Not long ago, the thought of fishing in Baja California Sur instantly conjured images of Cabo San Lucas and its large hotels, beachside restaurants, crowded bars and people that never sleep. With the horde of people came visions of leaping marlin, breezing tuna and hard-pulling dorado.
Since the film Running Down the Man was released, the mention of Baja now turns the conversation to roosterfish and the East Cape of Baja. This controversial DVD put the sleepy little towns of Los Barriles and La Ribera on the map, as far as fly-fishing is concerned. These two small towns are in the heart of the East Cape and are the complete opposite of what’s normally found in the party city Cabo. You won’t find any ritzy nightclubs or crowded Cabo Wabo-type bars here. What this area lacks in night life, it more than makes up for with awesome little taco and beer stands, quaint hole-in-the-wall restaurants with homemade Mexican food, small quiet resorts with laid-back pool areas and vacant beaches that are great for exploring with a fly rod. Did I mention lots of fish?
Basically, Mexico’s East Cape stretches south of La Paz, at Punta Arena de La Ventana, to Los Frailes on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja. Roughly an hour-and-a-half drive north of downtown Cabo and less than an hour’s drive from the Los Cabos International Airport will put you into the core of the East Cape and what those in the know call Rooster Alley. Many describe the area as being what Cabo San Lucas looked and felt like 50-plus years ago. No giant hotels, no golf courses, not a lot of people, and seemingly endless white sand beaches.
For the fly-rod enthusiast, there is no better place on the planet to pursue large roosters. The cool water of the Pacific Ocean collides with the warm water of the Sea of Cortez to create a nutrient-rich environment that carries a multitude of aquatic life. With that come baitfish that roosterfish love to feast on. In addition, there are plenty of deep drop-offs very near the shore of the East Cape, where game fish often take shelter when needed. Also, the beaches themselves have a very gradual slope, which is advantageous when it comes to making efficient backcasts. Finally, the water off these beaches often looks as calm as a swimming pool, which means better visibility and a more conducive environment on which to land big roosterfish with your feet planted in the sand.