Pat McDonell's Blog

LB Hall show debuts tackle

The right stuff unveiled: a preview


You may have noticed the week's issue is a little heavier when pulling it out of the mailbox, and truth be told, even at 136 pages, it could have been a lot bigger. There is a lot to promote and talk about for the upcoming 5-day Fred Hall Fishing show (March 1-5 at the Long Beach Convention Center)  to talk about, and we covered it pretty well in the 100-page, 3-section preview. 

More than 500 booths, 400 seminars in at least five areas. It's all there in the preview and program. You can go the 100-page flip-style full-color preview at this link


NEW TACKLE for 2017 will be everywhere in Long Beach, particularly from Daiwa with its expanded Saltiga line, and these new tackle items can obtained via special show deals from retailers.

The kids pond, duck races, new boats and resorts are all given their due, but for me the big draw at the Hall show is tackle and how to use it. New stuff and seminars. What is truly new, and the fact is, technology is changing and it is due to super braid fishing lines. This are by no means the only tackle debuts. There are many, but these caught my eye. The show program has most of them. Get a copy when you through the door.

LEON TODD is bringing out several new Calstar models for the show: the 7470H, 7470XH,7 470XXH and the7 470XXXH for laying wood to big tuna on the rail, and for WSB boys, the new GFGR 7400M, a rod previously available only as a blank.

CALSTAR RODS: This is the best production rod in the world since 1984. Seeker is good, but Leon Todd’s Calstar quality is bulletproof, and Calstar’s rolling out several new models at the Hall shows this year. Rail rods are killing big tuna, and to keep the pressure on the big tuna they are bringing out several new models for the show. Look for the 7470H, 7470XH,7 470XXHandthe7470XXXH that are made with a different mandrel which provides for a slightly heavier rod for increased power when laying wood to a big tuna.

My favorite newbie for a variety of fish, including WSB, yellows and tuna (not the big ones) is the GFGR 7400M, a rod available only as a blank, but now comes on the scene a production rod. By popular demand from anglers and their tackle shops. Give the customers what they want. The 7400M casts like a dream with a light tip but plenty of backbone to turn hefty fish. Buy a Calstar stick at the show, get a free Calstar t-shirt.

AHI’s new Deception Cedar plugs.

AHI: As usual, the Gardena company will have their full line of lobster gear, along with their lobster tank with local California spiny lobsters. Promar will be releasing their new line of floating ProFloat Nets that are perfect these nets are great for kayakers, float tubers, or wade anglers. Of greatest importance, they will unveil a new line of cedar plugs designed with their patented Live Deception technology which did damage to the huge bluefin we saw last season. The plugs look super cool. Maybe we will get albacore this year as well as bluefin. Hell of a combination.

DAIWA: Daiwa’s Saltiga SD, the top dog in the Daiwa star drag series of reels, was introduced early 2016 in 10 and 15 sizes. New for 2016-17 Saltiga added sizes 20H, 30H, 35H, 40H and 50H size in a 6.4:1 gear ratio that pulls in almost 40 inches per crank.

In the larger 40A and 50A sizes the Saltiga comes in a lower 5.1:1 gear ratio. These are beautiful, precision reels. The machined aluminum free floating spool offers more manageable casting, combined with an internal centrifugal cast control.

Also new from Daiwa is J-BRAID X4, thinner and stronger, using the amazing Dyneema material, now the industry’s benchmark material for line strength. This is great stuff, with abrasion resistance, yet it’s easier to tie, lighter, stronger and thinner. It is offered in fluorescent yellow, dark green and island blue in 6, 8,10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65 and 80-pound test in 150-, 300- and 3,000-yard spools

AVET 's first run of there G2's will be in a special Neptune's Heart limited color combo.

AVET: The new G2 reels are available for casting at the Hyatt Lagoon, and if give ‘em a go, you get free hat. I was told first run of G2s will be made in what is being called “Neptune's Heart” limited edition color combo, just an insane look, with the standard color options to be released soon after. The G2 is a new series to fill in the line class gap between the originals and the Raptors.

The original SX is a 20-pound class reel. Setting the drag appropriately for 30-pound maxes the drag out to its absolute limits. The SX Raptor on the other hand, is a 40- to 50-pound class reel. It will handle appropriate drag setting for 30-pound, but its at the very bottom end of the drag curve The SX G2 will be the just right "Goldielox" right inbetween that puts 30-pound line class right in the middle with plenty of adjustment margin to go up or down a line class or two. The same applies for the rest of the models up to the LX. The HX originals and HX Raptors already have a decent overlap, so there isn’t really a need for a G2 to fill the gap.

The G2 Single speeds also answer the demand for single speed reels with more drag output with a 40 percent increase. The gear ratios for the G2 single speed will be the same as the original single speeds, and G2 2-speeds will be the same as the original (and Raptor) 2-speeds, which have proven to have best ratio between torque and speed. All G2 models will have the same increased line capacities as the Raptors.

Costa intros five new styles at the Hall show. Pictured is the Bloke.


COSTA: There are five new sunglasses  in its Core collection,  the Bloke, Reefton, Kiwa, Tasman Sea, and Whitetip, and all can be seen at this year’s Fred Hall Show.

“All five of these new Core styles are not only exceptionally functional on the water but also provide comfort and style for time off the boat,” says John Sanchez, vice president of product design for Costa. “We focused on creating durable frames with technical design elements that increase coverage and reduce glare. This provides our core anglers with the features they need for comfort and the technical advantages for improved performance on the water.”

Like all Costas, each frame has been constructed with quality and built for adventure. These five new styles are 100 percent polarized and come equipped with Costa’s patented 580 technology.  It's C-WALL coating on the lenses forces water to bead up and fall off, creating an essentially smudge-free perspective. The lenses are available in either polycarbonate or glass and are scratch resistant.

Roddy will unveil five affordable but high-end models of its R2S two-speed spinning reels.

RODDY: Master Fishing Tackle has a new series of two-speed spinning reels. You get versatile retrieve options for working lures and baits plus cranking power when you need it. The new Roddy R2S Series features five models covering light to heavy-tackle fishing, each featuring Quik-Select on-the-fly shifting between high and low retrieve speeds. Gear ratios vary with model: the light-duty R2S20 and R2S30 models feature gear ratios of 6.7:1 (H) and 4.7:1 (L). The medium-duty R2S50 cranks at 6.3:1 (H) or 4.3:1 (L).

Two heavy-duty models, the R2S60 and R2S80, provide retrieve speeds of 5.4:1 (H) and 3.6:1 (L). The ability to select speeds lets anglers impart the ideal action to top water lures, crankbaits, swimbaits while providing the power needed to bring big fish to the boat.

These reels won’t break your bank account at under $200 will be available at the Long Beach show for the first time! If you can’t wait, check them out at

THE ACCURATE VALIANT has the TwinDrag system for ultra-smooth, consistent pressure up to 30 pounds drag pressure. Small, powerful, light, beautiful to hold.

ACCURATE: The Accurate boys Dave and Doug Nilsen with dad Jack will introduce their newest addition of the BV-500-sized single speed and two-speed reels in the popular Valiant series. Light, powerful with dual drags, and these are beautiful to hold much less fish with.

The Valiants are ideal for striped marlin, sailfish, tuna, white seabass, yellowtail, striped bass and other saltwater targets. The lever drags include BV-500 (6:1 retrieve) and BV-500N (6:1 retrieve narrow) single speed reels, as well as new BV2-500 and BV2-500N two-speeds.

Every Valiant has an aircraft grade aluminum frame that delivers structural integrity of a reel twice its size. The TwinDrag system provides ultra-smooth, consistent pressure, up to 30 pounds max drag, precision-cut stainless steel gears that mesh perfectly together for unsurpassed cranking power, while seven shielded and sealed class-5 ABEC bearings and one ARB bearing ensure ultra smooth, reliable operation.

Anglers looking for and unbelievable single-speed lever drag reel can choose between the BV-500 or the BV-500N (narrow version), both featuring a blazing 6:1 gear ratio that rips in 45.05 inches of line with each turn of the handle. The BV-500 holds 500 yards of 50-pound test braided line, while the BV-500N holds 350 yards of 50-pound test braid.

Those in the market for a “best of class” two-speed can opt for Accurate’s BV2-500 of the BV2-500N. Both of these new Valiant two-speeds enable you to switch back and forth easily between a high-speed 6:1 retrieve and a winch-like 4:1 gear ratio with the simple touch of a button.

TADY: The new 14A series of jigs are unveiled to the public at the Fred Hall Show. They’ve been killing yellows all winter off San Quintin Bay and Punta Colnett. The 14A is a heavier jig that is available in both surface and yo-yo iron. The surface version checks in at 3.5 ounces. This heavier weight allows for farther casts and creates a unique swim action. The bluefin better watch out this year.

Another key benefit of this new heavier jig is that it is ideal for fishing with today’s higher speed reels. The 14A is also available in yo-yo iron. These bad boys weigh 8.5 ounces which allows the angler to drop down quicker on meter marks and structure.

The 14A is available in regular paint colors, chrome, glow and hologram. Another great feature of the 14A is that it comes in treble and also beefy southern style tuna hooks. Again, think monster bluefin, folks.

THE EASY SHIFT BUTTON on the Makairas by Cal's plus new blueprinting models and new gearing for two-speeds.

CAL’S REELS: The shop that “hotrods” out-of-the-box reels celebrates 30th year and 29 years of exhibiting at Hall shows has many new products, but the big news is the new “Easy Shift Button” for the Okuma Makaira reel that makes shifting a breeze. Cal’s is now blueprinting the big-game Makairas and offering custom blueprinting and building of Avet 30 and larger reels, Accurate ATDs, Daiwa SLT Lever Drag, Okuma Makaira, Penn International, Shimano Tiagra and Talica reels. On top of all this, they have added new high and low gearing to most heavy-duty lever-drag reels.

THE TRANX 300 and 400s will be in limited supply.

SHIMANO: The company has come out with long-awaited 300 and 400 versions of its baitcasting level-wind Tranx. The reel is all-new, but not as big as you would think. It comes in different power handle configurations, and left-handed too, by popular request. The Hall show will be it’s debut for sales and showing it off. The reel will sold on a limited amount, by design, and likely only enough will be around by Thursday evening. Pretty amazing reel, and the biggest surprise is that it costs about $300. That’s about $100 less than what most retails – and execs at Shimano – thought.

GRUNDENS 12-inch high “foldable” boots debut with an insole is comprised of two separate levels, or “decks.” Top of the line, worth the $130 price tag.

GRUNDENS: This company, with its roots in commercial fishing, does it right when it does it. Does that make sense? Grundens newest product is the 15-inch Deck-Boss fishing boot, with a rigid toe cap and an injection molded upper that eliminates delamination and cracking. Patented “Herkules Grip” synthetic rubber technology also provides superior traction on wet surfaces. The flexible upper folds down when the full the 15-inch height is not needed and a 1-inch groove holds a durable silicone band that keeps pants out of the muck and your legs dry.

The boot’s interior is a comfortable with a unique patented insole that is engineered to mimic the bilge space in a boat. It’s comprised of two separate levels, or “decks.” Stop by their booth and they will explain the science and design of the insoles. Killer boots and worth the $130 price tag. It’s your feet, folks. I suggest you wear the best, it makes a fishing trip a lot more fun. My boots are trashed. So, the new Deck-Boss will be one of my purchases this year at the show. Don’t buy up all the size 12s you guys!

Izorline Premium Co-Polymer Mono and Crimp Kit will help you catch more wahoo, and save a few bucks!

IZORLINE:Wahoo don’t eat the steel leader as well as mono or fluoro and that’s no secret. It’s the classic wahoo problem, more bites with many lost fish or less bites with more landed fish. Many anglers opt to use a heavy fluoro carbon leader when tying up wahoo leaders for jigs and bombs to be able to get away with a heavier line but still enjoy benefit of your lure having maximum action. Seasoned long ranger and Izorline Pro Staffer Jim Duntley has noticed over the years that he has found a solid ratio of bites to landed fish by using Izorline 150-pound mono that he connects by using the tools in the Izorline Crimp Kit. The thing that makes this set-up so appealing is the fact that mono is significantly cheaper than fluoro. Izorline Premium Co Polymer mono come in convenient 50 yards coil or 100 yards wrist spools in clear and in marine blue. The crimp kit includes everything you would need, abundant supply of aluminum crimps and anti-chafing springs. Crimp kits are available with or without crimping tool.

See you at the show. I’ll be at the WON subscription booth Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. We will have two both.

Pat McDonell is editor of WON, and director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot. He can be reached at

Gary Graham's Blog

Snook, Robalo or Snipe?
Recently, in one of those “Show Me Your Favorite Fish” challenges on Facebook, (bear with me, I know many of you who read this column don’t know Facebook from a good book), I was tagged and chose a photo of a black snook that I had caught in 2010 while fishing with Dennis Braid when he was shooting an episode of his “Monster Fish” series. The photo drew lots of attention.

RECENTLY, IN ONE of those “Show me your Favorite Fish” challenges on Facebook, (bear with me, I know many of you who read this column don’t know Facebook from a good book).

Beginning in the mid-’70s, snook has often been the topic of conversation in columns written by Ray Cannon, Tom Miller, Fred Hoctor, Gene Kira and Neal Kelly. Their ‘intel’ was sketchy as only Cannon and Kelly had actually caught snook; the others had written stories that were basically hearsay.

Nearly three decades ago, I journeyed to Puerto San Carlos in search of what some considered Baja’s version of snipe, determined to prove snook’s existence in Magdalena Bay.

I stayed at Brennan’s Hotel and was very fortunate to hook-up with Enrique Soto, a local bi-ingual guide who had spent his life fishing those waters. Ed Brennan assured me that Enrique knew the local mangroves like the back of his hand and was the go-to guy to help me find the elusive snook.

Enrique had an amigo, Ramon, a commercial diver, who was familiar with the areas where snook resided. Would Ramon be willing to share the location? Fortunately, because I was fly fishing and not fishing with conventional tackle, he didn’t consider me much of a threat to his livelihood, especially when I explained that I would release every fish I hooked. (I have to this day never tasted snook.)

After a lengthy conversation with Enrique and Ramon, I struck a deal that Ramon would show me his most productive spots and Enrique would provide the panga for the trip. In return I would pay them separately and after being sworn to secrecy on the actual locations, we were off.

For three days we zipped up and down the mangrove-lined channels, some so narrow I could touch the overhanging mangroves on both sides, while others were wider than Interstate 5.

In retrospect, Ramon was generous with his knowledge of Magdalena Bay and didn’t hold back any information. Talk about a crash course in Snook 101, Ramon would motion here and there and Enrique would expertly guide his panga to the spot, interpreting as he explained the attributes of one spot after another.

We looked south to Isla Creciente north up to Devil’s Curve and above. He even allowed me to make a few casts here and there to confirm that the spots were fishy.

It became clear that the hundreds of miles of mangrove channels contained in the 132-mile long Magdalena Bay created by five barrier islands held many secrets and only begrudgingly offered almost-hidden clues on how to master and understand the fishery.

Those three days were priceless and the knowledge that the two guides were willing to share provided a foundation for me to build on.

One of the interesting observations I learned while spending the three days looking at Ramon’s hot spots was a stark clue that could have easily been missed; tidal influence on the bay is significant and is always a consideration throughout the entire year.

Not always, but often enough to merit investigation, I noticed that many of those hot spots shared several similarities. The bottom would drop off rapidly from the bank caused by how the tidal flow current had eroded the shore; a hint that might be missed is that tops of the mangroves in that location are often silver instead of the usual verdant green because of the constantly exposed roots.

Once while fishing in the Florida Everglades with a local guide, I told him the silver top story and he had a puzzled look as I finished. I asked if that were true in Florida as well. “We usually keep that tidbit to ourselves,” he mumbled.

Since that first fateful week with Enrique and Ramon, many assumptions and absolutes have demanded reconsideration over the years. The entire area continues to be assaulted by commercial overfishing, beginning with sardines and working all the way up to gillnetted swordfish.

That said, Magdalena Bay still is my favorite fishing hole in Baja. While most know of the incredible offshore fishing found there in the late fall, the mangroves in late October and early November offer some extraordinary opportunities for trophy-sized snook.

Finding the snook is only one small part of snook fishing; catching them requires both patience and finesse.

It’s no secret that Baja snook are one of my favorite fish to catch. For the first time in a number of years my schedule will allow me to be there myself this year. See you there?

Merit McCrea's Blog

Showtime and social hour
The Wheelhouse Scoop

DANA AND WON, SIDE-BY-SIDE -- Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Western Outdoor News were neighbors at the PCS show in Costa Mesa last Friday through Sunday, as the rain poured outside. Billy Egan and Daniela Gavaldon held down the fort.

It's show season, time to book those charters for the season, high season for club's annual awards fetes, and of course time for regional fishing tackle, charter boat, guide service and boat shows. In SoCal the undisputed king of these is the 5-day Long Beach Fred Hall Show, which kicks off Wednesday, March 1.

But, this is just one of three regional Fred Hall events. There are other events too, including San Diego's Day at the Docks in April, and last weekend's Pacific Coast Sportfishing show at the Orange County Fair Grounds. It's a full-on sportfishing/outdoor enthusiast society season.

The Eastside Rod and Reel fish club kicked it off with their awards banquet. TV personality Dan Hernandez served as MC, sharing the microphone with Michio (Dr. Miki) Tochioka. Club chartermaster Bruce Tomlin again swept the top saltwater awards, scoring Deep Sea Fisherman of the Year and Fisherman of the Year.

The famous Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club has its awards banquet this weekend, and it promises to be a fun-filled family event as usual. Turner's Rod and Reel club meets monthly at Mimi's Restaurant in Monrovia. Harbour Rod and Reel Club had their Awards Brunch at the end of January.

One of the key things clubs do is provide folks opportunities to join private charter groups fishing on the most popular days in the season, on the best boats in the fleet. It's not uncommon for folks, like William Davis, to belong to and be active in more than one.

After the immense Long Beach Fred Hall Show, it's on to the 3-day Bakersfield Fred Hall Show starting Friday, March 10, the very next weekend, at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Included within this fishing tackle, boat and hunting show, will be one of the best and biggest RV shows in the west and a 1,500-car auto show. It’s the “new” Hall show but it’s been around three decades.

Just two weeks after that is the San Diego Fred Hall Show starting March 23. We all know it as "The Del Mar Show" for its venue at Del Mar Fairgrounds, actually a few miles north of San Diego proper. This show has almost every attraction the big Long Beach show offers, and indeed many of the same exhibitors, but in a more spread out and relaxed atmosphere.

Two weeks later, it's the renowned San Diego Day At The Docks event down at the Scott Street Landings' parking lot. It's Sunday April 9. In late April, San Pedro's 22nd Street Landing Sportfishing hosts its Day at the Landing event. By then folks are plenty eager to be out on the water.

But after show season winds down and summer season ramps up, there are other fun afternoon events, like the CCA-CAL's prize filled chapter fundraisers. The Los Angeles Chapter has their Summer BBQ slated for Saturday May 20th at the Long Beach Rod and Gun Club. The Orange County Chapter's Seafood Festival is June 24th at the Shimano Headquarters, and the San Diego Chapter has a Craft Beer and Food Fest Saturday August 26 at Portuguese Hall near Shelter Island.

CCA CAL will also have a big presence at each of the Fred Hall Shows, so you can find them there in front of the main entrance and re-up for this year again.

Of course WON will be there too, and you can make sure the latest copy of this paper, the real-deal cornerstone weekly, continues to show up at your doorstep.

Expect to meet and greet many friends as you make your way up and down the aisles at the Fred Hall Shows, and give yourself extra time to see the show, too.

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:

Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Stormy Weather Enters Weekend Fishing Picture!
The past couple of weeks have provided mostly good days of weather but all that has changed today (Friday, February 17,2017) with the arrival of a powerful storm that is already bringing strong winds and is forecasted to bring heavy rain as the day progresses. The stormy weather is forecasted to continue through the weekend with Gale Warnings currently posted for Southern California waters and other areas through Sunday evening. This is a storm forecasted to bring some serious weather and an ongoing reminder is to always be sure to check the latest marine weather forecast before you go boating or fishing.

Click on the image to get the best saltwater reports daily at

The fishing ahead of the current storm was somewhat similar to what it has been in recent weeks with the exception of more difficult fishing being reported from the Punta Colnett region. During much of the winter season boats fishing the Punta Colnett region have been doing well on a mix of yellowtail, reds, lingcod, bonito and assorted rockfish but the yellowtail bite slowed last weekend and was reported to be slow again when the last trip that I know of fished the area early in the week.

The most recent report comes from private boater Captain Bob Fletcher of the Fletch who fished aboard the Pacific Queen out of Fisherman's Landing on a trip down to the Punta Colnett area on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Fletcher said they started the day fishing outside of Punta Colnett and found the fishing to be slow. He said they saw a couple of small spots of yellowtail with scanning sonar but could not get them to respond to their baits and lures. Fletcher reported that even the rockfish fishing was on the scratchy side without much being seen with the fathometer and with it being overall picky fishing on the reds and assorted bottom fish. His report was that there was not much wind but that there was a good sized swell running and he felt that the rockfish were more widely scattered due to the influence of the swell conditions.

After giving the Punta Colnett area a try they ran down the coast about 15 miles to fish the Punta Camalu area. This has been a zone that has produced yellowtail action in recent weeks but they did not find any yellowtail activity while fishing off Camalu on Monday. Fletcher reported that they ran back up the line to finish their day of fishing off Punta Colnett. They picked away at some rockfish and reds and saw a couple of more small spots of yellowtail with scanning sonar that would not respond. Fletcher said he caught several reds during the day and that he was looking forward to having some tasty fillets on the dinner table.

When biting, the Punta Colnett yellowtail have been 12 to 25 pound fish and have been biting best on yo-yoed iron. Some productive heavy yo-yo jigs have been Salas 6X, Salas 7X and Tady 4/0 and some of the top colors have been blue and white, scrambled egg, dorado and a red crab like red. Mackerel and sardines have worked well for ling cod and sardines and strips of small rockfish fillet have been working well for the reds. Hopefully the Punta Colnett area bite will bounce right back once the current stormy weather settles down.

The few trips that have been fishing around and about the Coronado Islands have found good fishing for an assortment of bottom fish that usually include some nice sized reds and an occasional lingcod. The last three-quarter day trip to the Coronados that I know of was on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 when the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 19 anglers catch 1 lingcod, 95 whitefish, 86 rockfish and 8 sheephead. The Premier out of H&M Landing has been running weekday half day trips into Mexican waters targeting rockfish and on Thursday, February 16, 2017 they had 8 anglers catch 1 lingcod and 55 rockfish.

There has been an occasional flurry of surface fishing activity on bonito or yellowtail at the Coronados during the winter season but overall, the surface fishing has been slow. The weather side of North Island has been the best area to try and locate a yellowtail or bonito.

A good zone for the bottom fishing around the Coronados has been at hard bottom spots to the north and the northwest of North Island while fishing in the 35 to 55 fathom depths. Also productive has been fishing the 30 to 45 fathom depths along the outer ridge areas ranging from outside of South Island on down to where you are fishing outside of the South Kelp below South Island. The lower end of the 9 Mile Bank has also been producing some rockfish and an occasional lingcod while fishing on the Mexico side of the border.

An ongoing reminder to anglers is that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure remains in effect in Southern California waters until March 1, 2017. While the rockfish/groundfish closure is in effect anglers fishing Southern California waters continue to target species that remain open to fishing such as calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, halibut, yellowtail and white seabass.

The fishing for yellowtail along the San Diego County coast remains very scratchy but the best zone for a chance at a yellowtail during the winter season has been in the area between La Jolla and Mission Bay.

Within this stretch of coast between La Jolla and Mission Bay there have been three zones where sporadic yellowtail activity has been popping up in recent weeks. There has been a chance at finding some yellowtail action in the hard bottom area below and outside of the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach. The occasional showings of yellowtail in this zone have been reported while fishing below the MLPA closure zone at the lower end of La Jolla in 15 to 18 fathoms of water. Also worth a look has been the area outside of the middle part of La Jolla in 15 to 20 fathoms of water while fishing a short way above the MLPA closure zone that is located at the lower end of La Jolla. The third area that has provided a chance at finding some yellowtail activity has been outside of the upper end of La Jolla while fishing in 12 to 20 fathoms of water.

An area where there was some yellowtail activity reported seen as recently as Wednesday is at the Imperial Beach Pipeline. I did not hear of any yellowtail being caught but there were a few good sized yellowtail seen incidental to fishing bass and sculpin at the pipeline.

Not much to report on white seabass activity lately. The very occasional white seabass activity of recent weeks has been found incidental to fishing for yellowtail in the La Jolla region.

Mackerel have worked best for yellowtail and white seabass. Surface iron and yo-yo iron have also been working for the yellows which have been good sized fish that have been up in the 18 to 30 pound class.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sand bass, calico bass and sculpin and sandy bottom areas adjacent to the hard bottom and structure spots can be good places to try for a halibut. Recent halibut action has been reported while drifting the sandy bottom outside of the Golf Ball above Oceanside Harbor, at the sandy bottom adjacent to the Sunken NEL Tower off Pacific Beach and at the sandy bottom adjacent to the Yukon Shipwreck off Pacific Beach.

Specific productive areas for the bass and sculpin off the San Diego County coast have been Box Canyon, the artificial reefs outside of Oceanside, the Anderson and Buccaneer Pipelines, Carlsbad, Leucadia, the upper end of La Jolla, the Jetty Kelp in front of Mission Bay, the Green Tank at Point Loma, the Point Loma Pipeline, the hard bottom to the northwest of Buoy #3 at Point Loma, the hard bottom to the southeast of the Whistler Buoy at Point Loma and the Imperial Beach Pipeline.

* * *

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 significant catches have been made, I refer you to the daily Member’s Reports at . 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.

Pat McDonell's Blog

Updated story on huge PV tuna


A HAPPY COUPLE, Kevin Boyle and Sophia Huynh with his 413-pound yellowfin caught 15 miles from the  Tres Marias Islands off Puerto Vallarta on the Constitution.

BY PAT McDONELL, Editor, Western Outdoor News

Kevin Boyle and Sophia Huynh celebrated Valentines Day a week early with a trip they will always remember as Boyle scored a 413-pound yellowfin while aboard the PV-based sportfisher Constitution


PUERTO VALLARTA – Kevin Boyle and Sophia Huynh of West Hills, CA have been together for about a dozen years and fishing is a huge part of their lives together. Tuna fishing is high on their priority list, and have been aboard the Maximus and now the Constitution as customers and friends of owner/operator Capt. Keith Denette and his wife, Nicole.

The Constitution was the replacement for the Maximus when last May it sank off Cedros Island when Capt. Dennette and crew were bringing it back from Puerto Vallarta for maintenance and the summer San Diego tuna season. The boat split a seam and the pumps could not keep up, and the boat went down and the crew rescued by the tugboat Shannon Dann. Thankfully, there were no injuries. That was a tough time for the Denettes but after the insurance claim was settled, they purchased the Constitution from H&M Landing part owner/General Manager Frank Ursitti.

Soon the Denettes were back running their winter trips out of Puerto Vallarta to the Tres Marias Islands. Truth be told, the Maximus was sufficient, but long in the tooth. The main draw for the operation has been the skill of Denette in finding the Tres Marias area yellowfin in a short window of opportunity, usually over two or three days for anglers looking for a shot at big fish but at far less cost and time for a traditional long range trip out of San Diego.

The Constitution is a major upgrade in length and comfort, galley. Instead of 8 passengers, 12 can now be comfortably fished. No one was happier for Keith and Nicole than their friends Kevin Boyle and Sophia Huynh who regularly fish with Capt. Denette. Her largest yellowfin is 288 from their 2015 February trip and she landed a 250 pounder in this past April. And she has caught several fish in the high 100s.

Kevin Boyle has never caught a “cow” yellowfin tuna before last week. It is a sort of benchmark weight for big tuna hunters. Well, Boyle got a personal best, and it was not a “cow, or a 300-pound “super cow.” It was a “super duper cow” is there is such a term. Boyle caught a 413-pound yellowfin on a 3 1/2-day trip out of Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, and on Friday they landed at LAX Friday night and the couple gave me details on the catch and the thrilling trip for all 11 anglers. And during the weekend, added more, including top catches, more photos and a blow-by blow account of the fight .

 It should be said that Boyle, a 6-4, 240-pound landscape designer who often serves as a popular chartermaster on charter trips, has caught a bigger tuna, a bluefin of over 900 pounds at Prince Edward Island, but admits, "this is a whole different fish, a whole different ballgame." To catch a yellowfin that is twice as large as anything he has ever caught before, he said it was not just him.

“When it lands on the deck, pandemonium erupts. It’s all smiles and hi-fives as the cooperation of the other passengers, teamwork and professionalism of this phenomenal crew comes to fruition with this fish of a lifetime,” he recalled. “This is a moment that neither myself nor anyone else that was on the trip will ever forget.”

Boyle, 45, said the fish was part of an incredible trip with a group of friends, including Nicole Denette who was on her first Puerta Vallarta trip aboard the new sportfisher that is getting rave reviews, providing a whole new level of comfort, deck room, crew, and cuisine. And now these huge fish, which Capt. Denette says have been in the area 12 to 15 miles off the Tres Marias Islands for weeks now, and he is certain there are bigger fish out there. Much bigger. A longliner last week turned in a yellowfin over 500 pounds to the PV fish market.

For the record, it was caught on a Super Seeker 6463 4x, Okuma Makaira 50, Tuff-Line 130-pound braid, Izorline 135-pound leader and a Mustad Sea Demon R39943NP-BN 9/0 hook. This beast ate a double cabbie on a balloon rig on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. Fish taped out at 86 inches long and had a 62-inch girth to come out on the formula to 413.23 pounds. By comparison, the world record El Suertudo fish in 2012 taped at 88X63.5 inches.

“I know people will say it wasn’t weighed, it was taped, but there’s no place to hang a fish at Paradise Village where the boat comes in,” said Boyle. “It’s okay by me.”

There were other boats in the general area, including the Apollo and Journeyman and several yachts and internet has been chugged with pictures of big fish in the 200-pound class by various operations, and tales of heartbreak. One rumor last week had a fish on the Journeyman that was taped at well over the world record of 427 pounds in December, 2012 by owner Guy Yocum of the yacht El Suertudo on a run 150 miles out of Cabo.

Boyle's 413-pound fish was one of several "cow" yellowfin caught on the trip. There were two other fish over 300 pounds, one of them by Keith Denette's wife, Nicole Denette, and 3 tuna other tuna over 200 pounds. That's 6 tuna over 200 pounds, 3 over 300, 1 over 400. Crazy. Boyle also had a 186 pounder and one under 100 pounds as well. Huynh, a pro staffer with Blackwater and Seeker who has a 288 and 250 to her creeit, posted only a 125 pounder. “A tough trip” for her personally, she said, but this time it was Boyle’s chance, and Nicole also got her first 300 pounder. There were several anglers who got their personal bests. See the list below. When I contacted them, they were just getting off the Alaska flight from Puerto Vallarta at LAX and were exhausted, but euphoric.

"Unbelievable, just unreal," said Boyle. "It was the best crew, the best charter group, just a great trip. Everything just came together. I have fished with Sophia on the Maximus for years and on the Constitution when it was still owned by Frank Ursitti and thought it was a great boat, and now Keith has it, and I'm just super stoked about that, and now it's just an amazing operation out of there."

THE CONSTITUTION LADIES with Nicole's big fish are, left to right, Pauline Lam, Nicole Denette, and Sophia Huynh. 


Here is Kevin Boyle’s blow-by-blow written account of the battle he sent to WON.

“It is my turn on the kite, and I’m standing next to Captain Evaristo, who is sending two beautiful cabbies out on the double trouble balloon rig. Then there is a huge splash as a tuna hits the baits, the balloon flies away, and the line comes tight with a hopefully solid hook set,” says Boyle.

“Evaristo hands me the rod, and the fight begins. It starts off like any other; in fact, it feels like a smaller model, and I wind quickly as it charges the boat. Then the fish realizes it’s hooked and decides to just about dump the whole Makaira 50 spool from the port corner. At this point, Captain Jesus, with his decades of experience, stays with me and helps guide me through the fight.

“Now the fish starts to show its true size with its violent head shakes and long runs. The fish takes me from the stern to the bow and back, over and over as we follow the angle and try to get every precious inch of line back on my reel. At one point, as we come around the stern, the fish shows itself on the surface. We see the length of its Allison fin and realize we have a peek of the true size of this beast, who just decides it isn’t time to come home yet and makes another long run towards the bow.

“We settle in the bow for the remainder of the fight. I’m thankful to have Jesus by my side to help negotiate the fish’s deep giant circles going on both sides of the anchor. I utilize the full capabilities of the Super Seeker 6463 XXXXH and Okuma Makaira 50 to wench and guide this leviathan up from deep color to the surface. It takes approximately an hour and 20 minutes to bring this beast ready for the gaff.

KEVIN BOYLE AT THE RAIL when things get intense just before the fish is gaffed.

“Keith, Evaristo and Albino are at my side, gaffs in hand, going from port to starboard, waiting for the right moment to stick this giant tuna. They yell for me to wind for the last time as their gaffs are expertly stuck.

“We all yell, hoot and holler as we walk the tuna to the stern door. As the guys unlock the door, it becomes clear how large this tuna really is. It barely fits through the door, and when it lands on the deck, pandemonium erupts. It’s all smiles and hi-fives as the cooperation of the other passengers, teamwork and professionalism of this phenomenal crew comes to fruition with this fish of a lifetime. This is a moment that neither myself nor anyone else that was on the trip will ever forget.

Thank you so much to the Constitution and her amazing crew.”

Here are the top catches on the trip from a list provided to  this reporter  by Seeker/Blackwater pro staffer Sophia Huynh of the L.A. Rod and Reel Club, who was one of three very accomplished lady anglers on the trip.


-Ray Ikeda, around 115-lb (didn't tape it)

-Kyle Spaulding, around 125-lb (didn't tape it)

-Sophia Huynh, around 125-lb (didn't tape it)

-Kyung Lee, 115 and then a personal best 136-lb

-Mike Skinner, around 170 lb (didn't tape it)

-Steve Triplett,new personal best 207-lb

-Earl McVicar first cow 228-lb

-Pauline Lam, first cow 280-lb

-Nicole Denette, personal best 185-lb then first super cow 302-lb

-Barry Cohn, 308-lb

-Kevin Boyle, 80-lb, 136-lb, and 413-lb


KEVIN BOYLE’S 413-pound yellowfin caught Feb. 7 on the second day of a 31/2-day charter aboard the Constitution to Tres Marias Islands out of Puerto Vallarta.


BARRY COHN's 308 pounder.

NICOLE DENETTE'S 302-pound "Super Cow".

RAY IKEDA with a115 pounder.

 PAULA LAM's 280 pounder.

KEVIN BOYLE STANDING, lower row Kyle Spauding, Sophia Huynh, and Mike Skinner on the Constitution.


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