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AMERICAN ANGLER 8-DAY ADVENTURE SCORE MONSTER BLUEFIN TUNA AND MORE – By: Steve Carson

By | Spring 2021, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

The 24 PENN Fishing University anglers who headed out for an 8-day long-range adventure aboard Captain Ray Lopez’ American Angler from Point Loma Sportfishing in San Diego knew they would be faced with a dilemma. Head deep into Baja waters to take a chance at tropical exotics like wahoo, or just go partway down, and then come back into US waters for a shot at big bluefin tuna.

YELLOWTAIL, YELLOWTAIL, YELLOWTAIL

Captain Lopez opted to head south immediately upon departure, and after cruising all night, the next two full days were a blur of wide-open yellowtail, sprinting crewmen, and fish being dropped in the RSW hold. Moving among coastal hotspots meant as one area’s bite slowed down, a timely move would put the boat onto another voracious school.

The coastal-grade yellowtail were mostly all nice taggable 12-20 pounders, with a sprinkling of bigger ones up to 25 pounds. The most productive method was yo-yo iron, but surface iron, flylined sardines, sliding sinker rigs, Slow-Pitch jigs, and dropper loop rigs all scored decent numbers of fish.

For the anglers who were interested, a number of bonus species were available along with the yellows. Bruiser-grade calico bass were the most enticing, along with sheephead averaging well over 10 pounds. Plenty of whitefish, sand bass, barracuda, and bonito eagerly attacked jigs and bait intended for yellowtail, though virtually all of these species were safely released.

DECISION TIME

After two days of the excellent coastal yellowtail action, a fundamental decision had to be made. Captain Lopez informed us that the boats south of us at Alijos Rocks and The Ridge were experiencing modest action at best, with only a handful of wahoo, along with relatively small-size tuna and yellowtail hitting the decks.

Meanwhile, boats closer to home at the Tanner and Cortez Banks were getting into quality-grade bluefin tuna. If the group wanted a shot at those bluefin, turning around right then was a must. Accordingly, the decision was made, and the American Angler pointed her bow north.

KELP PADDY MAYHEM

As the boat headed north toward the bluefin grounds, the kind of hotel-size kelp paddy everyone hopes for appeared off the bow. As Captain Lopez expertly spun the American Angler into position, a massive school of dorado charged out from under the paddy and directly at the boat.

Dorado in that kind of a frenzy are not selective at all about what pound test line, or what hook size an angler is using. A live [or even dead] sardine was gobbled up instantly upon hitting the water. However, safety etiquette dictates that lures are not used, since a leaping dorado can easily throw the lure, resulting in a dangerous missile zooming directly back at the boat.

This batch of dorado did not contain any lunkers, but the group easily landed their legal limit of delicious 12-20 pounders. After cleaning up the carnage, and tagging and dropping the dorado into the RSW hold, the American Angler resumed heading north.

BLUEFIN CITY

Arriving in the vicinity of San Clemente Island saw the crew deploy frozen flying fish on the boat’s kite rig. Almost immediately, a huge bluefin tuna responded. Being first on the kite rotation paid off big time for Gordon Brofft, who landed a monster 265-pounder after a brutal fight.

After that, bluefin of 179, 172, and 157 pounds followed in fairly short order on the frozen flying fish before the bite died down. At dusk, a 30-minute flurry of 90-100 pound bluefin responded to fall-type jigs.

The following day saw the overall action slow down, but some finicky 50-80 pound yellowfin tuna were around, and the group managed to land eight of these nice fish, plus a single school-size bluefin.

The final day of fishing found a fresh batch of school-size 20-40 pound bluefin at the Osborne Bank, and 32 of these nice-grade tuna were landed. Due to the light tackle necessary to coax a bite, a larger than normal proportion of fish were lost in order to land that total number.

SAGE OBSERVATIONS

One of the most experienced long-rangers aboard this trip was Walt Bailey, owner of Pacific Coast Bait & Tackle in Oceanside. He observed: “This trip held a lot of excitement; there was always something happening. We got to fish every day except departure day; seven solid days of fishing on an eight-day trip. The crew really busted their butts to make sure everything went perfectly. I managed to catch five bluefin tuna up to 157 pounds, a limit of yellowtail, a 65-pound yellowfin tuna, and even a 12-pound sheephead.”

Bailey continued, “The biggest mistake I see people make when preparing for a trip like this is not planning ahead. Among the most common errors is not having the reels full-up with line. If a reel is only half full of line, it won’t cast right, and the drag won’t work right. Once you walk onboard, don’t be afraid to ask for help, the crew of the American Angler are some of the best professionals in the world.”

FIELD TESTING

Several new and upcoming PENN products were seen by the public for the first time on this trip. Most popular were the Fathom Low-Profile baitcast-style reels. Designed to be saltwater-specific instead of primarily for freshwater bass, the Low-Pro’s performed admirably, and successfully boated a number of yellowtail and dorado. The Fathom FTH400LP model filled with 50-pound braid will likely prove to be very popular for anglers chasing a variety of California and Baja fish species up to 50 pounds or even more.

Also making their debut were the specialized PENN rods and reels for Slow-Pitch Jigging. This technique is relatively new to California anglers, though it has been popular in Asia for over a decade. This trip produced some yellowtail on the Slow-Pitch Jigs, but large quantities of “by catch” like calico bass, bonito, and barracuda were encountered to keep the testing from being definitive.

As always, a large selection of PENN rod/reel setups were available for anglers to try out. The “demonstrator” rigs included 2-speed Internationals and Fathoms for everything from 40 to 100-pound lines, along with star drag Fathoms in the lighter line classes.

TACKLE TIPS

The monster 150-plus pound bluefin tuna were landed on the boat’s extra-heavy kite rigs, but a few 90-100 pound bluefin were caught on fall-type jigs fished on PENN Fathom FTH40NLD2 reels filled with 80-pound braid and 100-pound fluorocarbon wind-ons.

The better-grade yellowfin tuna were ranging 50-80 pounds, and hit flylined sardines fished with PENN Fathom FTH30LD2 reels, filled with 65-pound braid and 40-pound mono topshots, with a 4-foot piece of 40-pound fluorocarbon, and a #1 Owner Mutu circle hook.

The school-size 20-40 pound bluefin were especially finicky, and the standard-issue setup was a PENN Fathom FTHII15SD star drag reel filled with 30-pound braid and a 20 or 25-pound mono topshot, tipped with a 5-foot piece of matching fluorocarbon and a tiny #2 Owner Gorilla Light J-hook.

Both yo-yo iron and surface iron scored yellowtail early in the trip. Most productive of all was a blue/white or scrambled egg-color Tady 4/0 fished yo-yo style; simply dropped straight down all the way to the bottom, and cranked back up at warp speed. Those anglers choosing to throw surface iron did well with Tady 45’s in mint color, cast in the vicinity of boiling fish.

JACKPOT WINNERS

Although “kite fish” do not count in the jackpot, some absolute monsters were caught with it, and merit mention here. The biggest of all was the monster 265-pound bluefin landed by Gordon Profft. Next up was the 179-pound bluefin by Steve Weber, and a 172-pounder by Joe Bailey. Walt Bailey was not far behind with a 157-poud specimen.

The overall jackpot honors were taken by Rob Mitchell’s beautiful 100-pound bluefin tuna, which earned him a PENN 2-speed reel and a nice tuna plaque. In second place was Joel Golding’s 98-pound bluefin, and followed closely by Steve Wann’s 94-pounder.

The Owner Hooks “First Fish” awards went to George Acosta [dorado], and Walt Bailey managed to get both the first tuna, and the first yellowtail prizes. The “Hero Fish” award naturally went to Gordon Profft’s cow bluefin, and the coveted Costa “Mr. Congeniality” prize as voted by the crew of the American Angler, was awarded to Steve Monnig.

Royal Polaris OCTUNACLUB- Article by Doug Inouye – Photos by Ryan June and Dharyl “Big D” Shelbourne

By | Spring 2021, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

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As we all know 2020 was a year that many of us would like to forget, and the word “challenging” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  With so many long range trips being cancelled, I was preparing myself to take that dreaded phone call from the Royal Polaris office about the possibility of cancelling our trip until further notice.  Like many of us, I’m always preparing for my trip months in advance…but this past year was different.

I remained optimistic, but something kept telling me to hold off on the preparation process until we’ve been given the green light.  With our trip 2 weeks out, the office confirmed that we’re still a “go”.  I still didn’t believe it, but I was forced to put the process into motion.   With the pandemic weighing heavily on our minds, our entire charter elected to voluntarily take a COVID test within 72 hours of our departure and to present our negative results during the check in process.

Since we were on a 10 day trip, we wanted to take every necessary safety precaution to reduce the chance of an outbreak among the crew and passengers.  It was the by far the best move we could have made and here’s why.  The day before our scheduled departure date, 2 of our regular passengers had household members who tested positive.  One of the family’s tested twice just to be sure, same results.  Although unfortunate they couldn’t come on the trip, but for the remainder of the group it felt like we dodged a huge bullet.

With the testing now behind us, 24 of us lined up and prepared to board the Royal Polaris with Capt. Roy Rose and his stellar crew.  This year we had a few new faces that decided to join us and we’re all so glad they did.  After we pushed away from the dock and headed to the bait receivers, I noticed that everyone was being cautious and respectful of space and avoiding the typical boarding mayhem (gear storage).

Now on to the fishing report….

After loading up some pristine well cured sardines, Capt. Roy steamed straight to Alijos Rocks in hopes that we’ll be the first boat there in over a week.  The goal was to get our licks in on the wahoo first….well, that was the plan.  We arrived and said “HI” to Brent since who this legacy trip is for and then we put the jigs in the water. A few minutes later, I hear that unmistakable sound coming off my reel.  The excitement of the 1st wahoo coming on board to get our skunk off was awesome.  A few minutes later, Eddie sinks the gaff and makes it official.  The party has officially started and we thanked Brent for that fish!

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No takers on bombs or iron, so we get back to trolling and minutes later….Zamir’s ear perk up to a screaming drag.  Wahoo #2 is now in the boat…..but wait, no takers on bombs, bait or iron?  Next troll team gets up and this time, Rusty’s ears were the fortunate recipients.  Wahoo #3 is now in the box….but wait, again no other takers on bait or iron? We’re starting to see a pattern here.  Well for some reason, after we put 3 nice wahoo (35-50lbrs) in the boat they got lock jaw and didn’t want play for the remainder of the day.

Roy didn’t like this pattern, so we opted to give the wahoo a break and decided to make a tank of mackeral in the shallows and then head over to Alijos Bank to target those jumbo yellowtail.  We anchored up around 3pm and within a minute I see Nic’s rod completely bent over and drag peeling off hard and fast.  Oh yeah, here we go…..a few minutes pass and here comes a 40+lb yellowtail over the rail.  I decided to grind a 6XJR but had no takers, tried surface iron…no takers, dropped a colt sniper…nothing.  Grabbed my dropper loop rig and once it hit the bottom, the bite was instant.  Washed, rinsed and repeated this process 3 times and resulted in 3 big yellowtail (35-40lbrs).  Capt. Roy decided we plucked enough (60-70 YT) off this spot and decided to head to “The Pole” to see if we can find bigger ones.

When we arrived we set the anchor and then all of sudden 4 of us got bit simultaneously by some big yellowtail.  All of us were using 80-100lb set ups and one by one, we were getting rocked and busted off.  Our spectra came back all shredded from the rubbing on the rocks and there was nothing we could do.  Just mean, grumpy home guards that had a much different plan for us.  I witnessed 7 fish in a row getting busted off on the sinker rigs, so I opted to fly line instead. A few minutes pass a

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nd my

mackeral gets slammed and the moment I felt the fish going into the rocks, I kicked my reel into free spool in hopes that he’ll swim out.  I let the fish swim freely for a few minutes and eventually it started to come up. At this moment, I reeled down, got tight again and got him to gaff soon thereafter.

After heavy casualties, Capt. Roy opted that we head to The Ridge to try our luck on more yellowtail and Wahoo.  When we arrived, the water was a few degrees warmer than Alijos and that gave us hope for better wahoo fishing.   We dropped the jigs back and almost immediately we had a double hook up, but this time the wahoo were a lot bigger.  Guys started slinging the metal and bombs and the wahoo didn’t disappoint.  Lots of 40-50lbrs were coming over the rail at a steady pace…fishing was good.  I looked over and heard Capt. Dave Marciano using some choice expletives because his wahoo kept spitting the hook on his bomb. He made 2 casts, hooked 2 wahoo and then lost 2 wahoo.  He reeled up his jig and took a look at his hook and then he begins to laugh.  Capt. Dave then shows me that he forgot to take the plastic hook point protector off his jig.  We laughed so hard and you can’t make this stuff up! Pure comedy.

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Later on that day, a wahoo slammed my jig in the Port side corner……ran straight across the bow and up the Starboard side (all within a split second), then darts back under the boat and runs back to the Port side corner.  At this time, I’m pegged with my rod pointed straight down with my tip in the water trying to get around the bow.  All of a sudden my spectra broke or so I thought.  I’m walking back to the stern and Eddie is yelling and telling me that he has my wahoo. Say what??  He said that he had to cut my spectra because my wahoo was about to saw off 2 others.  Being Eddie, he wrapped my spectra around his pliers and then cut my line.  Capt. Roy grabs the tag end off Eddie’s pliers and splices my spectra back together….minutes later my wahoo hits the deck.  Now that’s RP Livin!!!!!

We finished the day with 80+ wahoo and Capt. Roy elects to make a move after dinner to find some yellowfin tuna.  We anchor up on a spot a few miles away, made another few tanks of bait and by morning we had a tremendous amount of life under the boat.  The yellowfin were free swimming all over the place and eating anything that hit the water.  Jigs, dead bait, chunks, surface iron…..didn’t matter and it just needed to be in the water.  I was standing there drinking my coffee and watching these guys just slay these 15-25lb YFT at a rapid pace.

Then a thought crossed my mind, I’ll try to catch some YFT with a hand line.  I tied on 30 ft of mono to my coffee mug, pinned on a bait and then continued to drink my coffee.  Within a few seconds a YFT nearly rips the mug out of my hand and Dan is standing there looking at me and trying to figure out what’s wrong.  I was desperately trying to get the coffee mug to my mouth to take a sip, but my hand is violently shaking and coffee is spilling out everywhere. We laughed hard and Capt Roy was busting up watching me trying to hold on to my mug.  I told him this was the “original coffee grinder” of long range fishing…..fun times and we quickly put in daily limits of YFT in the boat and headed for new grounds.

With time running out, Capt. Roy told us that we were going to make a move north to see if we can finish off our yellowtail limits and target some bluefin tuna close to home.  I was up in the wheel house chopping it up with Roy and he mentioned that we’re going to get off the train tracks and try something different.  If you know Roy, this dude is outrageously fishy and when he says that he wants to try something “different”, you know it’s from a past experience.   He said that he wants to try fishing in Hippolito Bay since he hasn’t been there in over 10 years.   We arrive and it’s calm, warm and just beautiful.

A few minutes later a big sheephead comes over the rail, then another one, then another one.  I put on small ½ oz mega bait and it’s instantly slammed.  As fast as you can get a small jig, hook up bait or a strip of anything in the water…the sheephead were on it.  We put a nice stringer of these in the boat and then make a short move less than a half mile away.  I grab my surface iron and sling it down swell…..a few minutes later I see a small pack of yellowtail chasing it down, then finally one commits.  Then all of sudden everyone is bent on the rail….bait, yo yo, surface…they wanted it all.  Nice grade of 15-30lb fish, and all we wanted.  We stuck with this program until we were done with our limits.   At this point, everyone has a ton of fish and near limits on most targeted species.  Time to go bluefin fishing.

Capt. Roy tells us that we have about 1.5 days of travel time before we arrive on the BFT grounds.  During this time we’re breaking down a good portion of our gear and prepping for what’s about to come.  We arrive to our destination in the dark and Kurt drops down his 300g FlatFall and then his line went slack. At first he thought he was tangled up with somebody since the current was ripping hard, then his line started peeling off.  A few minutes later a nice 65lb bluefin tuna hits the deck.  As the sun began to rise, the fog and dark clouds kept a nice gray overcast lining in the sky with a slight swell and light wind.  Perfect conditions.  It didn’t take long before a few of us on the bow started hooking fish. We always had a 2-3 fish going through out the entire day.

A handful of us had a very productive morning on these 40-60lb class fish and it was time to start getting everyone involved. The awesome thing about our group, we were all about helping each other.  During the entire duration of our trip, if somebody was having a tough day…there was always somebody there to help.  On our final day of fishing, we were doing hook and hands to ensure that everyone went home with a pristine bluefin.  Midway through the day, we finally got everyone a BFT and it was the icing on the cake. We ended the day with 63 quality bluefin tuna.  The smiles, the stories and the comedy was nothing short of spectacular and we all want to say thank you to Frank, Captain Roy and his stellar crew for always taking care of us.  Until we ride again in July and November…..tight lines!

BIG Life Lessons – by Robert Moorers

By | Spring 2021 | No Comments

I wanted my two sons to experience big game fishing, what we got was a whole lot more.”

We started our adventure by arriving in Cabo San Lucas on Monday, November 23rd. We figured we would spend the Thanksgiving week with one day of fishing then enjoy all that Cabo has to offer for the remainder of our time there.  We booked a fishing charter in advance with Fin Addict www.finaddictcabo.com, a 31’ Bertram captained by Martin Olascoaga and his crew David and Alex.

The advanced preparation was a good sign, they took care of everything: fishing licenses, box lunches, beer, water, and ice.  The boat was fueled and ready to go when we arrived at 6:15 AM on Tuesday morning.  I must say, I have never seen a boat, of any size, more equipped for the task at hand.  The Fin Addict is purpose designed and built, from its twin diesel power to the bait system and outrigger configuration to the way the kite is managed, and the beautiful Okuma and Phenix tackle.

We discussed the day’s strategy with Martin agreeing we would look for tuna.  Though excited to get started we also had our expectations set; the fishing had been hit and miss, the tuna were staying low and had moved out, and the dorado being caught were pretty small.  Even the dependable marlin was scarce.

The day was long and quiet, we ran more than 15 miles along the Pacific / Sea of Cortez dividing line looking for signs.  We saw a few birds and some dolphins, but no spotted or spinners, which tuna typically hangs out with.  All-in-all not a lot of life by Cabo standards.  After hours of trolling with intermittent running to check out glimpses of hope spied through the binos, we turned back towards the cape hoping to pick something up closer to shore.  We did see one striper that we cast on several times, but it just wasn’t having it.  At the end of the day we were skunked; the only catching we did was skipjack to fill the tuna tubes on our way out in the morning.

My boy’s got a first-hand reality check on why it’s called fishing and not catching, but all was not lost, as we motored passed the arch we reflected on the day and we all agreed, it was great.  We melded as a group, as a team, with our newfound friends and crew.  We felt good about the total effort; the patience and perseverance demonstrated.  We left it all on the water that day, spending every ounce of experience and knowhow toward a goal that was not to be.

Now we had a decision to make; do we take our loss and enjoy the next few days in Cabo or try again.  The only day Fin Addict was available was Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.  I let the boys decide and they gave me the answer I was hoping for.  “Let’s get out there again, we can’t give up.”  So, we booked it and got ready to try again.

Thursday started out as a beautiful early morning run on the Pacific side toward Jaime Bank, but about 30-minutes into the run things started getting rough and by the time we started to troll we were rolling gunwale-to-gunwale with capping seas and a pretty good swell.  Again, after trolling for several hours with no good signs we began to fight off those feelings of doubt.  Determined not to be skunked again, we turned and trolled down swell towards Lighthouse Bank on reports of a bait ball and potential for marlin.  On the way we encountered a striper and played a game of cat and mouse for 30-minutes, landing bait practically in its mouth, but it just wouldn’t bite.  Once on the bank there was bait in the water and plenty of boats, but no bent poles.

But there was something else, the occasional spotted dolphin, the right kind of dolphin. The easy call from Martin would have been to suggest we drop lines for marlin, like everyone else.  Instead we motored through the fleet with lines up and connected with a small pod of maybe five dolphins slowly moving north.  We stayed with them for 30-minutes then began to chum intermittently as more dolphins showed up.  As the main fleet of boats faded in the distance, we popped the kite on the hunch there was something more far below this growing pod of dolphins.  Within 20-minutes we got a double hit on the kite, landing a 247lb yellow fin in just under 30-minutes.  We reset and 15-minutes later we had our second strike, a 157 lb. yellow fin, which finished our day.  We had plenty of fish for ourselves and the crew, so we turned for home, getting back in time for a great Thanksgiving feast.  It is worth noting, from what we could see, we were the only boat in the fleet with any tuna at all onboard.

We would have had a great time either way, but I am so glad we did not give up, and neither did the crew of the Fin Addict.  Aside from landing incredible fish, my boys learned some valuable life lessons, and we all made memories of a lifetime.

Thank you to the expertise and efforts of Captain Martin and the crew of Fin Addict.

 

Side bar:

Lessons Learned

  • Patients
  • Perseverance
  • Comradery
  • Team Building
  • Be Positive
  • Lead, Don’t Follow

 

 

East Cape’s Summertime Blues – Article by JIM NIEMIEC

By | Featured, FTC fall 2020 | No Comments

Upon arrival in Cabo, our flight was the only one outside of Terminal 2, with the exception of a small commuter jet sitting on the tarmac of Terminal 1, for local flights within Mexico. There was no long line at immigration and all luggage arrived in a timely manner. It was then off to the final declaration of goods brought into Mexico before final clearance to our awaiting shuttle.
The seas were clam and talk around the bar at the pool was of the good fishing currently taking place. We sat down and chatted with Axel who assured us that fishing is very good and that our cruiser would be awaiting us at 6:30 in morning. Arrangements for lunch and cold drinks were made and a check on our Mexican fishing license finalized arrangements for the following days fishing.
The veranda offered up an excellent venue to enjoy a warm Mexican evening on the Sea of Cortez and a cold Pacifico made for a good choice while waiting the chef’s specialties of ceviche, home-made tortilla soup and grilled pargo off the dinner menu.
There were no sardines available for live bait, but one of the local pangas had some scad available allowing us bigger baits for billfish. The fast Eclipse91 headed out to the tuna grounds but the captain could not locate a school of porpoise, so we opted to put out a spread of Zuker jigs and couple of small tuna feathers in search of marlin or Dorado.
It was mid-morning and we had only a couple of billfish strikes, that were so soft that lines were not snapped out of the outriggers. It was like the billfish were just not hungry, although this fishery showed of birds, flying fish and dead calm seas.
About noon a marlin came up behind one of the Zuker lures and my son Dr. Brook Niemiec DVM of San Diego dropped back one of the scads as an offering. That marlin took the live bait and came out of the water throwing its head from side to side. It was a good-sized blue marlin, weighing over 300 lbs. that took nearly an hour to bring to leader and release. Later on, the deckhand spotted a small pod of porpoise and we finished the day by adding 10 school sized tuna to the catch.
It was hot on the sandy beach, which mandated flip-flops to walk from the calm shoreline up to the shade of the resort pool. It was fresh sushi and grilled yellowfin tuna for dinner that night along with a cold bottle of Chardonnay.
Day two started off with a run out to the tuna grounds again, and we found them just about 3 miles off the beach…a huge school of porpoise. Rigged up with small 125 mm Sevenstrand jet heads and hoochie rubber jigs, tuna jumped all over them. Another boat hooked into a marlin while running through the porpoise and this angler hooked into a striped marlin that ate a tiny hoochie jig, only to have in come unbuttoned after 10 minutes. Our choice for light tackle tuna fishing was a matched set of Daiwa Saltiga rods and high-end Saltiga LD30SH reels, spooled with Daiwa J-Braidx8 line. With the fish locker, loaded with ice, now filled with tuna we headed off in quest of more marlin or hopefully a sailfish.
It wasn’t much past 9 AM when a marlin’s dorsal fin appeared behind one of the lures. The sport fisher slowed a little and the foaming sea of prop wash all of sudden showed the presence of 4 billfish, of which at least two were blue marlin. While the blues sounded out, both outrigger Zuker lures were bit and my son and I were hooked up into a billfish double. The fishing ended with my wife Toni bringing another striped marlin to leader for a quick release and then it was back to the beach with colorful fish flags flying high up in the outriggers.
To expect fishing be good a second day in a row was being very optimistic, but the tuna where still in the same area and bit good. After 10 more tuna were added to the onboard fish locker, it was then time to run north in hopes of another blue marlin hookup.
With flat calm water, with literally thousands of Pectoral birds winging over the Sea of Cortez and flying fish everywhere, fishing conditions couldn’t have been any better.
All of a sudden there was an explosion on the short line lure, as a huge blue marlin cleared its entire body out of the water with an orange marlin lure hanging out its huge mouth. The sight of the leaping massive blue was just like the TV commercial for Tropic Star Lodge off Panama of their black marlin being fought.
The tackle was right and the fighting chair was set in the cockpit perfectly to allow this angler and the captain to stay tight with that huge blue. During the battle, which lasted nearly 1.5 hours, that beautiful marlin made many acrobatic jumps and tail-walked across the calm sea.
After being dredged up from spending most of the fight down deep the expended blue came back up to the surface with the deckhand ready to grab the 300-lb. test leader. All was right to simply wait for the swivel to come within hand-reach, when the marlin turned towards the boat, opened its huge mouth, winging its massive bill and threw that jig right back at the boat. Ironically, that marlin stayed up, probably kind of still in a state of shock, and could have been backed down on a few more feet and free gaffed, if that had been the choice rather than plans to release all marlin. It was estimated that blue weighed nothing less than 500-lbs. and they awarded this angler with a catch and release flag, as the fish was beaten and so close to being fully leadered.
That marlin was by far the largest fish this saltwater fishing editor has ever hooked, far surpassing a 350-lb. black marlin off Bazaruto Island in the Indian Ocean and a 300-lb. “cow” yellowfin tuna caught four years ago on the Outer Gordo Banks off Cabo San Lucas.
The last day allowed only for a few morning hours of fishing around the Punta Arena light-house for roosterfish along the beach. After blowing a large rooster that ate a scad, Brook hooked into his roosterfish, which weighed about 18 pounds and would be the last fish of this truly epic time of fishing the Sea of Cortez.
Come next summer the Niemiec family is looking ahead to booking another trip to Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort, either to fish for more blue marlin, tuna, roosterfish or Dorado, or hopefully all species, the last week of July or early August.

The Sandwich Bite – The Story of Badger’s First Bluefin – Article & Photos by Mike Lane

By | Featured, FTC fall 2020 | No Comments

It was a day that will never be forgotten. A day that changed my son’s life. Jaxon Lane AKA ”Badger” is my 10 year old son that keeps bringing his passion for fishing to the next level. Last year I took Badger on three trips in hopes to land a giant Bluefin that ended with multiple blow ups, but no hook ups. We had to wait for this year’s season to get going again. On July 1st the opportunity presented itself to go and give it another shot. I gave my buddy Shannon Perkins a call to see if he wanted to join us and he was in.
If I am going to take Badger I have to make sure the weather is good and that I have multiple people on the water that I can call in case of an emergency. Call me a responsible dad I guess. Chris Bona and Billy K were also going to be on the water so it was a go. The night before a big fishing trip is always prep night in the Lane household. As we were getting ready Badger came to me and said “Dad, I have a good feeling about tomorrow”. I smiled and agreed.
At 7am we met up with the boys at the HB Launch ramp and off we went. A trip of 67 miles put us in the zone. Once we hit San Clemente Island, a giant Flying fish jumped out of the water and flew right into the boat! Shannon swatted it down… Oh my God… are u kidding me! If that wasn’t a sign from above, I don’t know what is. Whew.
When we got there we rigged up a fresh flying fish for the balloon. It was time to play. When we got to the zone around 10 am and instantly started to see fish. Blew up the balloon and got the fresh dead flying fish out. Instantly we had a blow up and a miss… ugh!! There were foamers everywhere and I’m watching the big gear while Shannon throws into the foamers. He got hooked up and spooled in 20 seconds. Ha ha! It was great because Badger got to experience that. Billy K. who is an excellent fishermen and captain called us in, so we set up near him. Immediately it was boom, hook up and we are on.
I fought the fish and we landed her. I tried to put Badger on her but it just wasn’t right for some reason. I quickly got another bait out and 20 ft from the boat (as we are letting the bait out) we get the biggest blow up on the bait and Shannon is on. He got her in and now we have two 150-180 Lb. fish tied off and hanging on the side of the boat. How could it get any better than this?

SANDWICH BREAK.
We set up a bait and let it out. Shannon, Badger and I are now getting the boat organized and decided to have lunch. As we were eating our sandwiches, we decided that we were going to call it a day because we were happy with the two fish we caught. As we are eating our sandwiches and out of nowhere…. Boom! The biggest blowup of the day. The fish jumped with a full belly out of the water. This was action. I instantly put the reel into gear to get tight on her, hook Up!! This is where it became the best day ever.
I grabbed the rod and I found a sweet spot on my boat near the bow where I keep two 22 gallon external gas tanks. I sat down on the tank and positioned the rod under my leg and laid it on the rail.. The rod is an Okuma SCT XXXH 7’6 rail rod and paired with Okuma Makaira 50. I got settled and yelled “Badger you ready?” I told him to come sit on my lap and fight this fish…I dropped the Makaira into low gear and Badger went to work… The radio chatter was on fire with all the boys cheering Badger on. Badger is giving it his all and hyping his own self up to not give up. Next thing I know , Shannon yells, “I see color!” He grabs the gaff and gets one end. We get up, Badger and I grab the other two gaffs and as father and son we gaffed her together. HE DID IT!!
The joy of accomplishment I saw on his face was something that I will never forget. The cheering from all the boys made Badger glow. The adrenaline rush was still high as we got her onto the boat. And as tradition, it was time for Badger to take the bite of the heart of his first bluefin! We cleaned the fish, gave him the heart and before he took the bite… He said “Thank You for giving us your life” and took two GIANT bites, tried to swallow it and gagged! LOL proud dad moment.. Proud that he showed his respect to God’s creation by thanking her for giving us her life to feed our family.

TIME TO GO HOME
That night I asked Badger what was his favorite part of the day, Badger replied “when all my friends were around to cheer me on when I was fighting the fish!” That’s what it’s all about folks! My 10 year old son gets it. Already. I’m truly a proud father. Proud of you Badger. Daddy loves you.

Browns in the Green By: Shawn Arnold

By | Featured, FTC fall 2020 | No Comments

“Twitch it. TWITCH IT!! Damn it he swam away” yelled Brandon Keene my guide for the day who works for Grand Teton Flyfishing. We were fishing the Green River about 45 minutes outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and this was the second time in 45 minutes that a HUGE brown trout followed my lure to the boat. Since the lure was only a few feet from the boat, the only way to entice the trout would be to leave it there and twitch and hope the fish struck quickly. My thought when I saw the fish was ‘are there pike in this river?’ It was that long. Brandon first said that it was 26” long and within a minute it was up to 28 or 29”. According to a chart I read a 29” brown trout should weigh about 8 pounds. All I know was it was the second big brown trout to follow the Dynamic crankbait to the boat. Not that many did not bite. I caught and released many browns including one about 23”, a rainbow and a hybrid. Also I missed many others that hit but did not stick.
The reason I was fishing with Brandon is I wanted to find an outfit in Jackson Hole who was OK with my spin fishing and not fly fishing. Some of the companies turn their nose up at us spin fishers but not the case with Grand Teton Fly Fishing. Their website showed the option to spin fish and or fly fish and so I was ‘hooked’.
I booked a date and when the owner Scott Smith found out I wanted to spin fish he said I have the guy for you. On the morning we were to fish, Brandon picked me up at my hotel in Jackson Hole around 7 A.M. and on our hour drive to the Green River we were able to find out what a small world it is. In between him showing me animals like elk and deer off in the distance off the road I discovered he used to work for Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica. I went to Crocodile Bay before it actually opened and did a story on it. He knew of Jeff Klassen who was the GM at the time and he knows Todd Staley who was in charge of the fishing there for many years. Todd is now in charge of a conservation group that provides guidelines for fishing in Costa Rica and he lives there still. I actually text Todd while Brandon was driving and said look who I am with.
He also worked the east cape, Mexico and in Patagonia, Argentina. He grew up near Jackson Hole and while he loved the excitement of these other exotic places Jackson Hole is where family is and where he grew up. As he said the winters can be rough but no place he would rather be in the summer. That is saying something with all the places Brandon has worked.
When we got to our spot on the Green River, Brandon got the trailer with the drift boat ready and backed it into the water. We would travel 8 miles down the river that day. They have a cool system that enables them to start at point A and finish at point B as a company takes the truck and trailer to the ramp 8 miles away and parks it there so when you finish you just have to back up the trailer and load. There are no motors on these boats so they depend on the sturdy back of the guide and the flow of the river.
I brought a travel light weight 6’6” rod with me and a spinning reel spooled with 2# test. I was excited to see what I could do tossing mini-jigs at these big boys. Brandon looked at my set-up and kind of giggled. He was trying to be polite but in the fast waters of the river and all the possible things that could snag on it, my 2# test was far too little. He handed me a rod and reel with 8# test and said use this. I was thinking 8# test is way too much but the fast flowing water was murky and with all the bites I got on the lure it did not seem to matter much. And I am pretty sure if one of the before mentioned big browns had hit my mini-jig it was party over. River fish tend to be much stronger than lake fish. They spend their days working the tail against the flow of the river and like someone who is used to running a far distance everyday they are just in better shape and stronger. And for the record the travel rod did come in handy when I hiked and fished a few lakes in the Grand Tetons.
We went down the river for over 4 hours. I pretty much cast non stop that entire time. The only time I took a break was when Brandon made me a turkey sandwich. And using Covid safety measures he put on plastic gloves and made it for me in the boat. They also provided water and soda.
As we went down the river Brandon would survey the water and say cast under that tree, cast by that ripple, etc. etc. Like all the experienced guides at Grand Teton Flyfishing, he had been down this river numerous times and knew it like the back of his hand. There were a few times when he said that spot holds fish and I cast and caught a fish or got hit. The numerous times I got followed was quite an experience also. All in all it was a great day and worth every penny. I would definitely do it again.
I highly recommend Grand Teton Flyfishing. You can find out more about them at www.grandtetonflyfishing.com

 

 

 

Craking The Code in Local Bluefin

By | Featured, FTC fall 2020 | No Comments

Bluefin Gear
Fishing bluefin is like playing a round of golf. Golfers need specific golf clubs for each section of the greens, anglers need a set of outfits for each type of bluefin bite. A good ‘starter kit’ for local bluefin would be a 30, 40, 60, and 80-pound class outfits. While a two-speed reel is not necessary on your thirty-pound outfit, the forty thru eighty-pound outfits need to be lever drag two speed reels. If I wanted to add to this quiver, I would include a jig stick for throwing poppers and surface iron and another rail rod outfit with #100 lb. line.
Most west coast sport boats that are targeting bluefin will have their own ‘kite outfits’ onboard for anglers to use on the kite rotation. The crews have these outfits rigged properly for the kite and it is one less heavy outfit to bring on the trip. For the private boat set, the options are endless. If your style of fishing is on the rail, I recommend the Seeker OSP 2 x 4 or 3X and a thirty or fifty size two speed reel loaded with 100/130-pound braid. On my boat we like the challenge of a standup battle and use a Seeker Black Steel 6465XH rod paired with a PENN International 50 or 70VISX reel and 50/80 lb. line. The six- and half-foot rod when combined with an AFTCO bucket harness is deadly on big tuna.
On this ‘bluefin starter kit’ the outfit that seems to be most versatile and has other fishing applications is the forty-pound outfit. My ‘go-to’ forty-pound outfit is a PENN Fathom 30 two speed lever drag reel filled with #65-pound braid and a hundred-foot top-shot of forty-pound Big Game monofilament. Paired with Seeker 6470-7’ rod, it is a great heavy bait rod and can send a sardine on a flight off the corner or bow. After tuna season, this outfit doubles as a ‘yo yo’ outfit for yellowtail in the spring. I also bring it down to Baja in the fall for school tuna, dorado, and wahoo. A perfect all-around outfit for many applications.
Work the Zone
On many bluefin trips, we set up a drift and deploy a dead flying fish from the kite. With the kite rig on the downwind side of the boat, we deploy ‘sinker rigs’ with live baits and staggered the depths. Prior to the trip, to fish the proper depth, we will mark our braid at 20, 30, and 40 fathom intervals. We start by bringing our outfits out to any of the local high school football fields. For the twenty-fathom mark (120’) – we use the monofilament top shot as a marker – where the monofilament attaches to the braid (100’) or if using a short top-shot we take a black Magic Marker and make a three inch black mark at 120’. While standing at the goal line, have someone walk the line out to the forty-yard line. Next, go another twenty yards and make a black mark for your thirty-fathom mark. And then another twenty yards for your forty-fathom mark.
When deploying a sinker rig and you hear the captain say “Marking fish at thirty fathoms” – slowly drop your bait or jig down to the second black mark and you are fishing the zone. It amazes me how many times we mark fish at a specific depth and the outfit at that depth gets bit instantly. It is not science, just properly fishing the depth zone where the tuna are swimming through under the boat. These marks will be extremely helpful at night when deep jigging a Flat Fall or iron for bluefin. If the captain is marking tuna at a specific depth, drop to your black mark and work the jig up and down repeatedly in that zone. It works!
Innovation
As the local bluefin fishery evolves, do not hesitate to try something new to get a bite. A new presentation can mean the difference between coming home with a trophy or nothing at all. One of the techniques I am playing with this season is trolling a blue/white Illander with a ballyhoo east coast style on the long rigger or stinger position while prospecting for a bluefin zone. It is a proven bluefin trolling bait on the east coast – should work here as well right?
Another technique that I am experimenting with is the down rigger baits. During the middle of the day and between the slack tides, we often mark fish at thirty and forty fathoms and wait for them to come up on the slack tide. Why not deploy a live mackerel or sardine down at 150’-180’ and slow troll it thru the zone? I know a lot of captains that have down riggers on their boat, but they rarely are used on the west coast tuna fishery – we need to change that this season.
I have only heard of limited success stories out here on the west coast but deploying a Green Stick rig should be a deadly tool on our bigger bluefin fishery. The Green Stick set up cost prevents most of the private boat fleet from experimenting with them here locally, but it sure seems like the smaller ‘Kona’ Green Stick system would be deadly on our bluefin. My last trip to Kona I watched 25’ -30’ skiffs using the ‘Kona’ stick and absolutely smashing big yellowfin on them while the live bait and troll fleet had a slow day. Innovation – one of the keys to being successful on local bluefin.
Finally, if you are on a private boat, bring a pair of gyro binoculars and help the captain locate fish. The more ‘eyes in the sky’ the better for hunting bluefin. If you are not the type that can sit and glass all day in binoculars – the next best thing is a good pair of polarized sunglasses to locate terns, color spots, and breaking fish. When I am not in the glasses, I wear Costa Tuna Alley frames with 580G Sunlight Silver Mirror for the low light or overcast days then switch to 580G Green Mirror lens for when the sun comes out or heavy glare. All it takes it one tiny sign to turn into a ripper bite that will make the trip.

Bluefin Care
All tuna, especially bluefin, should be bled and iced or cooled down after capture to ensure some tasty eating tuna dinners. Many of the sport boats have RSW systems to preserve your catch until your back at the dock. After the bluefin is boated, a deckhand will cut the gills to help bleed the fish – or on some boats remove the stomach and intestines before the tuna is dropped down in the RSW. The latter method delivers a beautiful product and is ready for the fish processors to prepare your catch.
If you own your own boat and want to get in on this bluefin fishery, invest in a proper insulated kill bag and understand ice management on your next tuna trip. For our boat, we purchased an XL Reliable kill bag and load the bottom with eight blocks of ice. On top of the blocks, we will add another 100-150 lbs. of crushed ice to keep our catch chilled for an overnight trip. The block ice helps keep the crushed ice cool and we seem to get way more shelf life when combining the block ice with crushed. A plastic shovel helps keep the ice evenly spread over the fish.
I hope this article got you thinking about new bluefin tactics to try out this season. Our bluefin tuna fishery is incredibly challenging when compared to our other fisheries. However, by keeping an open mind to innovation and polishing up proven techniques, any angler can crack the code on a local bluefin!

Sato Memorial Octunaclub.com – By Doug Inouye

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With the Holidays quickly approaching and storms looming on the horizon, it was go time for our 2nd Annual OCTUNACLUB.com SATO Memorial trip aboard the Royal Polaris.  With the usual suspects in place and with the legendary RP Crew led by Capt. Roy Rose, we checked in and pushed off by 9am.

This year’s trip was shortened to a 6- day Guadalupe Express style of trip instead of the usual 10 day due to Thanksgiving and the boat schedule. With a new school of bigger fish (100+lbrs) that had arrived, the Island is the ultimate test on the small gear ( i.e. 40-60lb). Compare it to fishing the buffer zone on a 15- day trip, with 40-60lb gear targeting the “teenagers”. Fishing for this class of fish will push your connections, experience and luck to the full test.

We checked in and were processed quickly in Ensenada before making the cross to the Island.  We arrived at 1pm the following day and took a quick look along the edge.  Capt. Roy spotted a school of black porpoises and we immediately started a drift and got to work.   It didn’t take long for the fish to get on us and within minutes we had a few hanging in the corner.  Everyone was fishing with line from 40lb – 100lb and everything in between.  The guys using an 8’-10’ top shot of 40lb & 50lb with a 1/0 or 2/0 were staying busy, while others using 60lb-80lb were patiently waiting.

The kite started off a bit slow, but eventually the fish got with the program and started to produce.  Not knowing what was going to work, I started off using 80lb solid spectra with a 10’ top shot of 60lb with a 3/0 due to the size of fish we saw boiling up in the chum line. I had no bites for the first 2 hours, then I dropped down to 65lb spectra with an 8’ top shot of 50lb with a 2/0.  Almost immediately I was bit and hanging one on the bow. After a few minutes my line started to vibrate heavily when the fish was straight up and down.  I looked over the rail and noticed a big Mako had just bitten the tail off my fish.  Needless to say, the fish came right up and was undamaged except for a missing tail.  We only saw that one Mako and never saw another shark for the remainder of the trip.

One thing that we noticed, these fish were really ticked off and had a bad attitude for being this close to the Holidays.  They were extremely stubborn bullies and unwilling to cooperate.  These fish were wrecking angler’s gear and if you had a weak spot, they would find it and exploit it to gain their freedom.  The following morning, I double checked my drags and thought I should bump them up to 20lbs at strike with 50lb. These fish were getting bigger and if I was going to win, I would win fast. If I were to lose, I would lose fast.  I got bit just after grey light and it felt like a decent fish…..long sustained run and big tail beats, I went around the boat 1.5 times and finally got the fish to gaff in about 45 minutes with my Accurate 600N and UC80 Tilefish. It was a nice 120lb class fish.

I took a break and thought maybe that wasn’t the smartest set up to use on this grade of fish. If I hooked that same fish on my ATD 30 or MAK 20 on my UC76 Viper or Centaur, that fish would have been on the right side of the wood in under 15 minutes. Thinking I just learned a lesson, I grabbed my 76 Centaur with 60lb and continued to drown one bait after another.  No bites, no action…but I was okay with that since the morning snack was just announced. Later on in the morning I took a leisurely stroll on the deck and noticed a few fish hanging…I asked myself should I go back down to 50lb to get a bite or stick with the rope? I made a quick decision, grabbed my 50lb rig and walk up to the bow. Big mistake.

A few minutes pass as Darin (aka 310RodWorks) and myself were soaking baits and chatting about how cool it would be if we could get another shot of both of us hanging fish.  Moments later, Darin’s bait got hammered and a minute later, mine gets mowed down like nobody’s business.  As we were standing there holding our rods with a big bend and watching spectra just burning off the reel, we both looked at each other and knew these were the ones we were looking for.  The long and deep tail beats just confirmed that we’re going to be in for a long fight on the small gear.  Darin was pegged with his Penn 25 Fathom loaded with 50lb and I too was in the same scenario with my Accurate 600N with 50lb.  At this point, we knew it was going to require some patience, experience and finesse to get these brutes up without busting them off.

An hour had already passed and Darin and I have gone around the boat a few times already.  Then hour #2 arrives and wouldn’t you know it….Darin and I are both up on the bow again trying to wrestle these fish closer to the boat.  I wave goodbye to Darin and continue to walk my fish down to the port corner.  Finally, I get this stubborn fish straight up and down, but now I know time is working against me.  I had my UC 80 Predator bottomed out and I was leaning on it hard to get this fish to move north towards the surface. I pushed my drag close to full and now we’re guitar stringing big time.  Every inch of line that’s coming off the reel is singing some sort of tune.

Bob Howard with a nice 100lb + YFT

At this point I know that I should be getting close to deep color, I keep the pressure on and finally I see a big chrome spot deep down.  A back and forth tug of war ensued, as this fish did not want to give in.  I would gain 3 or 4 turns on the reel trying to keep his head up and almost immediately the fish would peel off another 15-20 yards at close to full strike.  Finally, the fish started to give in, and he slowly and defiantly worked his way to the surface.   Now we’re in the final circles and Jesus calls for gaffs, minutes later Capt. Roy, Jesus and Doug each sink their gaffs into the fish and the battle is over. A fat and round teenage YFT comes over the rail.  I immediately turn around and I’m looking for Darin and somebody informed that his fish busted off at deep color after close to 2.5 hours.  Wait? What? 2.5 hours for Darin? I look at my watch and the time stamp on one of the pictures on my phone and it was 3 hours and 15 minutes earlier, WTH? Yeah, that fish really kicked my butt on 50lb gear and I was way overmatched, but I won…barely.

After 3+ hours on 50lb gear, we finally got him.

On our final full day of fishing, I noticed a good friend of mine was doing some strange stuff like tangling with anglers while on fish, 3rd row casting into a crowd, snagging other angler’s spectra and winding it into his guides and etc.  After witnessing enough, I casually walked over during a lull in the action and asked him what’s going on.  He took a deep breath and told me that he’s all stressed out because he can’t get a bite or land a fish. He went on to say that he didn’t want to look like a “chump” in front all of us. He immediately apologized and said his alter ego called “Day and a half Dave” was in full display.

Rather than pushing him off the plank, I immediately told him to ditch that attitude on the Island and don’t worry about what others are doing. We have fished many times before and I know he’s an awesome well experienced fisherman, I just had to remind him of it.  We decided to have a cold beer, hug it out and told him to hit the “reset button”.  He went down to his stateroom and then jumped in the shower to scrub the funk off and came back out with some fresh clothes, fresh attitude and a smile on his face.   We laughed and joked around and now I told him to go and put the wood to them.  With 5 hours left before we called it a trip, “Day and half Dave” not only caught his PB, he quickly put 7 big YFT in the boat with plenty of time to spare.  During one of the battles, he and I were both pinned in the starboard corner battling some brutes, but yet we found time to laugh, take a few pics together and do the robot dance listening to Soul Sonic Force’s Plant Rock.  It was pure gold and you had to be there.  At that precise moment, we both looked at each other and I told him that we were stoked that he left his alter ego “Day and half Dave” on the Island was back to his normal, goofy self and doing what he does best.  Our final day of fishing was extremely productive and intense. Every single passenger caught and fought multiple quality fish. We saw a lot of 80-110lb class of fish coming over the rail with a steady pace until everyone was exhausted and fulfilled.  After the smoke cleared, every single passenger was smiling, celebrating and fulfilled.  We all know that Brent Ikari was smiling down and put another one of his signature blessings on our trip.  We couldn’t imagine a better way to close out the 2019 Fishing Season and we’ll definitely be back to pay the Island and Brent another visit a few more times in 2020.   Thank you.  – Doug Inouye

Passing on the passion – By Ben Secrest

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Growing up with my dad was a blessing. His love of the outdoors came from a very good upbringing from his father in Ohio and Pennsylvania. His early life was spent hunting and fishing daily not only as a first love, but to feed the family during the great depression.  He loved the time spent with his mentors, and the memories he had were awesome childhood stories for me.

Fast forward to my birth, dad’s love of the outdoors was something he viewed as important part of his life so it was inevitable that would pass onto his son. Taking me to the pier in a stroller, barely able to walk, he wanted me to be comfortable around the environment.

We started with opaleye perch around the rocks, then graduated to bonito at the Redondo bubble hole, then trips to San Clemente island, with the end result being my total love of the water and fishing. My dad purchased a piece of land at Canyon Lake and my introduction to freshwater bass was born.            My early years fishing salt with pop after work then spending Saturday and Sunday at the lake were the best years of my early life. I learned a lot that became my foundation for the other fishing adventures that the future had in store for me.

With today’s electronic society, it’s really important to get kids outside to experience what’s out there. The importance of finding something that you, your kids, and friends can enjoy together is key. Passing on the passion cannot be forced, it has to be instilled in them at young age by taking them fishing.

When kids are in their formative years, 3 to 5 years old, it’s a perfect time to introduce them to fishing and the great outdoors.  It gets them use to being outside and comfortable around fishing, the equipment, and especially the fish. My dad use to fish on the ½ day and ¾ day boats bringing his catch home to show me and let me help clean them. I remember my dad would make the effort for me to touch and hold any fish we caught. If we had plenty to eat, he would have me kiss the fish, and throw it back in to catch another day. He was a pure conservationist prior to the wave of green we see in today’s society. Starting kids off at a young age experiencing the outdoors is good, but I have had a lot of friends that did not have the same upbringing I did regarding the outdoors and fishing.

Throughout the years I have met people and if the subject of fishing comes up, if I see they are really interested I offer to take them. Many of these individuals are getting their first introduction to fishing, and it’s amazing to see how many adopt it as a passion for life. Many of these anglers have become my fishing partners now. I hear a lot the” tug is the drug” and with the newbies it truly is.

I guess my point is, it’s never too late to start fishing, and experiencing the outdoor adventure.

Another common thing I have experienced is my kids enjoyed fishing when they were little, and with the introduction to other interests like baseball, basketball, and soccer they slowly moved away from it. I was fortunate enough to experience the love of sports and learning what it was to be part of a team. I spent my teenage years surfing, fishing, and playing baseball. My love for my dad and the time we spent together was always there so I spent weekends fishing with him until college.

The key influence in my life was my father and the bond we cemented came from our time on the water as a youth. Remember that good memories as kids live in us for ever.

There is no better place to be then with your kids enjoying your passion in life. My kids continued to pursue their interests with Summer playing collegiate softball, Ben running track, and Kailey becoming an artist. The point I am passing onto you now is that if they experience the outdoors and fishing in their youth it becomes part of their DNA, so they will return to it later.

Many of my friends always ask me now “how do your kids fish with you so much?” My answer is that they are asking me to go as a result of those magical moments experienced in their youth. One thing I know to be true is all our experiences through life create many memories both good and bad. The memories my kids have of all the time fishing with their parents have been positive, and that is what drives them as adults to continue the fishing experience. I know that showing your kids or friends true passion to something you hold dear to your heart makes an impression. These impressions tend to introduce others to your contagious love of the sport instilling their passion to explore and experience it.

The best times of my adult life now are to fish with my kids. I have made it an annual trip on my birthday that my daughters and I spend the day fishing. It’s the best birthday present ever for me and they have the time of their lives. To watch them create memories of their own that I am included in is absolutely the best.

Recently my good friend Joe and I took the girls Sword fishing which is like watching grass grow waiting for the bite. We had so much fun talking about our previous adventures that I realized that its not so much the importance of catching fish but the time together that counts.

You can’t go back into their youth and change what is already done, but remember its never too late to introduce your kids or friends to something that can alter their life in a very positive manner.

The key in life is to pass on the something people will enjoy too. Passing on the passion is contagious, and the legacy you leave your kids and friends will always remind them that your love of the sport lives in them all.

Take your kids fishing and remember it’s never too late to introduce people to fishing and the outdoor world of adventure.

 

Food for thought:

When taking the kids fishing make sure you start with something that will get their attention, and they can enjoy the experience as a whole. It’s all about their experience. Go catch mackerel off the pier. Hit up a lake full of panfish, or time the perfect trout plant.  Make sure they catch fish so they can experience the tug. If they want to play with the bait so be it. Just remember it’s about introducing them to the whole scene.

If you are going to take the kids or a friend on the boat for the first time, make sure you ask about if they get seasick. If this happens get them back to the dock. There is nothing more uncomfortable then being seasick as a child or an adult. This will definitely be a negative experience and any further trips for the kids will be tough. I think it’s easier to start them on the pier or on the shore.

Make sure you bring tackle that is easy for them to use. Its best to start with spinning reels and work towards bait casters or conventional tackle for the future. Make sure its set up so you alleviate any possibilities of problems. Braid can be difficult at times in the wind so I would look at having a couple rods with mono. Get them set up and show them how to cast and instruct them on the process. If you are fishing with younger kids, either hook and hand so they feel the tug, or actually fish a bait with them. The tackle should be right for the fish. Way better for kids to fight the fish instead of the tackle.

Prior planning will help alleviate the percentage of not catching. Have the kids be part of the preparation process with tackle and lures. This is the best part of the experience, it teaches them that being ready is a critical part of success. Make sure you bring plenty of goodies for them to snack on and some of their favorite drinks. Bringing sunscreen and hats will help keep them safe from the sun. What I did with my kids worked, video games were left at home, making their focus on the surroundings, fully immersed in the experience.

Planning a semi or annual trip for the weekend to some cool fishing location can be a great way to spend family time as well as create new fishing experiences for the kids. My father would take me every August with my mom to the West Walker River and those trips are some of my fondest memories. We caught a ton of trout keeping enough to eat at the local restaurant, and releasing the rest. This experience also got me thinking on how I could catch fish on my own with the river right behind the motel. I remember looking for new turns in the creek or stones that cast long shadows. No better way to learn than doing it.

We also found arrowheads at higher grounds when the sun was high. Exploring the creek and its surroundings was a fun part of my childhood making a great memory.

If you have a child that likes fishing and shows interest introduce him to different species and techniques to broaden his horizon. This will help them understand the basics of fishing and get them thinking how they can do it better. Most of the time the only thing that changes is the size of the tackle. The more you help them to better understand the aspects of fishing, the better your fishing partner will become.

My girls have been to East Cape, Alaska, Montana, northern California, and other locations to pursue their love of fishing.

Teach them catch and release to help sustain the fisheries. As I mentioned before make sure they understand “keep what you can eat and let the rest go.”  This will help future anglers enjoy fishing.

The last thing to remember is Pass on the Passion.

They will thank you for the rest of their life.

Passion In Bishop Creek Canyon – By: Fish Story Lori Carnahan

By | Featured, Spring 2020 | No Comments

Bishop Creek Canyon is a paradise, a photographer’s wonderland and one of the most beautiful places you can see in all of California. It’s a 20- minute drive from Bishop with snow covered 13,000’peaks. It’s absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous with magnificent indescribable beauty.

Fishing in and around Bishop has always been a passion of Nick Scira and his entire family. Nick’s Mom Donna Scira’s family had been camping, fishing and hunting in this area since the early 1940’s. Donna’s uncle, Walter Wilms, was the very first Bishop Chamber of Commerce president/manager as a volunteer.

Nick’s dad and mom Ron and Donna met and married in November 1966 and together they continued the family legacy, camping and fishing in the Bishop area, especially Bishop Creek Canyon. They had three children, who they taught to fish, camp, hike and enjoy the outdoors.

In the summer of 1980 they noticed a “For Sale” sign at a place called Habeggers Resort in Bishop Creek Canyon. It had opened originally in 1951. They quickly seized the opportunity and purchased Habeggers Resort in the summer of 1981. At that time, their children were 3, 5 and 12 years old.

In 1981 a public fishing pond called Em’s Pond across Habeggers Lane from the park sadly closed to the public. Ron knew his customers would really miss the pond and since Ron and Donna had some vacant land near their resort store, Ron got permission from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to dig and put in a pond with the thought that their customers and the public would still have a fishing pond in the same area. He took his idea to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife with the understanding that the DFW would stock the pond.
The Department of Agriculture drew up the plans for the pond. The digging for the pond was done by Ron in 1981 and supervised along by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The new pond was named by one of the DFW stocking guys. He really liked Ron and he made a sign: “Ron’s Pond” and presented it to Ron. The first stocking of the new Ron’s Pond was in 1982.

In the early 90’s, Ron and Donna realized people had a hard time pronouncing Habeggers. Phone numbers and area codes were changing in the early 90’s, and people were having trouble remembering the name. It seemed like a good time for a name change. In 1992 they had a contest and asked for ideas for renaming the resort. The contest winner was Creekside R.V. Park and the name was officially changed in 1992.

In 1996, Ron started brain storming ways to get more customers. He figured stocking bigger trout would attract more people to the resort. One day, while he was on his way home, Ron saw a sign that said, “Adopt a Highway” and he thought – “Adopt a Creek!”

He started walking Main Street in Bishop, talking to all the businesses, trying to promote donations for stocking lunker trout in the local creeks and lakes to draw in more anglers and customers to Bishop and its businesses. While on the stomp up and down the Bishop Main Street, Ron met Richard McWilliam, founder and CEO of Upper Deck-Baseball card company. Fascinated with the idea, Richard kickstarted the Adopt a Creek program with its first donation. Many donors followed including Eric Scaht’s Bakkery and the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce. The idea was born. Ron was aware that Alpers Trout Ranch could provide lunker size trout from 3 to 10 pounds and could provide a regular Alper Trout lunkers stocking schedule through the entire season. Ron created an “Adopt a Creek” newsletter, and everyone who donated received the mailings of the schedule for trout stocking dates along with pictures of anglers holding the lunkers. Now everyone could plan their spring, summer, or fall vacation knowing they could possibly catch the huge, trophy lunker trout of a lifetime.
Alex and Debi Yerkes of Alex Printing in Bishop donated the printing, payment coupons and any other printing that was needed for the Adopt A Creek program for the entire duration of the time Adopt A Creek ran. After 16 years dealing with some health issues, Ron decided it was too much for him, and Adopt A Creek ended.
Currently there still is a trophy trout stocking program in Bishop Creek Canyon. It is coordinated by Jared Smith of Parchers Resort, as well as all the neighboring businesses and Resort Owners who pitch in funds. The program is assisted by Tawni Thomson of the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce. Currently Wrights Rainbows from Idaho and Desert Springs Trout Farms from Oregon provide supplemental trophy trout stockings periodically throughout the summer and fall, so if they’re lucky, fishermen can still land a trophy trout.
In 2017, it was apparent that Ron and Donna had to sell the Creekside RV Park due to family health issues. Their son Nick, a journeyman electrician for over 20 years, showed an incredible interest in taking over the park. Ever since he was three years old, Nick had been coming up to the park with his family, fishing and loving the mountains and scenery. Nick has loved to fish for as long as he can remember and really enjoys fishing with his dad and his friends. He also has always enjoyed watching and helping others catch trout, telling them where to fish and what bait to use – always including a story about that perfect fishing spot. Nick has made so many great friends at Creekside over the years. His passion and love for fishing and for Creekside, where he spent most summers as he grew up, is infectious.

In January of 2019, Nick Scira proudly assumed ownership of Creekside RV Park. Nick has worked continuously improving the park. Wi-fi is offered throughout the park. They offer full hook-ups for RV sites up to 42 feet, tent sites, rental trailers, a country store offering fishing tackle, worms, ice, groceries, beer, wine, souvenirs, and self-serve food. The park offers restrooms and showers. Drinking water comes from the parks own artesian well, plumbed in at every campsite and it is the best! Family dogs are welcome.
My husband Tim and I have been camping at Creekside RV Park since 1999. We discovered the park when we entered a fishing contest with some friends; they entered the contest every year at Creekside R.V. Park and invited us to go with them.
From the moment Tim and I walked into the store we were hooked on this amazing place. Ron and Donna were so friendly and incredibly informative about everything we needed to know. They were both so knowledgeable about where exactly to fish and what to use.

The passion and love Nick’s parents have built over so many decades is a perfect fit to pass on to their son Nick. With so much Creekside property it is the perfect destination place in Bishop Creek Canyon.

For more information:

Creekside R.V. Park – Elevation: 8,300’
1949 South Lake Road
Bishop, CA 93514
(760) 873-4483
www.bishopcreeksidervpark.com

Located in Bishop Creek Canyon
Bishop Creek Canyon is approximately 17 miles west on Line Street from downtown Bishop. Take CA Highway 168 (West Line Street) from Bishop.
Head west toward the mountains.
Important Note: There are NO gas stations in Bishop Creek Canyon. Fill up before you drive up!

Fish Story Lori
(760) 218-9489
fsl@fishstorylori.com
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