Palabras Pintorescas - ‘Better luck next time, Carl’

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By Editha Bartley

Every glorious October is different in the mountains. I know this because I have lived in these mountains for so long. Yes, we have had a few fall rains, sparse by old time standards, but at least the dust isn’t that deep yet.

This October aspens show of reds, golds, greens and every color in between, has really been spectacular, and has lasted for a while.

When in the guest ranch business we used to say October 10 was the peak day, but this year it is still spectacular here a week later. With that picture in mind, I can’t understand why anyone would just pack up and leave this area for parts somewhat unknown with our glorious mountains still in their full color regalia.

However, my grandson now lives in Seattle, and his father has an October birthday, so they decided to celebrate Seattle/northwest USA style by getting on a boat and salmon fishing on the big and real rivers up there.

A follow-up report for son Carl noted they had fun with the kids, but never caught a fish, much less filled a freezer with fresh salmon.

Now, if I had been along it might have been a totally different story.

I have been pond fishing once, here, actually in desperation when our resident guest couldn’t catch a trout or two for his bride. I tangled up my Jim’s fishing line so bad he had to cut it out of the brush. But every time I threw out a hook with a worm on it I caught a trout, thank goodness.

Beginners luck they said ... Patty was our tour guide with Sun Tours when I decided to tackle Copper Canyon in Mexico for the first time. We had a full day of Los Mochis, and most of the tour was to visit the historic town there. Patty wanted to go deep sea fishing, but the boat crew had to have five of us to sail. I had no interest in sitting in a small speed boat with four other “fisherman” and three Mexican guides/fishermen. I figured that with my luck the boat would spring a leak and we’d probably never see a fish.

However, one shouldn’t argue with a persuasive tour guide, I was told, so I reluctantly donned an old life jacket and we set sail. Our captain spoke little English but we soon got the drift. We were going into good fishing waters, where we could catch enough fish for the fish tacos we were served for lunch. Our guide fastened chunks of fish on to our rods that had huge hooks on them, and all we fisher people did was hold them and hope (pray?) a fish would sink its teeth into that smelly feast.

Three of our fisherman were seasoned deep-sea fisherman, I might add, so they expected to fill a big garbage can with just-caught fish.

Miracles do happen. I was the first person to catch a fish, and Patty caught the next one. By the end of this game, sport, competition, event, I had caught the most fish and she had caught one of the largest. Most of the small fish the guys caught went for more bait.

Our captain decided we should pull into a shady cove for lunch. Out came an old frying pan that was fired by a very old hot place, and suddenly homemade tortillas were “cooked” in this pan, then the chunks of fresh fish went into the pan, along with some onions, salt, pepper and hot sauce.

The huge avocados were chopped up, along with lots of fresh tomatoes, and we were served the best fish tacos I have ever eaten, anywhere (and I have eaten a lot of them, including some made by Mexican street vendors, no less).

So, fishing is not my sport, but the two times I have been fishing, I can at least say I caught something, and no, it wasn’t a bust. Better luck next time, Carl!

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.