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Loreto, Mexico Report
Rooster Fish
Marlin Quest
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The Bait Guy
Steelhead Fly Talk

Loreto Mexico Trip Report 07/09-07/22
This 100+ pound Striped Marlin ate a FLYH2O FPF Blue Back!

Patty and I stepped onto tropical boiling hot airport runway about six in the evening.  By seven thirty I've got my fist rapped around a Dos Equis Amber with the cold sweat from the bottle dripping down my wrist and my bare feet in the gently lapping waves of the Sea of Cortez.  It is a vision of contrasts that surround me; blue water on one side and starkly arid desert on the other.  Patty is in our air conditioned room at La Pinta Hotel about one-hundred yards away sticking stuff in drawers. Best for me to be out of the way.  Later we meet up with Jeff Evershed & John Hampton who've been here for the last five days. Fishing has been good.  Jeff has landed an estimated 135 pound Black Marlin on his new 12-weight TFO. By 8:00 the next morning I have landed a 60-pound Sailfish.  By 2:00 in the afternoon my first ever Roosterfish comes to hand.  It is a pup in comparison to the two that Patty has already put in the boat.  Two days later Jeff &  Tilda Runner and Eric Gunter get into town.  On the 15th rest of our group also arrived. The weather and fishing success changes every day.  Each day produces some heroes and I guess some days even produce some goats.  Who ended up being the top rod for the trip?  I guess I'd have to give Eric Gunter the honor for landing a blue Marlin estimated at 150 pounds.  The battle lasted 2-hours.  But then Tilda Runner might deserve the honor for her big Striped Marlin.  The battle lasted the same length.  Troy Bachmann is certainly a contender with a 125-pound Black Marlin and a 100-pound Striped Marlin in the same morning.  The two fish are hooked about twenty minutes apart.  That is a fair workout. There were also some notable butt-kickings.  Like the estimated 200-pound Blue Marlin that showed Clem Bergavin who was boss.   Or a similar fish that Eric hooked with a Dorado fly and a ten-weight rod.  When you mix it up with billfish, there can be little margin for error from either the angler or the tackle.  We had surprisingly few rod/reel failures.  A huge school of squid moved into our area and the dorado fishing went flat.  Most of our dorado caught were dinks of four to six pounds.  The biggest I landed was about eighteen pounds.  The biggest for our group was estimated at 22-pounds.  Of special interest to me was some newly discovered shoreline fishing for Cabrilla.  They are a specie of spotted grouper.  
(More about them in a future issue).

Rooster, Rooster

Beautiful Roosterfish.

The shoreline of Baja California is a gnarled mixture of basalt flows, pyroclastic ejecta and sedimentary deposits where it meets the blue water of the Sea of Cortez.  There is about every kind of underwater structure that you could dream of, from coral to gravel to pillow lava.  Our panga eased along the shore with our guide Eulogio searching for the haunts of one of Mexico's most sought after but elusive fly rod quarries, Roosterfish.  He explained in very good English, "Roosters like sandy bottoms like this one", then eased the boat out of gear and began pitching live sardines

toward the shore.  In a few minutes the surface exploded as several striped Roosterfish ran down the helpless sardines.  Eulogio threw more sardines at them until they were in a feeding frenzy.  Patty and I were soon both hooked up and our fish went in opposite directions.  Mine broke the leader, but she landed hers, which was about 8-pounds.  These rooster were juveniles as are most of the ones caught by fly fishers.  Roosterfish, Nematistius pectoralis get much larger with the world all-tackle record being about 114-pounds.

Is that a smerk on her face.

Older man & baby Rooserfish.

They get their name from the distinctive dorsal fin.  The leading 7 bony rays are very long and stand up like a cocks comb. The coloration of this specie is also distinctive which incorporates five dark gray stripes on a lighter gray background. Roosterfish of over 40-pounds are rarely caught by fly fishers as larger specimens seek water deeper than fly fishers can reach into. Roosterfish have been one of the most elusive species that I have fished for.  In several times "at bat", I have only managed to hook three.  The "one" rooster that made it to my hand was tiny, no more than 3-pounds.  Even that one pulled amazingly hard with fast determined runs. 
("Ya, I finally did get a bigger one too.")

Marlin Quest

Yea, Eric !!! In our case "Catch and Release Fly Fishing" is a form of "Sport Fishing" where flies, fly lines, fly rods and fly reels are used to capture fish which will then be turned loose with the least amount of damage possible.  Our game is a quest for knowledge, adventure and recreation instead of meat.  Sometimes size matters.  The bigger the fish, the bigger the adventure. (Within reason).  Marlin grow to huge sizes.  the largest sport caught (all tackle) Marlin was over 1,500 pound.  Fish of this size are far 
too large to be landed with "fly fishing gear". The largest Marlin landed with fly fishing tackle to date is something like 288 pounds.  The largest Marlin taken by our group fishing this July weighed slightly less than 150-pounds.  This fish took 2-hours to land with a #12-weight fly rod and 20-pound test class tippet.  Unfortunately the fish had taken the fly deep in the throat and was bleeding profusely and had to be killed.  The same size fish hooked in the lip probably would have taken longer to land.  

Troy Bachnann got the only double.

Notable blue water guide: Eulogio !!! When playing fish of this size the first hour starts out as a heady adrenalin rush that passes into a sweat stained test of will.  The second hour becomes even more surreal.  It is at the end when you really appreciate your guide.  He is the guy that has to put on the gloves and grab the thrashing fish by the bill.  In the case of Eric's guide, Fidel it was a 150 pound guide with a 150 pound fish by the nose.  In the case of Tilda's guide, Jondo it was a 125 pound man dealing with a Striped Marlin that was possibly 10 pounds heavier than himself.  No wonder the lower weight class titles are mostly held by Mexican boxers.  Many times Marlin and their close cousins, Sailfish lie on the surface of the Ocean, resting. Usually only the tips of their giant sickle shaped tails are visible. Early in the morning if the air has been calm at night and the water is very flat, these tail tips are 
relatively easy to see, even for us Gringos.  After the sun comes up and the resulting heat starts to move the air around, the water surface quickly becomes textured.  Then the practiced eyes of the local guides have a huge advantage.  When it comes to spotting tails,  Eulogio is going to become legendary as a human "fish finder".  One day he called my attention to a small Marlin basking in a two-foot high wind chop.  Don't ask me how he saw it.  It was visible to me only after it started moving toward the fly.  To bad it heard the waves slapping the side of the boat which spooked it and it wouldn't take the fly.   Two flies were clearly more popular with the fish than the rest.  Top producer was the FPF Blue Back and coming in a close second the K.T Squid.  Both are 12-inch long tube flies that are tied by the FLYH2O Company.  The American Game Fish Association 

Jondo & Tilda with a Striper.

(IGFA) which is the governing body that keeps track of World Records, dictates that the boat has to be out of gear when the fly is cast to the fish in order for that fish to eligible for a shot at a line class record.  None of our group was interested in being a record holder, nor were any of the boats we used equipped with the right kind of gear to make it happen.  Those kind of boats and crews cost about 4-times what we paid.  We are already planning for next year's trip.  Look out Loreto, we will be back next year.

Dick Sagara !!! Temple Fork Outfitters Demo Day 
Is Coming To The Fly Fishing Shop
Saturday, July 31, 9:00am - 2:00pm!
Featured is TFO Rep., Dick Sagara who is offering a free half day group fly casting class in the Portland area.  This class will be made up of customers who buy a TFO Rod(s) at the Demo Day.  You will be able to win a TFO rod at the accuracy fly casting contest and there will be a rod raffle. 
There will be special events for children under 14 with plenty of prizes.  As usual, a back yard barbeque will accompany this event.

The Bait Guy

Sardina ar big fish fuel !!!

Fly fishers aren't supposed to like bait guys...right?  Well if you're a bluewater fly fisher, the "bait guy" might be your best friend.  In the Sea of Cortez one of the main food fish for game fish such as Rooster Fish, Dorado and Tuna is the Sardinia (actually a type of herring).  They can be dispersed throughout the Ocean, but are most easily found in the edge water.  They travel in tightly packed schools while feeding on plankton.  These hardy little fish are netted and used for chum by both bait fishers and fly fishers alike.  Having a live-well full of fresh, lively Sardinias gives you the ability to bring game fish close enough to your boat so that you can cast to them.  The common way of obtaining fresh bait for chum is to find a school of Sardinias in shallow water and catch them with a cast-net.  The cast-net is round (about 20-feet in diameter) and 
has lead weights around the outside edge and a draw-string in the middle.  The net is thrown over a school of bait fish and then the draw-string is pulled to retrieve the net and also to purse the bottom of the net until it closes, thus encircling the bait with mesh and trapping them inside.  Using a cast-net effectively takes strength, balance and practice.  One of the most effective bait-catchers that we have seen is Fidel who is a panga guide who fishes out of Loreto, Mexico.

Dawn along the beach at Loreto.

Fidell turns the job of catching sardines 

Dawn along the beach at Loreto.  All of the pangas 
are loading up with sardines.

Our guide Fidel turns the job of catching sardines 
with a cast net into a fine art.

"Watch out sardines" !!! We got 'em !!!

A well cast net hits the water flat and the fish are trapped as the net is drawn around them

Several net loads of bait in the live-well and we are ready to go.

"You're lookin' good Jim". (continued from 07/18/04 The Fly Fishing Shop Insider)
WHY STEELHEAD EAT FLIES (Size does matter).

When steelhead are fresh from the Ocean they remember food in big bites and large flies will often move them.  The longer they are in fresh water, the more acclimatized to that environment they become.  In comparison to a mid-size squid, a large fully   

developed salmon fly nymph is small.  Anglers fishing at sea level on the Skeena, Skagit or Dean Rivers regularly use flies up to five inches long and over an inch in diameter.  Some of these fish have been caught on eight inch long flies.  Average flies for these rivers are 2 1/2" to 4".  

In the lower parts of the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers, steelhead seem to prefer flies that range from 2" to 3".  These fish can enter their parent river only a few days from the salt.  

Most steelhead caught in the lower fifty miles of the Deschutes River are taken on flies from 1" to 2 1/2".  These flies can be sparsely tied.  From October through February most Deschutes steelhead are taken on flies that range from 1/2" to 1".   Through the late fall and winter months many steelhead are caught with nymphs that are sizes #10 to #18.  Most are caught with trout fishing tactics.

There are however, some very bright wild steelhead that arrive in the Deschutes in November and December and the most reliable fly sizes for them are similar to the ones used on bright fish earlier in the season.
Next week: A whole new series of deadly tube flies for summer steelhead!

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Mark & Patty

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