Thursday, August 23, 2012

Better Together

Good Morning Baja

After landing the Dorado on fly, we had achieved one of the two things we wanted to do on our guided trip with Baja Anglers. The other awaited us farther up the Sea of Cortez and is one of the sexiest fish alive. 

Exiting the Marina

The Sun is Rising

Ocean Spray

A Common Site In Front of Our Hotel Every Morning

Our guide pulled up on a string of beaches about half an hour away from Land's End. From there, we slowly motored our way up the coast coaxing roosters to the boat using the "bait and switch" method.

Matt and I wanted our father to catch some fish and we let him go first. Armed with a spinning rod, a circle hook, and a live mullet, it didn't take long for my Dad to get into the first fish. For some reason, fishing is hilarious whenever it involves our Dad. It could be the Big Poppa Pump moniker or maybe it is just funny to watch my Dad be out of his element with a rod in hand. I think combining his clumsiness, old age, lack of skill, and then throwing him on a rocking boat did my brother and I in. But, it was funny. Really funny. After that, it was all fly fishing.

My brother was up next, the first to try on a fly. This was also the trial and error period where presentation, stripping mechanics, and all the kinks in the communication between guide and angler were worked out. After missing a few hook sets and popping a fish off after a good struggle, Matt tied into a decent fish. Surprising to all of us, is how hard rooster's fight. Even the small ones could bend the 10 wt. in half, and tear drag off the spin and fly reels.

I bought an Allen Alpha II 9/10 as a backup and it has performed well for me this summer catching tarpon, cuda, roosters, and the dorado. Retail: $140. 

The coast is littered with high end hotels and mansions.
Some of which, are hard to fathom. 

Balancing Act in Blue...

Always Looking for an Easy Meal

After Matt hooked up and released the first Rooster on fly, it was my turn at the back of the boat. Two small roosters whipped back and forth with their combs flaming behind the mullet. The guide lured them back to the boat and I was able to time everything well enough to catch one on my first cast. It was probably the smallest rooster caught, but it was mine. All mine.

Other parts of the coast have your typical Baja desert feel
 with towering peaks reaching to the clouds.

After my fish was gone, Big Poppa Pump caught his, forcing our guide to proclaim him, the luckiest man alive. My brother and I just looked at each other and shook our heads laughing. We couldn't believe it happened.

Matt made the cast of the outing for his next fish. Only 30-40 feet, but on a rocking boat. It landed on a dinner plate in front of a charging rooster the exact second our guide pulled the mullet out of the water. The fly might as well have landed in the fish's mouth as it attempted to swallow the bait. He hooked up instantaneously.

The next two hours produced little action as the seas picked up. In the last hour, Matt and I put down the fly rods for the first time, grabbed two spinning rods with fresh mullet and had them behind the boat. The mullet swam side to side a foot below the water. Suddenly, a large comb broke the surface as a rooster slashed at my bait before inhaling my brothers. He waited 5-10 seconds before setting the circle hook in the corner of the fish's mouth. He was in for a fight having hooked the largest and sexiest fish of our trip.

I know we cheated on this trip. Roosters from a boat aren't exactly as difficult as catching them from the beach, where anglers can go days without a chance. However, roosterfish aren't dumb. They are intelligent and the memories of them tracking our flies, swerving side to side, and inspecting it from all angles will be seared into my memory. Beyond these images, the stories and experiences with my brother and father will be told for years to come. It always seems to be better when we are together laughing and sharing the moment.

We will go back to Baja sometime in the future. I feel like I have unfinished business with the challenge of one on foot, DIY style. I have visions of a tent, an atv, and maybe a rented house. Hopefully, the trip involves friends, family, and a whole lot of good fishing.

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