CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Gary Graham's Blog

Dorado done disappeared
Throughout the spring and into the summer, weekly reports have been filled with complaints about … first, the lack of dorado … followed by grumbling that most being caught were the small schoolie-sized fish. They provided plenty of action for the light tackle and fly-guys to be sure with, in some cases, triple digit scores of released fish.

There have been a few bulls here and there. The Pisces fleet just reported catching a huge dorado that they think might have been a new IGFA World Record, but since it was filleted before it could be weighed, so it will remain a woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’ story.


throughoutthespringTHROUGHOUT THE SPRING and into the summer, weekly reports have been filled with complaints about … first, the lack of dorado … followed by grumbling that most being caught were the small schoolie-sized fish.

In the past several months, Baja has hosted the usual list of dorado-specific tournaments from Punta Chivato to Los Barriles including – Punta Chivato, "Bulls Only"; Mulege, "Bart Santos Memorial Dorado Tournament"; "Fishin’ for the Mission" in Loreto; Tripui Sports Fishing, "Dorado Tournament"; Puerto Escondido; and the "Dorado Shootout" at Los Barriles.


All shared a common theme — poor results. As an example, the most recent "Dorado Shoot Out" at Las Palmas in Los Barriles recently, reported 86 teams, consisting of 264 anglers, an impressive turnout by anyone's standards. The results, however, were dismal with only 6 dorado brought to the scale and the winning fish weighing a mere 12.9 pounds in the dorado category. The wahoo and tuna category was won with 2 wahoo that weighed 37- and 35.2-pounds.


All this only adds fuel to the ongoing debate among recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, marine biologists, local watchdog organizations, local government officials and international marine scientists as to why the "dorado done disappeared!"


Of course, there are as many opinions as there are the few dorado to go around. It begins with El Niño and its impact on the fishery as sea temps climb. All this leads to the observation that the sea temps in both the Sea of Cortez and the Eastern Pacific remained unusually warm all winter, which prevented the growth of the sargasso that seems so essential for a good dorado bite. Additionally, there’s the possibility of impacting the bait supply of both sardina (flatiron herring) in the Sea of Cortez and sardine up the West Coast of the Baja Peninsula.


Others are convinced that the demand for sardine/sardina to feed the fish in the explosion of tuna pens in the waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula is the culprit.


Add to that the local bait entrepreneurs that have become mobile with pick-up trucks designed to transport sardina caught in remote areas back to marinas where the demand is highest. When the sardina do appear, a fleet of pangas inevitably pounces on the hapless baitfish leaving only scales by the time they are finished.


There is no denying that all of the factors mentioned may be a significant part of this story. However, on a recent visit to La Paz, I sat down with Michael McGettigan – Founder of Sea Watch – an organization established in 1993 by a small bi-national group of Americans and Mexicans who shared a common fear that if left unchecked, many of the seemingly inexhaustible resources in the waters surrounding Baja and Mexico's mainland would in fact, be exhausted.


His view on the "dorado done disappeared" stretched back to the mid-1980s when 200 permits were issued initially in Manzanillo to longline sharks. The panga longliners began with 4 kilometer longlines and quickly realized that fishing during the day on the surface for sailfish and dorado was much easier and profitable. Within the year, they were landing between 150 and 200 tons of sailfish fillets monthly plus an unknown amount of dorado.


This panga longline fishery had over 700 boats working it by the late-1980s and along the coast of Sinaloa and Sonora hundreds of tons of dorado and sailfish were landed daily. During this period, between 80 and 100 tons of dorado were landed each day in Guaymas. Read that again: Each Day!


“During the height of the Guaymas-based fishery, the approximately 70 pangas in one local cooperativa were bringing more than 80 tons of dorado per day to the beaches located near the navy base in Guaymas,” McGettigan said. There were 10 times that many boats (700) working dorado just from the Kino to Guaymas area. “Seven years of illegal fishing by over 1,000 pangas had decimated the dorado fishery in the Sea of Cortez” and now 25 years later, dorado populations continue to decline in the Sea of Cortez. More information can be found at: http://seawatch.org/wp/2015/06/24/panga-longliners-de-manzanillo-why-the-sail-fish-are-severely-depleted/


On my most recent trip to Baja Sur, the lack of dorado was evident everywhere. And when they finally showed near the tip of Baja, the small yellowfin tuna were greeted by a fleet of seiners ready to scoop them up … regardless of size.


All of the above leads to the obvious conclusion that the commercially viable food fish are clearly suffering from overfishing; while other species not as tasty or more difficult to commercially fish, seem to be holding their own.


Merit McCrea's Blog

Test run
Finally after missing the best of the bite on the 150 and two weeks of big tuna in local waters our little skiff was ready for a test run.

Off to Dana Point Harbor we go. We launch, and the boat fires up nicely. In line at the bait receiver are both CCA-CAL board member Jim Salazar and Ben Secrest of Accurate Reels. Everingham Bait has 9-inch mackies mixed with 7-inch ’dines, perfect.


Just offshore of San Onofre or “The Domes” a knot of private boats has gathered. We are running down the outside to get a better view of our options, and though it’s tempting to check out the fleet, I think that temptation is probably what built the fleet in the first place, and not much life shows in there. Are boats there simply because other boats are there?


wendytochiharascoed

WENDY TOCHIHARA SCORED this 70-pound bluefin within sight of San Onofre, on 50-pound Izorline and a large live mackerel. The fish aren’t line shy, with the right bait.


We head on to look at an area just a few miles below, one that had been consistent over the previous day or two. I rig 40-pound and a big ringed circle hook, matching the bait we had, go big or go home!


We still weren’t seeing much, and off in the distance another smaller group of boats are gathered. It has a better look to it. The water is 73.6 degrees, a few petrels and turns scout the area.


There we find the Sea Adventure 80 in a drift. We soak baits for a few while glassing. Then, off in the distance, porpoise! We run for them. And Wendy Tochihara gets bit! She’s on. I snap off a picture and tell her, “in case that’s all we get.” Tempting fate like that is no good. A few minutes later her hook pulls.


We spend a bunch of time with the porpoise; toss all kinds of stuff, no more takers. In fact, it’s pretty clear that the herd avoids us. They make steady northwest progress. At one point we shut down well ahead of them. They stall, the herd splits and circles outside us on either side, staying well away.


Porpoise never do that, but they are following the fish, and it’s the fish that are doing it. We finally give up on the boat-shy bunch and work our way back up the line. There is a nice break, petrels, little flecks of weed dot the crystal blue water.


Four or five other boats are in the general area and we simply park it on the up-wind end. We put out a pair of baits and go for the long soak on click. We drift quietly and it works. About 40 minutes in line rips from my Talica 12 II. I unclip, unclick and slide up the lever. It’s game on!


Line smokes from the reel and I’m wondering if it will stop, then it does and it’s steady gaining all the way. Soon there is deep color. Wendy offers to hang on while I gaff, but she’s been pretty sore since her 5-day on the Independence. As the fish comes into range I pick up the gaff and lift, the fish hits the surface outside, and not liking the pressure, peals off a quick 5 yards. I put the gaff down.


wonsaltwatereditor
WON SALTWATER EDITOR Merit McCrea baited this coastal yellowfin on 40-pound Izorline and a 9-inch live mackerel.

Wendy offers again, I look at her and she really does want to pull on the fish. A few turns later I pass off the rod and lower the boom on that fish, sinking steel deep into the chest of the 30-plus yellowfin. We’re ecstatic; we got tuna on our little coastal skiff!


It’s quiet again, we continue to drift. A fish comes aboard another boat in the distance. Over the water you can hear the high fives of success a long ways off.


It’s a half hour-later or more now and the afternoon is becoming evening. First my bait get’s nervous, pulls a few clicks from swell to swell. Then it’s hers, the clicker on her Avet LX starts to slowly rumble out, gaining speed as it goes.


She picks up the rod and slides the lever forward, makes a few steady turns and the line comes tight, pulls a little off the reel, then she’s winding. There is a little pressure but not much. She winds hard to keep the line taught, but it’s not even clear the fish is really on there.


She gets most of her line back and it’s straight up and down. The rod lunges hard and the fight is on. Having charged the boat and saved most of its energy it’s a massive back and forth tug of war. She’s on Izor 50-string, and after having pulled one hook she switched up to a 4/0 ringed circle.


She goes to the rail, but it’s a little low. I pull out a big Pelican box for her to sit on. It’s back and forth around the bow. She doesn’t have to follow, the fish drags the bow as it circles. But each time she crosses the bow, 2 or 3 turns come onto the spool. I can see it’s hurting her, but she’s not giving up. She’s convinced it’s hurting the fish more, and that’s all that matters to her.


Finally a little shine down there, it must get murky at depth, the silhouette is pretty big. The fish comes into full view, I quietly break out a second gaff and set it where it’s ready. Some minutes later the fish is circling nearly to the surface on the outside. I go to the rail with the gaff and the fish digs deep as it circles under.


I look, I can make it work. Digging deep I get the hook under the fish, but with so little of the gaff left in hand, it finds home fairly far back mid-belly. Buried deep into tough section of skin and gristle, the big fish hangs slightly head down nonetheless.


It’s all I can do to get that tail above the water fast before bad things can happen, and when it clears the fish fairly pops from the surface, but by the time the hook is over the rail, momentum is fading fast. I lean back hard and the fish slides over the bar and falls solidly into the boat.


It’s a nice blue, I tell her 50 or 60. In the box it makes my 30-pound yellowfin look like a peanut. We fish for a few more minutes, maybe a half-hour, but our main goal was to test run the boat. We have no ice.


We hit the Dana Fuel Dock just at closing. Fully bled-out, Wendy’s fish pulls the certified scale at 69.3, an easy 70-pounder when it was landed.


They’re not line shy, just boat shy.


* * *


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: merit@wonews.com.


Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Bluefin…north of the border
The past week has seen some very good days of offshore fishing with yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dorado and yellowtail biting. The area of fish remains widespread with good catches being reported from the Catalina Channel on down to the waters outside of the Coronado Islands.



The quality size of the fish available in local offshore waters remains outstanding. The bluefin being hooked have ranged from 20 to 200 pounds and the yellowfin have been in the 20- to 100-pound class. The yellowtail have been running from 5 to 35 pounds and the dorado have ranged from small throwback sized fish up to fish that are up in the 20- to 25-pound class.


Some of the best fishing of the past couple of days has been found by boats fishing 2 to 8 miles off the coast between San Onofre and Dana Point. There has also been some good action going on for boats fishing 8 to 12 miles off the coast between Oceanside and Encinitas. Today's fishing is also seeing an increase in action for boats fishing kelp paddies found between the 14 Mile Bank and the 267 Spot outside of Dana Point. Down in the San Diego region, productive areas have been the 9 Mile Bank, the 178 Spot, the area 6 to 12 miles off La Jolla, the 182 Spot and the 224 Spot.


As an ongoing reminder, anglers and skippers need to keep in mind that the fishing for bluefin tuna remains closed in Mexican waters and that any bluefin caught in Mexican waters must be released.


The tuna have been biting from spots of breaking fish, kelp paddies, porpoise schools, trolling strikes, meter marks and sonar marks. Once tuna are located, productive baits and lures have been sardines, mackerel, Megabait style iron, Shimano Flat Fall iron, Shimano Colt Sniper iron, Tady 45 surface iron and Salas 7X light surface iron. In addition to drifted sardines and mackerel, slow trolled sardines and mackerel have also been very effective. Productive trolling lures have been cedar plugs, Rapalas, Halcos and assorted feathers.


On Thursday evening I talked with Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing in Oceanside who fished a 3/4 day offshore trip with a family group of 6 dads and 10 kids and caught 34 yellowfin tuna. He said they had a 6.5 hour stop where they steadily picked away at the tuna on live sardines while chumming with sardine chunks. The stop began from stopping on a sonar mark that Cacciola found while fishing about 8 miles outside of San Onofre at 43 miles 317 degrees from Point Loma. The yellowfin tuna were ranging in size from 22 to 30 pounds.


Private boater Mike Mason of the Lindsay Anne reported that his boat partner Lorenzo fished on Thursday and caught 6 yellowfin tuna that went to 90 pounds. They also had a couple of the larger sized yellowfin that were up in the 40 to 50 pound range. The action was had from a long stop where they drifted and hooked and occasional fish while fishing inside of the 182 Spot at 22 miles 263 degrees from Point Loma.


Private boater Bryan Kono reported about fishing out of Dana Point on Thursday. He said they had a great morning of fishing for a mix of bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna and caught 9 mixed fish. Their biggest bluefin was a 40 pound fish and the biggest yellowfin weighed 30 pounds. The rest of their fish were also of quality size and were running about 25 pounds.


Kono said that they caught their fish on drifted sardines and on slow trolled sardines in an area where they were getting meter marks and he reported that the tuna responded well to the chunks of sardines they were using for chum. They found this hot action while fishing 5 miles outside of Dana Point which is 52 miles 317 degrees from Point Loma.


The fishing along the San Diego County coast has been very good for a mix of sand bass, calico bass, barracuda and yellowtail. Some of the better areas for yellowtail are Imperial Beach, the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma, La Jolla and the Barn Kelp.


Private boater John Carroll of the Huachinango reported fishing the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma on a recent trip and catching 8 of the 20 to 30 pound yellowtail along with several log sized barracuda and 2 to 4 pound bonito. Most of their fish were caught on slow trolled sardines but they also had some action on surface iron and on drifted sardines.


Captain Joe Cacciola of the Sea Star with Sea Star Sportfishing reported that there has been excellent calico bass fishing at kelp bed areas at San Onofre, the Barn, Leucadia, Solana Beach and Del Mar. He says the yellowtail have also been biting pretty well along the edges of the kelp at the Barn. On a recent trip they came into the kelp beds at the Barn after spending some time fishing offshore and found wide open calico bass fishing on quality sized fish that went to 6 pounds. He said that it was limit type fishing but that his anglers only wanted to keep enough for dinner and let the rest go.


The calicos have been biting well on the medium sized sardines and on sardine chunks. Cacciola said they have also been doing very well with a brown and white Waxwing jig. They also regularly hook large yellowtail while fishing along the edges of the kelp incidental to their fishing for the calico bass but he says that the majority of the yellowtail that are hooked are lost from getting tangled in the kelp.


There is some great fishing going on both offshore and along the coast. I hope you get a chance to get out on the water and get in on the fun sometime soon.


* * *

It is my goal to provide you timely and accurate information in these reports containing news from right off the water. If you require more details that include the specific location of where catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at www.976bite.com. Those Member’s Reports contain additional specifics that include latitude and longitude coordinates and other descriptive references about where and how fish are being caught. Make the most efficient use of your precious time on the water with the use of timely and accurate information.


Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament

Huge tuna in Cabo to 257 pounds


 Cabo Jackpot updates, from the director…



To download the entry form CLICK HERE


Below is the roster for there 2015 WON/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament, now in its 16th year. 


This is the roster as of the first week of July. We are up in signups from last year's pace when we were headed for 150 boats but ended up with 131 teams (fantastic!) after Odile slammed into Baja six weeks before. So, we're pretty pleased. We are adding sponsors, s business is improved and maybe the Cabo folks were pleased we never wavered  when we said the tourney would go on no matter how many teams came, or cancelled after the hurricane. And, there's  a bunch of teams, I think, that are coming this year after their flights and hotels/condos were messed up with the hurricane and the had to cancel. Welcome back! 


I was just down in Cabo recently for meetings with vendors and sponsors in Cabo... The place looks as though nothing happened, although with this warm water being pushed up, they are wary of hurricanes this season.

 

We will have our annual  Tuna Jackpot  Preview supplement in a few weeks, the end of July, and it will also be published digitally for this wonews.com blog and linked to our official CTJ website www.loscabostunajackpot.com. Stay tunes. Lot of great stories. One of them is about the work done with the $50,000 donated for rebuilding homes. Gary Graham is on that story. Some great work being done these last six months to rebuild homes. There is also a story on that $15,000 trip to Florida for four anglers that was hosted  by Costa, Yo-Zuri and Gray Taxidermy. The guys are back from the trip, and it's a helluva story. First class trip, as promised.


There's a lot of info on new sponsors like Okuma reels, who jumped at the chance to sponsor the biggest tuna tournament in the world. Welcome to the fun, folks. The Okuma continent will be down, maybe even competing. They love to fish the big tuna with their Makaira reels that are getting rave reviews by the big game tuna guy around the world. 


The other big story will be about the new charity we are giving all proceeds to in our charity efforts (silent auction, clothing sales, Costa gear sales, Grand Prize Drawing and a live auction of maybe another amazing trip. We will see). The new charity is Smiles International that comes to Cabo at least twice a year, doctors who perform facial surgery on children with various disfigurements, free of charge. Hope you will support our efforts to fund this organization. Just $1,000 ensures four operations. I hope we raise more than $20,000, a very doable goal. 



Let's see, the other bit of news is that the Fiesta on Friday is being moved from the Tesoro (formerly the Wyndham) on the malecon to an open area also on the malecon 200 yards south of Pisces near the Dolphin Adventure. It offers a bigger area, better sight lines, it's more festive, and having it there offers us more time for us and the vendors to set it up since the weigh-in area won't be in the way and have to be torn down. We can all relax, and enjoy new  new music, great cuisine, more accessible bathrooms and it will be a more festive, fun  night overall.


To download the entry form CLICK HERE


  

 

This year we are introducing a new logo for the hats, by Legendary. Hope you like it. We will use the existing one for another year, but I like having a cool tuna, a version by artist Mark Rayor. 


The final bit of news is that Corona is back. Actually, the Corona girl is back. People were asking where they were (or she was) , and frankly, after the hurricane  the local distributor couldn't afford the models (which costs a lot to hire for all the events over four days) and this year they are all in, and are supplying all the tables  and chairs for the Fiesta, and free beer for the teams that weigh in. Drink up and celebrate in Cabo with Corona Extra!  


If you have signed up lately, you will be getting a confirmation, with an advisory on deadlines for jackpot payments, and also wiring instructions. Wiring  is much, much easier. All I can say at this time is that the water is warm, the fishing is very good, and Cabo is kicking out some big, big fish. The biggest we know of lately is this monster.

CABO COW – Fishing aboard the CISCO out of Picante Sportfishing, Brian Hurst of Huntington Beach locked up with this 257-pound yellowfin 32 miles due east of Land’s End, and after a 3-plus-hour fight during which he was nearly spooled 10 times  Hurst finally landed himself what he described as, “an incredible fish of a lifetime!”

Again, détails on the 16th annual  évent can be found in an easy  to read format, plus videos, etc. at 

www.loscabostunajackpot.com


  Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot roster 2015 (as of June 29)

1 Minerva 3 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers 4 To Fish

Jerry Garcia Tony Phillips Ed Gugel Jim Gobbi

2 C-Rod USA

Team Captain Team Anglers AMZ

Joe Zuccolotto Robert Ellenwood Chiara Zuccolotto Ariana Zuccolotto

3 Karma III USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Buckeye Tuna

Jamie Greer Dave Dunton Lance Gildner Mike Joseph

4 Gaviota VI Canada

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Clearwater

Dale Bigelow Kent Cook Cliff Cook Curtis Cook

5 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Chick Sticks

Bob Solee

6 El Budster Pride USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Brew Crew

Garet Tarvin Gary Tarvin

7 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Hillbilly Yacht Club

Tawnya Stevens

8 Moracha USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Aquaholics

Donny Green Kevin Sheire Alex Francisco Will Hansen

9 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Purity Organics

Nick Koretoff

10 Ursala II USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Pole Jerkers

Saul Hinajosa Frank Pattison Jesse Vela Mike Penalver

11 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Stink Finger

Rick Bradley

12 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers WIN-TEAM

Pamela Lorenz

13 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Pillage

Ron Bauer

14 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Pendejadas

Job DeHorta

15 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers

Joseph Simmons Erik Simmons Sean Horvath George Wilson

16 Mucho Loco I, 28 Ft. USA

Team Captain Team Anglers AOTB 1

James Strum Randy Hall Edward C Smith Dwight C Makell

17 Ursla III USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Aquaholics II

Chris Gordon Rip Knight Ryan Shaw Mario Losoya

18 Top Gun, 30 Ft. USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Is It Legal

John Clatt Annie Clatt Ray Love Scott Love

19 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Tight Lines

Ron Flores Scott Marvel Riff Ferriera Todd Marvel

20 Halcon USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Tunacious Trollers

Jerod Paul Paul Asher Gary Hood Mike Maki

21 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers

Michael Vise Wade Smith Todd Rice Joe McKinnon

23 Adrenaline USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Klamath's Best

William Hamilton Ben Wolf Tim Babcocio   

24 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Bloody Decks

Chip Johnston

31 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Tundra

Richard Berghoefer

33 Minerva VI, Tiara, 33 Ft. USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Hook Line & Drinkers

Kevin Dunn

34 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers

Cancellation 

37 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Idaho

Scott Miley

42 Ruthless USA

Team Captain Team Anglers In It Tuna Win It

Mike King Mike Magill Jimmy Klein Mike Moser

43 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Jose's Hookers

Brent Johnson

47 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Ha "Tuna" Matata

Randal Wren

52 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Sooner Tuna

C. Scott Sanders

53 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Sierra Gold & Coin

John Engelhardt

55 La Brisa, Bertram, 31 Ft. USA

Team Captain Team Anglers NorCal Chasers

Jason Gonzales Art Garcia Jamal Miles

66 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers

Bradley Erickson

69 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Deep Blue Marine

Scott Golden

71 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Peligro

Alex Romans

77 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Team Tuna Down

Stuart Webber

89 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers MT Pockets

Jud Smith

111 Tantrum, California, 28 Ft. USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Get Some

Lauren Franco Jeff Faulkner Sr Jamie Faulkner Jeffery Faulkner

124 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Cabo Tuna Cowboys

Russell Gall Chris Wilson Tim Elam Courtney Lehman

128 USA

Team Captain Team Anglers Vaqueros del Mar

John Harper Frank Sirianni Bobby Wright Randy Mays

 


Jim Niemiec's Blog

Central Coast habitat ideal for big game
Most of the Central Coast region, at least from the coastline to about 10 miles inland, received ample rains this past winter, spring and even into the early summer months. Coming off 3 years of severe drought, rains were a welcome reprieve for hunters, ranchers and outfitters. Stock tanks and seasonal streams got replenished with some water, while bigger lakes like San Antonio, Santa Margarita and other smaller lakes, fell victim to record lows which either forced the closing of these popular angling lakes or really hindered access to the water.

hoghuntingshouldbe
HOG HUNTING SHOULD BE VERY GOOD FOR BITTERWATER OUTFITTER HUNTERS — Outfitter Clayton Grant, owner of Bitterwater Outfitters, has been putting hunters on lots of big hogs for well over a decade. Western Outdoor News has successfully hunted pigs and turkey with Grant who is pictured above with a huge boar that was harvested back when this outfitter hosted lots of hunters to annual Pig Pistachio Run hunts. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

The Central Coast is a Mecca for big game(Tule elk, deer, hogs and exotics), turkey, upland game bird hunting and varmint plinking. Today most of the good hunting occurs on ranch property that has been leased for hunting by a number of outfitters based out of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties. While the prime ranch land is surrounded by the vast Los Padres National Forest, access to this forest is difficult due to road closures which makes for poor hunting potential. In addition the three military bases surrounding ranch land, two of which offer up hunting to the general public by advance notification and permits, often there are closures due to war games and live ammunition activities often restrict access during hunting seasons.


One of the largest and most successful guiding operations in the Central Coast region is Bitterwater Outfitters (805) 610-4521, owned by master guide Clayton Grant. Grant started hunting well over a decade ago on the family ranch located at the head of Bitterwater Valley and has now has amassed over 265,000 acres of prime hunting property for a wide variety of big game animals and upland game birds. In addition to offering consistent FREE RANGE hunting, hunters can opt to hunt exotics on over 4,000 acres of range land that is located only a short drive from the hunt lodge on the main ranch.


Western Outdoor News checked in with Grant to get his take on what late summer and fall hunting will be like in this region.


"We are seeing lots of hogs heading to wheat fields and there is plenty of grain on the ground. I don't see any slowing of the number of wild pigs that are coming to these fields every night making for some very good hog hunting. Our clients are shooting some big tuskers, lots of meat pigs and occasionally a hunter will harvest a dry sow. My guides are experts at locating game on the move and moving hunters into position for a good clear shot. After a hog is harvested the guide will drag the animal up to an ATV, load it and bring it back to hunt camp where it is capped, cleaned, hung to cool in our large cold box and then transferred to a meat locker for processing.


Looking ahead to the Zone A deer season it's looking pretty good. Grant and his guides, while out on hog hunts, have been seeing lots of bucks that are still in velvet.


"I think that deer season for the coastal region will be good, maybe not great but there are some dandy racks growing on ranches that have a good food source, available cover and plenty of water. I believe that late season Zone A hunts will offer up some pretty good opportunities at harvesting some basket 3x3 bucks and some very wide forkies. Hunting pressure is likely to be light and many outfitters will be managing their deer herd to offer up the best hunting potential for clients," stated Grant.


Another top outfitter that hunts hogs, deer and turkey on a number of private ranches located on coastal hills closer to the Pacific ocean is Oak Stone Outfitters based out of Bradley.


"Hog hunting has been very good this summer now that there is plenty of wheat and other crops on the ground. There isn't a ton of water out there for the hogs, so they are heading to stock tanks on private ranches for a drink. It also looks like the acorn crop is coming along so there should be food available under the shade of oak trees as the summer heat increases. I am also seeing some nice looking bucks sporting some decent racks this early in the summer," said veteran guide Chad Wiebe.


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