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"
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
"Killer" day with
Team Alibi II... Or "Dude, I'm going
to need a bigger smoker." Either title
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
The weather cooperated and the
guys had a blast landing olive,
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!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.)
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
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!
to my 2015 Fishing Diary
to my 2014 Fishing Diary
to my 2013 Fishing Diary
to my 2012 Fishing Diary
to my 2011 Fishing Diary
to my 2010 Fishing Diary
to my 2008 Fishing Diary
to my 2007 Fishing Diary