Most vacationers view Cabo San Lucas as a bucket list travel destination. Most anglers view Cabo as the closest international airport to the real travel destination, located 2.5 hours north of Cabo.
When the wheels touch down at San Jose del Cabo, you’re almost certain that you boarded the wrong plane. Mountains, desert, dry and rugged terrain surround you. You grab your bags and fly rods, hop in the jeep and make the trek up north (and hope your air conditioner works).
As highway 1 leads you northbound, occasionally veering West away from the coastline, you are convinced that you made the wrong turn. About the time that you think to yourself that this isn’t the place, the road cuts back to the east where you’re quickly approaching bright blue waters crashing into sharp rocks and pristine sand. Relief sets in. Once you begin to see goats and cows crossing and walking alongside the road, you rest easy knowing that you’ve arrived in La Ventana, Mexico.
Sometime before sunrise, you arrive at the ramp to meet your guide where you’re surrounded by a plethora of panga boats, with most of them resting on trailers that are hanging on by a thread. Anglers from all over the world are gathered together with a common goal, catching the “Gallo”.
After a traffic jam of pangas finally clears up, the next stop is the bait shop. Multiple boats can be found launching cast nets and catching sardinas, a delicacy for roosters. You fork over fifty bucks and quickly realize that it’s money well spent. It’s go time.
A few minutes (sometimes seconds) of your guide flinging live sardinas sporadically, the warm water begins to boil. The sardines frantically dart in all directions, but it’s too late. Giant combs begin to surface in the boiling water. You’re almost too awe-struck to throw the fly. You inevitably fumble the fly rod and fly line a few times before landing the giant sardina fly into the strike zone. A waving comb followed by a flash of silver zips through the water towards your fly. You give it your best strip-set, and suddenly chaos ensues. Excess fly line whips through the air and it’s a matter of seconds before all of the slack is gone. The drag begins to scream. The guide begins to yell commands, half in Spanish, half in English. The hairs on your arms are all standing. You quickly find out what all of the hype is about.
Roosterfish don’t fight, roosterfish brawl. After the hook is set, it’s best to get comfortable and enjoy the ride. After a bare minimum of 30 minutes, 2-3 trips in and out of the backing, and numb biceps, a defeated 50 lb beast surfaces. However, you’re just as defeated.
You take the obligatory grip & grin, and you take the plunge into the warm water along with him to release the beast in traditional fashion, paying your respects. After both of you catch your second wind, he slowly swims descending into dark blue waters and lives to see another day.
Josh Hudman (Choona Ambassador)