Sixth Day – Rooster ChaosSammy, Grant and I left early for the beaches this morning. It was our final day and we wanted to make it a good one. In spite of the fact every bone and muscle in our bodies ached as if we are a few of old guys and the fact that the rooster fishing has been difficult to say the least, this had to be the day. We were going to find them, tease them and catch them. We headed back to my favorite beach in Baja where I caught my first roosterfish years ago. Oh, and, where we got skunked two days ago. Before getting there we stopped at a few other places and either saw nothing or ran into other anglers. After a long castless morning, we arrived at the spot. I jumped out and headed down the beach to where I actually caught roosters before. Sammy, who has stayed with Grant and the teaser religiously all week long, stuck with Grant to make one last effort. They began working the beach few minutes behind me and moved slowly. I could see Grant launching the hook less teaser way out and reeling it in at mock speed. Then I watched Sammy run waist deep into the surf and let his cast go hoping the teaser brought in a hungry roosterfish. I thought hard about joining in but it looked like a huge amount of work and I was enjoying my own hunt.
While walking I watched a lone whale breach less than a mile out, likely a gray or a humpback. Then I observed a line of pelicans standing alertly to the ocean on a steep piece of beach ahead of me. It was as if they were expecting something to happen. I thought it might be wise to watch too, so to avoid spooking them, I stopped and grabbed a seat myself. A few of the closest pelicans watched me warily and then gave me a nod like they appreciated the fact that I let them stay. Shortly after, one by one, the pelicans took flight and glided in their magnificent effortless fashion on past me. At first I thought they were just moving on. Then they got down to Sammy and Grant and started dive-bombing the water right in front of them. Suddenly there were fleeing baitfish everywhere. The bait was being chased by big fish from below. Ballyhoo, mullet and houndfish were leaping from a hundred yards out all the way to the surf. I jumped up and began to sprint back the way I came to check out the action. As I was running for the chaos, the chaos was swimming towards me. There were feeding roosterfish everywhere. Try to imagine the incredible dorsal fin of a roosterfish completely upright and out of the water. Picture it cutting the ocean surface like a knife at a ridiculously high speed. The rooster is swimming so fast you can hear the hiss of his fin and the snapping of his jaws as he feeds on the terrified smaller fish. Now visualize numerous roosters doing this all at the same time and you see exactly what I saw.
Most were out of fly casting range, but a few were chasing bait so far up on the beach they had to swim sideways to get back to the water. They looked like struggling flounders. My heart was pounding so hard it was unbelievable. I was anaerobic from running and so far beyond wound up by what I as seeing that my brain was on overdrive. At first, I sprinted to meet the marauding roosters. But, these flurries lasted such a short time that by the time I got my fly in the water they were gone. Then I’d look back to where I just was and the roosters were now there. I was running here, there and everywhere while franticly casting but never got my fly near the speeding fish. Finally I was so out of breath that I was standing in the surf recouping when the fish came to me. I got my cast to two enormous roosters. My fly landed right in the middle of the fleeing baitfish and both roosters saw it. I gave two short fast strips and both fish circled my fly and acted as thought they were going to fight for it. Then they refused it and retreated back to the deep. That was my only chance. Just as fast as the blitz began, it ended. I looked down the beach to see if there was any more carnage taking place but there wasn’t. Then I looked to see if Sammy was hooked up. He was not. All I saw was he and Grant staring out to sea just shaking their heads. How could we of not hooked up? I hate to say it, but that’s rooster fishing. I’ve experienced this before. Roosters are smart as heck, very particular about what they eat and I am certain they see us running and casting carelessly along the beach. They just may be the toughest fly rod quarry from the beach there is. I waited for Sammy and Grant to catch up to me. Naturally they were so engrossed with the action that they thought I missed out. Grant started telling my about what I missed and how I should of ran to them to get my chance. Little did he know the frenzy engulfed a quarter mile of the beach. I had my chances just like they did.
We were pretty bummed and felt like we just blew the best chance of the trip. Yet at the same time, we knew roosters were close and perhaps another blitz would happen again. Grant started teasing for Sammy and I wandered ahead down the beach. I saw what looked like a little activity just outside some huge surf. It was just one darting ballyhoo. Not taking anything for granted, I ripped off a long cast towards the activity. While getting smashed by a breaking wave, I made two strips and hooked up. Whatever it was, it took me into my backing in a second!
All three of us shrieked and cheered and Sammy’s battle was on. Sammy and I started laughing as we had the first double of the trip on the last day. I put some serious heat on my crevalle. All I wanted to do was get over to Sammy to watch him fight his roosterfish. I horsed the jack with all I had but it still took five minutes to land the brute. Once in Grant popped a couple photos and just as we were done Sammy beached his rooster. It was all smiles. This was the quality rooster we were after.
There’s nothing like catching great fish on the last day of a trip, especially a fish as challenging as a roosterfish. The roosters absolutely abused us this week and in a sick way we enjoyed every minute of it. Our feet are burned because sunscreen kept washing off, every muscle and bone hurts from running in the sand and we are mentally exhausted from getting up before 5 am each day and going full bore till late at night. But it’s the kind of pain and torture every serious angler lives for and I can’t wait till the next trip to Baja with Sammy. As for now, it’s a quick flight home, pay the bills, paint a fish and on Thursday head out on the next adventure, carp fishing. Yes this weekend is the Carp Classic VI Fun-Fundraising Tournament on Blackfoot Reservoir in Idaho. There will be no sunburns or running, but big carp can certainly be a challenge on the fly. Hope for some exciting stories, fun pictures and tips on catching carp on fly this weekend.