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Big Blue Charters and Freedom Alliance Team Up in Sitka – BY Shawn Arnold

By | Fall 2019 | No Comments

The year is 1972, Mike Keating was in high school and getting ready to join one of the branches of our armed forces as it seemed likely he would be drafted. Like the Kenny Rogers song, Mike has told me that he would have been proud to go and do his patriotic chore when drafted. When he was in high school, he felt in awe of those that served. In 1973 the draft had ended though and while Mike was ready to go and serve there was not a need without the draft and or war.
Flash forward to 2019. Mike is living his dream. He runs Big Blue Charters in Sitka, Alaska along with his wife Karen. He loves Alaska and loves fishing. He has a fleet of what he and many think are the nicest boats in Sitka. His captains are held in high esteem in the industry. And while he never served in the military, he still feels a sense of need to give to those that did.
Mike holds the utmost respect for those that have served, and every Memorial Day he and Big Blue Charters and other Sitka companies work with the Freedom Alliance to take wounded servicemen out fishing in Sitka.
Freedom Alliance provides wounded troops with recreational therapy that improves their rehabilitation. And what better way to spend recreation time than while catching fish in Alaska. Freedom Alliance takes troops that were wounded and takes them to beautiful and peaceful places like Sitka to help them heal.
They say that traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress are the most common war injuries inflicted on this generation of combat veterans. Medical professionals and the troops themselves say that the great outdoors is the medication in treating the lingering wounds of war.
Ryan Behm from Freedom Alliance who was previously a combat medic brought a group of wounded vets to the Last Frontier. In addition to Big Blue Charters the vets fished with Vonnie’s Charters too.
The vets fished 3 days and while I never spent time on the boat with them, I communicated with them every afternoon after we all came in. I fished with Captain Mike on his boat as the Big Blue boats worked as a team to find the fish. We were not disappointed as every day produced solid Alaska fishing.
It was easy for the vets and anyone for that matter who fishes with Big Blue Charters. You just show up with a good attitude. Everyone gets an excellent homemade sandwich made by Karen Keating, chips and cookies and the cooler is full of beverages. First class fishing gear is provided including reels by Okuma and Avet and rods by GLoomis and Whopper Stoppers. Big Blue Charter even provides Xtra Tuff boots which are very comfortable.
On to the good stuff. Drop your bait to the bottom and in typical Sitka style you can bring up a halibut, a lingcod, shortraker, yelloweye, or an assortment of other tasty fish that all make great fish tacos. While we did not catch anything huge one of the vets brought in a well over hundred -pound halibut while Kevin Briles who lives in Sitka pulled one in about 70 pounds and I got one around 60. There were so many halibut caught and released because they were too small that would win jackpots in southern California it was unreal. At one point I had 10 straight drops and pulled in halibut in the 10 to 20- pound range every drop and all were carefully released.
In addition to the excellent bottom fishing the king salmon fishing was better this year than the previous year. There are two ways to fish for salmon and Big Blue Charters both trolls and mooches. I personally prefer to mooch, which is simply dropping either a cut or whole herring down to near the bottom and reeling up and then repeating. I like this method as you get to feel the salmon hit. Salmon have very soft mouths unlike bass so there is some finesse needed when hooking them. The old rip a lip method will lose you a lot of fish. When the salmon hits you reel, reel, reel until it is tight then just give a slight hookset. And once the king is on be prepared for battle. They are known to come to the boat rather easily until they figure out they are hooked. At that point hold on as you are going on a ride. Just like catching a yellowtail or tuna, it is a follow your fish mentality until you get it in.
The kings we caught were average size ranging from 17 to 25 pounds. They are a fun fish to catch and make excellent table fare. One of the nice things about fishing with Big Blue Charters is they have a deal with an excellent processing plant, so your fish is fillet and flash frozen that day. Then when you go to the airport the processor will meet you at the airport and for a very fair fee will box it and let you take your fish home with you. They say the fish last for a year, but I have always eaten mine before a year. The fish is so fresh it is hard to eat it elsewhere.
While Captain Mike guided me for 3 days, Captain Jesse Graham took the vets out two days without being paid and Captain Dan Corduan did it once. That was their contribution to the vets, and it was a huge one. Dan served in the military and through conversation found out he was in boot camp with one of the wounded vets. Small world, right? Since this was early in the season the Big Blue deckhands were not available yet, so Jesse and Dan also did double work and really worked their butts off for free. But both understand freedom is not free and without these vets risking their lives for us we might not be free at all. I feel that both Jesse and Dan are to be commended for their efforts and honestly, I feel lucky to know such fine young men.
There was a sweatshirt that one of the vets wore that stated, “ Those that expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Thomas Paine. A truer statement could not be said, and the vets, Jesse and Dan did their part. And while Mike did not serve in the military those many years ago, he is still serving those that did.

 

finesse needed when hooking them. The old rip a lip method will lose you a lot of fish. When the salmon hits you reel, reel, reel until it is tight then just give a slight hookset. And once the king is on be prepared for battle. They are known to come to the boat rather easily until they figure out they are hooked. At that point hold on as you are going on a ride. Just like catching a yellowtail or tuna, it is a follow your fish mentality until you get it in.
The kings we caught were average size ranging from 17 to 25 pounds. They are a fun fish to catch and make excellent table fare. One of the nice things about fishing with Big Blue Charters is they have a deal with an excellent processing plant, so your fish is fillet and flash frozen that day. Then when you go to the airport the processor will meet you at the airport and for a very fair fee will box it and let you take your fish home with you. They say the fish last for a year, but I have always eaten mine before a year. The fish is so fresh it is hard to eat it elsewhere.
While Captain Mike guided me for 3 days, Captain Jesse Graham took the vets out two days without being paid and Captain Dan Corduan did it once. That was their contribution to the vets, and it was a huge one. Dan served in the military and through conversation found out he was in boot camp with one of the wounded vets. Small world, right? Since this was early in the season the Big Blue deckhands were not available yet, so Jesse and Dan also did double work and really worked their butts off for free. But both understand freedom is not free and without these vets risking their lives for us we might not be free at all. I feel that both Jesse and Dan are to be commended for their efforts and honestly, I feel lucky to know such fine young men.
There was a sweatshirt that one of the vets wore that stated, “ Those that expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Thomas Paine. A truer statement could not be said, and the vets, Jesse and Dan did their part. And while Mike did not serve in the military those many years ago, he is still serving those that did.

 

 

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Fathers, Sons, and Friends Experiencing a World Class Fishery Together – by Darin Dohi, 310Rodworks

By | Fall 2019 | No Comments

As my 52nd year on this planet comes to a close, I have come to know and appreciate the value of sharing the art of fishing with those you are closest to. Such was a recent fly down trip to Cedros Island in Baja California, Mexico over the 4th of July week. To say that it was a trip to remember doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

In July of 2018, Rosie Flowers of Cedros Sportfishing (formerly Cedros Adventures) and I got together and decided that we would promote a 6-day trip to their lodge on Cedros Island the following year. The dates were selected (July 3 – July 8, 2019) and preparations began. For the better part of a year we worked to fill the 12 available spots. Prime fishing dates, a trip limited to 12 passengers, on a storied island where big yellowtail (Jurel) and trophy sized calico bass are the primary targets…it could only lead to great stories and memories to last a lifetime. As part of this unique trip, I provided everyone with a 310Rodworks custom built United Composites USA swimbait rod. This rod was a token of appreciation to each angler for participating.

Over the course of the following year, the guest list ebbed and flowed. People were added. People were dropped. In the end, Rosie settled on a list of 12 passengers, including myself. That list was made up of three father/son duos, and three pairs of friends who have been fishing along-side one another for years. It was this combination of families and friends that created an environment for some of the very best and most meaningful experiences.
Rosie Flowers leads an amazing operation known as Cedros Sportfishing. The system that she has developed over the last few years has streamlined the process of not only getting to the island but also back home. She has mastered the art of getting through the Cross Border Express (CBX) in Otay Mesa, California to the Tijuana Airport and back, at the end of the trip. What this means to someone travelling to Cedros is that the travel time has been literally cut in half. Now, anglers are routinely arriving on the island around noon. With the second half of the day to burn, the option exists to take the pangas out the first afternoon for a few hours of fishing. In the several trips I personally have taken down to the island, we have never come close to having the option to fish the first day. This was indeed a welcomed change.

So the first afternoon was spent throwing surface iron at massive schools of giant bonito! We’re talking an honest 8 to 12lb average. Not only are they voracious eaters, but they are not shy about grabbing on to a surface jig and peeling line off your reel! We caught so many I couldn’t even tell you an exact number. It was tons of fun for our first afternoon. A few of us even got to sample the yellowtail and bass populations in that short first run. In all, that initial time on the water gave all of us a chance to shake off some of the rust that built up on our fishing skills and prepared us for what was to come the following morning.

My travel/fishing partner Kevin Inouye of Torrance joined me on this trip. This was his first experience at Cedros and he was excited to join the ranks of the thousands if not millions of jig slingers of Southern California. You see, prior to this trip, he had never thrown the surface iron (light jigs) at anything let alone world class yellows and bass. You may recall an article written up about a trip to Puerto Vallarta in 2018 where Kevin, again as a first time-er, put on a show of his angling skill and keenly hooked and landed 4 giant yellowfin tuna on that trip. Kevin will be the first to tell you that he is not a widely experienced angler, but he always seems to have the talent or ability to get the right bites at the right time. My hats off to Kevin for his humble nature and his willingness to try new things. He again showed the fish who the boss was. He took a blue and white Killer Jig EX-7 and promptly hooked and landed a number of yellowtail from the high teens to the low 30’s. Not only did he make the right adjustments to this retrieve, he changed his reel as well as rod until he found a combination that he was able to make the right distance casts as well as retrieve the jig at the proper tempo to entice the fish to bite. He had a fantastic trip.

Javier Mata with his super panga is the largest panga on the island. It has easily enough space to fish 4 anglers. On his boat were two father/son duos the Kinshofers and the Ghareebs. Pat and his son George Kinshofer were joined by their lifelong friends, Mike Ghareeb and his son Alec Ghareeb. Both Pat and Mike are well seasoned anglers in their own right. Why wouldn’t they be…they grew up with Rosie Flowers from all the way back in their high school days. Of course they had the skills to catch a few nice fish. But talent was not only with the dads but with their sons as well. Over the course of the trip, in spite of there being slightly adverse weather conditions, Alec could be seen up on the bow deck throwing jigs at the boils. He is a complete waterman and has incredible balance and dexterity. He caught a lot of fish over the course of the 4 ½ days we were on the water! And now…we have to discuss a very special young man George. He is all of 19 years old. He is an incredible athlete. He plays numerous ball sports, he is amazingly fast on his feet, and he has unmatched hand eye coordination. George found himself tied into, what would end up being the big fish of the trip, a 38lb yellowtail, that was hooked on a jig,

 fishing on the United Composites USA swimbait rod. He played the fish, made rounds a

 

round the boat, patiently waiting his opportunity to put pressure on the fish and finally coax it to within range of Javier’s gaff. He did all of this in spite of the fact that he was born with just one hand. He is no stranger to making things work. He did it throughout his baseball career. He has always made adjustments. But he has never asked to be treated any differently nor has he asked for accommodations. He simply and completely just loves to fish…and he does it well.

Another father and son duo, Ken Frisbee and his son Alex were paired with pangero Mario. Ken and Alex did damage on the yellowtail population. They caught them using nearly every technique available. Slow trolled mackerel, flylined mackerel, surface jigs, and yoyo jigs. Although he didn’t score a yellowtail on it, Alex even deployed the fly rod. You’ll be happy to know that his efforts with the fly rod were rewarded with a number of bass and smaller fish before the trip was done. Ken, a long-time resident of San Diego was of course equipped with the fundamental skills to catch what we were fishing for. He was never shy about pulling on fish. Like many of us he had to sort through the many bonito hooked to finally find a yellowtail. And find them he did. Just as so many of us have our back stories to every adventure, Ken and Alex had theirs. Just a few days before our adventure began, Alex, who lives in Colorado, was in a horrific accident that sent his truck tumbling across the highway. Even in spite of the injuries he sustained, and a very sore back, he was determined to make the trip and join us for some world class fishing. Not only did he have a good time, but he definitely showed us a thing or two about courage and tenacity. Alex…we hope you’re feeling better.

Our seasoned Cedros veterans filled out the last two pangas of our trip.

 

First there was the pairing of David Bandy and Tim Boal. The two of them have fished at Cedros three previous times. They have consistently faced challenging conditions. Truth be told, they may not have even joined us for this trip but they wanted to give it another try. What convinced them was the change to flying in and out of Tijuana Airport, and the new operation that has been headed up by Rosie and her team. With both David and Tim having experienced the fishery numerous times in the past, they knew what to expect. They had their tackle prepped in advance and everything was in place for them to knock it out of the park. Not only did their catches include some impressive yellowtail but they also found the time and with the help of their pangero Martin, they found some of the resident island flat fish. The trip continued to add to their memories of this island. It is easy to understand that once you have a taste of the fishery of Cedros, you’ll want to go back over and over.
Finally, Keith Shibata and Ryan June returned to the Island with our group after not having been back in nearly 10 years. Keith and Ryan are seasoned anglers with a tremendous amount of long range experience. They have spent the better part of their time away from Cedros riding on boats like the Shogun, the Intrepid, and the Royal Polaris. Keith and Ryan fished with legendary pangero Eulalio (Lalo) Mata. He is probably one of the most experienced captains on the island. He consistently put Keith and Ryan on the fish. Although the weather didn’t permit Ryan to get into much action on his fly rod, all other methods employed were producing results.
Our fishing adventure was topped off by the amazing crew at the lodge. Richard is THE MAN in-charge of everything from morning until night. He takes care of the needs of the people. He is backed up by the ladies in the kitchen who prepped not only our on-land meals but the lunches that are packed fresh daily for our trip out on the water. We were met by appetizers every afternoon that you just couldn’t pass up, and our sit down dinners were better than some restaurants that you might frequent here in the U.S. The house crew took care of laundering our clothes on a daily basis, keeping everything spotless, and keeping our accommodations clean and pleasant. The fish cleaning crew made quick work of our daily catch that was brought back to be packed to send home. Finally, the team that gets all the gear to and from the boats. Each morning and every afternoon the gear is hauled down to the pangas. A team of 4 to 6 men handle loading and unloading of the gear. Once it returns to the lodge, it is then rinsed of the salt residue and wiped clean to be made ready for the following day. The care and consideration for the tackle that each angler brings with them is unbelievable. We have to thank Richard and his crew for making the trip amazing.
Upon return to the Tijuana airport, we were greeted by porters who took responsibility for getting our belongings including our gear, luggage, and fish back to the CBX. It was such a simple process. It took nearly no time at all. In fact, through the customs and border crossing clearance, we completed the process in less than 20 minutes total. It was absolutely astounding how simple and fast we got back to the U.S. side and on our way home. If you’ve had any concerns or reservations about joining Rosie and her crew for a trip to Cedros, I am here to tell you that it has never been better. In fact, I consider myself lucky to have taken another trip down there with the crew of Cedros Sportfishing. They’ve shown me how easy it can be to travel to an amazing destination, catch fish with reckless abandon, and make memories that will last not only a lifetime but for generations. Fathers, Sons, and Friends can all participate in these trips and learn to connect over something we all love…FISHING.

Royal Polaris 16 Day John Collins Charter- By Doug Inouye Photos by Doug Inouye and Dharyl Shelbourne

By | Fall 2019 | No Comments

It was late April and 22 eager and excited anglers were anxiously waiting to pull away from the Fisherman’s Landing for our first destination, Alijos Rocks. Capt. Roy Rose rolled out the game plan and explained for us to get ready to fish the Rocks for some jumbo yellowtail and maybe wahoo if the water temperature was ideal. As we made the 2 days run in spectacular weather, John Collins introduced himself to the entire group and put together an absolutely stunning array of raffle prizes. The best part was all proceeds would directly benefit the Friends of Rollo organization. Everyone walked away a winner. Among the great prizes offered and that people won were brand new Avet Reels, GrafTech Rail Rods, Fisherman’s Landing Gift Cards, a deer hunting trip, Hi Seas Fluorocarbon, AFW wire, United Composites Shirts and more.

Let me rewind here for a moment to talk about our Charter master, John Collins. For those who don’t know John, he’s been a part of the long range industry since the late 80’s. He’s a walking encyclopedia of long range knowledge, history and quite possibly one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet and share the rail with. I first met and fished with John back in 2008 when he was working aboard the Indy. Back then, I didn’t have the privilege to sit down with him to talk about how he became involved in this industry. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity a second time and he did not disappoint. What a great guy!

Roy Rose quote of the day – “Whatever you do….don’t look them in the eye”.

As we approached the Rocks, the anticipation was high as many us were ready to pull on some fish after 2 days of travel. Capt. Roy drove around the high spots and we put the anchor down and it was game on. John Collins, Matt Chang and myself prefer the long rods and it did not disappoint. The 3 of us were slinging the surface iron deep into the flat spots, watching these bruising yellows chase down the jig and eventually blowing up on it like nobody’s business. Yes, we sacrificed some jigs as they burned us off going over the ledge, but that’s part of the game.
Many times I would feel my line rubbing on the rocks and I would just kick it into free spool and let the fish swim out without any tension. This method worked well as I was able to save many jigs and land fish. Over the next 4 hours, a better grade fish (30-40lbrs) moved in with a bad attitude. They were chasing jigs all the way to the stern and at one point I yelled “Oh man, look at all of them right here….” Right then, Captain Roy Rose said “Whatever you do….don’t look them in the eye!” Many of us began laughing so hard, classic Roy. At noon, we pulled the plug and to continue our trek south.
Final count – 173 Yellows to 40lbs.

Next stop….The Bank.
After recovering over the past few days from sore arms, shoulders and hands…we prepared ourselves for battle once again. This time, big wahoo were the target.

Once we arrived at the Bank we started trolling and within minutes, Team #1 was screaming “hook up!!!!” A gigantic pack of marauding wahoo were eager and ready to play. The wahoo were eating bombs, stick baits, 6XJrs, Sumo jigs, Hopkins and bait….it really didn’t matter. If it was bright pink, orange, silver, gold or swimming….they would attack it. Over the course of the next few days, we managed to put a good score together on some excellent grade of 30-50lb wahoo.

Bank ATM malfunction aka “Tough Fishing”.
Now that everyone has had the chance to pull and tag some wahoo, it was now time to focus on tuna fishing. We anchored up on the corner of the bank along with the XL and we would pluck away at these fish for the next couple of days. I’m not going to sugar coat anything, but tuna fishing was tough overall. The tax men and their gangster pack of colleagues made things worse. They were eating big baits, sardines, chunks….you name it, they were on it.

However, if you put in your rail time you were eventually rewarded with the right kind. On these types of trips (when fishing is tough), it’s all about making the necessary adjustments to tip the odds into your favor. Those who adjusted had a phenomenal trip in the catching department on all species. Some anglers had 1-2 tuna, some had zero and some had daily limits for the entire trip.

It was the classic case of a certain percentage of the anglers caught a majority of the fish. The most interesting part among the experienced, was the sharing of knowledge, observations and implementation. For those who were willing to listen, they would change their terminal end and would share if it produced good results. Those who didn’t adjust or did not ask, rarely got bit and began to rely on their kite rotation for a bite. However, the slow fishing didn’t impact the amount of fun that we were having. The best part about this group, we all realized that it’s about laughing and getting to meet new people…..catching fish was just the bonus.

We did manage to catch 4 cows. 3 out of the 4 came on the kite with big baits. 254lbs, 232lbs, 220lbs and 209lbs. Most of the fish we caught fly lining were in that 120-180lb class. We stuck it out until it was time to start heading back up the line. I believe we ended up with 100+ tuna for our efforts, but the yellowtail and Wahoo fishing was outstanding and saved the trip. For myself, the most productive terminal gear was a 8’ top shot of 100lb Hi Seas Bluewater Fluorocarbon with a Quik Rig 5/0 Red ringed hook connected to 80lb Seaguar Threadlock. This rig produced a lot of bites for me and a few others.

We did stop at the bluefin tuna grounds on the way back up the line and only caught 2 fish (65lbs and 20lbs) before we had to call the trip. Thanks again to the entire RP Crew – Capt. Roy, Capt. Jeff, Dharyl, Eddie, Chris, Mike, Dave and Kyle.

 

TAKING A SPIN @ CROCODILE BAY Article by Shawn Arnold Photos by Shawn Arnold, Joe Bahash and Crocodile Bay Resort

By | Featured, Summer 2019 | No Comments

CrocodileBay2 ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. A sound I love. That is the sound of line peeling off a reel. The screaming noise at the moment was coming from a PENN spinning reel which was making that sweet sound. The PENN spinning reel I was using was part of the excellent collection of rods and reels that were on the boat while I was at Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica. All boats there are equipped with a wide array of updated PENN gear which is some of the best in the business. It always makes me feel more confident when using boat provided gear to have up to date products from a well- respected company.

It was late March and we were trolling for sailfish with live bait when our first mate Alex decided to tie on a green hoochie on a spinning outfit in case dorado were around. The dorado might have been around but for some reason the 70-80 pound sailfish ignored the live offerings for which sailfish normally prefer and attacked the hoochie. Just like a cheetah is the fastest animal in the jungle, most claim that sailfish are the fastest swimmers in the sea. They have been reported to hit speeds up to 68 mph. So, when they have your bait and are trying to get away, they are moving.

Our captain Freddy maneuvered the boat perfectly so I did not have to run around the boat as the sailfish fought. When the fish zigged and zagged so did he. The fighting was always done at the back of the boat. When the fish was finally at the boat, I was handed a pair of gloves to hold the dorsal fin and beak and take a photo. There are huge conservation efforts from FECOP which is the voice of fishing conservation in Costa Rica to ensure that the billfish population is treated with ‘kid’ gloves. These fish are not allowed to be brought out of the water for photos.

Right after fishing I took a quick shower and went into the spa for a massage. The spa is in a separate building on the grounds and has all of the amenities you could want. I asked for the deep tissue massage and told the girl to use as much pressure as possible. Note to self—this was a BAD idea. As she was digging her elbow into my back getting out knots she asked if it was too much pressure. Like a dummy I said no. I lied. Machismo at its finest or worst. I did feel wonderful afterwards though. Having a massage after fishing is a nice treat that not all places offer.

The reason I was back in Costa Rica after going last year?  Redemption. I went to Crocodile Bay last May and wrote a story about it. The offshore fishing was off the charts one day. My friend Joe Bahash and I caught around 70 tuna and dorado combined along with a nice marlin.  The next day we were supposed to go inshore fishing and after catching a roosterfish each Joe and I talked the captain into going offshore looking for the log we trolled around while catching the tuna and marlin a few days earlier. In hindsight we made a bad decision as it was rougher seas, we could not find the log and pretty much took a boat ride. And Joe and I had no one to blame but ourselves.

Since I screwed up on taking advantage of the inshore fishery in May 2018, I decided to come back and give myself the opportunity to experience the Golfito regions world class inshore fishery. Plus, I wanted to come back and experience the great spa, friendly service and Pura Vida (pure, simple life)  lifestyle that Crocodile Bay Resort offers. All the things that make it a perfect choice for our non fishing wives to want to come back to also.

In between my two days of fishing, I went ziplining which was a rush. Sometimes you wonder about doing something like this in another country but it very safe and It was a very professional tour.  Dennis the guide who took us spoke excellent English and had a good sense of humor. After the zipline it was a 15- minute jungle walk back to the van and Dennis pointed out numerous animals, birds and bugs that the rest of us never would have saw but were glad we did.

The second day of fishing was when we went inshore. Most the time we were trolling less than 100 yards from the shoreline. We made our own bait which was fun in it self as were using a sabiki rig to bring up four and fish a drop and some of the baits brought up were barely legal calico bass size. After filling up the live bait receiver we took off for the promised land.

We started trolling maybe 20-25 minutes from the Crocodile Bay pier. The water was blue, calm and the scenery on the shore was breath taking. You could tell this area is pretty much uninhabitated. It did not take long for Joe to hook up to a roosterfish. These fish are good fighters and this one pushed 18 to 20 pounds. After a quick photo shoot, it was quickly put back into the water. Soon after that I was hooked up but this one was not a roosterfish. It was a pesky black tip shark. These sharks live in reef areas and were fun to catch even though they were not on our targeted species list. The black tip sharks jumped out of the water almost like a mako. Most were 3-4 feet long and I would guess about 10-12 pounds. My guess is that between Joe and I we caught nearly 10 of these. Since we were catching and releasing, and these were so fun it was fine with us.

The other pesky fish was needlefish. One of our highlights was watching two, 5-foot needlefish glide on top of the water to try and get the same bait. It looked like two missles on a collision course. We missed quite a few of these toothy fish and actually we were mad they were going through our bait.

We caught a few more small roosterfish and decided to go try and catch some bottom fish for dinner. We moved from the shoreline to about ½ mile off the beach and put our bait on the bottom in anticipation of some grouper or snapper. I caught a couple of snapper that became one of the most delicious dinners I have ever had. It is always nice to eat fish that fresh.

We also had a whale shark come right up to the boat and hang with us for about 5 minutes. It was pretty cool almost not real. That is a memory that will be with me for a while. Joe took a video of it that will be talked about for a long time. This was a great day.

The one thing that really stuck with me in my two visits was how friendly and attentive the staff is. Cory who is the general manager, Olimpia, Flory, Maria, Dennis, Diego, Joje and Allan were the people we dealt with the most and all made our trip better if that is even humanly possible. Allan is in charge of the fishing and does a wonderful job working with the captains on options where to fish and what boats to put the customers on.

All the great customer service, friendly staff, great food and wide variety of things to do was just a cherry on top of the sundae.  I am pretty sure this inshore trip redeemed the last time I was there and made a bad call. And in all honesty, one doesn’t need a reason to come back or go to Crocodile Bay. Just realize that after being there a few days you will be wondering why you have to leave.

 

Paddy Hoppin and Popper Poppin By: Stan Kaplun

By | Featured, Summer 2019 | No Comments

When out on the ocean, on any given day you can stumble upon a juicy piece of kelp. It may be as large as a car, and it may be as small as a trashcan lid. Regardless the size, the paddy you have just found has the potential to hold fish, and a variety of species at that. From yellowtail, to yellowfin and bluefin, to Dorado, these fish have all been known to use these floating pieces of kelp in what seems like the middle of no where, as a “rest stop” as they cover massive amounts of water in search of food and forage. Many times, sliding a bait back on the paddy is necessary to get bit, while other times, the fish are quite willing to eat an iron or some other sort of artificial bait.

Regardless of where I’m fishing, top-water is without a doubt my number one bait to try first. That’s if the fish are willing to eat it of course. Whether it’s a popper, a surface iron, or some sort of walking bait, the intensity of the blow up and the fight that ensues shortly after is one that can’t be matched in my opinion.

My buddy Jeff Cox and I were blessed to run into a couple of these situations last year. We fish out of San Diego area and the water temperature had skyrocketed immensely, into the high 70’s, nearing 80 degrees! You just never know what you’re going to see out there when the water is as warm as it was. The temperature was perfect for all pelagic species, even for Wahoo as we saw them move in as close as the Coronado Islands a couple years ago. The fishing has been fantastic the last few summers. One day, we’re chasing football size schools of foaming bluefin and yellowfin. The next day, we’ve found a paddy holding impressive schools of Dorado and yellowtail. To steal from Forrest Gump, the ocean is like a box of chocolate-you never know what you will get.

One day last year after having ran 40 miles due west in search of large bluefin that wanted to eat the yummy, we ran into a large volume of quality sized yellowfin. Just before we did though, we stumbled upon a paddy that was holding fish, and both started off the day with couple of quality yellowtail. That was not our intended fish but were happy to get them. We stayed on the yellowfin all day and picked a fish off on the popper, essentially each pod of foaming fish that we strategically stopped on. However, even with the volume of fish around, the many boats on the water would often stop right on top of the fish, sending them down much quicker then they came up. Instead of allowing these “foamers” to develop, the boat pressure placed on these fish sends them down almost instantly if the the boat is stopped right on top of them. As the majority of the boats went home, we continued to pick away. Until finally, the school of all schools came together and encircled us, creating an absolutely deafening sound, drowning out the sounds of the motor. It was chaos yet peaceful at the same time, until Jeff and I both fired out a popper, and instantly were both hooked up. These weren’t your typical school sized yellowfin either. They were 25 pounds to 60 pounds, with some that we saw down below the rest of the school that really made you wonder.
You just never know. We left the docks with our sights set on landing a trophy bluefin and ended up catching a handful of high- quality yellowtail and limits of some of the bigger yellowfin I’ve seen in a while. You really just never know in the summer when the water temperature is where it needs to be until you go out there.

A Birds Eye View By: Lori Heath “A SOCal Anglerette’s Advice on fishing on a Sportboat”

By | Featured, Summer 2019 | No Comments

Hey ladies do you love to fish? Or would you like to learn but you don’t know how to start? Maybe your friends don’t fish, you are new to the community or never tried fishing on a sportboat. Or you want to join your boyfriend or husband on the water but your not sure what to expect. If the idea of fishing on a boat full of strangers that are mostly men is intimidating to you then join the club. We have all been there. It can be like going to the movies or a bar by yourself -awkward!
This is a simple guide to help you learn some of the Do’s & Dont’s of Sportboat fishing from myself and other accomplishments lady anglers. I’ve been sportboat fishing for 5 years. Previous to that my fishing experience was limited to freshwater and saltwater fishing from small boats with family or friends. Quite different when compared to the large sportfishing boats out of San Diego.
My first trip on a sportfishing boat was on the Malihini out of H&M Landing. This boat was massive in comparison to what I was used to fishing on. It had a spacious galley with a chef, dining booths and bathrooms, unlike the coffee can that I was used to going in. I was excited but at the same time intimidated and scared. This boat was full of men with lots of rods & tackle and me with my one rod. I started to feel lost..all kinds of stuff was running through my head. Would I catch a fish? Would I know what to do? How would the men receive me being the only lady on the boat? Thank God for my fiancé who had some clue as to what to do, but it was still an unknown to me. As the boat set off I realized that just being out on the water was all I needed to help ease my fears. It was so beautiful and calming. On the way to the fishing grounds the crew gave a safety and fishing seminar to explain what types of fishing methods were working, explaining about following your line, proper baiting and basic reel operation. As we neared the bite zone the captain said throw bait! and all I remember after that was getting squeezed shoulder to shoulder between other anglers as they were getting bit all around me yelling happily and saying over! under! while scrambling along the rail bumping into me and others trying to let them pass. Combat fishing! I didn’t know what to do, and was frustrated wondering what had I got myself into. I learned later that this how you communicate with your fellow Anglers to avoid tangles and successfully land your fish.
Rule #1 Communicate with your fellow Anglers and follow your line. Your odds of getting a bite and landing your fish depend on it. Don’t panic. Everyone is working together, and the deckhands are there to assist if needed.
I let my frustration get the best of me and it hindered my ability to get bit. I got skunked and it was lesson learned. I was determined to catch a fish but I needed a new strategy, so on my next trip I spoke up like all the other Anglers did on the rail on my previous trip. I then decided that getting to know my fellow Anglers would benefit me – especially the ones that are hooking up & look like they know what they are doing. We are all a team at the rail.
Rule #2 Get to know your fellow anglers. They are experienced and willing to help and share what they know as well as the crew on the boat.
I realized that I was also not asking enough questions so Rule #3 -Ask questions and Listen. You can never ask too many questions and learn the terminology of the boat: starboard, port, bow, etc. A great question to ask is what side of the boat should you fish on when the boat stops?- typically you want the wind in your face. Asking and learning equals success so learn and ask as much as you can.
Rule#4 Be polite to the Captains and crew as they want you to catch a fish this is their livelihood and they are very knowledgeable. Say please and thank you. If the bait well is empty and you need a bait say please, then thank you. This goes a long way with the crew. They work hard and deserve your respect. Last but not least,
Rule #5 Stay Positive. This will improve your success like that old Sesame Street Burt and Ernie episode with the two of them in a boat Burt was grouchy and in a bad mood as always and Ernie was relaxed positive and happy so when it came to catching fish all Ernie had to do was say “Here Fishy Fishy Fishy” and he caught fish. On the other hand Burt’s grouchy additude resulted in no fish! So be the Ernie not the Bert. Have a good time with a great additude. Relax it’s not as intimidating as it may seem. I enjoy all my fishing trips on sportboats now and I get excited and look forward to getting aboard, meeting new fellow anglers as well as old friends, swapping stories and just relaxing and fishing. Remember it’s fishing and catching is just the icing on the cake! The following pages are some well known excellent lady anglers and some pearls of wisdom from them
Tight Lines!

 

Theresa Sampson

I have been fishing for over 35 years and have loved every moment. It doesn’t matter if I fish on the beach, on a lake or on a boat out on the ocean. I fish for what it gives me joy, peace and the excitement of challenge. My best advise has and always will be is to share the pure love of the sport, so don’t allow or be intimidated by anyone or anything, but when I am I just remind myself to have fun, learn and share what I can. In the end I find I’ve gained some friends and learned that my love for this sport gives me so much more than I had imagined and I get to take home some fish!

 

Janette Fuson

The first time I stepped on the boat I had no idea what I was doing when it came to deep sea fishing. There was many seasoned anglers and deckhands that are always willing to help with their knowledge and answer every question I had . That made me feel very comfortable. The time went by so quickly because of endless conversation between us all I couldn’t believe how much I learned the first day! And still to this day I’m always learning something every time I go out.. who would have known that my first feelings of being shy on the boat would have turned out to be quiet the opposite.. I love fishing and go out as much as I can. It has turned into my passion.

Sophia Huynh

As a lady angler be confident in the skills you have and things you know but if you are unsure JUST ASK FOR HELP! Don’t let your insecurities stop you from having a good time. Everyone is nervous the first time they go on a fishing trip. That trip may be on a new boat or fishing for a new species or going by themselves. As one of my favorite captains told me “You have to get your mind right to get your line tight” This applies in so many ways. If you get frustrated take a moment to reset, if you seem not to be getting bit then ask what is working, don’t doubt yourself and have fun!!

 

Wendy Tochihara

My advice: Do your homework and figure out what fish you will be targeting. Learn how to tie your own fishing knots and listen to the Captain and crew if you are fishing on a charter boat. The Captain and crew are on the water everyday, they are in the know, listen to them.

 

 

Jessica Cano
Always stay humble. Just remember every time you go out it’s a new learning experience. And most importantly have fun!

 

Some additional tips to get you started on your fishing adventure are below.

#1 Planning your fishing Trip: Booking your trip there are several types of trips available depending on how long you would like to fish…1/2 day, 3/4 day *(May require a passport), Overnight, 1.5 and Long-range.

#2 Learn your knots. YouTube is you best friend when learning new knots. The deckhands can help you with tying your knots as well but when it get busy you can feel confident that you can do it with these 2 easy knots plus men are impressed when a lady can tie her own hooks and leaders. *The Palomar Knot: One of the strongest knots & quick to tie to a hook or jig *The Royal Polaris other wise known as the “RP” Knot it’s my go to for tying Spectra which is braided line to leader. *A Leader Consists if either Monofilament or Fluorocarbon (a less visible leader when the bite is sensitive)
#3 Call the Landing the night before to confirm your trip. They sometimes get canceled due to weather.
#4 The night before eat a light meal if your not sure if you get sea sick there is nothing is worse then feeling sick on a boat. There are various over the counter and prescription medications you can buy so check with your pharmacist or doctor to see what will help for you. I bring ginger chews for passengers that might get a little queasy. It helps to calm the stomach.
#5 Dress appropriately. Wearing layers is great so you can remove layers if the weather warms up. Buy a pair of rubber boots or shoes so your feet won’t get wet when the deckhands wash down the decks during your trip. The crews are constantly cleaning the boat to make it safe and comfortable for you. Bring a hat, glasses, pliers, sunscreen, ID/passport, tackle rod & reels, * if you don’t have your own gear the Landing will assist you with the proper rod & reel to rent along with hooks and weight. Remember to bring cash. The boats don’t take credit cards and you will need cash for your galley & fish cleaning bill and lastly please remember to tip your crew. They work hard long hours to make your fishing trip a pleasant and fun experience.
I hope this advice convinces you to give sportfishing a try. It’s fun, exciting and you just might catch a big one!

 

ROCKFISH 101 – By:Ben Secrest

By | Spring 2019 | No Comments

The past few years have seen a spawn of new fishing opportunities on the west coast with the influx of both bluefin and yellowfin tuna here almost year-round. The focus on these other species has taken pressure off of other species including rockfish.
This fishing has been a staple focus of fishermen over the years looking to load their freezers with excellent eating table fare. Rockfish make great fish tacos.
The innovation of braid and smaller more efficient reels has made this fishery a lot more enjoyable for the average angler. In the past anglers used heavier, bigger reels with larger glass rods that made the entire experience one of fighting your tackle more than the fish.
The tackle available to today is extremely light, fitting comfortably in your hand, making the whole catching experience way more interactive between the angler and the fish.
There is a lot of tackle to choose from but its best to stick with the basics. Most outfits on the market can be used for several different targeted fisheries. Braid has created the opportunity to take your small bass rig with 250 yards of 30lb braid and target shallow water (80 to 200 feet) rockfish. Here are some of the reels that would meet your rock fishing needs
Reels: Many of the new bait cast reels on the market are super easy to use with the level wind feature plus they offer plenty of power to land even bigger bottom dwellers. Remember with the diameter of 30 and 50lb braid it sinks faster being less buoyant then mono, and is way more sensitive, letting you feel the difference between structure and bites. Lighter braid seems to be easier to use for reds, chuckleheads, etc. because it gets to the bottom quick and is not hampered by strong currents like larger diameter line.
Some level wind bait cast reels to consider for 30lb braid include Daiwa Lexa 300, Shimano Trax 300, Lews Super Duty 300, and Okuma Komodo 364. For conventional reels the Accurate BV-300, TN-300, and Daiwa Saltiga 20HA are excellent choices.
If looking to fish 40 to 50lb braid the Daiwa Lexa 400, Shimano Trax 400, and Okuma Komodo 463 are also level wind designs. Some of the smaller conventional to check out would include the Accurate BV-400, TN-400, and Daiwa Salitga 30.
All the reels mentioned above come in a two gear ratios, a power and speed ratio. The higher or mid range gear ratios are more effective so you can get your lures back from the depths quicker. The other important feature to look at is a counter balanced power handle. Its way more comfortable and easier to wind, giving you more torque to wind when bringing up a big red.
Rods: The lightweight, sensitive rods of today are a perfect fit for many of the reels previously mentioned. Keeping things simple, look at a 7’, 7’2”, or 7’6” rod. It’s a good idea if possible to put the reel on the rod in the store and check the balance of the combo. You will be holding this for hours on the boat so make sure you like it. Make sure the rod’s reel seat fits your reel tightly with no movement. It is always a good idea to have things solid, this alleviates any unnecessary movement. This is will be a lot more comfortable without a clamp, and the amount of drag you will be using does not dictate using a clamp. When looking at these rods look at the rod ratings. Remember if its 30 to 50lb it’s a 40lb rod that will support using 30 to 50lb braid. Remember you want a more parabolic rod when fishing braid. This takes the pressure off you and transfers it on the fish. Look at medium to fast action rods that have a more parabolic mid section shutting off back towards reel.
The 7’6” length is a very good choice but any of them will work. Try to get a composite rod when looking at choices, they tend to be stronger and the way they are constructed today will bot be that much heavier.
Some good choices are IROD Kaimana series SWK763, SWK764 but there are other models from Calstar, Seeker, Fishing Syndicate, and United Composite that will do the job.
Line: Braided line is the best choice, 30, 40, and 50lb tests are awesome choices. Lighter tests are good for cleaner, less structure areas, and then use heavier test for areas with more structure. Fluorocarbon or monofilament leaders are always a good choice. Flouro is tougher in the more abrasive areas fished, where mono seems to work great in less rocky areas.
Size of leader used is between 25lb and 40lb which is staple and its easier to tie smaller knots that go in and out of guides smoothly. Length of leaders is usually 2 to 3 feet but as long as 6’ for guys that don’t want to retie knots with braid.
Learn to tie a good connection knot between leader and braid being used. Smaller knots are preferred to wind line in and out of guides. The improved Pena knot, Albright knot, or double Uniknot are quick and solid connections. It is very important to tie knot cleanly as to not over wrap lines but make sure you cinch knots tightly.
Artificial lures: There are a lot of artificial lures to choose from but here are a few to consider for rock fishing.
Some of today’s artificial lures have Ultra Violet and Glow properties built right in them. UV colors unlike other colorations offer luminesce that cannot be seen by human eyes, but it has been proven that fish see it, and react to it even in low light conditions. They also feature glow components that once charged will stay lit in the deeper water structures targeted. Bottom line its about visibility, and action of lures to illicit a strike. Scent is also very important to get the fish to hold on to lure longer for solid hook set.
PitBull Tackle Killer jigs have been very productive in both northern and southern California waters. The Killer jigs come with UV / Glow features in lures as mentioned above and offered in five fish catching colors. Depending on how deep you are fishing the more popular sizes are 2, 4, and 6 ounce but they also have an 8oz for those anglers targeting deeper waters.
These lures get bit on the drop, dead sticking (no movement), and on a slow pump retrieve right on the bottom.
Rockcod love them but they are “Killer” on big Lingcods. (PitBulltackle.com)
HUBS Hook Up baits are proven to be highly effective on the drop, dead sticking, and slow pump retrieve techniques. Sizes from 1.5oz to 4oz are perfect for rock fishing along the California coast. They are also extremely effective on a two- lure rig which you can see on their site or look up on Youtube.
Sizes for the two lure technique are 1 to 2oz depending on depth. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. (hookupbaits.com)
Swimbaits Swim baits have been popular for coastal fishing for years and have been part of the rockfish angler’s collection too. The swimbait lures have to be coupled with a Shad head with weights between 1oz and 6oz depending on depths being fished. Wind and stop, as well as a slow drag on the bottom are two techniques that frequently work best. Here are a couple manufacturers to look at:
PitBull Tackle Hot Tail lures with Shad jig heads have gained momentum in northern California and have been a secret weapon among SoCal angler circles. These swim baits come in 14 fish catching colors that have built in UV properties to illicit a strike from the most finicky fish. They are offered in 5’, 6”, and 8” sizes depending on gamefish targeted. These swimbaits have a built in channel to rig the bait straight every time on the Shad heads. The Shad Heads are offered in six UV colors in sizes 1oz to 6oz for your rock fishing needs.
Big Hammer Lures have been one of the original companies since the beginning of the southern California swim bait craze. They are offered in a variety of colors with lures in 5” to 7” sizes for your rock fishing needs. They also have a complete line of painted and raw lead heads in the weights needed to fish at all depths. (bighammerlures.com)
Optimum lures have been in the fishing business for many years developing a variety of swim bait lures. They have recently focused on the Optimum Magnum Pus in 5” and 7” sizes that work extremely well on a jighead or as a metal jig trailer. (Optimumbaits.com)
Scents are a critical part to fishing plastic baits. If you have a scent on the lure, the fish will hold on to it longer for an effective hookset.
Some of the scents on the market to look at include Hot Sauce, Unibutter, and Mermaid Milk by HUBS. They are available in local SoCal stores and online. Let me stress that this is a very important part of your rockfish arsenal.
Metal Jigs can be very productive when rockfish are active to get a strike. Dropping them to the bottom and a 3 to five crank up and drop back, or basic yoyo will get bit. As mentioned previously, putting on a plastic trailer with scent will also increase the percentage of a strike. Size and weight of metal lures will depend on depth being fished. Deeper or heavier current will dictate heavier weight lures. It’s always good to have jigs in the 2 to 6oz sizes in either anchovy, sardine, yellow, or red crab colors.
Here are a few lures to look at:

PitBull Tackle
Deadeye jigs come in 8 colors including glow in 2 to 8oz weights rigged with a single hook.
The DeadFall jigs are offered in 11 colors including glow in sizes 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, and 6.5oz with a swinging two hook rig for better hook set percentages.
The Bora jig that comes in 4 colors in 4 to 8oz weights with a swinging two hook rig. (PitBulltackle.com)

Miscellaneous
Other things to have on the boat should include knot pullers, braid cutters and if fishing metal jigs a pair of split ring pliers. Here some suggestions:

PitBull Tackle makes a braid cutter that is very sharp. It works perfect for braid and mono, but wire is not suggested. PitBull tackle also have a pair of split ring pliers that are easy to use especially on the boat. Both these products are built to last around the fishing environment. (PitBullTackle.com)
Knot Pullers can be searched on the internet or you can make your own. Easiest pair to make is get a ¾” dowel and cut into two 5” lengths. Take electrical tape and wrap dowels until they are bulkier then take a piece of thicker shrink tube and carefully heat it to adhere to dowel. These work well and are inexpensive versus the metal alternatives. I have both and they are very critical on boat to cinch knots between braid and leader. (Check out Youtube)
Keeping your catch fresh is important. Make sure if you are on your own boat get a fish bag to hold enough ice. Stash bags are awesome and keep fish fresh for days. (Stashcoolers.com)

With any type of fishing the key is to be prepared and this article gives you a list of things to consider for the upcoming rockfish season.
Check out all state regulations and adhere to the laws.
Know them and carry the state regulations on your boat. There are new regulations for 2019 with new places and depths we can fish, become familiar with them.
If fishing on a charter boat the crew any questions you might have regarding your trip. (wildlife.ca.gov)

Look forward to an excellent rockfish season. Have fun and be safe.

Lake Mary -By Dave Finkelstein Contribution- Marlon Meade

By | Spring 2019 | No Comments

I love the Eastern Sierra. Some of the nicest scenery on the planet fills your senses just driving up the 395 highway. There are countless lakes in the Sierra to fish. The choices are narrowed down considerably when I think about lakes that have big hungry trout and easy access for fishing. Having fished the Sierra for many years and I have found that certain lakes are a par above the rest when it comes to giving me the opportunity to just drive up to a lake, unload my gear and attempt to catch the big one. Lake Mary in the Mammoth Lake basin is one of my favorites. Almost the entire lake is shore accessible. There’s lots of elbow room at this lake and if your legs aren’t up to the task of walking then consider they have a first class marina with every type of floating vessel for you to rent, ranging from kayaks, pedal boats, pontoon boats and regular aluminum v-hull boats.
The Lake Mary Marina is owned and operated for the last 30 years by Don Barrett and family. When it comes to the local history of Mammoth you won’t find many people with more knowledge than Don. He is a resource of information on the past and present when it comes to the Mammoth basin. The Barrett family has previously owned property surrounding Lake Mary and some of Lake George since 1956. They were the former owners of Pokenobe Marina on Lake Mary in 1957 and have since sold the property over the years. The City of Mammoth has graciously stocked the lakes in the Mammoth Basin with in excess of 10,000 pounds of Desert Springs Fish Hatchery trout from Oregon. Add to that, the California Fish and Wildlife stockings and it’s got a healthy trout population. The Lake Mary current rainbow trout record is 28.12 lbs ! The brown trout lake record is well over 20 lbs. Yeah, it’s got the big boys alright, but here is where this story goes a little on the unbelievable side. Don and several other folks swear they have hooked and lost a brown trout they all believe to be in the 40 lb. range!! This monster brown has been hooked and lost by several locals who have seen the beast up close only to have either lost it due to too small a net and from what Don tells me is that the fish has a habit of straightening out 4.0 hooks. He is currently named “Freddy Mo Ready” by locals. It’s a mythical fish that only a few have encountered and no photos have been shown to bear witness to its size. Maybe they should rename him the Locke Mary Beastie. But if Don says he’s out there then I’m a believer. There is also a population of brook trout and there are a few cutthroats along with some Dolly Vardens that have previously been planted years ago according to Don.
Lake Mary is a natural lake fed by 5 creeks and natural springs. The lake water level usually isn’t affected too greatly by the draught conditions that have plagued the Sierra in dry weather years. This is true for several other lakes in the Mammoth Lake basin such as Lake George, Lower Twin and Lake Mamie. According to my local resource Don Barrett, the depth of Lake Mary is approximately 114 feet at its deepest point and has a surface area of 143 acres. Water temperatures can range in early spring at 38 degrees F. to the 50 + degrees F. during the hottest months. Since the area has a stable year round water supply the lake gets lots of trout plantings to keep anglers happy. I asked Don how did the Mammoth Basin get started in the trout fishing business and got a history lesson to which I found quite entertaining. The original stockings came from shipping trout out from the Rockies to the Owens River. Then, eventually to the local lakes from the Owens River. This was a huge undertaking for the folks back in the early 1900’s so there were signs along the Owens River stating you would be “HUNG IF CAUGHT FISHING”. I cannot attest to this since I wasn’t around back then but seems like something the locals might had taken a little on the serious side, just like horse thefts.
One of the top lures that consistently produces trophy trout in the Sierra is the mini tube jig. Marlon Meade Berkley pro team member recommends using the Berkley Atomic Teasers at these lakes. His top choices for colors are the Pearl White and the Cricket clear brown. It just plain works and changing up the colors keeps the action nonstop. For me, I like to use the Berkley Mice Tails with the smallest of split shots wrapped 2-3 feet from the Mice Tail on a # 8 or smaller Owner fly hook, so it drifts down slowly and moves with the current. The more popular colors to use are Pearl White head with Fluro Orange worm tail, Pearl White head with Bubblegum Pink tail and Glow White head and tail. Berkley Mice Tails have just been so darn successful for catching fish up there and is now my “go to” lure of choice. They can be rigged any number of ways by using a Carolina rig, split shot, or drop shot. Depending on the weather conditions will dictate what method to use.
Don Barrett likes to use a clear water bubble setup with mice tails or Berkley Power Trout Worm at Lake Mary. He recommends a 4-5 foot leader from the bubble. Adding water to the bubble will allow you to fish at different depths. Some of the more successful dough bait colors for Power Baits have been Rainbow Glitter, Salmon Peach, Garlic and Gulp Chunky Cheese. Another good choice is the Natural 2” Pinch Crawlers (Garlic). Using 2-4 pound fluorocarbon leaders will help to increase catch ratios on days when the bite gets a little on the finicky side of fishing. During the warmer months of the year, the fish tend to go to deeper waters so locating fish might may require knowing where the drop-offs are. Using a fish finder from a boat should help to locate schools of trout. Trolling the deeper areas of Lake Mary has produced some nice stringers of fish. Several key areas that have produced trout over the years has been the cove at Pokonobe Lodge and the shallow grassy areas on the north side of the marina where trout tend to hide in the early season.
Another good producing spot on Lake Mary has been the inlet streams on the south side of the marina. These creek inlets have been a local hot spot for brook trout to gather. According to Don, the lake record on brook trout is 4.75 pounds.
There are several other lakes in the Mammoth Basin that have good access to shore fishing and have produced nice stringers of fish for me along with a couple of brood stock rainbows. I also like fishing Lake George which is only a short drive from Lake Mary. This lake is several hundred feet in depth according to Don and I can attest that it also has some big brood stock rainbows having caught several over the years.
Marlon Meade amazes me every time we go there and has pulled some really nice 5+ lb. trout out of that lake. On a couple of visits the local bears chased him around the lake when they see him pull a big one out. It’s actually funny to watch from the safer side of the lake and yelling over the two way radio “Marlon, bear at 3 o’clock get moving!” If you decide to try your luck at Lake George be prepared to do some walking. The trail along the right side of the marina is a very popular place to wet your line. This trail can be a little on the rough side so come prepared with a good set of hiking boots and maybe a small daypack for fishing supplies, drinks and snacks. The trail leads to one of Marlon’s favorite spots to fish. The big rock cliff area is known for where the big boys like to cruise. This particular area has been known to have lots of trout. On the left side of the big rock there are some private cabins with boat docks. This general area holds a lot of quality fish that we have caught. Another good place to find trophy size rainbows is the outlet creek to the left side of the marina. A bridge crosses the creek and following the shoreline will be several areas to where lots of trophy trout have been landed. If you decide walking is not in your agenda, you can rent a boat from the Lake George Marina Landing. The same baits that work well at Lake Mary can be used at Lake George.
For those who are partial to float tubing and fly fishing may find the Lower Twins and Lake Mamie more to their liking. A popular float tube fishing area is the waterfall on the Twins. These are shallow lakes and according to Don Barrett and they have a depth of 25 feet.
The Mammoth Lakes Basin has been a great destination whether you’re fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, winter skiing and in general just relaxing the day away. There are many events the City of Mammoth supports throughout the year. One popular event is the Mammoth Kid’s Fishing Festival held on the last Saturday of the month in July. This free event has been going on for 31 years strong. The Kids Fishing Festival last year entertained 1000 children and also educated them in the sport of fishing. This festival is promoting the continuation of future anglers and hopefully for years to come.
For those of you that have decided to visit the Mammoth Lake Basin consider dropping by Lake Mary Marina. The staff at the Marina are very knowledgeable. If you’re lucky enough to see Don Barrett go ahead and fire a question or two but be prepared to spend some time listening and learning.

For More Information on Lake Mary Marina:don.barrett@lakemarymarina.com , Also visit their website at:
www.lakemarymarina.com Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/lakemarymarina/

 

 

In Honor Of Brent Sato Legacy! 10-Day Royal Polaris Trip- By Doug Inouye, Orange County Tuna Club Photos By Ryan Jun

By | Spring 2019 | No Comments

Twenty months of planning, coordination and preparation went into a trip and it was finally upon us. Our Sato Legacy / 310RodWorks / OC Tuna Charter / United Composites 10 Day trip aboard the Royal Polaris (RP). The anticipation was high as we were all excited about the opportunity to fulfill our final obligation for our dear friend Brent Ikari of Sato Custom Rods who had passed away.

On this trip we had the usual suspects from our summer and spring trips. There were a few new faces, but mostly battle tested veterans that have shared the rail with us over the years. One amazing addition to the group was our friend Dave Marciano from the television show Wicked Tuna. Some know that Brent was Dave’s personal rod builder. In honor of Brent’s life and work, Dave made the commitment early on to join us on this trip. What most of us west coasters did not expect was that Dave is just as adept at fly lining a sardine to 100lb yellowfin tuna as he is at catching giant tuna on the east coast. He’s an amazingly proficient angler all the way around. We had an incredible group of friends that all worked together as a single unit, not a single fish was lost due to a tangle or burn off. Everyone was amazing, helping those who were new to the sport or were having a tough time getting bit. In the end, when you looked at the RP scoreboard, the load of fish were spread out evenly for every angler. Everyone was going home with a lot of fish.

Now to the fishing. We started off at the Rocks for some decent Wahoo fishing. It was not wide open,

but a steady pick. The hot lure was the full size DTX Minnow in Orange Mackerel. That lure was getting bit on every single troll rotation. We tried changing out the stock hooks, big mistake. If you’ve been thinking about this, leave them alone. We tried all sorts of hook options, none of them worked well since they were disrupting the how the lure swims and the fish won’t bite it.

Big Mikey O’Malley slayed some scissor lips on a 6X Jr in Green / Pink pattern straight tied to 50lb mono. Yes, he donated a few, but he also scored his bounty as well. The small sacrifices are well worth the $7 spent on those jigs. As for myself, I went 0 for 4 grinding a hot pink 6X Jr tied with a 130lb Fluoro leader. Those darn critters were biting my jig from behind, not from the side. All four times I came back with a 10-12” piece of finely clipped 130lb Seaguar Blue Label, all four top shots were originally 3’ long. With time running out at the rocks (due to other boats arriving) I had a change of plans. Decided to grab my jig stick with my Okuma Komodo and tied on a big Daiwa stick bait. One cast with a slow retrieve produced an incredible blow out on my stick bait, it was awesome to watch. A few minutes later, the wahoo was introduced to the RP welcoming committee. I fired out the stick bait a few more times without any bites, our time was up, and it was time to head up the line to the Island. It was work…hours of rail time invested in catching at least one wahoo for each and every angler on the boat. Some ended out time with 2, some three, but Big Mike finished the tour of Alijos with 6 Wahoo…far and away the top dog on the Wahoo.
With the Wahoo under our belt, with strings of the tasty cabrilla in the well and with just enough yellowtail to leave us wanting more, the decision was made to cut and run. We started a 30-hour slow chugging ride uphill to the famed Guadalupe Island. The “Lupe” was in our future and we were ready, or so we thought.

When we arrived at the Island, Capt. Roy Rose said it was going to be “breezy”. I thought to myself “breezy”?? I’ve never heard Roy use that term before. We arrived around 3am and woke up to a stiff 25-30 knots morning wind, only to increase to about 35-40 knots by mid-afternoon. The fish were biting though and all of sudden we didn’t care about the wind any more. We had a steady pick on the 60-80lb stock class, with a few stand out 100+ pound fish.
One lucky or shall I say un-lucky angler was Brent’s brother Victor. We say lucky as he hooked two of the biggest most angry fish of the trip. We say unlucky because of the way the battle with both of those giants finished for Vic.
On the first day of our stay at the Lupe, Vic hooked what was likely to be one of the two largest tuna hooked at Guadalupe Island during the 2018 season. It was a tough bite so, like so many, he stepped his gear down to get the bite. He pinned a sardine on a 5/0 circle hook on 60lb line on a United Composites US80 Predator that he had won in our raffle. The fight started like all the others. It was excitement…a lot of moving up and down the rail. The fish moved up and back. The third or fourth time he was done. The clock had just passed the one- hour mark and he wasn’t even started back to the boat. With physical exhaustion setting in, he gladly handed his brother from another mother, Darin from 310Rodworks the rod and the arm/fin wrestling match ensued. Darin knows the gear. He knew that the rod was overwhelmed. It wasn’t designed for this kind of pressure and so he took the rod out of the equation and reeled straight to the fish and pulled straight against it. With 200yds or more back on the spool, I was given a shot to pull on this crazy fish. I quickly went to work. This was a big fish. We went back and forth across the stern. The rail was my friend and with finesse, I added to the gains against this behemoth. When I was done, Darin took the rod back and spent a short stretch battling this tuna until Doug McConnaughy, a deckhand on the boat and a licensed captain to boot, took the rod and showed all of us what it meant to really pull hard on a fish.

Within 15 minutes the fish was nearing the pointed end of the gaff. One big circle then another. Every circle was drawing it nearer and at the same time raising everyone’s concern that something would be nearing failure. Another big circle at a distance too far…and then another. Finally, with a couple of luckily placed lifts, the fish was finally there…time to stick it. Just as Roy was ready to kill this fish, the amount of wind slowed nearly to a whisper. The kite line drooped directly where the gaff handle was coming across. In that split second, the gaff hook went the wrong way. The fish was spooked. The tail kicked a couple good shots and bingo bango….GONE! Heartbreak piled with expletives rang out and the battle was done. Without knowing it at the time, this was just one challenge that Vic faced over the course of this trip.

The next battle that Vic faced was the second day of the trip as Roy was beginning to hunt down the right spot of fish. Things had slowed to a dull roar. Fish were being hooked but if you know Roy, you know he wasn’t about to sit idly by waiting. He was going to find the group of fish that were ready to play. As Roy was charging on a line of fish that were up and chasing bait, he made the fateful call out to the group, “If you’ve got a popper or surface plug get it out there…they’re coming!” Little did Roy know, but Vic just had a new popping rod built for this trip. Strapped to a custom US80 tilefish was a Daiwa Saltist 6500 spooled up with 80lb braid with a short 100lb leader tied to it. The popper flew out off the starboard stern corner. With a huge splash it hit the water. Just as it did, Roy threw the throttles forward and the boat took off! Line was flying off the spool! As the bail was tripped and the line came tight, the phenomenon of line stripping off the reel was met with a quizzical face. As Roy pulled the throttles back and the boat out of gear, Vic looked at the rod…looked at the reel…looked at the line and with all of that input into his brain, he still couldn’t really tell what was going on. The rod was bent…but not really. The line was tight but no longer stripping off the spool. Pump after pump the line made it back on to the spool. Slowly but surely, he was making headway. With all eyes on him, Vic heard from the peanut gallery, “Looks like you got a Mackerel there!” A few more minutes pass and low and behold…the line starts ripping off the spool and the real fight was on. After another long fight, with adrenalin masking the fatigue, Darin asked Vic if he needed a hand. Darin grabbed the rod as Vic’s hands began to shake. As Vic made his way inside to get some fluids into his system, Darin went to work to move the fish within range to bring it aboard. Pump by pump. Crank by crank. The gaff slid in. The celebration began. A 100lb tuna found its way aboard the Royal Polaris for the brother of the man we were paying homage to on this trip.
The trip was one for the history books. Those 60 to 100lb fish would be the trend for the remainder of our stay. That is until we approached the last 3 hours of trip. Right around 3:30pm, the other Roy was scrapping it out on the bow with a big one on 60lb gear…after an hour or so, the fish was welcomed aboard. It taped out at 130lbs. About 30 minutes later, Racecar drops a 155 pound tuna on the deck, a few minutes later another 150 pound tuna hits the deck, then a 175 arrives, now it’s close to sun down and the bite continues to escalate at a rapid pace. Watching all of these big ones coming over the rail had me thinking……should I soak one more bait before we need to leave? Heck yeah. I grabbed my 60lb rig (big mistake) and pinned on a big mackerel, 5 seconds later its bit. One hour later, the RP crew sinks the gaff in the final 2 fish before we call it a trip. The last two fish were a respectable 130lb and 125lbs. and capped off an amazing trip and final send off from our dear friend, Brent Ikari.

Everything on this trip was outstanding. The RP crew, food, fishing, laughter, humor, libations, and a bunch of talented, respectable fish killing passengers. I know we’ll all be talking about this trip for many more years to come. RP Livin’!

Crocodile Bay Resort Jungle Paradise – Article by Shawn Arnold Photos by Shawn Arnold, Joe Bahash and Crocodile Bay Resort

By | Fall 2018, Featured | No Comments

“Shawn and Joe, do you want to stop catching these smaller tuna and dorado and just try for marlin?” the captain asked my friend Joe Bahash and I in Costa Rica. Joe had already caught and released an estimated 180- pound marlin and I think the captain wanted me to catch one too. Either that or he was tired of taking the tuna and dorado off the hook and releasing them. We were trolling around an approximately 20’ long tree floating in the water and the line could not be in the water for more than two minutes without the line screaming and one of us catching a dorado or tuna. Now grant you they were not big….my guess is the average size was 6-12 pounds for both species, but I had never been in such a wide- open bite in my life. I did manage one dorado in the 20- pound range that we had a quick photo shoot with and then was released. My guess is that in four hours of trolling around that tree in our 35’ Strike w/Tower, Joe and I caught about 70 dorado and tuna combined. The smaller ones were used for bait for the marlin and except for a few that were kept for dinner everything else was carefully released. This was our first full day in Costa Rica and honestly life did not get any better.

All the equipment on the boat worked great. They had excellent rods and reels and they were boasting the PENN brand and name. We were catching our small dorado and tuna on little Senator reels, but the marlin was caught on a new PENN International reel.
The cool thing (other than wide open fishing) was that while Joe and I were catching fish and having a great time, our non-fishing wives were getting pampered at the spa at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. Or maybe they were doing their chocolate farm tour? Or maybe they were taking a guided hike? All the things that people who don’t want to fish can do is why Crocodile Bay has become one of the most popular fishing/eco lodges in the world. They offer nearly 30 tours or alternative choices for non -fishing people. And if you fish you have the choice of going inshore for species like roosterfish or pargo or offshore for marlin, sailfish, dorado and tuna.

Over the years Crocodile Bay which I last visited 18 years ago when it first opened, has evolved from being strictly a fishing lodge to a world class eco tour and wellness retreat in addition to offering great fishing. It was nice to know after pulling hard on fish all day that there was a massage waiting for me and Joe.
The lodge had changed a lot since I had last been there. Where there was once a big hole was now a beautiful pool, Jacuzzi and lounge chairs for those that want to relax in the sun. There are numerous more rooms and the ones we had upstairs overlooking the grounds had rocking chairs on the balcony and was very comfortable and peaceful.

Crocodile Bay Lodge is located on the Osa Peninsula which is the southwestern region of Costa Rica. The peninsula is home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica. The main town on the peninsula is Puerto Jimenez, which has its own airport and provides access to Corcovado National Park. The airport is a unique place to land as it is right next to a cemetery and is what you could call small. We took a midnight flight from LAX to San Jose, Costa Rica. After landing in San Jose, Costa Rica we then took a smaller plane for a quick 45- minute jaunt to the lodge. The flight to San Jose from LAX was about 6 hours.


The lodge itself is about a 90 second walk from the water where their fleet of Boston Whaler and Strike boats are kept on their 600- foot pier. I did not fish on the pier, but I was tempted. I was told that there were big pargo down there, but I was so busy doing other things I did not have the time to try it.
When we arrived in the afternoon, we were greeted at the lodge by Olympia a lady from Panama with a personality like no one I have ever met. And I mean that in a good way. She is known as the ‘mother’ of the resort. Olympia greeted us with a song and a glass of juice. A splash of rum was added to the juice for those that wanted it. During our stay, Olympia was the go to person we went to with any questions. Not that we had many as they make it very easy there. She also made some great cookies that she gives toanglersas a good luck charm in the morning. They sure worked for me and Joe.

The food there was delicious. After catching some dorado the first day we brought them back and gave it to the chef. The mahi mahi was grilled in a light teriyaki sauce and it was so good. It is hard to beat fish that fresh. They have a full menu though for those that don’t want the catch of the day. There was pasta, steak, fish, fresh vegetables and scrumptious desserts to choose from. I am pretty sure I went from a pant size of 34 waist to a 36 in my four days there. Of course, Imperial beer, the most popular beer in Costa Rica might have helped with that too.

After fishing the first day, on the second day my wife Linda and I went on a guided tour of the National Park with Joe and his wife Donna. We saw scarlet macaws, all kinds of different species of monkeys, iguanas, Jesus lizards (they walk on water), various birds, sloth’s and leafcutter ant colonies like you have never seen before. I won’t bore you here with how structured and amazing these little army ants are, but it is worth your while to learn more about them. After our tour we found a place in town that had great fish tacos. Joe said they made a mean margarita while I discovered a Costa Rican craft beer that was made with blueberries and was really good. The town is only a ten- minute walk from Crocodile Bay Resort but honestly there is not a whole lot to do in Puerto Jimenez.

On day three which was our last full day there, Joe and I were booked to go inshore fishing and try for roosterfish. We were on a smaller 25’ Whaler since we were going inshore. It was a beautiful and comfortable boat. The weather looked like it could be nasty as there were many clouds and just had the feeling of rain. Once we got on the water and were out for 10 minutes we could see rain all over the water but for some reason it was leaving us alone. It was all around us like we had a cone over us. Not 30 minutes from the dock at Crocodile Bay Resort we started trolling live bait about 200 yards off the coast for roosterfish. After about a half hour of this with no bites I grabbed a spinning reel with a popper and gave that a try. It took about an hour into our fishing but a roosterfish (the one on the cover) finally got fooled on the troll and I quickly jumped up and went to battle with the 15-20 pound or so roosterfish. When I was here 18 years ago I caught one over 50 pounds and can still remember what a great fight that was. This guy for his size was quite feisty and did not want to come in but after about 5 minutes I got him to the boat. After a couple of photos that Joe should be proud of the rooster was carefully released.
Right after that the other reel started screaming and Joe went and got his roosterfish. After he got that in the boat we asked the captain if we could go look for the log again offshore. I was sure it was still holding all those dorado and tuna and probably some marlin too. He said this boat was made more for inshore, but it would not be a problem and we could tell he was a little hesitant but eventually said let’s go find that log. The problem was we were the only boat out fishing so unlike the other day when there were four or five boats out and communicating with each other we had one boat looking for a needle in a haystack or in this case a log in the ocean.


Needless to say, all we did was burn fuel the rest of the day. We trolled to no avail, but our captain gave it a greateffort. Since the water was rough with the storms it was probably harder to find the log which could have been 10 miles in either direction. In hindsight we probably should have stayed inshore and caught a few more roosterfish and then tried for pargo, pompano, grouper, snapper and jack which can all be plentiful.

While we were searching for fish, the girls went on a tour of a chocolate factory. I heard it poured but they made the most of it and had a great time on this excursion. There were a few other excursions they wanted to do but we did not have the time. Being Joe and I need to go experience the inshore fishing correctly and the girls have other excursions to do, I think a return trip to this jungle paradise just might be in order.

For information about Crocodile Bay Lodge check out their website at www.crocodilebay.com