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Fishing Diary  

2012

December 31

Pete Huber (Crunchtime) and his son Alex invited me to come along for a last stab at rockfish for the year so I met them at Santa Cruz Harbor at 7am. My car noted the temperature from my garage in the mountains to the dock.. 32 degrees!

Alex scraped the ice off the windshield of the 24' Starcraft while Pete dialed in the electronics and we scooted out as the sun made it's entrance; thawing us in the process.

After a run to the north we had almost instant action as Alex brought up a pair of nice black rockfish. We boxed these in went in search of some more colorful specimens. Pete got the first lingcod but he was so close to the legal size we decided to let it go. I followed with another one that we made the same call on. Alex got the first gopher of the day and the first photo op.

The ocean was nice but the drift was slow and in some cases nonexistent so we kept trying new tactics. We were in it for quality not quantity and the day presented us with nice views of birds and at least a dozen playful sea otters keeping us entertained.

The lings started to kick it up a notch. Pete nailed a beautiful blue ling for his moment of fame. I also caught and released a cute little cabezon that inhaled a Storm anchovy.. The same swimbait produced a hefty lingcod shortly thereafter.

Back at the dock we cleaned up the fish and I got a parting shot of a black backed night heron that kept us company while we filleted.

Thanks so much for asking me along today Pete! Alex is going to make an excellent angler and boat captain when he gets a little older.


December 15

Dave (Doubledee) took me out for a dungeness crab run out of Pillar Point Harbor. We worked his pots for a limit for each of us and I was able to make a nice crab bisque for dinner.


December 11

Today's forecast was just too nice not to go fishing and with the rockfish season still open I made a trip out of the Queen of Hearts.

They were biting pretty good so it didn't take long for limits around the boat. We had a very nice grade of big black rockfish with a few jumbo blues mixed in. There were a few gophers, a couple huge bolina and a very enviablevermilion by one lucky angler (nope not me today.) 8 lingcod, 2 cabezon and some seatrout made up the balance in the sacks.

I'm going to try and eak out a few more trips for rockfish before the end of the year.


December 9

After torrential rains recently I figured it was a no-brainer to give it a try for sturgeon with Mike (Hawaiian Hooker), Gary (SSFgizmo) and Rod.

We tried out of Alviso and had a really nice outgoing tide but it turned into a day where only the bullheads wanted to bite.


October 29-November 8

This year's long range adventure on the Royal Polaris almost didn't happen for me. My mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor in September and as a two time cancer survivor we all hoped this was not going to be a third occurrence. While it was not malignant they did choose to treat it with radiation and oral chemo. I flew to Texas to be with her and by the time the trip was coming up everyone was doing well enough to cut me loose for a 10-day fishing voyage.

We boarded Monday morning October 29th and I wound up in room 18 with the only other female passenger, Dianne. After stowing my stuff I jumped right into prepping topshot leaders with my friend Chris Petersen. I also put a few rods and reels together in case captain Roy Rose saw an early opportunity to toss lines in or cast at a floating kelp paddy. Tim and John were our chartermasters and about 2/3 of the 32 anglers were part of the Red Cup Navy group... inc. me! Shirts and goodies got handed out. Thanks to some last minute shipping I had some Mojo Sportsfishing Gear items to hand out too. We set our sights southbound and started to relax and pull a few pranks. Brad was the first target who got photographed while sleeping off a few beers. I'll just say that a red permanent marker and a red solo cup were involved!

Tuesday was a running day as well but the weather was beautiful. Things would continue to heat up above and below the water soon.

Wednesday was halloween and Roy donned a black wig, some temporary arm art and a little make-up to look a little like Slash from Guns N' Roses. Around noon we rolled up on some hotspots on the Ridge to find a smattering of small yellowfin tuna, a few yellowtail, a few wahoo and some dorado. I flylined up 4 nice yellowfin and a yellowtail all in the 25 pound class. My one fight with a bigger fish resulted in a bust off scenario when a few of us all got tangled. I also released 6 smaller yellowfin tuna. For dinner that night I dressed up as Chris's sister, replete with old woman face mask, gray wig, black fishnet stockings, wild orange shorts and a red shirt. However I wasn't the only one dressing up... Chris Garcia (a crew member) looked a bit like Robin Williams and so it was no surprise to find him wearing a costume from Mork & Mindy as he served us dinner that night.

November 1st found us among the "tuna pens" offshore. I boxed another 3 yellowfin and 3 dorado as they action stayed steady throughout the day.

Friday morning we were anchored up on Potato Bank. Chris had the number 1 kite rotation and he got bit! Once he determined the fish was not going to be over 200 pounds he handed the fish off to me to fight. About 20 minutes later I had my first official 100 pound patch. The yellowfin weighed in at 106. Chris decided to have some fun and while I was posing with the fish he pinned a 100 pound "marlin" patch to my shirt. I took a break and filmed Ken Perry and John Long on big tuna battles. My kite rotation at number 14 produced zilch and after about a dozen nice fish including a couple of cows (over 200 pounds) we had a big lull in the action. Breaking out one of my new Shimano Talica's I tried to fish for grouper but I couldn't hook one. I did pick up a very nice dorado later in the day.

During dinner Roy shifted us to another location and that night a few of us ventured out to fish a shallow bank. A couple of yellowtail had hit the deck so I tossed a dropper loop down and was rewarded with my largest yellowtail of the trip, and a new personal best; 36.9 pounds! Before retiring for the night I also took a nice picture of a happy angler with a snowy grouper.

On Saturday we tried again for jumbo-sized tuna but for most of us the bite was slow and the fish were smaller. In the afternoon I did get to fight a hammerhead shark which was fun. I ended the kite rotation on the starboard kite at dusk baited up with a squid, locked and loaded waiting for a big fish to boil on it... I struck out again.

On November 4th we trolled over the ridge and surrounding area for wahoo and Dianne picked up her first wahoo on the troll. It's always nice to see an angler get a new species.

I figured we were done with chances at big tuna so I broke down my larger outfits inc. my kite rig. I noticed Chris still had his kite rig ziploc bags taped to the mirror in his room. They were marked sardine and squid for the appropriate bait. I grabbed a dead sardine and slipped it into the "sardine" bag. A short while later he found it and returned it by slipping it into my left boot... while I was wearing it LOL!

To finish off the day I jigged up a few starry rockfish and boxed 3 small tuna. A few big bonita started to show up and a few more wahoo were landed.

Monday turned into a wahoo blitz with all four of us on the troll at the stern hooking up. I bagged a 44 pounder out of the three fish that were landed. The fish attacked one of Chris's homemade lures and he stood next to me with a hand on the rod to make sure it wasn't going over the side. Tight drags and constant reeling are needed to land wahoo. With lots of iron flying to target more wahoo I grabbed my custom Forecast rod with a new Shimano Tranx 500HG and yoyo'd a nice yellowtail on blue & white iron. I'm really liking that rig and I might target big lingcod with it next year. More giant-sized bonita got into the mix and we also found some large Mexican rockfish.

Tuesday was a bit windy and we had jogged north quite a ways. Bolina rockfish, vermilions, some large barred sand bass and whitefish were landed. We were still hoping to find more yellowtail though. I played some poker that afternoon and won and I had a fabulous birthday dinner including some chocolate mousse pie.

Wednesday we made a few passes around an island and found a few yellowtail. I had a huge takedown on a dropper rig off the stern that could have been a big halibut or white seabass. Whatever it was it made a clean getaway. A bunch of nice vermilions were caught and we headed for home.

Thursday morning in light rain we disembarked at 5:30 am and sleepily said our goodbyes. I watched the weigh in of the biggest fish of the trip. The top yellowfin, caught by Mike Marx, weighed in at 257 pounds!

The Royal Polaris crew was wonderful as usual and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dharyl give Chris a dunking in the Pacific as part of the new crew hazing.


October 11

After at least a year and a half of missed opportunities I finally connected with Harry Lee for a day on his 20' Shamrock pilothouse, Little Toot. We met Thursday morning at 7am at Pillar Point Harbor where I also met Wayne, our other crew member.

The weather was so nice we headed straight for Ano Nuevo where the fish were slow to get going but I finally enticed a nice yellow and black rockfish up. It was a fun fight on my new set up; Shimano Trevala rod and a Shimano Talica 8 reel with Power Pro Super Slick. I also brought a Whopper Stopper rod with my Penn 525 Mag that Wayne took an interest in.

Harry was soon bendo on the target species and put a nice lingcod in the boat. Then Wayne started to add to the collection. We coaxed up a nice grade of blues, blacks and a China before we decided to try a few more spots back to the North as the breeze dropped from the West to zero.

Off Pescadero we hit a great place with red tide conditions that the fish seemed to like. The super-sized yellow and blacks, Chinas, and a gopher tore into our jigs and swimbaits. I kicked back 2 small lings and Harry had a just legal cabezon that we decided to let go too. Between Wayne and Harry we wound up with 4 keeper lings and two of them were green. We also had a couple of female seatrout.

Just as the day was ending the weather started to shift to a light South breeze so we were able to have a smooth and fast ride in. The timing was perfect as we were all on the road home as light rain showers hit the coastline. I stopped to take a picture of the sunset at Pescadero on the way home.

Thanks for a great day Harry! I hope to fish with you again soon. And Wayne has one of my favorite boats, an old Wahoo, so I gave him my contact info. as well.


September 18

I'm planning on visiting my mom soon and I like to bring her fish so I went out on the Queen of Hearts to round some rockfish up. I joined nineteen other anglers who wanted to enjoy a beautiful ocean off the California coastline on a weekday.

Up on the bow later that morning, I had a brutal tug of war with an unknown assailant (It felt like a 20 pound class lingcod) but when Mike the deckhand went to subdue the subject we found a 12 pound cabezon was the culprit. The sucker had a 3 1/2 inch fully intact stone crab in her gullet. This fish had ovaries... BIG ONES! She dragged me around the bow and pumped line off my reel.

Other critters that made it into the jail cell today were a pair of seatrout, a big fat bolina, a lingcod and a half dozen bad ass black rockfish. I took a nice jackpot with the cab too!


August 26

After fishing albacore full tilt yesterday I got at least a 5 hour nap in before heading out at 5 am this morning to pick up my friend Yvonne and drive up to Pillar point Harbor for my charter on the Queen of Hearts. She couldn't find her left-handed reel so I told her she could rent something. Half Moon Bay Sportfishing had a small left-handed Avet reel on sale so I had Yvonne snap it up. We saddled up and walked to the dock.

Breezing through the cabin to set out a batch of M&M's I'd brought, I noticed the coffee pot was gone and it it's place was a spanking new Keurig machine. Whoa! Gene and my friends Dan and Paul were up on the bow so I grabbed a spot near them and had Yvonne to my right on the starboard side. This particular area also lets me shoot the breeze with captain Bob and get the first indication of when he's ready to let us drop lines in on each drift. Towards the stern Ed, Bryan, the Ingram father & son combo and Ben had their stations set up. Paul #2 (Yvonne's boss) had brought his young son Justin and the other guys were friends of friends. We had a light load so everyone could spread out.

When we left the harbor we made a couple of attempts to scoop some fresh squid but they dove out of reach before Mike could get the net on them. The birds were working the bait over pretty good.

Dan gets my attention with a black rockfish that hit his iron and missed the hook... with his mouth anyway. He snagged it dead center in the fish's dorsal area on the back. I fish with seasoned pros so it was no great surprise when Gene pops up an orange starfish with a white shrimpfly. I think put a black rockfish in my sack first and then Yvonne gets a nice bolina. A few people started to get really nice bolinas and they made up a decent part of the fish count today. Dan puts the hurt a dark brown cabezon and somewhere in the back I hear about a big vermilion. I toss a small lingcod back and then get a bolina.

Paul and I have a lot in common when it comes to shallow-water, light-tackle trips like this. We bring a ton of gear and change it constantly! I had some real nice bites including one that felt like a halibut strike but none hooked up. A hitchhiker ling followed Yvonne's fish up and I almost got it to take my rig but he swam back down. Then I nailed a double! Starfish that is. I had two starfish on one treble hook. I have trained for years to do that LOL!

I finally got a keeper cabezon but not before Dan had a pair of them. He was really putting the wood to some nice fish. I kicked it up a notch and started to get a few more rockfish before we had to pack it in. Justin was checking out the filleting of the fish as Mike cleaned them on the run in. I'm glad we had a beautiful calm day on the water. All 15 anglers had limits and a lot of fun.


August 25

With the weekend weather looking fine for offshore tuna I decided to hunt down an opportunity to get out. After scouting out the hitchhiker board at Full Speed fishing I threw a message out to Steve Brookshire (Reel Deal Too) who owns a 28' Grady White Gulfstream. Shortly after the phone was ringing. I told him I could round up a pair to fill the remaining crew slots... Mel and pending new member Aquila (Aquilank) joined the party. Steve had 4 brand new outfits to break in and it turns out Aquila had never boxed an albacore. We had high hopes of changing that!

We met at Moss landing at 4 am and launched about 45 minutes later and motored out to our first set of numbers. The water never got above 58.8 but we had located one of the hardest and most defined edges I'd seen in a long time. Big fish LOVE this stuff. Purple and black tuna clones were chosen for the spread. Steve had brand new meat lines but after getting our first strike as the third rod was being set we decided to opt for just 5 rods on the troll. Steve fought the first fish and Mel gaffed it. Aquila bagged the next fish which I gaffed and after we bled it Mel helped Aquila do a post-mortem to dig out the heart. He ate it and I gave him a few potato chips as a chaser. Another tuna virgin bites the dust! I took on the next chicken of the sea and boxed it. Mel followed me in short order. We iced the first round of fish. Thankfully we had all brought ice today.

We bloodied the deck and then cleaned it. We talked and joked and ate. Taking turns at the wheel we waited for the next assault. We had a single which I turned into a double by throttling down for a second and then nudging it back up. Then a triple struck. I gaffed about half of those fish and took a few photos. And then just like that, the morning bite died.

We changed up the spread a little. Aquila snoozed a little and the boys almost pulled a prank on him with some mayonnaise and an "interesting" camera shot. We shot off in some different spots and listened to the chatter on the radio.

We kept coming back to the zone where we started and in the late afternoon we had a single and a double before calling it a day. And what a day it was... 12 nice grade albacore to 30 pounds. Every fish that hit STUCK and made it to the kill box... ZERO shark encounters. I had only fished with Mel before but we jelled as a crew. I stretched my back out on the deck and listed to the serious radio for the first part of the ride in and then I traded for the shotgun seat. The Grady flew in over the surface like we were riding on tall cotton.

After a photo shoot with the kill on the back deck we split up the bounty. I'm glad I had brought the "big coffin" with me and I went to retrieve it from my car. When I got back Aquila had his cooler waiting. We all looked over and laughed. It only held about 1/3 of one albacore! I had some extra large bags I keep just for times like this so I fetched them and helped Aquila out. We headed off as happy campers vowing to do it again sometime. You bet!


August 22

Rockfish galore on the Queen of Hearts again! 13 lings to 12 pounds. I had a lingcod that was too small so I released it and then later got a keeper around 8 pounds. Seatrout, Chinas, bolinas, coppers, gophers, vermilions, blacks and a few blues were today's mainstay.

One guy just a couple spots down the rail from me on the starboard side fought a nice 18-20 pound halibut up but it bolted at the surface and broke off before Mike could gaff it. I also snagged a lost line and got a nice seatrout and a double shrimpfly rig with a torpedo sinker. Of course I also lost 2 jigs today LOL.

We started off south of Franklin and went halfway to New Years. I'm whooped!


August 18

After years of trying to make yet-another-rockfish-report sound epic I find myself wondering why do I try... I'm living the dream - Whatever the dream may be at this given time. Weather happens. Opportunities happen. LIFE happens. It all boils down to choices. And every time I get a choice involving fish or do something else, the something else rarely wins. This has been a lifelong choice; an addiction I choose not to seek treatment for. When the elements no longer challenge me and saltwater no longer flows in my veins I can only hope that my time on this earth is done.

With that said, today I went out on a private charter on the Queen of Hearts. Ernie was our chartermaster and captain Bob and deckhand Mike made our day as usual. My friend Gene was the one who tipped me off about the chance to come out today. I love fishing with Gene. He "gets" me. We share a passion.

Both Gene and Capt. Bob were sporting jackets from my favorite long range boat, however nobody informed me it was "Royal Polaris" attire day so my apologies. We ran south and started to fish in deeper water but with nothing impressive except big jellyfish showing, we trotted further south.

Ernie had a classic rod & reel up for grabs as an award. This combo was hilarious! The blank was adorned with Chiquita banana labels, cute little plastic fish hung from several of the guides and the old, gold spray-painted reel even sported a perfect bird's nest complete with a nesting pair of birds. Alas, it was not to be for me. Of course Gene didn't get it either!

So we're plucking nice rockfish here and there and Gene gets a nice takedown which turns out to be a chunky cabezon. I photo the fish. I get a dink lingcod which I release.

I then stick a keeper lingcod. "Hey Gene", I ask, "Can you return the favor?" I proffer my camera and of course Gene gets the picture... after photographing my butt and shooting a self-portrait, LOL!

The wind had picked up by this time but hey, the coldest Winter is a Summer in San Francisco so forget that I'm sorta freezing by now, I have the proof that I've spent another day on the water. I'm smiling even though I'm not happy with my hair at the moment. I went on to fill my sack with assorted rockfish and picked up a second ling to boot.


August 9

Weary and bleary-eyed I sit here typing and as I gaze at the keypad I see the small nicks and scratches on my hands. I can feel the roughness of my abraded thumb pads and the gentle soreness of just about every muscle in my body. A small packet of frozen salmon cuttings for the cat (once thawed) is nestled in the small of my back helping me numb my lower back pain. I know I will sleep good tonight but before I can rest I want to share my special day on the water.

My friends at Discover Angling had me join them today as a fishing mentor aboard the Hulicat out of Pillar Point Harbor. We had a kids trip with the Sunnyvale Police Athletic league. Captain Tom Mattusch and deckhand Jake Carrier took our group of kids, counselors and fellow mentors out for a rockfish charter.

The ocean was a bit roly poly however most of the kids fared well and the few who did get a little seasick were real troopers. Richard, Gary, Alan, Dan, Mel, Bryan, and I set up rods and tackle, coached, fed, instructed, and even helped fillet the catch. (This would account for the little nicks.)

To have been blessed with so many great fishing experiences over my lifetime it just feels so good to pass that along and see new anglers getting excited. We had a lot of blue rockfish today but when they hit the kid's lines one or two at a time they LOVED it! This is the best ticket to refresh a jaded fisherman. The group also landed gophers, yellow and blacks, seatrout, vermilions, Chinas, olives and a few lingcod.

For those of you who enjoy fishing or just live the adventure vicariously though reports consider donating some time or money to the many worthy organizations that help support fishing opportunities; whether it's kids, the handicapped, or our military.


August 2

The weather has continued to be nice and with even better conditions than Tuesday. I couldn't pass up another opportunity to go out on the Queen of Hearts for a shallow-water trip, especially after releasing eight lings.

Capt. Joe was in the driver's seat today and we had Mike and Zack as out water waiters. While we ran out I rigged up and chatted a bit with a father and his young son. The little guy was on his first ocean trip and told me about his recent rainbow trout catch. Digging through my Albackore backpack I found a Sep's worm in bright magenta and stuck it on his lower shrimp fly for good luck.

I started off on the starboard side and on the very first drop I put a nice blue rockfish in my burlap sack. He was followed by a chunky gopher. The gopher rockfish were all huge like Tuesday and we were close to the area we had been on that day; Pescadero. I heard some hooting and hollering behind me and I found the kid had reeled up a nice big female seatrout. It hit the "enhanced" shrimp fly. I took their photo.

A few nice vermilions, bolinas and Chinas were making there way onto the deck so I switched to the port side to cast out. I scored a few more nice blues and donated a few to folks who weren't feeling that hot. I started to bounce a few small lings back when I put on a Shimano Lucanus jig. They love those things! I also had a big yellow and black rockfish attack. A seatrout found my offering tasty and I then had my rockfish limit.

Zack's girlfriend was out with him and she had never caught a lingcod. Well she got two nice ones and a cabezon to boot. A few more guys landed legal lings as the morning progressed.

Finally as we approached limits of rockfish I tied a small teaser I had that resembled a small sand dab above a larger swimbait and started to aggressively work it. Pow! It loaded up as lingcod number five struck the teaser and then went back to inhale the swimbait. Mad as a hatter the fish peeled line off as I fought to get it into a safe zone. I had to follow it to the right a bit so I could keep it in front of me and gain some line. After turning the beast up I finesse-pumped it to gaff range and felt the sweet taste of victory as it thumped onto the back deck. FINALLY I was vindicated! She went 15 pounds getting me the jackpot as well.


July 31

Bob & Sherry own the Queen of Hearts and they take off every year to fish on the Royal Polaris. Well somebody has to step up and take the wheel while they're out playing so today I jumped aboard with Capt. Randy Bankcord and deckhands Mike and Greg in search of rockfish and associated bottom dwellers.

The weather had been downgraded so we had very little wind but a bit of lump. The bow was loaded with KILLERS... Bernie and his daughter, Jeanette... Royal Polaris veteran Steve and yours truly.

I slipped out of the port side bow position to stake a claim next to Randy's starboard access from the wheelhouse. I also changed up to big chrome, and could do no wrong!

Lingcod were the main quarry but we fell into an epic bite on TOAD-size gopher rockfish and we must have boated at least 30 seatrout. You could've walked on the seatrout at one point!

I released 8 small lingcod and had one really nice one come off near the surface. Another 20 pound class ling followed a smaller ling up and it took great restraint on my part not to use it as bait to engage the potential "hitchhiker" into nailing it so I could get the bigger fish into gaff range.

Randy worked the heck out of the reefs between Pescadero and Bean Hollow as we continued to target keeper lings as our rockfish quotas were being met.

I wound up with 6 stellar gophers, 2 nice seatrout, 2 black rockfish and the memory of a fantastic day at sea.


July 28

I was out fishing today with the wonderful charter that Paul Nagata puts together every year on the New Huck Finn.

We left Emeryville and headed out to sea to fish rockfish and lingcod to start off the day. I managed to boat an 8 1/2 pound ling.

Back inside the bay we concentrated on halibut. About 5 nice halibut to 14.5 pounds were landed and a stingray and small shark released before we called it a day.

I was still tired from albacore fishing and I'd had some bad news regarding family that was pretty draining so I'm sorry for the short report but I'm not going to curtail my on-the-water fun until necessity deems it.


July 26

My friend Brad, who's boat I haven't fished in a long time, tossed out a last minute plea for crew to go offshore in the quest for albacore. So there I was in the garage assembling gear when my husband rolled home after a late night at the office. Like a deer caught in the headlights I stood behind my rack of trolling rods with a silly grin. "Yeah, I'm going fishing in the morning." Jeff took it in stride and fixed himself something to eat as I raced in and out of the house loading the car.

Breezing out onto Highway 17 a little after 4 am I honked the horn as I passed Reelemup who was headed down to Monterey with the same game plan. My cohorts Brad and Dean showed up about an hour late towing Lutyfish behind them. I loaded 6 fully rigged trollers, a spare rod in case Brad brought another reel, a tackle bag with trolling spreads and a bait stick onto the boat. We had tons of ice too.

Expectations were high that we'd have to run about 60 miles out but the warmer water had brought them in a little closer. Brad dropped a 9" purple cedar plug of the whiskey line and it got bit by a 20 pound class longfin that he brought up and I tried to gaff. After two quick tries Brad gaffed his own fish as Dean and I laughed. I like to stick the fish in the head which is harder to do when the guys start to lift them out of the water.

We continued on for the better part of the morning enjoying one of the flattest calm ocean conditions I've seen for years when it comes to offshore albacore water. Dean snapped up the next fish to assault the lures and I did manage to gaff his fish. I also saw a free swimmer about 50 feet down but as they had preferred all day, the fish stayed down.

There were not a lot of people out fishing but the few who were shared information freely over the radio. While we waited through a long afternoon we ate, tipped a couple and saw lots of albatross, dolphins and whales.

A little after 4 pm I had just set out a line when I saw a boil. I remarked to the guys about it and in the next second I saw the fish attack the Mexican flag clone and peel out. I had the rod in my hands as we continued forward hoping to add more fish before stopping to boat this one. We dumped half the line on the spool but with no other takers I reeled the bugger in while Brad practiced filming with his GoPro.

We made a last ditch attempt to box a lingcod before rounding the corner to the harbor but daylight was fading fast and the cloud cover had stayed with us all day. By nightfall we were all headed home with a fresh albacore to eat and the satisfaction that we had been one of the first anglers to start the season off.


July 10-17

With 12 hours between landing at San Francisco and departing for Loreto, Mexico I barely had to time to drop off Jeff and the salmon, grab my pre-packed cooler and catch my flight at San Jose. (I haven't been this crazy since booking Alaska and Panama back-to-back in 2006!) After checking into the Coco Cabanas I shot by Augie's Bar and had Edelia whip me up something cold to get in the Baja groove. They were tearing up the malecon to make improvements but that didn't slow the locals down from getting to this favorite watering hole for happy hour. I popped down the street and found the Bass Pro Shop guys ready to pose for a picture with me while I ribbed my girlfriend for not being there by holding up a cardboard sign with her name on it.

My team consisted of the same great group as last year, Steve and Maria with their Cabo and Sandy and I. Sandy's husband flew down too but he didn't fish with us. We pre-fished the tournament a day ahead with Capt. Tito helping us and released all of our small dorado and a sailfish that Maria fought. Later that day at the sign in my team all sported charcoal colored Mojo T-shirts and we were looking good from all angles. I wandered over to Stroker's Reef and entered a friendly soft tip dart tournament to cap off my evening.

On day one of the Fishin' For The Mission Tournament, which is a huge benefit event I go to every year, we all met up at the marina. Steve had to run back to Loreto Shores to grab the rods so I had Capt. Pedro head out to grab bait while we waited. We loaded up on some nice mackerel. With everyone aboard we ran north sighting birds along the way. A stiff breeze and small swell from the south made for an easy run. A couple of mako sharks leaped high above the waterline several times and a third shark looked to be a thresher.

Halfway to Pulpito Point we tried to drop in on some yellowtail but we got nada so off we continued trolling for dorado. With the wind on the rise I headed to my tackle to grab a couple of pink and teal tuna clones. It worked! A small female dorado grabbed it and I boxed it. We bucked into a bit of weather running downhill but in the lee of Isla Coronado we got a reprieve. We sighted birds working and dorado jumping and gave chase. Finally Sandy got one which turned out to be a a tad bigger. We had a combined weight of 15.4 at the weigh in at the end of day one. Steve had donated a rod and reel that he gave away at the captain's meeting that night.

Day two found us scooting out to the east under a pink and orange sunrise with another fine load of mackerel. Right off the bat on the north side of Ilsa Carmen we nailed two skipjack with Steve and Maria doing a tango with them. We had discovered "Marine World" with several species of whales and dolphins, frigate birds and boobies working and even a few pelicans as well.

Out of nowhere we spotted a dorado breezing and when it inhaled the mackerel we tossed out Steve went to work on him. We saw the fish jump and I shot video as the fight ensued. After passing close to the vessel a couple of times we determined it was a large bull probably over 45 pounds. We were up on the bow when this worthy adversary leaped once more plunged down and chewed through the line. It was heartbreaking!

Shortly thereafter we had another decent bull dorado hooked up and I again swung the camera onto Maria as she went head-to-head with a colorful fish with powerful runs and explosive runs. She followed it around the boat and pumped the fish to gaff range for Pedro who put the upper 20 pound class beast in the boat. I then found out this was her first dorado!

We got into a slick with a temp break and saw a turtle nearby. The turtle was "holding" and suddenly I found myself up to bat and I swung into action on a very worthy bull dorado. I danced with this big fish for awhile but it eventually tired and thumped it's way into the cockpit of the boat where Pedro and Maria tossed a towel over it's eyes to calm it down until we could thump it into submission.

Sandy was next but she got a big female that she fought as we attempted to bait the bigger male traveling with her into eating a mackerel. Finally her fish crossed behind the stern and shook her head spitting the hook as we watched in despair.

With three nice ones on ice in the kill bag secured to the bow we tried once more for some yellowtasil. No dice again. As we turned towards the marina we found a ton of birds working and pitched our last two live macks out and came up empty.

At the weigh in we had a 22.3 pound fish and my second personal best dorado to date; 40.2 pounds. That evening at the awards dinner next to the mission we found that we had placed 5th overall. Our table fared well in the raffle too and both of my tickets scored me new fishing rods. I donated a Shimano Torsa reel with extra cams that was auctioned off and Sandy and her husband Tracy outbid me for the Canada trip in the auction.

I hung out for a couple of extra days and enjoyed a snorkel trip one afternoon followed by a fabulous massage by Jossy back at the Coco Cabanas. The weather was decent this year and never got into the triple digits. I hope to find some more folks to go next year and enjoy a wonderful time for a great cause.


July 5-9

Jeff, Sandy and I returned to Queen Charlotte Safaris to team up for some great fishing and a little friendly competition in the Haida Gwaii Open which I was hosting. Since we had had a smaller turnout than expected we decided to add a pool for a jackpot. Over our cedar plank salmon dinner I opted to disqualify myself but that got voted down, so I told everyone I'd donate any winnings to my next charity event in Mexico. Valerie, the lodge owner, brought out some wines for us to try and I gave a fishing seminar after dinner.

After getting assigned to boat #2 a Thunder Jet custom built for the lodge with nice big windows for great views. Our captain Kyle Cabott soon had us skimming over the scenic waters of the Skidegate Narrows as we discussed our game plan to try for halibut. Unfortunately enough wind from the south made it a bit sloppy on the outside and with a bit of popcorn progressing to big sheep as far as the whitecaps go. Sandy and I gave it a go for about an hour before returning to the calm of the main inlet. Jeff doesn't do well in rough seas anyway and he was starting to feel the effects.

Switching to salmon gear (Penn level winds on Shimano sticks) we soon had three nice Chinook salmon with Sandy boxing the first one. The fish were hitting anchovies trolled behind a pink flasher on one side and a green one on the other. We also had a knuckle buster deployed off the starboard stern with a herring running shallower than the average 40 foot depth the other two were set at on down riggers. A double hook up commenced after that and Sandy's fish won it's way to freedom but I worked a sweet 28 pound Chinook to the net for Kyle to scoop. Out by Moose Tooth we had a vermilion rockfish drive by which we released and a nice chunky yellowtail rockfish which Sandy kept. A silver (Coho) salmon showed up next and then another King (Chinook) which Jeff fought to the boat.

We skipped across to the other side to try for some bottomfish. Sandy got a huge takedown but we never got to determine what it was because it wrapped her in the rocks and broke off. We called it day and headed to Albion in Queen Charlotte City to offload our catch so we could return to the lodge for dinner and some wine pairing. Candy, another guest at the lodge had scored a 40 pound "Tyee" Chinook salmon!

Jeff took day two off so Sandy and I started our day with a double hook up on Chinooks. They were only about 18 pounds so we set them free. Back up at Moose Tooth I decided to box a bigger 25 pound Chinook after a great fight. Sandy then went bendo with a perfect hook set on what turned out to be a 24 pound Chinook. Next Sandy lost a Coho near the boat while I had a Chinook come unpinned. We fought and released a couple more Chinook including a white one I admired before letting it swim away.

Trolling out by the point in the afternoon we noticed the weather on the outside was getting nice so we entertained thoughts of hunting halibut on our final fishing day. Kyle had some AC/DC to listen to and I asked his permission to clean our fish as we headed in. I like to stay in practice! As I finished up we sighted a black bear and her cub in a grassy field by the waterline. The local bald eagles were plentiful this year too.

On our last day of fishing Jeff rejoined us and Valerie's dad Dave also asked to accompany us. We had a touch of fog since the weather had shifted and it was very calm running out. About three quarters of our way to the outside though we stalled out with some kelp in the engine intake. Kyle handled that after firing up the kicker motor so we could troll for salmon while we waited for the main engine to cool down.

Jeff started off by fighting an 18 pound Chinook and while I was helping to clear the other lines a smaller salmon jumped onto the rod I was reeling in which I released. A flurry of Coho salmon hit after that and we took most of them. I released one more Chinook before we headed off to Marble Island to hunt halibut and other big toothy bottom dwellers with big shoulders.

After a few swings and misses as we drifted Sandy engaged a hard hitting beast which we hoped was our target species... And it was! Her nice (and very thick) 60 pound Pacific Halibut swam up alongside the boat and remained placid until Kyle skillfully sank a harpoon in it. After one more explosive dash it was hauled aboard where we were ready for a big Kodak moment.

We all rounded up a few yelloweye rockfish up to 14 pounds and Dave also had a quillback. I managed a yelloweye, a China and a canary. No lingcod were to be found and with the weather starting to come back up we returned to the inside to get some more salmon action going.

Back again at Moose Tooth Jeff boxed his second Chinook to complete his daily limit. Sandy fought a big piece of kelp up and we joked about the size and bag limits on kelp. Instead of reaching for the gaff she chose for a clean release.

On our way in we had to shutdown again so we relayed to another boat that we'd be late getting back. We arrived in time for the awards and Candy Danhausen won first place with her two biggest salmon weighing a total of 61 pounds!

As usual we had a wonderful time with no heavy rain the entire trip. Chef Kyle and Brenda provided us with great food and made sure we had plenty of it. I particularly enjoyed the lingcod on our third night! Larry was up at the lodge to get ready for an event and he delighted the guests by tossing some salmon heads out on the beach in the evenings so we could watch the eagles feed on them. Valerie still runs a very nice lodge and if you're looking for a salmon adventure I wouldn't hesitate to give her a call.


June 28-29

A few of us are considered to be "Old School" in Full Speed Fishing Club fame and so it was time to get the band together. John Bloom had been keeping me apprised of the weather off of Brookings, Oregon and low and behold we had a window of opportunity for a variety of species. Mike Nolan AKA" Hiouchi Mike" would run up from Crescent City to complete the trio.

I loaded up my car with a tuna troll rod, about 20 pounds of rockfish gear, a smattering of halibut tackle and the requisite salmon outfit and hit the road.

On Thursday the plan had been to jump aboard another vessel and shoot out for albacore tuna but we couldn't leave until late morning so that was aborted. John wound up hitching up his 19 ' Honda powered Arima; Meal Ticket and we scooted out for salmon.

With relatively reasonable ocean conditions John and I set up our rods on the two downriggers and Mike used a Deep Diver to get out between us. John scored a big fat and sassy King salmon on the first hook up and it peeled off at a blistering pace. After several nice runs I netted it. Then Mike's rod got bit and he had me take it. Mike scooped up my fish. My rod had been getting a lot of drive by's but they weren't sticking. Finally one did stick and I had Mike bring it in. I netted his too.

We spent the morning and a couple of hours into the afternoon trying to fill out our limits, while pondering obscure facts like the meaning of the word whippersnapper. We snacked on a variety of goodies and kept up the banter but the bite slowed down so we called it a day.

Friday morning Mike headed out on another boat so John and I launched Meal Ticket and struck out for the salmon grounds just a couple miles off the beach. Right away we had a nice one hit my rod. I played it close to the boat but on the final attempt to net it the fish dove and came up at us vertically and the hook came out about 5 feet below the net. Great battle but the fish won!

Things got quiet and fish were not jumping into people's boats so we opted to try for rockfish a few miles up and inshore. With a bit of a Southerly hinting and a lot of current the fishing wasn't so hot. John managed a small lingcod which we released and a canary rockfish which had to go back. He did get a decent black rockfish which we kept.

We had both been snagging the bottom and unfortunately John got caught in a pickle when he couldn't break free. His Lamiglas snapped under the load and I could feel for his loss, so we decided to bail.

I noticed a commercial boat making tight tacks downhill from us and we looked at the screen and saw the mother lode of all bait balls. We had current breaks to either side and I said we should give it a try. Of course John's rod was out of action but I still had 2 others aboard. I'd have to be desperate to use a spiral wrapped jigging outfit but I did have another one which was better suited. My 7' 6" Sabre pro series gx197oc rod, rated at (10-25) was saddled with my cherished Newell G220F reel. I had planned for light tackle rockfish with it (heck maybe even a tuna), but it had NEVER seen a salmon. I still had an old top shot used on my last long range trip tied to old white spectra backing. We put a small flasher and a rotary clad anchovy out and prayed we wouldn't get spooled if it got bit.

Well it got bit alright and we didn't see it pop out of the downrigger. Once we noticed it John started reeling and the rod loaded up. Fish on! He coaxed the fish in slowly and after several passes I had the optimal shot and it was nothing but net! As suspected the fish was full of krill.

While making another pass we hung a crab pot on the port downrigger and John cut the cable. Lady Luck was dealing us a pretty bad hand. I put out a deep diver on that side later but we packed it in shortly after that.

We had one more surprise waiting for us at the dock. John glided up to the dock and I stepped out to pull the boat up and tie off, only instead of slipping into neutral the boat started backing out. Just before I contemplated going for a swim or letting go of the line John cut the motor and we pulled her to the dock. The shift cable to the main motor had broke. Well we had one nice salmon out of a day of disasters so that helped take away some of the pain.


June 24

The doctors kept making him put a cast on his foot and just when we thought he'd get the green light we'd have to take a step back, however Eric AKA Lock Pro made good today on a long overdue foray out on the salt pond.

Eric's son, James, was with him and guess what... SALMON VIRGIN! Well we made him crank on half the fish today and after a cruel and brutal loss of fish number one at the downrigger he managed a beauty of 25 pounds. Personally I think it was more like 28 but since I went home with the tail we'll never really know for sure. (BTW, the tail yielded 2, 1 1/2 pound fillets.)

Our first hook up was a double and with father and son both battling 25 pound king salmon. It was one heartbreak after another as Eric's fish came off while I was trying to stay on James's fish... also another 25 pounder. I had a fish hit the Les Davis deep diver rig I was holding and it got close to the net without pulling the "pin" on the diver. Go figure! It was a toad too.

The weather was nice and we managed to pull an olive rockfish off a shallow drive by.

It was a privilege to finally get to fish with Eric and I know we can do better next time.


June 16

While it is largely a fact that I have saltwater in my veins the winds have stirred up the salt pond for most of the last month, so I made a phone call to a special friend who knows all about freshwater fishing and said, "Next time you have an opportunity to squeeze me in, let me know." Sidney Silberberg is the special friend and today was my lucky day.

Lake Berryessa is a couple hours from me and yet I've never fished it but not to worry, Sid knows the place like the back of his hand. I met him at one of the launch ramps on the south end of the lake where he already had his fully loaded Lund in the water. I was prepared to see the freshwater version of a "Tred Barta porcupine" when he told me the number of rods he was bringing. Let's just say he's got everything covered! I was allowed to bring up to three sticks myself but I chose the two staples I own... A Fenwick trout rod/Penn 420 SS (coffee grinder) and a Penn Pursuit/Abu Garcia Ambassador 4600 C3 (level wind), both sporting fresh line.

It promised to get hot today so I planned ahead and donned my Mojo shirts and a pair of shorts over a swimsuit and wore a pair of water shoes from Lands End. My Mojo cap and Kaenon soft cores completed my ensemble. Polarized glasses are a MUST HAVE if you plan on fishing.

Sid started us off by trolling and I took notes of the various lures, depths and water conditions. It wasn't long before we had a bass attack and I cranked the feisty golden-hued fish to the boat. A very respectable 2 to 3 pound smallmouth bass got deposited into one of the forward live well. He was soon joined by a 2 pound rainbow trout. Another bass followed before we decided to run a short ways to another spot.

A nice breeze picked up just as I had discarded my T-shirt, bringing enough relief from the heat to get by with my performance shirt. Since I had caught a few fish on Sidney's gear I decided the put my trout rod out and troll with it a bit. It was promptly bit and whatever hit it started to take line. "It" turned out to be a great fight and I landed my first ever squawfish which was around 4 1/2 pounds. I followed it up with another trout.

With a light chop on the lake we headed for the opposite side to get some protection and take a break to hang out with Sid's family on a patio pontoon boat. We snapped a few pictures of some of the catch so far and tossed a couple of lines out to check for catfish. After a quick hamburger and beer we cooled off with a dunk in the lake and then I got schooled in the fine art of using a senko from the shoreline. I practiced for a few minutes before we headed back out.

We found a nice area to drift using the senko technique and I also tried casting a couple of topwater lures. The next time we hooked up I told Sidney to bring one in since I had lost a bass earlier. He let me net the fish which was a nice largemouth bass around 4 pounds. Throughout the rest of the afternoon we scoped out areas hiding bass and I learned a lot about the structure that they prefer at different times; During the day-to-day and over their lifecycle.

In one small cove I had a huge takedown and fought the biggest bass I'd encountered, so far, to within five feet of the net before it leaped and spit the hook. Sid figured it was a 6 pound class fish. I was really starting to enjoy fighting bass and I wanted another shot at a big one. We paused to dunk ourselves again before moving on.

Well when you're fishing with a pro lightning can strike more than once! A short while later I got to fight an even bigger bass around 8 pounds, but alas it too found freedom before the net. Sidney took it in stride but I know we both would have loved a photo op with both of those largemouths!

It was a pleasure not only fishing but getting to experience a fantastic lake with plenty of wildlife. Sidney pointed out several osprey and bald eagle nests, grebes, Canadian geese and we saw plenty of deer as well.

If you want to hire Sidney (who is also a very talented angler on saltwater too) then contact him at his web site here or call him at (650) 583-3333. I'll be adding Sidney to my endorsements page.


May 16

After yesterday's news of the passing of Dan Waddell I wasn't sure I still wanted to go out on the Queen of Hearts, but Dan wouldn't want any of us to sit on the beach if we had a chance to fish, so I went.

I didn't feel much like talking to anyone so I went into the fo'c'sle where I could ride down to Pigeon Point and shed a few tears while reflecting on Dan.

The bite was a bit scratchy to start but it soon opened up and people caught big, quality fish. And then there were the lings. I nailed 5 keepers and let 2 smaller ones go. I think the final tally was 11 for the boat. Another passenger got the 2 biggest lings today... I didn't care. I had a limit of lings. I kept walking back with the surplus fish and finding someone who had none or very little and saying, "Hi, Merry Christmas. Here's a lingcod." It's the kind of thing Dan would've done. It felt GOOD! I didn't catch my quota of rockfish... Again I didn't care. What I did have were all toads; a vermilion, a Bolina, a gopher, a blue and a sand sole.

To really drive the point home today, Jack, a kid I've shared the bow with before who is an amazing and talented angler did something remarkable today. Capt. Bob came out to shoot the pictures of Jack's "TRIPLE" on blue rockfish caught on 2 hooks and a sinker. Yes, a sinker through the gill plate.

Yep, there's no doubt in my mind that someone special was looking down and sharing the love today.


May 12

I had a special day today out with Mike Jones on Hawaiian Hooker. His daughter Shelbie was going after her first salmon! "Your daughter's a virgin at 19? Dude no way!" I asked Mike how this could happen. His first response was "She plays a lot of video games." But seriously I couldn't believe that a guy with a reputation for putting people on their first sturgeon, halibut, salmon, etc.. had neglected his own flesh and blood.

Well after hopping aboard at Moss Landing with some bait I'd bought at Phil's I quickly concurred that Shelby was going to get her first salmon... TODAY! The three of us set off for the Soquel Hole. (Carlos had vehicle issues and couldn't make it. Hope your ride is running cool again.)

While we didn't have Carlos with us we did have "Bob"; The Bob FM format features a mix of classic 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s hits with some current hot adult contemporary singles. This was a nice change of pace from what Mike usually tunes into which is generally the every-other-song is-Katy Perry radio station. And if I ever get Mike set up with a Keurig machine we'll be truly stylin'.

We put out one down rigger and ran two rods with deep divers. I had been wanting to try mine for awhile. We had Mike's noodle rod on the starboard side. The first two fish that hit the gear were lost when Mike tried to coax Shelbie into taking them but she didn't want to attempt to land the first one.

Steve on Mistress drifted over the radio waves to us and mentioned we should make a move north. I have to trust a guy who's last name is North LOL! So we did.

I took up job of putting us on the fish while Mike took a siesta. That was just the ticket as his rod started pumping. This time Shelbie went for it! Mike quickly roused and I traded the helm for the net. Both of us coached Shelbie and thankfully the noodle rod helped to buffer a couple of hook set motions. I soon saw I was going to have a challenging net job when I figured out I'd have to net the fish between the other two lines and on the side with the down rigger still deployed fifty feet. To add to the chaos I could hear another boat voicing concerns about us getting in their way. I finally had the moment that would make or break everyone's heart. In the net and in the boat!

The hook was lodged firmly in the upper jaw protruding fully through the left side of the salmon's nose. Her first fish was a very respectable catch of around 14 pounds which I cleaned and saved her the heart. I took photos of her with the fish and then got Mike in for a couple of father/daughter shots too.

We settled back into trolling but with the wind picking up a little we ran back to our original grounds where a few boats lingered. I had just passed an Osprey where two guys were pulling up their gear to run in, when once again Mike's rod went off as he was asleep.

With a mutual request for me to go to bat, I fought and landed another salmon. This one turned out to be the same size but it was a hatchery fish. I picked up the knife and set about cleaning it after a few poses with the camera.

We faired pretty well it turned out. Most fish were loaded with krill and probably were not interested in feeding. It was another fine day on Hawaiian Hooker!


May 8

Mini tarpon on the American River! Ok they're really shad but wow do they fight like little tarpon.

I suppose I could've sat home a cried about finally selling my '68 Dodge Charger but the main reason I sold it was to be able to fish more, so after making a call to the Royal Polaris to book a 10-day I made another call to Justin to hit the delta shad bite.

Justin met me with his Triumph (3rd one I've fished this year and I really like them!) at the Discovery Park launch. His friends Josh and Liz helped us drop the boat in and joined us in their Lundy with the "fleet" for some balmy weather, late afternoon action.

We dropped in on the anchor and although I had brought 2 rods I decided to make it a worthy and fun battle to catch my first shad on the ultra light rig. I planted my Fenwick Eagle II rod saddled with a Penn 420ss in the port rod holder. All the boats had a steady pick of fish going and sometimes you'd see double hook-ups.

Justin was the hot stick and I landed my first shad on one of his rods but I still held out for the supreme fight. We hoisted a few brews and set up a zip line with Josh & Liz so we could share some smoked yellowtail I'd brought.

And then it happened! I went to check my line and as I was holding my rod I had a strike. I played the fish for about five minutes and finessed it to the boat for Justin to land. It was a pig!

We moved around a bit and quit around 9:00. Thanks for such a fun day on the fresh stuff Justin. I had a blast!


May 3

What a difference a few days makes when it concerns the weather! The ocean laid down and Mike asked if I wanted a shot at redemption and of course I told him YES! With rockfish season now open we decided to hedge our bets by bringing tackle to cover salmon and bottomfish.

I met Mike and the rest of the crew; Brad (MrCake) and his friend Mark O'Neill at the Monterey launch ramp near the coast guard station for a 6:30 am start.

Point Pinos had been producing so we plied the waters for a couple of hours with some other boats but it was pretty quiet. By the time we started to hear of fish being caught we whipped out cell phones and made a few calls. Turns out we drove right past the bite.

It was game on in front of Moss Landing! We arrived just as the bite shut down. Ouch. Oh well, we decided to stick it out since the only other option was to run back south to Point Sur where I had some rockfish numbers but it would take more time and gas than we figured it was worth. And a hint of wind from the south wasn't doing much to make me want to push the issue. We were treated to plenty of extra visuals today... Humpback whales, risso dolphins and Mike saw a white shark leap out of the water.

Everyone took a turn at the wheel and Brad, Mike and I also took turns getting a little nap time in. Low and behold late in the afternoon we got the fish to start biting after putting out 4 watermelon apexes. We had several takedowns and I released a shaker that Mike brought in on my Calstar and Shimano rig. Finally we get a solid hit and it's on Mark's rod. He fought the salmon to the portside for Brad to net, which took him a couple of attempts and kept us on the edge.

I cleaned a nice 15 pound fish loaded with krill a few minutes later and only after I threw the guts over the side did I find out that this was Mark's first salmon! I would have made him eat the heart if I'd known.

When we all parted at the end of the day I didn't have the heart to take part of the salmon. I have a feeling Brad and Mike probably didn't either. There's nothing like showing off your first fish whole to your friends and family and I just yanked some frozen yellowfin tuna out of the freezer for dinner.


April 29

Yesterday was physically and emotionally filled with highs and lows. I felt elated and defeated. We had tried to get the salmon to bite out in front of Santa Cruz even with Mother Nature throwing us a very rolling ocean... And She was just getting started!

Already feeling a bit pummeled (and regretting that last rum white Russian concoction back at the American Legion after fishing), I got up at 4:15 to drive up to Half Moon Bay and fish with Mike on Hawaiian Hooker.

I wore my rain gear. I knew fully what conditions we were about to charge off into. Gary (AKA SSFGIZMO) and Mike number 2 (AKA Dangerous Trebles) completed our Full Speed Fishing group of stalwarts.

We ran downhill to Deep Reef and I slapped my Calstar/Shimano combo into the starboard down rigger. Proffering a plain chrome krocodile I had high hopes of a quick takedown and a wide open bite with early limits. We settled in trolling and the guys ran Apex's and bait. We figured we'd match-the-hatch and run the same thing on all four lines as soon as we noted the fish's preference. In the meantime I had a preference for the powdered and chocolate donuts that our captain had brought along.

We hit jelly and it wasn't donuts. Yesterday I had had to clear lines of small clear jellyfish and today we had the big red monsters. They were popping lines out of the riggers so much we decided to make a move to the inside of the reef.

It worked! My line sprang tight and dipped a few times. Jellyfish do not pump. Game on!

Game on until the fish broke the surface made a leap and I dipped the rod and the salmon said "adios."

The wind moved up a notch and about the time we started getting the anchor wet on uphill tacks we decided to scrap salmon and go to plan B - Halibut outside of Pillar Point Harbor.

After a very wet but skillful run back, Gary boated and released the first fish which was not the target specie however it was a very nice gopher rockfish. I had a nice head shaker but it turned out to be a small lingcod and two days before the rockfish season opener it too had to go back.

I like rolling with people who don't fold when the going gets tough and today's crew was stellar!


April 28

There are very few times I'm rendered speechless but after reading Dave Doubledee's accounting of today I'm opting to repost (with permission) his story. Make sure you have some Kleenex nearby. You're going to need it.

"The 25th Annual MBV Wheelchair Salmon Derby

Wow! Such an overwhelming weekend it’s been.

It is 5 am Sunday April 29 2012, the day after the Monterey Bay Veterans Wheelchair Salmon Derby. Here I am sitting in my 5th wheel in the parking lot at the Coast Guard ramp in Monterey where the event went from. I just climbed out of bed to start writing. I couldn't lay there anymore, because my tears kept running into my ears.

I cried a lot yesterday, and there is no shame in it. The emotions I feel from this event often do that to me.

Why?

Why is an interesting word, It doesn't have any power on its own, it's just simply a question... Why do you do this? When I am asked by friends & the private boat captains that I try to get involved with this event, I can smile and feel pride as I tell them why.

It is because these are our Veterans.

These are the folks that cared enough about our country to serve it.
It is because they believe in us as a whole.
That the United States of America is the greatest country on earth and that the Constitution and people here are worth serving.
It is because these folks all served for their own reasons, but ultimately they did it for us, for me, for you, and for our families.
They did it to preserve our way of life!
Taking them fishing & sharing a day on the water is such a small thing to do to let them know we care!

That is why!

Now, "WHY" when asked by a veteran or one of their family members carries a power I just can't fathom. It overwhelms me! I can't stand their with my chest puffed out and proudly espouse my reasons. My lips tremble, my knees get weak, the tears well, and for a rare moment I can't talk.
I was brought to that point a few times yesterday, by a couple of women and a Korean war Veteran who's name I didn't catch.

Wendy McAndrews, I apologize that I couldn't get the words out and say all that should be said about this organization that your husband founded. That anyone in the hall would ask why I volunteer and try to get more private boats involved every year, took me by surprise.

Jeanie "G.I. Jean" (Jeanie took an IED hit in Afghanistan), and the Korean war vet that asked just before I left last night got the best answer I could muster. I went to hug Jean, and the gentleman asked me what branch of service I was? I told him that I didn't serve, and he asked "Then why do you volunteer for this?"

For the second time in just a couple of hours I couldn’t talk.

I fell to my knees in front of Jean's wheelchair crying, I grabbed her braced knee and said "This is why. Because she cared enough about me to do this. Because you cared enough about people you didn't know, to go to Korea. Because everyone here was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that I could live and raise my family here. Because I love you, and this is such a small repayment to let you know it."

Jean grabbed me and said something that will stay with me forever: "This is huge to us. You guys gave me a new lease on life!"

That is WHY!

For the first time in the 2+ years that I have known her, I got to watch Jean stand from her wheelchair to hug me on Friday.

I saw a Korean war vet cry at my reasons for doing this event. I hugged him, he hugged me back and said "Thank you" when in my heart I knew I was the one that should be giving thanks.

That is WHY!"

P.S. I had the honor of fishing as part of the crew on Mistress owned by my friend Steve North and we had Jeanie aboard. She is one tough lady and one incredible human being.


April 21

I guess one good Triumph leads to another. Yesterday I was on a Triumph 21 and had a short shot a salmon but it just wasn't one of those days and I drove home with the skunk on my heels.

Well Dean and Bobby thought I should give it another go, so I met them at the Moss Landing ramp at 5:30 this morning as they queued up in line to drop in and low and behold Bobby has a Triumph 21! I really enjoyed fishing CR's boat and I hoped it would be even better today fishing the twin of his vessel

It was a mob scene out in front but we found a bit of space to claim and started trolling. Dean scored the first salmon and I swung on it with the net. We thought it would bust out into a nice bite. It didn't but we kept hearing a lot of chatter on the radio. We changed up gear and started to consider options. You know how it gets... "Should we move? Wanna try bait? Troll deeper? Open a beer?" Dean whipped out some chicken and chips while we pondered.

Bobby pulled in the next victim and once again I was at the ready with the net. Uh oh pressure's on! I had a fish on my watermelon apex for a nice fight until it got about 30 feet from the stern and spit the hook. CRAP! Things slowed down and the breeze picked up a notch.

Finally the radio fish got the better of us and we hauled in the lines and ran about 15 minutes Northwest. The nets were flying more frequently so we dropped in again and started to hook up. I had another take down on the apex and this time I got the bugger to the boat for Bobby to net.

As the morning progressed we had a steady pick of fish including a handful of shakers. Bobby soon had another nice fish played up to the port side where I was waiting with the net but for some reason it was just out of range. There was confusion, commotion and chaos and then I heard a loud snap! No matter, I do what I was born to do and swing the net on the fish. I own the next few moments and it feels great! Turns out that his line had gotten wrapped in a rocket launcher overhead and not only pulled the hook on the fish but busted the line between the launcher and the rod.

I am humbled soon after when Bobby decides to hand off a fish with big shoulders and I lose the fish. At this point we are trying hard for the "go home" fish and Dean is the one who gets the job done.

It's roughly noon, we have limits, I didn't have to clean any fish for a change.

We return to the beach to find both of the boat wash downs out of service so the guys cut me some slack and I got excused from clean-up as well. I'm tired but it's a very happy kind of tired. Thanks Dean and Bobby!


April 20

Thursday night I played phone tag and after a couple of maybes didn't pan out with spots open to hitchhike for salmon with friends I thought screw it I'm going to Moss and stick my thumb out.

The place was packed and lots of guys said they had bailed on the zoo at Santa Cruz. I had prime parking. (I am loving my handicapped parking placard and I intend to milk it until I can jog.) I helped a few people launch and was real close on snapping up a late arrival's seat, but by 8:00 it looked like I might have to concede and accept defeat.

Towards the top launch area I spied a red pick-up backing up to splash a T-top... And he was alone! I asked if he needed any crew, citing safety in numbers, and he said "yes!" CR has a nice Honda powered 21' Triumph and by 8:30 we were under way with my gear stowed.

The fish were scattered throughout the water column but most were landed in the upper 100 feet. We gave it a go for about 4 hours but we only had one knockdown on a watermelon. Most of the fish were caught early and then it was a steady pick here and there for most of the guys. Some like us had nada. The day was not a total loss though. I now have another new fishing buddy!


April 8

Sometimes you're the bride and sometimes you're the bridesmaid and I was the latter today. As a favor to a friend with limited space on his boat, I acquiesced to forego fishing the salmon opener on Saturday for Sunday instead. Still recovering from recent foot surgery I had been green-lighted by my doctor to go even though my status quo is semi-handicapped. I was able to get my boots on which was my goal. I have a reputation for fishing tough and I'm not about to pansy out now.

We converged at Moss Landing to launch amongst the throng of other anglers who had come to fish on Easter Sunday. Mike eased Hawaiian Hooker off the trailer while Rod, Mel, Charles and I threw our gear in. I had brought a Lamiglas rod and one of my few reels that has only monofilament on it; a Newell G220F. (I actually have a pair of these reels but one has a modified handle and is loaded with spectra.) Off we went with the wind at our backs but not for long.

It wasn't pretty out but it was fishable however it was COLD but we would have sun eventually. I prefer to troll but Mike has a penchant for mooching so I tried to work a red krocodile for awhile. This is where things started to go downhill for me... With fairly light line on my reel I made a really nice power cast and proceeded to have a loop get sucked into the crack between the spool and the side plate. I peeled about 75 feet off and decided to try mooching. Our weather was getting nicer and reports of fish kept crackling over the radio. I headed up to the bow and started to thaw out in the sun. The salmon were at depths anywhere from 30 to 180 feet and most of ours hit has lines were being deployed or retrieved. Rod and Charles took turns getting fish but the rest of us struck out. I had two missed opportunities that savaged my herring.

By early afternoon the wind crept back up shifting to the South and progressing to Northwest. When the sheep started rolling into the pasture I traded for an aft rod holder citing my inability to maintain proper footing. The guys were very sympathetic and catered to me hand and foot. Rod's last battle of the day was a good one and I really wanted to participate so I netted his last fish.

We roughed out the weather and were one of the last boats to head back in. Mike made sure we all had fresh salmon to go home with and Jeff had a cedar plank soaking when I arrived home. I have a feeling this is going to be the great year of salmon fishing that we have been patiently waiting for!


March 10

Before I even had a chance to fish this year I had to navigate the channels of construction. Jeff & I are finally in finish mode on a home we started to build in the Summer of 2000. Picking drywall textures, tile, faucet finishes and more was exciting but I longed to clear my head and inhale some salt air. Mike (Hawaiian Hooker) came to my rescue with an invitation to sturgeon fish on a Saturday morning.

We launched in the South Bay with a stellar cast of original Full Speed Fishing members... Mr Cake (Brad), Fishbelly (our 2nd Mike) and Bayou Boogie (Aram) rounded out our "old guys" crew. With Hawaii Five O's soundtrack playing we zipped off through the slough to find a promising spot to hunt dinos.

Under beautiful skies the Dumbarton Bridge was beckoning to us so Brad dropped the anchor down and we baited up with herring and grass shrimp. We also liberally sprayed our offerings with Bang Shrimp and Aram brought a bottle of Berkely Gulp Alive that I hadn't had the chance to try yet. We hit the fish highway as the rods started going off with skates, bat rays, a sculpin and lots of leopard sharks. Brad had a nice leopard he lost at the boat. He took a lot of ribbing from the rest of us for the remainder of the day!

Mike (Hawaiian Hooker) was planning to get a little nap in but his rod got bit and it looked to be the "right kind". AND IT WAS! He played a nice 61" sturgeon up and I offered to burn one of my tags to take the fish. After we had the fish secured we lit up the BBQ and plotted a change of venue for the afternoon bite.

The wind picked up so we turned back to the shallows to the South. Aram cast out an offering freshly goobered up with the Gulp spray and soon had a slough slug on. His beast was one inch shorter but it had a huge head and girth and fought very well.

Special kudos to the guys for letting me take a fish home. I've either paid my dues or nobody wanted to clean fish LOL!

From the ramp I called home and Jeff said, "The water's off for a few hours" so I drove down to Pat & Claudette's and we made short work of Mike's sturgeon. I then spent Sunday running most of it through my smokers.

Link to my 2015 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2014 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2013 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2011 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2010 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2009 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2008 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2007 Fishing Diary

 
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