THE BAJÍO ODYSSEY: MOBILIZING OUR MISSION THROUGH GLOBAL EXPEDITIONS
AT BAJÍO, OUR STORY IS ABOUT MORE THAN SUNGLASSES. WE ARE ON A MISSION TO PROTECT OUR FAVORITE PLACES AND THE PEOPLE WHO CALL THEM HOME. WE TRAVEL THE WORLD ON EXPEDITIONS TO RESEARCH, RESTORE AND INSPIRE. AND WE TRAVEL THE COUNTRY TO INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO FLY FISHING. IN THE PROCESS, WE MIGHT EVEN ENTERTAIN A FEW FOLKS ALONG THE WAY.
HERE YOU’LL FIND OUR STORIES. JOIN US ON OUR JOURNEY—AND ENJOY THE RIDE.
The places we love are the saltwater flats all over the world. The flats are the nurseries of our oceans. The flats also are our favorite places to fish offering some of the most beautiful water and beaches imaginable. These flats are important to the future of our oceans and the survival of our planet. They face many threats— from extractive industries and pollution to global warming and over harvesting—and they need our help.
So how do we help the saltwater flats, the indigenous people who call them home, and the next generation of conservationists who seek inspiration? Enter the Odyssey.
THE FIVE YEAR PLAN
In our first year, 2021, the Odyssey will embark on expeditions throughout the Caribbean including Xcalak, Mexico (check); Guanaja, Honduras; Cuba and Belize.
For year two, we move to the Atlantic Ocean Basin to visit Isla Holbox, Mexico; Abaco, Bahamas and Key West. Year three and four are Pacific Ocean Basin expeditions including The Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, North Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. In 2025, our fifth year, we will focus on the Indian Ocean Basinincluding expeditions to the Seychelles, Guinnea-Bassau, North Sudan and Gabon.
THE ODYSSEY CREW
The Odyssey crew is an eclectic mix of Bajío mentors and the next generation of anglers including an artist/marine scientist, a comedian/wildlife biologist, an educator, a filmmaker, a musician/guide, and a photographer. You can read their bios here.
This core group will grow together as anglers, friends and conservationists as they fish the flats, conduct research, clean up ocean trash, assist in GIS mapping, plant and restore coral reefs, and more.
There have been countless expeditions to the mysterious deep—that part of the ocean with bottomless valleys and other worldly luminescent creatures. And many believe that the depths of the oceans are the only parts of our watery world left to explore.
At Bajío, we believe otherwise. We wholeheartedly feel that much of what is aching to be discovered does not lie in the depths at all, but in the shallows. These parts of the ocean that are in plain sight, but about which little is known.
Our quest—the reason behind Bajío’s Odyssey expedition— is to find out more, so that we can learn how to protect and restore the saltwater flats all over the world. In order to do so, our expedition seeks to find and catalog these flats, study them, identify the threats, and develop plans for addressing the environmental issues they face.
The Bajío Odyssey will be the first expedition of its kind.
RENEW OUR OCEANS ONE FLAT AT A TIME
Protecting and restoring the planet’s saltwater flats for future generations is no small task. How will we do it? Bajío’s strategy is threefold:
In addition, we are putting a special focus on inspiring local young people to lobby their governments to protect their flats and to use the power of social media and public opinion to strengthen the cause. We are also doing our part at home to create stories (in film, print, music, art) that inspire a global network of young advocates to care about what’s happening to our oceans and to make their voices heard.
We cannot do it alone, but together we will fight the forces that are threatening the flats (namely big business, government corruption and greed). Evidenced by things like deforestation, irresponsible extractive mining, development, commercial fishing, ocean trash and other threats, we’ll expose the offenders and raise public awareness of who they are and what they are doing to our oceans. We already have a good start, but the movement will grow and gain momentum with each expedition, each scientist, each empowered local, and each story we share.
Giving Back with Gallo: A Story of Hope for Xcalak Beach
On Bajío’s recent Odyssey expedition to Xcalak, Mexico, we learned about an incredibly disturbing trash problem. Due to ocean currents and illegal dumping, vast amounts of plastics and ocean trash from neighboring countries and the cruise industry are being deposited on the shores of the tiny town of Xcalak—a mecca for flats fishing where you can catch permit, tarpon, bonefish, triggers, snook and cuda all on the same day.
We love Xcalak and its people and decided to do something about this growing trash problem. So we teamed up with local Liz Castro, daughter of Xcalak’s first fly fishing guide, and hired her to help us create a trash cleanup program. Liz manages 10-15 local people to clean up the town’s beaches and she hires trucks to haul away and dispose of the waste at recycling centers. This program is ongoing while we research and investigate the perpetrators causing the problem and work to stop it at its source. Learn more about Xcalak and its growing trash problem here.
Gallo is deeply bothered by the trash problem as well and allowed us to use his rooster painting on our fundraising gear as an effort to help clean up the town’s beaches.
Xcalak (pronounced ish-ka-lak) lies at the southern end of the Yucatan Peninsula near the Belize border—a dusty five-hour drive and a world away from Cancún. Xcalak is one of the most prolific and diverse flats fisheries we’ve ever seen, with healthy populations of permit, tarpon, bones, ‘cudas, triggers, jacks and snook. It’s also home to some of the most peaceful and beautiful people we’ve ever met. We fished and explored Xcalak for two weeks in November, 2020 on the Odyssey’s first official expedition. The first week, we were pounded by Hurricane Theta. The second week, we did the pounding. So. Many. Fish.
Xcalak has a few ecological problems that we can help the locals solve so that the fish and the people stay happy for years to come. But we’ll start with the fishing.
Here’s a window into the Odyssey’s first expedition:
As we travel the world striving to restore its flats, we will identify the challenges they face and do what we can to address them. We can’t do it all by ourselves, but we can use our articles, films, social media and other resources to call attention to these challenges and rally support.
XCALAK - ROOSTER STORY
When you purchase a Rooster tee or hat, $10 from the sale of each item will go to the Xcalak beach cleanup program. This equates to paying one worker for one full day.
XCALAK - SEIS EQUIS CHALLENGE
The Seis Equis (6X) challenges anglers to land six flats species on flies in a single day: tarpon, bonefish, permit, barracuda, jack crevalle and snook.
XCALAK - DREDGING DEJA VU
We’ve given a taste of the fish and folk, now we’ll take a look at some of the ecological problems facing the flats of Xcalak. What’s next? We’re keeping an eye on it.
XCALAK - POACHING PROBLEMS
Anglers aren’t the only ones after fish in this rich habitat. The flats are vast, and it’s easy for poachers to slip through undetected.
We have our bus. We have our boat. And we have Mr. J. Rockfish on board to steer the ship. But before we can hit the road, we’ve got some work to do.
The bus is looking fly on the inside. Jay’s discovered his inner carpenter. New seats, new solar power, a quite elegant maple countertop and bar.
When we first got the word that a panga was the boat we wanted, we searched online and found what looked like the perfect prospect.
We’re going to miss Solace, the people, the energy, and all the free advice! Jay’s been working night and day literally GRINDING.
You pull up in an old yellow short bus and nobody thinks you’re a punk. That’s Jay’s vibe too. People love him. He’s a humble school bus.