Saltwater Fly fishing the Baja

2009 Baja saltwater fishing

Beach fishing on the Baja with a fly rod is always a blast. This year was no exception. We started out the first morning right in front of the lovely Buena Vista Beach Resort Hotel where the bait fish gather in the warm water springs that emerge from the sand.

Bait was busting everywhere in front of us as we tied on the stripping baskets, had a quick lesson in how to use them and practiced the strip-strike to make sure we didn’t pull the fly right out of the fish’s mouth. Then we spread out along the beach to cast to pod after pod of “nervous water.”

Penny hooked up first on a coronet fish near a rocky stretch of beach. A second fish followed quickly. Alison, who was nursing a sore shoulder, set the hook on another cooperative fish, which departed before we could determine what it was. Suddenly thousands of bait fish were skimming the surface of the water fleeing from something big underneath. Jack cravalle, lady fish, and sierra mackerel were all present. Even though the “ladies” would follow the fly but not take, it was exciting to see them flash silver in very shallow water.

That afternoon we got our equipment ready for the following day on the boat, and then enjoyed some margaritas and wine before a dinner of fresh dorado. The boats departed just as dawn was breaking the next morning. We quickly bought sardinia bait from one of the local bait-boats waiting just off shore. When we were ready one boat headed out to the area where dorado had been caught the previous day. Unfortunately, we encountered the old “you should have been here yesterday” phenomena and struck out. The other boat was having much better luck bringing pargo, cabrilla, sierra mackerel, jack cravele, and rooster fish to the boat.

Just as soon as we arrived at the same area, the first boat’s anglers joined in the fun. Birds were diving, fish were boiling, and hit after hit occurred as we trolled through the area. Penny hooked into what turned out to be the largest rooster fish of the trip on a sparkly red & white fly. We had a fun night comparing fish stories on the patio while eating delicious sierra ceviche on chips still warm from the oven, thanks to Lori’s great catch.

The next day we rotated boats and headed out again. One boat headed out for dorado but encountered black skipjack tuna, and marlin instead. No matter what they tried, they couldn’t entice the marlin to hit the flies, but felt a little better when the captain reported that none of the other boats was hooking up either.

Our second boat found itself absolutely surrounded by leaping dolphins and yellow fin tuna. It was an amazing site and we hung over the side of the boat trying to touch the dolphins swimming right beside us. The tuna were very stubborn, however, and we briefly turned our attention to the small pods of marlin that we encountered on the way back toward shore. All of a sudden our captain slowed the boat and told us to get the flies out. A huge school of white bonita produced nearly twenty fish, one right after the other, in just a short period of time. They were beautiful, “silver bullets” between ten and twenty pounds that bent our 12-wt rods nearly double. Just as soon as we released a fish and put the fly out again, we’d have a fish on. “Double” after “double” occurred until the school of fish disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

The wind came up on our third day, but we didn’t let that stop us from going out. (It did result in our coming in a little early, but we caught fish regardless.) One boat got into a huge school of black skipjack tuna and bonito and repeated the great success that we always have when fishing them. The other boat, fishing closer to shore, encountered large schools of red snapper right on the surface. Using both fast sink and intermediate lines we took advantage of the bounty.

Lori caught a beautiful yellow snapper, and then Dan hooked into what turned out to be the fish of the trip, a large red snapper.

Mexican red snapper is a real delicacy so we sacrificed the fish to the fish gods and brought it back for dinner. The hotel kitchen absolutely out-did itself in preparing a huge platter of sautéed snapper for us to have for dinner. The hotel was offering a Mexican buffet that night, and we just added the other delights that were available to our large platter of snapper.

On Easter Sunday, the hotel again produced a magnificent brunch buffet complete with champagne. We were absolutely wowed! Afterwards we wandered into the village, but found nearly everything closed for the day. Thank goodness the ice cream store was open so that we could have a treat while we walked around. So, instead of shopping, we napped, we swam, we had massages, we swapped pictures, and walked the beach.

Just as happens every year, we were very reluctant to leave. This is one heck of a great vacation and fishing experience. If you want to try out saltwater fly fishing on the beach and encounter some fish species that are completely new to you, come on along next April for our next annual Baja Blast.

~Pudge

 



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