Caption: Rosarito Beach Hotel’s new fishing pier stretches out a quarter mile into the sea. // © 2013 Rosarito Beach Hotel
By Mark Rogers
Catch and release makes a lot of sense in some fishing circles. But I’ve always been of a different frame of mind: I like the idea of catching dinner. On a recent evening in Rosarito Beach, I enjoyed fresh ocean breezes and a beautiful sunset while catching enough fish to feed our family of eight.
Rosarito Beach is about 20 miles from the U.S. border crossing at San Ysidro, Calif. One of the landmarks of Rosarito is the towering Rosarito Beach Hotel, a presence in the city since 1925. Hugo Torres, the hotel’s owner, thinks big and, a few years ago, he oversaw the construction of a sportfishing pier behind the hotel that stretches out a quarter mile into the sea. What’s more, clients won’t have to be a guest to enjoy the pier.
The pier is popular with families and couples posing for photos, but the ones extracting the most enjoyment have to be the hardcore fishermen at the far end of the pier. They line up with a full range of equipment, from sturdy deep sea fishing rods to tin cans with line wound round. I found that the fishermen were full of helpful advice — from which bait to use (pieces of shrimp work best) to the prime time to fish (the hour before sunset). Most of the anglers rig their lines with four hooks, and it’s a common sight to see one of them wind their reel in with four fish twisting and turning on their lines.
It wasn’t long before I was casting out and catching a full string of mackerel and smelt. I was told that tilapia could be caught closer to shore, where the waves were breaking. Other fish regularly taken in include halibut, rays and sand bass.
Guests at the Rosarito Beach Hotel can rent fishing equipment at the hotel, and the kitchen will even prepare the catch. Back at “Casa Rogers,” we marinated our cleaned catch overnight in soy sauce, garlic and lime, then fried them accompanied by slices of chilled avocado, cucumber and tomato, with a bucket of ice-cold Pacificos.
Stepping out on the pier is an enjoyable way to pass a few hours and could easily be combined with a day on Rosarito Beach. Vendors ply the beach with churros, tostilocos and roasted corn; strolling banda bands complete with tuba, horns and clarinets play for pesos; and horses trot back and forth carrying riders. A day on Rosarito’s beach and pier add up to a colorful slice of ultra-affordable Mexico.
Guest blog written by contributing writer Mark Rogers.