Sand, Crabs and Cool Surf Fish

by | Nov 16, 2009 | baja anglers, clouser minnow, crabs, marlin, rio fly lines, shooting line, surf fishing, todos santos, wyoming

November 5, 2009

Sam Vigneri and I are still in Baja. Our attempt to catch a marlin ended yesterday and today we rested up by sleeping in until about 7am. Once awake, we headed to Todos Santos to have breakfast with Grant Hartman and his wife Giselle. After the superb Mexican meal, they spent the day relaxing while Sammy and I opted to chuck flies in the Pacific surf.

Grant gave us excellent instructions as to where we may find a few fish. At our first stop we wandered out on to the beach and sized up the fishing challenges. It was simple, the breaking surf was huge and the tide was just beginning to drop. Fly fishing the surf is one of the most difficult forms of fly fishing there is. You almost always have a strong wind blowing directly in your face making it difficult to cast. Crashing waves make it even more difficult by not only taxing your ability to physically stand without being swept out to sea, but also play havoc with your fly line. It’s simple, as you strip line down on the beach while retrieving your fly; waves roll up the beach and wash the line away. As you go to make the next cast, it’s hard to shoot the line because it is getting sucked out to sea by waves. Toss in the fact that your line is gritted up with sand and you can hardly get the fly out there!

A couple tricks that work for me are first off, use a stripping basket. Stripping baskets strap around your waist and rather than stripping line on to the beach, you strip it into the basket. By doing so you don’t have to fight the waves when you go to shoot a cast and you will get a lot less sand on the fly line allowing it to slide through the guides much easier. In addition to the basket, I like to use a 9½ foot long rod. The extra 6-inches helps elevate my backcast over the top of a steep beach. Most of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are steep and today was no exception.

Four hours into our fishing we were absolutely getting our butts kicked. Neither of us had a strike. We where exhausted, soaking wet and had plenty of sand in our hair and everywhere else you can think of. Worst of all, we completely lost our confidence. Sometimes the surf appears so inhospitable that you just can’t imagine fish live in it!

We kicked back and had some fun catching a few crabs. While doing so I noticed some rocks becoming exposed from the dropping tide. Sam and I both agreed the rocks looked worthy of a few casts so we put on the old Clouser Minnows and placed some casts around the rocks. I picked up a croaker on my first cast then next cast another. I think they were yellowfin croakers, but any verification would be appreciated. I called Sammy over and as I took pics of my second croaker he hooked into something different. It actually put up a heck of a fight. I think it’s some sort of surf perch. I plan to research it this week but if you know please tell me.

Sammy and I had a great week despite challenging fishing. It’s always good to spend time with old friends and that we did. Sammy and I fished until sunset and tomorrow he will head back to Wyoming. I have one last day and will solo the beaches of the East Cape.

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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!