Roosterfish (Roo Roo)
The Roosterfish, for very good reasons, are quickly becoming very a popular target among saltwater fly fishing enthusiasts. They have a very noticeable appearance, big profile body covered with silvery blue scales and distinctive black stripes. This shiny bag of Braun and speed is topped with a crown of seven long black dorsal spikes that can flair up or lay flat at will. During the hunt and chase in the shallow waters and beaches, Roosters will sometimes flair the dorsal upward which is a really special thing to see.
In additional to their unique appearance, the Roosterfish is an inshore bruiser that is gaining popularity. They are fierce hunters in shallow water with excellent eyesight and have been seen beaching themselves while chasing down bait. Roosters never give up on a chase or a fight. Most importantly they eat flies fairly regularly. Anglers often talk about the fight of a bonefish or redfish, but Roosterfish can hold their own with the best of them. They are truly one of the best kept secrets in salt water fly fishing to date.
FISHING FOR ROOSTERFISH
The size of a Rooster can approach 4-5 feet (less than 2 meters) in length and can weigh from 6 lbs. to 100 lbs. (~46kg). The average caught is about 20-25 lbs. (~10kg), any fish between 35-50 lbs. (~15-25kg) is quite a catch and we promise will be a very memorable experience. Even if you have the terrible misfortune of only catching a 15 pounder (~5kg) you won't ever forget it, especially if you're fishing a 7 or an 8 weight that day.Roosters behavior varies based on where the encounter is. When in deeper water or along rock walls it's mostly blind casting this is not nearly as fun. They are still hard hitting and make long powerful runs but it's too similar to bait chunking and really takes the excitement level of the cast, set and hook to a mere simmer. They seem to be more active and more aggressive in the shallow waters along beaches which are where the fast paced, chaotic excitement begins. Get ready for a show. It's possibly because of the fierce competition among small schools of Roosterfish or maybe because they came to the flats for just one reason, to feed. They are usually accompanied by Jack Crevalles and other less notable flats species that hunt along beaches and don't be surprised if you catch a few of those by accident.
We briefly mentioned how unpredictable they are when they are busting on food in the shallows but we should elaborate. What makes them extra exciting is their purely erratic, completely unpredictable behavior and blinding speed. There is no telling where they will pop and bust on a bait or even how many different places they will show. People mention how goalies in hockey have to have their "head on a swivel," you need to do the same when fishing for Roosterfish. They can change direction several times during on cast and frustrate even the most patient angler. This is why you will probably catch other species too. While casting to a Roosterfish you might throw to where he was and what was following him e.g. the Jack Crevalle. It's sometimes frustrating, but no less frustrating then getting a bonefish close to the skiff only to watch a lemon shark crush it.
Roosterfish are not shy about eating a fly and make sure you have plenty of them because they chew them up as do every other species on the flat. The technique is very similar to other shallow water fly fishing in salt water, spot the fish and present the fly. You must keep the fly moving, fast strips seem to entice them and get them chasing and if it stops the chase is over. Some use the two handed strip technique and starting stripping before or right as the fly hits the water. Others just strip fast with one hand, it's really preference.
The flies used are typically baitfish patterns, poppers, Clouser minnows, crease minnows and even some of the redfish flies. Some of our favorites include the following:
Gary Bulla's Tuna Tux (Black/white Olive/white)
Note: It's not unusual to "live chum" for Roosterfish in order to get their attention. Many captains or even wading surf fisherman will take live bait when fly fishing for Roosters in order to stimulate the waters and begin the feeding frenzy. You just throw out a few at a time to draw them in then let the madness begin.