Bob Vanian's 976-Bite Hot Bite

Anglers dodging storms
The month of January is providing Southern California with a “real winter” in the way of lots of storms that have brought some much needed rain and a good amount of snow to the mountains. The weather fronts that have brought the rain and snow have usually been accompanied by stormy seas that have kept anglers home during the stormy weather. The key to getting out fishing is to watch the weather forecast closely and fish on the nice weather days as there have been days of nice weather between the storms that have provided good fishing.

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The highlight fishing continues to be found on 1.5 day trips out of San Diego and Mission Bay that have been running down the Mexican coast to fish the waters off Punta Colnett. These trips have been producing very good mixed bag fishing that has been highlighted by catches of yellowtail, good sized reds and lingcod.

As an example of the recent fishing, Fisherman's Landing reports that the Pacific Queen returned from a 1.5 day trip on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 with a catch of 24 yellowtail, 75 reds, 15 lingcod, 40 rockfish and 8 bonito. Fisherman’s Landing also had the Liberty out fishing on a 1.5 day trip to Punta Colnett on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 that had 27 anglers catch 28 yellowtail, 13 lingcod and 65 rockfish.

The Old Glory out of H&M Landing had 11 anglers fishing a 1.5 day trip to Punta Colnett on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 that caught 96 reds, 4 bonito and 6 yellowtail.

Most of the yellowtail in the Punta Colnett area have been running from 12 to 25 pounds and yo-yoed iron has been working best. Using a jig that has some red colors in it to match the colors of a red crab has been a productive color choice. The yellows have been found by locating sonar marks and meter marks to stop and drift on. Red crabs and working birds are often in close proximity to where yellowtail are found with the electronics.

Sardines and mackerel have been working well for the lingcod and try those same live baits and strips of fillet from small rockfish for the reds.

There is still uncertainty about the meaning of the recent biosphere designation of the Coronado Island by the Mexican government but there have been some out boats fishing around the Coronado Islands and at the portion of the lower end of the 9 Mile Bank that is on the Mexico side of the border. There continues to be good fishing for rockfish in these areas and there have been a few lingcod in the mix as well. There has been a bit of surface fishing activity found around the Coronados with a chance at scratching out a yellowtail or bonito while fishing along the weather side of North Island.

A good zone for the bottom fishing around the Coronados has been at hard bottom spots to the northwest of North Island while fishing in the 40 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 a few lingcod while fishing on the Mexico side of the border.

As an example of the recent fishing, H&M Landing had the Malihini out on a three-quarter day trip on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 and they had 25 anglers catch 150 rockfish. H&M Landing also has the Premier fishing weekday half day trips into Mexican waters for rockfish and on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 they had 25 anglers catch 94 rockfish, 2 lingcod and 1 sculpin.

An ongoing reminder to Southern California anglers is that the annual 2 month rockfish/groundfish closure in Southern California waters remains in effect until March 1, 2017. Anglers seeking to fish for species covered by the closure need to travel into Mexican waters to fish them. During the closure period, boats fishing spots along the San Diego County coast have been targeting species that are currently open to fishing and have been doing well on a mixed bag of calico bass, sand bass and sculpin and have also been scratching out an occasional halibut, yellowtail or white seabass.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Fishing sandy bottom areas adjacent to hard bottom and structure spots has been a good way to target a halibut.

The best zone to try and scratch out a yellowtail has been in the La Jolla region while fishing off the stretch of coast between Mission Bay and Torrey Pines. There has also been an occasional white seabass caught incidental to fishing for yellowtail in the stretch between Mission Bay and La Jolla.

There have been four specific areas where yellowtail activity has been reported. There has been a chance at finding some yellowtail action outside of Mission Bay and spread from that area to the hard bottom area below and outside of the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach. A good depth range to be fishing this sector would be while fishing in 15 to 25 fathoms of water. Another area that has provided a chance at finding some yellowtail action is at the hard bottom and kelp stringer area of Northwest outside of the upper end of La Jolla. The 15 to 20 fathom depths would be a good range to be trying in this area. There has also been occasional yellowtail activity associated with spots of breezing bait reported in the 25 to 80 fathom depths outside of Torrey Pines.

The fishing for yellows has been scratchy but if you are at the right spot at the right time when the fish decide to show and cooperate, the payoff can be a good sized 20 to 30 pound class yellowtail. Sardines, mackerel, surface iron and yo-yo iron have been working for yellowtail and the fish have been located by finding sonar marks, meter marks and spots of working birds.

The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing got into some yellowtail action on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017 and had 25 anglers on a morning half day trip catch 4 yellowtail, 1 calico bass, 4 sand bass and 5 sculpin.

Hard bottom and structure spots have been best for the sand bass, calico bass and sculpin. Specific productive areas 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, Hill Street, Point Loma College, 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.

Western Outdoor News Editor Pat McDonell fished a recent trip out of Mission Bay and reported seeing good signs of life while looking for yellowtail outside of Mission Bay during the early morning. He said it was looking very fishy but that they could not find any yellowtail action. After giving the yellowtail area a try they ran down the coast to fish the Imperial Beach Pipeline where they found very good fishing for a mix of quality sized calico bass and sand bass which were caught and released. Pat reported several 3 to 6 pound calico bass within what they caught and released. They were having good luck with both the sand bass and calico bass while fishing with Hookup plastics.

The San Diego Anglers Bay Bass Tournament is this Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The Shelter Island boat launch ramp is soon to undergo a rebuilding process where there will only be one launch ramp lane open during construction but anglers should know that the construction process will not start until after the Jan. 21, 2017 tournament date. The Shelter Island launch ramp should be fully open for the San Diego Anglers Bay Bass Tournament.

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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.

Jim Niemiec's Blog

Don’t panic just because hunting seasons are winding down
Except for exotic big game hunts, most all large animal hunts have ended and there is now less than a month left in our waterfowl and upland game bird hunting seasons, that all comes to an abrupt end on Jan. 29. Duck hunters continue to look over their shoulders at just what happened to the Southland duck season; but on the other hand, those out in goose blinds have enjoyed some pretty good dark and white goose hunting during that cold snap this past week. Fortu­nate­ly, there are other options to extend the hunting season and the following are a few of this hunting editor’s best choices.

Western Outdoor News headed out to Raahauge’s Shooting Complex this past week to check on the range and find out what’s been going on at this public range since that devastating fire that burned up many of the old buildings at this very popular shooting complex.

WON met up with range officer Vincent Goerlicz and we talked about the range and future events.

FEDERAL PREMIUM NEW GOLD MEDAL GRAND TARGET AMMO — This new ammo preformed almost flawlessly during a field test at Raahauge’s Shooting Complex this past week. Very light recoil and a good pattern of lead shot allows shot gunners to bust more clay targets out on the range.

“Right now we are still in demolition mode as we continue to clean up after the fire. Everything is going along just fine as cleanup is a major undertaking. Thankfully we were able to get new offices set up and signing shooters in has not been a problem. Our trap and sporting clays stations are all in fine shape and the shooting bays for rifle and pistols are fully oper­ational. We are asking that shooters pre-register using our website for online waivers, as that makes it a lot easier to get folks signed in and sent off to the range,” stated Goerlicz.

WON went on to ask about the status of Sports Fair and Youth Outdoor Safari Day events annually held at Raahauge’s.

“Right now we are still planning on holding these two very popular events. A lot will depend on final cleanup and when new construction begins,” added Goerlicz.

Other than wanting to update Western Outdoor News readers on what’s been going on at Raahauge’s, this hunting editor has had some concerns on just how poorly I shot out of duck blinds this season. While having limited opportunities at decoying ducks, my pass shooting was terrible. I could blame it on older age, but definitely not on my Benelli M2 shotgun, Federal Premium ammo nor my yellow Lab Sierra.

The perfect place to find out if I had any eye or shouldering concerns was to spend some time at a sporting clays range where a wide variety of thrown clay targets would hopefully indicate any significant problems in the proper shouldering of my M2, or even worse that my cataract/new distance lens implants needed attention. I have always thought I was a pretty good shot at most all waterfowl and upland game birds, but the lack of success and the harvest of fewer birds led to my concern and need to get out on a range.

While at Raahauge’s Shoot­ing Complex, this hunting editor shot a round of trap shooting with the assistance of Goerlicz, who manned the handheld cable switch. Since Raahauge’s has changed over to automated clay target shooting, it is now a lot more efficient for just two shooters to shoot trap or enjoy a round of sporting clays.

As to the performance of the new Gold Medal Grand ammo, it was a pleasure to shoot. This shooter only dropped two targets, but managed to bust all the doubles thrown, likely due to less recoil from this new Federal target ammo. The lead shot seemed to also pattern well with many clays being dusted.

As to finding a problem in my recent ducking hunting trips afield, it was affirmed by Goerlicz that if I had any problem at all, it was not continuing my swing-through on a clay target. When you consider the speed of a fast-flying duck when pass shooting, I hope my gunning problem will be solved with more of a lead and following through with each shot.

While duck hunting reports coming into WON have been less than superlative, there have been some very good reports of duck shooting coming my way from hunters crossing the border hunting the vast marshes and wetlands of Mexico. Brant hunting in San Quentin has been outstanding since the season began back in early November. Good to very good reports are also coming in on awesome puddle duck hunting from the Rio Hardy wetlands. Not to be left out of the excellent waterfowl reports has been a tremendous (to date) hunting season for those hunting the vast wetlands of Los Mochis and lagoons of Sierra Madre. According to a recent post by the Sinalo Pato Duck and Dove Club, (800) 862-9026, duck hunters are limiting out on big puddle ducks, lots of teal, some black Brandt and selected gunning for the Mexican species of the Mexican duck and Pichiquila. Waterfowl hunting continues through mid-March in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa and there are some pretty good flights out of TJ that now make travel to Mexican hunting destinations well within reason.

Pheasant clubs will continue to shoot into late April depending on the availability of ringneck pheasant, chukar and quail. Rains have helped with field cover and all clubs are offering up excellent wing shooting for all species of upland game birds. Clubs that are offering up good gunning for all shooters and excellent opportunities for sporting gun dog work that are strong supporters of Western Outdoor News include: Lone Pine Pheasant Club, High Desert Hunt Club at Tejon Ranch, Raahauge’s Pheasant Club, Four Winds Pheasant Club and Woodland’s Hunting Club.

The Four Winds Pheasant Club in the San Jacinto Valley told WON that while the numbers of ringnecks and chukar will carry good gunning into early spring, adding that there are plenty of quail available.

Another post-hunting season venue to put on your bucket list would be the 45th Annual Safari Club International’s Hunters’ Convention that begins a 4-day run on Feb. 1 at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. This is a must-attend show for anyone whose interests are in big game hunting, upland game bird hunting, exotic hunts, out of the country destinations, great fishing locations offering a tremendous list of unique species and tropical locals, outstanding art and taxidermy. To find out more about attending this SCI event log on their website at

Surf Fishing Round-Up

Anglers targeting halibut
Despite wind and rain, there were some bright spots this week, reported Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara. Several striped bass were reported taken off the beach along Carpinteria. Anglers targeting halibut with Flash Minnows were pleasantly surprised to find spots of school-sized fish. The perch have also been biting on the better days. Look for the cleaner stretches. Grubs, Gulp! Sandworms and salted anchovies have been good choices.

MALIBU — Another challenging week of weather, reported Wylie’s. There were very few anglers out. A couple reports trickled in from County Line. The storms created some excellent troughs and bars and anglers were finding some short halibut already in the trenches. Hard jerk baits and small spoons were a best bet. Oxnard and Ventura beaches have been holding some better quality barred perch. The key is finding cleaner water on those better days. Odd catch of the week from the Malibu Pier, a fantail sole.

REDONDO BEACH — Few anglers out due to the weather, reported Just Fishing. There have been some nice barred perch around. It just takes a few days of better weather. Look for the stretches of clean green water. Some short halibut have also been taking Krocodiles along the cleaner stretches. Conditions are prime for striped bass along this stretch. Cast hard jerk baits, spoons or big swimbaits around jetties or creek mouths.

SEAL BEACH — The best bet has been a good halibut bite at 72nd place and Bolsa Chica,reported Big Fish. A nice trench has formed from the storms and lots of short to just legal fish are holding in it. The key is finding good conditions and cleaner water. Under cloudy skies, a red and black Lucky Craft Flash Minnow has been the go to bait. When the bays and harbor clean up, the spotted bay and sand bass bite picks-up. Small anchovy and smelt pattern swimbaits have been dynamite.

NEWPORT BEACH — On the better days, the tip of the peninsula has been kicking out some quality barred perch, reported Ketcham. This stretch tends to clean up faster. Motor oil/ gold flake, clear/red flake and salt and pepper grubs have been best. Salted anchovies are a good choice in less than clean water. Halibut specialists report good new contours at River Jetties. It’s been mostly a spattering of shorts but the future potential looks good as the weather improves.

DANA POINT — With Capo bay dirtied up,beach fishing has been slow, reported Hogan’s. The sharks and rays have been active with fish taken at Doheny and at the San Clemente Pier on whole squid and slab mackerel. The harbor has been a bright spot with jetty-hoppers taking sand bass, spotted bay bass and short halibut on small swimbaits and jerk baits. Dark colors have been best. Best bet for a legal halibut has been the sand patches below Cottons Point.

OCEANSIDE — Overall tough conditions for the shore angler, reported Pacific Coast. A few short halibut were reported taken along the cleaner stretches of South Carlsbad. Palm-size perch have also been on the bite in the cleaner water. Grubs and Gulp! 2-inch sandworms have been best. The lagoons are cleaning up and a few bass and halibut were reported taken on small swimbaits. Look for a few striped bass to pop up where the fresh water runs off onto the beach.

SOLANA BEACH — Surf anglers managed toscratch a few small perch in less than ideal conditions, reported Blue Water. The storms have created some nice new beach structure but the conditions have not been good enough for the fish to set-up. It portends some excellent halibut fishing in the near future. A good plan B has been the bass bite in Mission Bay. Once the water greens up, the bass have wanted to bite.

Compiled by Gundy Gunderson

Merit McCrea's Blog

Batten the hatches
The year was 1995. For the previous decade it had been extremely dry, except for a reprieve in 1993. By 1994, it was dry in California, but not so dry as to kill 50- to 100-year-old oaks, as this last year. In ’95, it rained, breaking the drought — finally.

It was early April when fishable numbers of salmon showed off Santa Barbara. We had a banner day, in one drift catching 9 of the silver fish aboard the Seahawk LXV. It was a one-drift deal though. On that particular drift the fish got under the boat and stuck. The rest of the drifts were more typical, one to none, for a grand total of 13 or so.

A few days later, Capt. Wes Boyle was at the helm. Remembering seasons anchored at the head of Redondo canyon, having bluefin and salmon come to the stern, he slipped the hook over. When it was done, they had nearly limits! It was just more than 20 fish, and they needed just one more.

They were fishing 3/4-ounce egg sinkers, stopped by a swivel, and a long leader of 12- to 20-pound line with a single live bait hook and a live anchovy. The trick was to pull off line, a couple of feet at a time when you put your bait down. This kept the bait always below the sinker, and let you know how deep you were fishing.

Every few minutes they would rough up 4 to 6 baits in the chum scoop and send the scaley mass scintillating down into the water. Finally, Wes and crew hooked their final fish. But it would meet a sad fate. A lone blue shark was now patrolling the waters around the boat.

As the wily fish spun at the surface, just out of range of the long-handled landing net, the blue dog took a huge bite, then another, getting the entire fish. There were no more bites to be had and it was already late.

Then that pesky blue was back. It was on the line and they quickly gaffed it, throwing the thieving, spinning beast aboard. They recovered their final salmon for full limits, albeit in two pieces!

This was the first time in memory a Southern California party boat had ever pulled limits of salmon.

By May that same season we would limit regularly. One trip, a Los Angeles Rod and Reel Charter, we had worked hard all day, and come up just shy of limits for all hands. On the way home, only a mile short of the harbor, their appeared a massive spot of anchovies on the meter.

They were herded together the telltale fashion salmon hold them. Salmon simply keep them balled up all day long, and feed at their leisure, picking off a bait or two from the edges when they feel like it.

But it was different this time. Big numbers of the lightly marking salmon themselves could be seen over and around the spot. I circled back around and pulled back the throttles, shut down. Running for the tank, I scooped a dipper and mashed and fanned. The silver fish came up rolling on the surface like yellows, very unusual.

Few had reels on their rods even, that was the nature of the group. They tore down everything soon after departure for the barn. Only 3 or 4 baits with hooks in them made it over the rail in the next few minutes, and were instantly bit. In moments we had the last couple of fish we could take. We released one or two more.

In years past, when bluefin showed near the coast, they were mostly small ones and quickly mopped up. But not this time. This time, they’ve been able to return, bigger each year instead. The white seabass? It depends on squid nests.

The next day we were on an open party and there were 36 aboard. The fish were no longer all concentrated on a single ball of bait, but we picked a piece of it and put the hook down. It was chaos, people hollering, nets flying, the deck littered with little silver triangles cut from salmon tails as required to mark the fish as sport-caught.

A few hours later, we were done, 72 kings aboard, and one of the biggest sportboat salmon hauls I’d heard of.

In 1995 it was a wet winter, snow capped mountains in the background daily. With ’93 providing ideal hatchery conditions, putting the fish in the water, and ’95 weather sending them down to feed on SoCal’s abundant bait, it was an epic salmon spring along the coast, followed by an epic seabass summer out at the islands.

Coastal water is cold this winter, the thermocline is shallow. We’ve already seen mid-50s water on top at times. By mid April, I expect to see coastal waters as cool as 52 degrees appear in the Santa Barbara Channel. Offshore and south there is still some warmth remaining however, helping seed incoming storm fronts with plenty of moisture.

I think the tables have turned. The ground is wet. The air is moist and it will be harder for offshore conditions to persist and deflect incoming storm fronts, north. We’ll finally get enough water to dent the drought. But one wet winter won’t cure what the last dry decade has wrought, 2011 rains notwithstanding.

My guess for this season is we will see how well trucking salmon smolts to the Delta worked. And if it did, we may well see salmon arrive in numbers, even south of Point Conception. I also suspect the bluefin deal was more than El Niño. Warm water and red crabs may have spurred the new dynamic, but the fish will be back, even in cooler water conditions.

In years past, when bluefin showed near the coast, they were mostly small ones and quickly mopped up. But not this time. This time, they’ve been able to return, bigger each year instead.

Whether the sport fleet sees big numbers of seabass will depend on the squid spawn. If it’s good, then everybody will get them. If it’s weak, then a few smaller boats, with talented operators and skilled crews will stand head and shoulders above the rest of the fleet, fishing fin-bait. Free divers will have a heyday in the weeds and records will be set.

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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:

Pat McDonell's Blog

Bits and pieces
Like all folks in a new year, I’m clearing the decks of a few bits of news.

Of greatest interest lately is Irvine Lake. Unfortunately, my source says nothing is going to happen with that lake for at least a year. Irvine Co. still has possession of the land, including the 14 acres of concession land for the old marina and buildings, and as of yet has not been turned over to Orange County as part of a land donation by Irvine Co. There are water issues. Serrano Water District, kicked out as the concessionaire a year ago by Irvine Co. at the direction of the County as a prerequisite to the exchange between OC and Irvine Co., still owns 25 percent of the water rights. There is no movement on anything. Someone is making serious coin, $50,000 a month, on the RV storage at the lake. The water district is likely taking that rent money as payoff for the 25 percent of the value of the water rights. I don’t know, for now, cross fishing Irvine Lake off your to-do list for 2017. Despite the rains, it’s still a mudhole.

RUSSELL BARTHEL’S DOG, DEUCE, is a litter-mate to Barthel’s dog, Katrina. “They will be 3 in April,” said Barthel, adding that his older dog, Raife, is 13 “and slowing down but doing great.”

WON ad rep Ben Babbitt returned from a travel trip with his spouse to the west coast of Baja to beach fishing/surf spots north of Guerrerro Negro but he did not take the cursed Mex. 1 down most of the way start to finish. And the trip came just before all hell broke loose in Mexico on the fuel price increase. There’s more on that elsewhere and it’s an evolving situation, daily.

Anyway, Babbitt did what a lot of travelers are choosing to, which is make the freeway run east to Calexico, then down to San Felipe on a very nice Mex. 5 and down to Puertocitos, then Gonzaga Bay, and then back to the Mex. 1 on the remaining 20 miles of dirt road.

It circumvents the horrid traffic from the border to the L.A. Bay turnoff. The new road from Gonzaga Bay is almost done. Wide, new and no side-mirror slamming tomato or shipping trucks, signals and towns. If you are driving south, and dread Mex. 1, I HIGHLY recommend this route. Faster, safer, few if any checkpoints. Drive it only during the day ‘cuz there are still cows. When I make my run this year to all the way to Cabo towing my skiff, this is the route I will take to and from.

For updated road conditions, check with Discover website. It’s quite extensive and updated often. The latest report on the new road: “Mex 5 from Puertecitos to Gonzaga Bay is paved and in great condition. The paved road continues to Mex 1 for about 20 kilometers past Gonzaga. The construction crews are actively working to complete the paving to Mex 1.” And there will be updates in the gas situation. For now, avoid driving in Mexico.

Remote Gonzaga Bay has a tourist milestone. It has a hotel, Alphonsina’s. Nice spot, good food, but Babbitt and his wife paid $80 and there was no water for the room. At $80, it’s pretty pricey for Baja, and a ripoff for not having any water. Check the room before staying, or paying full pop. But Google reviews are varied. Still, pretty great for the location. It’s new, but not a resort, but it beats camping. Keep expectations in check. It has a website.

Two WON trips I am again hosting are filling up pretty quick, and a third was just added last week. One charter trip is to Sitka‘s Kingfisher Lodge, arriving Aug. 28, fishing Aug 29, 30, 31, and departing Sept. 1. You can add days on to the trip through the lodge, while you will book the three-day fishing trip through WON. Contact Ben Babbitt at Another annual trip I am hosting is the Cedros Island trip with Cedros Outdoor Adventures. That trip has just 12 slots for 2½ days of fishing Friday, Sept. 15 to Monday, Sept. 18. I am looking for three anglers who want to fly out of Brown Field with me, which is an added cost, and stay an extra day to fish. That makes it a more expensive trip (around $2,400) but offers more fishing time and is logistically easier with flights from the U.S. Contact me at if interested in the extended stay with the private flight. For the standard trip, contact Ben Babbitt. It is filling fast. And, just added, there is the 3½-day Constitution trip to Puerto Vallarta April 16-20. Contact WON’s Ben Babbitt on this one, limited to 12 people, at (949) 366-0726. Cost is $1,540.

Speaking of Cedros, if you look on the website it contains some great info on the biospheres created to protect the islands and inlets of west coast Baja from shrimp boats and purse seiners. It’s a good thing. There is much to be decided before the biospheres will be enforced, and meetings between U.S and Mexican officials and Mexican Navy are approaching. See this link:

THE MARCH 10-12 Central Valley Sportsman’s Show is similar, but different than the LB and SD Hall shows. A two-day car show on the weekend, Bakos drag races all three days, a monster RV area, but there are still flying water dogs, travel, boats and tackle.

Show season is approaching: Fred Hall and Associates are running three of them this year: the monstrous 5-day Long Beach show March 1-5, the Central Valley Sports Show, March 10-12 in Bakersfield, and then the 4-day San Diego show March 23-26. The Central Valley show is new to the Hall family, and just listening to Bart Hall describe it makes me want to run up to Central Cal that weekend and check it out. Bart said the event is unique and different than the other two. Amazingly, the showgoers are heavily into saltwater. You would not think that, but demographic surveys show that 60 percent are deep sea anglers. Bart said there will be huge boat display areas. There will be a heavy emphasis on the hunting, guns and shooting, freshwater lakes, and sportsman’s travel of course.

One cool aspect is that it is combined with a Super Cruise car show is on Saturday and Sunday, domestic on Saturday, imports on Sunday. They are estimating 1,500 vehicles for the weekend. And, there are the wild and dusty/muddy Bako Sand Drag Races ( com/watch?v=cTYy_KEeMT0 ) that run the entire show. This is a national event with racers from all over the country. It’s exciting as hell. And noisy.

Saturday night is the Tractor and Truck Pull competition in the rodeo arena. It’s large event with big crowds,” said Mike Lum, who organizes the shows with Bart and other staff at Fred Hall & Associates.

We’ll have more on those three sportsman’s shows in upcoming editions, but Bakers­field might be a fun weekend getaway for some of us who have not experienced this show.

Don Barthel is a longtime reader who sends in reports here and there, like a lot of our loyal folks, and scored a fun pheasant hunt Jan. 3 at the Woodland Hunt Club, the 3-acre alfalfa field, about 20 miles NW of El Centro.

“The field we mainly hunted in was wet and slightly muddy from rain. But we picked a good window on the weather, low 60s and very little breeze. Although the dogs could have used a little more. We were the only ones hunting. I bought 6 pheasants that were released in that field. One flew into an adjacent field that we hunted for but never saw. Of the 5 in the original field, we got 4 plus 2 that somebody else overlooked or missed.”

He said his shooting partner, Russell, shot over a large stack of hay and paid for that shot by having to use a ladder in order to retrieve the bird.

“Two of the birds planted for us were hens, one got away on a wild flush out of range. The one we got was not pictured,” he said. After the hunt and New Year’s Eve, the group enjoyed barbecued pheasant to bring in the new year.

NICKY DARE OF Santa Clarita fished the Cabo tuna last week from her boat Hakuna Matuna and scored some nice yellowfin. Not the big ones, but they pulled hard and the tuna tasted great on the sashimi plate at Capt. Tony’s restaurant.

And, Nicky Dare, a Santa Clarita resident, firearms safety instructor and friend who fished the Cabo Tuna Tourney for the first time this past year (and is going again), sent me some shots of Cabo tuna on her boat. She and her husband Scott trailered their skiff down and fished for weeks, and said while Cabo fishing was slow with dropping temps, there were some tuna in the area, and sent me a nice shot of her hugging one with the Arch in the background.

“Fishing in general has been a little slow, the water temperature was 74 degrees both on Pacific and Cortez sides, wind about 30-35 mph in early mornings about 10-11 a.m. Both sides were choppy,” texted Nicky. “We did trolling with lures all the way from the arch to the old lighthouse. Few strikes but nothing exciting. Landed a 10-pound skipjack and released it, then we caught a small triggerfish, which was pretty interesting since I have never caught nor landed one before! Later we went back on lures right about half to one mile off the old lighthouse on Pacific side, we caught a yellowfin, roughly 29-30 pounds on a 50-pound line. Perfect for early dinner Sashimi at Captain Tony’s for the next couple days!”

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