Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Just a Baby

blog_may_31_2010_1[1] The rain was coming down this morning when we left our cabin to chase the fish around. Not only that, it was cold and windy. Put those ingredients together at the latitude of northern Saskatchewan and you have a very nasty day for fishing. We rented two boats from Thompson Camp and headed out on Otter Lake. Otter Lake is actually an over swollen part of the Churchill River. On the map, Otter Lake looks to be about fifteen miles long and eight miles wide in some places. There are hundreds of islands and you could get lost quick. We weren’t too worried as we purchased a good map and had our GPS.

Even with the rain coming down we were comfortable, completely dressed in warm clothes and waders with rain jackets. We were also as pumped as you could be. Our main target today were big pike. Having the opportunity to fish for big pike doesn’t come often for we Rocky Mountain folks. The first place we stopped proved we were going to catch fish. We must have caught twenty small pike. Place after place we caught fish. Finally I stumbled into a decent pike by most standards, a fish of 6lbs, but for the locals it’s a baby.

blog_may_31_2010_2[1] The highlight of the day was hitting a favorite walleye area on the lake. The dude who rented us the boats recommended we try a particular spot. I was fishing with Bill and when we pulled up to this spot, Chris and Steve were already there anchored. They were jigging for the walleye and were excited to say they caught several. This was good news because despite being serious “catch and release guys”, fresh walleye for dinner was on the menu. I purposely brought along my 6-weight Ross rod and a Rio Type 3 sinking line just for the walleyes. I strung her up and on my first cast landed a gorgeous walleye. I released the fish and two casts later landed another. To make a longs story short I went on to land eleven in less than an hour. The fly performed better than jigging by far which is very unusual.

blog_may_31_2010_3[1] It was a great day to start the trip. The best part is we ended the day with sunshine and no wind. Perhaps our weather took a turn for the good. Tomorrow we will relax in the morning then drive two hours north to the small town of Southend on Reindeer Lake. At 4 pm we will catch a sea plane to Pagota Lake and spend the next four days. Because we will be so far in the backcountry, this will be the last report till we get out. Be ready for some exciting entries and photos in a week!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let the Pike Games Begin

blog_may_30_2010_1[1] 30 hours after Victor I find myself in Missinipe, Saskatchewan. I’m with good friend Chris Hart and his friend Steve Bjorklund and his friend Bill Wilshire, these guys are all from Bozeman, Montana. All I can say is it was a long drive. I left Victor at noon yesterday. Once I got to Chris’s house we immediately left and picked up the other guys and drove to Malta, Montana. We crossed into Canada early this morning and drove for ten hours to where we are now.

I’m living up to my nickname, “Monsoon Currier”, the weather is for the ducks. The good news is that it is supposed to improve all week. If you look at a map of Saskatchewan, we are about fifty miles north of the small town of La Ronge, Saskatchewan (look northeast). We are going to stay at this place called Thompsons Lodge on Otter Lake for two nights and tomorrow toss flies for pike and walleye. On Tue., we will drive further north to the small town of Southend, Saskatchewan on Reindeer Lake and fly into an outpost lake called Pagota Lake.

I don’t know how often I’ll be reporting while on this trip but I’ll do my best. If I fall behind I’ll catch up when I get home. Keep and eye for some exciting reports and photos and tips on catching pike and walleye on the fly.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time to Rest the Casting Arm

blog_may_27_2010_1[2] It’s prime time to visit Yellowstone National Park if you want a chance at seeing some bears. Each spring, Granny and I take a two day jaunt up to the park and try to see as much wildlife as possible. The park has few visitors this time of year making it a very enjoyable time to drive around at your own pace. Although any critter is fun to see, we love to watch the bears. Normally we do this trip the first week of May, but due to my fishing schedule we missed that window so we hit Yellowstone the last two days.

We got a late start on Tuesday morning which put us in the West Entrance at about noon, horribly late for searching for wildlife. We drove to Old Faithful and saw the usual, hundreds of elk and buffalo and a coyote. Then we backtracked north towards Mammoth and we saw a black bear just south of Twin Lakes. We borrowed a campsite at Mammoth Campground (they hate when you do this) and cooked up a quick lunch of dogs over a fire then started the slow drive to Lamar Valley, a top bear and wolf viewing area. All our usual bear hotspots let us down. We saw the complete opposite, relaxing elk, antelope, deer, bighorn sheep and bison. When these critters are resting so are the bears.

blog_may_27_2010_2[1] We drove out the North East Entrance of the park and past Silver Gate, MT and Cooke City, Montana and found a place at the base of Pilot Peak where we could camp and make dinner. We did this about 5 pm then headed back in the park. Unfortunately there was an accident just ten miles in and we spent an hour trapped until the wreckage was cleaned up. That gave us a late start on the evening bear search. Once cleared, we drove all the way to Slough Creek and nothing. It appeared things weren’t going to happen so we turned back to camp.

It was 8:30 pm when just south of the Yellowstone Institute we saw some panicking elk cows on a hillside with our naked eye. Out popped a charging black bear and the elk dispersed. They didn’t run far before turning and challenging the bear. Sure enough, these elk hid their calves in the area and the bear was there to steal one for dinner. This thrilling act of nature lasted only a minute before the large black bear found a calf and grabbed it by the head and ran for place to dine. The elk cows did their best to free the seized calf but were no match for the bear.

blog_may_27_2010_3[1] As if that wasn’t good enough for the weekend, ten minutes later with just enough light to see, we ran into a grizzly with two cubs in the meadow by Pebble Creek Campground. What a great day all packed into the last hour! We got up very early Wednesday to drive Lamar Valley before sunrise. As far as carnage goes, things were slow. However, we watched a large wolf approach and cross the road near Slough Creek Campground, some foxes, coyotes and spent an hour on a hillside observing a huge black bear eating grass in a damp field.

Yellowstone’s fishing season opens on Saturday on many of its rivers and lakes. My recommendation would be concentrate on the Firehole and the Madison Rivers. Although we couldn’t wet a line during our wildlife rendezvous this weekend, we certainly made a few stops along these rivers to observe a few fish rise to blue wing olives. Also keep in mind that the upper Henry’s Fork opens to fishing as well. This includes Box Canyon and Last Chance. I saw one large rainbow rise from the platform at the Last Chance parking lot. No matter where you choose, the fishing should be excellent for the openers. As for me, it’s big pike time!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Snowy Fin Chaser Classic

May 20-23, 2010

blog_may_24_2010_1[2] I’m just back from the Fin Chasers Carp Classic VI Fly Fishing (Fun) Fundraiser held on Blackfoot Reservoir of South East Idaho. Each year this event raises money to help an angler, fishing guide or fly fishing industry worker in need. There are no cash prizes as all entry fees, raffle ticket purchases and donations go entirely to the one in need. This year it was for Peter and Lisa Holman’s three month old daughter Laney who needs a heart operation. Many fly fishing manufacturers and shops donated products to be given out as awards for good angling and prizes for raffle tickets. The event consisted of seventeen three person teams. This is the first time I attended as a competitor. My team included friends Trey Scharp and Ben Smith. The weather was forecasted to be horrific so we named our team “Could Be Worse” just for fun. At least that’s what we kept telling ourselves.

blog_may_24_2010_2[2] Although the contest occurred on Friday and Saturday, most contestants arrived Thursday. Ben Smith and I hit the shores of Blackfoot Reservoir around 4 pm to scope out the lake looking for the best place to fish. I’ve carp fished here many times; however, water levels are the highest in years. All my usual haunts were flooded and there were no signs of carp. That sent us driving all over and on several hikes scouting new water. Finally we found some free-jumping carp. With carp located we returned to event headquarters where we met up with Trey and camped with the other contestants.

blog_may_24_2010_9[1] Many of the contestants are friends whom I haven’t seen in months. Those I didn’t know are friends now. We shared stories, ate deer burgers and of course consumed numerous beverages. Although forecasted to be raining, we had mostly stars and temperatures in the upper 30’s. It was great fun. With doing well in the competition a priority, the “Could be Worse” boys retired before midnight for a good sleep.

I expected the bad weather to start during the night, but the sun rose and the lake was glass. King grebes, coots, pelicans and a variety of duck species squawked from shore to shore while the meadow larks and cranes echoed around camp. This gorgeous morning was bonus time as the weather was about to change fast. After a $5 all you can eat pancake breakfast (this money also donated to the cause) and a meeting about the rules of the tournament, contestants took off to their secret carp spots. Fishing would end at 5 pm.

blog_may_24_2010_4[2] It was a twenty minute drive on rough roads and through grain fields to our honey hole. As we drove across the last pasture, abusing our rigs all the way, we arrived where Ben and I saw carp the night before. Sure enough, as we slipped into our waders, the first carp left the water and crashed back in making us super psyched.

Our confidence didn’t last long. During the first two hours of fishing, none of us hooked a fish. The sunshine was replaced by drizzle and the calm turned to gale winds. By now, I was chest deep using the tail wind to get some long casts to free-jumping carp nearly out of range. I prefer sight fishing carp on shallow flats or grassy areas, but there was no chance to see one there in these windy sunless conditions. I crept one of my favorite carp flies, the rubber legs hare’s ear, along the bottom where the carp were splashing. I was just waiting for a grab, but nothing. Just as I began to shiver, I heard cheers from nearby as Trey hooked up.

blog_may_24_2010_5[1] Often times when you blind cast to leaping carp, you snag them. Snagging obviously doesn’t count for the tournament so when Trey saw his carp hooked in the mouth, he hollered in relief. If you haven’t caught carp on fly then you should. Carp put up a hellacious fight and after two runs into his backing, Trey finally bear hugged an 8lb mirror carp and proudly brought it ashore. We were on the boards!
It’s amazing how the shivers disappear when the confidence comes back. It was full fledged rain when Trey came over to tell me about his catch. He caught his fish slowly stripping a brown woolly bugger. I told him to try his bugger out with me and sure enough he hooked up with a beast. As his brute worked him in and out of his backing I tied on a brown flash-a-bugger.

blog_may_24_2010_6[1] In this competition each individual is allowed to enter only one fish. Although the team can turn in three, each individual must catch their own carp. So when Trey landed his second fish, he could not add it to our team total. Contestants can however, release their smaller ones and record their largest. Treys second carp was a dandy that we estimated at about 18lbs! Carp live out of water forever, so he released his 8lber without any problem. Now we were really on the board, but Ben and I had to catch a fish.
blog_may_24_2010_7[1] With water now dripping down my neck from rain smearing me in the face, and running down my arms while I cast, I hooked and landed my fish. It was by no means a monster, but it was a fish of about 10lbs. We had a team total of near 30lbs for the day, if Ben could add another we’d be sitting pretty. Surely, there would be many teams with no fish at all. Ben came over to Trey and I. It was apparent that there were lots of fish here. Trey caught another 8lber and I got schooled by a giant only to have the hook pull out. Then, with only fifteen minutes left, Benny landed his fish. It was only about at 3lber, but it would do. At 5 pm we began the drive back to camp.

It’s always fun watching everyone return from their day. There’s lots of smiles, a few frowns, a crazy story and a few excuses. Luckily, the “Could Be Worse” boys were smiling. It was apparent we’d done well because only two teams brought in three fish. Unfortunately, the other team with three had bigger fish and one team had two fish, each over 20lbs. The way things stacked up, first place scored 42lbs, second place had 38lbs and we were in third with 32lbs. Not exactly where we wanted to be, but ok. Treys trophy carp weighed 18lbs 5oz! But the biggest of the day was 21lb.
blog_may_24_2010_10[2] We never got out of our waders all night except when it was time to sleep. It absolutely poured rain on us. Somehow we laughed through it while cooking up elk burritos and sucked a few beers. Then it was back to bed for a fresh start. We knew we had to catch about 50lbs of carp to take over 1st place.
During the night a funny quiet came to camp. I knew the precipitation didn’t stop. I was freezing in my sleeping bag. It got quiet because the rain turned to snow. At 5 am I peeked out at the first glimmer of light and confirmed my assumption. There was a fresh 2” of snow and it was coming down steady. Carp fishing isn’t great when it’s cold so I knew we were in for a challenge. With that in mind, we had no time to waste. We ate our pancakes and were the first team out of camp. The roads were so slippery with mud and snow we had to creep along. Wet dirt roads can be more difficult to drive on than snow and ice. Mix the two and you’re in for an adventure. It took us a good 45 minutes to get near our spot. “Near” is the word. Just before getting to our location is a steep hill and we were smart enough to park and walk. This meant bringing very limited supplies and a 20 minute walk.
blog_may_24_2010_11[2] We arrived at the previous days honey hole to no jumping carp. Things didn’t look good. The wind picked up to a gale straight out of the north and it was snowing sideways. The temps were much colder than Day 1 and we were all shivering. I actually got out of the water about three times just to warm up. To make a long story short, we didn’t touch a carp. No strikes or anything. We froze our butts off, cast our shoulders out of socket and my hands are still cramped two days later. As we reeled in at 5 pm we wanted to change our team name from “Could Be Worse” to “Could Be A Lot Better”. We popped orange whips at the car and made a long slow drive back to camp.
blog_may_24_2010_12[2] I didn’t expect other teams to do well either, but I expected to see some fish caught and expected to lose our third place standing. However, I was somewhat pleased to see it wasn’t just us and that it was a brutal day for all. There were only three fish caught total from the seventeen three person teams! The biggest was much smaller than on Day 1 at 12lbs. Best of all, we kept our 3rd place finish. In fact, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places all remained the same. All in all, it was a fantastic fun filled weekend and more money was raised at the Fin Chasers Carp Classic VI Fly Fishing (Fun) Fundraiser than any previous year. If you want to have a great weekend and a chance at a giant carp on the fly, join us in May 2011! Be ready for some exciting posts in the next couple weeks as I take on the pike and walleye of northern Saskatchewan.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sammy Gets His Rooster

May 15, 2010

Sixth Day – Rooster Chaos

blog_may_15_2010_1[1] Sammy, 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.

blog_may_15_2010_2[1] 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.

blog_may_15_2010_3[2] 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.

blog_may_15_2010_4[1] 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
blog_may_15_2010_5[1]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.

blog_may_15_2010_6[1]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!
I heard Sammy and Grant bolting my way hoping I had a big rooster. Roosters have never been so kind to me so I was sure it was a big crevalle. The large fish got about 50 feet into my backing and started bullying me in large circles. Although I still hadn’t seen him I knew it was a jack. With fish around, Grant started teasing. On his first cast with the teaser in came a hot chasing rooster. I watched Sammy false cast his way into the surf to drop his fly in front of the charging rooster as I tugged on my jack. He made a perfect cast. Grant yanked the teaser from the water sending it up over his head and crashing to the beach behind him. The rooster looked for it and saw only Sammy’s fly. By miracle he devoured it!

blog_may_15_2010_7[1]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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Same Island Different Tide

Fifth Day
blo_may_14_2010_1[1]Today we went back to the island. We left our hotel at 4:30 am and met up with Roberto (the dude with the boat that we hire to drive us to the island) at 6 am. The Sea of Cortez was calm and our trip out was smooth and dry. We had high expectations after the great fishing we had here two days ago. 

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. 

blog_may_14_2010_2[3] 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. 

blog_may_14_2010_3[1]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.

blog_may_14_2010_4[1]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.

blog_may_14_2010_5[1]It turns out my rock hopping adventure was the right choice. I made my way back only to find Sammy and Grant attempting to tease in roosters and jacks on the beach we started at. They had absolutely no luck at all and were surprised about my excellent fishing. It was getting close to time for Roberto to come retrieve us so I couldn’t venture back to the rocks. I changed out my 10-weight and grabbed the popper rig I started the day with. As we waited for Roberto I popped away. Sure enough, I saw a sprinkle of fleeing baitfish. I launched my popper to the disturbance and just as my popper hit the water it got nailed and I landed a gorgeous Pacific Crevalle. Today was a great day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miles on an Old Familiar Beach

Fourth Day 

blog_may_13_2010_1[1] In 1996 some great friends and I drove to Baja from Jackson, WY. We had a pickup truck camper and towed a fourteen foot tin boat. We almost got killed in that tiny boat several times because it was the El Nino year. The wind and waves were so bad even the shrimp boat trawlers hid for cover. During what was a five week trip, I eventually smartened up and decided I was going to catch a roosterfish off the beach on a popper. We spent thirteen days camped on one particular beach that I absolutely fell I love with. Every time I think of it I reflect of how it was like a home away from home. I caught two quality roosters off that beach during those days. Man what a tough fish to catch!

Amazingly I have not been back. So when the chance to do so today came about, I was all over it. Sure enough it turned to a day of reminiscing of one of the great trips of my life. The beach was the same. The only difference there was other anglers. We didn’t see a one last trip. Times have changed but the roosters are still here.

blog_may_13_2010_2[1] I easily walked four miles up and down this fantastic beach. I remembered every inch of it and the good casts and the bad. Today there were plenty of jacks but the roosters were hard to come by. Just when I was giving up, I saw one of the greatest rooster blitzes I have ever seen. I wa
s nearly asleep perched on a high sand point when pelicans on a rock near me headed for the water. Then I saw the splashes. There was no doubt that the chaos was either Pacific Jack Crevalles or roosterfish slamming bait. Despite the slow day, I had my line stripped out on the sand ready for a cast. This is general procedure for sight fishing, and I sprinted down the beach while false casting to meet the attackers.

It was indeed roosters. And the first crashing roosters I saw were no slouches either. Two fish of 20lb or better sent ballyhoo skyrocketing in the air. The fish were in casting range so I launched my fly only to find the surf had tangled my line in my feet. I cleared the mess but then the fish were gone. Man! Seconds later in came some smaller roosters. Naturally, I got a perfect cast to the peanuts but they followed and refused. This was roosterfishing at its best.

blog_may_13_2010_3[1] I got five good cast to the frenzied roosters. I bolted up and down the beach to the point where I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest. The roosters followed the fly but none sealed the deal. The rest of the day I got only two casts, but the memories of the frenzy made the day. 

I fished alone most of today. Grant and Sammy took a different beach route in the morning but met up with me about 3 pm. Sammy landed a small jack and that was the only caught fish for both of us. I did have a low moment to add. A giant crevalle ate my fly and as he ripped deep into my backing, somehow I got a twist of backing around my rod butt and the speeding fish broke me off. I was horrified! And how that happened I don’t know. But that’s saltwater fly fishing and playing with the big boys. Tomorrow we head back to the island where the snappers and cabrilla live!

Jeff Currier Global Flyfishing web site

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Everything but Roosters

Third Day – Multi-Species Day

A big plan developed last night. We decided to be explorers today. Yesterday at the roosterfish beach we met a commercial fisherman that offered to take us to an island that he suggested had better than your average Baja beach roosterfish fishing. Naturally there was a fee for this friendly gesture, however with the thought of a monster rooster, Sammy signed us up.

We hit the road to meet the fisherman, Roberto, at 5 am. We arrived to him by about 6:30. His island was huge and appeared to be about four miles away from his beached panga. Although the Sea of Cortez has been calm all week, naturally because we needed a boat ride it was windy as hell.

Once to the island we went around to the windward side and drove alo
ng shopping beaches trying to decide which might be best for roosterfish. After what seemed like hours, we found mass schools of sardines. In we went. Roberto dropped us off and said he would be back around 2 pm to take us back to land.

It was beautifully remote and would you believe on Grants first cast with the teaser in came a school of baby roosters. In the first ten minutes Sammy and I landed seven small roosters, several green jacks and a flag cabrilla. The cabrilla, a member of the grouper family, caught m
e by surprise. I’ve caught them on past trips to Baja but seeing this one rekindled a flame. I have a liking to the challenge of catching groupers and snappers on fly.

Grant walked and cast the teaser while Sammy and I followed and dropped our flies in the teaser’s wake. We caught numerous more baby roosters but it seemed like the big boys were out to sea. We came along some fantastic looking rocks and Grant opted to head back to where we started because the roosters prefer the beach. However, rocks like these typically hold snapper and grouper and I decided to stay and make a few casts.

Just as Grant and Sammy left my sight, a massive shape appeared from a trough and hammered my fly. I set the hook and the fish absolutely manhandled me and my 10-weight and broke me off in the rocks. Most anglers would be pissed off but I was psyched. I was in a place that offered the rare opportunity to cast a fly from shore to some quality snappers and grouper.

I was literally shaking as I retied my rig. I went with a straight chunk of 30lb Rio Saltwater Tippet directly to my fly line and loop knotted on a fly Grant gave me for roosters. Back I went prowling with casts to every sunken rock I saw. Within minutes I was popping pics of a gorgeous flag cabrilla. I was definitely taking a roosterfish break for a few hours.

I went on to catch another flag cabrilla, a mystery cabrilla that was one of the prettiest creatures in nature and had a boil behind my fly that was so big it scared me. I kept thinking I was ready to rejoin Sammy and Grant but the tide was dropping and I could wader further out and cast to new appearing rocks. Then it happened. The howling wind grabbed a cast of mine and took it way out there. I made two strips and I got ripped. I knew immediately that it was what I was after, a big snapper or a grouper because in five seconds, even with the drag of my Ross reel cranked the fish screamed off all fly line, about thirty feet of backing and stuck me in the rocks. Dang! I casted my butt off for the two hours just to jammed up in the rocks in five seconds.

Barely visible from the deep blue water nearly 150 feet from shore was a submerged group of rocks. There was no doubt my fish was in there because my fly line and backing led right to it. I was screwed. I pulled hard from every angle and it wouldn’t budge. I thought about swimming but with the huge waves I’d probably drown. Plus, it was deep out there and on the edge of open Ocean, God only knows what could eat me. I pulled at every angle again but it still wouldn’t budge. I considered trying to break off the fly, but by pulling and stretching a whole fly line and a considerable amount of backing, who knows where it would break being I was fishing a straight 30lb leader. What to do what to do? Screw it. I was swimming.

blog_may_12_2010_4[1]Grant and Sammy were long gone by now. I was totally alone. I loosened the drag on my reel and wedged my outfit in some rocks up beyond the beach and left it pointed directly to the fish. Then I swam out to where my fly line was cutting the water. There I grabbed it and held on to it all the way out. It was really creepy when I got out where I couldn’t see bottom. Then the rocks where I was stuck came in to view. Ugh, my heart just sank. I was on the playing field of the fish, helplessly bobbing above him and his friends. It only took one pull for me to feel my line pop free of a few rocks. I gained a few feet of line but then it was stuck again. I was so spooked at this point I just wanted to break it off and swim in. As I tried to do this, now directly above where my line disappeared into the depths there was a pump – my fish was still on!

Imagine now, I was treading water 100 feet from shore bobbing up and down in huge waves and fighting a fish with my hands and had no idea how big it was. I was taking on water fast because I was using my hands for fighting the fish rather than swimming. All I could do was kick and gasp for air when I could get it. Then, luckily the fish gave up. When a big snapper gives up they literally come right in. With the line in my left hand, I did a one arm swim towards the beach dragging my mystery fish. The waves were still drowning me and I wasn’t exactly making ground fast. This was a stupid move but it would certainly be worth it if I survived and got the fish to shore.

Finally I could see bottom again. I was exhausted like the fish but eventually I could stand. I had line tangled around my feet and every rock. Waves were crashing and knocking me around but it was time for the moment of truth. I hand of handed my remaining line as I stood waist deep in the crashing waves and in came a tired snapper. It was a striped pargo about 8lbs! It may not sound like much but trust me, catching a snapper of this size in the rocks on a fly is a feat. And it is the stripped pargo that holds the reputation as being the toughest of all - and was he ever! This was a fish I’ve dreamt of catching on previous trips to Baja but was beginning to feel it was impossible. I picked up the toothy fish and ran to the beach. I grabbed my camera and shot numerous pictures. Then, I dislodged the fly from his strong jaws and released him.

Snappers never get released in Mexico let alone anywhere in the world. It was funny watching this magnificent fish right himself and return to his waters. He was truly surprised. As for me, I was a little shocked over the whole event. My line was strewn everywhere and it took me a good ten minutes to reel it in and untangle the mess. Once I had it all straightened out I did what every angler would do, I grabbed my digital camera and looked at my pics. Not bad for a solo event in such chaos. And what a great fish.

An hour later Roberto came to collect me and bring me back to where Grant and Sammy where fishing. I had a huge smile as I approached and so did they. Sammy landed a 25lb Pacific Crevalle! That’s a monster crevalle anywhere. After sharing the stories of our amazing catches we proceeded to pound several more small roosters, jacks, ladyfish, croakers and houndfish. What a great day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hard Work, Burnt Feet and Peanut Roosters

Second Day

blog_may_11_2010_1[1] I woke up sore this morning. I easily walked and ran two miles of beach yesterday in hopes to catch a roosterfish. Two miles should be nothing, but when you do it on a sandy beach with bare feet it uses every muscle in your body. And you can't believe all the things you could step on while not watching where you're going. I knew at breakfast it would take a lot of coffee and some hot sun to get the engine running again.
The roosterfish we saw yesterday  definitely hadblog_may_11_2010_2[1] some attitude. They’d obviously seen plenty of anglers and were as spooky as a Flat Creek cutthroat and refused flies like the rainbows of the Henry’s Fork. With only six days to catch a quality rooster, Grant decided to explore some less fished waters. He also brought along a huge spin rod and some hookless lures to try to tease some roosters into casting range.

Saltwater fly fishing takes it out of you  like no other form of fishing and blog_may_11_2010_3[1]because I’m exhausted I deliver the short version of today. We caught three small roosters, some hound fish (giant needlefish) and some big ladyfish. We got some great casts to larger roosters but got the usual serious look, a fierce follow and on went the breaks and away went the rooster. Man it’s exciting! The most important thing is that we did better than yesterday. If we can keep doing better, there’s no doubt that by weeks end Sammy and I will catch some great fish.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Monday, May 10, 2010


First Day

blog_may_10_2010_1[1] Catching roosterfish on a fly rod from the beach is one of the ultimate fishing challenges. Roosters are a fish that love to show themselves just out of fly casting range. When you can reach the rooster with your cast, they usually lift their nose at your fly as if they are insulted you would even suggest they eat such a thing. On that rare occasion when they are attracted to your fly, they simply follow it to your knee caps where you strip your entire leader and fly into the rod tip only to watch the spectacular looking fish put on his breaks, turn and disappear back to the sea. It’s torturous, but that’s why I love it.

Today was all about what I just described. Just a reminder, I’m fishing with two great friends, Sam Vigneri from Casper, Wyoming and Grant Hartman, a long time guide here in Baja. If anyone knows roosters it is Grant. Grant has been living in Mexico most of his life and has chased roosters with a fly rod for over thirty years. However, he too just shook his head in frustration today.

It wasn’t like we didn’t have chances. We saw several fish running hard up the beach. Roosters like to hunt for baitfish just along the shelf where beach drops off to deeper water. But today, these fish were very skittish. Most of them retreated to deeper water after getting a glimpse of our fly while the few that followed for a look stayed safe three feet behind the fly and refused to eat it. But this is rooster fishing and tomorrow we will try again. Hopefully weather or tides or just a different day will put these cool fish of Baja in an eating mood.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Saturday, May 8, 2010

So Long Snow Again

blog_may_8_2010_1[1] Off to Baja in the morning. Heading out with friend Sammy Vigneri. I hope to report from Mexico but if not expect a full report and photos when I get back. Anything to get out of the Rocky Mountain Horror Weather Show! Should be good!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pyramids, Sphinks and Headin Home

April 27, 2010 

blog_april_27_2010_1[1] Morning came fast after the late night on the streets of Aswan. I rarely sleep in, but it would have been nice today. Mikey, Warpath and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the Basma Hotel then took off to the Aswan airport and caught an early flight to Cairo. We were met at Cairo airport by a Pyramid Tour guide and driver and off we went.

Although my jaw drops every time I set eyes on the Pyramids, I could have easily kic
ked back at the Basma Hotel all day in Aswan. However, there’s no way Mikey’s film could be complete without footage of the Pyramids. We spent about an hour cruising and viewing the different angles of the Egyptian wonders then took a camel ride to get to the best view point. After that it was the Great Sphinx and then Mikey and Warpath went to the Egyptian museum.

There are two words I try not to use too often, “awesome” and “epic”. However there are times for them. Both words describe the last ten days just perfectly. Once again Egypt did not let me down. The beauty of Lake Nasser, the extreme fishing for magnificent species and spending time with great friends are what has made this such an incredible journey. At midnight I begin the long trek back to Victor, ID where I will unwind for a over a week before packing the bags again. Be ready for some exciting stories and photos from Baja coming very soon.
blog_april_27_2010_2[1] blog_april_27_2010_4[1] blog_april_27_2010_3[1]

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Day - Reel em In Dudes

April 26, 2010

blog_april_26_2010_1[3] It’s always sad when a great fishing trip comes to an end. This morning we fished our way back to the village of Garf Hussein where we caught the bus back to Aswan and the Basma Hotel. It was calm and hot starting the minute the sun rose. It was perfect fishing weather for Nile Perch on Lake Nasser making it very hard to leave. Normally I make this a ten to twelve day trip rather than only seven and I think for the future that will be mandatory for me. Egypt is just too far to go for seven days of fishing and I really love it here.

blog_april_26_2010_2[1] We caught a few fish and I had some opportunities to cast to big perch. I caught a 5lb tigerfish off a weed bed that Mikey spotted tailing. That was a first. In the same area Mikey brought in a nice perch. We also drifted Mikey’s bar for an hour or so and although we graphed a few fish, all we could muster up was a turbo puffer fish living down deep with the big boys. The two large perch I cast to were right before we had lunch and neither showed any interest. One followed but didn’t eat and the other sank out of sight so I don’t know how he really reacted. All I do know is it’s a real mystery that no sighted perch ate the fly. 

Once in Aswan we got cleaned up and went out to eat at with owner of the African Angler, Tim Baily. We went to a restaurant I have eaten at several times located on a
blog_april_26_2010_3[1] floating barge on the Nile River. Each time I’ve enjoyed great food here. Our entire group talked of walking the town after dinner but when it was all said and done everyone wanted to go to the Basma and hit the sack. However, Mikey needed some footage of Egyptian culture so even though we were exhausted he, Warpath and I did hit the town anyway. We fly to Cairo early tomorrow morning while the South Africans stay in Aswan all day. So, outside the restaurant we took a group photo, said our goodbyes and then off we went to the Aswan market.

blog_april_26_2010_4[1] Any foreign market at night is a cool place to walk and observe. The market of Aswan does not disappoint. Narrow streets bordered with tiny shops and anxious shop owners that try to lure you as you pass them is what it’s all about. The big thing here for tourist is perfume. It sounds funny but the locals make some fantastic smelling concoctions from the lotus flower. I enjoy stopping and chatting with folks as we go. Egyptians are incredibly warm and friendly and appreciate it when you take the time to visit. It usually leads to a cup of tea and a full shop tour.

blog_april_26_2010_5[1] After about a two hour walk through the market, shops gradually began to shut down. It was getting late and we have an early flight tomorrow. We nailed a taxi and headed back to the Basma. I kind of expected to see the South Africans at the hotel bar but everyone is truly exhausted. Tomorrow will be the last report with pictures from the Pyramids.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site