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Fishing Diary  


November 7

Bud, Mike and Bernie are just a few of the regulars who I normally see on the Queen of Hearts on a Wednesday trip. These guys chartered the vessel for today's private trip to the Farallone Islands. Gene, Tony, Cindy, Harry, Doug and I were just part of the "A" list of about 13 anglers with Heather on deck and Bob at the wheel.

We had plenty of food, libations and elbow room when we started to pick off nice size rockfish. Big blues were voracious hitting every jig as it sailed past them to the bottom. Those who made it past these were rewarded with large coppers, olives, vermilions, bolinas and lingcod. I had my first ling fairly soon and added it to the four healthy blues I already had in the sack.

The weather and ocean conditions were beautiful as drift after drift produced beautiful fish. I saw a couple of nice seatrout landed and some huge cabezon. Chinas and quillbacks made appearances around the boat as well.

Tony was the hotstick when it came to lings although Harry went on to claim the biggest at the end of the day. My second ling came up on a whole blue rockfish pinned to a 4 oz. chrome bar. Three times in a row I'd have a huge hit and crank halfway to the surface only to have the fish let go.... Classic hitchhiker behavior. I kept immediately dropping back down and promptly getting slammed again. The fourth time worked like a charm and a 8 1/2 pound ling topped off my limit.


November 5

Today was the annual United Angler's "Feed the Hungry" trip which was on the Queen of Hearts. It was a rare opportunity to have both Bob and Sherry Ingles on their vessel, donating it for the day.

Bob Strickland from UA was out with us along with a few folks from the Salvation Army. Goodies were donated and raffled off from Reed's Sport Shop, Boater's World, the gang from "Who's Your Daddy" fishing, Queen of Hearts and more. Nobody went hungry on this trip with tons of fried chicken, spud salad, pastries, and sodas.

Gene and I took our usual spots near the bow, and in the stern we had Ben Romano and Sy Hoff. I saw a few other regulars among the group too. We headed to the South and prepared our rigs.

The fish were on the chew with quality blues and blacks, and Gene landed a hog China. I had a bomber black and yellow jump off the hook at the surface, but it was soon replaced with a nice lingcod. My limit was rounded out with a cabezone and some gophers, and one lucky kid scored a halibut around 10 pounds.

Heather filleted most of the fish with Sherry lending a hand and back at the dock more prizes were given away including a couple of new rods. A dock cart was completely filled with bags of fillets to go to special programs to help feed the hungry.


October 28

Today we had everything in our favor to make one last run for albacore; outriggers, enough rods to build a picket fence, plenty of ice and live bait. The only drawback was no sonar due to repairs.

We launched from Santa Cruz around 5am and just short of daylight we had good water temp so we set out five trollers. A few hours later we had a hit and a miss on the port short. Lines kept coming up with eel grass that was widespread from the last major offshore winds.

Later that afternoon we had one fish hit the whiskey line and first thought it was a ball of kelp. Jeff, Cheryl and David's neighbor, fought the "kelp" to the boat where I had the gaff ready. Just a few feet from the boat we realized it was a fish and I sank the gaff into a nice 22 pounder.

Speaking of kelp, we saw so many paddies that I thought I had died and gone to Southern California! We stopped on one and found a mola (there were molas everywhere today) but live bait produced nada.


October 27

The Velocity out of Stagnaro's, in Santa Cruz is a nice, clean, fast vessel that I had tried out for salmon fishing last year. I was so impressed with my first trip that today I decided to jump aboard for a rockfish trek.

Capt. Ken and deckhand DJ ran about a dozen of us to points North of the harbor and I had a chance to fish the area in front of Davenport, which I hadn't been to in awhile. Although the lings and cabezon had lockjaw, we did bag limits of blues, gophers, bolinas and I saw a couple of Chinas and seatrout landed as well.

If you book a fishing adventure with these guys leave your coolers in your car... You won't need to bring your lunch after you see the galley's menu. Treat yourself to a hot burger and a cold one for a change of pace.


October 18

About 20 of us, mostly the wednesday regulars, ventured out of the Queen of Hearts for some rockfish action. We hopscotched our way down to Pigeon Point and picked away at nice blues, gophers, Chinas (including a nice little toad I picked up late in the day), big bolinas, and some nice vermilions. Only 3 lingcod were boated and 1 cabezon. I'd chalk up the slightly off bite to weather.


October 10 - 12

Just when I thought I'd be able to break down my tuna trollers I had one last chance to score some albacore. Capt. Shim on the New Salmon Queen called out for some volunteers to assemble for an overnight, long-range, tuna recon mission. I emailed Cheryl and the two of us made the final cut along with a bunch of other Full Speed Fishing fanatics. Tony and Chris rounded out the crew.

We left Emeryville early in the evning after eating some great take-out hamburgers from Trader Vic's, and as the guys listedned to the A's game Cheryl french braided my hair. Then we packed it early for the long ride to the Davidson seamount.

At daybreak I had the outside rail troll position next to Dean for most of the day. Shim had also rigged a couple of outriggers with daisy chains and one produced. Dean's troll rod was the hotstick for most of the morning and even I had a chance to bring in a fish on his rod because everyone, including Dean, was ready to fish with live bait. I managed to toss the troll fish in and hook-up a minute later on my bait rig using a Berkley 3" mackerel pattern pogy. Fish inhaled it on the drop. All morning it was troll, stop, one or two and repeat...

A small rain squall drifted in for an hour or so and then the sun returned and the ocean started to flatten out. We popped open a few beers and Moe brought a nice bottle of wine to enjoy. Later that day the fish went nuts for one quick stop and I nailed another nice bait fish by fly lining a 'chovie on an Emperor hook. While fighting this nice albie I played under and over with "backlash" Cheryl on the bow. We both got our fish in and I celebrated by putting an albacore head with the longfins still attached on my fishing cap for a jackass photo shot. The weather was getting nicer as the day went on and just before we packed it in we saw a school of Risso's dolphins.

It was around 3:30 am Thursday when we returned tired but happy. Everybody had a chance to fight a fish and take one or two home. I sent most of mine off to be smoked as did Cheryl. Thanks again Shim for a great trip!


October 1

Gary Edward's new 29' Shamrock, Panda Angler, was my fishing platform today. His beautiful boat transported me, Richard Kent, and Rich from Coyote Point Marina to the Farallone Islands for an epic day of rockfishing and beyond.

First we topped off the live well with about 20 sand dabs to use as lingcod bait. We had so much fun just fishing for dabs on the flat calm water that we could've spent the whole day there.

We high-tailed it to the southeast island and I looked over the charts to see where we'd drop in. I remembered some nice spots from my commercial days and we had rockfish eating our offerings ASAP. I had a standard rig with 20# topshot and my new Emmrod as well. The guys started to use the dabs pinned to halibut rigs. I opted to pitch artificials and iron. I released seven lings and kept a limit of nice big rockfish covering numerous species. Rich landed a nice keeper ling and so did Richard. Gary shook off a short ling caught on the Emmrod and then Richard got into the action with assorted rockfish hitting the Emmrod. The fishing was so good I barely had time to hit the galley for snacks. By mid-afternoon we called it quits with four limits of blues, blacks, olives, two male and one female seatrout, a pair of cabezon, quillbacks, a copper, a China, and 3 legal lingcod.

On the way in we hit perfect water conditions for salmon so we put out four rods on the downriggers. As luck would have it I was up on the bow when a fish hit Richard's line. The salmon made it's initial run which was decent to say the least. I grabbed the net knowing full well that this was going to be MY mission. I guess the fish got spooked or finally realized he was hooked because all of a sudden the line stared to peel off rapidly... Just like the way it does when a sea lion grabs it. 200 yards spun off the reel before he could turn it, but after about a 20 minute fight I scooped the 35 pound hog and we dragged it over the rail. It was Richard's biggest and best salmon of the year. It also christened the deck of Gary's new vessel.

We all filleted the catch on the way in as Gary piloted the boat back to the harbor where we arrived tried but happy around 9pm. I look forward to fishing with these guys again.


September 28

While I don't get seasick, I will suffer the consequences of eating fowl gone bad. In this case it was the turkey and chicken chipotle meatballs that I'd had for lunch yesterday. As much as I just wanted to head back to bed after hurling I just couldn't let a couple of special people down today, so I jumped in the car and motored over to Cheryl and Dave's home.

While Cheryl and Dave are special it was actually Humberto and his seven year old son, Monte, that were the two I didn't want to cancel on this morning. We all piled into the tow rig and hauled the Alibi II to Monterey. Back in August I had caught a huge olive rockfish that I should have submitted as an I.G.F.A. all-tackle record, but I missed it and we filleted the fish before checking the stats. Today we planned to revisit the area hoping to find another one.

The ride out was smooth and our guests enjoyed viewing sea otters, various birds and sealions. Monte hooked up with two blue rockfish on his first drop and was ecstatic prompting me to whip out the camera and get his kodak moment. Dave was his instructor and I gave some tips to Humberto throughout the morning. Cheryl took the bow position and I joined her every once and awhile.

Monte scored a 4 pound boccacio on our deepest drift and then we all started to get some really nice olive rockfish. I had a lingcod but it was short of the legal size so after showing it to Monte and his dad we released the fish. We probably released around 15 -20 fish wanting to give Monte a lesson on good fishing ethics for the future. I released a small copper rockfish and only kept a couple of gophers and a few decent olives, blues and a China. Monte had a grin from ear-to-ear and was our "highliner" for the day. I'm sure he is now hooked on fishing.

Well it turns out that returning to the spot paid off. Dave landed a big olive and after we got back, cleaned the boat and all of the other fish, Dave, Cheryl and I took the olive to a local supermarket to weigh on a certified scale. It came in at just shy of 4 pounds beating the current weight of 3.9! So I guess if I couldn't get the record I'm glad a friend has a shot at it.


September 27

What a difference a week makes. Back to flat calm fishing conditions today and the fishing was anything but calm on the Queen of Hearts. My first fish was a huge 5 3/4 pound vermilion rockfish and I caught it on my new Emmrod. This was followed shortly by a lingcod, then a black and yellow, a big gopher a couple of blues and finally the monster bolinas. The sun came out halfway through the day and added to the enjoyment.


September 20

Well today's weather conditions weren't pretty for the Queen of Hearts, but those looking to push past the elements and have a great day, were rewarded.

Mike, Bernie, Gene and I worked the bow, while Bud and Harry took the stern. About a dozen other hardy souls braved the wind to catch limits of blues, gophers, bolinas, and a few cabezon and lingcod. While I only had one ling that just fell short of legal length, Bernie took top honors with one around 16 pounds.


September 19

Capt. Bob is back at the helm of the Queen of Hearts, and although there was a bit of a lumpy sea we managed to get the job done today as far as bagging limits of nice rockfish. I had blue rockfish, a gopher, a huge bolina and a pair of lingcod... No halibut today, so I'll try again tomorrow (weather permitting.)


September 13

Well I'm on a mission to catch another halibut since after my last trip I found I had butchered another I.G.F.A. record fish! So this morning I went fishing with a group on the Queen of Hearts. Capt. Bob is away on business this week so "Hootch" stepped up as our temporary replacement.

I parked next to my friend Harry Boos at the starboard corner and immediately hooked a 16 pound lingcod. Sweet! I went back to browsing the ocean floor for a flattie, losing a brand new jig in the process.

Next I rocked a swimbait and busted it off. Things were starting to slow down although the blue and black rockfish were still being very aggressive. After awhile I decided to just put on a small white spoon and play with them. A few nice gophers, Chinas, vermilions and a copper were landed... All around me as a matter of fact. Harry even flipped me a cabezon when he boated a second one.

While I did have a great day (and just missed the jackpot), I wasn't one of the two anglers who did get halibut. Maybe next week!


September 7

Sure, I could've sat home all day watching the newly released, second season of Desperate Housewives, but I decided to go fishing on my favorite ride out of Pillar Point Harbor; the Queen of Hearts. And wouldn't you know it, Gene showed up too.

Capt. Bob pointed the bow south as a few of stared to engage in some lively discussion. Mike was visiting from Florida and we talked about redfish as well as our favorites worldwide.

Under the cover of light fog we slipped into the zone above Ano Nuevo and started our first south-to-north drift. My first hook-up was on a B2 squid and the fish took off running. I brought it halfway up before I was bitten off. Dang! It felt like a good one too. Gene whipped up a lingcod to my immediate left on the bow, as I rummaged through my Albacore Altunative to re-rig.

Having chosen an 8" Storm Wildeye swimbait in the sardine pattern I cast it out and started to bounce it across the bottom towards me. WHAM! I cranked down and used the swell action of the boat to bring a hefty lingcod into gaff range for Heather. She swung on it like a pro and plopped it down so I could get a couple of photos before putting it in my sack. We whipped out the scale as well and it weighed in at 19 pounds. The Storm has been sliced but it was still very fishable and in short order I had another ling about half as big. A blue rockfish put the final kiss-of-death to the lure.

Gene was into gophers as I browsed my arsenal for my next victim. This time I chose a 6 1/2 " Kalin scampi tail in root beer flake, pinned to a homemade, powder-coated, glow leadhead. I made a couple of pitches before setting the hook into a brute. I thought I'd have another hog ling until halfway up the fish turned and ran... towards the back of the boat. I yelled for Heather to have the gaff ready as I prayed that I was now fighting a halibut. I turned the fish and as it came into view it was indeed a nice California halibut. The flattie danced around on the bow before he was subdued and tossed into the box behind me. (He just fit!)

After a beer and a look through the other sacks aboard, I tossed the Kalin back out and had yet another fine fish come up. This time it was a cabezon around 6 pounds. Gene had bagged his second ling and was working on some blues. I rounded up a few more and called it a day. A GREAT day!

On the way in we put the halibut on the scale and it hit 28 pounds. While there was no jackpot today I did get another "Lucky Lure" and I joked to Bob that I now have enough to make a charm bracelet.


August 21 - 25

Paradise, Shangri-La or Heaven — whatever you want to call it, the real name is Queen Charlotte Safaris, a fishing lodge located in Sandspit, British Columbia. Situated on the farthest northeast end of Moresby Island the quaint town of Sandspit is home to 350 residents. A modern and sturdy harbor is just a stone's throw from the lodge. From there, boats simply round the corner to the west through Skidegate Inlet and Channel, and wind up at the Pacific ocean.

Flying from San Francisco airport to Vancouver and then on to Sandspit was a breeze. I arrived early Monday afternoon and was excited to check out the new lodge that Ron and Valerie Hoperich had just built. I found the location and layout to be perfect, everything a serious fishermen would look for. And with beautiful landscapes and a myriad of birds and other wildlife, the lodge is a pleasant stay for fishermen and their companions as well. Now top that off with the culinary talents of chef Joe Harben. That first night I enjoyed a truly spectacular prime rib.

Fishing departure time depends on the tide schedule, so I had a leisurely breakfast Tuesday morning before Captain Richard Aiken and the vessel Anthony Isle had us heading off to fish. The spacious 27' Boston Whaler carried our team of three, including my fishing partner Larry Lowman. Larry's the one who had originally introduced me to Ron and Valerie, and he frequents the lodge often.

Just ten minutes from the harbor, we came into an area where you could hardly shake a stick without seeing a pink salmon (AKA humpback) jump out of the water. So it was a no-brainer that we pulled into a small cove to cast to some. I hooked my first one in the dorsal fin and it put up a great fight. We played with these fish for about 45 minutes.

The sun came out prompting me to shed my bright yellow rain gear as we navigated our way to the salmon grounds. Running time is approximately an hour over the glass flat water of the channel. The time passes quickly though because of the breathtaking views, and I put the camera to good use.

With the downriggers deployed we soon had king salmon ready to combat. To the various tunes from the boat's Sirius radio we took turns pumping decent-sized fish boatside. We easily released as many as we wound up taking. Most were between 17-22 pounds and were fat and sassy. Bob, our third teammate, also pulled in a coho salmon. I fought one fish on a knuckle-buster, which earned its nickname when a spring broke inside the reel. But that didn't cause me to lose the fish! Rich trolled through spots named "the wall", "meat locker" and "moose tooth", keeping us busy all day. (Almost sounds like a whitewater rafting trip!) I barely found the time to dip below and raid the cooler for lunch; a tasty tuna salad sandwich and a bunch of Joe's assorted fresh baked cookies.

That night we decided to give Joe a night off rather than make him cook for just a few of us. (The lodge was between scheduled fishing sessions.) Six of us headed into town to the Sandspit Airport Inn to eat and knock back a few cocktails. Rich and a couple of other locals showed up to join us. I also had a chance to meet Ray Lorenzo who would be taking me fishing later in the week.

Wednesday we took the day off. After sleeping in a bit, Larry, Bob and I jumped into the truck to take the ferry to Queen Charlotte City. After a short 20 minute ride we had lunch and ran a couple of errands. People were both friendly and informative. The visitor's center is a must see!

Back at the lodge new folks had gathered and in no time at all four of us hit the beach to toss lures at the pinks. I snagged another nice fighter... In the dorsal fin again! At dusk we walked back, stopping briefly at the harbor.

Thursday morning, after fortifying myself with a big bowl of Capt. Crunch that I scored at the local grocery store, I walked down to Ray's boat; another Boston Whaler named Predator 3. Today I was fishing with Bernie Whitney-Griffiths and David Pree, and we decided to run out and try our luck with bottom fish.

Within minutes, and sometimes mere seconds, I had big lingcod, yelloweye rockfish, and quillback rockfish hitting my lures. I jigged up a 34 pound ling on a River2Sea sea rock in the spotted mackerel pattern, rigged with an Owner dancing stinger hook. I put another pair of 20 pounders in the box to take home as well. The next fish to hit freight-trained me and kept my lure. It felt like a halibut but I'll never know for sure. I re-rigged with another sea rock this time with a red head/lumo color with a pair of their support hooks. It was instantly inhaled and I was rewarded with a huge yelloweye. I tossed the lure down again and got bit by a feisty quillback. When this fish hit the deck I decided to look at the big yelloweye again. Something in the back of my mind told me this might be a record catch. I retired the outfit just in case.

The guys were ready to salmon fish so we picked up and ran back inside. I let Bernie and David take the first wave of fish while taking a break to have a cold Guinness. Word had gotten out to Rich's boat that I had a few beers aboard... and they were without! Well I was in a sporting mood so a little while later they trolled close enough for me to toss my last one to Rich who netted it.

I jumped in to catch a few fish as well and had a blast using Bernie's spinning outfit on a couple of kings. I retained one more king to fill my possession limit and the guys took a few since it was their first day fishing. It was a pleasure fishing with all of them and all-in-all we had a terrific day!

On the way in we stopped by Albion Fisheries to unload our catch and I had the big yelloweye weighed. It tipped the scale at 20 pounds so I took a photo of it on the scale and figured we would measure it later if it was indeed a potential record. As it turns out, a 20-pounder tops the current women's 30# line class record, as well as the 50#, so I'm submitting the catch to IGFA.

This was my first time sportfishing in the very scenic country of Canada. I already want to go back... NOW!


August 19

Team Alibi II consisted of Gene, Dave and Cheryl and me. We launched at around 3am out of Santa Cruz to compete in the Blue Water Open; an albacore tournament. With a scoop of nice anchovies, rods rigged for the slide and just about every known color patter of troll feathers, we thought we'd have a nice shot at placing.

At the Monterey buoy we found water hitting 60 degrees but after a quick look around we went further out and found a patch of 61.8 water. The sea was not a great color however and we trolled through a lot of green water never really finding true clarity. While we did have nice weather and a lot of fun we just couldn't find any albies today.

Most of the entrants had trouble finding fish, but there were a few boats near the guide that managed to rustle up enough to weigh in.


August 11

Dave and Cheryl towed their Grady White, Alibi II, to Monterey this morning for some shallow-water rockfish action. I joined them as well as their East Coast visitor Jimmy.

By a little after 8am we had started our first drift in 180' of water off of Carmel Beach. Six foot swells and a light breeze combined for just the right speed to work jigs and cover ground. Rigged with a large swimbait, and a smaller one as a teaser, I soon had a humongous olive rockfish in the ice chest. We estimated the weight between 5 1/2 and 6 pounds. Soon after this catch I had both tails on the swimbaits nipped off so I re-rigged the bottom swimbait and above it I threaded on a Berkley Gulp 4" shrimp. For the remainder of the day this one bait was responsible for 80% of my fish. It worked on the drop and the retrieve as well as bouncing bottom and despite the pounding it took it could've kept fishing had I wanted to! I probably released over a dozen blue rockfish, a few gophers, a salmon grouper and 6 lingcod (all just a couple of inches short of legal.) I brought home enough big olives, blues, and gophers to keep my neighbors happy.

Cheryl had a ling rock her when it chomped down on a medium-sized blue. We ran the boat around to get her line free and when we pulled it up we not only found the chewed blue on her teaser hook, but a treefish on the iron below it. We let the treefish go as well as a sand dab that Cheryl and I decided not to use for bait.

At 12:30 Dave, Cheryl, Jimmy and I decided to pack it in even though the bite was still great. Everybody had caught a bunch of nice fish and released others. Nobody wound up with a legal ling but they sure kept us busy jumping on the Gulp! (I later found out my biggest olive could have beat the IGFA all-tackle record! Oh well, I know where to go back and look for more.)


August 6 - 7

With just a few hours notice, I packed my Albackore waist pack full of gear for albacore tuna. Capt. "Shim" was heading out on a special recon mission to search for longfins. About a dozen diehard anglers (mostly from Full Speed Fishing) showed up to board the New Salmon Queen for a late night departure from Emeryville. I found a spot below deck to try to get a little rest as we made the long run south to the grounds.

The first jig stop just shortly after sunrise, produced a fish for one of our senior anglers. I tossed a bait off the stern and had a very slow pick up, but I set the hook and the game was on. Line started to peel and for a moment I thought I either had a big albie or possibly a bluefin, however I soon realized there was another possibility.. A shark! I fought the fish for about 10 minutes, bringing it close enough for a good look before it parted the leader. I suspect it was a soupfin shark around 4 feet in length. It was a nice warm up to what would hopefully come later.

The troll lines went out again and we had a pair of meatlines in the water too. We'd stop for a few minutes to try and get the school to hit our live bait, swimbaits or iron jigs. Once we had fish boiling on the anchovies at the stern and I saw a few fish get hooked up. They took off shortly and for the remainder of the day we would see jumpers but they remained boat shy.

I caught my first albacore on a Owner ringed flyliner 1/0 hook and eased it up with my Pro Gear Albacore Special mounted on my favorite Calstar rod. It weighed around 20 pounds and Shim planted the gaff in it. Later in the day I was standing behind a meatline when it went off. My reflexes were instantaneous as I grabbed the tuna cord and hand lined the fish in. Shim was there again to assist in bringing it over the rail.

The final count tallied to 20 fish in the box with about 6 or 8 fish lost prior to boating. Most of the albacore were in the mid 20's with the largest going to 34 pounds. Other highlights during the day included a school of white-sided porpoise that followed the boat for awhile, a pair of small sunfish that checked us out on a bait stop, and numerous sightings of whales and swordfish. We also had perfect weather and a flat ocean.

Thanks to the crew of the New Salmon Queen we had a great day fishing and horsing around. These guys are dedicated to fishing for their customers and they made it evident by constantly changing trolling lures, adjusting the spread, chumming live bait and changing tactics to produce fish. They definitely get two thumbs up from me!


July 26

After four days of weather in the triple digits, and being confined to the only room in the house with A/C, it was a no-brainer to bail out and go fishing. Lucky for me there was one spot left to grab on the Queen of Hearts. Besides, we had so much fun last Wednesday I couldn't resist going again.

While chatting with Capt. Bob in the wheelhouse on the ride south, we saw a couple of humpback whales. Outside, a comfortable layer of light fog and small swells combined to make perfect rockfish fishing conditions.

A gopher started off my day, however he looked like he still had some growing to do, so I let him go. Next I had a small lingcod who was returned to the ocean as well. My next ling was a deep green one and looked as though he might be legal. It wound up being a lucky fish today falling a mere quarter inch below the minimum size required to take him (or her). After that I was rewarded with a decent cabezon, a China, and another cabezone (but I traded this one for one of Bernie's lings). By the end of the day I had released another ling and snatched up some tasty blues to top off my sack.

Highlights of the day included a 10 pound vermilion, a halibut which bit the chrome and a handful of big lings including the biggest one caught during a kid's first fishing trip!


July 19

Heather's back on the Queen of Hearts and so were a bunch of the regulars that fish on Wednesday when it's a rockfish trip. Even Gene showed up. There's nothing better than a day of fishing to escape the heat!

Trekking south we played hopscotch starting off around Pescadero. In depths ranging from 40' to 60' of reasonably calm ocean conditions, I had my first yellow and black rockfish on a small chartreuse B-2 squid. I gave it to Bernie fishing to my left at the bow. I popped up another on a motor oil B-2 squid.

Changing to swimbaits produced most of my bag limit for me, with purple and black colors taking some fine Chinas, more yellow and blacks and a cabezon. When the fog burned off I tried some iron but the fish seemed to like plastics, so I tied on a Fat Bait and moments later had a huge gopher. (I seriously contemplated calling IGFA about this toad!)

While the lings laid low for most, a few did get them to bite. While I was not one of them, I did get another cabezone that I was able to give Gene. Blacks and blues rounded out sacks for just about everybody and even I traded a gopher for one. All in all it was just another day in paradise!


July 13

While visiting friends and family down in Orange County during a heat wave, I had a chance to hit the water. On the golf course in Cypress, my friend Larry had seen me eyeing the bass in the lake and decided he'd join me on a twilight trip for some bass fishing... Barred sand bass that is!

To escape the heat we drove down to Long Beach Marina and boarded the Enterprise for a 6:30 pm departure. We had been issued a pair of spots at the rail in the starboard corner, where we parked our rods and went to the galley for cold sodas.

The anchor was set off Huntington Flats, and my first barred sand bass hit a brown B-2 squid shortly thereafter. These fish prefer squid at times, but since their diet also includes crab, I tried out a Berkley Gulp peeler crab. After slipping on a 2 ounce egg sinker I tied my spectra to an Owner ghost leader rig with a 1/0 Mutu light circle hook.

Around me I noticed other anglers getting bit on natural squid, but the pinhead sardine and anchovies in the bait tank were so small, that larry tried pinning several to his hook to give the fish a "mini meatball" presentation. He got a couple of fish with this maneuver.

Later that night the fog rolled in and really cooled us off. I wound up releasing about 7 sandies and gave two away. Larry matched my fish count and only had one mortality. A 6 to 7 pound bass took the jackpot although we had seen a halibut hooked at the port stern that would've beat it. (The angler made the fatal mistake of trying to "bounce" the fish in. Halibut need to be gaffed or netted.)

Capt. Laurie had the vessel at dockside just before midnight and I was happy to have quenched my saltwater thirst.


June 17

The Grady-White Invitational out of Santa Cruz was held today, with Bev joining Team Alibi II in this prestigious event. With salmon and halibut both eligible for the contest our team tried first trolling for Chinooks, followed by searching for flatties. Although fishing was tough all over, it was a beautiful day to be on the water.

Back at the dock we all enjoyed a great BBQ with the other contestants and saw the halibut that won the event.


June 3

Day two of Gary's charter had us running back up North, only this time the weather was a little bumpy. Fourteen folks were aboard today with many repeats from day one, including Jeff and his son Vince, who took up positions next to me at the rail.

When the silvers started to show up again, Capt. Bob got a hot tip to run even further North. Just when I thought we'd hit Bodega we dropped in and started to spank the Kings. They hit in flurries causing pandemonium all over the stern. I thought I'd seen it all, until I witnessed Jim scoop three fish before bringing the net up and over!

Gary had one of the hot sticks again today and he put a lot of fish into the box. Jeff and Vince were having trouble getting started due to some twisted leaders, but towards the end of the day Vince hammered a hog around 23 pounds. Several nice salmon were landed with the biggest topping out at 27 pounds. We finished the day with limits for all anglers.


June 2

As a member of Albackore Sportfishing Gear's pro staff, I was excited to FINALLY get a chance to fish with Jeff Jost, their head honcho. Gary Gillingham had chartered the Queen of Hearts back-to-back for a couple days of salmon fishing and Jeff had tossed my name out to add to the group.

We left the dock around 5:30am with twelve anglers and a new deckhand. Jim Phillips joined the Queen of Hearts a couple of months ago when Heather broke her leg, and he proved to be an excellent addition. After a quick consensus the decision to charge up to Point Reyes was made.

Under sunny skies and a flat ocean, Capt. Bob put us onto the fish right away, and although we must've released 20 silvers and a couple of shakers, we had limits for the boat in a little over two hours. Biggest fish went to 17 pounds and I brought home a pair for some great table fare.


May 19 - 26

One day at home after my Sitka trip was all I needed to exchange my cold weather gear for a hot time in Panama! Changing planes in Houston I hooked up with Danny Jackson, renowned videographer, and Tim Snyder for our flight into Panama City. After a short night at the brand new five-star Veneto Hotel and Casino, we caught our final flight to David (dah-VEED). Then a short cab ride to the Pesca Panama floating lodge docked at the marina.

After stashing our luggage, we tossed our gear onto one of the 27 ft Ocean Master center console boats. With Tatim, our captain, at the helm and deckhand, Thomas, we were soon blazing down the Chiriquí River towards the fishing grounds.

As soon as we dropped in, Danny and Tim had a bonito and an undetermined specie of small tuna, locally referred to as an albacore, hooked up. During this time a Golden Poison frog (white-colored in our case) was discovered on the T-top canvas and was nudged off into the water with a gaff. Before it could swim back we motored away and soon spotted the first of many colorful sea snakes.

Off the Ladrones area, I popped up my first yellowfin, weighing around 50 pounds, on a Stella reel. Several more yellowfin were caught on River2Sea Dumbbells, which seemed to work very well on the tuna. Trolling produced a wahoo for Tim on my favorite old beat-to-hell orange/black Marauder that was already missing one eye.

Back at the barge, which had worked its way down the river to our first anchorage, we showered, enjoyed a snack and a few cocktails before dinner. The blackened tuna was delicious, as was every meal served that trip. We even had fresh peach ice cream for dessert one night!

The second day we ran to the area around Isla Parida and Isla Secas. I hooked up on a monstrous needlefish that might have rivaled the all tackle record. A short time later, while on a slow troll with live baits, Tim spotted a fish behind the boat. I dropped back and hooked up on a nice jack crevalle, which inhaled my bait bridled to an Emperor Tackle 7/0 hook and proceeded to put up a nice fight. Although released, we estimated the fish weighed 16 -18 pounds.

We found more tuna and soon Tim was in prayer mode with a serious yellowfin which looked to be about 120 pounds when he brought it to the boat. I threw on the Smitty belt my friend Cheryl had loaned me, and popped the cherry on my new Penn 70VS to pull up a 60 pounder. With Danny adding to the body count we were running out of space to stack the tuna. So when we happened to see a commercial “green stick” boat nearby, we swapped them some beer for a 50 pound bag of ice.

A little while later, it was Danny’s turn to nail another trophy needlefish. A rain shower didn’t appear to hamper the migration of hundreds of beautiful sunset moths as we finished the day trying without luck to raise a wahoo.

That night after dinner, I went to the stern of the barge and baited an Owner 4/0 pre-rigged 50# leader onto an Accurate 665H. In short order I had tug-of-war going with what we thought was a shark and turned out to be a 70-80 pound stingray, a.k.a. “Panamanian mud marlin.” Tim hoisted him out of the water enough to break the leader for the release.

Day 3, Tim once again hammered the tuna with Danny and me getting a few. I had a hook straightened on one tuna and, after re-rigging a new hook, the next fish decided to eat the whole popper and bust off. I used bait on the next fish and the Accurate reel to put a 50 pound yellowfin in the boat. We coasted up to a floating barrel where I had seen huge surface crashers and Tim returned to prayer mode on another 100 pound class fish. I spanked another 50 pounder before ending the action.

On the way in to our next anchorage I dropped live bait down and was promptly busted off, very likely by a cubera snapper wrapping the rocks. 200 pound leader and 100 pound line on a 2-speed meant NOTHING to this brute! Danny and Tim connected to several yellowtail snapper and a large red snapper.

The next day I opted to stay on the barge rather than double up on a boat, as one was down for repairs. Retreating to my cabin room with a copy of Tred Barta’s book, The Best and Worst of Tred Barta, I had a very enjoyable read and a wonderful cantaloupe drink made by the crew.

Jay Gustin, Pesca Panama’s owner, came out during my lunch to see if I’d like to jump aboard the barge’s 10 foot mini panga-style tender. Jaime, a young crewmember who likes to fish when he gets a chance, took me out for a few hours to see what we could find. Having already been in a battle with a needlefish and flashed at boat side by a roosterfish, we hit a small cove that looked promising. Jaime hooked up with something and handed the rod to me. I brought a beautiful blue trevally to the boat for some photos before sending it on its way.

On the final full day of fishing, another angler on the trip, Keith, join our group. I pulled in a small dorado to start things off. We found yellowfin yet again and caught some on iron and poppers. I lost another fish to a soft hook, but I caught one on a River2Sea Aji jig soon after. Keith lost a nice fish estimated at over 80 pounds when it was cresting a wave behind the boat, but he quickly had another on.

We spent our last night aboard the barge, which was now parked part way back up the river. Before ending our excursion, we set off one last time for a half-day of fishing under sunny skies. Before long we encountered numerous schools of salemas baitfish boiling all around us. We saw they were being chased by needlefish, so we tried trolling for wahoo that we suspected would be in the area. We jigged over a high spot and I pulled up a big yellowtail snapper on a River2Sea “Sea Rock” jig.

The ride in was flat and we stopped for a lunch break, at which time I grabbed a mask and snorkel and swam up to a little beach to shoot some pictures. Before leaving this scenic paradise, we quaffed a couple of drinks on the barge, now docked back at the marina, while waiting for our rides to the airport.

Thanks to Jay and the crew of Pesca Panama for making this a wonderful trip. I’d recommend this lodge for any who wish to explore the best of Panama fishing. Kudos also to Rugged Shark, whose women’s Sandshark sandals made my trip a whole lot more comfortable, on and off the boat, under a variety of conditions. And last, but not least by a long shot, Danny you’re the man! I’m looking forward to some fabulous photos from this adventure.


May 12-17

Larry Lowman and Cheryl joined me as I returned to Kingfisher Lodge for the 6th annual Alaska Grand Slam tournament in Sitka, Alaska, this year sponsored by Fenwick Rods. As I often prefer, I flew in a day early. That gave me a chance to show Larry and Cheryl around the picturesque town of Sitka. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the Sea Mountain Restaurant & Lounge, and then slept soundly at Helga’s B & B.

On arrival at Kingfisher on Saturday afternoon, we rounded out our team with Dick Peterson. Gear was assembled, luggage unpacked and the fridge stocked with, of course, Alaskan Amber beer. Over dinner, tournament organizers Steve Carson and Ronnie Kovach passed out mounds of goodies from Berkley while welcoming everyone and explaining the rules of the event to the 68 entrants

Sunday morning started us off fishing with Captain Keith Shuler on the vessel Striker. A few salmon were put onto the boat, but the action was slow. So rather than spending a lot more time for mine, I opted to set off for the halibut grounds.

Cheryl, quickly spanked all of us when she wrestled up a halibut weighing 109 pounds on one of her acid-wrapped rods. In harsh contrast, mine weighed a mere 13 pounds, but I did catch it using a great new rod Cheryl recently designed for me. Larry released a 47” lingcod and a couple more fish were landed before we decided to head back in toward shore.
Just offshore, over a rocky ledge, I whipped up a nice 37” lingcod on a Fat Bait. Several more were caught and released on that spot. A yelloweye rockfish made its way into the hold too. On the way in, I tried for a few remaining minutes to hook up my salmon, but to no avail.

Day 2 started off by trolling Sitka Point aboard the Keeper with Captain Jeff Williams. Larry and Dick fought the first two salmon at around 15-18 pounds at a depth of 120 feet. Cheryl and I followed suit with a pair, and then Dick and I each took a second fish. My pair weighed in at 16 and 24 pounds after cleaning.

As we set up on the anchor for halibut, I perused Jeff’s fine and quite compatible CD collection. The first halibut crept up on Dick’s line as the lead-in to Deep Purple’s Smoke On the Water played. A couple more flatties slapped the deck and we made the call to move, since it was a little bumpy out there. Jeff impressed me with his boating skills as he ran down the anchor like a pro in a less than perfect ocean.

Switching to a protected cove on the inside allowed me to get out onto the bow and pitch iron, as I so love to do. A “Sea Rock” from River2Sea, tipped with a small white Gulp grub, quickly produced a big yelloweye rockfish. I followed that with a few quillback rockfish and a huge China full of roe. While I released a few more quillbacks, Cheryl got a nice ling on a Fat Bait.

Our final day found us with Brian Oberreuter on the boat North Cape. Dick led off with a qualifying rockfish that jumped onto the salmon gear. The salmon were hit or miss, though, for most of the boats. So, after about an hour we sprinted for the outside, stopping briefly on Edgecombe reef to wail on a few bucket mouths. Dick nabbed a chicken halibut and I brought up back-to-back 43” and 47” lings. I had hoped to take one for the dinner table, but mine were all over the legal slot limit size and were therefore released… not such a terrible problem to have.

With the ocean growing bouncier, we hit the halibut hole and soon Larry was fighting a brute. He’s a tough fisherman as he stands in wet shoes (Larry decided to go “bootless” today) grinding on what turns out to be a halibut just short of 100 pounds. I turned around and battled a nice 95 pounder. Cheryl popped up a big yelloweye as did everyone in the boat by the end of the day. Cheryl also bested me in the ling category with a 50” hog. Dick finishes our stop with the release of an unexpected large skate.

A light rain started to fall around 1pm and by the time we left the halibut grounds, the ocean had come down considerably. Our captain was in the running for most slams so we went back to fishing for salmon. By the time we had to call it quits we had three grand slams on the boat, which tied him in the competition. I am content at this point to have my first grand slam of this tournament.

A temporary power outage back at the lodge found us gathered in the ambient light of dusk, assisted by a few flashlights, as Steve and Ronnie presented awards to the top anglers. For overall points in the tournament, the top winners were:

Erick Dunnick: 625 points
Terry Lakely: 529
Orlando Olivarez: 539
Tim Medina: 534

My personal highlight at this event was tying for biggest salmon; 24 pounds dressed.
Thanks to the staff of Kingfisher who once again performed flawlessly. Also a special thanks to Doug of Hank’s Cabs and Tours who rescued my jacket, which took an unplanned extra flight to Juneau and back.


May 8

I tried for salmon out of Santa Cruz today. We rigged with hootchies, krocs, anchovies and apexes and tried trolling at all depths. A half dozen commercial boats in the area weren't getting bit either. We gave up around 2pm when we'd had only one knockdown for the day.


April 21

Cheryl, David, John and I, took advantage of a beautiful Friday to try again for salmon. John's son Scott, who had been with us back on April 7, was the only one who went home with a salmon that day. Today it was John's turn!

We got the scoop from Todd at Bayside Marine and following his suggestions we ran out about 9 miles slightly South of Santa Cruz harbor, where water conditions looked good. Four rods were hooked up to the downriggers and deployed with a couple of hootchies, an apex and a red Kroc.

Shortly after settling in the first salmon struck, and John brought a 14 pounder to the boat, where I was waiting with the net. One down, seven to go! I gladly fought the next fish which also turned out to be a 14 pound King. Cheryl followed suit by putting yet another one in the box and this continued at a nice pace over the next hour or so.

David and I decided that one small salmon should be released even though it would have been of legal size. This good karma was rewarded when John went to battle for the second time. The fish ran and kept running as David and I cleared the other lines and Cheryl took the helm. I thought there was a possibility that John had a shark hooked up when I noticed he was close to getting spooled. Just as David got the other side of the boat cleared, I told Cheryl to put the the hammer down to chase this fish. John retrieved most of his line and we waited to see what he had.

Just then a sea lion popped up behind the stern. They don't usually like to hang around when there's a shark in the area, so it was no big surprise when John's fish broke the surface and was indeed a huge salmon! David netted the beast before the fur bag could get a grip on it. We did note parallel marks near the tail where the salmon had almost been snatched away.

Although we tried to put number eight in the boat it just wasn't happening, so as the wind picked up around 2:00 we pulled the gear and ran in. John's fish weighed in at about 25 pounds and we had a couple of small fish that rounded out to a nice average overall.


April 15

For a lot of folks it was "Tax Day", but for a few of us we got lucky and were invited to go sturgeon fishing with Mike Jones on his 20' Bayliner Trophy, Hawaiian Hooker! Greg, Joey Richard, Mike and I all happen to be friends in the Full Speed Fishing Club. And the jackassery was just beginning...

After putting the boat in at Redwood City, we anchored up in the super-secret, double-password protected spot near Dumbarton bridge in San Francisco bay. Since Greg, Joey and Mike are the veterans aboard, Greg helped set me up. We paired up our double hook rigs with herring and ghost shrimp and dropped into a nice current. Joey took the bow position, with the rest of staring at rod tips in the stern.

After a few missed hits all around, Greg slams the hook-set home in a beast. This sturgeon made many runs and engaged in a Mexican stand-off more than once, before finally allowing itself to be netted. It was a male sturgeon that taped out to 62". After photos the fish was released. (There is a slot limit, so little ones and big ones go back.) Radio chatter kept us informed that some other fish were being caught, but the word was starting to spread that we were getting bit.

Joey's rod was the next in action, unfortunately it was lost when the line became entangled and broke off. It's always a bummer when this happens.

Soon after Richard, who had caught his first "dino" with Mike recently, started going bendo. We thought he was working a nice fish, until it broke the surface and turned out to be a bat ray, or as we like to call'em, mud marlin. Richard's ray got released too. Between shooting photos, watching rods, detangling the net, getting rained on and drinking Guinness, I noticed we were hardly alone anymore. The boat count in the vicinity was on the rise. AND there were a lot more Full Speeders around! Luty Boy cruised up and almost lost a net during a bait transfer. I also spotted Gary Edward's new ride Panda Angler. Highland Lassie was also in attendance.

My eyes were working good today and I noticed Greg's rod getting tapped again. He jumped over and soon had another nice fish making a really long run. Everybody else coaxed him into handing the fish off to me so I wouldn't be a sturgeon virgin anymore. After that first explosive run, she came to boat a lot easier than the first fish Gary had hooked. She also taped out to 62" but this fish was fat! I'm betting she was loaded with roe. We took a couple of photos and back in she went.

Mike finished the trip off by fighting a keeper fish to the boat. It fell into the slot limit at 48". I'm glad I was able to spend a day on the water with a great group, and I learned a lot from Mike the master!


April 7

This morning we launched out of Santa Cruz harbor to try out luck at salmon. Since the regulations stated that we had to stay inside the 3-mile limit of California state waters there wasn't much we could do except give it try.

We metered a few decent baitballs and saw the kind of topwater bird action that puts your heart in your throat... however the fish were deep and before long the wind started to make trouble for us.

With the downriggers both working at maximum depth we were still coming up short of "The Zone". After a couple of hours trolling, one of the cables broke, but before the other one was lost due to a fatigue fracture Scott Rollins hooked up on a Chinook and played the 12 pound fish to the boat where I netted it.

For the remainder of the morning we tried to troll using sinker releases on the rods, before the weather finally made us retreat.


February 11

Feeling good enough after recuperating from surgery last month, I participated in the second annual Sand Crab Classic. The proceeds from this event go to the non-profit Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

After checking in and receiving our T-shirts, royal blue fish rags from West Marine and complimentary bags of Berkley Gulp sand crabs or sandworms, we milled about drinking coffee and tasty biscotti supplied by Zizzo's Coffee. Steve Carson was on hand to help out Mike Baxter and Alan Bushnell whose fishing chatter we hear on the local Let's Go Fishing radio program.

The weather was fantastic as I hit the beach at Manresa and soon had a small barred surfperch on my line. I let the little guy go and had a few more bites before getting soaked from the waist down. My surf retreat is still a little slow at this time! The water wasn't too cold and since it was very warm and sunny, I dried out quickly.

Later everyone met at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club for a taco feast, awards, some great raffle prizes and a silent auction. It was a great way to start off a new year.

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

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