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Jonathan Roldan's Blog

All forked up
One of the great rewards of being down here in Baja and doing what we do is turning folks on to new experiences. For many, it could be the first time out of the country, or the first time to Mexico.

For others, maybe it's the first time fishing; going snorkeling; or seeing dolphin. There are so many things that we take for granted. If you're a regular reader of my columns, we don't even think twice about so many of them.

For example, this past season, we had a wonderful large family come visit. As I put them on the fishing boats in the morning, one of the nice ladies told me, "This is our first time seeing the ocean!"

Hard to imagine, isn't it?

They had never seen the ocean! It was like the time a few years ago when my dad told he had “…never seen the orginal Star Wars movie or any Star Wars movies.” Everyone has seen the ocean. Everyone has seen Star Wars! Haven’t they?

Never seen the ocean.

Wrap your brain around that for a moment. Think what it might have felt like climbing into a relatively little fishing panga at sunrise to go fishing and all the things that might be going through their minds.

Probably like Columbus headed west across the ocean with a lot of faith that he’d be coming back.

The questions the family asked me started making sense.

"Will it be deep?"

"How big will the waves be?"

"Is this an 'ocean' or a 'sea?'

"What if a shark wants to jump in the boat?" (One of the kids asked that one...which drew some nervous laughs from the rest of the family!)

Happily, they put on brave faces and stout hearts and went out about 200 yards and came back with big smiles and lots of fish and stories to tell to the folks back in the Midwest.

One of the other great experiences…a treat for us Baja rats, but eye-opening to newbies is having your fresh caught fish cooked up for you.

Having our own restaurant puts us at ground zero when it comes to visitors eating fresh fish and especially their own catch.

As I often tell folks contentedly telling me about the great fish dinner, , "Nothing better or fresher than fish that was swimming around this morning!"

And it's true.

Real? Fresh? Fish? Folks are blown away to find out that fish that has never been frozen, canned, shipped, transported or processed can taste so much better when prepared and eaten straight away.

Whether it's plated up as tacos, grilled, broiled, fried...or whatever...then served up Baja style with fresh tortillas, frijoles,vcrice, some homemade salsas or sauces...Well, fewer things are better and surely a highlight of your Baja visit.

But, there's a few things you should know about restaurant fish in Baja.

Almost any restaurant will be happy to cook up your fish. Speaking from experience, it's a lot easier if YOU have already cleaned it.

Having you show up with 5 big pargo or 3 tuna straight out of your ice chest that still need to be cleaned is gonna take awhile. The restaurant might not be equipped to actually clean and dress out a fish for you. They might not know how!

Also, if the restaurant is in a rush and busy, it's hard to pull one of the kitchen staff off his station and have him clear a spot just to clean fish. Many restaurants don't have a "fish cleaning" station per se.

But, that aside, by all means, bring in your fish. Any and all fish are welcome!

What many folks don't know is that there are some fish that are prohibited from being on a restaurant menu here in Baja. Two of the most common fish that come to mind are dorado (mahi mahi) and roosterfish. Also, totuava.

All 3 of those species are prohibited from commercial fishing. So, by law, a restaurant can certainly prepare your fish that you caught and brought (totuava is completely endangered and prohibited). However, that restaurant cannot legally purchase species like roosterfish or dorado and sell them to you or anyone from on our menu.

Restaurants are only allowed to sell "commercially" legal fish. To date, roosterfish and dorado are solely for "sportfishing" purposes. That means YOU with your hook and line. Roosterfish and dorado are prohibited from commercial harvesting.

Likewise, the restaurant can cook YOUR dorado or roosterfish, but it cannot legally purchase that fish from you (because it was sport caught) or from a commercial business. So, chances are, if you see roosterfish, dorado or totuava on a Mexican menu, it probably shouldn't be there.

There are several reasons for this.

For one, there's certainly the ecological impact commercial fishing would have on these species. Commerical and sportfishing pretty much wiped-out the tasty totuava population years ago.

The Mexican far...has recognized that roosterfish and dorado are extremely important to the tourism/fishing industry and are a valuable resource. Translated, that means, they are worth a lot of tourist dollars. They don’t want it going the way of totuava.

There's also the health issues.

From the perspective of a restaurant, purchasing fish from a non-regulated source like from a fisherman or from illegal harvesting could pose a health fish. Simply, in the chain-of-handling, there's no way to know that the fish is safe to eat.

There's no assurances (as far as that goes) to quality-control and inspection. Was it taken legally and correctly harvested and within the size and weight limited specified by law? No way to be certain.

Eat fish. Eat YOUR fish. Eat fresh fish on the menu too. However, it doesn't hurt to ask what kind of fish you're eating or raise an eyebrow if you see something wrong on the menu.

Jim Niemiec's Blog

Game birds strong flushers at Lone Pine Pheasant Club
It was a clear, chilly and windless morning upon arrival at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club with the vast newly flooded portions of Owens Lake glistening under the first rays of sunlight over the Inyo Mountains. Club owner Sean Ponso welcomed us with a cup of freshly brewed coffee as we sat down on the porch of the hunt lodge to plan our morning's upland game bird hunt.

"I think that we should get an early start on this morning's hunt as the temperature is going to reach into the eighties by noon. The cover down in field 5 held up well over the summer with a mix of calf-high field grass, plenty of rose thorn and native shade trees offering up excellent game bird habitat. It has been on the dry side except for a few late summer showers and the first major winter storm of the year is expected to hit the Owens Valley later this week. Pheasant are already out in the field so let's get going," said Ponso.

ringneckedpheasantflushedRINGNECKED PHEASANT FLUSHED HARD — After a very good morning's pheasant hunt at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club, WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec and club owner Sean Ponso, along with the yellow Lab Sierra, took time for this classic photo with Mt. Whitney in the background. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

Prior to letting Sierra out in the field, I stopped to run her pretty good so that she would be ready to hunt. Ponso would be the back-up shooter with his trusty Remington WingMaster Model 870, 20 ga. shouldered, my selection would be a dependable Charles Daly 20 ga. over/under and walking with Nikon camera in hand would be my wife, Toni.

Cover in this field was excellent for holding upland game birds, but open enough so that we could watch Sierra as she quartered in front of us. At just over 4 years this lab is coming into her own and it didn't take long for her to get birdy! Although not of pointing lab breeding, Sierra's tail starts wagging, her head and ears are alert and she will hold a solid mark on a bird until you get within shotgun range and order the flush. A lot of credit on how good of a gun dog this yellow lab is has to be attributed to master dog trainer Paul Cacciatori of Starlight Kennels.

The Lone Pine Pheasant Club releases ring necked pheasant that come from nearby Kern County and are strong fliers with long tails. In addition to prime pheasant, hunters can opt to have chukar released to make for an enjoyable mixed upland game bird bag for both hunter and gun dog.

As we hunted through the field to the north, the Eastern High Sierra mountain range made an excellent back ground and we didn't have to fight into the glare of now a pretty strong sun to the east. Not only is there excellent cover in fields for bird hunting, but the terrain is as close to native as is possible. There are rock formations that resemble the nearby Alabama Hills of movie fame along with ditches created over the years from spring runoff and a working cattle operation with stock ponds. The entire ranch offers up very suitable upland game bird habitat and is excellent for working a veteran or young gun dog.

Ponso talked about the club, birds, cover and his desire to offer up the best upland game bird hunting in the state.

"Our goal is to make a hunt at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club a great hunting experience. Our birds are of prime breeding stock that hold tight and flush strong into the air prior to taking flight. With the club house and other amenities now firmly in place we feel that this club offers the utmost in upland game bird hunting for all hunters. We can cater hunts from just a small group to larger groups that would like to hunt multiple fields over the course of a daylong hunt. We offer knowledgeable guides with good gun dogs and a cleaning house where game is processed and sealed in freezer ready bags for the trip home," said Ponso.

Probably the most impressive aspect of hunting the Lone Pine Pheasant Club is the ambiance offered by the ranch property, the great club house and the friendliness of the entire staff. After a morning's hunt, the return to the lodge is a welcome place to recover from a few hours of field hunting. Waiting to replenish liquids lost during the hunt are chilled tea, pink lemonade and cold spring water with a lunch menu to follow. A lunch features the now almost world famous freshly baked pheasant pot pie, homemade sourdough biscuits and topped with corn tortillas and fresh Mexican salsa. (Editor's note: Hunting guests have the option of turning in their harvest of pheasant for a packaged pheasant pot pie that is sealed and frozen for the trip home for a very nominal charge.)

Ponso told WON that the club normally shoots four days a week, Thursday thru Sunday. However it will open any day of the week for groups of eight or more, who can then enjoy the exclusive use of the entire ranch and club house.

When asked to give an overall statement as to what hunting at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club is all about, Ponso offered the following.

"Only 3 hours drive from Los Angeles, Orange and the Inland Empire counties, we offer an opportunity unique in all of California. You can hunt with us in the morning and then enjoy the pursuit of native game including: quail, chukar and waterfowl during the remainder of the day throughout the beautiful Owens Valley. This club is a small hunting club developed exclusively for the hunter who wants to avoid the large commercial operations and enjoy an informal, truly natural hunting experience."

Western Outdoor News' trip up to Lone Pine was an excellent way to spend the first week of fall weather. For those considering a hunt at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club, and will be taking along a gun dog, spending the first night at the Best Western Plus Frontier Motel in Lone Pine would make for a good choice of lodging. Not only is this motel dog friendly, it has very clean rooms and opens for a great breakfast selection starting at 5 a.m. Being able to eat breakfast prior to making the short 15 minute drive to the hunt club makes for a great way to start any hunting day. For lodging information at the Frontier Motel call (760) 876-5571 and to book a hunt at the Lone Pine Pheasant Club call Sean Ponso at (760) 876-4590 or log on to the club's website at

Blake Warren's Blog

Trout time in the city
We’re still in the early stages of it all, but make no mistake, we have shifted into trout mode here in Southern California. Each year, turning the calendar page to November is generally when the switch is flipped for SoCal trouters, as lake temperatures finally realize their slow descents from the lingering heat of the summer to hit that magical 70-degree mark when trout are able to be safely stocked.

Things have certainly changed some on the South­land trout scene over the last couple decades, some for the better and some, not so much. And yes, there have been the handful of dark marks here as well — the ongoing drought, various lake closures and the scaling back of the DFW trout stocking program — but things are not all doom and gloom for the avid urban trout angler. Far from it.

Trout fishing in Southern California is for the most part, alive and well. It’s just different than it used to be, say 20 years ago. And the die-hards who make up this ever-growing niche of urban trophy trout hunters don’t fish the rainbows the way your granddaddy used to. Sure, the bait-and-wait crowd is still around and Power­Bait and good ol’ fashioned nightcrawlers still do the trick just fine most of the time, but this new wave of SoCal trout fishing is led by guys wielding expensive, high-end trout rods who are armed to the teeth with the countless trout-centric artificials that are out there on today’s market. And there’s a reason for it: it works. With each passing season, the majority of the trophy trout photos WON regularly receives prove that this new wave of jig tossers consistently score plenty of bruiser trout.

And speaking of big trout, there are more Southern Cali­fornia lakes where you can pluck a beefy rainbow now than ever before. The DFW’s gradual scaling back of its trout program over the years has actually helped pave the way and open a spot for more private hatcheries to get in the game and allowed for individual fisheries to take trout stocking into their own hands and become the stewards of their own fisheries, rather than sit idly dependent on the state. And while there’s no honest way to spin the DFW’s trout stocking in recent years as any kind of a legitimate positive, it has actually helped spur the big trout revolution around these parts by default, if you will.

While DFW trout plants are less frequent, less consistent and consist of generally smaller fish than they used to be a couple decades back, Nebraska Tail­walkers from Chaulk Mound Trout Ranch, along with Jess Ranch and Mt. Lassen rainbows and trout shipping down from Idaho and Oregon, have compensated nicely for the DFW’s woes in many cases. From Thanksgiving until March, there are numerous watersheds where sticking a double-digit trout is a legitimate possibility and chunky 5- to 9-pound rainbows are caught relatively frequently — and that hasn’t always been the case up and down SoCal.

The first stockings and trout openers at lakes around the Southland are popping off left and right, with more just right around the corner. Already underway are the trout seasons at Santee, Jennings, Dixon, Santa Ana River Lakes, Diamond Valley, Silverwood, Skinner, Pyramid, Hesperia, Cahuilla and Hemet, to go along with the year-round trout waters of Lake Cuyamaca, Big Bear Lake, Jess Lakes Ranch, Green Valley Lake and Lake Gregory. That’s a pretty darn good menu of trout options for starters, with Lake Wohlford, Lake Poway, Lake Isabella and numerous city and regional park lakes set to open their seasons either later this month or in the early days of December. These lakes are all planting quality rainbows as well, with lots of fish running 3 pounds and up.

Some of these lakes are getting some mondo initial plants to get the season going, too. For example, SARL has already put two big loads of trout in ahead of this past weekend’s opener. Dixon and Diamond Valley just received some heavy stockings last week (4,500 and 3,500 pounds, respectively) and Lake Wohlford will be jump-starting its trout season Dec. 10 with a massive 6,000-pound plant.

Sure, the SoCal trouting landscape has taken its share of lumps in recent years — especially in Orange County with the closures of Anaheim, Corona and Irvine lakes — and you won’t find many area anglers who don’t find that to be a big-time shame, because no matter how you cut it, it is.

Aside from the Eastern Sierra, Irvine Lake was really the only other place I learned to trout fish as a kid, and I know I’m far from being alone in that regard. I remember the heavy excitement for the Irvine trout openers and long, winding lines of headlights stacked up on Santiago Canyon Road with droves of anglers eagerly waiting for the gates to open up and antsy to kick off the season. The fact that Irvine (and others) is off the table for now is truly a bummer to be sure. But who knows, we could also get Irvine back at some point in the future here since it’s not closed due to a low-water issue, so at least there’s some hope to lean on — the lake’s status is currently up in the air as the land deal between the Irvine Company and the County of Orange involving the acreage surrounding the lake is still in the process of being completed.

In the meantime, there are plenty of great spots to wet a line and stringer some hefty trout throughout the vast urban sprawl of Southern California. The landscape has changed but there is ample opportunity out there, and bigger opportunities than ever before to land a trophy trout right in your own backyard. So break out that dusty trout rod and get after ’em. There’s a personal best out there swimming around a lake near you with your name all over it…

Surf Fishing Round-Up

Corbina anglers getting some late season fish
The perch bite picked up this week,reported Hook, Line and Sinker in Santa Barbara. Good schools were showing up on most beaches. Goleta, Gaviota, Butterfly, and East beaches were all holding. Carolina rigged 2-inch Big Hammer swimbaits were a best bet. The hard jerk bait gang stuck some more legal halibut this week. Good water temps and plenty of bait is holding the fish inside. For bait, salted anchovy has been best. The squid bite has improved on the rocky spots. A mix of johnnie bass, cabezon, and calico bass are taking cut strips.

MALIBU — The perch bite is improving,reported Wylie’s. Anglers are seeing more and better quality fish as the water slowly cools. The Oxnard and Ventura beaches have been best. Sammy Ito from Gardena reported easy limits on 1 to 1 1/4-pound barred perch off Jalama on lugworms and mussel. Good numbers of yellowfin croaker have also been in the mix. Anglers are still reporting a smattering of corbina on Malibu beaches. This might be the last of them with stormy weather in the forecast.

REDONDO BEACH — The best bet this week was the halibut bite off the Avenues, reported Just Fishing. Ideal water temps and anchovy and small sardine schools inside has perked up the bite. The spoon bite has been best with Krocodiles and Kastmasters bounced over the bottom getting bites. There may be a stray bonito or striped bass in the mix. The bonito have been more plentiful in and around King Harbor and are taking splashers and spoons. Torrance Beach is still holding some late–season corbina. A few specialists are still taking fish on fresh shucked mussel. With cooling water, more and more smaller perch are showing on most beaches.

SEAL BEACH — The Bolsa Chica Inlet was a bright spot this week,reported Big Fish. Legal halibut up to 26 inches were reported taken on Flash Minnows. The sexy smelt color has been hot. Corbina anglers have also been getting a shot at some big late season fish cruising the inside the breakers at the inlet. Ghost shrimp has been a top bait and cloudy or low light conditions have been best. The long rodders scored some nice croakers both yellowfin and spot on mussel fished of the 72nd place jetty and the Seal Beach Jetty. No sign of bonito this week.

COSTA MESA — The halibut bite improved this week off River Jetties,reported Ketcham. Many more shorts and a few more legals were taken on slow rolled Krocodiles. Making smelt in the slough and fishing them in the surf was a good way to get a better one. There has also been good numbers of palm sized perch taking Carolina-rigged grubs in motor oil and clear with red flake. Some better grub fish were reported taken along the stretch above the Wedge. There is still some corbina around the piers.

DANA POINT — The yellowfin croaker bite was excellent this week, reported Hogan’s. From the San Clemente Pier south to Trails, anglers reported lots of chunky fish taking cut frozen anchovy. The long rod and pyramid sinker was best for targeting the schools holding outside the breakers. The night bite for bat ray and leopard sharks has been excellent along much of Capo Bay. Anglers reported good fishing from Doheny to below the pier. Whole squid and chunk mackerel have been working best. Only a small smattering of bonito this week.

OCEANSIDE — A sargo bite at Terramar was a bright spot this week, reported Pacific Coast. A shop regular reported taking some chunky fish up to 3 pounds on ghost shrimp fished outside the surf line. The cooling water also held good numbers of smaller barred perch. A few legal halibut were reported taken in the lagoons on cut anchovy. Strong tides on the back of the full moon kicked the bite into motion. The night fishing for sharks and rays was strong this week with a 50-pound Angel shark, caught and released from the Oceanside Pier, taking top honors.

SOLANO BEACH — The halibut bite in the surf line picked up this week, according to Blue Water. Anglers reported many more strikes from a mix of short to just legal fish. The river mouths have been a good place to start. Spoons and hard jerk baits have been tops for lures. Cut anchovy has been the best bait. The long rodders are scoring a mix of yellowfin and spotfin croaker at Table Tops on fresh mussel. A corbina or sargo has also been in the mix. The grub bite for barred perch is improving on Mission Beach.

Compiled by Gundy Gunderson

Pat McDonell's Blog

Tanner bluefin on the O'95
FlatFalls get it done on 1 1/2-day run

 The brutal Tanner Bank weather was no deterrent for Capt. Rick Slavkin on 1 1/2-day trip Thursday that encountered a wide-open nighttime bluefin frenzy on the glow-in-the-dark FlatFalls

 THE MOMENT OF TRUTH for Brad Moreau is when the crew of the O’95 takes care of the tuna on the business side.  PHOTOS BY Pat McDonell (gaff) and Rick Ruzzamenti (holding fish).  


OCEANSIDE Oceanside 95 Capt. Rick Slavkin had some tough choices to make. The main one was simple. Be safe. The weather called for a small craft advisory for Wednesday night and building through the night, and when the captain held his meeting that night before they left Oceanside Harbor, he had to tell the 34 passengers that the Tanner Bank might not be in the cards.


“Safety is No. 1,” and I will try to get to the Tanner, but if it’s too rough, then we will stay inside and fish the porpoise for 20- to 30-pound yellowfin,” he said to the assembled group. There were some disappointed looks. The bluefin bite was epic a few days before, and the flat seas and perfect conditions at the Tanner the week before had accounted for some tall tales of great 100-pound bluefin, just a week before Thanksgiving. The squid were drawing the tuna to the nests, and it was a question of getting live and fresh dead squid, and drifting across the Tanner Bank, located 20 miles outside of San Clemente Island, which is 50 miles from Oceanside Harbor. It’s a long, brutal haul if weather is lousy.


“If it were any other boat but this 95 footer, I’d just say no, we’re not going to the Tanner tonight,” but the 95 is a big, heavy boat, so we will see. But we’ll be at the Tanner, if we can make it, by 10 or 11.”


So, there were four things facing the anglers: No live bait with no prospect of getting any on handoffs from boats coming from receivers at Long Beach or San Pedro. We were going to be the only ones there -- if we even made it. The weather was a killer: 10- to 12-foot swells, 30 to 40 knot winds. We had a full load of anglers, 34 at the rail. And, it would essentially be a half-day trip. Why? The day bite has been a pick and as I update this story here on Tuesday, the same holds true. The gray light and dusk/night bites have been when the fish were hot. So there was a small window of opportunity facing us.


Funny how things work out, and they did. The weather was lousy but manageable, and Capt. Slavkin, now in his third year at the O’95, kept plugging west, slowly. By 6 a.m. this angler was up, and realized Slavkin had put San Clemente Island in the rear view mirror. Destination Tanner was three hours ahead.


“I really didn’t think we’d make it, the affable captain said. “I did go a little to the extreme.” That was what Slavkin said at the end of the trip, and indeed he did. A lot of captains lately have stayed much later to get a solid shot at the bluefin at night. There were a lot of stoked anglers rubbing their eyes as the O’95 lurched over, down, and then up again over huge swells. When we arrived at the Tanner there were two groups: those eating breakfast, and those losing their “lunch.” Some recovered, some did not.


Amazingly, I felt great. Our galley cook Doug Untiedt was cranking out the assortment of tasty and quick breakfast burritos and burgers, and a hearty and tasty beef briscuit dinner, and as the weather settled, appetites soared for food and bluefin that were on a pick, as advertised. There was no sitting around mid morning on our drifts as fish were always under the boat as Slavkin leaned out of the wheelhouse and kept giving out numbers, “Three targets at 180” or a “Wolf pack at 220. Get those baits down.”


We had a fish almost immediately on the dead squid.


At this point, as the weather slowly backed off, the drift was always good. The fish were always stacking up, and more so as the day went on. Every able-bodied, non-puking angler was at the rail, and some were pretty green, but hell, bluefin …100 pounders …on a 1 ½-day were great incentive. The first angler to score at just after 10 a.m. on the first drift was Komron Aziz of Irvine, using 80-pound flouro, an 8-ounce torpedo up the line five to six feet with a rubber band. An experienced tuna angler, he would end up with two bluefin, his limit.


Soon after, the bites came here and there, one or two in each hour-long drift, a mix of rigs were used, the fresh dead on 4/0 circle hooks either sent down with the 6- to 8- to 12-ounce torpedo sinkers or a couple 3-ounce day glow sliding sinkers held up the line four or five feet by the flouro/top shot knot. Those were effective, but so were the day glow Shimano FlatFalls, the 200 or 250-gram heavies.


The hottest stick on the boat was Fallbrook landscaper and resident Pat Sovacool. He was fishing light line and smaller reels but he had the chops to do it. He hooked 8 fish on the trip, but had two fish he landed during the day on the fresh dead, then three (If I recall) on the FlatFall, the all-important day glow feature was charged up by pocket flashlight chargers a few people brought. A word to anglers: Buy them. They are quicker and produce a longer charge than conventional lights, and are about $5 at WalMart. A buddy that skipped my trip with the weather projection but went out the next night on the SD-based Tribute hooked and landed four on the FlatFalls using the WallMart charger I told him about. He was lending it out all trip when people saw how effective it was.


By dusk, the seas had calmed, relatively, and the fish were now stacking on the sonar, and Slavkin as few times said he had not see this kind of volume yet at the Tanner, and that is saying something as Capt. Slavkin has been killin’ the bluefin on every trip. Soon enough, the day glow Flat Falls were the lure of choice. Fresh bites up the rail, one, two or three were being called out. The fresh dead wasn’t working any more, the fishes’ bellies were glutted on it, we soon found.


“I think the fish were full, but they just got pissed off at the glowing FlatFalls,” said Slavkin. “I don’t know why. But it’s unbelievable the amount of monster fish we were getting.”



Drift after drift we picked up five, six or even eight hookups, although many were lost. No one lost their cool. Well, one angler did, upset he had lost a fish on 30-pound, despite the crewman’s best efforts over more than an hour. Slavkin finally had to step in and defend his crewman. We all now realized who “that guy” was on the trip. There’s always one. Turned out, the angler moved up to 50-pound, landed his fish with the help of the same crewman, and one passenger said, “Hey, are you going to apologize now to that crew guy? You should.”


That guy didn’t. What a tool. Lesson here. Don’t blame your crewman if you use 30-pound line or even 40 or 50 without the right rod or reel. To me, all you are doing is killing a fish (if you get spooled, you killed that fish) and screwing uop everyone else in a protracted fight.


The night bite went on an on, and we were waaay overdue. We should have headed back to Oceanside at 8 p.m. to make the 6 a.m. Friday return, but no one, not even the crew, the captain or the people still sick as dogs would whine. The bluefin were biting on the glow FlatFalls, and it was epic carnage. We put 22 feet on the deck, lost at least that many, and if we had gotten into them in the morning at daybreak, we might have doubled that because we would been dialed into the scene and what was working best in the dark.


The jackpot was won via a 118-pound bluefin by John Duquin who came with his friend Blake Smith. They are members of the SoCal Deaf Anglers Club and longtime WON subscribers. Great guys, and we as a group communicated with back slaps, hand signals and writing on napkins. It’s like fishing, you figure out what works. 

“We have fished over 40 years for tuna and bever have seen tuna this big,” Duquin wrote on a napkin for this reporter. “This 118 pounder the biggest in my lifetime, a great experience.”


JOHN DUQUIN with his 118 pounder., the biggest of the trip. 

The trip was summed up by Eric Dahlstrom of Beaumont, who had 103 and 102 pounders on the FlatFall. A fun guy, always laughing. Always pulling or working hard at the rail.


“These two fish are biggest I’ve ever caught, and I would not have caught ‘em if not for the captain. On any other boat we would have been off the water by 6:30 at night and headed home. Captain Rick is the man.”


If you prefer another explanation, Brad Moreau of Oceanside caught a nice 100 pounder. It put the hurt ion him, but he got it in. He hasn’t been fishing much these past years. His rehabbed shoulder is feeling better so he came with a buddy, Ron Dwinnell. Moreau at first balked at going because of the weather. Then he decided that if the weather did settle as promised, the prospect of a 1 ½-day bluefin tuna was too great a temptation. The gamble paid off.


“Crazy is as crazy does,” said Moreau.


Or, as Sovacool said it after catching his 5 bluefin, “Fun trip, but I’m burnt.”



Many thanks to the crew and Helgren’s Sportfishing Landing for a great trip. Capt. Rick Slavkin’s crew were among the best I’ve ever fished with and have great nicknames. They were Tommy Boy Horanyi, Doug Uniedt in the galley, Maurice “Snowball” Lopez, Daniel “Golf Ball” Tyler and Troy “Chowder” Stranko.


THE FIRST FISH of the day was by Komron Aziz of Irvine one fresh dead squid, 80 flouro with rubber banded 8-ounce torpedo sinker up the line.



ONE OF 5 BLUEFIN, two over 100 pounds, for Fallbrook resident and O’95 regular Patrick Sovacool. He was fishing for boat limits, as the personal limit is two.


THE NIGHTIME BITE was epic, and after this scene was shot, it got even crazier at the Tanner Bank on the Flatfall glow jigs. It was like a long range trip, except it was a 1 ½-day run. The fish were all in the 100-pound class. Biggest was 118.

PAT SOVACOOL shares the load of a 100-pound bluefin with crewmen Mauricio “Snowball” Lopez.

ERIC DAHLSTROM with his personal best bluefin on the glow 60-gram Flatfall.





















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