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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

A Cautionary Tale
by Randal Sumner
04/06/2011

So this is how it begins “Let’s go to Baja and chase roosterfish on the beach”. I was looking out the window admiring the Yakima winter gloom at the time. At this point I had no idea what a Roosterfish was, but I was pretty sure I could figure out what to do with a white sand beach, aqua colored water, hot weather, and ice cold beer

             The originator of the idea was none other than Brandon Hill of Hill’s Discount Flies fame and our Wild Child as my wife refers to him.  When you go on a fishing trip with Brandon, you must understand that there are few details, just a lot of ” Look at the Big Picture, Think outside the Box, Be One with the Universe”, yadda, yadda. You get used to it and I’ve found this approach to fishing adventures has its charms. 

            My fishing buddy Chris was having some inner argument with himself about going or not going so I showed my wife Liz the web page for Rancho Leonero  on the Sea of Cortez, the place on the East Cape of Baja where we would be fishing .She said,” I’m in.”

             So I booked the bungalow and airfare; nothing was keeping me from my roosterfish showdown. I bought a beautiful 9wt Silver Ghost rod and reel from LLBean, a fanny pack and never wanting to be confused with a Canadian, new white N shoes.

            After most of a day on an  airplane and hour van ride we arrived at  Rancho Leonero , truly an oasis in the Baja desert, palm trees, white beaches , Margarita’s, a warm breeze and a lovely staff.  I was standing in the small outdoor bar ordering tropical drinks when I meet my Rooster fish guide. I gave him my word that I would not mention his name, ever.  

            We agreed to meet the next morning  with another client , a young guy we will call Morris looking for adventure, me I’ve had plenty of out of control adventure, just show me the Roosters.

            We all meet up at 10:00 am in front of the Ranch.( It seems a late start is best so you get the full benefit of the 100 degree sun blast).

             A few minutes later two locals drove up on a couple of beat- to- death four wheelers; this I am told is how we find the roosters.

             You see the plan is to drive these two oil leaking junkers down miles and miles of deserted scorching white sand and then on spotting the Rooster fish you jump off the beast and race down the beach making a 60ft cast on the run, if your fish is still around, you strip the fly back like a mad monk hoping for celestial intervention.  Getting the picture?

            When we finally mounted up on the 4 wheelers, I was sitting co-pilot with our guide he is about 5’4 around 230, I am 6’4 and 250.  I was getting a bad bad feeling; my little survival voice was giving me a headache.

            We followed the Sea of Cortez south about 20 miles. At some point Morie and I changed places on the machines; his was in a slow smoky death spiral and wouldn’t start easily. Great, give it to old Randal: what’s he got to live for?                              

            Back to the Roosters. Driving slowly down the beach ,  the guide spotted a fish and Morie  raced down to the water and keeps on running . “Hey Dude”, I’m thinking, “the fish is back here.” Roosters come straight in from deep water and after herding the bait fish around next to shore they jet straight back out, so it’s not like your going to cut them off by finding an angle. The guide was screaming his head off, which as professional fisherman I find tiresome behavior (at least he didn’t holler at me.)

              After a while we turned off the beach and headed inland a few miles, passing through a village on a number of nameless dirt tracts before retuning to the beach for more rooster fun. Temperature: 105 degrees my water bottle was steaming.

            I finally got my chance a mega rooster, actually there were two side by side cruising in like torpedoes. I killed the ATV and hopped off, burning my ankle on the tail pipe, then limping down the beach made a perfect seventy foot cast. When one of the roosters turned on the fly, I thought I might have a heart attack.  My chest was pounding as I stripped the line, at last moment that Rooster tuned away and swam back to blue water. At this point I was so cooked I think I said “Good for you rooster”

            As I re-started my smoking heap ATV, I saw the guide and Morey heading back inland, so I followed along, until they were out of sight. As in, out of sight and I’m- now lost- in- Mexico out of sight. I was deserted by the guide in the desert of Baja, but at least I had my faithful stead Old Smoky.

             A person can think up a lot of bad outcomes in a situation like this, mechanical failure, bandits, running out of fuel, sunstroke, etc. This is just the kind of thing that can make me a little touchy.

            To make a long story short I made it back to Rancho Leonaro on the scenic route and was drinking a cold Modelo by the pool when the Guide retuned.  As he approached me he started apologizing, I just held up my hand and told him when he lost me he lost his fee.  Chris and Brandon showed up later that evening wanting to know how it went. All I said was “Man do I have a guide for you”.

            Oh, and I am going back to the Ranch for another crack at Mr. Rooster, self guided this time. 

 



More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner