|Summer 2012 will most likely go down in the record books as the season of the Rooster Romp.
Potential I.G.F.A. records have been caught, personal-bests have been achieved and there have been many first-time catches of quality-sized fish stretching from Baja's tip all the way up to the northern reaches of the Sea of Cortez below San Felipe, confirming that it has not been just a regional thing restricted to Baja Sur, but more of a universal Sea of Cortez phenomena.
By all accounts, May was a disappointment. For nearly 30 days we cruised up and down the Sea of Cortez from Los Frailes to Isla San José north of La Paz searching for any concentration of the larger fish, only to catch a handful of bubba-class roosters here and there, and more often settling for the more smaller fish, disdainfully referred to as “teeners” since none of them could top the 20-pound mark.
Then, suddenly, June reports which began to trickle in from reliable sources up and down the Sea of Cortez grew into a torrent of reports by July. The difference in this year's reports of roosterfish was not only the quantity, it was the size … HUGE!
• June 5, La Paz. Some of the roosters we’re getting have been quality fish - Jonathan Roldan
• June 6, Gonzaga Bay. Clear look at his dorsal and upper back, Good-sized rooster! - Bert
• June 10, East Cape. During two days of fishing inshore with Juan from the panga at East Cape, Jenn and I landed about 25 roosters, seven of which were estimated to be over 50 pounds - Jonathan and Jenn
• June 18, Los Cabos. 50+ roosterfish from the surf on a beach at Los Cabos for a happy client! - Wesley Brough
• June 19, East Cape. Roosterfish action spectacular! 50 to 70 pound fish are the rule rather than the exception - John Ireland
• June 2, East Cape. The 101-pound 2-ounce monster hooked by Jack Kautz of Lodi, Calif. at Punta Arena at East Cape - WON
• July 3, Mulege. We caught our first rooster in Mulege - Craig + Jilly Cove, Homeland Calif.
• July 10, East Cape. We had the best rooster fishing on the Planet this morning. Seven fish 35 - 100 pounds, East Cape lighthouse area. They included a 70 and an 80 - Robert Dykes Orange, Calif.
To put all of this in perspective, I have fished for roosterfish in Baja Sur for three decades. Over this period of time, a small number of very large fish were caught and released. A few of these monsters can be expected each year; however they are the exception not the norm.
Many anglers who pursued trophy roosters for years on the tackle of their choice have gone year after year without success; their frustration growing with each failed trip. Some have gone to their grave without ever catching that large roosterfish they sought.
Last year, a fly angler who had fished many of the world's hotspots from the South Pacific to the Indian Ocean, catching any trophy fish each area had to offer, arrived at East Cape in search of a trophy roosterfish on the fly. During the trip he succeeded in catching small to teener-sized fish only. He vowed to return to catch a BIG rooster from the beach.
He returned this past May to achieve his dream. Each day he and his guide prowled the hot sandy Baja beaches searching for that big'un. They spotted big roosters, well within casting range, and even turned some only to have them refuse the fly at the last possible moment. On other occasions teeners would streak in and snatch his fly before the targeted big rooster could. And add to that, the frustration of tackle failures.
For 21 days our dedicated angler never wavered in his determination to catch a trophy-sized rooster. Finally, his moment arrived and for the umpteenth time he ran down the beach – adrenalin coursing through his veins as he chased the huge, dark shadow slowly cruising along the shore. A good cast, better hook set, followed by an epoch fight; he achieved his goal and landed the trophy he had sought after!
During the last few days of his trip he added to his total of trophies, regaining his angling confidence totally aware that none would ever match the satisfaction of that first one.
To be clear, while the “rooster romp” continues here in Baja, it's not quite a slam-dunk in the catching department. A friend after reading Robert Dykes report on Facebook emailed me: "Saw that … awesome. I was down there last week and we blanked on roosters … damn" - B.C.
But if a trophy rooster is on your “Bucket List” regardless of the tackle, you might want to high-tail it to Baja – sooner than later.