Gone fishing for roosters

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Gone fishing for roosters

Here at the magazine we often hear of great fishing exploits in South Africa and neighbouring countries, but we very rarely check out foreign anglers and their antics. Scott Huffman, an American boater and angler shares some fishing stories with Leisure Boating.

Scott grew up in San Diego, California and later moved to Los Angeles. Being an avid fisherman, he decided to buy a boat in order to take full advantage of the abundance of game fish along the Californian coast. He currently lives in L.A. with a boat slip in his back yard!
Scott often travels far and wide along the West coast including picturesque Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – or as you might have heard it in Hollywood movies being referred to by its common name, Cabo. However, on this occasion he and a friend, Kevin Greenbaum and Kevin’s father Bob, made the trip by plane and decided to make use of one of the many fishing charters available in Cabo. A mere two-hour flight from LA, Cabo San Lucas is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and is renowned for its sportfishing; some would even say that it is ‘the Marlin Capital of the World’.

Every month is a good month to fish in Cabo; the bite is hot all year-round for species such as Striped, Blue and Black Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, Wahoo, Roosterfish – a beautiful fish common in South American waters, Yellow Tail, Sierra Mackerel and others. Scott has visited the white sandy beaches, dark blue oceans, gorgeous mountain ranges, lush forests and beautiful bushveld plains of South Africa on several occasions and therefore has a firm grasp of what true splendour is; and according to him the Baja peninsula is one of the most charming locations he’s ever visited.

When in Cabo, places like the world-famous Gordo Bank, Golden Gate Bank and Jaime Bank are just a quick boat-ride away and these waters also continually teem with world-record fish. For the trip they made in late February, Scott, Kevin and Bob packed their own fly-rods and light-tackle gear as they would target two smaller species in particular: Sierra Mackerel and Roosterfish. Fishing charters in Cabo usually provide conventional gear but light tackle and fly-fishing are considered specialised trips and clients are encouraged to bring their own gear.

Arriving in Cabo they didn’t waste much time getting down to the water, eager to get fishing. They booked into a hotel and set off for the harbour. After getting bait from one of the bait vendors in the harbour, they signed up with a charter named Baja Anglers and it wasn’t long before they were on their way to the deep waters aboard a Glacier Bay 27, powered by twin 140 HP Suzuki outboards. Baja Anglers’ captain and deckhand spoke fluent English and were clued-up and informative about the best spots and techniques for Sierra Mackerel and Roosterfish.

They had only cruised a short distance when the captain rigged a rod with a hookless red and white Zara Spook to entice the Sierra with. It didn’t take long for the Sierra Mackerel to be lured to the surface and Scott and company were instructed to cast quickly and as far as possible. From the first cast it was a fishing frenzy and the feisty Sierra didn’t stop biting for over three hours, the size ranging between 2.5 and 4 kg. Not the biggest fish but, like other species in the Mackerel family such as the King Mackerel and the Atlantic Mackerel, they are formidable fighters. The primary target for the trip, however, was Roosterfish and after the successful session with the Sierra, Scott was optimistic. The Roosterfish is unmistakable in appearance.

It is greyish blue to green on top and silver along the sides. It has several thick pronounced dark blue stripes, which start off vertically from the dorsal fin but veer off horizontally towards the tail. Its distinctive dorsal fin that gives it its name has seven, long, comb-like, almost velvety spines and resembles a rooster’s comb.

It will erect this long unique dorsal fin when excited or otherwise retract it into a groove, or sheath it along its back. Like its namesake of the poultry variety, the Roosterfish fights viciously; usually at the surface, often providing quite a show. An average size fish in peak season would be 15-18 kg with a 22-26 kg being large and a 30 kg exceptional. The IGFA All-Tackle record is currently 51 kg.

Although Roosterfish can be caught using lures, Scott opted for the slow-trolling-live-bait method. He slow-trolled a baitfish called a Caballito, and soon the torpedo-like shadows became visible as the Roosters rose from behind the swell. It wasn’t long before he hooked into an 8 kg Rooster which put up a ferocious fight close to the surface.

They landed a few Roosters, all putting up valiant fights that made for good sportfishing, but the 8 kg turned out to be the biggest catch. Scott wasn’t disappointed, though, and felt elated with the day’s fishing success. Scott enjoyed the trip immensely and suggests Cabo fishing to anyone seeking an exotic fishing experience. For anyone who wants to pursue Mexican game fish on the fly and light tackle, Scott recommends Baja Anglers. Visit


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