Although the island is huge, we had Roberto drop us off exactly where we had our previous luck. Excited as heck, I leaped off the bow of the boat before we even hit the beach and began false casting my 9-weight Ross and a huge popper. Once I had 60 or so feet of line out I landed the top water fly and started jerking it back. The ocean remained still and the popper must have been visible to fish a mile away. Sammy combed the water ahead of me with one of Grants roosterfish streamers and quickly caught a couple small ones. Things were looking good. Then I nailed a green jack which convinced me the popper might work great, but an hour later the green jack was my only fish. It was time for me to put on one of Grants killer roosterfish flies and get serious.
I grabbed my 10-weight rigged with my Rio intermediate saltwater line and prowled along. Normally when roosterfishing you don’t cast till you see fish, but the sun was low and directly in our face and you couldn’t see into the water. It was either blind cast or don’t cast at all. I meandered along and passed Sammy and Grant and eventually went around a point and out of sight into new water. As I went, the beach gave way to rocks. I was leaving roosterfish water and entering the habitat of snapper and grouper. Just as I was debating whether or not to change direction and head back towards Sammy and Grant, a rooster, easily 20lbs exploded on my fly literally as I was lifting to make my next cast. The hungry attacker crushed my fly so close to my feet it sent me retreating up the beach. Miraculously I got what seemed like a good hook set and the game was on.
Although roosters of Baja don’t thrive around the rocks, they certainly know the ones in their turf and how to use them to their advantage when doing battle. As the powerful fish pealed line off my reel, it was apparent he was headed to a distant jagged outcrop of rock. Unlike snapper and grouper that go down into the rocks and hide, roosters go past the rocks and around the rocks in an attempt to saw off a leader of even sever a fly line. The best thing you can do is try to stop or at least steer the fish away from the danger or it’s guaranteed you will lose him.
I cranked the drag on my reel to the max. Backing was actually crackling as it left the spool and it was difficult to hold on. In addition to the reel-drag, I added more drag by palming my spinning spool to the point where it seemed my rod would explode. Then in a split second it was over. The fish was gone, and my rod was limp. I reeled in expecting to find a tattered leader and no fly. However, I was surprised to find my fly fully intact and not even a scrape on my leader or fly line. I did not get a good enough hook set from the get go.
Disappointed barely describes the feeling after loosing such an incredible fish. But, there’s no looking back so I proceeded to fish. I had a choice. Head back and continue to fish roosters or keep going into the rocky area. After hooking that rooster in this area it seemed logical it could happen again. And with my love for snapper and grouper fishing, I picked a rocky point in the distance and decided I would fish to that area and then turn back.
With me, life rarely goes as planned. I went on to have enough action with snapper and cabrilla to go past the next five rocky points. The water was incredibly fishy looking and there was no way I could turn back. Plus, I was catching fish. When done I had caught three flag cabrilla and either a type of hog or parrotfish that I will have to look up when I get home and got broke off by a mystery fish. Also, like the other day, I got rocked, literally by a snapper and had to swim out to attempt to free him from his hiding place in the rocks. Unfortunately the outcome was not the same as the other day. This particular fish dislodged my fly and escaped.