It always fascinates me to consider the spiritual links that connect us with our distant cousins of millennia past, and fishing has been a consistent human accomplishment for about 40,000 years depending on who you ask.
Of course, now we’re doing it to such an advanced extent that not only is it even possible to reel in a quarter-ton fish in the first place, but we’ve turned it into a game of who can do it best simply to showcase our dominion over kingdom Animalia…these are the tangential origins of Puerto Vallarta’s Torneo de Pesca…again, depending on who you ask.
The Vibes: What is indisputable is that most early examples of long-term human settlements show evidence that the bounty of the sea represented a staple food source, and indeed, there has not been a major departure from the basic principles at play during the Stone Age, as tool sharpness and pottery for storage (and beer) were perfected during the era.
These innovations have been indispensable to the piscatorial pursuit ever since, and so in tribute to our fishing roots I stopped at a Kwik-E-Mart approaching Los Muertos Pier to gather some pocket beers and bear witness as the final events of this two-day competition unfolded..
A better day for a fishing tournament could not have been illustrated by the inspired hand of an artist, boats drifting in from deeper waters of the Banderas Bay to have their catches weighed and measured. A crowd steadily amassed on the sands of Playa Los Muertos, drawn by live music from a towering stage on the Malecón and a palpable atmosphere of anticipation…oh, but the result of the competition wasn’t the only point of anticipation among the assembled.
You see, everyone who attended won this event: there were free fish tacos for EVERYBODY!
The Vices: Now, I grew up a city boy, so something I found out relatively late in life–probably during my time in Mexico, even–is that fish such as marlin and mahi-mahi are as massive as they are delicious. I’m not sure why, but I had always thought of these open ocean dinner fish as about the same size as continental fish, like a trout or something.
As any angler knows, I was talking out of my aft end with that idea.
Oh no, a catch of a magnitude that could take this trophy can easily weigh 450kg (about 1000 imperial units), so it’s the perfect size to feed plenty of people…I’m betting these are the fish Historical Jesus used to feed all those hippies that one time.
I didn’t purposely choose this city for the seafood, but I have to say it’s a strong side benefit. Our proximity to the ocean–seriously, look up, it’s right over there–means that there are plenty of delicious fishes swimming beneath our sparkling waves, just patiently waiting for their turn on the grill. From little streetside taco stands to beachfront restaurants where you can sink your toes in the sand while savoring an entire red snapper, this town has it all in the seafood section.
Still, I don’t think I’ve had anything quite like this plate of simply served sailfish…grilled to tenderness in the huge outdoor kitchen before being brushed with a marinade, partnered with beans and rice, and offered to the public, this fish was also awarded posthumously with a medal of honor as a prize-winning entry in the competition. You could really taste the victories of multiple millennia in every bite.
The Verdict: I try to make gratitude a central theme in my life, and I know I’ve gone on and on about it over the past two years spilling ink for Team Tribune but this is the greatest time to be alive, and it’s not even kinda close.
Not that I’m a waterman by any means, but events like last weekend’s Torneo de Pesca highlight the gifts entrusted to us through modern life on the Pacific Coast…and public events being essential to a healthy society, they help make Vallarta a better place to live for everyone. Keep an eye on the Tribune for updates on upcoming celebrations of our location…maybe I’ll catch you there.