Mercury Outboards


Pat McDonell's Blog

Postscript on WSB
New IGFA record is likely

Brian Fagan feels a little like the guy who wins a lottery. The phone just doesn’t stop ringing and he’s hearing from a lot of old friends. It’s all good, but a bit much.

Fagan, a 56-year-old Poway resident who fishes every chance he gets on his kayak and caught a 74,5-pound white seabass off La Jolla Jan. 21, is going to submit the catch to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for the 80-pound line class record. He is also going to take a deep breath, and go fishing, of course.

“I loved the story, I really did, Fagan said of the original story that broke at  and then in the paper, then went viral on websites, radio shows and websites. “I think you did a great job of covering everything.”


“I've actually become tired of telling the story so I've begun to just refer people to your website link. The story tells it better I do at this point. Don't take this wrong, I feel so grateful and lucky to have landed that baby, but I'm kinda ready for my 15 minutes of fame to come to an end. I've heard from friends I haven't heard from since high school and it's all due to your story.”

So, a few more facts have come to light since the first story was published in last week’s WON. One, the monster white seabass is going to be submitted as a line class record. The current world men’s 80-pound record is 74 pounds, that fish caught at Catalina Island in 1968 by Allan Tremblay. The all-tackle record that also holds the 30-pound line class mark, caught in 1953 off San Felipe, still stands at 83-12. The state record is safe, too, that 50-pound line class record a 77.4 pounder caught off San Diego in 1960. As you can see, Fagan’s fish is quite rare, especially on a kayak.

Fagan says kayak fishing pioneer Dennis Spike’s 75 pounder caught in 2000 at the Deep Hole south of Ventura can remain the “kayak record” for all he cares, whether it was digitally weighed or not. Both fish were taped at five feet long and 32 inches in girth.

What was not mentioned in the original story was that he kept fishing, and thought he had another huge sea bass. He did. A black seabass. He released it, and paddled in with the high fish over hide lap. He couldn't use his Hobie Mirage pedal drive system with the 70 plus pounds pinning his legs down, so he paddled back to the beach to the fanfare that soon assembled.

There was a down side to this: As he was fishing and then fighting the big fish, he was being screamed at by a skiff commercial fisherman. Nothing came of it, of course,  but this fellow is known for being territorial. Fagan mentioned it to others, when he weighed in the fish at Dana Landing, saying "It was the best day of his life… except for this guy who kept screaming at me." It has made the rounds on the websites. It didn't take the luster off the catch, but it did happen.   

As for tackle, more specifics are  known. The reel was an Avet SX 5:3. The rod was not a Sabre as first reported (not by WON); rather it was a Seeker BCBW 709-7' T. Rated for 20-30 pound.

“It's from their Blue Lighting Inshore Series II,” said Fagan. “Graphite Composite. This is my favorite rod, so light and so powerful at the same time, love it!”

The leader was Seaguar Blue Label 40 pound fluorocarbon. The hook was a ringed 1/0 Gamakatsu. The main line was 65 spectra from Power Pro.

Will some of those companies come calling to use Fagan’s photos and story in their marketing? It was not a lucky catch. He has fished off La Jolla on his Hobie Revolution almost 350 times. He’s out there every day when he’s not working as a painting contractor.

“I really have never been in this position before and not being a rich man since I spend too much time fishing, I would love it if I received ANYTHING to tell you the truth,” he said.

His immediate plans? Launch at La Jolla and go fishing, of course.

“I’m going tomorrow if the wind stays down, although I believe the fish gods may make sure I go a few trips with zip.”



Pat McDonell is editor of WON. He can be reached at

Jonathan Roldan's Blog

Some 20 years ago, I was on my way to my new job working at a scuba dive shop and setting up a fishing operation in La Paz. I had driven down from San Diego in my road-weary Dodge Caravan pulling a flat trailer stacked with multi-colored kayaks.

There seemed to be a lot of vehicle congestion along the La Paz waterfront and a police officer was directing traffic to a backstreet detour. I followed the cars for several blocks then broke off back towards the waterfront.

As was my habit in those days, I had Led Zeppelin blaring from my van speakers and my windows open. I pulled back onto the waterfront and suddenly…

I was attacked by clowns!

About half-a-dozen clowns jumped on my van and trailer! One jumped into the passenger seat. What the…??? Then, I heard the cheering and yelling and clapping.

I had apparently pulled into a parade and was now one of the “floats!” There were floats in front of me…behind me. There was a marching band and clowns and freaky dressed folks in costumes everywhere. And my own clown posse was bouncing up and down on my trailer and hanging off my van doors whooping it up too!

What the heck. Go with the flow is my motto. I cranked up the Led Zep “Whole Lotta Love” and waved at the crowds like a Rose Parade Queen and pretended I knew what I was doing.

At some point many blocks down, the clowns high-fived me and jumped off my van and went running back to the crowds. I continued on my way with a laugh. Welcome to La Paz!

Actually, it wasn’t until years later that I was informed that I had stumbled into one of the largest of Mexican festivals. I had inadvertently joined the Carnivale Parade and one of six of the most boisterous days on the Baja social calendar.

Carnivale became popular in the middle ages and rolled into the New World with the Spanish who, among other things, brought all the makings for a good party…gunpowder, wine, horses, drums, trumpets, guys dressed in robes and colorful banners and adornments. They also brought a great excuse to party…RELIGION!

Basically, the idea was to party like heathen cavemen before the numbing penitence of Lent descended for 40 days prior to Easter. Bust the moves and get the pent up insanity outta your system before the grey-ash days of fasting and sacrifice of Lent.

The local indigenous populations took right to it as it coincided with many of their own religious holidays.

Party with the overlord Spaniards! Everyone is equal behind the masks. Peasants, farmers, merchants, soldiers, royalty, friars and Indians mixed it up. Everyone is your bro. It’s like the file clerks wearing lampshades at the Christmas party and getting to dance with the boss’s secretary in front of the board of directors. Everyone gets a pass. And God or gods say it’s OK.

A perfect storm. The perfect reason to FESTEJAR! Party! Break the rules. Be all you’ve always wanted to be. Let out the repressed inner child. Cross dressing was fine. Be a nun. Be a clown. Drink like fish. Dance like no one is watching. Lust like bunnies and wear masks and costumes to hide your identity. Be loud and blow horns and make music to chase away the evil was the attitude of the week-long-celebration.

In the 18th century, the Spanish Crown understandably felt it was getting out-of-hand and aggressively repressed much of the revelry. In the 19th century post Mexican Revolution, again, the political newbies suppressed the party because of its’ ties to the colonial past.

However, by the late 1800’s the event staged a growing comeback. But, it’s tough to snuff out a good reason to party.

Largely divorcing itself from its religious roots and gaining popularity as a huge social and community event, Carnivale spread throughout the Latino Americas and New World.

In many cities like Rio de Janiero, Carnivale (Mardi Gras) has become synonymous with the city itself. Many Americans are, of course, familiar with Mardi Gras in New Orleans which is a direct descent from its Spanish heritage.

Mexico is no slouch. Huge celebrations in Veracruz and Mazatlan draw thousands of revelers from throughout Mexico as well as internationally. Like most modern carnivals, they are marked with the election of a carnival king and queen, the burning or condemning of an effigy of “bad humor”, floats, parades, street vendors and music of all types.

Mazatlan has the oldest of the modern carnivals dating back more than 100 years to 1898.

The two major celebrations in Baja take place in Ensenada and La Paz. La Paz’ celebrations also date back to the 1890’s. Ensenada can fill with more than 300,000 visitors during Carnivale.

Taking place over 6 days, hundreds of thousands attend the giant street fairs which are filled with food, music, concerts, parades and activities of all types. Many of the attendees are Californians who come annually from across the border.

If you’re headed to either city or other major cities in Mexico between Feb. 4-9, bring your party dress. It’s a great opportunity to participate and witness a truly grand party. Vamos a festejar!

Jim Niemiec's Blog

SHOT Show 2016 — And what an awesome show it was
Firearms - Part 1 of 2

Attendance at SHOT Show 2016 nearly topped 65,000 from the world of hunting, shooting and related firearms interests. Nearly every square foot of the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas was covered with booths representing the shooting sports industry and there was barely room to walk through miles of crowded isles. The show was spread out over 3 floors of this convention center and due to demand from manufactures, ballrooms were converted into show space.

Way back when the first firearms industry shows began there was a mix of firearms, accessories and archery. When interest in archery grew to record levels across America, the bow and arrow industry broke away from the shooting sports industry and created a standalone archery show. Today, with tactical interests and applications at seemingly peak levels, SHOT Show 2016 could again be ready to spin off the black gun tactical and accessories industry into a standalone show in the near future.

SAVAGE 17 HMR SHOT FLAT — The new CCI 17 HMR caliber, with a 17 grain varmint tip, shot well on the rifle range out past 100 yards. WON hunting and shooting editor, Jim Niemiec, targeted in on a gong at 125 yards hitting the target with each shot. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

It was some 50 years ago that this hunting editor was national sales manager for a company named BUCO, which manufactured pre DOT motorcycle helmets for police and sheriff departments. Back then, before SHOT Show, police and related protection agencies would hold conventions in different states across the country. Today SHOT Show hosts hundreds of manufacturers of police, service, military and related tactical products.

Recalling one of the first firearms industry and mixed use conventions in America, under the name National Sporting Goods Association, which was held at the old Anaheim Convention Center, shows are now huge. SHOT Show is one of the largest conventions held in Las Vegas and it rates as one of the top 5 conventions in the world.

The first SHOT Show took place in St. Louis, MO. back in 1979. The mission statement for the National Shooting Sports Foundation is: To promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF is the trade association for America's firearms industry.

SHOT Show is not a consumer show, attendance is limited to those directly involved in the shooting sports industry. Manufacturers, distributors and retail dealers from all over the world attend this convention to fill gun racks and cases with the latest models of rifles, shotguns and pistols, stay up with the demand for ammunition and newly enacted ammo regulations and check out the latest in shooting sports and tactical accessories. Though probably today the height of interest from show attendees is seeing the vast selection of tactical guns, armament, scopes, tactical gear and equipment and to stock shelves and mail order warehouses with the latest and greatest being offered by the tactical firearms industry and its accessories.

There is too much to cover from Shot Show in one Western Outdoor News hunting column, so it will be published in 2 parts. Part 1 includes modern firearms, some tactical firearms as related to hunting. Part 2 will cover new ammunition, hunting optics, accessories and shooting sports related equipment.

Every convention seemingly has a best of show and believe me that's a hard decision for a hunting editor to have to make. Booth after booth gets your attention with major manufactures in the shooting sports industry occupying 100's of square feet of the show room floor. This editor is always drawn to high end shotguns from Perazzi, Beretta, Benelli, Weatherby, Winchester shotguns, Caesar Guerini USA, hunting rifles from Winchester, Remington, Legacy Sports International, Kimber, Thompson Center, CZ-USA and Mossberg; while Rocky, Filson, Boyt/Bob Allen, Realtree and Mossy Oak offer up great shooting accessories and camo clothing products. One would be remise in over looking neat hunting related products from Vista Outdoors, Trijicon, Aimpoint, Zeiss, Swarovski Optics, Steiner Optics, Nikon and Final Approach.

Prior to opening day of SHOT Show, most all major firearms manufacturers of hunting, sporting, pistol and tactical firearms host Media/Industry Day At The Range at the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Range. This event allows hunting editors and buyers to live fire a huge selection of new firearms and ammunition on the range.

After shooting a number of new sporting rifles, shotguns, AR15 style tactical rifles and pistols this hunting editor's choice for best of show for SHOT Show 2016 is a new shotgun from Browning. This long established firearms company has brought back the "Sweet sixteen", which is a lightweight version of the old hump-back A5 auto loader in16 gauge.

NEW BROWNING "SWEET SIXTEEN" A CLASSIC TO SHOOT — Browning introduced the new "Sweet Sixteen" shotgun at Media/Industry Day at the Range during SHOT Show. This shotgun shouldered just fine, ammo loading was easy and this lightweight 16 ga. shotgun was fun to shoot. WON PHOTOS BY TONI NIEMIEC

Not only does this shotgun shoulder and swing extremely well on targets, it features a very smooth action and a low recoil makes it a pleasure to shoot. WON was introduced to the "Sweet 16" by Kevin Howard, president of Howard Communications, whose company handles public relations for Browning. Howard kept handing over Browning 16 gauge trap ammo until the box was empty. We both commented on this lightweight shotgun and its fit when shouldered and how well it would be suited for any upland game bird hunt.

The "Sweet Sixteen" is built on a smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight and uses kinetic energy to power a recoil-operated drive system for reliable function with any load and under the full extremes of weather, temp, moisture or grime. This shotgun is chambered for 2 and three quarter inch shotgun shells, weighs just 5 pounds 12 ounces, has 3 Invector-DS chokes and retails for $1699.99 including a ABS hard case.

Another firearm introduction at SHOT Show that was a fun rifle to shoot was the legendary Winchester model 1866 "Yellow Boy" chambered in .44-40. This rifle was the first ever gun to bear the Winchester name. This 150th year commemorative edition salutes the role this rifle has played in Winchester history. With open sites this rifle was amazingly accurate "off- hand" hitting gongs out past 100 yards on the range, with no notable recoil in the .44-40 caliber.

It was a total blast shooting the new Savage Arms B.MAG, a 17 HMR Sporter model, chambered for the new CCI A17 rimfire cartridge which has a muzzle velocity of 2650 FPS for its 17 grain varmint tip ammo. The accuracy of this fast little bullet, out to a 150 yard gong, was impressive with this rifle matched to a Bushnell Rimfire optics scope AO model available in a 4-12x 40mm power.

One of the most interesting rifles introduced at SHOT Show was a sport hunting rifle from Kel-Tec. Their model RDB-C, with its unique downward case ejection, 24 inch barrel accuracy and choice of either .223REM or 6.5 Grendel configurations, this rugged looking rifle would be an ideal choice for small game hunting, varmint hunting or plinking. The OD color, rail and many adjustments will allow for good shooting in the field or at a target range.

There were not a lot of new sporting/target pistols on the firing line, but there sure were a lot of tactical pistols and rapid fire AR15 style rifles. WON singled out the new Smith and Wesson model SW22 Victory to highlight in SHOT Show coverage. With introduction for 2016 the SW22 comes with standard adjustable fiber optic sights and a match grade, interchangeable barrel for superb accuracy at the range or in the field. This new model includes simple one screw takedown, two 10-round magazines and a stainless steel frame. In addition there is a Picatinny-style rail for mounting optics or other equipment, creating a versatile pistol for both hunting and target shooting.

Carrie Wilson's Blog

How to get to shore when boat fishing is closed?
Question: I'm aware that during the non-boat rockfish season (i.e., winter/spring), anglers are required to either fish from shore or spearfish for these species. My question is in regard to whether using a boat to access an on-shore fishing spot is acceptable. Specifically, can I use my boat or kayak to reach a good shore fishing location, fish from shore and catch my fish, then get back in the boat for the ride home? I wouldn't be fishing from the boat, but instead using it to transport me to my shore fishing location. Thanks for your help. (Rick R.)

ARRIVING BY BOAT or kayak to fish from shore in an MPA that outlaws use of boats would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” CREATIVE COMMONS PHOTO

Answer: No, I’m afraid you will need to strap on your hiking boots and walk in to your favorite fishing spots along the coast during the boat-based fishing closures. Arriving by boat would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” Depending upon which groundfish management area you plan to fish in (Northern [27.25], Mendocino [27.30], San Francisco [27.35], Central [27.40] or Southern [27.45]), this regulation can be found under section (c)(3).

Luring fish with licorice for bait?

Question: My brother and I have two burning questions we have been wondering about. Is it legal to fish with licorice as bait? Also, we observed a man with a syringe injecting air into his bait worms so they would float off the bottom. What do you think the purpose was and is this legal to do? (Marcus O.)

Answer: Processed foods, such as licorice, are legal under bait regulations for inland waters (found beginning in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00). It is also legal to inject air into a fishing worm and many such kits are found at sporting goods outlets. This method can be a very effective way to keep a worm off the bottom of lakes with heavy bottom vegetation.

Are black mussels from Bodega Bay under quarantine?

Question: While we were fishing from the shore in Bodega Bay last weekend I noticed a lot of beautiful black mussels on the rocks. I believe the limit is 10 lbs/person but wanted to make sure it was the safe season to eat them. Are they under quarantine for domoic acid, too? Thank you for your help!!! (Ben L.)

Answer: You are correct that the limit is 10 pounds (in the shell) for California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination (CCR Title 14, section 29.55). Mussels are not currently under quarantine. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) monitors for natural toxins that occur along the coast that may affect wild mussels. Mussels are regularly quarantined on an annual basis, usually from May through October, because mussels are a particularly high risk species because they have the ability to concentrate toxins very quickly. When dangerous levels of toxin are detected in mussels, CDPH will begin testing other shellfish species as well for these toxins, if samples are readily available. If samples are not easily obtained, or if toxin levels are increasing rapidly, CDPH will issue a press release announcing a special health advisory for the potentially toxic seafood species in the affected area.

To check for real time advisories, go to check for an advisory or quarantine in advance of any mussel-collecting trip, you can also call the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For more information about the annual mussel quarantine, please visit the CDPH website at

Can pesky squirrels be relocated?

Question: Is it permissible to relocate pesky squirrels that are destroying or damaging private property? (Fred, Redding)

Answer: No. Small nuisance mammals that are damaging property may be taken by the owner but may not be released alive except in the immediate area. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. A depredation permit may be issued for tree (gray) squirrels, unless it is the gray squirrel season when hunters are allowed a four squirrel bag and possession limit.

Must fishing license be carried while spearfishing?

Question: If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)

Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Fish and Game Code, section 7145).

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

Merit McCrea's Blog

Two key candidates for the Fish and Game Commission
As you may already know, the Fish and Game Commission is responsible for making and maintaining the laws that govern the living natural resources of California. They draft and oversee the regulations that the Department of Fish and Wildlife officers enforce. Supporting this effort is the scientific and legal and policy staff at the Department.

The Commission consists of a 5-member board, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Legislature, each for 6-year terms. Currently two of these five positions stand newly vacant. The recreational fishing community has come behind two key candidates. One is Dan Yparragguirre, recently retired Deputy Director of the Department’s Wildlife and Fisheries Division. The other is Don Hansen, founder of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching.


Don has an astounding history of experience at the highest levels of fisheries policy and management, including Chair of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC). The PFMC serves the National Marine Fisheries Service in setting coast-wide federal fisheries regulation from the Canadian border south to the Mexican border.

Historically the Commission has been composed of members who have shared both great experience and passion for the outdoors, fishing and hunting, and in conservation. However, more recently some, or most, according to long-time Commissioner Jim Kellogg, have little experience with hunting or fishing.

In reading their bios, two seem unlikely to have held either an annual hunting or fishing license in this great state. It would appear that many have had little previous experience with much of what the Department and Commission are charged with overseeing.

With the departure of Commissioners Jack Bayless and avid outdoorsman Jim Kellogg, the remaining Commissioners, and the fishing and hunting public desperately need that experience base represented in Don Hansen and Dan Yparragguirre.

We need people who have the passion to have stood in line at a Department operated Wildlife Area at 3:30 a.m. just to be out in the field at the crack of dawn to see it’s glory and experience the morning flight. We need folks that know first-hand the challenges of a wet and rolling deck, when they draft regulations governing fishing at sea.

We need representatives that have battled in the trenches with the vagaries of crafting policy with words that is both fair and considerate. We need conservation regulations that actually work out in the field, without costly unintended consequences. Nothing is worse for public support and buy-in than when a new regulation works badly with an old one, lets a crook off the hook or mandates a senseless waste of time, effort or resources.

Dan’s roots, coming up through the ranks starting as a Department biologist, give him the insight and experience to be a tremendous resource to the Commission. Although the Department’s staff of wardens and biologists are a diverse group, they are united in their passion for wildlife, conservation and the outdoors. And no one is more passionate about these things than hunters and fishers. This is why so many gravitate to careers there. Believe me, on days off most Department wardens and biologists wear camo, wetsuits or deck boots.

I first met Don Hansen on the Sportfishing Association of California Board of Directors, sometime last century. He still serves as Vice President there. He has also served as a Commissioner for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, appointed by Presidents Obama, Bush, and Bush, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission. His passion for fish, fishing and fisheries began in the 1950s and he spent his fair share of time as a sportboat captain too.

Please support them by drafting a simple letter, “I support Don Hansen and Dan Yparragguirre for the Department of Fish and Game Commission. Sincerely, Joe and Jamie California voter.”

Send it snail mail to:

Governor Jerry Brown

State Capitol, Suite 1173


Or by email to Governor Jerry Brown:


And the Sportfishing Association of California recommends sending a copy to:

Charlton "Chuck" Bonham

Director, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

1416 9th Street, 12th Floor

Sacramento, California 95814

SAC President Ken Franke asked the SoCal sport fleet to mail by Friday the 5th, so if you’re doing it, get on your iphone or whatever and do it now!

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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:

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