Bruce Ajari: Needlefish on the fly |

Bruce Ajari: Needlefish on the fly

On my recent trip to La Paz in Baja California, I was able to go out on a panga with three other anglers. Typically, a panga will take out only two people, but this was a slightly larger one and we would take turns as the two fishing.

I had debated whether or not to bring my fly rod with me on the trip, but had decided that morning to bring it at the last minute. I grabbed my rod reel, a spare spool with a running line in it, shooting heads, pliers, a spool of tippet material, some flies and threw them into a pack.

We were shuttled to the marina at the La Concha Hotel where we decided who would go on the various pangas. A young couple joined my friend Harry and me for the four on our panga. We got to know each other over a cup of coffee while we waited for our pangram to be put into the water.

The boat was loaded, and we met our guide Umberto. He was a short middle-aged man who proved to have a great sense of humor. We had a lot of fun with him. Getting a captain with the ability to find you fish is always good, but finding one with the ability and a great personality is a real plus. His English was broken and our Spanish was not good, but we were able to communicate with him just fine.

We made about a 20-minute run towards the Island of Esprito Santo and as we approached one cove, Umberto turned into it and stopped at a bait boat to pick-up the bait that we would be using. We were given a couple of scoops of bait, flat iron herring called a sardina in Mexico. In they went into the live well and we were off again.

Fishing two at a time the young couple each caught the first two fish, both Bonita. I managed the first Dorado, a small one of about 8 to 10 pounds. Harryand#8217;s first fish was a Needlefish. Needlefish are somewhat of a nuisance because they are so plentiful when you are trying to catch the primary game fish in the Sea of Cortez. They have a long thin body with a long mouth filled with razor sharp teeth. They are very hard to hook and more often times than not you end up snagging them. They put up a good relatively short fight, but are not what everyone is seeking while fishing down here.

We moved to a rocky point where Umberto decided to drift fish. There were lots of fish feeding near the surface so I decided to string up my fly rod and give it a shot. I put on a sardina imitation and used the line, an intermediate clear sink tip, already on my reel.

I ran up to the bow of the boat, a great place that you have all to yourself, and started casting. I had Needlefish tapping my fly on the way back. You can feel them tugging at the fly. Their tapping is pretty unmistakable. Two casts later and I was into my first Needlefish on the fly.

I had some pretty fast action with these and managed to hook or snag six of them. While they are not considered a prime target, I certainly had an entertaining time with them on the fly.

Sometimes it really does not matter what you have on the end of the line. You are fishing and getting a tug at the end of the line. Each time I hooked one Umberto would shout, and#8220;Marlin!and#8221; We would have a good laugh. Life is good!

If you are interested in fishing in La Paz, contact Ricardo Fifield of the Misquito Fleet at his e-mail at or go to their website at They also have a toll free number from the U.S.A. and#8212; (877) 408-6769.

and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee fisherman who writes fishing columns for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, as well as other area publications.

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