by Randal Sumner
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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
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.
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”
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