Had a good conversation with Captain Derek Rust last night about Salt Water Fly Fishing. Of course it got me thinking about being on the bow of his hells bay getting a beat down by the Salt Water Kings.. like Permit, Tarpon, Snook, Bonefish…. basically anything you can sight cast to.
side note: I become a puddle when I have to cast at any saltwater fish..
I stumbled across this video from the fellas over at Gink & Gasoline and thought I would share for all you Salt Water Anglers out there.
That wave of hot air hits you like a blow dryer in front of the sun. It is a dry heat. the land a covered with cactus and mountains of brown earth. As you drive along the winding roads north of Cabo a deep blue from The Sea Of Cortez appears on the distant horizon. You are in Baja,.
The 4:30 wake up call was like a tequila bottle hitting you over the head. Our blood shot eyes scrambled in and out of a daze trying to grab our gear before the 5am departure. Heartburn instantly sets in after the first sip of coffee and you wonder what they put in those margaritas. Generally after two margaritas hallucinations do not set in.
The van door opens to a beach full of Pangas and a faint grey sky. The air is cool and dry. Once on the boat your captain motors towards the point and heads north. The bait is north. A burning red sun rises on the east horizon as the salty air fills you lungs. The occasional wave of nausea rumbles your gut when a plume of gasoline fumes hit your nose. But, the hangover is getting better.
The bait mafia pull up to your boat and throw a couple of buckets of sardinas in the front well of our Panga. Many words are exchanged between the two boat captains non of which we understand. We just hand over a 20 and motor off. The sun is hot now. Sweat full of sunscreen and poison rolls of your brow and into your eyes instantly stinging them.
The Captain turn off the motor about 200′ from the rocky shore and chucks a few sardinas towards the shore. You peel off as much line as you can throw and make a few false casts to stretch your line. The steady rocking of the boat takes a minute to get used to. Another wave of nausea hits, this time from the heat and the rocking motion.
Splash a combs appears off the beach, then another. Sardinas are scrambling during the chase trying to our swim the Roosterfish that is chasing it. The comb is cutting across the surface never in the same direction for more than a second. Back and forth, near and far. So fast. Its incredible.
The line shoots off the deck into the slashing roosters. As soon as the line hits the water you begin to retrieve line with both hands trying to imitate a fleeing sardina. The comb turns and chases your fly. Faster and faster your strip. “He’s on it He’s on it…eat it eat it you bastard.” Refusal.
That’s how we started our 6 day fishing adventure to La Paz Mexico. An incredible place with one of the coolest blue water fisheries I may ever see. The Rooster fish are as cool as they look, but on top of that you can catch, jacks, bonito, dorado, lady fish, trevally, reef fish, marlin.. Just to name a few. Some of the pickiest fish as well. at least when we were there. If the fly had too much flash it was denied, green back instead of a black back, refusal, fly is too long, out of luck. We finally got it dialed in after a couple days thanks to Jeff Brazda and Rick Matney spinning bugs in the hotel room after fishing. A trip worth putting on the bucket list for sure.
I love it when a fly fishing guide yells at the angler on Deck. Something about it that makes me feel good and I realize that this dude is not being a dick, he is just extremely passionate about getting the angling into fish. An angler does not see this that often, in fact I think not enough. I always want to know if I am doing something wrong or if there is a more effective way to do it. So please tell me and if you are my fishing guide tell me by raising your voice, stomping your feet and calling me an asshole for not paying attention. This is what happened on our first day in Belize. Our guide Ketchu, who was above and beyond the best guide at the lodge (my experience), was slow to warm up to us when we stepped on to the Panga at 7am. As we motored along to the fishing grounds he quickly stops the boat and yells tailing permit. Get your permit rod out. Well, the permit rod had the wrong fly on it as well as a shitty leader. That was not a good way to start. Cody got his ass chewed on the bow while I sat back and chuckled. Then Ketchu went on to give us instructions on how to strip for Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon. With our tails between our legs we poled along looking for Permit.
A Lone Star Over An Empty Palapa
With the clouds and wind the fishing opportunities where there only when the sun would come out. Sometimes only 20 mins at a time. It was the only day when we had a legitimate shot at the Grand Slam and I attribute all of that to Ketchu. In fact we would have had the Slam if Cody didn’t screw it up. Haha. The best fishing quote I have heard in a long time came on that day of fishing. “A fish has a tail, the fish moves” Ketchu, when describing a charter boat fishing where he was catching jacks the day before on a different tide.
Here is a short video from our trip. One of these days I will be in the right place at the right time, but until then I will work with what I am given. Thanks for watching and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.
Brazda and I were trying to get our Tarpon juju right as mark ward shut the engine off and started building a new leader. It was about 9 in the morning and the tide was slack. ” these fish cruise right through this tongue when the tide comes in” mark explained. I was pumped I hadn’t had florida fishing conditions like this for a very long time, the wind was variable and out of the east no clouds and flat calm. Braz spoke up and said ” you’re up dooda” I jumped up on the bow and said “are you sure?”
Mark was up on the poling platform scanning the horizon when he said ” joey over here on your left about 40 feet. You see it?” I did but couldn’t tell which way the fish was facing then it turned. I made my shot and started to strip. I was almost to the end of my fly line when the fish inhaled my fly. It exploded into the sky right next to the boat and instantly took took all the fly line and into the backing. Jeff caught all of the hour battle with some great shots. Below are some pics from the fight. Thanks Braz for the unbelievable pics you took.
Tail Walking On The Horizon
Into The Backing
After about an battle of tug o war the rod broke above the second eyelet. I was able to wrangle the beast next to the boat where mark grabbed the fish by its mouth. One head shake later Mark lost his grip on the beast and it slowly floated off. The broken rod tip caught the edge of the boat and popped off the fish. I was so tired it was a relief to done with the battle. In the picture below you can see the rod dangling in the the air.
Jeff took too many good pictures to post but one of my favorites is the one below which he made a banner on his face book page Fly Fishing Washington. Be sure to check it out for more great pictures of fly fishing adventures from around the country,
“Jeff you have a fish 10 o’clock laid up underneath that mangrove. you see it?” “no.. oh wait which way is it facing?” It was a falling tide and the flats fishing had died off so we hit the back country before motoring in for the day. The fish was laid up tight to the mangroves under the over hanging leaves. It was going to be a tough shot. Braz picked up the line and placed it too far behind the fish. “your behind him” mark said ” pick it up and throw it to your left.” “too far left, it is a tough cast.” Brazda picked up the line and plopped it under the leaves on top of the fish. ” get that out of there before the line touches its back and spooks him.” Braz made a few big strips and this is what happened.
We finished out the day poling the last two bays and headed North towards the marina. It had been a great day. The morning was a bit more successful.. stay tuned. Right now we are drinking rum and going snook fishing under the lights. Don’t discriminate. That sheeeet is fun.