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Fishing Diary  


August 14

Today I participated in a CCFRP research trip on the Huli Cat out of Half Moon Bay, CA. We sampled the Año Nuevo MPA and with the perfect weather and water conditions the fish were aggressively on the bite!

Stationed up on the bow I caught 6 lingcod and numerous species of rockfish including, blues, deacons, gophers, vermilions, coppers, Bolinas, canaries, blacks and a China. One of the black rockfish had a tag from a previous year and they collected the tag and released the fish. It will be interesting to know the history on that guy!

July 25-30

Jeff and I are fortunate to be able to go to some of the world's top fishing spots and I like to try new places however sometimes you come across a place that's just so special that you just keep going back. Queen Charlotte Safaris off the coast of British Columbia is hands down my favorite cold water species destination. Why? Well let me break it down to my top five reasons.

First. I have friends and family that occasionally join me and not all of them can fish "big water" without getting seasick or getting knocked about in rough seas. In 7 trips (I/we go in July or August) I have never had a day of fishing lost or even severely compromised due to weather. If you look at a map of Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands) you will see the reason for this is the superb protection that the islands offer between Graham and Moresby Islands. The predominant northwest wind is deflected by the sheltering, heavily forested mountain peaks throughout the Skidegate Channel leading to the Cartwright Sound. If you do not want to gamble on bad weather this is the place to go!

Second. I have been to the Galapagos Islands to dive and have fished off the Farallon Islands. What does this have to do with Haida Gwaii? They are similar zones in the Pacific Ocean that have the perfect environment to create an ideal and rich habitat for fish. With the right structure, upwellings and forage fish the Cartwright Sound is set for feeding the longest run of migratory salmon anywhere. (I have had trips where I've caught 4 species of salmon!) Most of the fish come through in waves to feed and then move on to Alaska or the lower 48. There are also halibut, lingcod and numerous rockfish that can be caught here as well.

Third. lodge owner Valerie Hoperich and her staff have the EVERYTHING completely dialed in. She provides outstanding service, impeccable hospitality and the extra nuances I would expect from a 4 or 5 star resort; scheduling, flights, accommodations, well-designed fishing boats, cuisine, etc.. Pack some clothes and just let her handle the rest.

Fourth. Unlike other places I have gone in the Pacific Northwest there is very little fishing pressure (both sport and commercial) around Haida Gwaii. Combine that with the generous fish possession limits and I find it hard to even consider booking a trip anywhere else, especially Alaska.

Five. Although the predominant reason I go to Haida Gwaii is to fish there are plenty of other options to tour, and every time I visit I discover a quaint town, explore a new beach or hit a hiking trail. There are lots of things to do and see and I highly recommend staying an extra day or two to see one of the most pristine and serene places on the map! On this particular trip Jeff and I toured Naikoon-Agate Beach via Masset with some stops to eat and shop along the way.

This year we had the pleasure of pairing up with Wayne Ridley as our guide and teaming up with us to fish, and also hailing from NorCal, were Emily Hamilton and Rebecca Woodruff.

While it was the warmest and driest trip I've ever encountered in British Columbia we did get some overcast and fog along with some wind. As I mentioned above in my second paragraph, the only hindrance this caused us was not being able to go beyond the usual salmon grounds in the inlet and bay entrance to visit Marble Island and some of the surrounding pinnacles.

Emily and I really enjoyed getting "hands on" experience setting the down riggers and Rebecca is skilled with running a boat. We all took some turns at the wheel and Jeff got the GoPro coverage on some of the action.

In between bites we laughed, joked (ask me about my butt bruise, acquired the day before I left home, nicknamed China sometime.) We never lacked for food or drink or a good story! We saw black bears and fed eagles as we fished alongside stunning scenery.

By the end of day three we were working as a well-oiled machine and having a blast as a new wave of nice Chinook salmon rolled in. Emily also had the largest Coho (silver) salmon of our trip at 15 pounds and a lingcod as well.

Many thanks to Chef John who kept offering me things to eat that were not on the nightly menu. Those pork ribs, red pepper soup and custom grilled cheese sandwich were over-the-top! You truly feel like you're part of the family when you fish at Queen Charlotte Safaris.

I'll be back in 2019 or 2020... maybe even both years if I play my cards right.

July 17

It's been a great week as far as weather and having the fish cooperate so it didn't take too much arm twisting for Dean to get me to go again today.

While I still has to be at his home by 4:30 am, this time we only had to trailer to Half Moon Bay.

We ran uphill to Pedro Point and boxed our limit of salmon (no brutes but at least we didn't have shaker city).

On the return trip down we managed a baker's dozen in rockfish and Dean got 2 decent lingcod while I released a small one. I also released a graceful decorator crab and a starfish... I just needed a sea slug for the IGFA trash slam LOL!

July 15

Dwight, Fred and I were Tom's crew today aboard Tea Sea and we had warm weather and a flat ocean as we turned south from Pillar Point Harbor. As we started looking for signs of life and actively flying salmon nets we got a tip to roll further down to a section of San Mateo coastline near Tunitas Creek where we saw the Huli Cat and several friends in private vessels catching salmon.

Although we had to deal with some jellyfish they didn't seem to bother the fish and we started to land a couple. All of a sudden we had a feeding frenzy with fish hitting the deck in short order. A double hook up, then a triple. My Seeker BCS 270-7 was saddled with a new Accurate Valiant 400; the blue and silver reel looking very cool with the perfect rod for today's action. The biggest fish of the day (although they weren't big ones) hit my anchovy-laced chartreuse rotary salmon killer behind a pink lady with a green Mack's salmon snubber.

A little after noon we got the final fish for limits all around and headed back to enjoy the rest of a beautiful Sunday.

July 13

Dean and I took advantage of a nice day to go salmon fishing. We launched his Airslot from San Francisco and headed north of the golden gate.

The bite wasn't red hot but we put two in the kill bag and tried for a halibut on the way back in.

June 27-29

Due to the fact that I was supposed to fish 2 trips almost back-to-back I didn't attend the Tuna Wars IV Captain's Reception but you bet your butt I wasn't about to miss fishing with Team Hard Merchandise on the Tomahawk!

We boarded the vessel Wednesday evening and made our way out to sea from Seaforth Landing in San Diego. We had a full moon and a full cast of characters, many of whom were returning from previous years, however this was finally my turn to join the fun and frivolity with a great group of anglers.

Along with celebrity Captain Dave Marciano and his wife Nancy of "Wicked Tuna" fame we also had Howard from Captain Rollo's Kids at Sea (this organization is the whole reason for the event), and Sergio Fainsztein of Angler Chronicles who brought along his cameraman, award winning outdoor videographer and expert aerial cinematographer, John Senften. Add a fantastic group of men and women who love to fish and listen to rock and roll while doing it and you have our team!

Captain Jeff Spafford likes to fish hard core and fully expected us to do so and we did not let him down! The bluefin tuna were out and about and by Thursday evening we had coaxed up 5 or so and had 1 yellowfin aboard too.

On Friday we poked around at a spot which we hoped held bigger quarry. While loading up on some feisty yellowtail at a kelp paddy stop I observed one guy starting to empty a good portion of his reel and thought he might have a big yellowtail... Thankfully the crew acted quickly to get everyone else out of the water and give chase to what would become our biggest bluefin of the trip! The fight was one of the most epic battles I've ever witnessed and I've seen some stuff! I'll leave you with this hint... Start watching Angler Chronicles!

In between fish bites Edmar kept the galley churning out great food, and Mikey and Trevor (TJ) rigged most of my lines and lures. (I had my reading glasses packed in my other bag for what was supposed to be my next trip on the Intrepid which was cancelled.)

The Tomahawk (formerly the Eclipse) is a well run boat with a passion for fishing. (I'm part Cherokee and my Indian name would've been Wrestles with Fish LOL!) Do yourself a favor and check them out!

June 19

I managed to get up at 3:30 am and get to Dean's by 4:02 where we trailered his Airslot towards Half Moon Bay. Along the way we picked up Dean's high school fishing buddy Lee.

The ramp was packed but orderly and we saw Mike Jones and a few other out around the launch ramp in the pre dawn. We ran down the beach and dropped 6 crab pots to soak while we fished.

We then headed out towards Deep Reef area, stopping briefly to try an area with birds and whales but it had jellyfish and we didn't get bit. So we forayed further out and set up.

Dean had been off the water since my last trip with him and he was pumped to say the least to get on these big salmon he'd been hearing about. I kept saying "We're going to need a bigger kill bag".

There was a steady pick of fish being fought and landed around us. Dean and Lee were running apexs off the port down rigger and off the back with a cannonball rigged rod. I had a chartreuse FBR on the starboard down rigger with an anchovy. We only had one tray of primo bait so we wanted to make it last.

I noticed some humpback whales on the outside slapping their huge pectoral fins on the water and enjoyed a few more breaching whales in the distance.

Then my rod went off! I danced with a big brute of a salmon who was intent on getting away. It porpoised through the surface several times and dogged down. Lee kept saying "Just slide him into the net..." and finally about 15 minutes later I had it lined up and in the net! A 28 pounder! I was stoked to say the least. And like my big fish yesterday it was a male hatchery fish.

Over the next hour or so we added 5 more for limits between 14 and 28 pounds! A lot of those were 18-22. The fish were up high in the water column again today. We never set the rods below 40'.

Lee and Dean had a double which made for some frantic fishing and netting but we got both fish in.

Big salmon littered the deck; on the floor, in the bleeding bucket; in the cleaning tray... LOL!

After the main quarry had been cleaned and iced, we ran to a few rockfish spots. I managed a few while the guys knocked out our limits. No big lingcod were around but Lee and Dean kicked back several baby lings.

We headed in the collect the contents of the crab pots ending the day with 22 dungeness to top off the kill.

June 18

Capt. Tom, Mark, Jim, Joe and I departed Half Moon Bay aboard Tea Sea, Tom's nice 32' Albemarle around 7:45 am for some salmon fishing. We headed due West in gorgeous water out to Deep Reef. After finding out the down riggers wouldn't work the guys tossed on dog whistles and weights. I rigged up a pink lady. Thankfully the fish were on top. Fish were hitting between 28' - 40' deep and most were high teens and mid 20's. We started off running half fruit (WMApex) and half anchovies. Switched it up to all chovy after first two fish.

Joe was the hot stick but the boys had a few LDR's. I got a big fatty (Sacto looking fish) and played it off the port side of the boat. Just as it was going into the net and I couldn't see it I had the hook whiz by my head and rod went slack. Not to worry! The last little pressure I hit it with put it straight into the net. The 24 pound fish was loaded with anchovies and he put up a great fight!

We updated Dean who was planning to come out the next day and said we were packing it in with 9 but ate my words a few minutes later when we got the devil to bite while cleaning the last fish in the box. LIMITS for FIVE!

Our fish ranged from 15-24 pounds and I had the only hatchery fish which was a male.

Sure I could've stayed home and made $5,000 trading VSTM this morning but sometimes you just have to take a day off work and go play!

Going out again tomorrow!

April 13

Dean left me a phone message to call ASAP and I thought maybe we'd be trying for halibut in San Francisco Bay - The last thing on my mind was salmon fishing. Well much to my surprise it was a shout out to go after king salmon out of Moss Landing.

I rolled over to Dean's at 5:15 am and we towed his recently re powered boat down to launch. While paying the ramp fee we discovered a cell phone someone had left. I didn't want to risk leaving it there so we brought it along and I left a contact note in it's place.

The ocean was somewhat jackass but we were able to deploy the down riggers and started fishing around 175'-200'. A few boats were reporting fish but it was not a wide open bite. Dean had the first fish hit his rod, which was rigged with an anchovy, at around 10 am. He played it towards the boat while I steered into position and had the net waiting. At the last minute the fish took a wrap on the down rigger clip and I thought we'd lose it but I swung the net and we managed to get the 16 pound fish in the boat. One down, three to go!

Since our weather had greatly improved and reports of fish at shallower depths had been reported we adjusted the troll depth to 150'- 175'. Humpback whales were breezing through and we had 3 stripped baits before fish number two rang in on Dean's rod.

The jellyfish were thick today and we had to reset lines often and just before noon I opted to drop down a green Lhur Jensen Krocodile. A little while later I was rewarded with a 25" salmon (approx. 6.5 to 7 pounds).

Around 1 pm the wind kicked back on and we turned in the direction of the landing. Dean boxed the last one about 15 minutes later after a minute or two of trying to decide if it was a line fouled with jellyfish or an actual fish. When we cleaned the salmon they were all plugged with anchovies.

Back at the ramp, DFG said we were the 4th boat to have limits and most had 1 or 2 fish counts per boat. As Dean went to get the trailer the "lost" cell phone rang and we were able to reunite it with a guy who'd been fishing on another boat. KARMA rewarded us today!

January 24

After my first visit to Lake Mead a couple of years ago I swore I wouldn't return without a fishing rod. So when my sister, Marilyn, and my bro-in-law in training, Bob, gave me a nudge to come visit I went the extra mile and booked a guide. Captain Mark Edison runs private charters through his web site Adventure in Angling and I had a chance to make some inquiries with him via email to get a feel for how he rolls. He was very forthcoming on sharing information and answering my questions.

Marilyn and I booked an afternoon trip and we met up at the Boulder Harbor launch ramp as Mark was bringing his morning group in.

The sun was shining and the lake was calm as we set out in the 2017 Pathfinder 2600 HPS. Mark had this vessel specially built and as someone who has fished off her fair share of boats, I was impressed! We headed off to make live bait and Mark let me maneuver while he threw the cast net. Marilyn helped with the assist on getting the bait out of the net and into the bucket. Mark has several "wells" so he can hold baits of several sizes to prolong their fresh state.

From there we went hunting and on our first drop both Marilyn and I had striped bass hit within seconds of each other! I have been stoking my sister's renewed interest in fishing and Mark was attentive to teaching us the tactics in working the lake. A day on the water with local knowledge is worth it and I soaked up as much as I could for future reference. The bite was not red hot but the lake hadn't turned and it was unseasonably warm still. We wound up keeping 3 stripers and released the others. Mark really impressed me with his experience and friendly attitude. It's no wonder that he's one of the most popular guides on the Lake.

Of course we got to talk about a lot of fishing stories on the salt pond too. I'd also love an opportunity to fish with Mark sometime on saltwater. Who knows? Maybe we'll cross paths down in Baja someday.

January 11

Well who am I to turn down fishing for rockfish in January... At Ano Nuevo to boot! Wouldn't you know, the students participating in the studies at CCFRP needed their trusty volunteer anglers to come out to fish today. Dean got into the program and he made the cut to go too so I picked him up on the way to Pillar Point Harbor to board the Huli Cat.

The weather was awesome and the fish were biting. I was up on the bow while Dean fished the stern. He was truly amazing today as he caught 4 yelloweyes. He got a pair of tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for that cool trick too.

Link to my 2017 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2016 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2015 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2014 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2013 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2012 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2011 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2010 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2009 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2008 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2007 Fishing Diary

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