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Heavy Wind Blows Final Day Away

The last day of Baja 2017 (unless I return in Dec) was a full one but a bust.  The wind cranked in our face all day from the beach and we saw one roosterfish and no jacks.  Granny will have to come back for her first roosterfish.  In general, major fish were slim pickings.  We got two roosters and two jacks.  At least this Pacific jack crevalle from last night was as big as some GT’s!

 

Overall it was a fantastic trip but next in line is a trip to NH mainly to see family.  Next weekend is Moms 75th birthday and it will be good to check in and see how dad’s doing.  I can promise some days in Back Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee and plenty of warmwater fishes.

 

And, its official, my annual Henry’s Fork Marathon will be Tuesday June 20th, the second longest day of the year.  We will meet in the Last Chance parking lot at 7 AM.  Or if you want some campfire time Granny and I will be camped in the gravel pits on Monday night at around 8 PM.  Everyone is welcome to join on this fun long day of fishing that will end around 11 PM Tuesday night with beer and good food at TroutHunter.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The Biggest Jack Crevalle of My Life!

Gary Bulla Baja trips start early.  Granny and I are visiting Gary while he has a group of 12 clients.  He bases out of Baja Joes Hotel and his staff had coffee and breakfast on the table at 6 AM.

 

After breakfast Granny and I drove with Gary and his group to meet up with five pangas and his Mexican Captains.  Gary has been working with these Captains for over twenty years and they specialize in teasing in dorado and roosterfish so clients can catch them on the fly.

 

Though Gary is booked solid this week, he generously offered to drop Granny off on a remote beach for a passing roosterfish and catch some fun fish off the rocks.  I staked out a position on the beach for the roosters while Granny took my 9-weight and went to town fishing a flashy Clouser Minnow around the rocks.  Here are a few of the neat fish she managed to catch.

Pacific dog snapper.

Panama graysby.

Cornetfish.

An unusual fly rod catch, immature female Mexican hogfish.

Granny releases baby Jack!

 

Many of the fish I listed here Granny caught multiples of.  She had a lot of action and a great time.  If you find yourself on a roosterfish trip in tough conditions and slow fishing, hitting the rocks for a morning is an enjoyable way to get a tug.  Just before Gary picked us up to return to civilization we kicked back with some lunch and a couple Pacificos.

 

Gary Bulla photo

Gary had us back to our truck around 2 PM.  He and his group had a fantastic morning.  Conditions were ideal with light wind and they teased in several roosters and some dorado.  The dorado have been small this year but they are spectacularly colorful big or small.

 

 

Granny and I had a date with some big jacks that we saw yesterday.  When we returned to the beach it was silent.  Not a Pacific jack crevalle in sight.  No roosters.  Absolutely nothing.  As you know, we stuck it out, but Granny took a nap.  I went for a walk and without any warning, the jacks ambushed a school of mullet along the beach.

 

 

 

There’s no time in a situation like this to wake up Granny.  As much as I would’ve preferred she catch this fish, if I waited they’d have been back out to sea.  I fired a cast and in one strip with my roosterfish streamer I was on.  And this fish was a beast!

 

For roosters and jacks I fish straight 30lb Scientific Anglers Fluorocarbon and after a sizzling run 50 yards into my backing I heaved back.  When on the beach you need to avoid letting the fish get too far from you or else.  At first it was inch by inch, then foot by foot.  Then once I had the jack coming my way I reeled as fast as I could and pumped the fish in.  I landed then released the largest jack crevalle I’ve ever seen in my life!

 

Tomorrow is our last day. . . .

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Last Push for Granny’s Roosterfish on the Fly

I have some great friends that either live in Baja or spend much time in Baja.  Granny and I are trying to keep things interesting and not fish the same area twice.  I dropped a random email to my friend Gary Bulla who is often in Baja hosting fishing clients, hoping he was around with time for a beer.  He was here and he had time.  He invited us to his place for dinner and a complimentary room at the hotel he takes over for his clients.

 

We didn’t rush out of bed early to get to Gary’s.  We slept in, enjoyed an hour of coffee time and a big breakfast then did a four-mile barefoot beach run.  We pushed it hard at the gym (part of Sammy’s condo gig) then at noon headed to another of my old roosterfish stomping grounds for the last hours of fish spotting light.  However, not so fast.  We had a flat tire to tend.  And, the jack with our rental car was incomplete meaning we needed to thump our way into a service station for some tire work.

 

Flat tires are a common thing when fishing abroad on twisting dirt roads and beaches.  The locals know how to fix them and in less than 30 minutes our tire was repaired and we were on our way.  Soon we were overlooking a rarely fished rooster beach and had it all to ourselves.

 

A great beach all too yourself doesn’t mean your guaranteed a roosterfish.  Or a jack for that matter.  Despite excellent conditions, from 2-5 PM we never saw a roosterfish.  This being said, there was a school of massive Pacific jack crevalle.  Granny made some perfect casts with the same popper that caught us a jack few days ago.  She got one to eat twice but never got a hook set.  Two chances and they were gone but I think we shall return for them tomorrow.

 

It was a fun night at Gary Bulla’s hotel.  Gary has been running hosted Baja trips for more than 20 years.  He has 12 guests this week and we had dinner and a little party time with them tonight.  His folks are terrific and we had a whale of a time.  So much fun that they invited us to fish with them tomorrow.  Gary’s trips are by panga boats so Granny and I are having them drop us off at a remote beach that other anglers can’t drive to.  Should be good. . . .

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Relaxing in Todos Santos, Mexico

Boy ever did we chill today.  Those three days camping in a sandstorm hurt us.  Sammy’s condo on the Pacific side of Baja rocks the house.  Granny spent most of her day sunning at the infinity pool with occasional dips.

 

For lunch we hit the Todos Santos downtown and ate big.  Then Granny enjoyed the town on foot while I relaxed under a shady palm and caught up on the blog.  But we can only relax for so long.  Tomorrow we will head out casually for the final chapter of roosterfishing 2017.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Roosterfish off the Beach

Roosterfish are unique.  While most families of saltwater fish are found throughout the world, roosters are only found on the tropical waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.  That range is from Baja Mexico south to Peru.  Baja, Costa Rica and Panama are the leading spots to try for them but no doubt there are places to discover on remote beaches of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

 

The world record roosterfish was 114lbs.  “Oh, he must have been caught down deep” No, big roosters don’t hang deep much of the time.  They hang where the food is.  On any given beach fishing day you could see a massive roosterfish.  My biggest was over 50lbs but I’ve seen a few over the years that could’ve been 70-80lbs.  Because of this I recommend always being armed with a 10-weight rod and a sturdy reel with 300yds of backing.

 

A floating line with an intermediate sinking tip is perfect.  I swear by the Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Tropical Clear Tip.  The 15’ clear tip is ideal for stealthy presentations and the core of the fly line is made to perform in the tropics.  Most importantly, this line has a short powerful head to help turnover leaders with big flies at a great distance into the wind.  I take it a step further and oversize my rod by one line weight.  There was a time when rods were too stiff and we did this with all lines.  Not anymore, roosterfishing from the beach is the only time I fish a line size heavier than my rod.

 

Before your trip make damn sure your cast is up to par.  If you’ve been nymphing your favorite trout stream all winter don’t assume that has you at your best.  Grab the same rod you intend to use from the beach and when its windy as heck, go out in the back yard and practice your double haul straight into it.  You’ll be happy you did because a good cast, even if it’s only five feet longer than your norm, will help you catch a few more fish.

 

Last, furtiveness off the beach is just as important as the stealth you use fishing a small dry fly to a huge rising trout under the willow bush.  These fish got big by being aware of their predators and eluding them.  When you’re standing on the beach jumping up and down because the fish of your life is chasing your fly, you’re a roosterfish predator.  Hit the deck!  I get low and try to blend into the beach.  Don’t stop stripping.  Don’t stand up.  DON’T LET THE ROOSTER SEE YOU!

 

When all goes right the rooster devours your fly and turns immediately from the beach.  This makes the hook sink in and its game on.  These fish fight hard.  The smaller ones jump and the big ones run far from the beach.  I keep my drag at about 3lbs of pressure for hook up then once I’m in my backing I crank it up some.  Keep the pressure on and do your best to land that monster roosterfish.

 

Our weather here at camp continued to worsen overnight.  The wind was howling at sunrise today.  I couldn’t believe my own eyes and ears.  It was truly a laugher.  Granny and I were wearing sand in our hair, eyes, nose and ears.  Roosterfishing from the beach isn’t only a tough sport – sometimes its dang right cruel.

 

We saw one roosterfish all day today and no jacks.  This was not only because of the wind but also the huge waves heaving up the beach and creating murk.  The day wasn’t fun but it builds character – right?

 

We made the long haul back to Sammy’s condo in Todos Santos tonight and we are resting and living it up all day tomorrow.  Then we’ll be back to the water for our three final days to try and get Granny her first roosterfish on the fly.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Pacific Jack Crevalle Saves the Day

Granny and I woke up at our beautiful campsite on a remote Baja beach with high hopes of her landing a roosterfish today. Maybe even a big one. But as we finished off breakfast during sunrise the wind started. And this wind would be more serious than yesterdays.

There were a few roosters around. I spotted her several before noon. Granny got down in the surf and did the best she could to present a fly. She made good casts but roosters aren’t only hard to reach with a cast from the beach, but also finicky. Granny had a monster fish follow her fly to the rod tip but didn’t eat. It was no doubt the most exciting fish follow of her life.

By noon the wind was so horrendous Granny decided to chill out again like yesterday afternoon. The rooster seeing went down the tubes. From noon till 2 not a one. The sand pelting wind began to settle by 3 but still no roosters. About that time a bait ball appeared and without thinking twice I ripped a Jason Burris popper over the top. That crazy looking fly, originally designed for a 2008 taimen trip, was soon zipping out to sea.

I was pretty sure what lifted from the bait ball was a Pacific jack crevalle. Roosterfish usually show their combs when they eat a popper and also at the beginning of every fight. This fish took off light lightening for the deep blue and it was all I could do to wrench him back in on my 9-weight Winston.

It’s amazing what you can do with 25lb SA Fluorocarbon tippet. I heaved on this fish with all my might for the better part of five minutes and soon had Mr. Crevalle on the beach. This species of fish doesn’t get the respect they deserve. I love them and always have. Today this big boy made the day!

It was another one fish day for us and today not even a rooster. But anytime you pull a 20lb fish off the beach with a fly is a good day. Once again Granny made magic food from nothing and we sipped beers around the campfire. A full moon rose tonight. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

We will fish this beach hard again tomorrow.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

First Roosterfish of 2017

I’m not sure how many times in a row weather on fishing trips can go wrong but I guess there’s no limit when your nickname is “Monsoon”.  Granny and I came to the East Cape of Baja yesterday to escape the cold and clouds of the Pacific side but unfortunately those conditions followed us.  We camped at Los Barriles and woke up to threatening skies and fleece top temperatures.

 

When roosterfishing off the beach you need sunlight to spot the fish.  After some huevo rancheros I looked at the skies and made a long dirt road drive for a place that looked cloudless.  The beach is one I spent a month camping on in April of 1996.  When we arrived the skies weren’t perfect but dang close.  We set up a cozy camp then wandered a 100yds to the Sea of Cortez and waited for the roosterfish.

 

I have high hopes of getting Granny on to her first roosterfish and I found her a few today.  The problem is there were very few.  Furthermore, strong wind started heaving in our face at 10 AM.  Despite some excellent casts, they were just out of range of the few passing roosters.  Granny handed rooster duty to me and kicked back and enjoyed the awesome view.

 

We didn’t see a roosterfish swim by for at least two hours after Granny’s last chance.  Finally, at about 2 PM two small sized ones came.  At first they were too far for Tim Rajeff to reach but I tracked them down the beach.  Gradually they slid in closer and closer and I charged into the surf and launched the best I could.

 

Though my cast seemed short, the eyesight of a roosterfish must be like that of an eagle.  My fly hit and I began stripping fast with plans to try again.  By luck both fish saw the fly from 20 feet away and came charging.  I hooked up and the fight was on.  The battle lasted about five minutes and this rooster jumped more than any rooster I’ve ever caught before.

 

The rooster was barely 10lbs if that.  But these are stunning looking animals and no matter what size they’re a thrill to catch.  After a few photos I released him.  You can hardly get yourself to let go sometimes because that amazing roosterfish dorsal comb puts you in a trance.

 

Darren Clarke left a cigar behind after fishing with Grant Hartman last week with hopes it would be smoked in roosterfish celebration.  I didn’t disappoint.  As we watched diligently for another rooster to pass I kicked back.  I was lucky to have a cigar because we never saw another all day.

 

Only one fish in a day is a nightmare to most anglers.  When roosterfishing one fish is a great day.  We lit the campfire as the sunset and Granny cooked a mean meal out of nothing.  I don’t know how she does it but I’ll keep being the family fishing guide and let her be the chef.

 

Back at it tomorrow. . . .

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Escape from the Pacific Side Cold

We headed out for three nights of fishing and camping today but we relaxed at Sammy’s condo in the morning and left around noon.  It was a matter of taking the time to be properly organized for camping on the beach.  Also, we suffered through an 18 inning Cubs loss last night that kept us out late.  I think my World Series hangover is coming back!

 

It was nice to head out to the East side of Baja again because the Pacific side continues to be freezing cold for this time of year.  Once more, the fog came in and blocked out the sunrise and temps were in the high 50°s.  The East Cape and Sea of Cortez are always warmer so we left town with a smile.

 

We took our time enjoying the pretty sights of Southern Baja.  When in the mountains crossing from the Pacific to the East Cape its real Mexico.  It’s beautiful and the folks are so nice and a bit curious.  They are also so laid back in makes me jealous.

 

We arrived in Los Barriles around 2 PM.  To our surprise, it was cool here and mostly cloudy.  Spotting roosterfish was out so we went to the same rocks where I caught my clown hawkfish the other day.  Right off the bat I nailed this gorgeous flag cabrilla.

 

Bringing the footwear for dancing on slippery rocks has paid off.  Today I made Granny saddle up and fish from the rocks as well.  We tossed my 9-weight Jungle Winston with a Sea Habit fly, one of my old standbys for saltwater.

 

 

I can’t believe it but Granny walked right out there and caught our second clown hawkfish of the week.  Remember, this is a species of fish that has eluded me for over 20 years.  Now in a few days’ time we’ve caught two.

 

 

 

 

Our action from the rocks was far better than the other day.  Perhaps it was the overcast.  Perhaps it was because it was calmer.  I’m not sure but in saltwater, it’s important to take note of everything from tides, weather and other conditions when things are good.  I ended our session with this unusual finescale triggerfish.

 

We set up camp in Los Barriles tonight then walked to Smokey’s for dinner and beers with Grant Hartman and his clients.  It was an interesting night as this week Grants client is the owner of Nature Nates.  He and his crew were really fun to party down with.

 

Off to the beach boonies tomorrow to begin a serious hunt for roosterfish. . . .

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Pacific Surf Too Cool to Handle

We probably should’ve suspected a rough day of fishing.  Last night around dinner time it got cold here on the Pacific side of Baja.  Like in the 50°s cold!  Then this morning we woke up to the same and dense fog and clouds.  Didn’t matter though, we packed up the car and headed to no man’s land on the Pacific Ocean coast where I fished a few years ago with Sammy and Grant and had great luck.

 

Today didn’t provide any great luck however.  This photo doesn’t show just how intimidating and inhospitable the surf fishing really was.  Despite my stripping basket and my Clear Tip Titan Taper it was near impossible to get my fly out far enough.  Even if I did, the waves didn’t have enough gap between them for my fly to sink into the zone.

 

Tough fishing doesn’t get the “Currier’s” down however.  Just when you think you got it bad – check out this cow with the cactus stuck in his nose.  We all know the old saying, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work”.

 

Tomorrow its back to the Sea of Cortez where the temperatures are immensely warmer.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Roosterfishing Beach Jam Ends with New Species

I left out another roosterfishing hazard yesterday – other anglers.  Roosters are so amazing that these days anglers head for Baja with rods and camping gear with no idea what they’re doing.  Granny and I drove an excruciating two hours of dirt to get to one of my “secret spots” only to find five clueless fly fishers frothing the small beach.  Clueless because they were marching the beach blind casting with flies and randomly teasing with spin rods.  It was too early and the light wasn’t good enough to properly see a cruising rooster.  These boys were simply telling every catchable roosterfish within a mile of the beach, “We’re here!”

 

I was frustrated to say the least but deep inside I know if I was 25 years old I’d be doing the same.  It was bad timing on our part and we moved on to what turned out to be a lovely day of exploring and relaxing on the beach with Pacifico’s and good snacks.

 

The highlight of the day was towards the end when we found some rocks.  Rocks aren’t ideal for sight fishing roosterfish but can produce some snappers and grouper casting Clouser’s blind if you’re lucky.  I wisely packed our rugged Simms flats wading boots or we’d not been able to fish here.  Turns out we caught a few cool fish such as this Panama graysby.

 

The area wasn’t fast and furious by any means.  Like everywhere in the world, one of the most sought after fish and first to get fished out are snappers because of they are quality table fare.  No doubt the fish had been harvested here but it was fun chucking my 9-weight Winston nonetheless.

 

Towards the end I was taken by surprise.  I caught this giant clown hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys rivulatus).  This stunningly gorgeous fish is one I’ve been hoping to stumble upon for all my Baja years but haven’t.  I was so excited to add this species to my list!  Bummer was I was alone also so Granny didn’t get to see him and with the big waves this is the only photo I got.

 

We headed back to Sammy’s condo in Todos Santos at 4 PM in order to get home before dark.  You don’t want to drive in Mexico after dark for a lot of reasons but donkey crossing is a big one.  They are hard to see!

 

Stay tuned for some Pacific Ocean side beach fishing tomorrow.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

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