Every year I take a group of fly anglers to Baja (Loreto specifically) to fly fish for dorado (mahi-mahi, dolphin depending on which coast you are closest too), sailfish and striped marlin. We have also encountered other species such as yellowtail, skipjack and bonito as well as roosterfish. This just has to be one of the most fun trips to take and it's cheap to boot! Here is a story of the day I caught my first sailfish on a fly.
It was the calmest and the hottest day of the trip thus far and all I want to do today is catch a sailfish on a fly. That morning getting dressed, I held up my blue-green shirt and asked my roomie, "does this go with sailfish"? A splendid choice, she agreed. We left the beach at the Hotel at 5:45 AM and made a quick run down to the marina to fill our live bait well with sardines and then headed out toward the point off Isla Carmen, where we know the sailfish "hang out".
There was not a breath of wind and the Sea of Cortez looked like a sheet of blue glass. Our only saving grace was the movement of our 22' panga driving around looking for sailfish fins protruding from the glassy sea. It took a few hours to even spot our first contestants in the ‘Mary wants a Sailfish Contest,’ but when our panga got close enough to check them out, they were gone. This was going to be the drill for the next 3 hours or so. Every once in awhile, we would sneak up on a small pod of sails and throw in a few live sardines to see if anyone was hungry and wanted to play, but for the most part, they were just lounging around in the warm sun and not hungry.
After 5-1/2 hours of hot beating sun and no air movement, I was ready to pass out and just fall apart. It was so hot my body felt as if it was melting and my face was beet red. My fishing partner Annette and I decided we'd had enough and were in desperate need of our air-conditioned room, when our guide Enrique spotted another sailfish on the horizon. "Uno mas", he pointed at the sailfish, Pez vela. Uno mas, that was all I needed to hear. It's funny, no matter how damn hot I was, I had another shot at a sail. I jumped to attention in position and Enrique cut the motor and coasted the panga into position. He threw in a couple live sardines and instantly the water erupted and we had a player! As Enrique kept the attention of the sailfish close to the boat, he pointed to one of my fly rods set up with a yellow and green fly, which he wanted me to try first. The next time he threw some sardines into the water, I cast my fly into the brew. The sailfish came up and brushed my fly with the side of his face and didn't take it. I handed that rod off to Annette to tie on another fly and proceeded to try the next rod that had a deceiver type bait-fish pattern on it. The same thing happened. The fish would come up, get a look at it, brush his face with it and look for sardines…the real ones! Ok, now back to the first rod; I still have another chance, he's right close to the boat and looking for something to eat.
I cast my silver colored popper that I tied for the trip, into the firing line and he instantly attacked it but the hook came loose. He took it again and again it came loose . . .the third time is the charm, right? You bet; he took it so hard it nearly pulled the rod out of my hands. I put a serious bend in the rod and really set the hook and we were off and running; only problem is that once the fish was hooked, I realized it was hooked on my 10 weight, not the 12 weight rod. The 10 wt was considered super light tackle for a fish of this size and weight and the reel was designed for an 8 wt outfit. Yikes, how was I ever going to land this fish on such light equipment?
All I could think of for the next 45 minutes was I hope I didn't break the Winston Rod I had borrowed from the Winston Rod Co. and please oh please let Annette's knot hold, not to mention I hope I don't melt into a puddle on the bow of this little boat. Well, nothing could have been more perfect. The rod did a stunning job, Annette's knot held up great, and the reel, an Islander with the drag tightened to the max, performed superbly. The fish was finally landed, photos taken and the fish released to swim away to play with another lucky angler at a future engagement.
We are going again in 2005 from July 14-21 and need at least one more person as we have an uneven number of anglers.(9 so far) Contact me for pricing info and what's included. More fun than you 've ever had with a fly rod....guaranteed! More fun than sex did you say??? Well, you tell me!!!