Story by Oliver White.
Photography by Matt Jones.
Blane Chocklett, YETI Ambassador
Christiaan Pretorius, Professional Fly Angler
We’ve all been dreaming of a grande roosterfish from the beach—a fish over 30 pounds—and now that we’re here, I can’t see any of us backing down.
For each one of us, a roosterfish from the beach is bucket list material, but after a day and a half, we still hadn’t even seen a fish within casting range. I knew the roosterfish game was tough, but I expected the challenge to be getting them to eat, not finding them.
Baja is an anomaly—one of the few places where 30-pound+ roosters roam the beaches and you can catch them on foot.
It can be endlessly frustrating. The fish are erratic and unpredictable, making the ones that do cooperate even more special. Eventually there he was, “the man,” chasing mullet in the surf, with his comb up out of the water waving like a flag.
We both jumped out, sprinting as fast as we could toward the surf and stripping line from our reels as we ran.
After days of standing and waiting, we were getting shot after shot, and some fish seemed interested. I heard a shout, looked up, and Jako was hooked up! Finally, the drought had ended.
We all knew that it could turn around at any time, and we’d all been on trips where the last day was also the best day. On our last day, we had plenty of sunshine, a manageable breeze, and despite all our trials, conditions felt right. We started getting a few shots at big fish, and were all getting in our wind sprints to and from the surf, so we had a strong sense that something good was about to happen. Christiaan ran to the nearest point of sand, hoping he could intercept the moving fish.
His third cast was past the target, but the fish lit up anyway, turned, and inhaled the fly. It was a completely different eat—a different level of commitment than anything we had seen so far. We knew it was a big fish but had no idea how big it really was until Jako tried to wrap his hand around the tail and found that it required two hands.
Fish like these are the reason we come to Baja, and it’s a feat that isn’t likely to be repeated any time soon. Just seeing that fish was a lifetime event for me. I can’t imagine what it was like catching it.
Check out Oliver’s full story about the trip in Fly Fisherman magazine at flyfisherman.com. Subscription rates may apply.