), and as the media are frightening people back into hiding within the relative safety of their homes, that the theorists are becoming vocal. Below is just one example. I don't buy into it, but there are many, including my hunter-fisherman friend, who might. Enjoy:  

Rosarito to Ensenada bike race proves festive, friendly and safe


Longtime fans of the twice-annual Rosarito to Ensenada Fun Bike Ride who missed Saturday's spring version because of concerns stemming from drug-related violence in Mexico's border areas might note two things:

1) The 50-mile ride was staged without major incident and, according  to race promoter Gary Foster, not one of the 3,500 participants fell victim to organized crime, and 2) sign-ups are being accepted for the Sept. 26 ride.

This from Foster: "At the start line, I thanked the participants for coming, especially those from the United States, and asked them, 'When you go back home, tell your friends and families about your experience. You can see for yourself that this is not a dangerous place for tourists.' "

Fastest time to the finish-line party was 2 hours, 5 seconds. No official word on how much beer was consumed. But the unofficial word: lots.

-- Pete Thomas


Photos: The starting line, top, and the Powerade girls courtesy of Gary Foster (pictured)

Rosarito Beach woes worsen as abduction, killing occur before big weekend

Mexican soldiers patrol the main drag through Rosarito Beach earlier this year.

***UPDATED AT 8 p.m.: With new information from the mayor's spokesman.

An abduction of a Mexican boy and killing of a security guard who apparently was trying to intervene occurred Wednesday night in Rosarito Beach, and the timing could not have been worse as the Baja California tourist town prepares to greet more than 3,000 visitors who will participate in Saturday's Rosarito to Ensenada Fun Bike Race.

As noted Thursday afternoon by "Tio Honcho," a regular Outposts reader, "A 16-year old boy who was practicing for the bike ride in his neighborhood in Rosarito was kidnapped by a squad of heavily-armed commandos. A police officer in a guard shack who tried to intervene was also kidnapped and his decapitated body was found this morning in the back of a car at K30 on the Scenic Road. The boy is the son of a prominent Rosarito restaurant owner. There is no known drug connections. This was a kidnapping-extortion."

Ron Raposa, speaking on behalf of Mayor Hugo Torres, confirmed the incident. He said the boy, the son of a local business owner, was abducted across the street from his home at 9:45 p.m. "by at least three hooded men armed with automatic weapons." A private security guard also was abducted. His headless body was found today in the same vehicle used during the kidnapping.

Raposa said via email: "Mayor Torres has requested additional federal police to assist in the investigation. The kidnapping appears to be an example of organized crime/drug cartels targeting Mexican businessmen and family members for ransom as an additional revenue source. Some cartel members have turned to this as the Mexican government's crackdown on drugs becomes more and more effective."

It has not been determined whether the abducted boy was in fact practicing for the bike ride, which has a 30-year history with no major instances of crime, promoter Gary Foster said.

-- Pete Thomas

 Photo: Mexican soldiers patrol the main drag through Rosarito Beach earlier this year. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times

Rosarito-Ensenada bike race Saturday: fewer folks but festive


The start of Saturday's Rosarito to Ensenada Fun Bike Ride will not look anything like the 1998 scene pictured above (it's one of only a few race photos in our database.)

Because of a poor economy and safety concerns stemming from Mexico's drug war, crowds are expected to be down substantially, but the mood among competitors should be just as festive and the Tecate girls at the finish line just as beautiful.

"Sadly, we are anticipating only about 3,500 riders, and we attribute it mostly to bad press in the United States," said Gary Foster, race director. "For our business, 7,500 is average, and break even is 5,000."

Foster's frustration is understandable. As mentioned before on Outposts, some media outlets have unfairly implied that all of Mexico is unsafe, even though victims of the drug war have been almost exclusively people involved in the drug trade or authorities waging the  war against them.

"We in the U.S. are fueling the drug demand and supplying the weapons, yet we are quick to assign blame on Mexico and paint a distorted portrait for the sake of sensational ratings," Foster continued. "The media campaign against Mexico is doing nothing to hurt the bad guys. It's hurting no one but the average citizen: the taxi driver, the hotel housekeeper, the cook, the souvenir shop owner. Tourists are not the target, nor are they in danger."

Registration will be open from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. For details, click here.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Associated Press

Body found on Tijuana beach reportedly had drugs, alcohol in system


Condolences remain in order for the family of Shane Pennington, as Tijuana police have been unable to determine what led to the 19-year-old ending up stabbed to death and lying near a beach nearly two weeks ago close to a bull ring not far from the U.S.-Mexico border.

However, a sad set of circumstances has been revealed. The North Carolina man, who had been working for an Orange County meat company, was identified Monday by his mother. As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Pennington had marijuana, cocaine and alcohol in his system when his body was found March 24. And the knife used to kill him may have been given to him by his mother as a Christmas present.

The Union-Tribune, citing an anonymous law enforcement source, reported that license plate readers recorded Pennington's meat truck driving into Mexico at San Ysidro at about 7:30 p.m. March 23. Three hours earlier, they had recorded the truck driving into the U.S. from Mexico, suggesting that an earlier previous entry into Mexico was made but not recorded.

Salvador Ortiz, assistant attorney general for Baja California, ruled out organized crime, so Pennington was not believed to have crossed one of the drug cartel factions. But nor did he seem to be a typical tourist, which has to come as a relief to Tijuana and Rosarito Beach officials, who have stated repeatedly and still maintain that tourists are not being targeted by warring cartel factions.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo by Kenneth Adelman

Tijuana's purging of bad cops necessary, but is it working?


News item: Mexican army this week arrests 23 municipal police officers in Tijuana on charges they were working on behalf of the drug cartels. The suspects will be detained 40 days while prosecutors investigate alleged ties to organized crime.

Reaction: Mexico's struggle to root out corrupt cops seems almost as futile as the United States' attempts to reduce demand for illegal drugs flowing through Mexico. But at least Mexico has finally acknowledged corruption as a major issue, one that has turned tourists away by the thousands in border towns such as Tijuana and Rosarito Beach. Police in these border cities, which used to be so popular among tourists, have received pay raises and are regularly screened. (If their bank accounts suddenly grow or they show up for work in a new new car, these are certain tip-offs.)

But the Tijuana cartel, like cartels in other parts of Mexico, seems to have little trouble persuading good cops to turn bad, so the cycle continues.

A sad commentary, isn't it?

Related: Mexico's war against the drug cartels

— Pete Thomas

Photo: Celebrants from a nearby quinceanera noisily pass through of La Libertad, one of Tijuana's oldest neighborhoods, in a convertible Cadillac. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times

Will Mexico's drug war lead to tighter gun control laws in U.S.?

Gun_opt-1 Hunters, target shooters and general gun owners: Try to imagine living in a country that has only one gun store. It's run by the army,  and buyers, who often wait months before receiving a permit, have to prove first that they make an honest living.

They must also undergo a psychological exam. The number of guns one can own is restricted. Ammunition sales are limited. Areas where guns can be carried are severely restricted. Selling guns to another person requires gobs of red tape.

That country is Mexico.

The Arizona Republic today ran a story on Mexico's gun-control laws, among the strictest in the world, and quoted a Mexican gun shopper as saying, "If the United States had a system like ours, we wouldn't have so many problems here in Mexico."

Agustin Villordo was referring, of course, to the heavily armed drug cartels, whose weapons come primarily from the U.S. And his statement surely will cause U.S. citizens -- who cherish their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms as they cherish their freedom --  to collectively cringe.

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Mexico's president rules out joint raids with U.S. in drug war--good or bad?

Mexican soldier stands guard over an arsenal of sophisticated weaponry captured last year during a raid across the border from Texas in Reynosa. News item: Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Monday he has ruled out joint raids with the United States as part of the effort to minimize violence among drug cartels the border.

Calderon instead asked for more cooperation, equipment and logistical support, and implored President Barack Obama to do more to reduce demand for illegal drugs and stem the flow of weapons across the border.

Reaction: Fine for now. Mexico's ramped-up efforts to fight the cartels have been substantial and the U.S. should focus on contributing factors on this side of the border.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration will be unable to slow  demand for illegal drugs and will have powerful gun lobbies to contend with regarding the weapons issue (gun sales have been brisk these past several months because of fears Obama will enact stricter gun-control measures).

But that's where the U.S. effort in the drug war belongs at this point: in the U.S.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Mexican soldier stands guard over an arsenal of sophisticated weaponry captured last year during a raid across the border from Texas in Reynosa. Credit: Associated Press 

Mexico's drug war doesn't add up as a safety threat to tourists

El Arco frames the Cabo San Lucas shoreline.

I recently booked a May round-trip Alaska Airlines flight to and from Cabo San Lucas for a base price of $150.00. The after-tax rate of $249 is perhaps the lowest I've paid for a trip to Land's End in 20 years.

Of course if you've watched the news, you know that Mexico is now ruled entirely by drug lords and crooked cops. I'll have to dodge bullets, inspect shadows for kidnappers and check my fish cooler for human heads.

But sometimes you just have to let caution fly and have some fun....

Seriously, the U.S. media, despite admirable coverage of most aspects of Mexico's high-profile drug war, have frightened thousands into believing they face certain peril if they set foot in Mexico.

In truth, many stand at least as good a chance of becoming a murder victim in or near their own communities.

So implies Frank Koughan, executive editor of the Burro Hall website and a former producer for CBS News' "60 Minutes."

In a recent blog post, Koughan, who for nearly three years has lived in Queretaro on mainland Mexico, repeated a point I've stressed often on Outposts: That the vast majority of the 7,000 or so people murdered in Mexico during the past 16 months were involved in the illicit drug trade or worked for law enforcement agencies fighting the narco war.

Continue reading »

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.