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November 11

Cheryl, David and I got a leisurely start to dropping crab pots this morning on pond-like sea conditions out of Santa Cruz. We set six, documenting each on the GPS.

With the weather so nice we meandered up to Ano Nuevo, stopping here and there to fish. We kept four nice fat blue rockfish, three blacks and I released a couple of short lingcod. We also released a lot of blues and a gopher.

On the way back down we pulled the pots for a grand total of seven crabs... Not to shabby for a short soak! We found a big sand dab in one of the pots too.

November 5

Last night the gang from Full Speed Fishing got together for pizza and beer to celebrate a few member's birthdays, and Mike Velasquez offered to run me out for some crab on opening day as a gift. He has the vessel Pacific Hooker which he operates for sportfishing charters.

A few of us met up at the fuel dock in Pillar Point Harbor and Mike ran us out to a pot that yielded about three limits of nice big dungeness crab.

After giving away one crab to a friend at the dock I took the remaining nine home where I was warmly received by my neighbors. We stuffed ourselves on boiled crab and wine.

October 29

Team Alibi II reunited today to launch from Monterey for a morning of rockfishing. We worked the area in front of Cypress Point had quick limits of blue, olive, vermilion and gopher rockfish. I pinned a small blue on and dropped it down for a lingcod that was just 3/4 of an inch short, so back it went.

Cheryl and David are busy preparing some crab pots so we can start some combo trips next month!

October 13

Today was Fall fishing at it's finest! Bright sunny skies, calm wind and just enough swell to comfortably drift, combined for perfect conditions to hunt for rockfish just above Pigeon Point.

Back in the stern of the Queen of Hearts, I met a father whose one son was a very exuberant young angler. In the spirit of father/son fishing, dad had handed off a freshly hooked, major-league tugger to his son who reeled in a monstrous cabezon. The excitement was contagious as set my rod down to snap a couple of pictures.

Returning to my spot, I hoped to soon add something big to my sack. A guy in the corner already had two keeper lings and I had zero. In the recesses of my Albackore Altunative I found a brown-backed, pearl swimbait and soon had cast it out.

Bam! My rod tip when bendo on a huge fish. We played give-and-take for a couple of minutes close to the bottom, however just when I thought I might get rocked, the fish gave up and submitted to my reeling. Heather swung the gaff down and planted it firmly in a 15 pound lingcod. This brute joined my assortment of gophers, a decent vermilion and my lone blue rockfish.

As luck would have it I won the jackpot and another "lucky lure" from Capt. Bob.

October 8

A friend called me Friday night and twisted my arm to go fishing the next morning, on a charter aboard the New Salmon Queen. Jeff gave me the thumbs up to bail, so I picked up a couple 12-packs of Guinness and threw together a deviled ham sandwich before hitting the hay.

Brian offered me a ride from Dan's house, and Kevin joined us as well. We hit Starbuck's and made a "burrito" stop for Dan, before getting on the boat in Emeryville.

It was rough outside the gate so we never got past Bonito Cove, however I popped up a couple of striped bass (kept one for dinner). I also released a small halibut, a lingcod, a sandshark and a seagull. While we were in Bonito Cove two white seabass were landed.

Towards the end of the day we hit the tide change near Angel Island, and as halibut were being caught, we were treated to an air show by the Blue Angels as part of the Fleet Week festivities.

September 25

I joined Ronnie Kovach and a couple of other Owner Hooks fishing school instructors at 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro. Captains Mike Frank and Tom Lee had piloted the vessel Freedom out to San Clemente island the night before and had our limited load of anglers ready to fish well before dawn broke.

Anchored in calm seas, just off the kelp beds, the calico bass proceeded to go on the chew. Even with a beautiful load of live bait, I opted to start off with a Berkley mackerel PowerBait. On my first cast I was rewarded with a nice three pound calico.

After a short move, one yellowtail was landed on iron. Anglers using dropper loop rigs on the bottom were getting whitefish, sheephead and calicos.

Fishing was interrupted briefly when the gentleman to my right suddenly collapsed back towards me in the stern. I caught him as he fell and held him as he experienced a seizure. As luck would have it we happened to have a fireman out with us and several of the crew were trained for medical emergencies.

Later that morning after clearing the deck, a Coast Guard helicopter lowered a basket and picked up the unfortunate angler and headed off to a southern California hospital. The rest of us were left to continue fishing in a bit of a somber mood. (Our spirits rallied when we received goods news later from the hospital on the patient.)

Once again we encountered hungry calicos and soon blue perch were joining them. A huge 7 pound calico was landed and since Ronnie had put a minimum weight bounty on several species of fish, the lucky guy was rewarded with a 100 dollar bill.

Brian Shabata and John Sutherland kept us happy on the deck by attending to everyone's needs while fishing, and in the spacious galley, Johnny "McEnroe" Dewitt cooked up a storm.

September 23

Full Speed Fishing, in conjunction with several other sponsors, held a trip for the Friends of Rollo Foundation benefiting some of the kids and staff from the FLY program (fresh lifelines for youth).

The New Salmon Queen out of Emeryville was our donated vessel, with Capt. Craig Shimokusu at the helm. He started our morning off at Bonito Cove where one of the first fish landed was a blue rockfish.

With the wind picking up a bit we moved back inside the bay in search of some bottom fish. The kids were thrilled to catch and release numerous sand sharks. Capt. "Shim" even had one about three feet long! Five leopard sharks and two striped bass were kept and a 45 pound bat ray (AKA mud marlin), baby seven gill shark, and small halibut were released as well.

September 21

At six o clock sharp I was loading my tackle, a cooler and some food unto Dan's boat Ghetto Booty. Along for the Full Speed Fishing ride was Lee, Mike, Mr. Ling, and Ben, who was looking for his first halibut.

With nice low southerly swells we ran up to San Francisco to get bait from Dyno. We got a healthy tankful of anchovies with a few sardines mixed in.

Ran up around Bonito Cove to try for white seabass. Lee wasted no time putting a 12 pound halibut on the with a coffee grinder. A few drifts later Mike landed a 13 pound flattie.

Without the bass cooperating we hustled down to Seal Rocks but the game wasn't on so we returned to Bonito.

Dan had what we all are pretty sure was a toad white seabass. It ran like it was possessed. Just as we thought we'd get spooled, the fish was turned, and then the hook pulled! Not much else followed it except for a couple of blue rockfish. I sat for at least 5-10 minutes trying to get a backlash out of my spectra and I must have dropped at least 6 'chovies on the deck. (It's a good idea to get some sleep the night before... Geez was I tired!)

Tracking further down the coast we headed in towards Mussel Rock and picked up a few more rockfish.

From there we tried to find better water. It was starting to show up chocolate brown. At Whalers Cove Ben caught his first butt, a 16 pounder. Shortly afterwards I nailed a very pretty sand sole.

I'm glad I dressed in layers, with the sun and the fog trading off I could keep warm or cool down.

I put a pretty big dent in the 'lil chocolate donuts and my bathroom scale still likes me... At least tonight.

September 9

The Bay Area Tuna Club's Bat Batsford Memorial Tuna Challenge was rescheduled from last weekend, due to weather, and entrants were given the 9th & 10th to fish.

Cheryl & David and I launched their 28' Grady White "Alibi II" out of Monterey to compete early Friday morning. Our research suggested that an area just slightly Southwest of the harbor, over the Monterey canyon, looked like an excellent place to start. With the prospect of hooking the elusive bluefin tuna, a whisky line was dumped about a 100 yards back to run behind our standard spread.

Five minutes into the troll we hit pay dirt with albacore numero uno. Dave fought the fish and I swung the gaff nailing it just below the dorsal fin. At first we thought the fish had snagged some seaweed, however upon closer inspection we saw that it was infested by two species of nasty looking worms (copepod parasites)... yuck! Above the lateral line the worms (6-8) were transparent yellow and about an eighth of an inch thick and about 4 inches long. An inch below the lateral line they were black, about the same length, and looked like something you'd use for bass bait. I grabbed the pliers and quickly "plucked" this chicken.

A couple hours later we mapped out a nice pocket of 63 degree water with a hard temperature break. I hauled in another fish, and soon Cheryl went to war with the first tournament contender we would catch that day. Next, a double hook-up had David and Cheryl both in action as I was ready with the gaff. Both fish turned out to be large peanuts that were easily swung into the boat.

The whisky line started to scream and I jumped on to slug it out with our second ranking fish. Furiously cranking, I had him to color when he decided to apply the brakes and we engaged in a Mexican stand-off for the next 10 minutes. I started to lightly thumb the line as well as use the boat and swell to my advantage. Finally, Dave planted the gaff. Following this catch was a double knockdown which failed to produce. The boat handled sweetly and we popped most fish between 6.2 & 6.5 knots.

At around 3 pm, with 6 albies in the cooler, we decided to run in, intending to get to the weigh station at Bayside Marine in Santa Cruz before they closed. Halfway back to the harbor I noticed the water was a consistent 60 degrees. There were tuna birds everywhere, and these birds were working too! My excitement soon caught on and we dumped the lines back out. We gave it about 15 minutes. Not getting a hit, we reluctantly resumed our course in.

At the scale we were pleased to have our two top fish weigh in at 30.8 and 27.1 pounds. Allowed one fish per boat we secured third place at the end of the first day. Hearing that the weather was coming up, we decided not to fish again the second day, and we didn't expect too many others to do well. But, alas, the next morning another fish that had been captured the first day was weighed in and bumped ours to fourth. I'm pretty sure we were the highliners with six in the box.

August 20

The third annual Bajabev Potluck, held on the Queen of Hearts, was a double success this year! Not only did we raise $1700 for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, but we also got to put some of the foundation's child survivors on the boat to fish.

Although the weather was a little bumpy and chilly, everyone had a great day. Tables were covered with donuts, coffee cake, potato chips... and outside we had a cooler full of deli sandwiches and sodas.

The kids couldn't believe their eyes when they saw lingcod, cabezon and big exotic-colored rockfish for the first time up close and personal. Capt. Bob put us onto several spots including one we dubbed root beer reef due to the color of the water. Fat Baits produced most of the big fish including Russell Thompson's huge 30 pound halibut.

Raffle winners:
Tilia Gamesaver donated by Alecia Cornelius & the Reel Sisters - Mike Velasquez

Custom rod by Rich Coulson - John Bloom

Albackore Reel Transport - Gene Coombs

Albackore T-shirt - Paul Marshall

Chuck Byron T-shirt - Dr. Rosanne Mayhew

Chuck Byron T-shirt - Mike Johnson

Chuck Byron T-shirt - Gary Edwards

Chuck Byron T-shirt - Mike Long

Print by Guy Harvey - Gary Edwards

Haircut by Lene Fried - Dan Waddell

Dressed to chill beverage cover - Renzo Segovia

Dressed to chill beverage cover - Dan Waddell

Copy of The Lady and the Lingcod - Randy Pridham

Copy of The Lady and the Lingcod - Gary Edwards

Copy of The Lady and the Lingcod - Rob Morandi

Special thanks to:
John Van Pelt for picking up and delivering most of the kids who came to fish from the burn foundation... And to Dan Waddell for springing for the gas to do so.

Randy Pridham & his great boss for donating the sandwiches & sodas from Old County Deli.

Queen of Hearts deckhand, Heather Shirley, for donating $100 to AARBF.

Bob & Sherry Ingles for waiving a $75 gas surcharge and supplying free rental rods to the kids.

Reed's Sport Shop, in San Jose, for donating a box of leadheads and some terminal tackle for the kids and anglers on the trip.

And last but not least the wonderful members of Full Speed Fishing.com who bought lots of raffle tickets and were always there to give support!


August 18

Gene Coombs chartered the Queen of Hearts for a day of rummaging for rowdy rockfish, and I was not about to forfeit my invitation to be a part of this trip, so I jumped aboard. The waters around Pigeon Point treated us very well and I caught 3 nice vermilions as well as a decent lingcod. The vermilions were so dark they actually looked more like the color crimson. I rounded off my sack with gophers, a China and a blue rockfish.

August 3-5

After lounging for a couple of days in Cabo San Lucas assembling tackle, Larry Lowman and I drove up to the East Cape to compete in the Bisbee East Cape Offshore Circuit Tournament. John Rygiol joined us there to top off team "Buyers Broker" and we all got comfortable at the host facility; Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort.

Aboard Lee Brooks' boat, the Oso Negro, with captain Carlos, we raced off across flat seas at the shotgun start Wednesday morning amongst fifty-six other vessels.With 300 pound minimum marlin on our minds, only the big guns were deployed in our spread. Two striped marlin and two sailfish showed serious interest but couldn't inhale the huge lures intended for their larger cousins. A dorado came to the party, but it too failed to stay hooked. When the order to retrieve lines from the water came at four o'clock, only one black marlin had been caught. As it only weighed in the 200 pound class, the daily jackpots rolled over to the next day.

Back at the hotel after a quick swim in the pool, we discussed the next days strategy over a fabulous dinner... something about drawing straws for the human sacrifice if we didn't hook up by noon.

Another flat calm day awaited us on day two, and those pesky stripers and sails were back to annoy us again. We were able to shake off all of these smaller fish quickly so we could pursue the "money" fish. But, alas, they eluded us and everyone else that day. Dolphins working a school of bait in the area gave us some brief hope of a tuna, but we struck out on them too... So the jackpot rolled again!

That night, I pursued a game of Texas Hold'em in the bar with some other entrants to kill a few hours before trying to go to sleep.

The third and last day started off promising with our team finally hooking up a blue marlin. However, about a minute into the fight the fish jumped and we estimated it to be only a 225-pounder, around 75 pounds short of what we were targeting, so I dropped the rod tip and let it go. We were equipped to tag any fish caught and released, but in the interest of expediency, we didn't bring this one to the boat.

A short time later, I caught and kept a nice wahoo (about 35#). We promptly dropped the same tattered lure off the stern to see if it would produce again. Sure enough, it was hit moments later and Larry got to boat a wahoo slightly larger than mine (about 40#). At this point I would normally give a description of this most effective lure. It was originally a yellow/orange skirted marlin lure, but there really wasn't much left of the thing after 2 hoos.

As the day progressed we listened intently to radio reports of fish coming to the weigh station. Once while watching the lines, I saw a striper all lit up and hovering beneath a lure, then taking one swipe at the trolled plastic before departing.

By the end of the day, only one blue marlin qualified, weighing 344 pounds and taking the huge bankroll. There were also jackpots claimed for the biggest tuna (a yellowfin tuna) and dorado.

With the bigger of the two wahoo earmarked for dinner at Tio Pablo's, our team headed off for a night of blowing off steam. We gave it our best shot. But good sized marlin were hard-earned in this tournament.

July 21

There was talk of halibut starting to show up in the jaws at Pillar Point Harbor, so I tossed a rod in the car and headed over. One thing lead to another and I only got a few casts in before I noticed the Queen of Hearts returning to her slip from a day on the water with a rockfish charter.

After pitching in to help clean the vessel up I decided to hop aboard and go out for the afternoon run to target salmon.

Randy put us onto the fish just off the Pacifica Pier and although we only had half limits for the boat, it was a fun trip and the weather was awesome. We passed through schools of anchovies so thick that the rods looked like they were getting bit. In reality the trolled lines were hitting the anchovies. Murres and cormorants were working the bait balls from above and I spotted several with humongous 'chovies in their beaks.

A kid up on the bow got the big fish of the day, and I parted with one of my two keepers so that a fishless guy could bring home some dinner.

July 20

It was another fine day of shallow-water, light-tackle fishing for rockfish on the Queen of Hearts. With nice semi-flat seas we headed South of Half Moon Bay to rip lips on some huge bolinas and China rockfish.

Gene Coombs was fishing just to my left and he hoisted up a trophy vermilion (a few others boated some nice ones too.) I topped off my limit with some gophers and a blue rockfish. Lingcod and cabezon eluded me today, however some of the other anglers went home with these species. I did get to fight a gigantic starfish that must have weighed at least 5 pounds and had somewhere between 16-20 arms. It just couldn't pass up a nice chrome jig tipped with a purple worm!

A ling and a cabezon that had been given to Gene, wound up in the deep fryer at Princeton Seafood, and we gorged like bass in a minnow tank back at his house.

July 1

Rockfish season opened with a bang on the Queen of Hearts and I wouldn't have missed it for anything!

Under the expertise of Capt. Bob and with the assistance of deckhands Heather and Andrea, thirty four anglers had limits of tasty fish with big gophers, nice chunky Chinas, Bolinas, blues, olives, blacks, and a few huge vermilions. (At the cleaning table, I also happened to also see a black-and-yellow rockfish, which possess the same body marking patterns as gophers, and are closely related.) Thirty one cabezon up to 7 pounds further augmented sacks, as did twenty nine lingcod, including the big fish of the day, a hefty deep blue-green ling.

June 29

There’s a new vessel in Santa Cruz named Velocity, and I didn’t waste any time checking her out. Here’s the description posted on Stagnaros Sportfishing’s website:

“ The Velocity is a NEW 2005 60ft twin engine sport fisher built by Yank Marine, designed to get you to the fish with speed and comfort. She is powered by twin 550 HP Caterpillar Diesels, cruises at a speedy but comfortable 18 knots (topping out at 25 knots!), and features a hot galley for your convenience.”

Capt. Ken Stagnaro departed the harbor for some salmon fishing with a handful of crew and 19 anglers comfortably aboard. Although the boat was set up to mooch, I resisted this wanting to try the “doink” method I had learned from pro Ronnie Kovach. After setting up camp in the port corner, my first choice was a small iron lure that failed to produce so I whipped out the chrome/red Luhr Jensen Krocodile that had been meeting my standards on recent salmon trolling trips. Two fish had barely hit the deck at this point, when my line stopped abruptly on the retrieve. “Fish on” I screamed. Minutes later I had my first King writhing on the deck too.

Well that was fun, but could I do it again? Casting out I noticed that the lure was being bumped as I approached the zone about 60’ under the boat. Cranking up, I was solidly whacked about 20’ under the stern. I spent the next 2½ hours repeating this scene over and over. I rested briefly to grab a couple of photos and get a quick snack, but for the most part I was in constant action.

To add some more excitement, my 5th fish wrapped my line around the prop and took off towards the bow. The two deckies pulled off a nice save by snagging my line. They offered to splice my line back together so I could finish the battle, but I opted to let them hand line the fish. When it came aboard, I had them cut the gill plate to disqualify it from the jackpot.

By the time it was over, I had pulled 8 fish from the water between 16-24 pounds. This turned out to be one of the best salmon days I ever had. I had declined several offers to buy my Kroc. I’ll also give due credit to my new Penn 525 Mag, mounted on a favorite Calstar rod. The fish were not line shy this day. My lucky lure was direct tied with an improved clinch using 30# Izorline. With most of the fish making two, occasionally three, nice runs, I was very impressed with the performance of the Penn reel.

Deckhands Mike Margrave and DJ Zack (galley cook) performed admirably. My salmon were expertly netted time after time, and they attended to the other 18 anglers like pros.

As it turned out the only fish larger than mine was a 26 pounder landed by one of the crewmembers, so most of my jackpot winnings deservingly found its way into the crew tips.

It shouldn’t be long before I try out Velocity again for rockfishing and albacore trips. I think the future looks bright for this fine vessel and her crew!

June 22

You only live once, so I seized the opportunity to park my trusty custom Calstar/ Penn 525 Mag combo up on the starboard-side bow of the Queen of Hearts for some salmon action. Capt. Bob had a full boat including a few other regulars and a family of four that were real troopers when it came to fishing.

With the weather making a few anglers turn green, it wasn't long before a spot on the port rail opened up and I was able to fish closer to my friend, Gene. He was having an amazing day catching some nice fish.

I tossed down my red Krocodile which was hammered by a 15 pound Chinook within a couple of minutes. Andrea skillfully escorted my silver fattie into the net after an exhilarating battle! I wound up getting my second fish from Gene at the end of the day. He had put 7 fish in the box allowing me to pair up my first fish with one of equal size. While he didn't catch the biggest one of the day (22 pounds), he did come close with at least two of his fish.

Back at the dock Heather and Andrea took care of my limit. They were filleted and steaked ASAP so I could go home and get ready to give a seminar that evening. This crew ALWAYS rocks!

June 2

I spent a full day on freshwater for a change. Lake Fork Reservoir in eastern Texas is renowned for largemouth bass.

Professional guide and bass pro Barbara Stevenson showed me some of her techniques as we cruised lots of spots in her Nitro bass boat. Topwater action was sporadic, however we did catch and release 9 bass and a bluegill.

For a change of pace, I introduced Barbara to some of Emperor Tackle’s new gold-plated stainless steel worm hooks and she rigged them up with some plastic worms. The glint of gold from the hook paired up nicely with the gold sheen in the worm pattern we had chosen. There were soon bends in our rods as the bass dived on the new presentation.

I must have had over a dozen strikes but I only managed to bring 1 bass to the boat, so Barbara really "spanked" me. We did have a great time and I look forward to going back and fishing with her again.

May 22

As an Owner Hooks fishing school instructor, I was surrounded by a great bunch of eager anglers on the Premier. I had long been anticipating fishing on this vessel... no I think a better way to say it is fishing platform. I haven't been on anything this nice since my last long range trip, and at 75' with a 22' beam, perhaps the reference should be mini-long ranger. Bunks were the only thing sacrificed in the design on this bad boy!

The spacious galley was under Bill Takahuwa's command. Better known as "Benihana Bill", he churned out quality chow while our captain, Danny Strunk, ran us from Long Beach up to the bite off Marina Del Rey. With calm seas and the sun peeking out through the fog, I reminded everybody to put on some sunscreen.

Barracuda was the name of the game we first dropped in on. Those who had listened to Ronnie Kovach on the way out were quickly rewarded with "stove pipe" 'cudas. I popped one up quickly on the bow by casting and slowing retrieving a large Krocodile with a green mackerel pattern.

After putting quite a few of these toothy critters aboard we switched to deeper water and rounded up some bocaccio, greenstriped rockfish, vermilions and a few other assorted species including a sanddab.

At the end of the day, deckhands Joe Christina and Bryan Salcedo got busy filleting fish as the rest of us weighed the jackpot winners and watched videos of hot action at Salmon Safaris in British Columbia as well as California's Lake Irvine.

May 17

Making the best of a short weather break, I grabbed my gear and jumped aboard the Queen of Hearts to go after salmon. Bob had decided to try new territory so we ran straight for Pt. Reyes.

With the Northwest swell dropping fast it soon became almost flat. I caught sight of an airborne humpback whale as we slowed to drop in for the troll. Murres, gulls and cormorants darted about in thick clusters. There was life all around and it looked very fishy!

Five minutes in up on the bow, POW!... I get my first salmon attack. Bucking the usual straight bait system I have the red/chrome Krocodile working for me today. I had seen 4- 5 other guys with crocs and Apexes ready to go at the stern so I wanted to try it too. After fighting this estimated 15# plus fish for about 15 minutes it rolled under another line and freed itself. Oh well there goes my jackpot contender!

We made a move North and now a few others on the boat started to hook-up. I put numero uno on the deck and kept going. Now the boat smelled fishy! (You gotta love that distinctive salmon scent.) They wouldn't leave my rod alone. I kicked back a few shakers but wound up putting four nice fish in the boat. All my fish hit between 33 -35' under the boat. With limits of salmon by 10:20 am, even Bob and Heather could take fish home today.

May 1

The atmosphere on the Tracer was festive as I swung my gear aboard Saturday night. Back again for the Diane Laufer fundraiser benefiting the Breast Cancer Angels, it was more like a reunion than a pre-board session. Alecia had a whole table piled high with raffle items and give-away goodies.

This year we camped out at San Clemente Island for the night. As usual we were in chocolate heaven in the galley. Tall Glen was back and looking FINE with his new haircut. We almost had a drawing to see who would get him as their bunk buddy!

In the pre-dawn a nice halibut was landed. Whipping out some iron I tried to jig for yellowtail but they decided not to show up. The wind did though, so we made a couple of moves and finished the day by catching rockfish, calicos, and some sheephead. Celeste was kind enough to give me a sheephead to take home.

Once again I'd like to thank Alecia Cornelius and the crew of the Tracer for another great fundraiser.

April 27

A few days rest was all I needed to bounce back from the Oregon trip, so today I jumped onto the Queen of Hearts to go salmon fishing. Gene, James, Crow, Doug and a couple of others I recognized all opted to fish from the bow to the starboard stern. The ocean was very reasonable and it wasn’t long before we had bites.

A few were landed and it went fast and furious, causing Heather to hustle with the net. She pulled it off like a pro as usual. Andrea was with us today too, but this was her day off and she was fishing for fun with the rest of us.

Straight bait was the ticket and the fish had been feeding on krill, so they fought really well. Gene doled out some cognac and, between us, we had beers from all over the world. Most of us only got to down one since we had early limits and we were close to the barn.

April 22 - 24

Friday morning, a van carrying some of the proud members of Full Speed Fishing and I set out for Brookings, Oregon for what can best be described as a “Jackass weekend.” Posted on the rear window was this warning: Caution! This van is full of jackass, stir-crazy, Zebco-wielding fishing addicts (yes, including the blonde broad.) The troop consisted of Chili B (Brian), Sully, Ghetto Booty (Dan) and I.

We arrived at the home of Bloom (John) around 7pm and were joined by the rest of the gang, Fishbelly (Mike), The Lemming AKA Reraise (Warn), Papa John, Mr. Cake (Brad), Eric Husman, Albacore Shuffle (Greg) and his 5 year old son Hunter. Bloom was out dining with his wife, June, so we followed the instructions on the door to come in and kick back. Dan and I staked out the two guest rooms and the others trotted off to a local motel. It was no accident that my room happened to have access to a fantastic hot tub, of which I partook of for almost an hour before conking out.

Everybody rose at 0-dark-thirty on Saturday and headed to the harbor just a few miles away. Papa John had made the arrangements with Tide Wind Sportfishing for two days on the vessel Super Star, a 43’ Delta. The possibility of rain had been forecasted, but it never did more than sprinkle once or twice the whole weekend. With a reasonable swell and light wind from the south, the decision was made to run north. Large rock formations scattered throughout the coastal waters along this beautiful stretch gave us lots of photo opportunities.

The action was hot for big rockfish, which were mostly blues and blacks. I did see a couple of huge coppers and we released some canaries. I brought up a deep green lingcod around 15 pounds, and fought another later that day that was around 20 pounds. Unfortunately that fish was mishandled at the gaff and was lost. It had hitchhiked up on a nice sized blue, but once it felt its stomach being ripped through it let go of the rockfish before the gaff could be re-planted.

Albacore Shuffle won the day's rockfish pot with a 6½ pound copper, and Mr. Cake took top honors in the ling division by tossing aboard an 18 pounder. I took the smallest rockfish of the day, a three incher, that netted me the coveted pink T-shirt. Everybody had a great time and scored limits of fish. My fish count included five decent and very tasty seatrout.

Back at the dock, June came to my aid and took me to see Bob Brown, who is a wonderful massage therapist in Brookings. That's just what I needed, as the long van ride had taken its toll on my neck. Later that night after a BBQ back at Bloom’s, I won the poker game. Mr. Cake was the first to bite the dust and Chili B was the last to fall prey.

On Sunday we returned to the scene of the crime, or should I say carnage, up north again.
The weather was positively gorgeous! The rockfish bite wasn’t as red hot, but the grade of lings was super-sized. Kyle Aubin, one of our deckhands, was very attentive to everyone’s needs including mine. He would occasionally address me as “pink boots”, asking how I was doing. Up next to me on the bow, Nolan Lenderman landed a 26 pound ling. Since he was not entered in our Full Speed jackpot, the large ling prize went to Sully with an 18 pound fish. Fishbelly stepped up to claim the rockfish pot with a 5 pound black.

Food was on everyone's mind while the crew cleaned our catch. The group photo shot back at the dock before parting ways was classic jackassery. I made a point of sending June some flowers to thank her and John for putting up with us clowns.

April 13 - 18

La Paz, it’s not your average sleepy little Baja fishing village by a long shot! Jeff and I flew in on the night of the 13th and were greeted by our host, Jonathan Roldan, who is one smooth operator when it comes to fishing in this town. Icy cold beer quenched our thirst upon arrival while loading the rest of the “early birds” for the annual Cabin Fever Classic. Soon we were off to Hotel Los Arcos.

With Thursday being the check-in date for most of the group, Jeff and I had arranged with Jonathan to go diving out of the Cortez Club a short hop down the coast. We paired up with Dave, AKA “Sumo”, another early guest, to descend into the depths for the day. While diving was fantastic, this is a fishing diary so I’ll move along, except to say that we got a chance to preview some of the fish species we'd be catching the next day!

Friday found our group assembled in the lobby at 5am sharp. With streamlined precision gear was loaded, ice blocks distributed, breakfasts and lunches doled out, and shaking off our residual slumber anxious anglers trooped off in a caravan (of vans) to the awaiting pangas.

With the island of Ceralvo beckoning us, our Capt., Victor, promptly skimmed across the channel to collect a nice score of sardines for bait. Jeff put the first fish of the day in the box; a seven pound sierra. Other species were soon to follow, a couple of cabrilla, a half dozen skipjack, a pargo, acrobatic needlefish, a trumpet fish, beautiful yellow and black triggerfish, and even a puffer fish. Then came the fight of the day for me, an estimated 15-20 pound jack crevalle. I fought this worthy adversary on 12 # test for about 20 minutes, breaking the line just mere feet from the boat. What a rush!

Day two again started at Ceralvo with one of my slow-trolled poppers getting inhaled, however I was quickly cut off when the fish escaped into the rocks. We decided to try a little offshore trolling to test the waters for wahoo and marlin, but none presented themselves. We then made a few attempts at jigging for yellowtail amongst some locals who had been hand-lining for them, before heading inshore again. Slightly south of the island we found the pargo honey hole at Perico Point. I had practice sight fishing for these surface-crashing, brick red bruisers, but they proved to be very line shy. At one point I thought I had hooked a decent pargo. After a long fight I found a skipjack around 15 – 18 pounds at the end of my line. In addition to the varieties of fish we had caught the day before, I added a Panama graysby to my list of conquests.

On our final day on the water, Jonathan joined us for a very informative and enjoyable day. Popping up yet another type of pargo, commonly called a yellowtail snapper, was a treat, as well as getting an exotic giant hawksfish, otherwise referred to as a clown hawksfish or Chino Mero. The pattern and colors on the fish reminded me of a mandarin goby. Victor and Jonathan also showed us the techniques of catching delicious surgeonfish. Towards the end of our day Jeff hauled up a ladyfish and I dealt with a “kite” release. I had managed to hook a frigate bird, which was filmed in detail to the amusement of everyone. As were most of our fish, our winged guest was safely released.

April 11

A lot of people missed the boat by not going salmon fishing today. The swell that was encountered by the Queen of Hearts quickly died down and turned almost as flat as last Wednesday. While the water was cooler due to recent weather, it got balmy enough for me to shed a couple of layers, so I could fish with just my new Queen of Hearts t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

My favorite salmon trolling stick, a Calstar, had a new Penn 525 mag spooled up with fresh 20# line. After releasing the first salmon hooked up, a shaker, I soon had a nice one which was the third fish to hit the box. With tonight’s dinner now a reality, I kicked back, grabbed a snack and visited around the boat for awhile.

Other fish were netted as the morning progressed, with a total of seven fish landed, however I saw at least 4 fish lost just short of victory. I observed one angler tighten his drag at the last moment hoping to pull the fish closer to the net. He wound up pulling the hook instead. “Buck fever” happens on the water too!

The bite cooled after about 11 am and we tried to get them biting but they wouldn’t listen to our pleas. I finished the day not only with a limit ( 9 & 12 pounds), but my biggest fish took the jackpot. I gave the cash to our deckhand Andrea and gave my smaller fish to a guy who didn’t get one that day. I hope to be heading out with Capt. Bob again A.S.A.P.!

April 6

I finally couldn't wait any longer so I went down to Pillar Point today to fish for salmon. I also wanted to shoot some photo stock of rockfish gear, so I loaded everything into the car and left early in the morning.

When I arrived I pulled to the end of the pier to unload, as I usually do. I hit the unlock door button, got out and went to the rear hatch to open it. You guessed it - LOCKED... back to the door - LOCKED... keys?... Fell out of my sweatshirt pocket and were IN THE CAR!

My buddy Randy, from the harbormaster's office, grabbed a slim Jim and both he and Capt. Bob Ingles took a shot at opening the door. So what's a girl to do now. Everything, (except my license), is locked up and AAA is not going to arrive before the Queen of Hearts leaves.

This is when another friend of mine came to my aid. Doug Gober was packing an extra rod & reel and sandwiches. He twisted my arm, so with Randy set to meet AAA, I went "What the hell! Let's go!

As it turned out I would not have needed my boots or raingear, as it was one of the most beautiful days on the water I can remember. We headed out for the islands and the only kid on board popped up the first fish. His mom followed with the second one. Two more were landed, but Doug would have had the fish-of-the-day, a toad around 18-20#, however it came un-pinned just before swimming into reach of the net. I was really enjoying a day at sea more than concentrating on fishing, so I wasn't too disappointed to only have a few scratched baits. I think the real reason I didn't get a fish was due to my victory Guinness being locked in the car!

We saw sardines jumping a few times and I looked at the meter now and then to see the depth of the bait. The first ball was down around 120 feet and most hook-ups were happening in the range of 25-45'. One hit just under the boat as an angler was reeling up.

Overall it was a fun day at sea and I'll try again soon. For now I'm 0 for 1 on the salmon scene.

January 8

So how do you start off the New Year when it’s cold, wet and soggy? Well I don’t know about you, but I went in search of perch. The Santa Cruz Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament was held today and, despite the threat of worsening weather, many fishermen turned out to support the event.

The morning started by gathering outside Bayside Marine to check-in, pick up a T-shirt and listen to Mike Baxter give instructions and suggestions on fishing spots. Jumping in the car, I headed up north, stopping at several beaches on the way to check surf fishing opportunities. If I had waders or a wetsuit with me, this plan might have worked!

I decided to bail on the beach, opting instead to try out my old honey hole in Pillar Point Harbor. Back when I was a commercial salmon fisherman in this port, I learned where to find some whopper rubber lip perch around the docks.

It was raining lightly when I arrived, so I ducked into the Harbor Bar for a nice “fortified” coffee drink. Close to 11:00 I finally donned my pink boots (my other pairs are in the middle of a year-end cleaning cycle) and gave it the old college try. Waves, current and wind made it difficult, but I did manage to get the tail of one grub bitten off before I threw in the towel.

Before leaving, I stopped by the Queen of Hearts to admire her newly installed stainless steel railing and fresh coat of paint. After one more cup of coffee, this time on the F/V Verona, I returned to the festivities in Santa Cruz.

Mike was cooking up a storm while guys brought their perch in to be measured. Despite the cold and rain everybody was having a great time. I didn’t see any rubber lip perch, but there were a variety of others, including barred and walleye. Proceeds from the day went to the Monterey Bay salmon and trout project.

Link to my 2017 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2016 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2015 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2014 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2013 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2012 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2011 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2010 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2009 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2008 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2007 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2006 Fishing Diary

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