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Craking The Code in Local Bluefin

By Featured, FTC fall 2020

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

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

Sato Memorial – By Doug Inouye

By Featured, Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Howard with a nice 100lb + YFT

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

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

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

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

Passing on the passion – By Ben Secrest

By Featured, Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Food for thought:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last thing to remember is Pass on the Passion.

They will thank you for the rest of their life.

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

By Featured, Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information:

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

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

Fish Story Lori
(760) 218-9489
Check us out on Instagram and Facebook – Fish Story Lori


Tomahawk Clobbers Tuna

By Featured, Spring 2020

Anglers enjoyed a tremendous season of tuna fishing and the outlook is very strong for this coming season as well. Bluefin were still being caught in the “golden triangle” as late as December and the deluxe sportfisher Tomahawk was one of the boats targeting these tuna that weighed mostly in the 35 to 90-lb. class, with a few topping the 100-lb mark. There were also good early signs that yellowtail are moving up the Baja Norte coast and should fishable in good numbers for most of the spring season topping off at the Coronado Islands.


The Tomahawk is a 68-foot fishing machine that offers just over 24 feet of transom beam, making this vessel one of the better multi-day, limited load sportfishers among San Diego’s vast fleet. Not only does this sport boat fish well under most all conditions, but the spacious galley, tasty food and roomy bunks combine to make each trip a good angling experience. Add in large capacity bait tanks, a new refrigerator system in the slammer and a crew that wants passengers to catch tuna, what more could a deep-sea fisherman ask for. Last year owner Captain Eric Sauerwein invested almost $100,000 in boat work and additional upgrading of equipment to make his boat more fishable.

This saltwater angler enjoyed a couple of trips this past season aboard the Tomahawk that resulted in plenty of fresh sushi throughout the summer and into the early fall fishing season. When a tuna comes up out of the slammer at the dock it is well preserved and has been saved at a temperature that is just at freezing, but the modern refrigeration system doesn’t freeze the meat of a highly prized bluefin tuna.

The first tuna trip on board the Tomahawk was a 2.5-day trip that was co-sponsored by Izorline and it was a trip to remember. This sportfisher departs out of Fisherman’s Landing and with a limited load of just 25 anglers there would be plenty of room at the rail during a bluefin or yellowfin tuna bite. Seas were calm, as they traditionally are during the later part of July, and the hopes of Captain Jeff Spafford were that schools of bluefin would pop up in the fishing grounds offering opportunities to cast big poppers and Colt Snipers at meatballs of boiling bluefin tuna and then slide over the school to allow bait fisherman a chance at hooking a tuna.

It took a while for the tuna to put on the feed bag that first morning, but when they did there were “foamers” everywhere you looked. Running from one spot of tuna to another just took a few minutes, as the fast Tomahawk was aggressively on the prowl.

While most of the tuna caught that day weighed in the 25 to 50-lb class, there were a few bigger class bluefin landed along with a quality yellowfin tuna. The hot stick for the trip was held by Bobby “G” Gonzales of San Pedro who seemed always to be hooked up to a big  bluefin and had no problem in landing his 2-fish limit of 100-lb tuna for the day. A number of other anglers on board also landed their daily limit of bluefin, but it was Lorenzo Robles of Montclair that topped anglers by decking a 30-lb. class yellowfin that was hooked on a kite rig.

It really wasn’t a “pick bite” but anglers with the most success on both days of fishing were rigged with high-end rods and lever drag reels spooled with 80# braid and topped off with 40# fluorocarbon leader and size 3/0 Owner circle hook. This angler’s favorite tuna fishing combo is a matched set of a Daiwa Saltiga Proteus 70XXHFcomposite rod mated to a Saltiga LD30HS lever drag reel. While there is a wide selection of fluorocarbon leader material available this writer’s choice has been Seaguar ever since fluorocarbon leader was the way to go to fish for pelagics.

As the sun set the bite shut down and it was time for a shower and take a seat in the galley to enjoy the evening meal prepared by Chef Mikie. During dinner, this outdoor writer had a chance to sit next to Capt. Spafford and talk about how good the tuna fishing has been for the entire sport fleet the past few years and what he thinks the future holds for this off shore fishery.

“We are in a good trend here along the west coast reaching down into Baja Norte and clear on up to the waters off the east end of San Clemente Island. There appears to be an abundance of fin bait and with the lack of strong northwesterly winds the past couple of winters, these waters remain on the warm side. Fishing for trophy class bluefin tuna has been off the charts thus far this year for anglers fishing aboard the Tomahawk and I think that trend will continue well into the late fall months. Each trip has been rewarded, if not with a landed cow bluefin, at least a few anglers on board have been tested for hours until finally loosing a monster tuna,” stated Spafford,

Spafford then went on to add, “Our off shore fishing program of offering 1 to 3.5-day fishing packages, with limited loads, has been paying off for anglers. We have the ability to move around during longer trips to the fishing grounds and when we have to make a run to a new spot, we will try to do it while passengers are asleep in their bunks. This night travel allows us to be right on the fishing grounds at day break, often a good time to kick off a great day of tuna fishing. As to what next season will offer up in the way of off shore angling, I would hope that the bluefin and yellowfin stay around. I would also like to see more kelp patty fishing for yellowtail and a return of those large schools of dorado that were around for a long time a few years ago.”
The Mission Statement for the Tomahawk is that Safety Is Their #1 Priority. The Tomahawk is a United States Coast Guard inspected vessel. She is cleaned and maintained to ownership high standards. According to co-owner Sauerwein, the entire crew takes pride in attending to the structural elements, numerous systems and procedures that are vital to the reliability and safety of the vessel. On the Tomahawk anglers can simply focus on enjoying their fishing experience in a safe, clean and organized environment.

For more information on booking a multi-day off shore fishing experience log on to their web site at or call Sauerwein at 619-909-6079.

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

By Fall 2019

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.





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

By Fall 2019

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

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

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

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.