It’s never nice to feel its essential to catch a fish. But today I had to catch a fish and it had to be a roosterfish. It’s been a rugged week for me with the menacing roosters. I hooked and lost a brute on day one and since it’s been heartbreak after heartbreak with chasers right to the beach.
Grant and I left before dawn from Sammy’s condo in Todos Santos, Baja and drove four hours for a beach virtually unknown even to Grant. It was a beautiful beach. There were no footprints or four wheeler tire tracks. It was a true untouched beach like you dream about. The only problem however, there was no bait and there were no roosterfish.
Rather than walk ourselves to death searching like I’ve been doing all week we grabbed a seat in the sand and chilled out. I drank a tall beer then fell asleep. Before we knew it the clock struck noon and we’d not made a cast or seen a fish.
It was looking like we wasted gas money but then a bait ball appeared and it was getting pushed. Although the tormentor wasn’t showing himself I dropped Grants freshly tied roosterfish fly into the flurry. I went tight in a second with an old friend that has brightened slow days for me here in Baja for more than twenty years.
The long thin gar-like fish was a significant giant Mexican houndfish. While most rooster fishermen (including Grant) frown upon such fish I was smiling ear to ear. The intimidating looking creature ran some line then jumped like a tarpon four times before I got ahold of him to retrieve my fly.
Grant was frustrated that I asked him to shoot the photo. He really hates giant needlefish but I could care less. I threatened to cast to a couple more before suddenly some larger mullet fled towards the beach. The cause had to be something good so no more messing around.
Four eye-opening roosterfish casually meandered from the deep into view. They were too far for a cast so I patiently observed as they mulled along. They showed little aggression slowly paralleling the beach at about 150 feet out. I walked along with them with my fly in hand dragging 80 feet of line ready to throw in an instant.
Nearly ten minutes went by when finally the lead roosterfish pointed towards the beach and proceeded towards the school of mullet. This was my chance and I launched a cast. The cast seemed right but somehow he didn’t see my fly as I raced it back to me in sharp long strips.
By the time I posted up for my next cast there were four roosters coming single file in a line. The lead fish had turned and started to head back out. I had to be quick before the rest followed and I landed the fly in front of fish number two. I crouched down and began vigorous strips. To my surprise the lead fish doubled back raised his comb and devoured my fly. Rooster on!
Roosters waste no time. This fish was big and he bolted across the sand then through the deeper turquoise colored water and soon the blue water. I still had plenty of backing but taking no chances I tightened my Bauer RX 6 reel drag a turn. My 9-weight Winston Jungle rod bent to the hilt and I backed up the beach for a better view. Finally the crackling run stopped and I began the tug of war. First it was inch by inch. Then foot by foot. Soon I gained control.
Landing a hefty roosterfish takes time – especially from the beach. The last thing the rooster wants is to be dragged to the shallows where his problems began. Each time I got him through the turquoise water he took off again. Eventually my Titan taper fly line was back on the reel and we could see the rooster. It was a giant!
Grant went bananas with his usual excitement. It wouldn’t have been any fun if he didn’t. I took a deep breath and went about my business. It wasn’t long ago I hoisted the giant African threadfin up the beach in much more difficult conditions. This one would be easy and it was.
I’ve taken three big roosterfish prior to todays but I think this might be my best. I’m not an expert enough to guess the weight of the mighty rooster but Grant put him at 50lbs. All I know is it did indeed feel like a bag of bird seed. Only this weight was firm and muscular from head to tail. He wrestled me strong through our blur of photos.
I released the amazing creature with ease. The striking dorsal fin never sagged meaning the rooster was strong and healthy for another day. I admired the fish one last time as I held the tail. Wow! The payoff for persistence struck again. I’ll never get sick of the ultimate challenges in fly fishing!
It’s another day and another Delta flight tomorrow. I’ve spent more time in planes this year than in my own car. I have no complaints. Next on the agenda is some catch up at home then Wednesday I’ll be a contestant in the annual Bass on Fly Tournament at Ririe Reservoir in Idaho. I hope to see you there!