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Rocking Roosters

Roosterfish! A species on every anglers most wanted list. The fact is, more often than not, we have to wait until later in life when the mortgage has been eaten in to and the kids are more or less self sufficient before the majority of us can even dream of a trip to target this incredible fish.

I’d done exactly that and saved up for a very long time for a crack at roosters in Mexico back around 2003. I caught a lot of roosters on sardines and lures that trip, the best close to 35lbs. I thought that was my last rooster hunt.

Being attached to PENN in the UK, and having worked with what were the prototype Clash fixed spool reels, I was shocked, and very grateful, to be invited out to Costa Rica for three days to be part of the worldwide introduction of the new PENN Clash reel.

My destination was the Crocodile Bay Resort near Puerto Jimenez. Assembling there were press and PENN staff from all around the world. Such was the tight schedule that I got off the small plane at 7am, went straight to the resort, and was on a boat by 8.30am.

This first day was targeting the inshore fish and I was fishing with Chris Megan and Kevin Blinkoff from On The Water magazine, USA, also Ron Kliegl, the Spiderwire line Brand Manager.

We were fishing light 20lb boat rods with a mix of PENN Clash 6000 and 8000 reels loaded with the new Spiderwire Stealth Blue Camo braid.

Penn Clash 8000 with Spiderwire Camo Braid

The day was hot, humid and bright. We motored out to some shallowish reef ground to the west and began to troll with small fresh sardinios, a sardine like fish.

First in was Chris with a small rooster about 4lbs or so. I was stood at the stern holding the rod and felt a slight tap, then a strong pull. Like an idiot I struck…and missed the fish. What I should have done was let some line off for the fish to fully take the bait, but you can’t help being eager, can you!

I was ready for the next take, and when it came I let line freely trickle off the spool. When I thought right, about 5 seconds or so, I flipped the bale-arm over and hit the fish feeling a brief, steady, but heavy weight, then the weight took off dragging a fair amount of line with it. This fish fought deep, showed on the surface, then went deep again. It showed at the stern of the boat and decided it didn’t like the look of me darting off across the surface at incredible speed. Eventually it was lifted aboard and looked about 10lbs.

Chris Megan then came up with two roosters back to back, the best again about 10lbs. Kevin followed with a slightly smaller fish. I missed my next take, but the one after I hit and had a cracking scrap with a fish the crew said was close to 7kgs. This took a lot of line and fought using short fast runs. Very exciting!


The next fish I hit fought differently. At first it stayed deep, the started to circle and take short powerful runs. I knew this was a jack crevalle as I’d caught them before, and so it proved, a nice fish around 10lbs.

One of my Costa Rican Roosterfish

I followed this up with another small rooster. The fish seemed to be deep down, so I asked the crew to re rig the rod with a small bullet weight on to get the bait deeper. This instantly worked and I had a savage take from a heavy fish that stood its ground, then went on several long runs taking a lot of line. It started to circle, but use short fast runs. Again this identified it as a jack crevalle, but this one was much bigger. It took a good ten minutes or so to get the fish to the stern. It looked in excess of 30lbs, and was just being lifted by the crewman when the hook pulled out and the fish flipped out of his hand back in to the sea. A photo would have been nice, but you can’t win them all!

After that the fishing seemed to slow and we struggled for bites. Not unusual in the afternoon when the sun is at its highest and hottest.

I also fished inshore on the third day, but the fishing was much slower and all the boats struggled. I was fishing with Dutch Editor Toine van Lerland, who had a single nice rooster that looked between 12lbs and 15lbs, and PENN Brand Manager Robert Valkeneer who added cero mackerel to our species count. I lost a rooster at the stern of the boat, but then hooked a fish that stayed deep and fought very doggedly. I saw the fish come shallow in the water column, a beautiful brown and silver fish marked with black bars down the body. It was a Rock Snapper about 12lbs in weight and a totally new overseas species for me.

Toine van Lerland with a Costa Rica Rooster

The inshore fishing was not at its best on the days we fished, but to catch roosters again was a real and unexpected privilege, and getting the big crevalle and rock snapper was the cream on top. Or was it? The second day I went offshore, and that proved to be one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had. An account of this special day will be my next blog.

I’ve added a couple of links below for those interested.