Back from Vacation

Jean Ann, Sarah and I just arrived home after a vacation to Cabo, Mexico. You probably can correct me on the full name. But you get it.

Tired and happy to be back in the USA. Funny thing, I got searched every step of the way, but none of the rest of the family members did. They said it was random, but it got me randomly just about everywhere, including Dallas, Los Angeles and Fayetteville. I guess I look suspicious.

Checked off another bucket list place, thanks to my brother Butch and his wife, Lynn. They invited us to join them for eight days at Villa Del Arco, luxury beach resort at Cabo. He also took us deep sea fishing in the Pacific on a 39-foot charter, The Second Chance. I put the finishing touch on the fish of the day, a 31-pound durado. We ate that – and three tunas – for the next two nights at one of the marina restaurants, Pouchos. It was fantastic.

You can call durado a lot of things, including mahi mahi and dauphin. I’ll just call it “good eating.” The fish is as beautiful as it is delicious. Some liked the tuna better, but mahi mahi dripping in garlic and butter can’t be beat. We also got blackened mahi mahi, too. Three other nights we had imperial shrimp from the Sea of Cortez. There was also a sunset dinner cruise on board the Caborey with a floor show and a fantastic band. Butch did it up right from all angles. I think he’s vacationed five or six times usually two weeks at a time at Cabo. He knew all the great places.

Maybe Matt can post a few pictures since I"m pretty weak at that sort of thing.

It was a great trip, but about two days too long. I can only lay beside the pool just a few days and we had decided on the front end not to bring golf clubs. It was tough to turn down the deck hands at the marina for more fishing trips on some of our evening strolls, but one is about all I can afford at Cabo prices. I’m used to do-it-yourself fishing.

The deck hand aboard The Second Chance was impressed at the pictures of the brown trout I’d caught at home with tiny size 22 flies on 3-pound tippet – since they don’t use anything below 50-pound test. He IDed me early on as the “fisherman” on the boat and quickly subbed me into the chair when the durado was hooked. After I showed him my fish pics, he pulled out his phone and showed me some massive tuna, several over 250 pounds. And, some marlins.

After we landed the durado and clinched that it was a good day, we headed deeper into the Pacific in search of marlin. I joined Captain Roberto Nunoz in the tower to scan for fins. I did spot a hammerhead shark that was quite big, but we didn’t entice a strike when we did a U-turn and brought seven lures over it.

The captain informed me as we were docking at day’s end that the durado was the first of the summer for his boat. There had been two or three others caught by other captains in late June. It’s really not a summer fish and this was a good sized bull durado. The captains fly the flags of the fish caught for the day on their outriggers as they come into the marina. I got the yellow durado flag to keep. Now I wish I had kept the yellow fin tuna flag, too. Not sure where my flag going to hang, but it’s a pretty neat flag to bring home. I spent a little on a silver belt buckle of the Mayan calendar that is very cool, but I think I like the durado flag better.

I’ll probably write more on all of this later in the week, including some stories from the Montana trip. I’ll just call it “the summer fishing tour.”

Now it’s time to mow some grass. I am thankful to have a riding lawn mower for days like this. I’ve been gone for 10 days – in much milder weather – and that’s too long between cuts with the rain we’ve had in my neck of the woods.

Sounds crazy fun, Mr. Henry.

Yard work is done. Thank goodness. Now for a good old burger off my grill. I don’t think I’ll know what to do with no lime or cilantro on a meal?

Thanks to Matt for inserting my pics. Sarah looks kind of funny. She didn’t bring any fishing clothes, so I gave her my yellow Patagonia dry fit shirt about three sizes too big and a ball cap.

Or a tecate or to drink with that burger?
Sounds like it was an eventful trip Clay. A real fisherman is a fisherman whether on the Arkansas or White River, a Pond Bank or in the Pacific Ocean.

Blackened Mahi Mahi is one of my favorites!

Blackened catfish out of a DeWitt kitchen – or just fried – is mighty good, too!

The best fish I ever ate was fried catfish caught by Don Horton in the Mississippi River. I believe it was mud cats. I call them yellows. We caught them in the afternoon and ate them that night. He knew how to dress the fish and how to cook it. Fantastic.

I know you know about the differences between farm raised, river raised and the different rivers. There is OK catfish and then there is some that is beyond good. It makes a difference where they come from.

Farm raised gives you a consistent taste and texture but nothing beats a good deep fried, corn meal wild catfish! The taste is much more pronounced. You just can’t get enough of it to sustain a restaurant.

I still deep fry, as it is in my blood, but my favorite way to eat catfish now is blackened on a grill with a mango salsa in good flour tortillas…that is fine eating. I made them the other night. My wife says it is the best thing I cook.

First time I went to Cabo years ago we were fixing to do a night cruise. As we walk to our boat we passed Don Tyson’s, he was sitting in the back, having a drink. Johnny was a fraternity brother and I just made a little comment, he invited us for a drink and then took the guys out fishing the next day.

The fishing is often fantastic in Cabo. Apparently, we hit a spot where it’s not quite fantastic, but still good. The captain told me when I was up top with him scanning horizon for fins that there are times in December through February when they have seven lines out and all have a durado at the same time. He said, “You probably would guess this, but it gets a little crazy. We have many days where you can have two to three durado at the same time during those months.” Of course, they spend a lot of time chasing the big marlins, but I could be happy with just fighting durado and tuna.

Now, I’m just as happy fighting brown trout below Bull Shoals Dam. It’s technical fishing with light tippet on low water during the summer months. But I had some really good days in June before the Cabo trip. The water flows are amping up now and so I won’t get to fish that spot for awhile unless we get a big storm through the Buffalo watershed and they have to cut back flows. That’s about the only way we are going to get low water over the next six weeks while they evacuate Bull Shoals Lake. There is about seven feet of storage space left in the lake. And, that’s the biggest part of the lake. Quite a bit of room. But they need to drop the level. It’s going to be OK unless we get a tropical storm headed this way. There might be one in the gulf now capable of messing us up. Hopefully, it doesn’t come this way.

I did write on my summer fishing trips today. But it’s going to run as the Outdoor section of the newspaper later this summer. So it won’t be on-line for a few more days. Sorry if anyone thought they would read it this week. It was fun to write, kind of like reliving the trips.

Looks like a good time, Clay. Glad you made it back safely.

I hate the travel part. The trip to Mexico was through Dallas. Smooth and uneventful, other than getting searched. But the trip back through LAX was a beast. Going through customs was too many lines and was stressful (at least to me).

Jean Ann and I don’t travel together much. She will take her trips with the girls to the beach and I’ll go on my trips. We have taken a few vacations that require air travel, including our 25th anniversary about 15 years ago, to Maui.

It was kind of funny that on the 6-hour plane trip back from Maui, she leaned over to whisper in my ear, “We don’t have to ever do this again. This flying over the ocean is not great fun. We can just hang out in Arkansas. I like it great there.” She did almost the same thing as we were flying over the Sea of Cortez at one point last week. I am guessing we don’t go back to Mexico again.

This is a long way of saying we are glad to be home safe.

Mud Cats really!!!
Don must have been a whiz cooking those. I always preferred channel catfish out of the cold running water of a river.

We did catch channels, too. Maybe the mud cats were White River. Definitely mostly channels in Mississippi. But mud cats, too.

Up until about three years ago, my brother and I would meet annually for fishing on Lake Chicot, down at Lake Village. We always caught beautiful channel cats and he would filet them and cook them a few hours later. Like eating candy! My fav of all time. I hear Chicot is a mess right now, what with all the rain, etc. Had some great times down there, but the memories of those fried cats are the best…

I like crappie first. Walleye second. Catfish third. But, with the right preparation and cooking (with fresh oil) and the right hush puppies, the totality of a catfish dinner can zoom to the top.

Now, what I had with fresh mahi-mahi at Pocho’s in the marina at Cabo, I’m just going to say right up front, that was darn good. Getting the fresh guac fished table side. I’m not a tequilla guy. But they brought out some Don Julio 1942 that was fantastic. Again, I’m not someone who wants tequilla. Not saying it makes my clothes fall off, but it does things to me I don’t like. Maybe good tequilla would not.