After re-entering the land of the cold, it didn’t take us long to get back on the water. Cody and I joined my buddies Ian and Steven for some Idaho Steelheading on Friday. After a fantastic day, Steven put together a short video that turned out really well. Enjoy!
The time has come for us to start packing and begin the journey home. I’m already getting cold thinking about moving back to Idaho, but we’ve gotta go. We’ll talk more about the trip home and overall takeaways from living in Mexico for a couple months a little later, but for now lets focus on the fishing.
First, our overnight adventure failed due to heavy winds and a small boat. However, we gave it hell the next day as if we had spent the night on the beach and done all those things we were talking about. The night we were supposed to be camping on the beach, Cody and I sat on the deck, drank cocktails, and babbled on about launching the boat at 4:00 AM, trolling up Wahoo under the full moon, and thus, becoming Cabo Pulmo legends. He even convinced me to set my alarm at 3:30 AM. I woke up at that ungodly hour to find utter darkness. Launching the boat probably would have resulted in us stuck on a reef 200 yards offshore, discussing our options. We instead were up at 5:00 and on the water before the sun came up, with high hopes. The plan was to run out to some shark buoys and troll flies for Dorado. Unfortunately, the seas were still pretty chunky, so we stayed in tight to the shore and looked for roosters and Sierra…this was after Cody Jigged up a nice Cabrilla, which took care of dinner.
Once we had a good fish in the cooler, we put on a couple sardina patterns that Skip Greenwood donated to the cause and started trolling the beach. We were met with a barrage of needlefish, which were pretty entertaining as they seldom stick but keep you awake when fishing is slow. After a few good whacks from needles and a small jack, something hit my fly so hard it almost ripped my rod out of my hand, and drag starting flying off my reel. I held on for dear life, and when the fish surfaced Cody was the first to get a good look and determine it was a nice rooster. This was probably the hardest fighting fish I had caught all trip, and I was elated to get it to the boat. While we didn’t catch as many nice roosters as we would have liked, I guarantee you every one caught or hooked will be ingrained in my memory for a long time.
Sometimes fishing in the salt can feel hopeless, like you’re stumbling around blindly, searching for a needle in a haystack, which happens to be underwater…other times, like when you catch a big fish, you feel like you have it all figured out. For instance, right after I caught that rooster, I hooked into a big skipjack that popped off by the boat. At this point we had it dialed. All you have to do to catch big fish on the fly in the Sea of Cortez is: 1) Wake up in the middle of the night 2) Pile as much gear on a little tin boat as possible 3) Stuff 16-24 modelos in a cooler full of ice 4) drive around in circles with fly rods in hand and giggle while boats 3 times your size come by throwing sardines in all directions and inevitably catching way more fish than you.
We repeated this process with precision the next day and got skunked…back down to earth.
The wind picked up again on Monday, which meant the boat was a no go. This also meant it was all going to come down to Tuesday. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get out on Tuesday, but the wind reports said the afternoon would be doable. We made a food and gas run to La Ribera early that morning and were on the water just before noon. The wind wasn’t terrible, but it was coming from the north, which meant we had to fight it the whole way to our spot. The run out, which usually takes about 30 minutes, took an hour, but we made it, and the birds were working like they had been every day prior.
Once we got to the area where we had been seeing fish off the beach, Cody threw out a really flashy fly that he tied for Sierra, and I tied on a small, flashy lure, which I hoped the Sierra might like as well. Right after we started trolling, we saw a big fish come out of the water, that I assumed was a nice Sierra. About 20 seconds later my rod went off, and a big, green, angry looking fish launched out of the water, at which point Cody and I started screaming.
At this point I will digress on my views regarding some kind of higher power that dictates my success as an angler. Ever since I lost the first 5 or 6 steelhead that I hooked, I decided that the fish gods had something to do with the whole thing. Since then every fishing move has contributed to a karmic balance that controlled how many fish I hooked, landed, or lost. We have trolled hoochies, rapalas, and big teasers for years down here, trying to get Dorado to eat. We hadn’t hooked a single one from our boat until I put this goofy little Sierra plug on. This fish went on an insane run, coming way out of the water twice before I got it to the boat.
This combined with the onslaught of sierra that followed, which consisted of about a dozen fish landed with twice that many hooked (all on flies), was a clear gift from the fish gods.
This was our last day of the trip to fish, and it really all came together. We’ll spend all day tomorrow buttoning down the house and getting ready for the drive home. Hopefully the fish gods didn’t use it all up and show a little compassion when we hit the Steelhead streams in Idaho, upon our return…much more to come.
The last three days it’s blown about 20 mph every day. We decided to head to the beach and give it a try anyway. While the wind made casting tough, it was worth the effort. Big schools of bait were pushed in to the shallows by the relenting wind, and schools of fish and giant flocks of birds followed. We caught a decent number of small fish but didn’t land any of the larger species kicking around. That being said, we caught 5 different species and got to watch the birds put on a show.
Today we’re headed out in the boat. It’s been too windy to launch the 12 and 1/2 footer, but it looks like we might get a break this afternoon. The plan is to head south fish a little in the evening, camp on the the beach, and get back out on the water before sunrise. Our friend Skip found good schools of Dorado just offshore, and we’re going to try to locate them in the little boat. We’ll do all of this and be back in time to watch the Ducks take it to Stanford on the road. Here is a shot of the biggest fish Cody has caught all trip.
Chase and I were lucky enough to have both of our parents, plus my Aunt Lesley, come down and visit us over the last couple weeks. We ate well and had some quality time on the local beaches. Windy conditions have kept us out of the little boat, but we did go out with a guide from Punta Colorada Lodge just a few days ago. This was my dad’s first taste of big game fishing in the Sea of Cortez so we started the day live bait fishing for Marlin and Sailfish. We were trolling along, sipping on some cold Pacificos when my drag started to scream. I set the hook hard and watched a big sailfish start leaping a couple hundred yards from the boat. We screamed with excitement and I struggled to get the fish under control. All of the sudden I felt a big headshake and the weight disappear from the end of my line. Although a short battle, we couldnt be happier to start the day off with a fish like that. We continued on and a short while later our captain, Carlos, started pointing at a marlin along side the boat. Before we had the chance to get a bait in front of it, a sailfish grabbed my dad’s mackerel and the fight was on. Spirits could not have been higher, and after a nice battle and some great acrobatics, my dad landed the fish.
We continued our big game efforts for a little while longer, and when we finally decided to bring in the baits, we saw that Chase’s mackerel had been bit clean in half by what could have only been a wahoo. After our successful morning, we switched our efforts to catching a rooster on the fly. We drove back to the beach and trolled one live bait while Chase and I casted flies from the front and back of the panga. After only a few minutes, we watched a rooster start pestering and trying to eat my dad’s mullet that was too big for its mouth. It was quite a sight, and this activity would continue down the beach. Roosters would rise on the bait and Chase would try to trick them into eating a fly he would cast beside it. We also chummed with sardines and this caused a rooster to start feeding along side the boat. Chase pointed to the spot where I should cast and after a few strips I was hooked up. I did my best not to fall off the bow of the boat during the fight, and Chase assisted me in tailing the fish.
Already a fantastic day, there was one more event that happened to cap off the day. Earlier in the day, my dad was telling stories about fishing with me as a kid. He talked about how I would steal the hot rod or cast in the exact spot that he had just caught a bluegill. Although I deny all of the stories, a similar event ended up occurring. After I caught this rooster, my dad decided to switch to the fly and handed me his live bait rod. I barely had enough time to grip the rod before a rooster took the bait. It was too perfect.
As you can see by the expression on his face, he was clearly happy I caught the fish for him.
Here is a great report from my good buddy Ian. While we have been running up and down the beach, he’s been two stepping his way to glory. Enjoy!
With Chase and Cody chasing all kinds of exotic fish down in the tropics, I thought I’d put a little something together to lure them to Idaho for Thanksgiving. Little background; my name is Ian Faurot. I’m finishing up undergrad at U of I, and I’m extremely jealous of Chase and Cody living in Mexico for 3 whole months.
I’ve been fly-fishing almost all my life, and, like these two, followed the natural progression into Steelheading. This can be a tricky, frustrating, addicting, and sleep depriving game. Luckily, I’ve got friends who are just as hooked as I am. Un-luckily, we don’t catch that many fish. My friend Kevin and I are going to become millionaires someday, writing a book entitled, “How to Avoid Catching a Steelhead on the Clearwater River for 3 Years, ” Or, “Making People Feel Better About Getting Skunked,” Or, “Throw That Fly-rod in the River and Let’s Go Buy Some Bait.” Up until this year, we were doing everything perfectly to elude these mythical creatures. 3 years ago I had stupidly made a vow that I wouldn’t get a spey rod until I had caught a B-run Steelhead on the main-stem of the Clearwater with a single handed fly rod. This resulted in lots of sore shoulders, cold toes, and bruised egos. This year I finally broke down and ordered one. Through a shipping snafu, the spey rod took longer to get here than was expected, and my vow went unbroken, as my seven weight doubled over and my reel handle mutilated my knuckles.
So that put me and Kevin at about 1 for 5 ka-billion in the fish per trip ratio. As luck would have it, the very next trip, Kevin pulled a beautiful wild A-run from behind a rock out of a picture perfect riffle near Lewiston.
Since then, some trout fishing was in order, with temperatures of 90+ lasting deep into September. The St. Joe and Kelly Creek are both Blue Ribbon trout streams, and are only a couple hours from Moscow. They offer the chance to ditch the waders and the uber-serious fishing attitude, and have fun drifting, camping, and howling the night away with friends.
*A forest fire raged across the river from our camp on the Selway, and late-night skinny-dipping put us on top of it. Unfortunately, these pictures are not going on the Internet.
*Future spey and steelhead addict learning the basics.
I’ve also been having a blast teaching Olivia to fly-fish. She’s picking it up quickly, and is absolutely thrilled with every fish she catches. As with any skill you try to pass on, there are definitely frustrating moments. Just watch me and do it like I do! She hangs tough though, and if fishing skill is measured strictly on how much fun you’re having, she’s the best in the world.
Since summer has faded out, the focus has turned back to Steelheading. A Dawn Patrol trip to the Grande Ronde was productive, with 1.) A hot wild fish that showed me more backing than I have ever seen, and 2.) Several heart stopping hookups that turned out to be Smallmouth Bass.
Another Clearwater buck fell victim to the swung fly on my first day out with the new spey. He also fell victim to an extra sharp filet knife.
These pictures and reports probably provide an inflated account of my fishing abilities. I have caught steelhead a little over a quarter of the times I’ve pursued them in 2011. However, this year I have caught more steelhead than ever before, and I’m consistently getting a grab here and a pull there. Even though I’m not killing it, I feel like I am getting better, and that feels good. In the end though, it’s all about enjoying you’re time outside and on the river. The closer I get to graduating and moving on, the more I fall in love with this place, and the sadder I will be to leave it behind.
The windy weather here seems to ebb and flow, and when it’s blowing hard there isn’t much you can do. Fortunately, come Tuesday the wind reports read favorable, and that should allow us to start to do some more damage with the fly rods again.
Although conditions haven’t been ideal, we’ve still been getting our days in, and on Wednesday we had the pleasure of doing a little fishing with Fishbite Media’s Brian Huskey and his wife Allie. We fished a new stretch of beach, which turned out to be pretty cool. At low tide a huge sandbar just offshore became accessible and we had a go at Baja’s version of flats fishing. Cody spotted a couple of big Jacks cruising, but they were spooky with us that close to them in shallow water. After walking “the flats” for a while, we investigated a group of birds that had been crashing through a huge school of bait. With the bait we found Roosterfish. Unfortunately these Roosters were so small, you could have kept them in a decent sized fish tank. Even though they were quite small, I couldn’t resist laying some casts down, and I picked up a few of the little guys. It still counts!
We’re going to let them feed for a couple weeks, and go back when they’re a little bigger. We’ll be out the next few days looking for their parents.