My hunt for the Rooster

I am very fortunate that my job takes me to many unique places. I have stood at the base of the Gulfoss Waterfall in Iceland, Stood on the gravel runways of Greenland, and walked miles and miles on Central American shorelines. These travels have mostly been in Costa Rica, waters known for the elusive and highly sought after Rooster Fish.

I have stayed over 4 months working in Costa Rica over the last 4 years, and have always fished from the shores trying to catch my dream fish. I could have paid for a charter but something about having to battle this fish on his turf, with his rules seemed like more of a challenge. This assumption proved to be accurate as day after day, week after week I would find Needle Fish, Jacks, Trigger and Snapper, with the Rooster remaining but a ghost creeping along shoreline. I have thrown everything from top-waters to spoons, jigs to twitch baits and even a handful of suspending jerk  baits at this ghost, with only other gamefish to prove for it.

This brings us to the interesting part of this story, For the last week the weather was nice but the winds were from the east at 15-25 knots, making shore fishing very difficult, and to give you a better understanding of the environment here, the tide change is about 8.5 feet. In terms of shore fishing, high tide is borderline impossible because the waters in castable distance are rocky and very shallow, but when the tide recedes you can walk out on the rocky points and be within 5 feet of the 20-30 foot drop off the fish cruise for their food. I was lucky enough to get a few days off starting on January 1st, 2017. The morning was cloudless and wind was surprisingly light and never really manifested at any point during the day and I had the tide to my advantage.  I wandered about a mile down the beach to a point that juts out into the bay, a spot where I had caught a 30 lb Jack the year before. I had tied on a Zoom Magnum Fluke in white color, to a 3/4 once jig head for casting distance. And prepared my drag for the hopeful battle that was to follow.

My first cast was perfect, just on the edge of the rock shelf and in a school of bait, I knew for sure i would hit a strike, yet rod jerk after jerk nothing happened. I wound up to make a second cast when my lure hit a rock behind me and went off away from the school of bait and into the blue, I gave my lure two twitches then felt the hit and line slack out, I reeled down and set the hook to feel the rod surge and drag start paying out and I knew I had a good fish, needle fish are very streamlined and fight in bursts, this fish I could feel the tail swimming side to side with my rod movements and knew there were two options, a jack or a rooster. Throughout the fight I was hopeful it was a rooster but in the back of my mind the odds were racing and I knew it was probably another jack, and then as it got closer to the rocks I saw silver, then a stripe, then the feathered spines that are the calling card for this fish’s beauty. I lost my mind! On the end of my line was a fish I had been chasing over the last 4 years, that I caught on my own without a guide and from the rocky shorelines in Costa Rica on artificial lure. As I got my fish grips in its mouth I realized the hook had dislodged from its mouth during the fight and hooked the top of its head. I had caught my lifelong dream by about 1/4 inch of skin on this things head. After the healthy release I got to watch this beautiful fish swim up the shoreline feathered spines above the surface and knew that I had battled this fish on his terms in his waters and had won. But in the end releasing the fish into the water and watching it swim away was almost as good as the hunt and fight the preceded it. Here’s the funny part, I was told by a friend that 2017 was the year of the rosster, and I caught this fish on the first day of 2017.

In conclusion,  I think that’s what we all seek when chasing our fishing dreams, are we really looking for that fish or are we looking for the challenging path and work leading up to catching it. Thank for reading and I hope you enjoyed this story 4 years in the making. the video of this story is below. Enjoy!

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