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Articles: Parrot Fish con mosca

by: Daniel Beilinson

My friend Alex Kennedy, who went fishing to Los Roques last March, had already told me about Parrot Fish (Scaridae) fishing. I had never heard that this colourful strange-looking fish was a fly-fishing species as it is a species of fish usally spotted feeding on coral and algae.
When I arrived in Los Roques Felipe Valerio, my guide, told me about this kind of fishing and asked me if I was interested in trying. According to Felipe, only a few anglers have made the attempt with this species which was really worthwhile because they were strong fast fish, hard to land as the leader can be cut off on coral.

So, on a day with little wind, we headed for "Dos Mosquises" to fish bonefish and try Parrot Fish.
After lunch, as the tide was very low, we started to wade a coral-bottom flat. Our guide Felipe suggested Mike (my fishing partner) and I should prepare a 20-pound fluorocarbon shock tippet and a green Boogle Head on hook #6.
While we were wading, we came across some Bonefish shoals, but no Parrot Fish. We kept wading the flat until the guide pointed to the Parrot Fish tailing like permit. We might have been 70 or 80 yards from them. The tails belonged to 20 or 30-pound Parrot Fish as they were quite big. They were moving in a shoal of four or five individuals whick reminded me of the Permit.
As we were approaching, other Parrot tails appeared in shoals of five and six individuals. Some of them had their backs out of the water. We couldn´t get closer enough to cast accurately. Mike and the guide followed a Parrot Fish shoal while I focused on a different group. We both missed our chances of casting because the Parrot saw us and left the flat rapidly in search of deeper waters. When I was about to return to join Mike and the guide, I spotted another Parrot shoal which was relatively close and was approaching in my direction, so I got ready and waited. They stopped to feed 20 yards away from me and began tailing. I made a cast placing the flight right in front of them and, fortunately, they didn´t scare away. I waited for some seconds for the fly to reach the bottom and started to move the line gently. I saw one of the Parrot getting closer to my fly and when I felt the line slightly tight, I pulled up the rod. The parrot had taken the fly and darted away when it felt it had been caught. I only felt its strenght for microseconds, as it cut off immediately!! At first I thought that the leader had cut off, but then I realized that the fly had unhooked. In the meantime, our guide had approached and seen the situation. "You didn´t set de hook hard enough, that´s why it managed to unhook. The Parrot´s mouth is very hard", he told me. I learnt the lesson. We immediately headed for another flat where Felipe had spotted many Parrot Fish in other opportunities. No sooner had we started wading than we saw the first tails. It was a shoal of at least 7 or 8 big-size Parrots. I let Mike go with Felipe this time, so they moved closer to the shoal slowly. The water level was low so it was amazing to watch their tails while they were feeding. As soon as they were about 15 yards from the fish, Mike began to cast. He cast four times and the Parrot kept feeding calmly. I saw the guide become more alert and he told Mike to strip back gently. He suddenly ordered, "set de hook !!! set de hook !!!!". Mike stroke; his rod bent over and the Parrot dashed on a spectacular race in the flat. After some seconds of tension, Mike looked at us disappointed because the Parrot had unhooked. The fly had unhooked again!
There were more Parrot Fish further and now it was my turn. Felipe and I waded closer to them. The Parrot were inside a deeper channel and were feeding there. They moved in one direction and then they changed it inside the channel. They were 5 Parrot. When they were within casting distance, I made my cast. The bottom was covered by the coral and my fly got hooked several times. I was afraid of missing the opportunity as the Parrot hadn´t noticed us and were calm. I finally made a good cast and the fly fell on top of them. On the count of 10, I started to move the fly gently. I saw one of the Parrot following it and I felt the tight line when it took it, but this time I hooked confidently and pulled up the rod! The Parrot was on my line! Felipe rushed away to take the line and lifted it to avoid cuts while the Parrot darted away trying to escape to the open sea. I ran after Felipe, lifting my rod high, and tried to strip the line. The Parrot was swimming in shallow waters, so half of its body was above the surface. It was strong, powerful and very fast. I lifted the rod as high as possible to avoid the cut of the leader and began forcing it to come to the flat area. The fish tried to find shelter in a big coral, but I succeeded in getting it out from there to lead it to a very flat area, where the water was only 4 inches deep. Felipe grabbed its head and tail. I had finally landed a wonderful and colourful Parrot Fish! The fly was hooked in the corner of its mouth and the Parrot weighed about 20 pounds. We took some pictures, celebrating the landing of the Parrot Fish. In the end, we released it and took a deep breath after such a big effort. The Parrot Fish has proved to be a very interesting new species to fish for in the flats!!

May 10/2007

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