Like all folks in a new year, I’m clearing the decks of a few bits of news.
Of greatest interest lately is Irvine Lake. Unfortunately, my source says nothing is going to happen with that lake for at least a year. Irvine Co. still has possession of the land, including the 14 acres of concession land for the old marina and buildings, and as of yet has not been turned over to Orange County as part of a land donation by Irvine Co. There are water issues. Serrano Water District, kicked out as the concessionaire a year ago by Irvine Co. at the direction of the County as a prerequisite to the exchange between OC and Irvine Co., still owns 25 percent of the water rights. There is no movement on anything. Someone is making serious coin, $50,000 a month, on the RV storage at the lake. The water district is likely taking that rent money as payoff for the 25 percent of the value of the water rights. I don’t know, for now, cross fishing Irvine Lake off your to-do list for 2017. Despite the rains, it’s still a mudhole.
RUSSELL BARTHEL’S DOG, DEUCE, is a litter-mate to Barthel’s dog, Katrina. “They will be 3 in April,” said Barthel, adding that his older dog, Raife, is 13 “and slowing down but doing great.”
WON ad rep Ben Babbitt returned from a travel trip with his spouse to the west coast of Baja to beach fishing/surf spots north of Guerrerro Negro but he did not take the cursed Mex. 1 down most of the way start to finish. And the trip came just before all hell broke loose in Mexico on the fuel price increase. There’s more on that elsewhere and it’s an evolving situation, daily.
Anyway, Babbitt did what a lot of travelers are choosing to, which is make the freeway run east to Calexico, then down to San Felipe on a very nice Mex. 5 and down to Puertocitos, then Gonzaga Bay, and then back to the Mex. 1 on the remaining 20 miles of dirt road.
It circumvents the horrid traffic from the border to the L.A. Bay turnoff. The new road from Gonzaga Bay is almost done. Wide, new and no side-mirror slamming tomato or shipping trucks, signals and towns. If you are driving south, and dread Mex. 1, I HIGHLY recommend this route. Faster, safer, few if any checkpoints. Drive it only during the day ‘cuz there are still cows. When I make my run this year to all the way to Cabo towing my skiff, this is the route I will take to and from.
For updated road conditions, check with Discover baja.com website. It’s quite extensive and updated often. The latest report on the new road: “Mex 5 from Puertecitos to Gonzaga Bay is paved and in great condition. The paved road continues to Mex 1 for about 20 kilometers past Gonzaga. The construction crews are actively working to complete the paving to Mex 1.” And there will be updates in the gas situation. For now, avoid driving in Mexico.
Remote Gonzaga Bay has a tourist milestone. It has a hotel, Alphonsina’s. Nice spot, good food, but Babbitt and his wife paid $80 and there was no water for the room. At $80, it’s pretty pricey for Baja, and a ripoff for not having any water. Check the room before staying, or paying full pop. But Google reviews are varied. Still, pretty great for the location. It’s new, but not a resort, but it beats camping. Keep expectations in check. It has a website.
Two WON trips I am again hosting are filling up pretty quick, and a third was just added last week. One charter trip is to Sitka‘s Kingfisher Lodge, arriving Aug. 28, fishing Aug 29, 30, 31, and departing Sept. 1. You can add days on to the trip through the lodge, while you will book the three-day fishing trip through WON. Contact Ben Babbitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another annual trip I am hosting is the Cedros Island trip with Cedros Outdoor Adventures. That trip has just 12 slots for 2½ days of fishing Friday, Sept. 15 to Monday, Sept. 18. I am looking for three anglers who want to fly out of Brown Field with me, which is an added cost, and stay an extra day to fish. That makes it a more expensive trip (around $2,400) but offers more fishing time and is logistically easier with flights from the U.S. Contact me at email@example.com if interested in the extended stay with the private flight. For the standard trip, contact Ben Babbitt. It is filling fast. And, just added, there is the 3½-day Constitution trip to Puerto Vallarta April 16-20. Contact WON’s Ben Babbitt on this one, limited to 12 people, at (949) 366-0726. Cost is $1,540.
Speaking of Cedros, if you look on the CedrosOutdoorAdventures.com website it contains some great info on the biospheres created to protect the islands and inlets of west coast Baja from shrimp boats and purse seiners. It’s a good thing. There is much to be decided before the biospheres will be enforced, and meetings between U.S and Mexican officials and Mexican Navy are approaching. See this link:
THE MARCH 10-12 Central Valley Sportsman’s Show is similar, but different than the LB and SD Hall shows. A two-day car show on the weekend, Bakos drag races all three days, a monster RV area, but there are still flying water dogs, travel, boats and tackle.
Show season is approaching: Fred Hall and Associates are running three of them this year: the monstrous 5-day Long Beach show March 1-5, the Central Valley Sports Show, March 10-12 in Bakersfield, and then the 4-day San Diego show March 23-26. The Central Valley show is new to the Hall family, and just listening to Bart Hall describe it makes me want to run up to Central Cal that weekend and check it out. Bart said the event is unique and different than the other two. Amazingly, the showgoers are heavily into saltwater. You would not think that, but demographic surveys show that 60 percent are deep sea anglers. Bart said there will be huge boat display areas. There will be a heavy emphasis on the hunting, guns and shooting, freshwater lakes, and sportsman’s travel of course.
One cool aspect is that it is combined with a Super Cruise car show is on Saturday and Sunday, domestic on Saturday, imports on Sunday. They are estimating 1,500 vehicles for the weekend. And, there are the wild and dusty/muddy Bako Sand Drag Races (https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=cTYy_KEeMT0 ) that run the entire show. This is a national event with racers from all over the country. It’s exciting as hell. And noisy.
Saturday night is the Tractor and Truck Pull competition in the rodeo arena. It’s large event with big crowds,” said Mike Lum, who organizes the shows with Bart and other staff at Fred Hall & Associates.
We’ll have more on those three sportsman’s shows in upcoming editions, but Bakersfield might be a fun weekend getaway for some of us who have not experienced this show.
Don Barthel is a longtime reader who sends in reports here and there, like a lot of our loyal folks, and scored a fun pheasant hunt Jan. 3 at the Woodland Hunt Club, the 3-acre alfalfa field, about 20 miles NW of El Centro.
“The field we mainly hunted in was wet and slightly muddy from rain. But we picked a good window on the weather, low 60s and very little breeze. Although the dogs could have used a little more. We were the only ones hunting. I bought 6 pheasants that were released in that field. One flew into an adjacent field that we hunted for but never saw. Of the 5 in the original field, we got 4 plus 2 that somebody else overlooked or missed.”
He said his shooting partner, Russell, shot over a large stack of hay and paid for that shot by having to use a ladder in order to retrieve the bird.
“Two of the birds planted for us were hens, one got away on a wild flush out of range. The one we got was not pictured,” he said. After the hunt and New Year’s Eve, the group enjoyed barbecued pheasant to bring in the new year.
NICKY DARE OF Santa Clarita fished the Cabo tuna last week from her boat Hakuna Matuna and scored some nice yellowfin. Not the big ones, but they pulled hard and the tuna tasted great on the sashimi plate at Capt. Tony’s restaurant.
And, Nicky Dare, a Santa Clarita resident, firearms safety instructor and friend who fished the Cabo Tuna Tourney for the first time this past year (and is going again), sent me some shots of Cabo tuna on her boat. She and her husband Scott trailered their skiff down and fished for weeks, and said while Cabo fishing was slow with dropping temps, there were some tuna in the area, and sent me a nice shot of her hugging one with the Arch in the background.
“Fishing in general has been a little slow, the water temperature was 74 degrees both on Pacific and Cortez sides, wind about 30-35 mph in early mornings about 10-11 a.m. Both sides were choppy,” texted Nicky. “We did trolling with lures all the way from the arch to the old lighthouse. Few strikes but nothing exciting. Landed a 10-pound skipjack and released it, then we caught a small triggerfish, which was pretty interesting since I have never caught nor landed one before! Later we went back on lures right about half to one mile off the old lighthouse on Pacific side, we caught a yellowfin, roughly 29-30 pounds on a 50-pound line. Perfect for early dinner Sashimi at Captain Tony’s for the next couple days!”