JIM & JAN on the BAJA
After two COVID thwarted attempts to schedule this trip, my wife, Jan Crawford, and I finally made it to the Baja in pursuit of sizeable roosterfish, jacks and dorado. Our arrangements included six days of fishing starting on May 22, just two days after my 75th birthday. Happy birthday to me! Just a few months earlier all of Mexico had been closed to sport fishing for some time leading us to hope for well rested and cooperative fish.
Our base of operations was the beautiful Bahia de los Suenos lodge located on a pristine Sea of Cortez beach approximately two hours north of Cabo. Our party included four (two couples) friends from Durango. Other than Jan, the wives were not fly fishers but there were many alternatives available at the lodge including snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding and margaritas on the beach. Their husbands, however, were very experienced and accomplished saltwater fly fishers who had fished the Baja previously. Jan and I, on the other hand, may get a chance to fish saltwater once or twice a year. Thanks to COVID it had been well over two years since either of us had cast a ten-wt. rod.
Not surprisingly, mistakes were made – especially by me. A rusty double haul in the wind on a rocking and rolling panga provided for some moments of considerable frustration for me and, no doubt, high comedy for our guide. I revisited virtually all the ways you can lose a fish as well as inventing some new ones. If you haven’t fished saltwater before the speed and power of many saltwater species would astound you. Mere seconds can get you deep into your backing. If, however, you let the line wrap around your rod handle, miss a guide stringing up, allow your line to bird’s nest because you didn’t stretch it and/or have a clunky connection between your fly line and the backing you will lose fish. Meanwhile, Jan was impressing all viewers with her casting skills and connecting with some nice roosterfish. I’ve become used to this kind of humiliation and was eventually able to get my act together sufficiently to catch some fish myself.
Jan and I didn’t land any monsters, although a member of our party, 81-yr.-old, John Ritchey, did land a 55-lb rooster after a fight of more than an hour. We did catch a few roosters with the largest, around 22-lbs caught by Jan. We also caught some nice skipjacks and a variety of smaller specimens of grouper, snapper, etc. We never landed a jack crevalle, which I consider the gamest of all the saltwater game fish. We did, however, lose a few, including a grande I fought for nearly 40 minutes before breaking it off about 20 feet from the boat on our last cast of the week.
We had a great, but exhausting, time. At 75 I was the youngest flyfisher in our party and can attest that a full day of throwing a 10wt. in the wind from a moving panga then battling big ill-tempered fish tested the limits of our endurance. So grateful we can still enjoy these types of adventures so far along in years. Fingers crossed, may need to give the Baja another look next year.