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Fishing Diary  

2009

November 14

Under the cover of darkness I drove down the mountain and arrived in Monterey at gray light ready to board the infamous Diabla and fish with Manny and his crew. Diabla is a 27' King Cat Baha Cruiser with a tow rig that's hard to miss. At 7:15 with no sign of them in sight I called him up... "We're at the Harbormaster's dock", he replied to my query. Whoops, I'm at the wrong dock. So the boys roll over and pick me up.

I get settled in with Mitch, Papa John, Bob, Chilly B and DiablasMaster (Manny) shifts into fly mode. The ocean was up a little and we had a small breeze from the Northwest. We ran South towards Point Sur. Oh Goody I haven't been here very often and the fish are known for being big. SWEET!

Today I am living on the edge. I have packed my Albackore Altunative with swimbaits, iron and everything under the sun to battle rockfish and lingcod. Interestingly enough I also find some cordials stashed in the side pouch... Kahlua anyone? My rod of choice for this adventure is my trusty custom Calstar BT-865 (just the right backbone to handle big lings), matched with a Pro Gear 545 (Spectra backed and a short mono top shot.) Normally I bring two outfits but I didn't want to hog the rocket launchers on my first trip. I left the lighter combo home this time wanting to make sure I could put some meat in the freezer to get me through the Winter. Jeff can't eat rockfish so I really try to get the lings for him.

My first presentation to the critters below was a little something I like to call a "short-biter-special. I found some plastics at Bob Sands tackle store in Southern CA. They have a big grub body with a fish tail. After cutting about a 1/2" off the front, I heated a big screw secured in a vise with a BBQ lighter. I then shoved the cut end over the hot screw so I could thread it onto a 4 oz. leadhead without splitting it. On the fish's part there is not a lot of room for error in getting your lips ripped.

In short order I had my first customer; a lingcod. Whew! I was warming up so I kicked off my jacket and proceeded to hook another ling. I had the first "brace" in the box. Everyone was nailing quality rockfish and the handful we caught that were little were released or referred to as "taco" filler.

Chilly B was whacking the stuffing out of nice copper rockfish and then he popped up a huge cabezone! Yep, the iron was money out here today. After landing the first two lings on plastic I switched to old iron. I lost one rig to rocks and two others to the zing-powie of my power casts when the free spool started to act up... Yet another reason why I like to have a back-up rod.

I wound up releasing 2 short lings and boxed another 3 by the end of the day for a total of 7 and I got to fight, and box, a big cabezone as well. My unusual rockfish of the day was a grass cod which fought as hard as a fish twice it's size. I also had a BB & B lure from Dean that got me a big olive. We had gophers, an occasionalblue or vermilion and some brownies. Somewhere during the carnage I spotted a small mola checking us out. I hope someone got a better picture than I did.

The wind picked up a tad more so Manny started back up the hill. Things smoothed out near Carmel though so I told Manny about a place that's yielded some nice olives. As advertised I got a nice olive and proceeded to kick ass on the biggest ling I caught all day. It inhaled a knock off version of the Lucanus jig. This fish fought like it had been branded with a hot poker!

On the final run in I sat in the back on a mini cooler chatting with Mitch about tuna and Hawaii as the wind and spray styled my hair. I'd like to thank all the guys for not letting me go hungry... My sandwich got a little waterlogged, lol but the chocolate bar, beer and my Dr Pepper were ok. Manny offered pizza but I was so busy catching fish I never took him up on it.

Hopefully I will get to fish the Diabla again. I never ignored Manny's directive to "keep fishin'!" Thanks for letting me cap off the rockfish year in epic style!

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October 21-26

Jeff & I headed to La Paz, Mexico to fish with some friends from Full Speed Fishing (Tim, Pete, Joe and his son Brian.) We booked a last minute deal with Baja Pirates and stayed at the Hotel Marina. That night we had dinner at Jonathan Roldan's FUBAR Cantina where I got to say hi to Jonathan and Jill.

On our first day of fishing Jeff & I fished on a Triumph 210 and had Ivan as our captain. We ran out to Isla Espiritu Santo and I caught and released a pargo, a Panama Graysby and a huge needlefish. Jeff put a couple of dorado in the boat and released a few needlefish as well. We took a few more pargo and I also added a cabrilla and a triggerfish to the catch. The triggerfish was made into ceviche to enjoy poolside.

That night we had lots of different fish that we all brought down for the restaurant at the hotel to cook for us... Including some needlefish that Pete had caught. The needlefish was actually pretty good. Ray Cannon mentioned them as "one of the finest food fishes of all" in his book The Sea of Cortez.

Tim, Pete, Jeff & I shared the 27' cruiser, "Wild Cat" on day two of fishing and since Hurricane Rick had spared us any bad weather we decided to try for tuna near Isla Ceralvo. We were not to be disappointed, but first Jeff found something else wanting his live bait. A huge sailfish! I had rigged Jeff's 50# line with an Emperor Tackle 3/0 live bait hook using an improved clinch knot. He fought the fish for about an hour with the rest of us cheering him on and snapping pictures and taking video. After leaping several times out of the water and having the fish right below the boat in a stand off numerous times, Pedro, our deckhand finally made a grab to release the fish and it broke off cleanly and swam away. We did not have a leader on the fish so I was surprised that Jeff was able to fight it for so long and still get the fish to the boat successfully. Especially on such a small hook. We estimated the fish at 120 pounds!

With Jeff taking a breather we soon had yellowfin tuna attacking our bait. I had a Pro Gear 545 freshly "tweaked" and serviced by Alan Tani and I was trying out some Blackwater 30# fluorocarbon line as a top shot on my Spectra. I pounded 3 between 25 to 30 pounds. Jeff caught one and so did Tim. We had a blast ripping through some needlefish and I think Tim or Pete also popped up a pargo out of nowhere. Jeff also managed to nail a dorado as well as Pete and Tim.

Joe and Brian had flown in that afternoon and everyone except Pete headed into town to have dinner at Buffalo BBQ. It was a fabulous dinner too!

Jeff & I returned to fishing with Ivan again on the Triumph and we got bait right around the corner. While in the process of getting bait Jeff hooked and released a small roosterfish and I got a pargo. We then set off for Isla Ceralvo again. Today the tuna were not biting as well so after I put a dorado in the boat we trolled further offshore to our West. There was a nice rock pile but a dive boat was anchored near it so we couldn't get too close.

We brought the trolling gear in and picked up speed for another spot; Point Coyote. The pargo wanted to play so we baited up the lighter gear and tore into them. We also had some needlefish passing through and we released all the ones that didn't bite their way through our lighter lines. Our friends on the Wild Cat joined us before we were done and we played hopscotch with them as we fished our way North.

On our last day of fishing Jeff & I picked up bait at Isla Espiritu Santo and I liked the looks of the water near the West side of the island. It had that certain look to it... Just the right shade of green. Bam we had a school of roosterfish swarm us. I released three and Jeff one before we decided to shift to the backside of the island. There was a beautiful cove near the center of the island that I dubbed "aquarium cove". Big pargo Colorado were breezing the rocks but I was only able to get the smaller ones to bite along with some cabrilla and released a few more needlefish. Jeff caught a nice triggerfish like I'd had the other day. I kept wishing I'd had some snorkel gear. The place was amazing. Jeff wasn't hooking up as much and he wanted to go out looking for bigger quarry.

We trolled for awhile and found some dorado for him, and he also got a sierra. I had a nice hit but it busted off before I could get it out of the rocks... Probably a pargo.

All in all we had a great trip and everyone at Baja Pirates did an outstanding job for us. I would definitely fish with them again.

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September 22

"Killer" day with Team Alibi II... Or "Dude, I'm going to need a bigger smoker." Either title will work.

So with approximately 26 hours notice (I require 24 in most cases) Cheryl calls and says, "We're going albacore fishing. Wanna go?"

I responded, "Cheryl who? The only Cheryl I know got sold into slave labor in a rod building sweat shop."

Anyway Cheryl, Dave, Jeff (not MY Jeff their neighbor, Jeff) meet up at 4 am in Santa Cruz. On the ride out to 36.32 & 122.52 I was able to catch a few more Z's. We loaded five guns and waited. Before long we had a single and our first victim made its way to the icy depths of the cooler.

The next hit was a triple with 2 fish on jigs and yours truly slamming one on a dropped back Storm sardine. This method really feels like hand-to-hand combat!

As soon as we have the gear deployed again we have another triple. Jeff gets busted off just shy of the boat and Dave is on a nice fish that is making sweet runs... until Jeff mentions the HUGE shark under the boat. Yep, you guessed it. The shark got that fish.

Moving along we had another single AND... It was lost at the boat.

Next single is tackled by me and its a peanut. But it's a nice peanut.

A rod gets hit soon after and I yell at Cheryl to get her butt out of the captain's chair and get it. When she picks up the rod and starts cranking she think's were bluffing or that the fish is off... We all urge her to keep cranking even though there is lots of slack line... I even think that the fish is probably gone by now but low and behold she finally connects and subdues the sucker.

Jeff fights the next jig fish and after the "gaffage" we had "almost farmage" as Dave experiences a tail grab gone bad. The fish kicks off the gaff and out of Dave's hand for another short run. I make it point to either back off my drags or toss the reel in freespool and thumb the reel JUST IN CASE SHIT HAPPENS. (I scolded both boys today for having fully engaged drags on at this critical juncture.)

I still had a bit of adrenaline going from the earlier fish I nailed with a swimbait, so it was no surprise to see me all but jump when a fish did a drive by as I was setting a rod out on an outrigger. I missed the bastard!

We had two more singles and then Dave steps over to adjust a line and "BAM" he gets hit. Unlike me, he gets that fish to stick.

I gaffed both of our last two fish which came on a double down.

We packed it up at around 2 pm as the weather was starting to get a tad blowy. About halfway home we were treated to a show of several killer whales including a big male that leapt over the wake approximatly 100 yards behind us.

We cleaned our 12 fish at the station in Santa Cruz harbor. I flipped Cheryl some cash to buy beer and she not only did the "you buy and I'll fly" but she held the bottle and "fed" me my beer so I wouldn't get the bottle slimy. We had a regular assembly... I mean disassembly line with Jeff & Dave peeling and cutting, I finessed the bloodlines out, and Cheryl bagged.

Tomorrow I'll start smoking, hence the remark about the smoker... I'll be buying another one so I can have side-by-side action. Cheryl is in charge of canning and we all have lots of fresh stuff to eat now.

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September 11

This afternoon I drove up to Fort Baker in Marin, just over the golden gate bridge, to fish with Glenn AKA Tinfisherman. We set off in search of halibut, lingcod, rockfish and the possibility of a white seabass.

Outside the gate we found a stretch of brown water but it broke up a little further to the north. The drift was not the best and the breeze was slightly from the south but we made the best of it by trying frozen sardines, jigging and even slow trolling swimbaits at times.

We each released a lingcod (both were green) and Glenn caught a nice gopher rockfish, while I kept a decent Bolina. Glenn also had a huge live smelt that he tossed out and caught a 50 lb. plus shark. He finessed the brute up on light tackle and I helped cut it loose when he brought it boat side and grabbed it by the tail. I wasn't able to get a lot of good pictures of it for identification but it was either a very large brown smoothhound or a soupfin. Today was a fairly hot bite on starfish. I jigged up several species and relocated them to new homes on the reef.

Just before dusk we moved back towards the bridge to try a few spots and had some wicked strikes but no firm hook sets. As the sun set through bands of fog I took a couple of final pictures before we headed in.

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September 1-2

The Brookings, Oregon AKA "Bloom County" invasion. Two days of utterly delightful weather and company fishing with John on the Arima "Meal Ticket". The salmon showed us no love but the big black rockfish on light tackle more than made up for it. I found the fish really liked small Storm swimbaits.

John's buddy Dan fished with us on the first day and brought over delicious sausage and egg sandwiches. We trolled for kings and silvers in the morning but finally switched gears and ran a bit north of Brookings harbor to pound rockfish, cabezone, seatrout and lingcod. I also released a starfish.

Day two was pretty much the same and I lost a nice fish short of "color" which I suspect was a ling. I did have some better luck with a big seatrout and a smattering of nice black rockfish. I also released another starfish.

Just driving up and spending time in Brookings with John and June was well worth the trip up. I'm sure the salmon or tuna will show us more love next time I get back up that way.

August 22

It was a tough last minute call to make but Full Speed Fishing Club decided to go ahead and hold the Blue Water Open today. The weather offshore was just fishable and I helped set the troll gear out on team Mango Lube (don't ask, lol). The ocean was sloppy enough that rain gear was required to stay dry. TMAC, Pete, Tim and I tried up to 60 miles out off Santa Cruz but the water temperature wasn't high enough to put us in the greatest spot. Only a few boats managed to find some Albacore and bring them in the the weigh-in at Leo's Sportfishing. One boat ruled out tuna fishing but did manage to bring in some nice lingcod and halibut for us to see.

Everyone enjoyed a nice BBQ with the club's killer new trailer-style BBQ back at the dock.

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August 12

Limits were attained out rockfishing on the Queen of Hearts and although the bite was a bit slow to start off, Capt. Bob produced. We ran south and hop scotched over several points between Pescadero and Pigeon. I lost top honors to a 15 pound lingcod but rallied with the second place fish; the only halibut caught on the trip. This baby fought like hell and weighed in at 10 pounds. I also banged out a nice double with a seatrout and 6 pound vermilion. I also lost a nice fish that I tried to free from the rocks for at least 8 minutes but finally I had to engage the reel and hope for the best... it busted off. Towards the end of the day I cranked one of my special mutant homemade swimbaits to the surface and had a big ling follow it. I missed him too. The rest of the players that made it into my sack were gophers, and blues. I even wound up trading my one nice fat China for a gopher.

A stellar bunch of guys and gals shared the bow with me today and both Heather and Capt. Bob were back fresh from vacations and happy campers. I'm sure I'll be back out several times before the end of the year since some of the best rockfish weather is looming on the horizon.

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August 3

Today started off as an albacore trip and finished as a rockfish outing. I fished with Team Seahare; Harold and Henry. After a fine day of trolling on the mill pond out by Gumdrop and Pioneer, and finding one stupid chicken, we decided to run in and take a stab at Harold's secret spot for big lings. We were not to be disappointed! The spot yielded 24", 31" and 32.5" lingcod with 3 sub-legals released. One large and one HUGE black rockfish and a few very decent gophers. Not bad for a few drifts at the end of the day.

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July 14-21

July in Loreto... Sure it's hot but it's worth it for some of the best dorado and sailfish action I've seen in awhile. This year I went back for the Fishin' for the Mission tournament and teamed up with Phred Phish. (He called us team Phled Phish.)

Nopoló/Loreto Bay is just a short drive south of Loreto and that's where I had the privilege of hanging out this time. I saw old friends and made some new ones.

I hit town on a Tuesday and Phred had his Klamath ready to roll early the next morning. We launched near Loreto Bay and headed to the marina to score some mackerel for the live well. In short order we had a double hook-up on 70-80# sailfish and we managed to "dance" around the boat to avoid crossing up our fish which were greyhounding like crazy. I had my rod in one hand and a camera in the other trying to shoot pics. I let Phred bring his fish in for the first release and quickly followed myself. A third sail jumped on after we starting trolling again and we tag-teamed playing it. We ran for awhile to search out a small patch of weed and managed to hook 4 dorados. We kept all but the last one which was only about 10 pounds.

About 3 miles from the beach we came across a pod of pilot whales that decided to check us out up-close-and-personal. I practically hand fed them our mackerel from the bait tank and took pictures and some video. They hung out with us for about 15-20 minutes.

That night we hit Augie's Bar and Bait Shop and I met up with some local folks I knew and met some new ones. We were treated to some yellowtail sushi courtesy of John who is a friend and neighbor of Phred. Phred was willing to toss me the keys to his boat to head out the next day but I couldn't find anyone who could go on short notice so we just took Thursday off.

Friday started off at 4:30am by meeting our panga and skipper, Fidel, at the marina. Phred had made the arrangements to fish a super panga through Pam at The Baja Big Fish Company. We bought live bait and I also pulled up a few 4-5# Humboldt squids on the way out. We managed to keep the sails off, although we saw about a dozen of them every day, and we hooked 4 dorados. Our biggest two were weighed in for day one of the Fishin' for the Mission tournament but they weren't serious competition at 35 pounds combined. I saw some nice marks on a few other boats listed.

Saturday my fishing partner came down with a migraine just after we got bait so he decided to let me run solo. As it turned out the only thing I put in the boat that day was more squid. A lot of the boats wound up in the same... boat. I did get to see a couple of very nice dorado hit the scale for the few that managed to get them to bite.

The dinner at the mission was festive and I enjoyed a Cuban cigar that Augie had given me. I won the bidding on a walking stick hand carved to commemorate this year’s event and gave it to Phred in turn bid on a trip for 2 to Canada and John added Alibi gear to his previous year’s arsenal. Our group broke camp and headed off to a nice bar in town. The name escapes me but I know it wasn’t Stroker’s, Mike’s or Augie’s. (All of which are nice bars by the way.) Phred packed it in for the night but Anne, Theresa and John promised to make sure I got delivered back safe and sound.

After sleeping in on Sunday we puttered around until it was time to go to John’s BBQ where we hit the pool and feasted on delicious food until early evening.

Monday was devoted to putting the boat back in the storage yard, getting a tour of Mike & Rosey’s incredible home and dining at Domingo’s. I’m already planning on going back next year… maybe sooner, lol!

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June 12-21

Jeff & I spent 4 nights in Vancouver and 5 nights in Sandspit in British Columbia for a nice relaxing vacation. I'll be writing an article for Fish Taco Chronicles for the Fall edition so I’m going to keep the finer details for the magazine. We took almost 200 pictures and video clips over the course of the trip.

We started off in Vancouver and stayed at the Corkscrew Inn B & B. Places we visited:

The Maritime Museum, Space Museum, Grandville Island, Stone Grill Restaurant (You cook your entrée on a 400 degree stone), the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, and the Vancouver Aquarium (Where they had a newborn beluga whale calf.)

A quick flight from Vancouver to Sandspit on June 13th began our Queen Charlotte Safaris adventure. The lodge is looking better than ever and Chef Joe Harben had appetizers waiting for us when we arrived. I was FLOORED when we found out we had the place to ourselves! (Another group of 6-8 rescheduled for later in the year and they didn't want to disrupt our plans.)

We fished with Captain Richard Aiken on one of the lodge’s Boston Whalers for three days. The bait hadn’t moved in thick yet so it was a bit of a scratch trip however Jeff & I both landed King salmon which is the primary reason why we chose to take this vacation. Half our fish were “red” kings and half were “white” including my best fish; weighing 24.5 and putting up a great fight. Jeff also caught a lingcod and we had numerous yelloweye rockfish… Not quite as big as the record I set there back in 2006 but all of them were over 12 pounds. (A replica of my fish is displayed at the lodge and it is just as beautiful as the one I have hanging on my wall at home.) Jeff also released a halibut and I kept one. Coho and pink salmon were also being landed by other anglers fishing near us.

The weather was pretty decent and we only had to wear rain gear now and then although it was overcast most of the time on the fishing grounds. We fished to the north and south of Cartwright Sound and out to Marble Island.

On our final day on the island we rented a car went over to Queen Charlotte City and Skidegate. Everyone in the area that could attend was at the annual fundraiser “Hospital Days.” The Haida Gwaii Museum has been incorporated as part of the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay and we had a great tour there.

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May 30

Today I was part of Team Beaver & Butthare (Harold, Mike and Mel) in the Full Speed Fishing and we nailed our game plan. The practice runs for this event paid off with Mel catching a nice halibut weighing 13.50 to take third place for our team.

We fortified ourselves the night before on great food and some tequila and beer. Before catching a few Z's we watched a video of catching our main target species and got an early start this morning.

And I mean EARLY... The alarm clock went off at 3:30 am. I protested a bit and pulled my pillow over my head but I was finally coaxed up and Harold had my bowl of oatmeal ready and waiting. The team was locked and loaded by the time we trailered Harold's Grady White to Oyster Point and launched. Our battle grounds were just to the south of Candlestick and we plied the water trolling up fish on frozen herring.

Mel popped up the first nice fish and it shook hard when netted, dousing Mel in a saltwater shower. Everyone caught at least one fish, but Mel was our quarterback today and carried the team with 3 halibut and 2 striped bass. We had a total of 6 halibut and 2 stripers in the box and 4 halibut released.

I had tried to convince the team to try Angel Island but we had a pretty good day just "out in front" and we fished hard and long. I'm sure we were the highliners of the day even if we only took third place. Our team worked very well together and we can hardly wait to see how we do with a tuna run this year (my fingers are crossed.)

Back at the marina the Full Speed Fishing Halibut Tournament of Champions party was in full swing with the club's new BBQ being well broken in. What can I say except this club ROCKS!

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May 20

I took a chance on the weather this morning and it blew up in my face... Literally! Oh well I had a nice time seeing some of the regulars on the Queen of Hearts. The rough ocean combined with a fast drift made it pretty tough to catch rockfish today. I wound up with 3 gophers and I only remember catching 2 of them. I think someone dropped one in my bag by accident.

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May 15

I met Harold and Mel at Oyster Point at 6:30 this morning to put Harold's boat "Seahare" in the water. We were hoping to get Fishbelly to join us for a practice run for a halibut tournament we're entered in May 30th but he had to work. The bay was nice most of the morning and we managed to net a white with black trim, boat bumper/fender to start the day.

Mel got the first line rip and released a striped bass around the five pound mark. Things were pretty quiet as we waited for the tide change occurring around noon. We all took turns at the wheel as we hit several spots in the bay from the airport to the rock wall in Alameda, back to Candlestick and down in front of Oyster Point.

Sure enough as the tide started to come in Mel had another takedown and this time it was what we were looking for. Halibut number one hit the box. The wind began to pick up and we could see the fog rolling in over the coastal range to the West of us. A little while later Harold's rod goes off and we box the second fish. I tried hoochies and bait both but the wind really started to screw with us so we headed for the barn.

I finally reeled up about 50 yards from the launch ramp. What the hell, we had a great time and the guys gave me their fish. I'm going to fire up the smoker tomorrow and treat them to some killer smoked halibut.

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May 2

After catching a whole 5 1/2 hours of sleep I trudged out of the house at 4:45 am to drive down to Monterey and deck aboard Alibi II for the Monterey Bay Veterans, Inc. "Sports Rehab Center" 22nd Annual Wheelchair Big Fish Derby (dedicated in memory of Vicki L. O'Neal.) I have been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for a long time and I only became aware of this event recently and it was an honor to be asked to be a part of team Alibi who had donated their time and vessel today.

Under a fog-shrouded dawn Capt. Dave, Cheryl and I had the pleasure of catering to four disabled veterans as we anticipated a day of hunting rockfish. Our group eagerly headed South to Point Sur, a place I had not fished before.

The weather cooperated and the guys had a blast landing olive, blue, starry, black and yellow and China rockfish. They also had a flurry of sand dabs and a couple of mackerel including a "big mack" at the end of the day.

After cleaning the fish outside the harbor we dropped the guys off and berthed the boat before driving over to local post #591 for the awards banquet. I was amazed at the turnout and support for this derby and I hope to help again next year!

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May 1

Last year I missed the rockfish opener due to a spill off a horse that resulted in major shoulder surgery, so I was really looking forward to this year.

22 anglers, including me and my new friend Natalie, ran down below Pigeon Point and had a great time boating about 6 or 7 cabezon, a grass cod, some big seatrout and assorted quality rockfish. I had a little buck fever and it took me almost half the day to get back in my groove, however Nat scored the only keeper lingcod (her first), and it won the jackpot weighing in at 8 pounds. We were "bow babes" and toughed it out even in the light rain. We had roughly 3/4 limits for the boat.

And guess who's back to work decking for Bob... Heather!

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April 8

Having discovered Chooka rain boots lately I am contemplating giving Imelda Marcos a run for her money in the "boot" division. Wearing my new Koi Tattoo "fishing boots" and armed with my rain gear just in case the weather turned bad, I hopped aboard the Velocity in Santa Cruz. Capt. Ken and deckhand DJ were happy to see me again... It had definitely been awhile and I was glad to be back on this nice boat.

We went out in search of non bilaterally symmetrical-eyed fish. We were not to be disappointed either! From the moment my squid-tipped hooks settled on the bottom 200 feet below it was a wide open bite on sand dabs! Every now and then a hard hitting Tom cod also jumped on my gangion. The sun was shining brightly when we headed back in around noon and I had the rest of the day to relax and enjoy some time off work.

Before rockfish season opens I hope to get back out for another 1/2 day sand dab trip. Maybe I'll have a new pair of boots by then to break in.

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March 18

Managing to get my chores done by late morning, I looked up at my calendar and noticed the incoming tide would be starting in a couple of hours so I rounded up my gear and hit the beach.

This time I wanted to look for new places to try for surfperch so I made several stops North of Santa Cruz to make cliff top observations or hike down to the ocean. I settled on a beach across the highway from Bonny Dune Road.

At the South end of the beach I found mussels and below my feet I also grabbed up some sandcrabs. After baiting up I leisurely worked the center strand for an hour or two and released a couple of barred surfperch. Next time out I plan to try Davenport or Pescadero, especially now that I've found my waders which had been buried in the garage.

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February 28

The annual Santa Cruz Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament was held today. I didn't want to miss out this year (unlike last year), so I had registered for this popular event within days of it being announced.

Mike Baxter and Alan Bushnell headed up the check-in where the 100 contestants picked up a T-shirt, fueled up on coffee and pastries and talked up a storm... Actually we had been anticipating stormy weather but the system stalled long enough to provide a very pleasant day to be surf fishing.

This year I just wanted to make a brief showing so I figured I'd stay relatively close and hopefully catch a nice perch. Meandering to the South I found some parking down by the Capitola Wharf and rigged up my Master 9' 1" rod with an Abu Garcia spinning reel. I chose to use a technique Hippo Lau likes, only I used Ande 8# test as my leader. To make traveling up and down the beach easy I loaded up my Albackore Waist Pack with all the tackle I'd need; egg sinkers, hooks, swivels, line, several bags of assorted grubs and Gulp baits. I clipped on a small hand towel and I was ready for action.

A small rocky outcropping provided me with fresh bait; black mussels. To help keep the bait on and spice things up a bit I also snipped off a narrow strip of Berkley's Gulp cut bait and threaded it on over a size 8 hook, applied some mussel and then put the hook through the strip of Gulp again. This makes it harder for the fish to steal your bait as well as adding to the overall appeal.

I had a few nibbles off the rocks but there was a lot of sea grass fouling my line on the retrieve so I moved up the beach to where the Soquel River flows in. A few casts later I had a nice strike that produced a decent barred surf perch. I snapped a quick picture, deposited my catch in a plastic bag in a small cooler back at my car and decided to run back up to Santa Cruz.

I spent about another hour or two trying my luck at the far end of the beach South of the harbor but only had a couple of smaller perch that I released.

Over at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club my fish taped out at 11inches and before the 2pm tournament cut off two other gals had brought in 11 inch fish. Just when a three-way weigh off looked imminent a final gal won the ladies division with a 12" perch.

While I had to leave early I did see some nice 14 and 15 inch class pile perch, rainbow perch and more barred perch weighed in for the junior and senior divisions. Before next year I plan to get in some more practice on surf fishing!

(Just as I was going to post this my friend Cheryl, who had also been at the event, called to let me know that I won 2nd place in the ladies division with the heaviest perch of the three 11" entries. She stepped in to act on my behalf and donated my prize back as I would have done if I'd been there.)

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January 10

There are a lot of reasons to run out and get your fishing license to be ready for the new year. Case and point? I tried lobster hooping for the first time while I was down in Ventura for a Full Speed Fishing group meeting up for a party called Lobsterfest.

As luck would have it I got to pair up with a bug pro assassin by the name of Mike Doering who trailed his 18' Sea Sport Custom down from Santa Barbara. Mike and I prepped for the night ahead by throwing a quick game of darts (301) and then eating some of the great food at the party; grilled yellowfin tuna and yellowtail, lobster fettuccine, lobster bisque, etc..

At 4:30 we hopped into Mike's awesome Dodge truck and headed for Channel Islands Harbor. Ten ringed hoops were made ready by baiting and checking light sticks. While chemical light sticks are common, Mike had some battery operated ones similar to the ones I've used halibut fishing in Alaska. Soon under the light of a full moon we started deploying the hoops on the inside of the breakwall at intervals. We were in the company of a few others seeking spiney lobsters operating from skiffs, rowboats or kayaks. It was nice that the wind had died down and the weather was fairly warm, so warm in fact that I was fine in just light clothing and my Grunden's.

Mike maneuvered the boat and I retrieved and reset the hoops for most of the night, however we did switch off once and awhile when a net got hung up or I needed to learn a pull technique. We wound up having a great time and had close to limits of bugs. I hope to start fishing for lobsters every year now that I'm hooked on hooping!

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 2008 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2007 Fishing Diary

 
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