Christmas was pretty low-key at my home this
year, so I had no problem bailing out the door
at midnight to drive to Avila Beach for a rockfish
tournament on the Mallard out of Patriot Sportfishing.
17 competing anglers made the most of the good
weather window by leaving at 5am and running
On my first cast up at the bow, I pryed a gopher out
of his hole. I released him looking for bigger
game. I found a vermilion next
but he was just a mere two pounder so he went
home as well.
About an hour later I finally started to hit
my groove. I had pocketed a few nice bolinas and
kicked back a couple of lingcod,
when bang, I had a nice fighter. It was a huge
vermilion. My next fish was a canary that I
I was starting to think I might have a shot
when somebody landed a halibut... and then
another one came aboard. I decided to try some
new Berkley Gulp saltwater baits. I rigged
a 6" cigar minnow onto an Owner 1 1/2 oz. saltwater
bullet ultrahead and it got hit like a freight
train! I was getting slammed by lingcod and
bolinas within seconds of jigging the bottom.
The bait held up very well considering the
hammering it was taking. I did manage one more
bomber red before the end of the tournament,
but I only wound up with a bag total of nine
fish due to my quest for the really big one
that eluded me... this time.
Thanks to Roger, Capt. Sal and our deckhand
Dustin for making this trip a wonderful way
for me to cap off the year. It was cold, but
the mixed bag of entrants made me feel warm
and we all had fun. Congrats to the top four
First place - Alonzo Tomez (Also took largest
fish, a 16# halibut)
Second place - Dan Barrios (Also took third
largest fish, a 6 1/2 # vermilion)
Third place - Charlie Barrios (Also took second
largest fish, a 15 1/2# halibut)
Fourth place - Joe Torres
Total fish counts were:
68 red rockfish, 102 bolina rockfish, 3 cabezone,
Thank you Doug Gober! My friend and fellow
fishing buddy, Doug, chartered the Queen of
Hearts as a supreme gesture of appreciation
to his regular compadres and the crew of the
vessel. Not only did we have Capt. Bob, Heather
and Andrea, but Sherry and Randy joined the
gang. I hadn’t fished with Sherry aboard
since a 5-dayer on the Royal Polaris a few years
ago… too long! Harry Boos brought lots
of jigs, for which a few of us were very grateful.
There's nothing like farming gear on your last
rockfish trip of the year.
At one point I thought I’d caught a
massive lingcod and hollered
for the gaff to be poised and at the ready.
Sorry... it was a foul hooked ling of about
9 pounds. You can’t turn their heads around
if they’re hooked in the tail. Well that
explained that. I went on to land some blue
rockfish and gophers
before having a couple of beers. A pair of legal
lings was caught, as well as some nice-sized
cabezons and vermilions.
On the way in, Doug capped off an exceptional
day by giving everybody a bottle of his home
brewed teriyaki marinade. I soaked a few fillets
the next night… good stuff!
Welcome to autumn! I arrived home from competing
in the Bisbee Los Cabos Offshore Circuit Tournament
just in time for the first major drenching of
California. My spirits were already damp though…
our team failed to get a marlin hook-up.
We started off by pre-fishing the event on
Friday with our chartered vessel, the Gaviota
X, and her crew. After putting a few skipjacks
in the tuna tubes, we ran for Gorda Banks. It
was a long slow day of trolling and getting
to know one another as a team. We felt confident
that we had a plan by the time we headed for
the dock. After attending the general meeting
at the Melia Hotel, Larry Lowman and I ran off
some new sea temp charts by Terrafin
to help us figure out where to go next.
On Saturday we milled around waiting for the
7:30am start, pulling up skipjacks and small
yellowfins for bait. Deciding to head to the
Pacific side of Cabo we ventured to the Golden
Gate bank. Counting only 3 - 4 other boats around,
it seemed that most of the anglers had headed
to the Cortez side to try their luck. Striped
marlin made several appearances in our area,
but wouldn’t hit the lures or eat a dropped
back bait. Towards the end of the day, Eric
Risen landed a 22 pound dorado.
Upon entering the harbor, we saw the Felina
with a huge blue marlin on
the transom. At the weigh station it came in
at 536 pounds. We also saw a 36 pound dorado
weighed before leaving to prepare for the final
Switching back to the Cortez side again on
Sunday didn’t help us. However, towards
the end of the day, Larry Risen nailed an amberjack
around 35 pounds, and I hauled in a dorado that
picked up our whiskey line.
Our team fought off exhaustion long enough
to clean up and join the rest for the awards
dinner back at the Melia. Larry Lowman and I
had also both entered the Lopiccola Billfish
Tournament (For Pete’s Sake) which is
held in conjunction with the Bisbee as a fundraiser.
While neither of us had any qualifying released
fish, it was nice to know that we were helping
a worthy cause.
As an extra bonus, the two top winners of my
Potluck Tournament (see August 21) climbed aboard
a 30' Island Hopper berthed on “V”
dock in Santa Cruz harbor, to join me for a
day of shallow-water rockfishing. Owner/operator
Gerry Brooks has a first class boat, and with
a 12' beam we had plenty of elbow room. I hadn’t
been on a ride this sweet for a while!
Starting off slightly from the south, the breeze
progressed to variable and, at times, quit altogether.
Riding soft swells over a strong current, we
had Ano Nuevo all to ourselves. Blues,
and gophers started us off
while we searched for lingcod.
Dave Hansen was tending to our needs as our
deckhand, but this wasn’t the average
group… no, he was dealing with “Team
couldn’t keep him busy enough, so we let
him toss a line in and he quickly showed us
how to grab a keeper ling off the bottom.
I set a new personal record by releasing five
sea trout. The last one was
a striking gold color, denoting it was a female.
Just as she got to the surface, a ling zipped
up and tried to eat her!
After that excitement we started to land vermilions.
We wound up taking eleven nice ones to 6 pounds.
Just to show us that his winning the tournament
in August was not luck, Eddie Hanson
hauled up a 19-20 pound lingcod.
Gene Coombs and I were given Dave’s ling
to split, and we all had plenty of expertly
filleted rockfish to take home as well. I’ll
be looking forward to fishing on the Doble again.
500 hundred miles to go fishing, and it was
well worth it! Joining the gang from Senor Tuna,
I was looking forward to enjoying some Southern
California action. Landings had been reporting
that yellowtail, yellowfin, bonito, albacore,
dorado and occasional big eye tuna were all
on the chew. The weather was magnificent and
it afforded me my last chance to tune-up for
the Bisbee Offshore tournament in October.
First I'd like to offer up an explanation for
those "closed eye" pictures that made
their way onto a few message boards. Driving
down from Los Gatos required me to get up at
the absurd hour of 4am, as I had decided to
pop by Albackore, WON and have a meeting with
Axel Valdez of Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort
prior to boarding the Endeavor in San Diego
by early evening.
The tailgate party was just starting when I
arrived, and a cold Pacifico found its way into
my hands soon after that. It was nice to see
George and Mikey — it had been awhile
since I had fished with these guys. I can't
remember if I had fished with Baja Chris...
I think so; but if not, I had seen him around
the annual "Ho" shows. Throughout
the night I had a chance to meet many new folks
Not wanting to be entirely stupid, I bagged
a few precious hours of sleep on the way out
to the 12 fathom "rockpile". Around
an hour before sunrise, I stumbled out to watch
the first few give it a try. We had a quality
load of sardines, but I switched to iron after
the sun came up.
Field testing a new MegaBait by casting off
the bow, I quickly hooked a yellowtail
on the drop. Our captain, John Glawson, handed
off another rod after I decked my first fish.
I put another yellow in the boat and had one
of the deckhands give it to someone who didn't
have a fish yet. I was feeling confident that
the jig would produce, and it did BIG TIME!
I caught four more on it as well as kicking
back three 'cudas. All these fish were landed
on a new Penn Baja Special with 40# Berkeley
Big Game. The rod was a custom Seeker 670.
Later I hauled up one more yellowtail on an
Emperor live bait hook. That outfit was comprised
of a custom Calstar 865 with 30# spooled onto
a Pro Gear 540 Albacore Special.
My two yellowfin tuna came
on troll rotations using a pearl colored Mylure
with an Emperor double tuna hook. A few skipjack
also found it tasty. My troll rig was hoping
to find a possible big eye tuna, so it wasn't
a dainty combo; Sabre stroker cts655 and a Penn
15 KG loaded with Spectra and a heavy duty topshot.
A wonderful time was had by all, and I'd like
to thank the crew of the Endeavor, as well as
George and Dimitri (dude, where were you?),
for putting together a fine charter.
Having recently returned from 10 days in Ireland,
I must have brought back a wee bit of Irish
luck. Today I won the Ling Fling tournament,
hosted by Brian Darney on the Queen of Hearts.
Randy was our skipper while deck duty was shared
by Heather and Andrea.
Prior to leaving the dock we encountered a
light rain, but it failed to dampen anyone’s
spirits. Strong breeze from the south, added
to a reasonably moderate swell, did wind up
putting a damper on the lingcod. However, the
rockfish cooperated, with the
predominate species landed being blues,
and a copper or two.
Working the bow of the Queen, I landed the
winning 8 pound vermilion on one of my first
few drifts using an Amoebic jig in shades of
blue and white. Jeff Nadeau won second place
with a 7 pound brown (AKA Bolina)
rockfish. Only six lings were hooked and none
were of legal size, however a cabezone
and a huge seatrout did score
With limits all around and the sun shining
down on us, we headed in. With a C-note in my
pocket and a trophy too, it made that vermilion
taste that much sweeter on my dinner plate.
Just when I thought I might get some sleep…
day two of my wide-awake-weekend kicked off
on the Wild Wave, leaving Santa Cruz harbor
at 4-freaking AM! The good news is, we get to
crawl into a bunk for the ride out, which puts
us onto the fish quicker while letting us snag
a few precious ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.
Hats off to our fine charter hostess, Beth
Smith, who really put together a fun day on
the water. We had to travel beyond the normal
range for this time of year. Captain Brian Cutting
and his crew had a hunch that we’d get the fish
at a hard break in temperature about 70 miles
Although it was predominantly scratch fishing
— trolling, hooking up one or two, dropping
in with live anchovies or sardines, hooking
a few more — I hooked and promptly lost
my first albacore when my 20#
fluorocarbon leader broke. I didn’t really want
to direct tie to 40#, but when it’s sheer pandemonium
on deck you just don’t have the luxury of thinking
straight, so I gave it a shot with a sardine.
As we trolled to the next spot, I switched
out my reel for one rigged with 30#. I also
borrowed a 20# outfit from Alan Matsuno, who
was nice enough to bring Sierra Nevada Pale
Ale again this year… thanks! During a brief
lull I made a foray into the galley to check
out the scintillating smells emanating from
the grill. As usual, our cook, Salty, kept everyone
well fed with terrific chow, while entertaining
us with great stories.
When my first troll rotation
came up, I whipped out my Sabre (by Penn) Stroker
CTS 655 XHAR & Penn Formula 15 KG. This
was rigged with a pearlescent white Mylure (the
Dart 5”). I horsed my troll fish to the boat
in hopes of having the school follow it, and
quickly sprinted for my bait rig. About 15 minutes
later, I caught one on a ‘chovie. What would
have been my third fish of the day happened
along as I was untangling my line from a couple
others. While engrossed in this mess, a fish
picked up my bait. I tried in vain to hand line
the frisky bugger, but he busted off… guess
the drag setting on my hands was too strong!
On another stop, Sy Hoff was working on a large
fish with a 15# outfit, and it seemed as though
the fish was winning. I was determined to get
bit on iron or a swimbait. Starting on iron,
I tried doing the doink. Sy finally brought
his 30# albie to gaff. With time running out,
I put the iron away and picked a nice 5” plastic
out of my Albackore tackle bag. I had packed
it with every color under the sun. I reeled
it up on my first drop, saw a fish pass under
the bow and immediately sent it back down. Bang!
I was on. The one that worked had a clear belly
and tail flecked with silver flakes. Above the
clear was a gold lateral line topped with translucent
green and flecked with black. (I believe it
was an AA lure that I had picked up years ago.)
A 1¾ oz silver lead head completed the
We tallied 61 chickens by the time we had to
call it quits. The top fish was a 35 pound albacore
that took a little extra effort to land as it
was tail-wrapped. Most of the fish fell into
the 12-14 pound category. Everyone got to battle
a fish and put some blood on the deck.
The ride in was smooth as glass, allowing some
anglers to get some sleep and others to enjoy
time in the galley listening to Salty spin more
tales or watching fishing videos.
Day one of the minimal-sleep weekend started
off with my 2nd annual Bajabev’s
Potluck Tournament. This year I decided to benefit
the Alisa Ann
Ruch Burn Foundation and, although we didn’t
get a chance to fill the event, we managed both
to enjoy a nice competition with favorable weather
and to donate some money to a worthy cause.
Vessel number one, returning from last year's
event; was the Queen of Hearts and captain Bob
Ingles. Vessel number two, the Hulicat with
Dan Roony at the helm, was added by popular
request. Many anglers returned this year to
try and de-throne last year’s winners. We also
had some new faces, and a few more donated spots
so that a kid could fish in their place. Ken
Stone was present again to shoot the action,
and he will undoubtedly have another fine video
I positioned myself on the bow of the Queen
of Hearts this trip in search of a big lingcod.
After kicking back three fish that failed to
make the 30” minimum length, I did manage to
fight a keeper ling to the surface, but it was
lost at the gaff. (Not to worry... the deckhand
took very good care of me back at the bar later
that day.) We put 10 legal lingcod in the boat
and enjoyed playing tug-of-war with 89 others
throughout the day. Hitchhiker lings were thick-as-thieves,
riding up with rockfish or
seatrout firmly in their toothy
grasp. While some took advantage of the live
anchovies provided, swimbaits proved to be deadly
on the rockfish. I'd like to thank Scott Breidenbach
for slipping me some very nice plastics. Gene
Coombs, fishing to my right, finessed a halibut
up to take the second place honors. I landed
one of the 17 cabezon taken,
and opted to haul home several nice rockfish
for dinner and the freezer.
Over on the Hulicat, Pence MacKimmie, fishing
courtesy of Full Speed Fishing.com, was giving
it his best shot using Fat Bait plastics. After
being busted off by his first behemoth he later
rigged up with a 24 inch jacksmelt on a 2-speed
outfit, still to no avail. Next, pulling a trick
I know all too well, when a ling horked up a
couple of octopus, he quickly retrieved them
for bait. His next heartbreak was a classic…the
hook pulled! Noticing that shrimp flies are
bringing in nice fish, Pence switches tactics.
In Pence’s words, “I kept fishing and using
the shrimp fly, and I’m getting much bigger
fish. I got 3 or 4 keeper lings that I released
(going for the TOAD). I then go through a school
of blues and get a perfect
bait size. I send him back and bounce the bottom.
Then I start to feel a ling down there pecking
and pecking, followed by DEAD WEIGHT. So I start
reeling up. Halfway off the bottom he lets go.
I reel up my blue and send him back down. Again
I'm getting pecked, and again dead weight. I
start reeling and halfway up, he lets go again.
I still have my blue. I did this for the next
hour or so and had a 50/50 land rate on nice
fish. But there’s still a 20 pounder in the
box, and I can feel the force!”
Back in the slips, anyone who felt they had
a contender participated in the weigh-off on
the dock. The two biggest lingcod were within
a ½ pound of each other. The rockfish competition
was close too, with a pair of vermilions
being just ounces apart. Each boat had landed
a halibut, but the one on the Hulicat was brought
in by their deckhand and was therefore ineligible.
As for this year’s winners:
Eddie Hanson's 19½ pound lingcod took first
place, for a $300 prize.
Gene Coombs’ ~13 pound halibut took second
place for $200.
Eddie Wong had a vermilion rockfish that
went almost 6 pounds, winning him third place
All three winners will be contacted to join
me on a 4 pack trip on the Doble out of Santa
Cruz on September 30th.
I'd like to thank Alexa Foote, the representative
for Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, for coming
down to Half Moon Bay to meet the boats at the
dock. My husband Jeff and I pitched in a check
for $100 to help AARBF to continue the great
work they do for the children.
Special thanks to:
Bob & Sherry Ingles, owners of the Queen
of Hearts, who donated $100 to AARBF.
Tom Mattusch, owner of the Hulicat, who provided
his boat even though we didn't have a full
charter. He made allowances for the reduced
number of anglers to accommodate the tournament.
Eddie Wong, our third place winner, who donated
$100 to AARBF.
Dan Waddell/Full Speed Fishing.com who donated
a spot for a kid to fish.
IBEW Local # 2376/Jim Bolger who donated
a spot for a kid to fish.
Scott Strain who donated a spot for a kid
Captain Rich Oba/Pacific Pioneer Sport Fishing
who donated a spot for a kid to fish.
I'm planning to host the event again next year.
Hopefully we'll get enough interest to be able
to make it another multi-boat tournament.
To augment a short report on the rockfish opener,
I was desperately in search of some nice accompanying
photographs. I needed a better plan than standing
around the gas dock in Santa Cruz hoping to
flag down a returning boat, so I found myself
on the Wild Wave with a small group of anglers
also in search of rockfish and lingcod.
Brian Cutting took us to a spot I knew fairly
well; Ano Nuevo. We quickly saw lots of gopher
rockfish as the first hook-ups made
it onto the deck. Nice sized Chinas
popped up here and there, plus the occasional
large black rockfish made a
showing. Blues attacked shrimp
flies at a moment’s hesitation, making
it a bit of a challenge to get through to the
bottom in search of a lingcod.
I put down my camera part of the day and dropped
in on a few short lings and a couple of rockfish.
I saw two hefty vermilions
before we had our limits and, to save the day
for me at least, Brandon Caudle hoisted up a
fine green lingcod into the
boat. It measured 31” and I had no problem
getting him to pose with the beautiful fish.
Today was a web-assisted fishing trip which
started out on Ebay. An albacore
adventure on the “Ghetto Booty”
was engaged in a bidding war. The final bidder,
Meili, couldn’t get the day off, so she
opted to let me take her place.
This trip, team Booty consisted of Dan Waddell,
Richard Kent, Sean Barre, Ben (the tuna virgin)
Rojas and yours truly. We left at 4am from Pillar
Point Harbor to put the wood to the chickens.
Of course the wind was supposed to come down
but it didn’t, so we bucked it out once
we got to the grounds. (I actually got in some
practice rides on a large Igloo cooler as it
shifted around on the rear deck, and found I
could stay on longer than your average bull
rider.) Since Rojas was still putting his rain
gear on he missed the first fish to rise to
the troll gear. Sean boated the fish and we
resumed the hunt. Ben fought the second albie
like he’d been doing it all his life.
He declined to eat either the heart or the eyeball,
much to our dismay. Contestant number three
hit the deck courtesy of me.
With the wind and waves messing up the troll
pattern (it was typical “jackass”
conditions) and a big blow threatening, we reluctantly
headed in early.
Hey Meili, I have some smoked albacore waiting
July 23 - 26
I had two days of fishing in Baja, as a guest
of Axel Valdez and Hotel
Buena Vista Beach Resort. I fished aboard
their super cruiser "Careleste" with
Steve Carson and Ronnie Kovach. Danny Jackson
was filming our fishing for future "Fishing
Ventures" shows on the Outdoor Channel.
Axel joined us for my first day with a boat
full of professional talent. We knocked the
stuffing out of pargo, several
types of snappers, amberjack,
and Ronnie even had a hook up on a striped
Day two was a repeat of fantastic inshore
action including a huge pargo that I pulled
up while we were trying to entice some breezing
jack crevalle. Multiple hook ups of dorado kept
us busy and challenged our cameraman Danny as
he followed us around the boat.
While I was there, the resort also hosted the
8th annual Big Game Blowout. The winning boat
in the tournament released two blue marlin,
as well as nailing a 47# dorado. Sunday evening,
the awards dinner was held on the beach.
The weather was beautiful and I didn't want
to leave! Stay tuned, the pictures are being
Dan Wolford, Ed Lo, Ben Sleeter and I joined
Darrell Ticehurst on his vessel Noosacat today.
The plan was to do some studies on releasing
rockfish — Dan had built
some recompression devices. But as soon as we
left Half Moon Bay, the breeze hit us from the
south. Not good!
We made a couple of drifts over Deep Reef before
bailing on that idea. The swell was still out
of the northwest at that point, and the weather
was sloppy, but Darrell's twin hull had no problem
handling the seas. We switched plans to salmon
fishing, starting in front of Martin’s
Beach where we saw signs of life. There were
huge bait balls everywhere, but none of us could
raise a fish.
After about an hour of hearing reports to our
north, Darrell put the hammer down to run out
to the fleet. A few miles short of their position,
I pointed out a large group of birds to Darrell
and agreed it looked too good to pass up. The
kicker was that I had to visit the head. I no
sooner had the door shut when they scored a
double hook-up. Both 20-pound class salmon hit
the deck. Starting off with such a nice grade
gave us hope for really big fish. We managed
one more on that spot before joining the rest
of the herd near Mussel Rock.
Sleeter's rod was the hot stick, which worked
out nicely since it was his last day fishing
as a bachelor! We tossed off a few silvers and
one incredibly small shaker during the day,
but most of the fish were very nice. The swell
finally shifted to match the wind while the
last few fish were being fought. Tired of being
pitched around, we headed for the barn with
limits for the five of us.
We put the whip to the pony coming in and I
cleaned the fish while we were at the fuel dock.
Bob Franko met us at the slip, and I proceeded
to tell him how I landed my first salmon on
a FBR (Franko Bullet Rotator).
As the wind whistled in just before dawn, Coastside
Fishing Club began their 2nd annual salmon
derby. I entered under team Ghetto Booty. Dan
Waddell’s boat was able to weather the
rough ocean that sent at least a third of the
derby entrants scurrying back to Pillar Point
Harbor, where they were invited to exchange
their entry fees for raffle tickets. Those folks
got the BBQ and beer going early while the rest
of us “went for it!”
For most contenders it was a day of limits,
but nothing to write home about. I felt lucky
enough to get a nice salmon in the 16 pound
class to augment my smaller 5½ pound
fish. I did manage to spot several 30 pound
hogs at the weigh-in. But for most folks, it
was just another nice club turnout and a chance
to spend a day on the water doing what we all
love to do.
Back in 1995, I spent a bit of time in Alaska
(Sand Point and Dutch Harbor, to be exact) on
the commercial end of the fishing spectrum.
Winter on the Aleutian chain is no picnic, but
I found it to be a rewarding experience nonetheless.
I promised myself to return some day to enjoy
the riches of these beautiful Alaskan waters
as a sportfisherman — that is, any time
After some consideration, I decided to go
“pro” this year and start entering
some tournaments. I contacted Steve Carson and,
on his advice, signed up for the 4th annual
Penn Reels Alaska Grand Slam tournament, hosted
Lodge in Sitka, and conducted by him and
Ron Kovach. I also managed to talk my husband
Jeff into joining me, having so admirably weathered
the unexpected 8-10 foot Sea of Cortez during
our East Cape trip last November. To fill our
boat for each of the three days of the tournament,
we hooked up with a father and son combo from
Southern California, who came recommended by
Jeff and I flew into Sitka on a Thursday,
a couple of days in advance of the tournament,
to tour the town and to promote Emperor Tackle
to a few of the local shops. I was rather impressed
by the shops I visited Murray Pacific, a huge
store that supplies both sport and commercial
gear; Fly Away Fly Shop, who cater to the fly
fisherman’s every needs; Russell’s
(Harbor Drive), a large sporting goods store
with a nice array of gear and knowledgeable
staff (including the Alaskan Amber sweatshirt
I had been looking for); and Orion Sporting
Goods (Halibut Point Road), where we dropped
by on our way back to the lodge after our last
long day of fishing to present Bert with one
of our gold-plated 17/0 circle hooks that had
just seen a whole lotta action.
During our time in Sitka, we found we really
didn’t need a car to get around, as the
weather was great and we needed to walk off
the excellent cuisine offered up by many of
the restaurants in the downtown area. A night
of dancing at Ernie’s Old Time Tavern
was yet another way to burn some calories and
meet a few of the more colorful locals.
Saturday evening we transplanted ourselves
from the Sitka Hotel to the Kingfisher Lodge,
moving from quaint to plush! I’ve been
to a lot of places all over the world, and these
guys are definitely dialed in to providing the
ultimate fishing experience. Kingfisher is a
pleasant marriage of style and efficiency, staffed
with friendly, talented and enthusiastic people.
On arrival, Jeff and I met up with our boat
mates, Dave Marcin and his son Adam, who turned
out to be wonderful companions on our fishing
excursions. During the first of our sumptuous
dinners — prime rib that night —
Steve Carson and Ron Kovach explained the rules
of the event to the 44 anxious anglers.
Shortly after breakfast, about 6 am Sunday
morning (I would have said "the crack of
dawn" if the late spring Alaskan sun hadn't
been up a couple hours already), we piled into
vans and shuttled to our boats awaiting us at
the harbor. For the first day of the tournament
we drew Captain Casey Gould and the vessel Nautilus.
By the rules, each day we would go out on a
different boat, which gave us a great opportunity
to engage the talents of these fine skippers.
As would be the custom every morning, the boat
first ran to the salmon spot
where we put our limit of four fish
(one per angler) in the box. Standard
trolling gear for the salmon consisted of light
to medium action rods on downriggers with flashers
and hootchies. Over the three days, we found
our salmon at depths between 90 and 140 feet.
Next we headed out to a deep spot over 500
feet and anchored up. Medium to heavy outfits
loaded with spectra and baited with salmon innards
started off our “soak” interval.
Halibut have a way of finding
you once you send out the invitation to stop
by for a snack. But more than two hours went
by and we still hadn't got an RSVP. About the
time you start to think you may have parked
over the Sahara desert, rods start to go tap-tap-tap.
But leave them be for a moment. Then they go
major league bendo! Now it's time to put that
60-80 lb. spectra to work and haul up these
heavy brutes. Our guests continued to arrive
at the party for a couple more hours, much to
While I did boat a nice ninety pound Pacific
halibut and an eight pound yelloweye
rockfish that first day, I failed to
produce a lingcod needed to score a grand slam.
Jeff landed both a lingcod
and a yelloweye, lucky newbie that he is, and
proceeded to one-up-me by getting his slam.
In fact, he slammed all three days — I
guess I taught him too much! Adam (at thirteen,
the youngest entrant in this tournament's history)
put a 103 pound flattie into the boat. Way to
Monday was a day for sunscreen and flat ocean
aboard the boat Pinnacle with captain Paul Ipolk.
After getting our quota of salmon, we went jigging
for a couple of hours on a known lingcod spot
and totally hammered them. We had to release
most of our lingcod, which exceeded the slot
limit to take. I had one that taped out at 41”
and weighed between 28 - 30 pounds. Jeff nailed
a 44” ling, and Dave scored one that must
have weighed at least 50 pounds. Jeff also brought
in a 13 pound yelloweye. Paul then ran us out
to one of his secret honey holes. I boated two
halibut at 103 and 127.5 pounds, my personal
best to date. Everyone on our boat scored a
grand slam that day, and we were worthy of the
soreness that comes after a good fight.
Day three found us with Heath Bone on the
Intrepid. We got right down to business on the
salmon troll with a pair of back-to-back double
hook ups. We had our limits of salmon in 15
minutes! Over the course of the event, the salmon
averaged 12 – 20 pounds. But Dave surprised
us all by landing a 30 pound class fish that
day. It was a good thing we didn’t have
to devote a lot of time to salmon, because our
calm weather was rapidly deteriorating. So we
promptly departed for the halibut grounds, leaving
virtually all the other tourney boats behind.
We anchored up for halibut and proceeded to
bounce it out on what most others would
call rough waters. We found a number of butts
there, plus some yelloweye, but alas no lingcod.
Almost out of time, we made for the inside to
drop on some pinnacles where the lings and rockfish
tend to congregate. But the drift was fast and
hard to fish. We only managed to kick back a
few very large black rockfish that hit out jigs
on the retrieve. Trying hard not to come apart
at the seams, I rummaged through my Albakore
tackle bag with a vengeance, groping for something
to entice a ling.(I think I was actually rather
eloquent describing my demeanor at the time.)
Jeff, Dave and Adam all kept well clear of my
path during those final desperate drifts. But
wouldn't you know it... Jeff, that lucky B------,
hooked up the one and only ling in the final
10 minutes to hit his slam. I'm going to have
some serious thoughts about bringing him along
next time... just kidding!
At our last dinner together, Steve and Ronnie
presented awards to the top anglers. For overall
points in the tournament, which included one
point per pound for the heaviest of each of
the four species, plus 50 points per grand slam,
the top winners were:
Ken Frisk: 641 points (continuing
his reign from the prior year)
Bob Brown: 596
Bill Pisarra: 481
Beverly Seltzer: 462
I also managed to take second place in the
halibut division (total of heaviest fish over
3 days). Jeff took 8th in the overall tournament
and second in the yelloweye competition. Dave
won the honors for best in salmon.
Will I go back again next year? Does Smarty
Jones have a good shot at the Triple Crown?
Well, I'd like to think so!
I spent the day fishing with Eudes de Crecy
and Robert Gulli from Emperor Tackle, and our
guest, Captain Dave Bacon, visiting from Santa
Barbara. Dave also brought along his talented
photographer, Ramona Lisa. The five of us were
treated to a day on the water with our host
Billy Roach on his vessel Sea Roach II. We departed
from San Diego around 4am to check out the Coronado
We had some nice live anchovies and we were
quickly bit by sculpin, lingcod
and a cabezon. I also picked
up my first calico bass of
the day. Yellowtail remained elusive, so we
decided to move north to try a little paddy
At the 9 mile bank, we showed some fish on
the sonar, but they had no interest in us. So
again we headed farther north to the kelp beds
off La Jolla. I saw a huge calico bass free
jumping near some kelp, so we dropped in for
some more action on calicos and lingcod. I was
hoping for a halibut, but I didn’t find
one this time.
We all enjoyed the beautiful day experimenting
with Emperor Tackle hooks and lures.
My first overnight trip of the season was
aboard the Tracer from Long Beach; this was
the Diane Laufer fundraiser benefiting the Breast
Cancer Angels. I fished with a bunch of
great gals — most of them from the South
Bay Lady Anglers Club— as well as a few
We motored out Saturday evening to Santa Barbara
Island to anchor up for the night. The galley
was filled with all the requisite party food…
chocolate covered strawberries, cake, cookies…
and they even had my favorite soda, Dr. Pepper.
Outside in the bait tanks we had live sardines,
anchovies, squid and some macks for good measure.
The weather Sunday was perfect as we loaded
up on various quality rockfish,
white fish, sand dabs,
even a large lingcod and a
white seabass. I even managed
to hook and release a small octopus. Try as
we might we couldn’t find any yellowtail,
but I’m sure they’ll show up later
in the season.
I’d like to thank Alecia Cornelius and
the crew of the Tracer for putting on a fun
and successful charter. We donated most of our
fish locally to help feed women being assisted
by the Breast Cancer Angels. Special thanks
to tall Glen for being gracious when I mistook
him for a crew member and asked him to fetch
me a soda. He was wearing a Tracer t-shirt!
He did manage to nail both the large ling and
the WSB! I hope to see everybody again next
By the way, the Breast Cancer Angels also publish
a highly popular cookbook, with most of the
recipes donated by survivors and women who did
not survive. The price is $10 per book; they
make great Christmas gifts! If you're interested
in buying a book, making a donation, or becoming
a sponsor of the fundraiser, contact Alecia
E. Cornelius, Fundraiser Coordinator, The Diane
Laufer Fishing Fundraiser, at (818) 482-1772.
If you had to pick one day to go salmon
fishing, TODAY was THE day! What made it even
better was pulling off the equivalent of a football
“hail Mary” play by gaffing a net…
stay tuned, I’ll explain in a minute.
I had an invitation to fish on a boat called
“Ghetto Booty” with owner Dan Waddell.
Dave Peterson, Don Lopker, and Eric Husman also
joined me dockside to board the ex-commercial
salmon and sea urchin fishing vessel. We ran
out to the Farallone Islands and dropped down
three lines. The rods went bendo pretty quickly
and we picked up three nice silvery beasts all
crazy from eating krill. The salmon were really
making nice runs as we fought them on Seeker
rods equipped with Shimano Calcutta reels. I
traded off running the boat with Don and Dan
from time to time and started to help clean
fish. During a lull I scanned the horizon, counting
no less than 45 boats of all sizes and shapes
in the area. We put a few more fish in the box
and then it happened. Dan brought a fish within
net range where Dave scooped it, but somehow
the net whipped out of his hand. To make matters
worse the salmon then dislodged the hook. For
a brief moment it started to get hung up in
the portside downrigger. That was just enough
time to scream for a gaff, which Don passed
to me, and I swung on the netted fish. We hauled
the potential escapee onto the deck and high-fived.
By 11:45 we had limits for everybody. None of
the fish were less than 18 pounds and most were
in the mid to upper 20’s. We never even
saw a shaker!
The wind failed to kick up overnight and although
it was a little bumpy heading out of Pillar
Point harbor in the light fog, the Queen of
Hearts was treated to a flat ocean with sunny
skies by early afternoon.
A few minutes into trolling I started to slowly
crank in my bait to check it and, wham, I hooked
up. After putting the first salmon
of the day on the boat I knew my luck was changing.
Captain Randy Bankcord juggled keeping us over
a nice bait ball while navigating a strong current.
Heather was decking and she was kept busy with
the net for awhile. We had almost one fish per
rod when it slowed down. Shakers started to
pop up and I watched as a friend of mine lost
weight after weight to the small salmon. The
decision was made to make a move so we ran for
about 45 minutes and tried it again.
A few more nice fish were added to the box
before it quieted down. We returned to our original
hunting grounds and steadily picked up more
salmon reaching boat limits by around 2 pm.
On the way back in I helped Heather clean a
few of the fish and tidy up the boat. What can
I say except for: I WAS DUE!
Today I guess I was the statue and the fish
were the pigeons. I went salmon
mooching again only this time I had a bunch
of guys from the Coastside Fishing club to witness
my frustration. I got to share humiliation with
quite a few seasoned veterans as a kid on board
put some nice fish in the box. This trip out
of Santa Cruz on the Wild Wave was a pleasant
experience due to two things. One, the ocean
had flattened out, and two, even if the fishing
falls flat, this crowd is worth hanging out
with just for the hell of it! I have sworn off
mooching for salmon again, and the next time
you see me it’ll be on a vessel trolling.
Well sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes
you’re the windshield. Every few years
I somehow get talked into mooching for salmon.
This year is was due to my good nature. I offered
to go out fishing on a party boat that was in
danger of having to cancel due to lack of passengers.
After seeing the ocean that day, I can hardly
blame the timid. It was a cold rough ride, but
then I’m used to that sort of thing. What
I’m not used to is NOT bringing home any
fish. I did have one fish to my credit, a shaker,
which I had to release.
About a month ago I accepted an invitation
to fish with the legendary Ray Rychnovsky. Normally
I don’t wet a line in freshwater until
later in the year. However I was not about to
pass up a chance to fish with one of the leading
authorities on Northern California waters.
Vaqueros Reservoir is a stone’s throw
from the city of Livermore and just across the
Contra Costa county line. The facility is scenic
and very clean. I remarked that it would be
a wonderful place to ride a horse or hoof it
yourself on the many trails. Ray set us up with
a rental boat (all of which sport electric motors)
and we started to troll from the marina in a
northeast direction. As predicted (weathermen
are right some of the time), the breeze suddenly
popped up. Taking my turn as the captain, I
pointed the bow into the wind while Ray set
the rods out. Within a short time we had our
first bent rod. A nice rainbow trout
launched itself and tauntingly flashed us before
making a run. I reeled the 2½ pound beauty
to the side where Ray netted the fish. As the
wind increased, we decided to head back in,
but not before we put another two into the ice
chest. I processed the catch at the state-of-the-art
fish cleaning station while Ray became acquainted
with my digital camera. After a few poses with
the biggest rainbow we headed off, vowing to
return another day.
I also want to mention that Ray has his fourth
book out now, Sacramento Valley Fishing
Paradise, and I will soon be posting the
details on my endorsements and reviews page.
Today was a little tougher due to a mild southerly
breeze building. Back aboard the Queen of Hearts,
I used a few strips of ling and rosie skins
(from the previous day) to enhance the iron
The current had picked up a bit and it took
a minimum of 6-8 ounces to get down to the fish
on the bottom. Up off the rocks, the olives,
blues and vermilions
were still hanging out waiting to pounce on
a shrimp fly, teaser, or small plastic grub.
Anybody with a teaser got hammered by the olives
and blues. Lots of canaries
were around, but I had good releases on both
of mine. Lingcod showed a preference
for heavy chrome tipped with squid or chartreuse
scampi tails. I landed 2 lings to bring home,
one of them on “the Big Ugly”, a
combination leadhead with a scampi tail and
a glow tube over that.
My friends Ray and Robin, who didn’t
make it out, joined me that afternoon for another
great batch of deep-fried fish before I headed
home to catch up on my sleep.
It’s rare to find the weather and ocean
conditions as nice as they were today. Capt.
Bob of the Queen of Hearts ditched the coastline
in favor of a run to the Farallon Islands. Calm
water and a boatload of regulars (including
my buddy Gene) made the travel time enjoyable.
We fished between 120 and 175 feet of water
with drifts so perfect Bob even cut the motors
a few times to enjoy the silence… of the
boat that is! The screaming, shouting and laughing
were still heard. We hit schools of huge olives
and lingcod seemed to be everywhere.
Nice sized vermilions, quillbacks,
and Chinas topped off sacks
already holding olive, yellowtail
and blue rockfish. Bernie,
a Queen of Hearts regular, landed an 8-10 pound
cabezon and, while it didn’t
win the jackpot, his lingcod did. Back in the
stern, Gene and I spent the day castin’
& catchin’. I even pulled up what
had to be close to a 2 pound rosie.
I only managed one keeper ling, but I released
3 or 4 shakers. Back at the harbor we enjoyed
some of our catch deep-fried.
After I drove home, I doled out fish to the
neighbors, showered and caught a couple of winks,
deciding to go back out again tomorrow.
It was drizzling at the dock this Sunday morning
in the predawn chill as we assembled to go fishing
again on the Hulicat
for another Fat Bait charter. Capt. Tom ran
the Hulicat south to Ano Nuevo. We tried many
spots between Half Moon Bay and Ano Nuevo, with
the breeze from the south progressing to unmistakable
WIND. Southerly winds are the pits when you're
rockfishing, but it still beats not fishing
In preparation for this trip, I'd gone to Ly’s
Sporting & Fishing Goods and bought some
of Dan Waddell’s Fat Baits and jig heads.
I used Pro-Tec powder paint (glow) to coat about
a half dozen lead heads. I also used Power Pro
with top shots for the first time on my smaller
reels. (For today it was a Pro Gear 545 and
a Newell G220F).
Twelve lingcod hit sacks with
a handful of smaller ones getting kicked back
to live another day. Only 4 rockfish
were bagged, however a few more near-shore
species were released.
Congrats to Mike (biggest lingcod), and Craig
(biggest rockfish), for their wins, and contributions
to the club. (I later saw Mike spending some
of his winnings at the Harbor Bar during the
Super Bowl game.)
Tom had his hands full keeping us on some
very difficult drifts; the ride, in general,
was quite a bit smoother than last Sunday. I
hooked three fish, but the only one I landed
was a small male lingcod that just taped out
to 24". I tried just about everything in
my tackle box, including Bling Bling and Green
Feen colored Fat Baits, but this fish was landed
on something new called “the big ugly”
that is made at Reed's Sport Shop in San Jose.
My first fishing foray of the New Year started
off aboard the Hulicat
on a Fat Bait charter. I woke up the next morning
feeling as though I'd been beat with a two-by-four!
My hands were swollen and my reflection from
the mirror looked like the "before"
photo in a Botox ad. BUT I HAD FUN!
Dan Waddell, our charter master and the man
behind Fat Baits, reported, "I am not sure
how many lingcod we released,
but it had to be close to a hundred." I
was responsible for 12 of those, and the two
I kept were about 10 pounds each. I also released
all my rockfish, except for two yellowtails.
Rockfish were tougher to come
by, but the ones that bit were comprised of
olives, and I even saw a gopher.
Of these, many that weren’t jackpot contenders
got to swim home.
Congrats to Debbie (biggest lingcod), and Eliot
(biggest rockfish), for their wins and contributions
to the club.
Thanks to Capt. Tom for the determination to
get us to the islands and put us on the fish.
It was rough going, but I didn't spill a drop
of the rum & coke I had for breakfast.
Thanks to Dan for putting this trip together.
I did catch and release a ling using a green
feen fat bait, and I will be buying some of
his new jig heads as well.
With 20-25 knots of wind making our drifts
very fast, it was difficult to use lighter swim
baits, so I’d also like to mention another
couple products I tried out. I attached (with
a split ring) a 5/0 gold plated circle hook,
made by Emperor Tackle,
to a large Amoebic Jig marketed by River2Sea.
My first three casts all produced Lingcod.
I enjoyed meeting a few new folks and hope
to see some of you on the water soon. I guess
this would be a good time to tell my webmaster/husband,
Jeff, that I will be fishing again next Sunday.
(He’ll probably be watching the Superbowl
to my 2017 Fishing Diary
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