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A Rooster Runs Through It

Things are rarely “black and white” in fly fishing but this is especially the case when targeting Rooster fish from the beach.  It is a sport filled with maybes and uncertainties.  Choices will need to be made and they won’t always be the “right” one.  After 4 straight years of chasing Roosters, I have learned the most important lesson anyone takes away from this game can only come from refusal—admiration.  A fish from the beach here is a tangible prize and the sole way to fully appreciate their wonder is unfortunately, to get worked by them.  When beach fishing in Baja, you will quickly realize that even making all the right decisions will not guarantee your line coming tight. Nothing will ever be easy or handed to you in this game and the sooner you accept that, the better off you and your confidence will be.  There is no point in getting discouraged over a skunked day, week, or even month because you truly are setting yourself up for failure here. 

It is a game of fishing for reactions.  If you can get a fish to turn on a fly, you did well.  Using the never blind hindsight, you realize that so much has to go right to even get to that point.  Allow me to Quentin Tarantino this for you and provide the fast track version…

Typically, the first step involves jumping out of a moving side-by-side with 30 plus feet of fly line dragging behind you.  Roosters, especially the eaters, don’t show up when you are ready, waiting.  You have to find them, and react quickly when you do.  As fly line does best, it will seek out and find anything to tangle itself in but having some line out, ready, could save a valuable second.  Running down the beach, you have to keep your head up, eyes on the fish.  Stepping on a jellyfish or dead puffer is a likely possibility but not even a thought that passes through your head.  The fish, that is all that matters.  As you calculate an angle of attack, you must frantically pull out more line as your mind desperately tries to tell your body to calm down. 

This is where my achilles heal comes in (admittedly, achilles feet for me).  Fly line will seek out and find a foot, wrapping itself around it in the process.  For those of you who have chased after fish on the beach, l cheers you with a fully charged FourLoko because you actually know how difficult it is to run with fly line and not wrap yourself in it.  Even as I type, I am haunted by these vivid memories that remind me just how frustrating it can be simply managing your line throughout this process.    

The following challenge you must overcome is the reason you have teammates.  The downward sloping angle of the beach which will cause you to lose sight of the fish.  Trust your spotter, and listen to him or her (Kate Taylor) scream out the orientation of the target species.  12 o’clock will suddenly become 9 and the moment the fish turns, you must be in the right place at a lucky time.

Your heart rate will not make the upcoming task any easier.  A cast needs to be placed in front of the fish but not too close to appear unnatural.  The Rooster is cleverly using the beach as a sideline, trapping the mullet against the surf.  Two back casts at most.  Anymore and you are wasting time.    

It finally happens, the Rooster turns to follow your fly.  A moment that will be slowly engraved in your mind despite how quickly it came about.  A fish, combing up on your fly is difficult to put into words and somehow you feel a sense of accomplishment even achieving this.  The Rooster will chase the fly to the point you are convinced he is sniffing it.  For reasons unknown, 9 times out of 10, the fish turns last minute nearly beaching itself in the process. You are left heart broken and confused.    

At the end of the day, these ball busting Roosters have earned their nickname of cocks and continue to adhere to it. For the non angler, I compare this game to doing a puzzle with all the pieces turned upside down.  For the angler, I recommend giving it a shot and experiencing a rush you didn’t know possible but only if you are a constant optimist with reasonable expectations.  Rooster fish are elusive as mermaids, mysterious like Poseidon, and angry as Moby Dick.  I don’t even think Jeremy Wade could catch one.


  1. Amanda

    WOW!! Awesome story and really cool pics, Danny!!

  2. OMG…you guys just know how good life is and take advantage of it whole heartedly. Wonderful pics…awesome Casa Coop… were you using the Nikon?