Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Feeding frenzy fraternity
|Although they created some unwanted flooding, the recent torrential rains were a welcome relief to locals from the drought-like conditions that have persisted in Baja Sur for several years. Some of the negative effects of the downpours, however, were a few lost fishing days for both resident and visiting anglers and some unhappy tourists. What went unnoticed by many were the possibilities created by the racing runoff that flowed out to sea along the beaches, creating deep cuts that became shelter for bait of every description and very fishable after a few days.
In addition to sheltering the bait, another bonus is the debris built up over years in the arroyos that is washed out into the Sea of Cortez. This trash and flotsam provide excellent cover for plankton, bringing a variety of bait fish that attracts everything from “schoolie” dorado to billfish. It's not unusual to see boats racing from pile to pile, similar to their Southern California neighbors doing the “kelp patty scramble” . . . a popular and exciting way to find fish.
HOWEVER, WHEN THEY occur, one expected bonus is all of the debris that has been washed out of the arroyos into the Sea of Cortez.
In the 1970s, within a few weeks after a big rain, my friend Tom Miller, Western Outdoor News' Baja Editor, described a wild scene of pargo, pompano, roosterfish, jacks, sierra and even dorado piled up in a feeding frenzy around one arroyo.
Being in the right place at the right time, anglers may witness epic feeding frenzies not unlike those experienced at a potluck dinner or a tailgate party. Big fish, little fish — all hardly selective — slash and snap at anything that moves, suckers for anything offered . . . dead or live bait, spoons, topwater poppers or even flies.
This phenomenon attracts a cast of characters including locals and visiting anglers alike — garbed in everything from barefoot and shorts to official name-brand fly clothing, full dress wading gear right down to the boots.
One of the most fascinating elements of the beach action is the mix of tackle and techniques used by anglers all fishing in the same stretch of beach: catching fish with handlines wrapped around a beer can; conventional bait casting gear; spinning gear with rods twice the height of the angler flinging spoons and poppers easily the length of a football field into the Sea and frantically retrieving them, while their fly-flinging counterparts wade out in chest high water to reach the zone.
This exhibition allows anyone interested to compare the various tackle and techniques and how they perform under similar conditions . . . the different live and dead bait along with the various types of spoons and surface poppers that produce the best results. It’s all here: The advantages of spinning or conventional tackle; and for fly-fishers, the rod and reel choices, as well as choices of lines including floating, intermediate and sinking.
It’s sort of what might be considered an impromptu clinic on how to fish Baja Beaches with a variety of different tackle by those who do it often! It’s all available by simply showing up and paying attention.
This year's rainy season has already produced plenty of success stories including jacks, roosters and pargo on spinning tackle near the tip; snook on bait at San Jose; pompano on surface poppers at Punta Arena; and small bonefish on flies at Las Arenas. It all Indicates that in addition to the improving offshore fishing, the feeding frenzy fraternity is on the way to a great late summer and fall.