Manzanillo’s Personality Of The Month

2010 March 2010 Terry Sovil

By Terry Sovil from the March 2010 Edition

Hugo in his younger days with a billfish

Hugolino Rodriquez Martinez – A Personality of a Lifetime

PERSONALITIES, LET’S TALK LOCAL legend in the fishing, boating and marina arena. Hugo (remember to drop the “H”) has been in Manzanillo his whole life. He has been on Manzanillo waters for 29 years, starting at the tender age of 14. He is now 43. A more pleasant and outgoing personality you will never meet. Always smiling, always a “can do” attitude and wise beyond his years. Pointing out my advancing years his response was “the mountains are old but they are still green”.

He started as a shark fisherman, moved to sport fishing, long lines (he got out because it wasn’t fun, it was just about money), back to sport fishing and a stint at snorkel tours for a resort. Now he uses his vast experience in all areas of fishing and boating. Hugo is well-known “on the docks” and all over town.

Hugo’s command of English, including a lot of slang, has all been learned on the boats. When he was late teens he always carried both English and Spanish dictionaries and when needed, he would look up a word up, ask for pronunciation and help. He’s done very well!

On December 31, 2007, a humpback whale somehow ended up inside the port. Hugo watched the whale along with many curious boaters. He decided he could swim with a whale just like all those folks on TV. He approached and touched the whale near its head. He describes the whale seeing him out the corner of its huge eye as it began to dive. He ended up near the tail where the whale slightly lifted him up. He has a scar on his lower left shin from the encounter but he swam with a humpback in the port of Manzanillo!

Hugo also wrestles billfish! He jumps in for marlin and sailfish as it makes the fishing tour more interesting and provides something for guests to photograph and talk about. He used to wrestle turtles and bring them to shore. He said the visitors and tourists would flock around to photograph the turtle and him.

Hugo earned his PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water diver ratings in 2009. He is continuing and seeks a PADI Divemaster rating. He holds a Mexican Captain’s license, a license that requires a class, a test and a little pride in earning it.

In addition to fishing and diving Hugo also knows about boats, engines, fiberglass, electricity, maintenance and is able to diagnose and fix a variety of problems. With his many talents he is always in demand or acting in a consulting role among his peers.

When asked about fishing in Manzanillo Hugo assures me that there are fish to catch. He also reminds me that fishing is still fishing; “Sometimes you catch them, sometimes you don’t.” The waters still contain Spanish Mackerel, needle fish, amberjack, barracuda, dorado (mahi mahi), roosters (rainy season) and yellowtail. What has become scarce are sharks, you must go a long way offshore, perhaps 80 miles. He blames the Japanese fishing fleet for the absence of sharks. Also gone or rare are small mackerel, saw fish, swordfish and big schools of tuna and billfish. He says equipment is still pretty much the same but fishing fleets are larger, nets have larger holes and long lines are still used. The nets now catch larger fish that used to escape but are now caught around the gills. Long lines are illegal but still used and he shrugs and indicates maybe money is used if someone is caught.

One of our first SCUBA pool sessions I somehow ended up with a scorpion in my gear. People watching shouted for me to keep still as I entered the water. It was climbing my shoulder looking for higher ground. Hugo swam over, found it underneath the neck on my wetsuit, grabbed the tail so it couldn’t sting and got it to the edge of pool and an untimely death. How many people do you know that would grab a scorpion by the tail? Hugolino Rodriquez Martinez did.


Hugo with a billfish and swimming with a humpback whale in the port!

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