Roosters are a Pain – Literally!

by | May 26, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

The last thing you want to hear from the good doc Sammy is “Get me to a hospital. I hope I don’t die”. But that’s Sammy’s exact words when we got to the truck an hour after he got nailed by not one, but two Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish (bluebottles) at the same time. It was ugly.

We were roosterfishing off a new beach. The day started calm and even though visibility was bad, we could see just enough bait that we knew the fishing would be good. There were mullet spinning in schools up and down the beach, the needlefish were fleeing and we had a massive school of the unusual milkfish, a fish I was unprepared to meet here in Baja. This is a shame because I have theories on how to catch these guys and I could have applied them well today with the right tackle. As it is, I tried relentlessly for two hours but I truly had the wrong flies and gear.

Despite my efforts for a milkfish, both Sammy and I managed plenty of small roosterfish. The roosters were extremely active and when we tossed the right fly just beyond the surf or in the wake of Grants teaser we usually hooked up. It was great. Especially after the tough day we had yesterday.

After a few hours of enjoying the fights with small roosters, and in my case even a lengthy trumpetfish, we went hardcore looking only for big roosters. We weren’t even going to cast unless we saw a quality fish or if Grant teased one in. Unfortunately none appeared before Sammy let out a shriek and panicked like I’ve never seen before. Sammy got nailed by something.

I was actually about 100 feet away when it happened. I generally let Grant and Sammy work together while I stake out an area and wait for roosters to pass by me then I sight cast. Anyhow, Sammy let out that terrified screech and I thought he got stung by these prehistoric wasps that fly around us all day. I watch him drop my rod in the ocean and run from the water swatting his legs madly. I kept watching until I realized this was something serious. I ran to him and asked Sammy if he ever got stung before (still thinking it was a bee) and he yelled no while squeezing his thigh above the knee. I thought that was weird being a fellow angler and never got stung. Then he pointed out the tentacle lines on his legs and the jellyfish lying in the sand. Ouch!

At that time Grant, Sammy and I thought the sting of the pain would eventually go away, but it got worse. Sammy was in excruciating pain. We all began a slow walk back to the truck. And I mean very slow as Sammy could hardly walk.

When we got to the truck Sammy said he was beginning to feel effects traveling up his legs into his abdomen. Then he got nauseas. Minutes later as he sat in the truck he said his hands were involuntarily contracting. That’s when he said “Get me to a hospital. I hope I don’t die”.

We were in the boonies and Sammy was in rough shape. Grant floored his truck down the beach and we bounced dangerously down dirt roads for civilization. We made a stop at a store and bought a bottle of vinegar and poured it on Sammy’s legs. Although it’s not the best thing to do, it does keep the pain from getting worse. What we really needed was some Benadryl but unfortunately it was in our room. It will never be left behind again.

Sammy suffered miserably during the ride to civilization. He could no longer move his hands. He was frightened and Grant and I were scared to death as his head bobbed in the front seat between his gasps of agony. It went on a long scary time. Finally, a half hour into the NASCAR like drive, Sammy said it stopped getting worse. He was still extremely concerned, but the pain and the hand thing stopped progressing. The best news you could ask for.

Remarkably by the time we got near the hospital, Sammy opted not to go. All he wanted was medicine which as a doc, he has plenty of. He was definitely beginning to improve. And after a dose of pain medicine and a dose of Zyrtec in his system he has managed to improve faster. We were lucky, especially Sammy.

It’s been about 6 hours now. Sammy still hurts badly but nothing like the first two hours after. We actually hobbled down a beach nearby and just had dinner and a beer. Now we can only hope a good night’s sleep will wipe away the remaining pain. Man what a day!

As you know, we will be back on the beaches in the morning, but with a watchful eye for more than just roosterfish.

1 Comment

  1. Erik Moncada

    I had always wondered about jelly fish when I would watch the people on youtube running around and into the water, only because I have this weird phobia of being stung by a jelly fish. I am happy Sammy is ok, that would be very frightening… I looked up jelly fish stings and it sounds like the “Man of War” jelly. Locals fear this more than a shark bite because of how painful it is, and the worst of it last an hour or two; however if it’s a bad one it could be felt the next day. Also from what I looked up you did exactly what you were suppose to do, minus the warm/hot water.
    Good luck tomorrow, and cool needle fish.

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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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