News of the bay and how, when, and where to fly-fish Mexico's Zihuatanejo Bay
Sergio reports snook hookup, and the bay thick with 10--12 inch cocineros
June 13 Sergio reports schools of scrappy cocinero just beyond the break in front of Playa Municipal and beneath the Municipal Pier.
In the picture above, he holds a typical Cocinero of about 12 inches.These scrappy fighters s are members of the lively Jack family of fishes, a lot of fun to catch on #4-6 Clousers and a #5 or #6 fly rod. A rapid retrieve a few feet below the surface does the trick.
Sergio caught 18 cocineros on this particular day, and while fishing from the pier in full dark that same evening, he hooked into a large fish (he thought it a Snook), and buried the hook, certain, but in true Snook fashion, the big fish lumbered off beneath the pier and snapped the 50-lb line.
While Sergio explained this to me, his face sagged as if the muscles detached from the facial bones all at once. "The biggest fish I have hooked this year," he lamented, "and I lose it!"
He is likely correct that the fish was a mighty Snook. Only yesterday, a fishing friend of Sergio's wading Playa Municipal while angling for the above mentioned Cocinero's, noticed a disturbance in the shallow surf. He advanced into the warm water and spotted a wallowing Snook in seeming distress, grabbed it by the tail, and dragged it onto the beach. Clutched in the sharp jaws of the Snook, was a puffer or porcupine fish of perhaps a pound. Porkys are a species of fish often seen in the vicinity of rocky prominences and are generally either tan, yellow, blue, or dark red, and covered in sharp spines resembling porcupine quills.
Sergio's friend tossed the Snook over his shoulder and walked to the nearby beach fish market and had it weighed. The fish tipped the scale at 37 pounds! The Snook had likely grabbed the porky without due consideration, and the smaller fish had wedged into the Snook's throat where the quills held it fast.
Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast of Mexico is justifiably popular among catch and release fly- fishers probing the blue water and near shore by boat. Getting onto the big sea and fly-fishing for marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado, roosters, and jacks is indeed a major thrill. Still, you might want to be prepared for those days when you are laying on the beach soaking up the rays and wondering what you might catch fly-casting from shore. So bring along a 7 or 8 weight fly rod and enjoy the early morning and late evening action. That's what this blog is about—how, when, and where to fly fish the beaches and rocky shorelines of Zihuatanejo Bay.
I admit that I am addicted. Back in Arizona, when the crazy grin, cold sweats, and a curious tic in my right hand set in, I would climb into the old Dodge pickup and rush to my favorite fly-fishing stream in the White Mountains. The symptoms, except for the grin, disappeared as soon as I caught and released the first trout.
Six years ago, my wife Denise and I moved to Zihuatanejo, and I recall convincing myself that a few treks back to the mountains each year would likely gratify my lifelong obsession with catch and release fly-fishing. A few weeks after moving to Zihuatanejo though, I found myself on beautiful Play la Ropa wondering what sort of fish I might catch out there in the bay.
My fly-fishing transition from cool streams, conifers, and snowy mountains, to tropical waters, coconut palms, and sandy beaches did not come easy. Sneaker waves knocked me off rocks, coral scarred my knees, and surf often slapped me to the sandy bottom.During my passage from fresh to saltwater fly-fishing, gracious local shore fishers wielding nets and hand-lines, held back smiles at my flinging of feathers, deer hair, sewing thread, and a barbless hook into crashing surf. Some chuckled at my stubborn refusal to attach a chunk of raw fish or shrimp to my homemade fly and get on with the serious business of catching and keeping as many fish as possible.
One morning I appeared on the beach with a small pink plastic basket strapped to my waist. My Mexican fishing friends thought I had at last come to my senses and would use the basket to contain my catch, but that was not my intention. Fly-fishing in saltwater involves casting the fly sixty or seventy feet, and then stripping in the line in such a manner that the fly imitates a small swimming fish. Use of a stripping basket, a technique of some fly anglers in the states, allows for storage of the hand-retrieved line and instant availability of the line for the next cast.
Fishing is nothing, if not a dogged pursuit, so I have soldiered on despite the good-natured scoffing, and my knowledge of the bay and its fishery has grown with each passing year.
While scrambling over mossy, surf-washed rocks, there is the danger of falling, and also the possibility of being swept away by a rouge wave. Always keep one eye out for the occasional larger wave and preselect the most direct retreat from the syourfishing perch. The time between waves is generally 13 to 17 seconds. If a larger wave is seen forming, the angler must calmly, but immediatly, step back to a dry area. It is never safeto fish from rocks constantly awash by wave action.
Rubber-soled wading or athletic shoes will not hold a firm grip on mossy rocks. Felt soles are the solution, but if one should fall into the briney and must swim or tread water, many commercial felt soled wading shoes are a bit heavy. My solution is to apply two rather thin layers of felt to each sole of a pair of Converse hightop basketball shoes. These oldstyle, lightweight atheletic shoes are nothing more than a single layer of canvas wrapped over the foot and bonded to a rubber sole. The highly flexable and relativly thin sole adheres nicely to felt with contact cement. The aluminum eyelets won't rust in the saltwater, and the shoes offer protection from skate stings while surf fishing sandy beaches.
Using an ink marker, scribe shape of sole onto a sheet of felt (Sheet felt is available at fabric stores).
Cement felt to shoes
Scribe a second set of felt soles about an inch bigger all around than the first set, and cement over top of first set.