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Roosterfish Revelations Nov 2009

Page history last edited by Todd 14 years, 2 months ago





(Photo by Allen Sklar)


It’s 4:30 AM and I’m sitting at the keyboard with a hot mug of coffee and a warm slice of peanut butter wheat toast.  I’ve put a little cocoa in the coffee.  A blizzard descended upon my house a few days ago with 18” of snow, below zero temps, and 40 mph winds.  It is a world of white and ice and I’ll not see mother earth again for about four months.  Every venture out the door will require heavy coats, hats, boots, and gloves.  The reward will be a profound cleansing and regeneration of the world and of the soul.  A full wood shed and plenty of wild game in the freezer makes one cozy but there will still be plenty to do.  While recent generations escape into their movies, video games, and Face Books…I’m of an older school.  I’ll embrace the season with ice fishing, cross county skiing, and wood cutting.  I’ll gather together with my brass musical groups and toot my tuba.  I’ll read books and have the time to reflect and plan.  If I sound content then why am I awake at 4:30 AM?  It’s for the same reason many of you wake up too early and can’t go back to sleep.  Roosterland won’t leave me alone.


In my warm bed and half slumbers my mind stands on a beach in Mexico with the surf wolfing at my ankles.  As I scan the swells a flying ladyfish rockets directly toward me with a sizzling roosterfish comb slicing the waves in hot pursuit.  They approach me so fast that I get hand cuffed and can only awkwardly pitch my plug in a clumsy fling.  It seems impossible the roosterfish can target my plug so quickly but it does and it’s on my line before I can even flinch.  So much for fancy tackle, fancy techniques, and fancy tactics.  This is reactive, trembling, and nerve busting stuff.  The fish swaps ends and my reel drag gives a resigned sigh.  I’m already impatient for another nuclear hook-up so I twist the drag down tight and strongly lean the rod butt against the fish.  These are not dreams but are instead unshakeable memories.  At times they won’t leave me alone to get a full nights sleep. 



Gary Born casts a mile without seeming to use any effort.  You’d expect that because he was twice the national runner up distance casting champion.   He lost both times by inches to Ron Arra.  Ron Arra is famous and Gary is not.  So it goes with second place but it allows him the freedom to do as he pleases without the fetters of scrutiny.  Gary calls it like it is and he doesn’t pussy foot around. 



He brought some CTS rods with him.  One of them is a big green 2-4 ounce rod.  It’s designed more like an American surf rod than a European rod.  By this I mean it has taper through the butt section.  It’s a quite powerful blank and to me it loads much better with 3.5 ounces and above.  3-ounces and below made me feel like I was whipping the lure out instead of using the power within the rod.  The rod is quite light in weight for its amount of power and stiffness.  Gary could cast this rod a mile using an off-the-ground cast.  However, I’m going to warn you.  You are not Gary Born.  Most of you can’t bring out the power in this rod and it will flatten you for your efforts.



(Photo by Allen Sklar)



What thing can turn a week in Roosterland from fun to fabulous?   Nope.  It’s not a cool rod and it’s not a sizzling reel.  It’s not SandSocks and it’s not Desitin ointment.  It’s not even a guapo pith helmet.  It’s a wonderful companion.  I’d rather catch just a few fish with a generous and interesting guy than a bunch of fish with a turd.  My gosh, we spend a week together and it’s pretty much 24/7.   We double ride ATVs with guys we just met (talk about closeness).  We eat and sleep together.  A guy that can smile, share his happiness, and be generous will take a fun trip and make it fabulous!


Tommy is a great companion.  His smile and laugh are unfading.  He’s one of those guys who rarely gets down.  It’s a good feeling to have the guy around because he got the knack of being a friend.  With Tommy, the sun is always going to come out soon.




This year, Tommy was bound and determined to get some video.  He rigged up a head cam that made him look like a civil war drummer boy.  Ja Ja!  



Tommy doesn’t need to be the most hard core and expert surf caster.  This is true around the dinner table as well as on the beach.  Nice guys DO finish first in many ways.  And true to that fact, one of those ways was that Tommy caught the most fish (including roosters).




Often, it’s a bit of a blind date when you come to Roosterland.  You might be exposed to someone you have never met.  You might be unusually captive with someone you thought you already knew well.  It’s a wonderful thing when everyone buddies-up and becomes a brotherhood.  We all did this sort of thing easily when we were kids.  You can become young again in Magic Land.  The fountain of youth is in remembering how to be the sort of friend that’s just good to hang around with.  It’s a revelation.


Allen was new to the Magic Land.  Remember your first time?  Remember when your wife thought you were nuts to meet up with strangers in Mexico?  Didn’t she think it was all a kidnapping plot and you would be sold into the slave trade?  Didn’t you wonder who this HPD guy was and wasn’t this all a little suspicious?  Ja Ja!  Allen went through the whole thing in spades.  The years might have caused him to become wary, contracted and set in his ways.  Hey Allen!  Ya don’t have to eat oatmeal every darned morning!  Ja Ja



Allen is interested in photography and has some high class equipment.  His excellent photos can be seen here:




Allen began the trip without much surf plugging experience.  With the right equipment and under the tutelage of master Gary Born he was soon launching plugs with ease.   On the first day, the fish were just not biting.  Finally, in the late morning, the fish came to shore and everyone was catching except poor Allen.  He had bad mojo and could not attract a fish.  I scouted up the beach several hundred yards.  On the first cast a HUGE rooster followed my plug with several smaller ones in tow.  She was aggressive and snapping.  I wanted Allen to catch his first rooster so, against my instincts, I jerked my plug away from the huge fish.  I leapt on the ATV and swiftly brought Allen to they spot.  He made a nice cast and the big fish followed but there was no hook up.  He ended up with his first crevalle.



Allen eventually caught the largest rooster of the week.  It was an epic fight.  I'm very glad to say this big fish was swiftly and gently handled and she swam away with her comb up!




I wish I were a boy again.  Everything was new and adventures were not hard to find.  There was a sense of wandering in open and unprotected country.  In many ways it was wonderful and in many other ways it was uncertain and unsettling.   I had a tremendous grandfather who helped guide the way.  Never mind that he was a poor farmer scratching out a living in the black dirt of a small farm in Minnesota.  He possessed a depth of character and a lust for life.  He was a brave giant in my mind with rough hands and a sensitive soul.  Money was scarce but he always managed to take me fishing whether it was bullheads under the local bridge or walleyes on the Canadian border.


Alex…..you are very fortunate indeed.   I can’t imagine how few 14 year old boys have been on a fishing adventure like this.  Your Grandfather made this possible and you should thank your lucky stars that he belongs to you.   None of us “old” adults can see your trip through our “old” eyes.  Only you can see it through the eyes of a boy and the rest of us can only try to remember what this was like.   Some of us are old enough to know what something like this means to your Grandfather.   Just a glimpse of this could very well shape the future between the rest of us and our grandchildren.



Alex finished his trip about a foot taller and with the spark of adventure in his eye.  Better yet, many years in the future, Alex may very well stand on a deserted beach with a wide-eyed grandson at his side.  And this should make Gary very proud.



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