I took the last antibiotic for my tooth yesterday. The pills fixed the infection but the side effects were adding up. I was feeling much like this poor deceased turtle. But today I awoke feeling so good that Sammy, Grant and I crushed some breakfast burritos in Todos Santos then bought some beer and got an early start for the roosterfish beaches.
Baja is one of the great places to chase roosterfish with the fly. There are many ways to fly fish for the exotic saltwater fish but Sammy and I do it the hard way. We walk the beach and hope to find one close enough to cast to. There are days we don’t get a single cast but when we do cast, it’s a rush you don’t get from your average fly fishing scenario.
Roosters feed on bait along the beach and it was a short drive to todays tropical paradise. I jumped from Grants worn Ford and grabbed my already rigged Winston 9-weight and scanned the inshore fishery. It didn’t take long to spot two mysterious fish cruising the wash line of the surf.
Fish don’t stay within fly casting range for long. I ran down to the water stripping out line as I went. I positioned myself 80 feet from the fish the direction they were traveling. I sat low like when pursuing a wise trout and waited. When I spotted the two they were within 30 feet of me. In order not to spook them I gently made a side arm cast. The second my fly landed both fish charged and I hooked up.
It was a strong but short battle. A classic characteristic of all snappers. But this guy wasn’t the usual broad bodied snapper. He was elongated and ended up being my first ever mullet snapper (Lutjanus aratus). Mullet snapper are common in deep water but he’s rare catch off the beach and a new one for my fly rod species list.
The rest of our day was a search for roosters. Grant and Sammy went cruising to find them. They drove dirt roads and peeked off the beach when they could. I liked the first spot and explored it all day by myself. The first fish I found were these beautiful baby rays. They were close to the beach and like yesterday with the whale shark I jumped in and swam with them. They completely surrounded me and I ticked off a few more underwater shots.
As for roosterfishing, I had my chances. Two good chances in fact. I spotted a school of ten working a bait ball about 75 feet off the beach. In my early days I’d have tried to force a cast but with the wind blowing in and a hefty fly I knew there was a slim chance I could reach them. I patiently waited for them to get closer and they did. I landed my fly perfect and a rooster of 25lbs or slightly more perked up and followed. He got excited and raised his comb (dorsal fin) which is usually a sure sign he’s about to eat. But I never felt him then off he went to the blue. Bummer!
Three hours later I had another great opportunity. This time I wasn’t sure I had a roosterfish but could see something fishy moving deep. I cast and another 20lb plus rooster appeared and this time devoured my fly. I strip set and hooked him but just as fast he came undone. Brutal!
That will be it for tonight. I’m absolutely exhausted. Until manana. . . .