Story From The Road: Gallo Suerte

A Story from the road that wasn’t pretty and didn’t go the way I envisioned, but still embarrassingly led to a new lifetime fish

Fly fishing for rooster fish in Baja
A Story from the road that wasn’t pretty and didn’t go the way I envisioned, but still embarrassingly led to a new lifetime fish

Not all fishing trips are created equal. I’ve had some eight hour days yield less than a condensed two hour session. So it’s no surprise that fishing during travel is subject to the same roll of the dice. It’s an even riskier gambit when no matter where you go, or what time of year you go, you just have to give it a shot...

And so I found myself on a fishing charter in the Sea of Cortez at the wrong time of year, in colder than average water, surrounded by other boats all repeating the same of lack success over static radio chatter. Encircling and chumming a small pod of disappearing mahi, the excitement slowly steeped into a daze of question marks. Now what? I could tell my guide was overwhelmed. Even our impromptu visit by boat-side whales and dolphins lingered long enough to seed the doubts of our success… As in, let’s watch the breaches just a little longer, buy some time.

I was working off of the simple knowledge provided, when told, I was to cast as far as possible off the stern of the boat. This turned out to be an awkward operation with a sink tip line on a 10wt behemoth. But we motored on as the guide tossed hookless teasers, probing the surface for adjacent predatory activity. Waiting for my cue, I stood ready; the fish were not. As time lagged onwards, my restlessness turned towards trolling and bouncing my rod tip to jig the trailing fly. I’d rather have my fly in the water, I thought.

Our boat surveyed over a new section, circling back and forth honing in on birds responding to mild surface splashing; more than enough clue to act on compared to the previous hours. We were on a hunch that roosters were in the area, yet disbelief remained. Then finally a swipe on the teaser, the guide was shouting for me to get ready to cast, but I’d already hooked up silently to a fish that found my trolling fly. The flurry of activity happened in an instant.

As the hooked fish dug deeper, the clunky 10wt turned into a welcomed lever. The guide and I recounted the excitement as we pondered what lay at the end of the line and several minutes passed before I could spot the silver sided fish, finally identifiable.

Based on the photo that culminated these events, no one would ever know the full fluke. If you’ve heard about fly fishing for rooster fish already, you might imagine sight fishing off of beaches, chasing down cruising fish and casting into waves where their feathered dorsal fins expose themselves against water’s surface. Even what my guide described varied, tease them in and then when they turn away from the boat, a stripped fly is usually intercepted. But they can also be caught other ways… like trolling a fly behind the boat while motoring down the coast line. Still, I’m glad I had my fly in the water, it was doing more than waiting in my hand.

And no matter how unworthy it felt to land that fish, looking at this wild rooster, I was surprised by the surreal experience of holding it. Gallo as they’re called locally.

One lucky gallo, gallo suerte.