Photos by Aaron Black-Schmidt and JP Van Swae
We sit on our boards off a chain of lonely islands in El Bahia de Los Angeles, looking back at the mainland of central Baja, three miles distant. The wind blows across the Sea of Cortez, hot and thick with humidity from a hurricane many miles away. We’d paddled against this wind on the way out here this morning and now it is our friend, and will send us back.
It’s our third and final day of hunting from standup paddleboards in this string of stark desert islands. Our boards are loaded with tools of the trade: fins, masks, snorkels, spearguns and most appetizing, our significant haul of fish. The SUPs gave us easy access to the shallow fisheries of the region and now all we have to do is glide across the channel and into a dinner of fresh fish tacos.
This is the story of our trip, from the crew that was there. The challenges and the triumphs of chasing fish in the Sea of Cortez. — Aaron Black-Schmidt
The Bay of L.A. is a very low-key spot. If you want to experience Baja like the guys from the old–time surf movies, then this is a great place. — Mark Lozano – Pro Freediving Instructor
The islands are close, but the distance is deceiving. The paddling was a
lot tougher than I expected. I would train before going on another trip
like this. — Rick DeVoe – Spearfisher, Ryder’s Dad
The paddleboard is a great tool for spearfishermen. It was great for navigating all these little nooks and bays on the islands. And it’s a great platform to dive off and hold all your gear. — Rick
Definitely the most challenging thing about the trip for me was paddling
upwind to get to the dive spot. You couldn’t even take a water break or
you’d get blown 500 feet backwards. — Ryder DeVoe – Pro Spearfisherman, 16 years old
Once you cross the border into Mexico, I can’t explain it: my
blood pressure drops, my pulse rate goes down and I know I’m in Mexico.
All the crazy sounds, the smells. It’s a different world. — Trish Fea – Firefighter, Paddler, Amateur Diver
The best fish that was shot, hands down, was by Ryder. He’s going to be an amazing athlete, an amazing free diver in his career. — Mark
I really enjoyed coming down here and seeing my son Ryder in his element. He’s forced me to get into spearfishing. We grow together and it keeps me tight with my son. It’s so awesome watching him bring up a big fish. It’s a great adventure. — Rick
Mark is a great guy and really inspires me on a safety level. He makes sure everyone is diving correctly (and using precautions). It’s great diving with a buddy that is so competent and knowledgeable about the ocean. — Ryder
Trish is funny, smart and pretty gnarly; she can dive to about 90 feet. Not to mention that the
first paddle was a breeze for her. She’s also a Baja veteran and super helpful. — Ryder
That was the first time I was able to see a whale shark in person. It was like a golden retriever that just wants to lick your face; that was the vibe that I got from the whale shark. — Mark
My favorite moment was when we encountered the whale sharks. I’ve been coming here for a number of years and have not seen them until now. So majestic, peaceful and calm.— Trish
What’s not to like about Baja? I love the weather, the water, the simplicity. The food’s great and the people are awesome. Then there’s the fishing… — Trish
Pulling into that cove on the last day was the ultimate L.A. Bay experience. We had no idea it was there; it was so pristine and unexpected. — Rick