Arctic Baja

January 31, 2011

One of my hardest things in life is getting a good nights sleep. I am not a sleeper. In fact, that’s how I have time to write blogs, paint, speak, sort photos and fish so much. I hardly ever sleep. But yesterday after the long day of travel I hit the wall and last night I was out by 9 and didn’t crack an eye before 6. Of course traveling with the Sammy who is a doc, he may have had something in his bag to help with that. Nonetheless, I felt great this morning.

Grant Hartman wasn’t kidding when he warned us the weather was off down here in South Baja. This morning was far colder then one would expect. It was 49°’s! Then the wind kicked up and I can honestly say it turned into one the windier fishing days I can remember.

Our first move was to buy gas under a bright pink sky and get coffee. Then with coffees in hand we drove 2 hours up to Ciudad Constitucion across the Baja desert. Even during daylight hours, one must be very careful on this piece of road because of fog from Magalena Bay.

Once in CC we had a great breakfast at a street side restaurant, picked up few items and headed for the Pacific. It was a bumpy dirt road for nearly 2 more hours before the ocean was in sight. I already mentioned it was windy, but I’m telling you it was nearly unbearable. The ocean was a frothy mess and looked unfishable.

We drove some dirt roads and beach roads before we parked at the mouth of an estuary. It looked like a place with some shelter but when I stepped out of Grants truck I nearly got blown over and the car door almost blew off its hinges. It was no laughing matter.

There was little confidence amongst the three of us but on a short trip like this you take what is given and go for it. The only good news was that things had warmed up considerably from when our day started. It was about 70°. I rigged up Sammy with my 10-weight Ross FW and a Rio Tropical Outbound Short line and off he went. I followed with my 9-weight and the same line. Grant wisely rigged a spin rod and a plug.

My past experiences in and around estuaries in Baja are that you can expect to catch numerous different species such as halibut, corbina, corvina, spotted sea bass and various grouper and snappers. A good fly for any of these fish is chartreuse Clouser Minnow. In fact when you’re in any sort of doubt Clousers are a good fly for any fishing situation.

Sam and I walked down to a channel where the mouth of the estuary met the open ocean while Grant headed out to the teeth of the north wind and started hurling his plug far out into the raging surf. Time went fast while somehow Sammy and I were getting some decent casts. I think most the time we simply had the violent wind behind us and roll casted about 80 feet with ease. Our biggest hindrance was actually entanglement with drifting seaweed rather than the wind.

In the distance I could see Grant hucking long casts into the surf. Over and over I could see him working hard with the plug. I kept a watchful eye hoping he would find some fish and then we could head out and join him. Sure enough I finally saw his rod bend. He had a fish on. And although he was a long way away I could see that the fish was a good one.

Sammy reeled in immediately and headed out to see what Grant was into. I was feeling good about the particular area I was in so I continued. I had waded out to a sand bar and was prowling the surf in hopes of a corvina. I could still see Grant in the distance and by now he landed what appeared to be a pretty nice fish. We were in search of one nice fish of any flavor for dinner and I was excited to see Grant carry the fish up on the beach.

Grant was further away then he looked and it probably took Sammy nearly ten minutes to reach him. I watched as Sammy waded the surf near Grant and started casting. Sammy lasted in the spot about three minutes then he left the water and started running to where the truck was parked. Something was going on.

I reeled in and met Sammy on his way. Grant caught a nice snapper and they were in a hole out there. Sammy made one cast and got broke off in seconds. I had Sammy rigged up with a 20lb tippet and it wasn’t enough. He was heading for the truck to find some heavier stuff. I had some and I quickly tore off five feet of 40lb tippet and looped straight to his and my fly line and back we went.

By now Grant was running to the car because he hooked two more snapper and got broke off by both because he reel was failing. We passed each other and I got to see our dinner snapper which was a beauty about 7lbs. When Sammy and I got to the spot, I set down my rod and walked out in the thrashing surf with my camera to try and get picks of him hooking up and landing one of these gorgeous snappers. On his first three casts he had three strikes and swirls but couldn’t hook up. Then nothing for five minutes. I then went to shore grabbed my rod and joined the fun.

Grant got back and couldn’t believe we didn’t hook up. I guess when he caught that first one there were snapper everywhere. We all casted out for awhile before Grant hooked up again. This fish was way out far beyond where Sammy and I could reach. This was another dandy and after a long fight Grant landed a 10lber which he then released.

We continued pounding the area, but that was it. The snapper vanished as fast as they appeared. Then we all began to realize how cold and wet we were from the wind and splashing surf and although I made a weak effort to fish the estuary itself, we packed it up.

This trip was planned to be a camping trip. But wherever the heck we are, Grant found a cheap hotel on a beach and we got a room. I could care less but Sammy and Grant didn’t want to deal with camping in the wind and cold. Once settled we took Grants snapper to a small restaurant here in the village and they cooked it up for us and it was fantastic. As I prepare for bed its freezing cold but the wind has stopped. We can only hope that our opportunities for the fly will be better tomorrow.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

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