Making way through desert roads that were friendlier than I had expected. Looking forward to the future while shooting directly into the immediate past.
Months of chatter about this trip rained over phone calls, emails, texts and a number of missed after-work gatherings.
So much planning, strategizing and preparation goes into an adventure like this, it only adds to the anticipation and mild anxiety you experience before you even leave. I did nothing in the way of help plan outside of line up an editorial feature for a future issue of The Bight and make loose demands for healthy options on the menu. The mission: drag expensive boats into primitive environments below the border in search of vicious Cabrilla, perhaps even a mystic ‘golden grouper,’ all in the name of adventure. We would shoot endless photographs and capture the excursion via cinematic machines and share our experience with a captive audience at a small theatre near Kicker Fishing’s HQ – sprinkling tasty crumbs of inspiring imagery over the fibers of the internet to keep the school close to the boat. This was THE PLAN. We’re sticking to it.
As an 8 man crew moving in a 4 vehicle convoy, Myself, Justin Hugron, Randy Spizer, Matt Florentino, Ben Florentino, Capt. Jimmy Decker, Sayer Danforth and Brian Konoske maintained radio contact vehicle to vehicle through a gauntlet of piss breaks, a border crossing and a few scenic vistas on our way South, below California. Another group of friends were traveling in splintered packs and we would meet up with them later at the final destination in Shangri-La.
Like a feral pig barging through the plains – BK’s Toyota Tundra eating dirt in it’s native habitat.
Upon arrival, we made camp and went through some tackle preparations before the crew split up and stormed the beaches like frothing hyenas on a fresh kill. The spirit of this adventure would not wain throughout our 5 days in this pre-historic paradise. From this point on, I’ll leave the explanation to this imagery, which is only a small glimpse of what was captured.
Technology was ever present in a Land Before Time. Droning roadside during a trailer check and leg stretch.
Letting the days go by, waiting for this very moment. Living out a plan and moving closer toward the next step.
Perfectly primitive camp mode. Baja lean-to surrounded by adventure vehicles, tents and beer.
Enough pulse to keep your mind going left.
Our daily point of entrance. A volcanic natural launch ramp with morsels of man-made additions to help out during lower tides.
Brian Konoske – work flow.
I watched Justin from a distance, wondering what he might possibly be thinking about. Everything and nothing all at once is the way I imagined it.
Months of planning lead Justin Hugron straight to the path of enlightenment. First fish of the first evening on foot patrol.
Nights were spent by the campfire, talking the talk. We would recollect the day and strategize the attack plan for tomorrow.
Mexican morning magic. The pre-dawn view from my portable toilet.
Hugron tinkers and Decker makes considerations of what the day may bring while Sayer puts the vision into the machine.
Go Small. Go Simple. Go Now.
Headed further South in search of biting fish. Benny Florentino at Command.
Baja bounty brought joy abound. My smile is real and my memories forever.
Photo: Justin Hugron
Color selection was not a priority, rather an exercise in creative measures.
Photo: Justin Hugron
Buttoned drags and jacks make for lively rail-time. Hugron stays bent while Decker inhales the freshest of air in between battles.
A common sentiment throughout the trip – thorough excitement. Decker on display and Hugron mid-tangle.
The lone snapper that followed us back to camp.
Hours below the border, I found a familiar face while on a tortilla run. Me gusto Max. Los Heelers Azules Siempre!
Shallow, dangerous waters filled with angry, hard fighting fish. Centuries of untouched beauty unfolding in front of our eyes at moderate speeds on long drifts.
Soft plastics can leave you at a disadvantage in this region. This poor fella had his throat ripped out by a trigger fish.
A sticky situation at the end of the line.
Matt Florentino with an impressive cabrilla that was released to continue it’s life of violent tendencies. This fish was affectionately named, ‘Jumbaco.’
One of countless connections made while out of cell range.
Benny celebrates a momentous capture surrounded by ancient melodies blowing in from the North.
Sayer Danforth, intentional and unconventional – keeping record as Hugron toils over the endless opportunities.
The end of the cycle for this trigger fish began the first course of dinner for the birds.
Individual experience separated by mere feet. You can be on the same boat but in different Worlds. Randy Spizer, on a distant Planet in his mind, makes a long cast into the ‘outer chowder.’
There will be many stories told from this trip – through still and moving pictures. This adventure would not have been possible without generous support from AFTCO, Kicker Fishing and Ridgemont Outfitters. Stay tuned for updates that will ultimately lead to an awesome party, an entertaining short film and some plans for future destinations around the planet.
The beginning of the end. The last of the dirt and the first of the hurt. Headed North, back to where time matters and the clock starts ticking as we count down toward another voyage.
Thank You Justin Hugron, Randy Spizer and Matt Florentino for your hard work going into this initiative. Thanks to Benny and Decker for dragging your offices into unknown territory in search of LIFE! Special thanks to Sayer Danforth and Brian Konoske for documenting everything and being such awesome cameramen/anglers. Thanks to the Dana Point boys that have been doing their thing down there for years – you guys are entertaining savages!
Big Love to our Wives and children for trusting our primal instincts and letting us run Wild, Below California!