The new normal in Baja is that nothing should be taken for granted, except that change is inevitable and constant.
Unseasonable weather and water conditions combined with different, but abundant bait forced guides and captains to get creative. The time proven chum and switch technique using small bait like sardines or ballyhoo, was short lived when the ballyhoo supply dried up by mid-May. No sardines were to be had again this Spring in what can now be considered a trend. Ballyhoo are a poor substitute for sardines with their lethargic flight barely eliciting a response from roosterfish. Plug teasers are helpful both with roosterfish and dorado, but not something to rely on as a sole teasing method. Plugs help attract the fish, but will not hold their attention long. While the ballyhoo bait was available in early May, small to medium roosters were picky, but around.
This year the predominant inshore bait was ladyfish. Ladyfish might be the most consistent bait in the area, particularly given the recent fluctuation of sardine population. Ladyfish are a favorite prey for roosterfish, but as a bait, given more attention by bait fisherman than by fly fisherman. This spring the ladyfish schools are everywhere and big in numbers. It seemed like almost all the beaches had ladyfish and/or mullet schooled up inshore. The abundance of big bait brought big fish and, in my experience, this was the most consistent BIG roosterfish year in recent past. The trick was getting them on a fly.
Some of the best opportunities for big fish on the fly were from the beach. With a little patience, and a lot of luck, big roosters can be spotted and cast to while they are chasing the larger bait up onto the beach. The ability to cast large flies, 8” and up, with proficiency is an absolute necessity. Every few days in May and June we had big roosters cruising the beach right in front of the lodge, some exploding on bait.
For those sports not feeling confident or lucky enough to give the beach a try, it was time to do something new. After all small bait was exhausted and the plug teasing unsatisfactory, we began using ladyfish. Bridling live bait is something we have used successfully to tease billfish and occasionally inshore for roosterfish. This year it seemed like the roosters were keyed in on the ladyfish and were easily engaged. Smaller ladyfish worked best and we found schools of juvenile fish to the South. Within a week or so, the technique and flies were improved and we started hooking and landing fish. Being able to see the big roosters stalking and attacking the bait at such close quarters was reward enough. Some fish stayed on the teasers for what felt like minutes with repeat attacks all the way to the motor. Big, angry, fish.
There were enough dorado at the inside buoys to make them worth checking, and several guests landed 8-20lb fish. Wahoo were again abundant off shore, but difficult to target with out decent attractor bait. A fast trolled rapala in the am usually yielded a nice sashimi and dinner.One of the most exciting developments this spring was the ability to start hooking milkfish. Although none were landed, 4 were hooked and with a little work I see this becoming an exciting species to target. Huge schools of milkfish can be seen sipping the surface film through out spring and summer. Calm days are best, but quiet presentation and accuracy are essential for these spooky fish. A splash from a #4 crazy Charlie will spook the entire school in a flash. 20 lb fish are common and these fish fight hard.
I am looking forward to July when we will be targeting big bull dorado and hopefully see some marlin. Who knows, there might be a monster rooster fish or two to chase as well.
There are still some spots for the October trips 10/09/16-10/25/16. Please contact me if you have and questions or are interested in booking.