Pictured above: Big crevalle jacks fight like the devil, especially in the last wave, where they refuse to give ground. Photo by JM Basile
I could just barely make out my lure as I retrieved it across the surface. On my second cast, I thought I saw a boil behind my plug just yards from the beach, but I wasn’t sure if it was just wishful thinking. Before my next cast, I glanced over where the other three fishermen were casting. Against the sand, I could make out the silhouette of a fisherman leaning back against a bent rod. The morning bite had begun. I began casting feverishly, “Speed up your retrieve!” shouted my friend Todd from down the beach.
I ripped my lure across the surface, and as it skipped through the large swell, the feathered dorsal fin of a roosterfish (locally known as “Pez Gallo” surfaced behind the plug. The “comb” cut the surface in a sharp S-pattern before the fish swam wide right and then lunged violently at the plug, taking it down in an explosion of white water.
Casting from a steep-sloping beach on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, with a sun rising at your back, feels just like casting for stripers in the Northeast, except of course for the palm trees behind you and the cobalt-blue surf full of exotic species in front of you.
Roosterfish are the primary target species, but jacks, cubera snapper, houndfish, and sierra mackerel could take down a plug or metal as well.
Roosters run the beaches south of Puerta Vallarta in the late summer and early fall, while they can be found on Baja California’s beaches starting in the spring.
Many of the fast-moving species in the Mexican surf respond best to lures being skipped across the surface. Pencil poppers, heavy bottle-neck poppers, and metal lures are the most popular.