A popular game fish that can be found in the waters of the eastern Pacific region, the roosterfish stands out with the 7 long spines that make up its dorsal fin. Many anglers want to learn how to catch a rooster fish as it’s extremely photogenic with its rooster comb and black and blue bands across its body. The fish is also one of the few that have swim bladders that amplify sounds.
How to Catch a Roosterfish
The roosterfish isn’t considered a tasty species, hence why most anglers practice catch-and-release when rooster fishing.
Mullet and sardines are some of the small species of fish that the roosterfish feed on by chasing them as the prey travel in large schools.
If you also want to partake in the popular sportfishing of rooster fishing, here are the proven and tested tips of seasoned anglers:
Don’t Go Too Deep
The first thing you need to know is where to catch roosterfish. In general, roosterfish feed near the shore. In fact, there are those that have been spotted on the beach.
If you prefer offshore or deep sea fishing, then you will be taken out of your comfort zone when you choose to target the fish. Although it’s normally found close to rocky islands and outcrops, the larger ones are near the shore.
So, when you’re planning a fishing trip, expect that your charter service won’t take you miles from the beach.
However, if you’re into sportfishing but you’re still apprehensive about going deep into the ocean, you’ll find it very enjoyable.
Match the Hatch
You should know that a roosterfish is an apex predator. As such, you would think it would crush just whatever fly that’s in its wheelhouse.
This is actually not true, which means it’s absolutely important that you match the available baitfish. When you are fishing from the shore, a roosterfish is more likely to strike a well-placed fly instead of one that’s cast from a boat.
Smaller underwater roosterfish feed on needlefish and sardines. The larger ones prefer mullet, mackerel, caballitos, ladyfish, and ballyhoo on some occasions. The baitfish are approximately 4 to 7 inches long.
Some baitfish that cruise on the beach are 12 inches long. You should also choose the colors accordingly to match the baitfish in the area.
This includes mullet, ballyhoos, and sardines. If you’re on the beach, a great first choice is a mullet pattern that has a well-spun deer hair head.
Use the Right Gear
Aside from knowing the best place to catch roosterfish and matching the hatch, it’s also crucial for you to have the right gear. When they’re hooked, roosterfish will brawl instead of bright.
After feeling the hook penetrate into their mouth, they’ll burst into long, fast runs that can burst your gear. This is why you need quality fishing gear when targeting the species.
- Rod and Reel: It’s essential that you have a sturdy reel on your stout rod. A lot of anglers prefer using a 10 to 11 lb. rod with the matching reel. Make sure that your reel is fully loaded with 300 yards or more of durable 50 lb. test backing. If you want to use your 8 lb. rod alongside the appropriate reel with 300 yards of quality backing, your gear will only stand against smaller roosterfish and the other species that you will encounter.
- Fishing Line: Another requirement is a floating line that has an intermediate sinking tip. Select the line that is developed for use in the tropics and a line heavier than your fishing rod’s size. It’s best to have the line that has a rather powerful front taper as it will help in turning over busy flies and big leaders.
- Leaders and Tippets: When learning how to catch a roosterfish, travel with 20 lb., 30 lb., and 40 lb. fluorocarbon line and build tapered leaders. There are anglers who like having a 40 lb. fluorocarbon bite tippet; however, a 40 lb. tippet is usually too thick. A rooster will just shy away and the angler is forced in downsizing to a 20 lb. instead.
- Footwear: This is subject to your own personal preference, but we can’t stress enough how important it’s to have the right footwear. If you’ll fish from a fishing boat with a guide, you can choose to remain barefoot. If you’re, however, on the beach, it’s best to have sturdy wading boots. A good pair will help immensely when it is time for you to run to reach into casting position while not having to worry about stepping into something sharp.
As you will be on foot when you’re learning how to catch a rooster, make sure you have water for hydration. You will be covering distances under the heat of the sun. Aside from water, carry along a few snacks with you.
Remember Timing is Everything
A lot of anglers choose to fly to Costa Rica when trying to learn how to catch a rooster fish as it’s where this fish is most abundant.
Rooster fishing is also all year round in the country. Still, there are peak and slow seasons. The peak season starts from January to April. The slowest months are from September to October.
If you will fly to Costa Rica for your rooster sportfishing trip, have a valid passport with you and make sure you already have an exit ticket purchased.
Roosterfish is also in southern California. If you don’t want to leave the country, make sure you secure the appropriate fishing licenses before heading into the water.
Can you eat roosterfish? No, but it’s still popular among anglers from its distinct features and the excitement it invokes.
Remember the aforementioned tips on how to catch a rooster as rooster fishing is sure to involve fast-paced action. This trophy-sized fish is great if you’re looking to experience some thrill and enjoyment in your next angling adventure.