Byline: Bart Hall
Do you have something that you crave in your life? Do you crave chocolate, good cigars, mellow whiskey, gourmet food or great wine? Well, those are near the top of my list — but the thought of Rancho Leonero is always just below the surface of my consciousness. And when that thought finally bubbles up to top, I inevitably smile.
“The Ranch” is plain. “The Ranch” is simple. There are no “frills” at “The Ranch.”
“The Ranch” is isolated. There are no garish malls nearby. There are no overpriced restaurants serving bad food and horribly expensive tequila. There is no one selling you a timeshare introduction in exchange for golf.
It is not loud. It is quiet. It is 600 acres big, but it feels small.
It is beautiful. It is Mexico. And I love it there.
As you approach “The Ranch” on a sand/dirt road through a manzanilla and cactus forest, you are subconsciously preparing yourself for the most relaxing and exhilarating vacation you have ever had.
My daughter-in-law cried when she exited the forest and saw the simplicity of “The Ranch.” It was her honeymoon, and it wasn’t what she expected. Five days later, she cried again when she had to leave — and she can’t wait to get back to “The Ranch.”
It’s Old Mexico on “The Ranch.” You’ll find palapa roofs (which, by the way, are more expensive now then regular roofs) and giant Mexican flooring tiles.
There are no phones in your room and there is no television in your room. There is a very nice flat-screen TV in the bar. The bar is also the restaurant, and both are centrally located to all of the individual cabins and traditional hotel rooms.
The “Ranch” is a mixture of both. You can have a romantic cabin for two or several rooms in a row for large parties.
But that is just the skeleton. The meat of the “Ranch,” the heart of the “Ranch,” is the beauty of the Sea of Cortez directly at your feet. There is nothing like coming back from a day of fishing, cleaning up and strolling down to the outside patio, where your table is set for dinner.
As the sun sets over the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range to the west and the purple and gold rays reflect off the tranquil Sea of Cortez, time will stop. You will relax. You will forget your troubles and you will be one with the moment.
Oh, the fishing! The fishing is spectacular, especially if you approach it correctly. The potential varieties of fish that can be caught in the fishing grounds available to the “Ranch” are truly amazing.
If you wake up each day prepared to catch a variety of fish and you look forward to discovering what is biting today, without preconceptions of what you “have to” catch — you’ll have a great trip.
I get so excited each morning at breakfast because we just don’t know what species are going to be “hot” that day. Each fishing day can be an incredible adventure. If you go out and take what the Sea of Cortez gives you each day, you’ll have a fantastic trip.
Having said that, I do target large roosterfish when I’m there. But not every day!
I missed visiting “The Ranch” in 2012, because I had major reconstructive spine surgery. My recovery is still in progress, and I am not yet cleared to take on those giant “roosties,” but it will happen sometime this year — and I can’t wait to get back there.
Rancho Leonero is my favorite warm-water fishing destination. Give it a try!