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Pat McDonell's Blog

KEN CORWIN: Twice the fun
Ken Corwin’s 269 bluefin caught last Monday came too late for the newspaper we put out that day, Aug. 22. Nevertheless, while the info was a tad late for print, it was posted on our FB page that night, and it’s still a fun story to recount here. Not just about the size of it, but what led up to the catch.

How much longer these big fish are going to be in our area is a complete guess, but while they are here, our knowledge of kite fishing is expanding, largely with the help of those in tackle shops or those who have been on long range trips, or fished with charter captains off Cabo like Renegade Mike Tumbiero.

KEN CORWIN, RIGHT, and Capt. Clay Dobbs with the 269 caught near the 43 Fathom Spot on the Reel Nice ’N Easy on a trip out of Oceanside Harbor, where Ken’s shop is located.

For sure, we are seeing these bigger fish over 220 to 270 pounds because, like wahoo catches that emerged after we changed gear last year, we have adapted. The kite rig is getting these big fish now, many of which were probably hooked earlier in the season on lighter tackle, and lost to lighter tackle. By lighter, I mean 80- and 100-pound and under. The heavier stuff, 130-pound, bigger hooks… shorten the fight and so we’re seeing this wad of bigger fish being landed.

On Monday evening, as I relaxed at home after putting out the recent edition of WON, Jamie Lyons of KK Pono Lures and Ken’s Custom Reels texted me, and e-mailed me some photos of the action that day near the 43 Fathom Spot.

“Ken hooked this nice 269-pound bluefin on Reel Nice ’n Easy driven by Capt. Clay Dobbs. Hooked at 8:30 a.m. on the outer edge of the 43 and I sunk first gaff at 10:30 a.m. Wow, what a wondrous fish for being so close! That’s what we all pay $5,000 to go so far for (long ranging). This is in our own back yard! I bought a kite last week after we found a floating balloon and kite two rig weeks ago with a Smartshift 30 attached to it.” Obviously, the kite went nearly straight up and someone forgot to secure the kite rod with a lanyard. Hard to believe they couldn’t find it after it took off. So far, no one has claimed the outfit or mentioned losing it. Finders keepers and all that. They used the rod/reel for their trip Monday.

As Jamie reported, it was the first time any of the trio had trolled with a Yummy Flyer, which, if you are not familiar with this popular lure, it’s a rubber variation of a flying fish. Skip it along the surface; or in the case of long rangers, as you dip and skip it from an anchored boat, the Yummy is rigged with heavy line, 400-pound leader and huge crimped hooks, and the fish not only can’t see that heavy line and big hooks, they just can’t resist it.

“It was the first time any of us had ever tried this way of fishing (kite and a Yummy fresh) wow.. four explosions but all missed. Then this monster jumped two feet out of the water and just landed right on top of it. Ken and I looked at each other and screamed, ‘Oh, that was a huge one!’ And it was. Clayton said to me, ‘You know, for a guy in his 60s, he (Ken) sure as hell can pull on a fish!’”

On another email the next day, Clay Dobbs (we’ve fished together and everyone has my cell number or is on FB with me) just weighed in on the catch. It’s a cool quote.

“Watching Kenny pulling on big fish is like Tiger Woods driving a golf ball or Michael Jordan slam dunk. Maximum pressure at all times with minimal effort by the angler is poetry in motion — the right guy with the right gear at the right time. “Not to mention he is 63 years old, so proud to watch it yesterday from the bridge. A three-gaff fish. We couldn’t get it through my transom door.”

And Ken? After I called him to congratulate him Tuesday — the day after — and also ask if a Tuna Spike (quick tuna killers) from maker Butch Diaz had been dropped off by a buddy (Don Southard) for me to pick up, he asked, “Yeah, it’s here, Pat, but where did you hear about that fish?” Ken is old-fashioned. He has a cell phone and that’s about it.

“Ken,” I said, “Everyone knows about it. Jamie texted me on the boat, and Clay emailed me the day after. I posted it on our Facebook page and sent it to Bob Vanian ( And I’m doing a story on it for next week.”

Word of a big fish travels fast in so many ways. Let’s hope it keeps up a few more weeks at least. What a year.

Carrie Wilson's Blog

Tracking Wounded Game with an Electronic Device?
Question: Archery season is starting and before we go out I would like to know if it’s legal to use an electronic tracking device that attaches to an arrow to help track our game. The tracking device separates from the arrow as the arrow contacts the target animal and then enables the hunter to better follow the wounded animal. Are these legal to use? Thanks for any help. (Jared T., Red Bluff)

muledeerinhazeCALIFORNIA MULE DEER. CDFW photo

Answer: No, unfortunately, they are not legal to use. The regulation below restricts the use of computerized or telemetry types of devices to track big game mammals. Because of this, the device you describe is not legal to use in California at this time.

“No person shall pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile. Additionally, no person shall use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area. No person shall use at any time or place, without Department approval, any computer, telemetry device or other equipment to locate a big game mammal to which a tracking device is attached. ” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251).

Recorded abalone harvest data wrong on abalone report card

Question: After abalone diving in Mendocino last weekend, I didn’t realize until too late that when I tagged my abalone I mistakenly recorded my abalone catch incorrectly on my abalone report card. I recorded them out of order in the wrong column and then used the corresponding wrong tags. This meant I skipped three of the lower numbered tags. The tags are still on the report card and corresponding recording fields on the report card are still empty. Can I go back and use those missed tags for my next trip? (Atsu I.)

Answer: No, the law requires that “Tags shall be used in sequential order, and shall not be removed from the report card until immediately prior to affixing to an abalone. Any tags detached from the report card and not affixed to an abalone shall be considered used and therefore invalid” (CCR Title 14, section 29.16(b)(4)). You are also required to write “Void” on the Abalone Report Card in the spaces you skipped and then dispose of the three corresponding tags. This is because the law also says, “…(5) No person shall possess any used or otherwise invalid abalone tags not attached to an abalone shell.”

Permit required for fishing contests?

Question: Our club would like to hold a halibut derby in San Francisco Bay and we need information on permits. When and where are they needed and what are the requirements? Do we need a permit for a halibut derby in the Bay or are permits only needed for bass fishing? (Mark S.)

Answer: Permits are not required for saltwater fishing contests. Waters of the Pacific Ocean include all of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays west of the Carquinez Bridge (CCR Title 14, section 27.00). As long as all fishing is done in waters west of the Carquinez Bridge, you will not need a fishing contest permit.

Fishing contest permits are required for various fishing contests in freshwater. For information on the requirements when holding fishing contests in inland waters, how to obtain fishing contest permits and for the actual permit application forms, please visit our Fishing Contests, Tournaments and Derbies website.

Do fishing boat passengers need fishing licenses if not fishing?

Question: As an avid fisherman on a private vessel at a slip, I often take friends out hoop netting or fishing. Often these friends are perfectly happy to operate my boat while I tend the fishing line(s) or hoop nets. Do these companions need to have a fishing license as long as we follow the bag limits and limits on nets and lines in the water for a single fisherman? It is often a spur of the moment decision to go out, and sending my guest off to get a license for one or two hours of fishing is inconvenient at best. (Jack Z.)

Answer: It is legal to take non-licensed passengers along to observe you while fishing or hoop netting as long they do not engage at all in any of the actual sport fishing activities. It is only in the commercial fishing industry where those who assist with the boat handling and other tasks need to have their own commercial fishing license.

* * *

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at

Cousins Surf Fishing Round-Up

Yellowtail off the beach!
The stretch from East Beach to Graveyards continues to churn out the halibut, reported Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara. Several more legal halibut were reported taken on hard jerk baits and spoons this week. One angler caught and released 5 fish, two of which were legal on a 5/8 ounce blue mac Krocodile fished on an incoming tide. The Goleta Beach and Pier area was also holding legal fish along with a spattering of perch. The rocky beaches have been holding a mix of calico bass, cabezon and johnny bass.

MALIBU — The amount of calico bass in the shallows continues to impress, reported Wylie’s. Anglers have reported biting fish on a number of rocky and reefed beaches. Spots like Pescador, Matador and Big Rock have been good. Cabezon, grass rockfish, and a few sandbass were also in the mix. Two legal halibut were also taken off Big Rock on a cut sardine. Sardine has been the cut bait of choice lately. Malibu beaches are holding good numbers of corbina but they were off the bite this week. The old Charthouse is a good spot to find a better leopard shark.

REDONDO BEACH — The stretch of beach from the Topaz Jetty to the Redondo Pier has been kicking out firecracker yellowtail all week, reported Just Fishing. Anglers reported fish to 7-pounds, were pushing bait outside the surfline. Krocodiles and small surface iron were getting bites. Yellowtail of any size, off the beach, is a rare thing. There are still good numbers of corbina cruising the shallows off El Segundo, Hermosa, Manhattan and Torrance beaches. The bite slowed this week, but that’s just small tides. Mussel and lugworms have been the best baits.

SEAL BEACH — Two tanker corbina were taken off Bolsa Chica this week reported Big Fish. A split shot ghost shrimp was the key to taking a 4-pound 1 ounce and a 5-pound 2 ounce corbina. Anglers are seeing plenty of fish in the shallows. The halibut bite also perked up this week with several just legal fish reported taken off the beaches. One shop regular took two legal fish on a metallic sardine Lucky Craft fished off the inlet. The Huntington Beach Pier and the Seal Beach Pier and jetty kicked out some nice spotfin on mussel and lugworms. A shop bay bass derby produced an 18-inch winner caught on a 3-inch Big Hammer swimbait. The bay bass bite continues red hot.

COSTA MESA — There are still plenty of big corbina along peninsula beaches, reported Ketcham Bait and Tackle. A clean presentation was the key to getting bit on these skittish fish. With the sandcrabs mostly pea-size, mussel, lugworms and bloodworms were top baits. Flourocarbon leaders, smaller hooks and lighter sinkers were a must. Some of the fish have been pushing 4-pounds. The halibut bite picked up off River Jetties and Newland. A slow rolled Krocodile was getting bites on a mix of short and just legal fish. Cut sardine was also working well.

DANA POINT — Funky off-color water has made for slow fishing on the beach, reported Hogan’s Bait and Tackle. Better conditions were found above the harbor on Strands, Salt Creek and Laguna beaches. The calico bass have been active near the reefs and the corbina and halibut have been taken over the sandy patches and beaches. The harbor has been a bright spot with a mix of barracuda, sand bass, spotted bay and halibut bending rods. Spoons, swimbaits and live smelt have all been working.

OCEANSIDE— The surprise catch of the week was a 12-pound 8 ounce striped bass taken on the beach below Oceanside Harbor, reported Pacific Coast. The fish ate a 1-ounce Krocodile cast beyond the breakers. The corbina bite has also been solid with most of the fish ranging from 1 to 3-pounds. With a lack of bait--size crabs, mussel and lugworms have been top baits. South Oceanside, Army/Navy Academy and South Carlsbad have been good places to look. A 3-pound even fish leads the shop’s corbina derby. Pier anglers reported seeing schools of Orangemouth corvina breezing outside the surfline.

SOLANA BEACH — The corbina bite off Torrey Pines was a best bet this week, according to Blue Water. Anglers reported a good bite on 2 to 3-pound fish. Better fish were present but tough to hook. Stringing several smaller crabs on a hook was working. Mussel and lugworms were a good second choice. With beach traffic down, the bite continues to improve. Del Mar and Mission Beach were also holding good numbers of fish.

Compiled by Gundy Gunderson


Big Bear TroutfesT 2016: It’s been the year of big rainbows
Terrific trouting at Big Bear Lake

To Sign-up On-Line CLICK HERE


WON Staff Writer

Now in its 12th year, popular event looking at improved fishing and potential big weights come Oct. 1-2

A KLAMATH 16-FOOT EXW armed with a Mercury 40hp motor is once again the Grand Raffle Prize at TroutfesT.

BIG BEAR LAKE — If what’s been happening at Big Bear Lake this spring and early summer is any indication of what is to come on Oct. 1-2 when the 12th annual Western Outdoor News TroutfesT rolls around — and it’ll be here before we know it — Bear Lake: many more targets, bigger trout, much better fishing — it’s some pretty simple math to process.

The pair of 15-plus-pound rainbows caught in recent weeks also sparks one’s intrigue towards whether there might be a potential new lake-record trout out there swimming around that could make some big noise in Big Bear in the near future. The current record has been somewhat debated over the years — many old-time Big Bear folks lean with the reported 19.75-pound rainbow caught and documented in 1931, while the officially recognized lake record stands as the 18.69-pound trout caught Memorial Day Weekend of 2009 by lady angler Erin Dominquez of Trabuco Canyon. The previous “official” standing record prior to Dominguez’s record ’bow was a 14.69 pounder landed in 1995. So two fish over 15 in a three-week span now has a little context and historical perspective. Besides, four 18 pounders were planted in late May — and none have yet been caught to this point.

SUPER HAWG — This pig of a Big Bear Lake rainbow was a legitimate trophy for 12-year-old Collin Crilly, right, of Temecula, going 15 pounds, 6 ounces and caught on a Rapala Flat Rap in late June. Pictured with Collin are brother Patrick, left, and Fish Big Bear deckhand Sean Rabago. It’s just one of many big fish caught this spring and summer at the lake. PHOTO COURTESY OF CURT DILLS

There’s no questioning that the last couple TroutfesTs have been a little lackluster as far as the bite’s been. The 2015 edition of the event saw just three trout over two pounds caught and full limits somewhat challeng­ing to come by over the course of the two-day derby. Whether that’s been due to the most recently-stocked fish not acclimating quickly enough, unfortunate timing or just plain-and-simple bad luck is anybody’s guess and up for debate. But there’s no question that there is more than ample reasons to be optimistic about this year’s TroutfesT in early October.

Aside from the fishing side of things, TroutfesT has always leaned less toward competition and more toward family-style fun. The fishing should most definitely be on the rise come October, but the same great aspects of the event that make TroutfesT the TroutfesT will be there in fold. A weekend of fishing and simply being outside with family and friends, plenty of great prizes up for grabs and the realistic chance of towing a brand new boat and motor back down the mountain when all is said and done.

Once again, a 16-foot Klamath aluminum rigged by Quality Performance Marine with a Mercury 40hp Four-Stroke on an EZ Loader trailer will be the grand raffle prize — not a bad walkaway to say the least for the lucky TroutfesT angler who scores the new rig via the modest $75 entry. Valued at $21,000, the Klamath/Mercury package is a true gem of a fishing boat sure to create lots of good memories for years to come in the case of the fortunate TroutfesTer who has his or her number called at the end of the awards ceremony. Last year’s winner, Bill Burrows, was the fated one to hold the winning wristband, and he caught just one stocker trout in the tough bite, proving you can walk away from TroutfesT a big winner no matter how you score on the fishing side of the ledger.

doubledigitDOUBLE-DIGIT TROUT have been showing frequently so far this season at Big Bear Lake, a good sign of holdover success from last year’s pen releases at the lake. This 11½ pounder ate a Rapala east of Gilner Point in mid-May for Daniel Dominguez III.

Also set to be raffled off is a Sea Eagle Explorer 300x in­flatable kayak along with the new QuikRow Rowing Frame, making for an ideal portable fishing platform that is a breeze to transport to your favorite fishing holes. The Sea Eagle raffle is its own entity, and you can up your odds of winning the new kayak by simply purchasing any Panther Martin lures from now until the event.

Landing a lunker rainbow at TroutfesT could pay off big time, as a $250 lure pack from Yo-Zuri is going out for the biggest overall trout and a mount of the big trout by Global Fish Mounts, along with an awesome destination trip that is currently in the works. At Sunday’s awards ceremony, this year’s general raffle will include Rapala lure prize packages, Okuma rods and reels, a pair of FoodSaver units, Costa Sunglasses, Plano tackle boxes and Frabill trout nets. Goodie bags filled with Frog Togg Chili Pads, Thomas Buoyant and Panther Martin lures, Hi-Seas mono and tournament shirts and hats will also go out to the first 600 TroutfesT anglers at regis­tration. WON is also working on a number of different additional prizes that may range from free boat rentals from area marinas, Big Bear guide trips and saltwater sportfishing trips, so be sure to stay tuned for future announcements. And as usual, plenty of blind bogey cash awards will be dished out as well, so catching and weighing in a rainbow of any size at TroutfesT can end up paying big dividends.

One of the off-the-water home bases of the two-day TroutfesT will once again be at Big Bear Mountain Brewery for a second straight year. The brew house will be offering up 50-cent Budweiser drafts and $2 microbrews over the weekend, along with 50-percent off their Munchies Menu for all TroutfesT anglers with a valid wristband. The brewery is a great place to end a fun day of fishing on an even higher note.

anglerbobheppANGLER BOB HEPP of Victorville walked away with a fishing trip to Alaska, a massive Yo-Zuri lure prize package and a Global Fish Mount for weighing in the biggest ’bow of TroutfesT 2015 — could it be you this year?

The name of the game remains the same for the 12th edition of the event. There will again be four divisions: Adult Male, Adult Female, Junior Male and Junior Female. The top five anglers in each division will receive TroutfesT trophies and prizes, with the biggest overall trout good for a minimum of a huge Yo-Zuri lure package and a soon-to-be-announced destination trip — last year’s big fish was good for a five-night stay at Frontier Lodge with three days of fishing in Sitka, Alaska for Bob Hepp of Victorville, and you have as good of a shot as anyone to claim this year’s trip so long as you wet a line the first couple days of October.

So clear your calendar and lock in your entry for TroutfesT 2016 now and make sure you’re a part of this year’s annual festivities “on the hill.” With the numbers of fish that have been stocked to date, coupled with the countless quality catches and great season Big Bear Lake’s had thus far, things are certainly lining up for the TroutfesT to have a serious bounce-back year on the fishing front — and the prizes are plentiful as always.

It’s going to be another fun-filled weekend when the calendar page flips to October, so don’t miss out. Worst case scenario? You get to spend a couple days trout fishing in the alpine setting of the Big Bear Lake and the scenic San Bernardino Mountains with family and friends. Best case scenario? You do the exact same thing, but you’re leaving Sunday evening with a brand new 16-foot boat in tow. Pretty tough not to call the whole thing one big win-win…

Sign up for the 2016 Big Bear Lake TroutfesT online by CLICKING HERE, call Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248 or Lori Twilegar at (949) 366-0030, ext. 26.

See you in October!

TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR Billy Egan gets a little help from an adorable TroutfesTer at last year’s awards ceremony’s raffle drawings.

IS IT YOUR turn to have your number called and take home this year’s Klamath/Mercury boat and motor package? Bill Burrows was pretty pumped to take home the grand raffle prize boat a year ago “on the hill.”

youngstersareaYOUNGSTERS ARE A major part of the annual TroutfesT and epitomize what the event’s all about. Here, Julia Olivas, then 4, of Huntington Beach, rocks out with WON sales rep Connor Johnson after weighing in her trout on Day One last year.

WHO KNOWS WHAT the weather will be like when the calendar flips to October, but if these past few months are any indication of how the fishing may be, there could be some much bigger weights checked in at this year’s TroutfesT.

THE FISHIN’ GUYS at Big Bear Sporting Goods are getting in a lot of photography work with nice rainbows like this one making their way to the shop frequently in recent months.

A YO-ZURI prize package worth $250 will go to the angler who catches the biggest overall trout at this year’s event.

2016 Big Bear Lake October TroutfesT Itinerary

Friday, Sept. 30 — Anglers check-in at the Big Bear Visitors Center from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (630 Bartlett Road, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-800-4 BIG BEAR). Anglers will receive their wristband with raffle number on it, goodie bag, copy of rules and itinerary, and most importantly, have their raffle number placed into a raffle bin, which makes them eligible to win prizes, including the Klamath 16-foot EXW model boat with a 40 hp four-stroke Mercury motor and EZ Loader trailer package courtesy of Klamath Boats and Mercury Motors and rigged by Quality Performance Marine, valued at $21,000. Late sign-ups, if any are available, will also be taken at this time, with a $15 late fee assessed.

Saturday Oct. 1 — Late angler check-in at the Big Bear Visitors Center (630 Bartlett Road, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-800-4 BIG BEAR) from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. It is strongly recommended, however, that you use the Friday evening check-in, as how quickly we can get you in and out on Saturday morning will depend on how many people show up at the late check-in.

Fishing will begin on Saturday morning, Oct. 1 at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. The official tournament scales, located at the Big Bear Marina parking lot, (500 Paine Ct., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-909-866-3218 will be open from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Anglers not in line by 4 p.m. will not have their fish weighed and their catch will not count towards that day’s competition. Once you weigh fish, you are officially done for the day and cannot weigh additional fish.

During the weigh-in on Saturday, various TroutfesT sponsors will have their products on display.

Sunday Oct. 2 — Fishing will begin on Sunday morning, Oct. 2 at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. Scales will be open at the Big Bear Marina parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anglers not in line by 2 p.m. will not have their fish weighed and their catch will not count towards that day’s competition. Once you weigh fish, you are done for the day and cannot weigh additional fish. Each angler may weigh only 5 fish per day. The TroutfesT BBQ will be held from 1:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Big Bear Marina while WON staff is organizing the final standings.

The raffle prize drawing and awards ceremonies will commence around 3:30 p.m. in the Big Bear Marina parking lot.

WON will be awarding 1st through 5th place trophies and prizes for the top adult male, top adult female, top junior male (under 16 years of age), top junior female (under 16 years of age) and overall big fish. Thousands of dollars in raffle prizes will be raffled off to those in attendance. You must be present to win. The Blind Bogie cash prizes will also be awarded on Sunday. The awards ceremony will end with the grand raffle prize of the $21,000 Klamath boat and 40 hp Mercury motor package with EZ Loader trailer. Awards should be over no later than 5-5:30 p.m. to allow everyone the chance to get down the hill before dark.

Since there is no seating in the Big Bear Marina parking lot, it is highly recommended that you bring folding lawn/beach chairs.

Additionally, due to the crowd size, no dogs will be allowed on Big Bear Marina property during the TroutfesT award ceremonies.

Boat Owners

Private boaters launching vessels on Big Bear Lake are required to obtain a daily use permit from the Big Bear Municipal Water District. These permits run $35 for one day or $55 for two days. You may obtain permits at: Big Bear Marina, Hollo­way’s Marina, Big Bear Municipal Water District, BBMWD East Launch Ramp.

Additionally, due to the Quagga Mussel invasion in the west, all boaters will be subject to a boat inspection prior to being allowed to launch on the lake. Contact the BBMWD office at (909) 866-5796 or visit for further inspection details.

Event Parking

As the Big Bear October TroutfesT has become the most popular fishing event on Big Bear Lake over the years, parking has become an issue. At the request of the City of Big Bear Lake and the Big Bear Marina, we ask that anglers park only in locations marked for our participants.

Quagga Mussels

These are a non-native, invasive species that were introduced to the U.S. in the mid-’80s by a ship transporting cargo from the Black Sea. Since that time, they have slowly spread throughout the Great Lakes drainage. The end result is billions in damage to man made structures, decimation of fisheries, and an overall negative impact on the ecosystem.

In January of 2007, Quagga Mussels were discovered in Lake Mead, Nevada. This is the first time they have been found west of the Rockies. Since this time, they have spread throughout the Colorado River chain and into many Southern California Lakes fed by this water source. As a result of this spread, many water agencies are adopting a variety of methods in dealing with the Quagga — methods that have gone as far as closing lakes to the public.

Western Outdoor News, in conjunction with the Big Bear Municipal Water District, urges you as a boat owner to take the time to familiarize yourself with boat cleaning procedures prior to coming to Big Bear Lake. For information on boat cleaning requirements and procedures and the Quagga Mussel crisis, please visit or Thanks for helping to prevent the spread of this alien species.

2016 Big Bear October TroutfesT Official Rules

Contestants may fish from shore, float tube, canoe, kayak, boat, or any other legally-permissible vessel provided they meet all local, state, and federal regulations.

All boats, including float tubes, canoes, and kayaks used during the TroutfesT must be properly outfitted with the USCG-mandated equipment for their vessel, which may include but is not limited to: anchors, running lights, throw cushions, life vests, signal devices, oars and bailing devices. All vessels must also possess current state registration stickers if required.

Contestants using their own vessels must obtain a special permit, which is obtained through the Big Bear Municipal Water District office prior to the contest. Vessels are also subject to a Quagga Mussel inspection prior to launch on Big Bear Lake.

All participants under 13 years of age fishing from a vessel 26 feet or less are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest (PFD) during on-the-water tournament hours. See for details concerning life vests.

At the time of check-in, all TroutfesT contestants will be issued a wristband with their raffle number on it. These wristbands must be worn for the duration of the event and should not be removed until the close of the contest at 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2015.

Pre-fishing with a licensed guide is permitted up until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2016. Other than providing emergency assistance, no fishing guides licensed on Big Bear Lake may participate, or in any way assist other TroutfesT participants during the contest period.

All California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations will apply to the TroutfesT. All contestants 16 years of age or older will be required to possess and carry a valid California fishing license. Any angler cited as being in violation of California or Federal Fish and Game laws will be disqualified from the TroutfesT.

All fish submitted for weight during the TroutfesT must be taken from the waters of Big Bear Lake during the official contest hours. Fish brought in from outside of Big Bear Lake as judged by the tournament staff will result in angler disqualification. All fish must be caught live, with rod and reel, fair game hooked, per California Depart­ment of Fish & Wildlife regulations. No snagged fish will be accepted. California Fish and Wildlife regulations may be viewed online at

All California Department of Boating & Waterways and all local Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District boating regulations must be observed during the tournament. Any boat operator cited by local, state, or federal agencies for violating boating laws during the tournament will be disqualified.

Lake Closures — Big Bear Lake will be closed to TroutfesT contestant fishing from 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 1. The lake will again close to TroutfesT contestant fishing on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. and reopen on Oct. 2 at 6:30 a.m. It will close again on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. Contestants may be on the water during off-limits times, but are not allowed to have lines in the water. Anglers found fishing during the off limits period will be disqualified from the TroutfesT.

Official Contest Hours — The TroutfesT will start at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 and cease at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2. To facilitate vessel launching, anglers may be on the water earlier than this, but MAY NOT have any lines in the water. Scales will open Saturday at 12:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Big Bear Marina and close at 4:00 p.m. All anglers who are in line prior to 4:00 p.m. will have their fish weighed. On Sunday, Oct. 2, the contest will start at 6:30 a.m. and cease at 2:00 p.m. Oct. 2. Scales will open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 2:00 p.m. Again, all anglers in line prior to 2:00 p.m. will have their fish weighed. The tournament director is the keeper of the official event time.

Limits/Size — Trout submitted for weight during the TroutfesT must be a minimum of 10 inches in overall length (from tip of nose to tip of tail). All fish under 10 inches as determined by our weigh staff will not be included in the total weight. Each angler in the TroutfesT may weigh 5 trout per day. Once you weigh your fish, you are done for the day and may not submit any additional fish for inclusion to your daily weight. You may not go back out fishing once you have weighed your fish.

Unless cooperating jointly, all boats must maintain a distance of 50 feet between them when anchored or drift fishing. Boats that are trolling are exempt from this rule. There is no minimum distance for shoreline anglers.

The Tournament Director has the sole discretion to disqualify any catch for any reason deemed to violate any tournament rules or the spirit of the competition. Decisions of the Tournament Director are final and may not be appealed. All anglers are responsible for weighing in their OWN fish, and may not pass or hand off any fish to anyone else.

Handing off fish to junior anglers will not be accepted, and if you are caught handing off a fish, both anglers are subject to immediate disqualification. Protests must be filed in writing with the Tournament Director no later than 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 2 to be considered.

Divisional Prizes — Mer­chan­dise prizes will be awarded to the top-5 finishers in each of the Adult Male, Adult Female, and Junior’s divisions based upon total weight at the close of the competition. The largest trout of the tournament will also receive a trophy and merchandise. Junior divisions consist of anglers under the age of 16. All divisional winners must be present to receive their prizes or the merchandise portion of their prizes will be donated to the general raffle.

Ties — In case of a tie based upon weight, the greater number of fish caught over the course of the two-day event will determine the winner. In case the anglers each caught the same number of fish, the winner will be determined by their entry date. The earliest entry date will win the tie-breaker, so sign up early!

Raffle Prizes — All anglers as a part of their entry will have their raffle number (from their wristband) placed into a raffle bin. Raffle numbers will be drawn and raffles will be awarded to those persons who are present. Contestants who are not present will forfeit their prize. All raffle numbers will be placed back into the raffle bin prior to the Grand Prize drawing of the Klamath boat/Mercury Motor and EZ Loader trailer package.

Blind Bogey Contest — Each person entered in the TroutfesT is a part of the Blind Bogey contest. $20 of each entry fee is allocated for this contest. 75 percent of all blind bogey monies will go to the Big Bear Municipal Water District and will be used solely for restocking Big Bear Lake with trout. The remaining 25 percent will be distributed to participating anglers in the form of cash prizes. Blind Bogey prize drawings will be held Sunday during the awards ceremonies.

Merit McCrea's Blog

Giving saltwater a try
This is the time of the season when those who have been bringing home the bacon all summer see the summer drawing to a close and folks getting busy with all that the harvest season brings. It's time to take your non-angler friends out you meant to take fishing all summer, but never did.

This is the ideal way to be introduced to the salt. Have a good friend and practiced angler take you under their wing and get you your first saltwater fish.

But what if all your buddies only golf? are gamers? How do you do it on your own, or gather a few of "the guys" for a first wildlife foraging foray at sea? Maybe you've only ever chased green bass. What if you and your pals are the kings of Crowley, but are ashamed to admit you've never fished anything heavier than 8-pound?

Here are a couple of good ways to break into the game on your own. The first issue is whether you feel you can stand up to the mighty Pacific. If you're not sure, then maybe a shorter trip is the best conservative strategy.

However, the first thing to note is the boats all run out of various sportfishing landings, as you've no doubt seen evidenced by their spreads in this very issue. They all offer full service, and you can sign up, show up with no tackle, and get set up with everything you'll need right there.

The second thing to be aware of not all quarry are created equal, and if you want easy success on tasty fish, the rockfish is your friend. Go where a local trip is targeting these guys. They bite little strips of squid readily. You don't have to cast, or pick the perfect live bait or get a spot on the stern. Plus the standard result is everybody on board catches several, -often a bag full.

Not only do those local trips stay where waters tend to be calmer, but if your sea-legs leave you at the dock anyway, you're only out for a few hours.

The only down side is local rockfish tend to be on the smaller side, compared to their outer waters cousins. But it's a lot better than an empty bag, and these critters are great table fare. That's always a plus on a first foray.

Santa Monica Bay has lots of rockfish area, and the local bottom fishing just gets better as you head northward. More southerly landings have their local rockfish moments, but tend to have more of a focus on the kinds of fish where it really helps to have a skilled and knowledgeable fishing mentor that first time out.

The other mentor-less newbie strategy I suggest is rather counterintuitive. Pick a San Diego style long-range trip and go for the gusto. Catch some big, flashy, line-pulling fish that will have your friends in awe and green with envy. A 5-dayer or longer should do.

Once again, the southern landings that offer these trips have all the right stuff and will set you up with just what you need. They don't load you down with stuff you don't. The rule in party-boating is, "you catch – you carry," and they want you to catch fish.

These longer trips are on the largest and nicest boats in the fleet. The areas they fish off the coast of Baja tend to have nice weather, and with 5 or more days, if there is weather for a day or two, there are lots of great places to fish, hidden out of the swell. Seldom do anglers fall victim to mal-de-mar on these trips, and if so, it's typically not for more than a day or so. It's a pretty safe bet in that regard.

Here the crews are big and the number of anglers on the boat is small, so there's always crew available to help coach. Plus, they go where fishing is really good. Once again, skillful line handling is usually not required to get a bite. If it is, the crew will do it for you, setting out kite baits and such.

If you can't cast, so what. If you can't pick out and pin on a good live bait, a crewman can pick a winner for you. If you pick bad bait, the fish are often so eager, you'll probably get a bite anyway. Instead of dropping straight down to the bottom with a big sinker and a squid strip for a 1-pound rockfish, you can fish a half-dead sardine the same way on the same kind of rig and snare a 20-pound yellowtail instead.

You'll have 5-plus days to figure it all out. If you blow it on day 1 out on the banks, there's another gorgeous sunrise coming on day 2. By day 3 you'll have met and made friends with everyone aboard. The accommodations are clean and comfortable, and the food is great on these long rangers.

If by some unlikely chance you still haven't gotten your first whopper by day 3, someone will surely hand you a rod with a fish already on the line. Fish only biting on the stern? Everybody gets a spot on the stern!

* * *

Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California partyboat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at:

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