A Beast of a Roosterfish on the Fly

by | May 7, 2019 | fly fishing for roosterfish | 4 comments

fly-fishing-for-roosterfishWe ended yesterday a little discouraged with the slow roosterfishing in the morning then the entourage of people on one of the best beaches during the afternoon.  It seems that do it yourself roosterfishing is a hot item these days.  As an angler of Baja for more than 20 years its hard to swallow.  But I get it.  Roosterfish are an amazing species and every fly fisher in their right mind wants to catch one. 

 

roosterfishingToday we visited a smaller lesser known beach.  A beach that for whatever reason, doesn’t attract roosters like the big ones near Cabo.  When we arrived it was chilly and there was a strong wind and intimidating waves crashing the beach.  But there was plenty of bait and the feeling that roosterfish were around. 

 

Sam-Vigneri-roosterfishingThe feeling of fish around gradually left us.  One hour went by with nothing.  Then another.  I pulled out my phone after three hours of nothing.  It was already noon.  Then at 12:30 PM, exactly as I popped a can of Pacifico to break the monotony, the predators of the Baja beaches came charging.  This is Sammy’s trip so kept my beer in hand and watched as Sammy went to work casting to the barraging roosters under the eye of Grant.

 

These roosters angled from the deep towards the beach for a bait ball that had been in front of us all morning.  There were at least three, all good size fish over 25lbs.  The roosterfish fury happens fast and after three hours of nothing you’re not always as prepared as you think you are.  While Sammy got several good casts, most were not his usual missiles.  The wind knocked a few short and his line tangled in his feet and got hung in the waves and sand.  The entire frenzy only lasted a few minutes leaving Sammy fishless shaking at the knees.

 

fly-fish-MexicoThis crazy excitement is why Sammy, Grant and I love fly fishing for roosterfish from the beach.  It’s one of the ultimate fly fishing challenges and when all goes well and you land one it’s the most satisfying fish to catch.  I finished my beer and got ready for the next rush.  Sammy on the other hand, cracked a Pacifico to calm the nerves!

 

Over the next hour we had our chances.  Several groups of roosters of all different sizes attacked bait along the beach.  We blew casts and made casts.  We each had a couple roosters follow our flies.  What folks new to roosterfishing don’t realize is that roosters are finicky eaters.  They follow as if you got them but then turn away from a fly faster than most fish.  You never know if the cause of their refusal is your fly pattern, your strip or if they saw you.  Sometimes they follow right up onto the beach with their combs spread high but never eat it. 

 

roosterfish-bajaI’d been chasing two big roosters down the beach the opposite direction of where Sammy and Grant were headed chasing their own group of fish.  When I say big I estimated each to be over 40lbs.  It was my knees shaking now. 

 

I got a few good casts but they never chased.  If I had to guess then I’d say my fly was too small and they weren’t interested.  But the fish kept in sight and I didn’t dare waste a couple minutes to change to a bigger fly.  I’m glad I didn’t.  One of the fish lined up perfect.  I followed with my best cast of the day.  I stripped on it hard and the fish came charging.  He didn’t crush the fly and instead began the follow.  But as my fly got within 3 feet of the beach his comb came up.  No doubt he was about to eat my fly.  Then he did!

 

Jeff-Currier-Winston-RodsI hooked him with several strip sets.  The rooster turned sideways to the beach and I saw his true size.  He was GYNORMOUS!  Instead of running he shook his head violently side to side.  I’ve seen this behavior before with giant fish, this is their way of winding up before takeoff.  10 seconds of his attempt to ditch my fly, then off he went along with a fly line and ton of backing.

 

Anyone who claims such nonsense that Winston Rods are only for trout need to listen up.  This rooster took off faster and ran further than any fish I’ve hooked from shore.  The only one close would have been my Africanus in Oman years ago.  Three minutes into battle however, I was concerned my Winston rig with my Bauer 6 reel was about to be spooled.

 

Bauer-Fly-Reels-Jeff-CurrierI was spooled by a bonefish my first trip to Belize in 1988.  That’s because my funds didn’t allow me to invest in a better reel before that trip.  It happened on my Hardy Princess which honestly, had no business saltwater fishing.  If I had a good reel I’d have been fine.  But a good reel back then wasn’t anything like my Bauer Reel. I’ve proven around the world that Bauer Reels can stop about anything.  I wasn’t getting spooled again.  Me and my gear had to land this fish.

 

The best way to explain my strategy in this fight is this:  If I took my 4-weight rod and let you walk across the lawn with my entire fly line and into the backing and asked you to break my 4lb tippet – I don’t think you could.  The stretch in the line, the bend in the rod – my tippet would cut your hand if you got anywhere close to breaking it (try it).  You’d have to break the rod first and that would be hard too.  So in order to stop this fish before running out of my backing, I cranked my Bauer drag nearly to the max and raised my Winston high.

 

Jeff-Currier-Grant-Hartman-roosterfishBy now this massive roosterfish was 250 yards away.  My Winston, the 9-weight Air, bent like I’ve never seen before.  And despite Grant, who was now nearby, warning my rod angle didn’t look good for the rod, I held my ground. 

 

The rooster slowed but he did not stop.  But my Winston held strong and though my Bauer lost backing slowly it was smooth like no other reel I’ve ever seen.  It was like magic, and regardless of being down to my last 50 feet of backing, I knew this fish was in the bag.

 

roosterfishSure enough, a couple minutes of my strategy and the fish stopped with less than 25 feet of backing to go.  I pictured him huffing and puffing 275 yards out.  I cranked and reeled like a mad man and gained back a 100 yards before his next run.  It must have broken him because that next run was about 50 feet.

 

Jeff-Currier-roosterfishFor the next few minutes I reeled and hoisted.  Eventually I had my fly line in sight.  Then on the reel.  Then the fish was in sight (holly crap he was big).  Then to the surf where I used a wave to get the rooster on the beach where Grant was waiting.

 

I don’t know if this fish is as big as my beauty in 2016, but he was a roosterfish off the beach of legendary size.  When I exchanged position with Grant and raised the tail I was in awe.  You just don’t see many fish like this one of any species let alone a roosterfish in this day and age.

 

Jeff-Currier-monster-roosterfishThe most important thing was to get the hook out and release this marvel of a rooster back to the sea alive.  No doubt he was tired but luckily, he also remained full of spite.  It was all I could do to handle him.  Sam and Grant fired some pics and in less than a minute I was watching the big fish swim away.  What a moment!

 

roosterfishingI was soaked head to toe.  After the fish left my sight I actually dove into a big wave and swam out cheering and celebrating.  More than 20 years of roosterfishing and there are very few moments like this.  When I climbed back up on the beach I retrieved my rig and kissed the reel.  Wow.  It was decent angling but my equipment performed insanely!

 

I didn’t feel it at the time, but my hand was dripping of blood.  Getting the hook out of the basketball size mouth was a reach.  Roosterfish don’t have sharp teeth but they have extremely abrasive mouths.  I was torn up but with a smile.

 

roosterfishI didn’t cast again today.  I relaxed and let Sammy have a shot at every rooster that came.  There weren’t may however.  Usually after you catch a big rooster from the beach the schools leave and for the most part they did.  At 4 PM when the light to spot fish was no longer possible we called it a day.

 

Its 9 PM now and Sammy, Grant and I completed a nice dinner and a few beers.  Anytime someone lands a brute roosterfish, or any fish for that matter, it calls for celebration.  Now its time for rest because we all have one thing in mind – catch another.  Stay tuned for tomorrow!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

4 Comments

  1. Lance

    HOLLY CRAP!!! Incredible Rooster from the beach! Congrads! Now get Sammy going…. I know Grant will do his thing..

  2. RM Lytle

    Wow what a fish! Gorgeous animal!

  3. Jeff

    It certainly is a beautiful creature RM. So unusual in that there are no other fish similar that I’ve run into. And Lance, we will indeed fight for Sammys rooster – and next week I’ll be guiding Granny.

  4. Kevin Yoshida

    Can’t wait to see Granny posing with a big bad boy like that! Way to go Jeff!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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