2017-08-04 / ReBooted

By Hook or Crook

Jill Gleeson

I didn’t even come close. There was no yank at the end of my line, not so much as a tiny tug indicating I’d even briefly hooked one of the creatures swimming beneath the surf breaking on the beach. I was standing, feet driven into the cool sand, hands clutching an impossibly long rod, on the western edge of Mexico, next to a beautiful hotel called Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort. Technically located in the bustling tourist town of Cabo San Lucas, Pacifica is actually miles from the center of the city, perched along the sea. One of the activities offered to guests, along with lazing by a sparkling pool with a swim-up bar and hitting an opulent spa, was fishing off their strand. I’d signed up, intrigued with the promise my catch would be turned immediately into ceviche by a chef stationed under a tent nearby.

I really wanted to hook something — how satisfying would it be to feast on a fish you’ve just snagged?

More importantly, the pastime was a tip of the hat to my grandfather. My father’s father had been an avid angler. Some of the strongest memories of my childhood involve fishing with him, my grandmother and my brother. I remember bright, hot sunlight, sitting on the shore of a lake and catching sunfish. They were too small to eat, and too injured to throw back. I vividly recall trying to make their gills work by pushing on them with my small, chubby fingers. It never worked. I hated that, but I loved the time spent with my family.

They’re all gone now, even my brother. I might have been melancholy as those long-ago days passed through my mind. But the sun was too warm, the sea too spectacular. And I was too inept; when you’re as bad at something as I was at fishing you have to laugh. I don’t know if it was the unsteadiness of standing on sand that always felt like it was shifting under my feet, or the ridiculously long pole that I was attempting to cast, but I was a disaster. The worst part wasn’t all the times I managed to get the sinker only as far as the water’s edge, or the weird way I sort of chucked the rod forward, which ended with me perched on one leg, like a baseball pitcher with terrible form. The worst part was when I nearly speared the guy fishing beside me with my hook. It happened at least three times and always resulted in our lines snagging, which took forever to untangle.

I don’t consider myself a quitter but it wasn’t long before I gave up. It was strangely exhausting casting that endless rod. I figured it was only a matter of time before I hurt someone. I was so far from catching a fish there wouldn’t even be a “one that got away” story. I handed my equipment to the deeply patient Pacifica employee who had been attempting to school me in the finer points of angling and trudged up to the tent.

There was a strawberry daiquiri waiting for me that was so frosty it gave me a momentary headache as I slurped it down. The chef had been smart, too — he’d brought plenty of fresh seafood from the kitchen and was dousing firm-fleshed whitefish with lime juice, letting it “cook” in the acidic liquid and adding chilies, tomato, cilantro and onion. I couldn’t imagine the ceviche being any better even if I had caught the fish myself.

It was just one of the gastronomically joyous meals I had at Pacifica, but I think it was my favorite. Sitting under the tent, eyes turned to the ocean in hopes of spotting the whales that often swam there, was as relaxing as a day at the spa. It had been a difficult start to the year; both my parents were struggling with health issues and, fishing success or not, the tranquility I encountered on that beach was deeply welcome. It’s true that you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes it really is just as fine when you get what you need. •SCM

For more information about Pueblo Bonita Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, visit

Jill Gleeson is getting set for the biggest adventure of her life. Follow her journey on her blog at and via her column at

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