Trip Report from the Couples Adventure to Baja
July 6, 2016
Who knew a fly fishing trip could be so fun when you only fished about half the time? I had no idea. Maybe if I was bowhunting the other half of the time haha. Thanks to my wife Kelly and all the gals that joined us on our last trip to Baja we had a great time. Part of this report will be very fishing specific, as many of you are looking for some advice on planning your own trip to the Sea of Cortez, but most of it will be about the trip I am just wrapping up and will provide some sound advice for planning your own couples trip to this area. You can join Reds of course or, email email@example.com and he will refer you to some great guides and where to stay etc. We also sell all the flies, leaders, rods, etc. that you will need.
We had an amazing time filled with all sorts of good laughs, dinners, margaritas, a little dancing, fly fishing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, a road trip, whale watching, and more. This is a great trip! We started out by flying through LA on the way down and bumped into a guy that was not in our group, but was wearing a Reds Fly Shop 509 Trout hat
representative of the Eastern Washington lifestyle.
He was from northern California and also traveling to Loreto Mexico with a group of 13 dudes and they do that trip every year. It was really fun meeting a Reds customer so far from home and it proved whether you take the ladies or not, this is one heck of a great fishing trip!
Gear for Baja Fly Fishing Trips
We found the fastest sinking lines to be most effective, although the fish are typically near the surface, getting down eye level with them generated more strikes. We made more than one "boat swap" on the floor of the Panga to faster sinking lines.
With so many shots at Marlin (which I have yet to hook, but have had some shots), and the size of the Roosterfish I am more convinced that a #12 is the way to go. Last year I had one and used to land a Shark that was about 200#s, it was too big to bring in the boat. Ill put it that way. The other thing I found is that this fishery is hard on gear. Even the Bonita can be pretty tough on rods when the run straight down and you hoist them out of the depths. You fight about 10 of those and youll be glad you have a 12 weight. Here is my ideal list for fishing Baja near Loreto, MX.
Rods and Fly Lines:
12 Weight Rod/Big Game Reel with 300+ yards 68# Hatch Backing This will be durable, is enough for smaller Marlin and will handle the big Roosterfish. I would equip it with a RIO fast sinking fly line. I fished the Sage MOTIVE 1290-4 all week because its so easy to cast for a 12 weight.
10 Weight Rod/Quality Reel with 200 yards 68# Hatch Backing This will handle the Bonita and Dorado, and of course most Roosterfish. I wouldnt want to tango with a 50 pounder though. Its surprising just how light a 10 weight feels when you fish bluewater.
8 Weight Rods/Quality Reel with 200 yards 20-30# Backing This can be used for Bonita and most of the misc. rock fish. It is very light, and you may break it like I did. Its always a good idea to bring it if you have one, but dont buy one or outfit yourself with an 8 weight just for this trip.
Thoughts on Reels - I have seen and used a lot of reels, it would be tough for me to go outside of the Hatch, Nautilus, or Sage families on these trips. They are reliable and perform exactly how you expect them to do.
No matter how much you prepare, there is always something you need! We try not to overload our customers on these trips as saltwater flies are expensive. So brought a stash of extras to outfit anglers throughout the week and we did pretty well. We were very well prepared for Dorado, but with their absence we really needed more weighted Clouser Minnows tied on small hooks. We had brought from the shop and this really helped the body count on a few of the boats. My tip here is dont skimp on flies. The other thing we underestimated was the size of the Roosterfish. We really needed some crazy big flies, like 6/0 type flies. This is a tough one because a lot of guys have such a tough time casting a fly the size of a beach towel. Next year I will without a double be carrying some bigger flies in the event we encounter the Mega Roosters like we did this year. Other than that, a selection of flies in the #2 3/0 range with both some weighted and unweighted minnows will do. We carry a great selection in the shop and for $100 you can get a supply that will get you through a week of fishing with plenty of carry over.
We found ourselves changing leaders a lot and I employed a system that incorporated a large welded loop in my 12 weight line big enough to fit an entire fly and leader through. This allowed me to changed an entire fly/leader out with no knots! It saved time and expensive leader material. I had one 20# for rockfish and Triggerfish, a 40# for sight casting to Dorado and Roosters (which I did get a few shots at these fish while on patrol), and a 100# leader that was ready for Marlin/Sailfish. I plan to use this system on my future saltwater trips like Ascension Bay where we change up flies and leaders a lot. Anytime wire is involved (which it wasnt on this trip), it would be great to swap out with a loop to loop large enough to leave the fly attached. We simply used straight pieces of RIO Saltwater Fluoroflex.
Day 1 was orientation day which includes pool time, drinks, and laying out in the sun. On Day 2 a few of the gals fished and joined us on the boats. The women that were there specifically to fish hit the water with their men everyday, but most of the gals like my wife just joined us a day or two and we put 4 anglers in each boat. It is really fun having two couples in each boat because half the time is spent sight seeing, socializing, snorkeling, whale watching, sea lion watching, and the balance is of course spent fly fishing. Plus my wife gets less heckling about her casting because I have another dude to chat with.
Throughout the week we caught lots of different species, here is what I can recall that we landed:
1. Bonita (skipjack)
2. Trumpet Fish
4. Sea Bass
6. Rooster Fish
7. Trigger Fish
8. Jack Crevalle
10. Yellow Snapper
11. Red Snapper
13. Dorado (1 landed is all)
14. There are more for sure, lots of fish.
The fishing was a lot different than last year. Two things occurred that had a big impact on what we did strategy wise. For some reason there was a serious lack of Sardines which likely slowed the migration of the Dorado that are usually abundant at this time. This also made it tough as well because in this area you really need live Sardines for chum. When you spot a Rooster Fish or Dorado and you roll up in the boat they will usually leave unless you huck a few live Sardines in the water. Watching these fish annihilate live Sardines is actually a site to behold! The raw speed and power of these fish is incredible. Youre damn near afraid to hook them after seeing how fast they gobble up the Sardines its about as fast as your eye can follow them. Anyway, there were very few Dorado in the area and no Sardines available. This meant we would be blind casting over rockpiles a lot searching for a bunch of other species. The good news is that there was no shortage of fish!
We scratched the itch on the first day and caught a ton of small fish and mixed in a little trolling between spots. This breaks up the day a bit and its actually pretty fun to sip a cold drink or eat lunch while you drag some flies around.
Most of the guys on the trip had gals with them that were interested in doing some fishing but primarily there to vacation. My wife can fish but she fits into that category as well. She came out on Day 2 and we had a good time. So long as I dont try to help her improve her cast or help her. In any way at all. Even when you are a world class casting instructor your wife wont listen to you without getting pissy. So word to the wise boys, if you want to have fun dont open your fat mouth haha. Let them struggle till they ask for help. To generate some action our guide took us to some submerged reefs where Bonita and Jack Crevalle in the 2-10 pound range often work baitfish in coordinated schools on the surface. We did this last year and it was awesome. Kelly and I hit one very nice double with these hard fighting little Tuna type fish and its a great time. We caught countless fish, watched a Sea Lion hunt the same schools, saw Dolphins, took a few shots at a laid up Marlin, drank a couple beers, and had a wonderful day. No big fish but we stretched the 10 weights yanking the Bonita out of the depths. We lost one fish to a Sea Lion near the boat which was a thrilling experience in itself.
The wildlife is amazing, we saw Bighorn Sheep at the foot of the mountains on several occasions.
The whale watching is fantastic as well, this group came right underneath our boat!
That afternoon we met up with the other couples on the trip and a few of the ladies that didnt fish that day got picked up and met us at Coronado Island for a beach get together and some swimming. We enjoyed some cold drinks and enjoyed the white sand beneath our feet as well.
One of my favorite things to do on this trip is to get out early while it still dark, usually about 5:30 am, and fish Poppers unguided out in front of the Hotel and work my way towards the marina where we meet the guides. Last year I caught numerous Jacks on Poppers and this year I caught about a 5 pound Sea Bass that absolutely crushed my #2 Popper! What a great start to the morning.
Day 3 my wife decided to come out fishing again because she had such a good time and
we saw a bunch of whales! It was really cool and they wound up right under the boat. The fishing was pretty slow that day but we had a really good time. Having your spouse along with you that isnt as into fishing really helps you relax and loosen your grip on fishing. I wound up snorkeling most of the afternoon around Karmen Island. It was spectacular. The scenery both in and out of the water cant be beat.
Day 4 I rolled with another angler on the trip that became a fast friend. Mark and I decided that we had caught plenty of small fish and elected to target Rooster Fish using large live chum in the form of a fish called a Big Eye. The goal here is to troll the Big Eye behind the boat on a traditional tackle rod, let the Roosterfish, or gang of Roosterfish, tackle the bait and slash at it and the guide will quickly reel in the bait drawing the fish towards the boat so that you can get a fly to it. This is often the only way you can locate a Roosterfish.
In some areas you might find them pushing bait up against the shoreline, but in many areas its deep water and locating fish is impossible. Plus these are BIG Roosterfish. We brought 5 to the bait that day and 3 of them engulfed the bait and either broke the line or hooked up on the tackle rod before we even had a chance. Seeing a 50+ pound Roosterfish track the baitfish and devour it almost instantly is incredible. I was frankly shocked by the size of these fish. Most of the videos, etc. that I had seen of Roosterfish didnt even come close to representing the size of many of these fish.
We did fight and land one that hooked up on the tackle rod which was great fun, I got to personally grab, land, and hoist it aboard which was the first time I got to put my hands on one of these magnificent fish. Im still looking to land my first on a fly and this was a great training day to get some experience with these brutes. The fish Mark landed was over 50#s for sure, closer to 60 is my estimate. Next time well try to be faster but when they eat a 14 Big Eye in one bite it can be hard to take it away from them fast enough!
The fishing days were 6 pm 2 pm and that gave us a great afternoon to hang out and socialize around the pool. Our Happy Hour was from like 2 pm 7 pm and there were lots of Pina Coladas and Margaritas drank while chatting with the other couples, playing cards, and simply relaxing. A nap, chips and guacamole, a swim, and then a fine dinner was pretty common post fishing routine.
The restaurants in Loreto are first class and we ate at 4 different restaurants and I would be hard pressed to decide which one was the best. The fresh seafood, personal greetings from the Chef, and amazing prices all contributed to a wonderful evening out for everyone. While some couples enjoyed dining alone to enjoy time with their hubby, most of the group would have dinner together and it was really enjoyable to have a mixed group dynamic on one of these trips. Our friends Brian and Angie were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on this trip and we had the restaurant prepare an amazing cake, we had a little sign made for them, and we finished off by dancing to their original wedding song. We ate outside, there was a full moon, and oh yea this is a fishing trip right?
The wildlife is incredible, this is popular place for Sea Lions on these rocks.
Kelly and I elected to stay an extra day and explore a bit and also check out another resort south of where we stayed for future trips. This was a really nice add-on and we sure had fun. We rented a car and drove into the incredible mountains west of Loreto and visited the San Javier Mission that was built in 1699. It was really amazing and getting to do some driving in true Baja country in some of the most spectacular mountains in the world was a treat. Much of the country side and even the ranches look the way they did hundreds of years ago. Because of the harsh climate, rugged terrain, and lack of water it isnt developed nor inhabited. We finished off the trip doing some standup paddle boarding at the Loreto Bay Resort on the last day and I tied a bunch of dry flies while sitting on the beach! Although I love these saltwater trips my heart is still with trout. As I wrapped up the trip and tied flies for my guided clients that I am hosting this week I got to think about all the amazing places there are to fish. I have tried to get my wife to go on a week long fly fishing trip to Alaska haha. That aint happening. The very second I asked her if she wanted to lay by the pool in Mexico while I go fly fishing she booked our flights! Now that were two trips in she is even starting to fish some and declared I want to catch a Marlin. Poor guide. Thats his problem.
To sum it up, this is a great trip. Baja is a perfect place to go as a couple whether you like to fish hard or not fish much at all. It safe, clean, affordable, and after our 2nd trip we know were heading back. Keep your eye on our website for hosted trips, and again were happy to help you plan your trip and simply refer you to the right folks.