Ray Cannon, the original Baja editor for Western Outdoor News, helped make dorado Loreto’s summer-time poster child. His articles literally attracted anglers from around the world. But its fishing reputation was originally built on dorado … stretching back to the glory days of Ed Tabor and his Flying Sportsman Lodge.
Of course there were other popular species — yellowtail, billfish and somewhere down a ways on the list, there was roosterfish, particularly trophy-sized ones.
Rick Hill, pinchysportfishing.com, sent me the following: This is his story about a camping/kayaking trip on Carmen Island when Loreto Sea and Land’s owner Captain Juve Orozco, guided Stephen and Cheri Sankey on a kayaking trip.
“There are a bunch of different Jacks living in the Loreto area and if you have ever been told, “you don’t know jack” then come on down and we’ll introduce you.
That’s pretty much what happened on a trip the last few days of May, 2015. Funny, it wasn’t really a fishing charter– it was an overnight camping/kayaking trip on Carmen Island.
After a day of paddling, Stephen and Cheri Sankey of northern California were taking a relaxing ride in our support panga with Juve Orozco. (toursloreto.com). Anytime you are sharing a moment with Juve keep your eyes open because a memorable event in your life may flop in your lap!
Back to where we started … jack is a family of fish, which includes our famous yellowtail and our slightly less-encountered cousin … amberjack. Big-eyed jacks, green jacks and a bruiser “toro” (for good reason) are also zipping around Loreto.
Less well known in Loreto is the particular jack from this story, A.K.A. roosterfish or pez gallo, which are very abundant here.
Though not targeted as a food fish and not pursued for sport except by the serious fishermen who request “roosters,” local captains can take you to the best locations to hook up with these big-shouldered fighters.
While cruising off the palm trees at the tip of Carmen Island, they spotted a commotion of splashes and diving birds.
So, why not check out the action? Slow down and get the two cabrilla rigs in the water.
Steve’s rig was the first to get hit as they trolled near the battle zone. In a few minutes he landed a 24-inch Pacific dog snapper known in Baja as pargo. It was a big thrill for him. Living in northern California the stocked trout are less than legal and this pargo was five-times bigger than any fish he had ever caught.
The scream of the line, drag washers and clicker all together was like the starting bell for the first race at Santa Anita Park!
After a few minutes, the debate started whether they had hooked a turtle or a manta. It didn’t surface so that eliminated the air-breathing turtle.
With light line on a Penn 500 it was a “follow-the-leader game” — halfway across the channel to Danzante Island and back again.
At the twenty-minute mark, the fish’s dorsal fin came out of the water announcing they had a rooster.
The pole went back and forth from hand to hand. The steering wheel went back and forth along with some operating lessons on boating strategy.
Ninety minutes later, the fish was alongside — and relaxing peacefully. With the huge rooster at rest, one point from all three trebles was released from the outside cheek of the fish.
Juve took three attempts to carefully get the fish up out of the water so that a couple of quick shots with a camera could be made.
With the rooster back in the water, Juve revived the fish within five minutes. As soon as the kick returned to her tail, she was off — swimming for deeper, darker water.
So how big was that roosterfish?
Juve is a big, strong shouldered, six-foot-tall man and when he said,”100-pounds, maybe more” I would go along with that without question!
As for the rest of the local jack families in Loreto, how big is the biggest yellowtail and monster amberjack? We may never know.
Roosterfish are the only big jacks that you get in shallow water.
The rest hang in deep water and know every sharp rock for miles around. Getting a one-hundred-pound yellowtail or amberjack on hook and line would be a long shot … very long!
So, if you don’t “know jack,” come on down to Loreto and we will hook you up with a lesson or two!” said Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com.
So how big was that roosterfish? I certainly agree with Captain Juve that it weighed “100-pounds, maybe more,” which puts it in the “trophy category” by anyone’s definition.
I’ll bet Ray Cannon and Ed Tabor didn’t see this coming!