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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

The Quiet Revolution- European Style Carp Fishing on The Rise – By Stan Kaplun

By | Fall 2018, Featured | No Comments

If you follow fresh water angling around the globe, you’ll probably know that carp are arguably the most targeted species throughout Europe and Asia. Originally raised as a food source, these fish have been bred to grow bigger and faster over the years and are now the sport fish of choice for the vast majority of anglers. Their popularity drives a thriving tackle and bait business that rivals bass angling here in the U.S, as a multi-million-dollar industry in itself. At the turn of the 19th century, it was introduced as a food source in New York, but it has quickly spread throughout the entirety of the United States over the years. Although in the eyes of many bass anglers, they are an invasive species, it’s fair to say at this point that rather, they exist happily alongside the other native species here, as well as species that were introduced just like the carp itself.
Having been born in Ukraine, I grew up hearing about the joys of carp fishing from my grandpa, my dad and their friends who still practice their traditional methods here on the lakes of southern California. However, I wanted to hear more about the modern techniques, directly from the anglers pursuing these monster carp under the radar locally. I recently linked up with David Smith, an avid carp angler from the UK, who is now living in Riverside county and his buddy Patrick, a life long Californian fisherman who’s recently fallen in love with these new angling techniques and thrill of carp fishing. Interestingly, David is an owner of a bait company by the name of CarpPro, that supplies this growing group of enthusiasts with some of the products necessary to catch one of these monsters. I’ll touch more on that later!
The guys had decided on one of the many local waters that are known to contain a healthy population of carp for our session. Immediately, I’m struck by the tackle these guys are using. Long 12ft rods and large surf casting reels are standard issue to propel large dough balls the many yards necessary to reach the fish. “Being bank anglers, you a need a rod that has the ability to cast a heavy bait ball to the fish, which sometimes means over a distance of 100+ yards,” explained David. “Carp often tell you where they are by jumping and rolling, something that should never be ignored. Nothings more infuriating than seeing a fish and not being able to get to him!” he said. I watched him cast a float and sinker combo that allowed him to determine the depth and nature of the bottom, at a spot where leaping fish had been seen. “We’re attempting to understand what’s down at the bottom so we know how to present a bait and use the line clip on the reel to cast to the same spot every time by carefully determining the range” added David. Developing a “spot” is key to successful carp angling the guys told me, especially here in California where chumming to create a feeding zone isn’t allowed.
Now that they have established their spot, we’ll move on to the bait and hooking arrangements. Like many traditional carp angling techniques, things are focused largely on the way carp feed by sucking up and blowing around as they vacuum up food from the lake or river bed.
“What’s quite essential is the attraction to bring the carp to our bait, followed by a hook setup that results in the hook flying into the carps mouth, making it extremely difficult for him to spit the bait out. If we get it right, the hook will penetrate the fish’s lip and cause him to run with the bait. By using a sinker that’s fixed, rather than sliding, he will soon hit the weight, drive the hook home, and bingo!” said David. “Its a science!” added Pat. “I’ve seen the way the Eastern Europeans and guys throughout Asia achieve something similar but these guys have taken it to a whole new level”. The key thing is the use of the “hair rig”, something that was developed by UK anglers in the 1970s. They realized that being able to separate the bait from the hook would increase the hook-up efficiency ten-fold over traditional methods of burying the hook in the bait. It transformed carp fishing and is known today as standard practice. The guys call it “rig mechanics” and the variations are numerous, but when you consider how these fish feed, it absolutely makes sense

The rods are now out and we’re waiting for action. How do you know when the carp has taken the bait and your bit? “We know we have bait on the hook, so we can confidently wait for hours if necessary for the fish to show up” said David. “That’s why these stands and electronic alarms were developed, so we could be doing other things while we wait for the bite”. “When I initially got interested in carp fishing, these rod stands and alarms were the first thing I noticed and they grab everyone’s attention,” added Pat. “ I must get asked 5-10 times day, “Hey dude where did you get that setup”!”
We’re all fishing now, so I sit down with Pat to find out why he’s grown to love carp fishing. “I’ve fished SoCal all my life and grew up fishing these lakes and park ponds. Recently however, my trout and catfish fishing have become evermore restricted because of the drastically reduced stocking programs, particularly on the public lakes. When they do get stocked, it’s an absolute mad house, the true definition of combat fishing these days!” he mused. ”I’m looking for a challenge and something entirely new. I’ve caught carp using my traditional methods but this offers me something different. It’s deliberate and made me realize I could target carp specifically. It’s opened up a whole new “scene” for me and I’m learning something new everyday. In addition to that, these amazing fish are probably the hardest fighting fish in our local waters, right up there with striper. And just like that, you have a whole new sport. It’s reinvigorated my fishing!” David added that what we have is an incredible angling resource for our fisherman, “one that is properly managed”, so that we don’t suffer from over fishing. If it continues this way, this could be the best thing we have in southern California.

For those who like to eat carp, if they take a few smaller ones and release the big girls we’ll have an incredible fishery for everyone!” “I’ve hosted several top European carp angling writers and pro anglers and they can’t believe what we have here,” he’d added. I’m starting to think these guys are on to something! Then David mentions something that really peaks my interest! “You need to realize that these techniques don’t just take carp fishing up a notch, we catch some of the biggest catfish you’ve ever seen using these methods. Anglers in our group have probably smashed the channel catfish record on just about every lake in SoCal while carp fishing!” He showed me some photos of a 30lb plus channel catfish caught not 50 yards from where we were sitting!
“BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Pats bite alarm begins to scream and shatters the silence. We’re into a fish. It strips line at 60 yards range. The alarm has caused a stir and shouts of encouragement start coming from all directions “The tug is the drug!” calls one guy fishing for bluegill from the dock.
In this article, you’ll find a photo of Pat standing behind his rod holder. He’s using what’s known as a “rod pod”. This adjustable, go anywhere rod stand is the hallmark of modern carp angling. Able to provide sturdy support for the long rods and heavy reels, it comes equipped with electronic bite alarms that signal the running fish and bite indicators that hang on the line to indicate more subtle activity as fish move in to the spot. Pat found his setup on Amazon at a great price. While you wait for your local tackle shop to pick up on this new trend, eBay and Amazon are a great place to find beginner and advanced setups like these. A short tussle ensues and we end up with a lively 10lb common carp in the net. After quickly photographing and releasing the fish to fight another day, Pat says, “That’s below average size for here” and he’s immediately back in his bait bucket, concocting a new recipe using David’s CarpPro scents and attractors to find the right mix for the big girls. With the forecasted heat wave settling in, fishing slows down and we settle in for the evening bite. As the “daytime fisherman” drift away, we have the back of the lake to ourselves and can confidently fish in to dark. The anticipation is profound as the fish start to show.

It was quite the informative session and I see huge potential in what I’ve seen. Sitting in the shade, rods fishing efficiently, safe in the knowledge that we have baited hooks, it seems to make the perfect way to fish the lakes here in southern California. It’s an enjoyable way, for groups of buddies or families to fish and enjoy a day by the water. With proper and careful management, there’s fun to be had for the catch and release trophy hunters like Dave and Pat, as well the guys looking to put some food on the table. I can imagine any kid who hooks even a small carp, considering they are truly one of the strongest fish pound for pound, will be an angler for life.

These beautiful but largely badmouthed fish really are a wonderful angling opportunity for our anglers during these tough times of largely depleted fish stocks and continued draught. Viva la revolucion!
Useful resources include the following; www.issuu.com/carppro www.carpology.co.uk www.catfishandcarp.com

Ladies Only Fishing Trip – By Rose O’Brien

By | Fall 2018, Featured | No Comments

Have you ever been around 15 excited women who are dying to go fishing? If you haven’t, then you have no idea what you’re missing out on. It was time for our annual Ladies Only Fishing Trip. Jessica Cano always organizes a fabulous one with many generous sponsors. Several of the women were newcomers including Casey McLay, Charina Cobos, Denise Mace, Ginger Fawn, Lindsey Randlett, Rachel Von Fleck, Sunny Trent and Tracy Hartman. For the rest of us, Belinda Barnes, Donna Sanchez, Kelly Castaneda, Michelle Humphrey, Rica Hatch and myself, it was like a reunion. We were pumped and ready for the fishing shenanigans to begin.

Before we even got on the boat, the Tuna War participants from the Tomahawk and Tribute, were getting back from their trip and were at the landing. Of course, we had to have pictures taken with the Wicked Tuna stars, Captain Dave Marciano and Captain Paul Hebert. This only created more excitement.

Our adventure was to be an overnight on The Voyager with Captain Todd Myers at the helm. Todd and his crew, RJ and Chuck, were about to experience what many crews don’t get to. Fifteen lovely ladies who are biting at the bit to get out on the water and catch some fish. All of our tackle was ready to go and our first stop was to get bait.

Once we arrived at the bait barge, a couple of ladies couldn’t wait any longer and decided to go fishing. Both Kelly and Tracy caught a nice halibut. A few of us tried to get one, but they were the only lucky two. Kelly was smiling ear to ear since this was her first legal halibut she ever caught. Tracy said, “I knew right from the start when we caught these halibut at the bait barge that it was going to be a great trip.” And it was the beginning of an epic trip.

We headed to the Coronado Islands to catch some yellowtail and anything else that would bite. The Voyager arrived at 4:30am and several ladies got up to fish. They were calico fishing and it was off the hook. Every cast they caught a fish. “Waking up with these lassies at 4:30 in the morning next to the island catching bass until sunrise was my favorite part of the trip” said Donna. Hookup Baits, various plastics and sardines were what the bass were gorging themselves on.

The sun rose and so did everyone who was still sleeping. Captain Todd took off to find some yellowtail. They were all around the Coronados, so they were easy to spot. The yellowtail were biting anything and everything. Charina surprisingly states, “I even caught one on a flatfall.” Sunny spent most of her day at the bow using her Seeker baby blue 9’3” rod with an Accurate Valiant 500 using a blue and white JRI jig to catch the majority of her fish. It was an incredible site to watch the yellowtail follow your lure as you reeled it in. As Casey puts it, “When everyone was hooked up on a yellowtail, the excitement was roaring.” Women have a tendency to scream when they’re hooked up to a fish. I know I do. Michelle puts it nicely, “It was a reunion of all women who come together and work together to help one another to fish and have fun.”

My first fish was a huge bonito caught on my Accurate Valiant 300 using sardines. I’m the kind of angler who tries everything just for fun when fishing because you never know what the fish will bite. I tried a surface iron and almost landed the fish except it spit the hook. Using a yoyo setup wasn’t a good choice. The fish didn’t bite it at all. The hot ticket seemed to be the live bait which were sardines and that was what I landed my jackpot fish on. I caught all my yellowtail on them as did most of the other ladies.

The sea lions were in full force as we fished. Jessica was hooked up with one of her many yellowtails and wouldn’t you know it, a seal lion tried to get it away from her. She fought hard for that fish and won. Jessica exclaimed, “When I got the yellowtail on the boat, there were no bite marks on it.” I didn’t get as lucky. The fish was at the boat with color and the deckhand tried to gaff it twice, but he missed both times. Out from under the boat in stealth mode, came a seal that must have been about 800lbs. He was the biggest one I think I’ve ever seen. He stole my fish and next thing you know my line is ripping off my reel. I stared at the deckhand in disbelief as I watched my line take off. The funny part is, I got all my line back and even the sliding sinker was there. The only thing missing was the hook. I hope it caused some pain to the seal’s stomach when he ate my fish.

One thing about fishing with women is they encourage each other. If someone lost a fish, the others would say, “You’ll get them next time.” No one said anything negative about anyone or to anyone. We were there for each other no matter what. There were many levels of expertise on the boat, but we all did great and put the wood to the fish. “Imagine my surprise when we got on some yellowtail and all the women fished well. At one point I was fighting a fish and I looked down the rail and saw 4 women on fish weaving over and under, working together, yelling ‘color’ all over the place and successfully landing them all” said Rachel. We kept the deckhands on their toes and they definitely earned their keep that day.

We tried bass fishing again and it was a blast. Denise caught her personal best on a flylined sardine. It weighed about 6lbs. Using the Hookup Baits plastic is my favorite method for catching bass. They just love them. I don’t even remember how many I caught using them. No one missed out on a chance to fish. We were on a mission to catch as many as possible.

A funny thing happened to Ginger on the trip. She was fishing on the bow when she felt something poking her toe. She took off her boot, but didn’t see anything. She put it back on and the pain was even worse, then suddenly she saw a fish spine broken off in the top of her boot. At that exact moment, she landed a yellowtail. She threw her boot off and started winding it in on one foot while the deckhand worked to get the spine out. The deckhand got the boot back on her foot just in time for him to gaff her fish and this just happened to be the first yellowtail she ever caught.

Jessica caught her limits of yellowtail by noon along with several other ladies. The total boat count was 75 yellowtail, 10 bonito, 12 barracuda, and 53 calico. “No male drama and spending time fishing with like minded females takes fishing to the next level,” stated Rica and that makes fishing with women the best. There were frenzies and bloody decks, but Belinda enjoyed every minute as did I. “We all couldn’t be any more different, but we’re brought together by this cool hobby and lifestyle we all enjoy. We were there to help each other, and hype each other up” said Lindsey.
Jessica got some very generous sponsors for the trip including, Pacific Lures, XtraTufs, Pelagic, Ahcor, Bloodydecks, Aftco, Bluewave Jewelry, Lobster Port, LP Fishing Supply, Wicked Pliers, and Fishing Syndicate. Thank you very much for blessing us with so much!
The trip was phenomenal, and I can’t wait for next year’s trip! Fishing with these beautiful ladies is the best. They are sweet, caring, confident and loving toward each other. You should try it sometime unless of course you’re a man.

Fall Tagged Fish Contest in Bishop Waters till November 15

By | news | No Comments

 Fall is a favorite time of year for Eastern Sierra anglers and thanks to a new tagged fish contest organized by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, this year is going to be better than ever!

 The Bishop Chamber has arranged for 1200# of beautiful rainbows to be delivered by Desert Springs Trout Farm in Oregon.  Several of the fish have been tagged for the contest and let loose in Sabrina, South Lake, Intake II, Bishop Creek and Pleasant Valley Reservoir.

 According to Tawni Thomson of the Bishop Chamber, the contest is straight forward and free to enter.  “If you’re lucky enough to catch a fish with a tag that says “WINNER.  BISHOP CHAMBER OF COMMERCE” between October 1st and November 15th, just remove the tag and bring it to the Chamber of Commerce to collect $100.”

 The new fall Bishop area tagged fish contest is sponsored in part by Inyo County’s CPSP grant program.

 For more information, contact Bishop Chamber of Commerce (760)873-8405.

 

 

When, Where and How to Fish a Crankbait and Jerkbait With Bill Lowen

By | Fall 2017 | No Comments

When the bite is on, knowing when to use each type of lure can increase your success throughout the year. Jerkbaits, flat-sided and square bill crankbaits all have their time and place and each can outperform the others at times. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen has a method for choosing each and it depends on water clarity, time of year and what cover he is fishing.

Water Clarity
The first factor to consider is the water clarity according to Lowen. With jerkbaits being a highly visual technique, clear water is his preferred choice. “Jerkbaits work great in clear water and a bait like a crankbait will do better when the water is dirty. That’s not to say each wouldn’t work in both situations, but I prefer crankbaits when the water is off-color,” he says.

Time of Year
The water temperature and time of year are another deciding factors for when Lowen chooses one reaction bait over another. “Early in a year, I like a bait with a tighter wiggle because the water is colder. The Ima Shaker or a flat-sided balsa bait from PH Customs is my go to,” he says and adds he switches gears as the water warms. “Once the water is a little warmer I like a more round bait like the Ima Square Bill because it has a more aggressive action.”
Square bill crankbaits, with their wide, aggressive action are ideal for water temperature in the 50’s and above according to Lowen. “They have that active grinding and scooting action that is great when the fish are more active,” he says.
Jerkbaits shine early in the year when the water is cold. Lowen reaches for a Flit 120 early in the year and says that the time of year is often cold and windy and a jerkbait is easy to fish in those conditions. “The low 40’s up to the low 50’s water temperature is perfect for a jerkbait. I like the Flit first thing in the spring and then again in the fall. It has a wide slashing and darting action and also works great later in the year and when fishing for smallmouth,” he says. He says a jerkbait is a perfect pre-spawn pattern and he will fish them right up until the bass are in full on spawn-mode.

Location and Approach
In addition to water clarity and temperature, the type of water Lowen is faced with plays a role in deciding which bait to use. “Jerkbaits work great on main lake and secondary points, those 45-degree banks and places where the rock or bluff transitions,” says Lowen who feels that boat positioning is crucial. “I like to stay two cast lengths away from the bank. If you are one cast length away you might be right above where the fish are, especially if they are suspended or sitting on the first break.”
Both flat-sided and square bill crankbaits shine in shallow water when there is cover present. He will typically fish both in the same areas but will move shallower with a square bill. “Early in the year I like to fish the flat-sided bait around the last deep water inside of a pocket or around a channel swing,” he says and like jerkbaits he feels like boat positioning can help land more bass. “The ideal thing is to fish parallel to the bank so you can keep the bait in the strike zone longer.”

As mentioned earlier, he fishes the square bill in the same fashion but will move shallower and key on the first flat after a channel swing or first flat with deep water nearby.

Jerk and Crank Gear
When fishing the crankbaits, Lowen likes a CastAway Skeleton V2 crank rod that is 7’ and has a parabolic bend. “I also use a slower retrieve reel a 5.1:1 Lews BB1Z so I don’t overwork the bait and will spool it with 12-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon,” he says.
His jerkbait rod is different than many prefer. “The rod I use is actually a spinnerbait model, a 6’10” CastAway Skeleton V2. It has a softer tip but has a good backbone and I feel like I lose less fish,” he adds. He likes a Lew’s Team Pro Magnesium Speed Spool in the 6.8:1 ratio and 8 or 10-pound fluorocarbon. “The faster retrieve allows you to work the bait with the rod and reel up the slack quickly,” says Lowen.

Retrieves
Another way to increase your success with jerkbaits and crankbaits is to select the right retrieve for the conditions. Lowen also varies his approach based on the bait and where he is fishing.
“The flat-sided crankbait excels once you hit the bottom and are grinding it along. I also do what I call ‘floating’ it through rocks where I reel it as slow as I can to keep it in contact with the bottom,” he says and adds that the properties of the bait work for this technique. “The Ima Shaker doesn’t have near the buoyancy as a square bill so you can keep it closer to the bottom.”
Lowen says Jerkbaits are best with a “twitch, twitch, pause” retrieve and the only change he makes is how long he pauses the bait. “Sometimes you have to wait for 10 or even 30-seconds before you twitch it again. It is hard to do, but sometimes that is the only way to get bit,” he says and feels that water temperature is the biggest factor here. As a general rule of thumb, the colder the water, the longer the pause. To help the bait suspend, he will also add Storm SuspendDots and Strips. “I like to add two on the front bill and two before the back hook to keep it suspending for those long periods.”

When it comes to a square bill, Lowen says making contact with cover is the key. Anything in the water is fair game and the deflection properties of the Ima Square Bill make it ideal for banging into cover.

Color Choices
With so many great jerkbait colors available, it can become complicated deciding which to use. For Lowen, it simply comes down to water clarity, “I like the clear translucent colors in clear water and if the water has a little color I switch to solid colors or something with chrome or gold flash.”
Lowen also has a range of colors that he goes through as the season progresses. This has to do with both the water clarity he is faced with as well as the forage the bass are keying on. “I always start off early in the year with an orange or red pattern and then progress to the brighter chartreuse patterns. After that I move to the fluorescent craw patterns and then finally move to the shad patterns,” shares Lowen. This applies to both his flat-sided baits as well as his square bills.
Bill Lowen is a wealth of fishing knowledge and when it comes to shallow crankbaits and jerkbaits, he has seen it all. His approach to deciding which to use and when comes from years of experience as a professional angler and his approach is something that will help you land more bass.

 

Girl Power on the Thunderbird By Rose O’Brien

By | Fall 2017 | No Comments

Fishing is my passion, and being a woman makes it even more special. When I first started, I was nervous about being on a boat full of men, but not anymore. I have grown use to it. The men quickly learn that I am a serious fisher lady. The ones who know me don’t doubt me, but it is fun to show them I actually know how to fish.
Rick Redmon and Mike Oreb planned an overnight fishing trip on the Thunderbird with some of the KC Anglers and Team 57 fishing clubs. We all met at the landing and waited for our trip to begin. As usual, some of the guys couldn’t wait to fish, so they fished at the landing while we waited. They caught some small bass. Our chariot arrived and our adventure began.
That night, most of us got our gear ready for the morning while the boat got bait and began it’s journey to San Clemente. Ricardo Zepeda always helps me to set my drag and get my tackle together, so in the morning I don’t have to worry about it. Captain Andrew Viola was the night driver and drove us to the island safely.
When we reached Clemente, I woke up not ready to fish, so I poured myself a cup of coffee and began to walk around the boat talking to the other anglers while they fished. No one was catching anything. I was chatting with Alex Tarpinian and drinking coffee when suddenly, the yellowtail started to bite. I looked at Alex and said, “It’s on. Let’s fish!” I grabbed my dropper loop setup and dropped my line in the water and as soon as it hit the bottom I was on. A yellowtail took me from the stern to the bow, and that’s where Captain Jeff Markland gaffed it. It was a beautiful 32lb. yellowtail. Several other anglers caught yellows while I was catching mine. The morning was off to a good start.
Oscar Ochoa was the hot stick on this trip. Every time I turned around, he was on a fish. He caught about 7 yellowtail and a variety of other fish. He could do no wrong. Joseph Wilson caught 3 yellows, and Brian Kelly, one of the deckhands, passed a yellowtail he hooked to Sydney Deturk. Watching her face while the fish was fighting was an awesome sight. Unfortunately, the fish won, but that happens. On her own, she managed to get a few bass. Another lady angler, hooked up to a yellowtail and it took her all the way around the boat. We all cheered her on as she reeled it in. All 3 ladies had a fish under their belt. Girl Power.
Our bait choices were either sardine or squid. I hate picking up squid. Their tentacles give me the creeps. Ricardo always laughs at me as I attempt to grab one and drop it when it tries to grab me. Sometimes I get it on the hook and other times he hooks it on for me. I guess that’s one of the perks of being a female. Putting on a sardine is as easy as pie. It’s those crazy squid that get me.
We drove around San Clemente looking for fish and we stopped several times. One time, we found some bass. George Schewardz hooked up to a beautiful calico that gave him quite a fight. It was definitely a keeper. I caught a couple bass on a Hookup Bait, but none were as big as George’s.
At one stop, Roger Zarate caught a nice yellowtail. I thought I had competition for jackpot since his was so big, but mine ended up being bigger. All of the KC Anglers and Team 57 caught a yellowtail. The boat total was 42 yellows with a decent calico bite, plus other random fish caught.
The trip was a success and everyone was happy with their catch. The crew always gives 100% and helps other anglers when they need it. I am pleased to say I won jackpot with my 32lb. yellowtail caught on a Moon’s custom rod 7.5 ft. Super Seeker with an Accurate Boss Xtreme 400 loaded with 65lb. spectra and 40lb. mono. Having a passion for a male dominated sport has never deterred me when it comes to fishing. I think other ladies should try it out. They might find that they love it as much as I do, and I would be willing to help them out anyway I can. Tails up!

Just For the Halibut, By Shawn Arnold

By | Fall 2017 | No Comments

Some people go to Alaska and catch a 100 plus pound halibut on their first trip out. Some people go to Alaska and don’t know a rod from a reel and catch a 100 pound plus halibut. Some people who think they know how to fish and have over 40 days on the water in Alaska have NEVER caught a 100 pound plus halibut. That last person would be me. Or used to be me. My previous best was about 90 pounds which is a nice fish. And I have caught more 40 to 60- pound halibut than I can count. Still that elusive 100 -pound fish had alluded me.
My last visit with Big Blue Charters this past June produced my first 100 plus pound halibut. It was 67 inches long and the guide book says it should be 145 pounds. I was told that it was anywhere between 130 and 160. I am going with 145. That works for me.
Big Blue Charters have caught numerous halibut well over 300 pounds over the years and my halibut made Captain Mike Keating shrug his shoulders like no big deal but that fish was one for the books for me. It was caught on an Avet reel and a Whopper Stopper built rod. One of the benefits of fishing with Big Blue Charters is that you know you will be using quality equipment and you don’t have to lug your own stuff on the plane. That way hopefully your luggage going home will be boxes of flash frozen filets from the tasty fish that inhabit the waters of Sitka.
Another advantage of fishing with Big Blue Charters are their very comfy BAMF boats that have an inside cabin that seat 7 or 8 on the way to the fishing grounds. Also, this year they upgraded their sonar with some of the most up to date products available from Simrad. Mike Keating was like a kid in a candy store playing with it and marking spots. He was really excited about mastering it this summer and knowing to the “T” where all his good fishing spots are.
One of the great misconceptions I have found over the years about catching big halibut from people that have never caught a big halibut is that they don’t fight. That it is comparable to bringing up a door or cement filled boot. Nothing could be further from the truth. The one I caught peeled line as soon as he was hooked. Then about ½ way up he decided he did not want to come up quite yet so made a beeline to the bottom where our battle had started. So after 5 minutes of bringing him up and about a one- minute run back down I started all over again. He made one more short run all the while shaking his head violently trying to shake free. After 20 minutes or so I was able to get him to the surface where Captains Keating and Graham then did the dirty work and subdued him.
While that was a great fight, I think I even had a better one. This was one of the most unique catches that I had ever encountered. When I caught my first halibut it was with a big circle hook and about a fistful of bait. That rig was made for halibut. A little bit later I dropped down a herring using a salmon rod. The herring was rigged with two hooks. One hook through the nose/mouth area and one through the dorsal fin. I was fishing the bottom hoping for a lingcod or yelloweye when I hooked a fish. Right at that time Ed Robison had a big halibut on and he was tangled with Raymond McCullough. I tried getting out of the way by going on the other side of the boat and to get my rod around the motor I put the reel in free spool with my thumb on it. As I got to the other side of the boat and put the drag back on my fish felt much heavier. In fact, I claimed that this one was bigger than the 145 pounder. I was struggling with this one, especially on the salmon rod. It was bent in half and my line was being taken again and the rod was bent in half. After about 25 minutes I got color and Mike said sarcastically “All that work for that thing?” It was about a 70- pound halibut. The funny thing is the 70- pound fish was covering the 45 -pound halibut that was on the other hook. Our guess is while I put it in free spool and walked around the boat, one of the halibut bit the other hook. So, two nice halibut on one 6” herring with two hooks in it. Captain Graham said he has never seen that before and neither had I.
Even if I had not caught the personal best halibut that day it still would have been one of my best fishing days ever. Part of fishing is having fun and fishing with Captains Jesse Graham and Mike Keating of Big Blue Charters, Ed Robison of Whopper Stoppers, Raymond McCullough and Vinny Peters an ex-deckhand for Big Blue Charters is fun. The days we were fishing were non- charter days so we just had a bunch of guys having fun. In fact, the only person who could have made it more fun was Big Blue Charters deckhand Emmitt Andersen. This outstanding young man had to miss the fishing though as he is part of the Sitka High School baseball team playing in the state finals that week that made a Hoosiers (reference 1980’s film about Indiana basketball) like run in winning the Alaska state baseball championship over a much larger and highly touted Anchorage high school. Congrats Emmitt.
Ed of Whopper Stoppers builds some of the finest rods available and his booth is always jam-packed at the Fred Hall show. Ed is a good guy and a good guy to fish with. Since this was a trip of friends there was lots of ribbing going on. LOTS. Any mistake was magnified. Ed took it all in like it was no big deal.
Raymond is a trip. I would like to thank him for taking the target off my back. It is usually me who takes the brunt of the ribbing on this Alaska trip but Raymond changed that dynamic. It would be hard to find a more energetic, fun and quirky guy. He farmed a few salmon the first day and took quite a bit of ribbing but just smiled through it all. Who ever had just caught a fish, Raymond would go out his way to high 5 them. The next day before we went out fishing Mike and I stopped at a grocery store and bought some strawberries and gave them to Raymond and asked if he grew them on his farm. He just laughed. Raymond ended up with the last laugh though as he pulled in the largest salmon of the trip that day.
The three days of fishing produced numerous halibut in the 30 to 70 range, some large lingcod that we had to release and some we kept that fit the slot limit and limits of yelloweye and black bass each day. And while the salmon fishing was a little slower than normal (plus we farmed a few) we spent more time targeting bottom fish than normal. Captain Keating is one of the best and most determined captains I know and as always put us on the fish. Fishing with Big Blue Charters is always a highlight for me and I am already looking forward to next year. Hopefully when I go no one will give me a basket of strawberries.
For more information about Big Blue Charters or to find out what dates are available for next year contact them at 907-747-5161 or check out their website at www.bigbluecharters.com.