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Pat McDonell's Blog

WONews Column by Pat McDonell

Pat McDonell is the Editorial Director of Western
Outdoors Publications and has fished and hunted all over the world, from Brazil’s famed peacock bass waters to Morro Bay for albacore.

A graduate from San Diego State University in Journalism, he coordinates the staffs of the weekly newspaper and magazine. He was a founding member of United Anglers of SoCal. He’s an avid saltwater and freshwater angler and hunter. He is also the director of the annual Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament held each November in Cabo.  McDonell, 52, is married with two daughters and resides in Carlsbad.

El Nino on the way, in the larger size
The bite is heating up already
Opah at the 150 spot!


The word now, a full-blown El Nino is likely coming. Look for fall rains, warmer water, more exotics and all the usual -- good and bad -- aspects of a full on warm water condition. Last year was a mere tune-up.

In a report on Monday morning on, while similar indications were reported last year at this time, this year is shaping up to be different, said David Pierce, climate researcher with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That said, it’s still too early to know for sure, he stated in the KPBS story.

“You have to have both the ocean and the atmosphere cooperating together,” Pierce said. “Last year the ocean surface temperatures and the subsurface temperatures below the surface looked like it was going to be an El Niño, but the atmosphere didn’t really start responding. But this year is a little bit different. The atmosphere does seem to be responding.”

Pierce said El Niño is set in motion when massive convective storms form over the warmer-than-usual tropical Pacific.

“It’s kind of like if you roll a ball down a hill and there’s a lot of people around, “ Pierce said. “Someone might run up and kick it and deflect it from its path. So we’re rolling down hill, we’re aiming towards an El Niño, but random weather events can still make a difference.”

See for more on this story.Of course, we are already seeing the effects of warmer water. 

I think the weather has me snakebit. The last three Fridays -- the Davey’s/Freelance charter I hosted, the May 16-17 Catalina WSB tourney I directed, and this past Friday on my 18-foot boat with WON BASS director Billy Egan out of San Diego -- it has rained and blown all three days, The rest of the days of those weeks? Perfect. Anyway, chasing catching yellows under birds was brutal in 15 knot winds and chop, but we did it. We hit the Coronados to Nine Mile Bank to the inside about 5 miles off Point Loma, and got one fish, a 20 pounder. Billy got it on two cranks on a wrapped surface jig. That’s the second time he’s been on my boat and gotten just one fish, both yellows. I told him that’s the boat’s official limit for him now, and just deal with it. Ha. Better to get one than blanked.

BILLY EGAN of WON with our lone yellow. It ate the surface iron. The bite continues to be excellent this week, at the islands and on the coast, under the birds. 

Good tip: True, the yellows are eating the iron, but if they don’t and they are  on the surface but lockjawed,  try a 1-ounce leadhead with a 4-inch swimbait. Some red in that bait will help as they are on small bait or the red crabs. The fish are moving fast.

his past week, the 43 Fathom Spot and 150 Spot off Huntington Beach gave up opahs. On Monday, Jim Cook of Hesperia caught a135.7-pound opah on a live while using an Avet reel, Izorline 40-pound line on a dropper loop setup. He was headed back out after he weighed it in n Memorial Day.

JIM COOK AND HIS opah from the 150 Spot yesterday off Huntington Beach, on  Memorial Day. 


Good news from Billy Egan. The upcoming WON BASS Clear Lake Open, one of the two big pro bass events we have, is way up in signups. Each year the tourney – and the U.S. Open at Mead, have grown in size. They are easily the biggest pro events in the West. Bill also directs the SARL, Big Bear and Havasu events for WON.

This reporter will be on Let’s Talk Hookup this Saturday, May 30, on 1090-AM from 7 to 9 a.m. with hosts Pete Gray and Rockcod Rick Maxa. We'll be talking tournaments, El Nino, fishing and the newspaper’s latest stories. Call in if you can. The free Mighty 1090 App is how I listen to the show on my phone. Go to and you can listen by clicking the icon, and also get the app there. But any app store can do that instantly. I like the station in general and tune into Pads games, so the app works for me outside the station’s power range. It’s just far more convenient as I’m not tied to the radio. Call in at (877) 792-1090 or (858) 457-1090.

Angler Chronicles TV show producer and good friend Danny Jackson let me know that on Fox Sports West, a June 14 segment on catfishing is good one to watch or DVR. “It is called "Catfish 101" and is a tutorial as well as lots of bent rod action on blue and channel catfish,:” said Danny. “ We have fish in the 20- and 30-pound range on video. There are also very good tutorials on how to rig, techniques, baits and even how to fillet and cook them.

ROFESSIONAL GUIDE AND LOCAL expert, Capt. Don Spencer.   Huge blue and channel catfish will be featured in a new Angler Chronicles episode to air on June 14.

Added Jackson, “I did film all of this at Irvine Lake and it will be a good episode to kick off the summer since lots of anglers look to target catfish in the summer. Everything in this program of course applies to anywhere fishermen are targeting catfish in the southland.”

One of top calico hunters around,Karl Erbacher, recently caught the biggest calico bass ever caught in a tournament. Amazingly, it only got he and his teammate John Dunlap, a second place finish at a recent SWBA event. This has been the year of big calicos, for sure. Lot of theories why. One is that the islands’ squid nests bulked them up and spoiled them, now the nests are gone and they are more aggressive.

The 10.6 pounder was caught at Catalina Island on May 9 with Erbacher using a Big Hammer 9-inch sledge in color #125 Hot Karl. The total bag weight for the 5-fish limit was over 28 pounds and good for a second place team finish.

KARL, RIGHT,  AND JOSH Dunlap at the weigh-in earlier this month.

The “Team Salty” duo, regulars on the bass tours,  are big fish honchos. They have now   set the big fish record for the SWBA series with this fish, and also holds the big fish for the SBS with a 9.48 calico.

The tale of the check: In the Catalina WSB tourney, the winning check total was written out without factoring in the $1,400 first place money. So we did it digitally back here at WON. Looked pretty good. In the tourney at Two Harbors, we assemble the stats on the computer in 15 minutes so we can get to the awards, have lunch, give away the monster pile of prizes and get the folks back fishing or on the road across the channel. In all, it went pretty smooth this year, $19,000 in bucks and $25,000 in prizes, including a trip to Alaska for two and two Furuno units, 12 Avets, six Cousins rods, Grundens clothing sets (4)……..but the white seabass were nonexistent. Good thing we had yellows and halibut to weigh.

One question teams had was, if no WSB was weighed, when what happens to the optional money? There was $4,590 in the three optionals. It will all be returned, minus 10 percent. Strangely, it made for a lot of happy teams. If you can’t win, then getting most of the dough back is second best and not so bad. It’s an accounting nightmare for us. We really like to give that money out at the tourney.

Next up for me as a tourney director is the Sept. 4-5 San Diego Jackpot at Dana Landing, in its third year. The first year we had 9 teams in a hastily created event when Ensenada was cancelled. Last year, in its second go-around, we had 45 teams. This year the tuna and yellowtail event should draw even more teams. It’s just $50 to enter as person, no limit on team members (two is minimum) and if you have a Yamaha powering your boat, you get a free individual entry. Payouts to third, $100 optionals for yellows and tuna. Check in is Friday night and Saturday morning at Dana Landing (only, this year). See (click on WON events).

Pat McDonell is editor of Western Outdoor News and director of the WON saltwater events at Cabo, San Diego and Catalina. Contact him at





Clearing the desk
This next week I will be at Catalina Island for three days, directing the annual WON/Yamaha Catalina White Seabass Championship out of Two Harbors. If you want to fish it, just show up Saturday morning 7 a.m. to 10:30 at Two Harbors. Cash only. The prizes alone are worth doing the event, not to mention the good excuse to go after the yellowtail at either San Clemente or Catalina islands. There’s a LOT of fish out there. And a lot of sea lions. Fair game, although the cards are stacked in favor of the ever-expanding and smart sea lions.



The Freelance ¾-day run last Friday was a charter I hosted out of Davey’s Locker. Never have I had a such a great group and such brutal results. Plenty of the fish were at Catalina’s east end. Great bait. But… just one yellowtail was brought aboard. The sea lions ate all our baits and hooked fish. Lesson for all. Hook ’em quick, use 30- to 60-pound for ’dines ’cuz the fish don’t care, use only the biggest and greenest for quick hook-ups, and have surface iron with at least 40-pound line ready. It’s a race to the finish.

Last week was a tough one here at WON. Our accountant, Denise Cully, retired after 25 years. She didn’t hunt, or fish. But, if you entered an event here at WON, she handled your money and doled out your checks. And mine and many others. Never a mistake. Professional and calm. We are truly going to miss her. She’s not so much retiring as moving off into a life of travel with her husband Dr. Michael Cully, and higher education — going after a Master’s. In 30 years here, I’ve seen a lot of folks come and go. That was a tougher one than many.

In last week’s issue of WON, the story and cover headline were correct, but the caption of the photo on page 1 mistakenly listed the 11-8 brown as a rainbow. The brown was a nice pre-Mother’s Day present from her son, Capt. Craig Kojima gave to his mother Jean as he put her onto the beautiful fish at Lower Twin Lake in Bridgeport. The fish hit on a trolled custom-painted Rapala.

MIKE CARSON WITH his Aloha Spirit WSB.

The Alaska trip I am hosting in August is a better deal than we thought. It has been confusing for some interested folks. The trip for three days of fishing, is now $2,425, not $2,495 and includes the $130 Sitka tax that is not included in the $2,295 list price on the Kingfisher site. So, our price is $100 less than the lodge offers, and also includes a $100 clothing credit at the lodge which is not offered to any other groups. Just WON. In addition, low fares on Alaska Airlines last week dropped to $400 out of LAX. Last year those same fares were $800 to $900. There is no better time than now to go on a Kingfisher Alaska trip, hosted by WON. E-mail Connor Johnson at to reserve your spot.

Dick Gaumer, who worked in sales here and as a rep for a number of companies and who has been retired for years, is not doing well these days, and a phone call — soon — to say hello would be advised.

CORRECTION: We have to depend on various loyal sources for our weekly info, and when they are wrong, so are we. It happens. Mike Carson of Burbank was on the cover with an Aloha Spirit WSB and the wrong name was on the caption. Carson has had some big WSB over the years, his two biggest a 62 and a pair of 50s. Nice. This one was a 30 pounder he caught on a flylined mackie.

* * *

Pat McDonell is editor of WON. Contact him at

Bluefin decisions: Fillet proposal ludicrous
Tuna filleting:  A lousy deal for anglers


First the good news. Mexico is “reportedly” leaning toward adopting whatever the U.S. adopts in regards to recreational catch of bluefin tuna. We hope. Now the bad news. That change in Mexican regs may take a while. Mexico will wait to see what we do. In the meantime, our federal government, in the form of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) and the National Marine Fisheries Service, is proposing to drop the per day limit from 10 bluefin to 2 bluefin and the 3-day bluefin limit from 30 fish to 6 bluefin. Which we knew would happen.

However, we are also looking at new filleting rules for ALL tuna species in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off SoCal, in waters south of Pt. Conception. Yes, I know there is a public comment period that runs until May 6, but this looks us like a done deal we will have to deal with.

It’s a lotta jumping through hoops. The two-fish limit we can live with. The filling regs? Come on, man! Let’s focus, and forget about the issue of whether Mexico’s rules will eventually parallel ours. It’s likely, and the right thing to do. Anything is better than the complete moratorium on sportcaught bluefin that Mexico currently imposes.

But for now let’s discuss the issue of U.S. waters. These proposed fillet laws and procedures for private boaters and sportfishers -- for not just bluefin, but ALL tuna in U.S. waters -- are simply ridiculous. All in the name of fish identification for the wardens who have a tough enough job these days in marine waters. Now they will have to sift through garbage bags of tuna to determine if the anus (vent) of a carcass is oval or round, among other details.

We are not kidding you.

Yellowfin have a round “vent”, bluefin have an oval. That’s why the vent cavity of all tuna caught in U.S. waters on any recreational boat MUST be in a bag with several other parts. Woe to any angler who does have every “vent,” aboard, and bagged. We are NOT making this up. I wish I was.

So, to sum up this new law we likely will endure, we have these choices.

· Don’t fillet any tuna. Goes for PBers and partyboats. Bring the whole fish home in great shape and bury the carcass and come up spelling like roses each spring. That’s going to be financial bummer to crews who depend on fish cleaning to supplement tips and low wages.

· Fillet each fish, slab the two sides or quarter all tuna and keep the skin on. You can dump the head and tail. Keep the “vent” area intact. Place in a bag, and depending on the size of a tuna, that could be a hefty bag. You then must mark the bag  what kind of tuna that is: bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, skipjack tuna. Yes, skipkack would be included.

· Take ALL the parts home. You can’t dump them, not until you get home. So if you think you can get near the dock and chuck them over just offshore or the bay, you cannot. The DFG can check your boat at the ramp and your fish over to be processed, or fillet at home. That is going to be a big boon to those companies.

· The fillet issues for All tuna will raise a true conundrum for captains. Rockfish or chase tuna? It will be a tougher choice for crew and captain with these regs.

You can voice an opinion on the impending bluefin and tuna fillet proposal to NMFS by May 6. To view the proposed regulations and to submit comments, visit:!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0029-0001 …Comments are due by May 6, midnight.

Snow melts, it's game on for Sierra
10-10 brown at Lower Twin paces Sierra big fish

BRIDGEPORT -- "Scott Harp Sr. didn't call it quits because of a little opening day foul weather," reported Martin Strelneck, one of our five WON reporters on the scene opening weekend in the Eastern Sierra for the traditional open. The opener, the last Saturday in April every year, draws thousands to the lakes along Highway 395. Streneck added, "Late afternoon he made the scales at Twin Lake Resort weighing in a 10-pound, 10-ounce brown trout, taking top area honors for the day's heaviest Eastern Sierra catch."

Strelneck said Harp Jr., an Elk Grove resident, spent the day trolling a J-plug, rigged with leadcore down 8-colors. It looks as though that fish, a 10-2 'bow at Crowley, several browns at Lower Twin and a host of 5 to 7 pounders at the Loop and Crowley and one 7 1/2 pounder at Upper Twin Lake in Mammoth were the opening day lunkers.

BIG FISH opening day honors went to Elk Grove angler Scott Harp Sr. who braved the elements and weighed in this 10-pound, 10-ounce Lower Twin Lake brown that inhaled a J-Plug trolled down eight colors. Twin Lake Resort Photo

A quick snowstorm came and went Saturday, making life miserable most of the day at upper elevations, but still the anglers came and the fish bit, and then by Saturday afternoon the melt was on, and by Saturday night and Sunday morning, the blanket of snow was peeled off and the sun came out for a perfect second day.

As everyone knows, the state and the Eastern Sierra is in a brutal four-year drought with low snowfall, The one good side of that is that Lakes Basin of Mammoth was wide open. Now, usually, you need an auger to drill the ice, and a snowmobile to get to the upper Mammoth Basin lakes.

This year, all the lakes of upper and lower Twin, Mary, George and Mamie were open, accessible, and planted before the opener and they had holdover Mono County-provided lunkers that had been put in after the season closed. Just waiting.There were at least 100 to 150 folks at Mary on shore and in 10 boats battling the wind (like me) and the other lakes, although the other basin lakes had no rental boats on the water, their shores were sprinkled with anglers, bundled up. Hooking fish, mostly on Power Bait.

I spent most of my time at Lake Mary in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, and Mary is an example of the situation, the Mammoth Lakes Basin being ice-free for the first time in 25 years, says Don Barrett, owner of the Lake Mary's s Barrett Landing, with boats in the water.

" The snowfall for the opener is the ultimate irony," said Barrett, but by Saturday afternoon the snow had stopped, and melted quickly away. By the evening, in Mammoth and the highway and everywhere but the upper Sierra elevations, it seemed as though the heavy snow was merely a dream. It was gone. But it was real. And real cold, the coldest I have ever been in 30 years of covering the opener for WON. I got three Lake Mary rainbows in an hour trolling and on PB from a boat and was more than happy to get to shore and start taking pictures of others' fish and taking notes. It was damn cold and gusts or blasts delivered snow sideways at times, making life miserable on the anchor.  

A lot of people took advantage of the open waters, but they hadn't counted on blizzard conditions, but they still fished and caught plenty. Then the snow melted and it warmed up, it was game on with a 7 1/2 pound rainbow by Mammoth Resident Jim Dessert from Upper Twin on an inflated 'crawler by the waterfall, which by my accounting here at WON was the biggest fish from of the Mammoth basin waters, but there were 5-fish limits galore laced with 2 to 3-pound fish being weighed in at Rick's Sports Center in Mammoth.

Rick  Flamson , owner of the iconic downtown Mammoth sports shop, added that Red's Meadow will likely be open by Memorial Day after some road work. That is not official, by any means, but it is close enough and that means the access to lakes Sotcher, Starkweather, the hike to Devil's Postpile, Rainbow Falls, and the backcountry trails at Red's Meadow will open months earlier.

Bad news is,  Flamson said, you will have one month to fish the San Joaquin River because that river, and any other flowing Sierra waters, will be trickles soon with this drought. "It will be definitely be the year of the Sierra lakes," said  Flamson.

HARD DAY FISHIN—A steady snowfall didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of opening day anglers at June Lake. The reeds on the west end of the lake continued to be a hot spot for both rainbows and cutthroat. PHOTO BY ERNIE COWAN


This is my first opener after two years of missing the action. Two hip surgeries are over and done with. Felt great to be back, despite the brutal Saturday morning weather. This area is so beautiful, and it feels great to be back covering the opener with the rest of the staff. Look for full coverage from Ernie Cowan, Mike Stevens, Bill Karr and Martin Strelneck in this week's issue of WON.

New blood, familiar faces
There is changing of the guard at the San Diego sportfishing landings. Rest assured, it is the kind of change that sportfishing on Scott Street is known for, bringing in new blood but building on decades of tradition.

When Capt. Bill Poole passed away in 2009, his wife and business partner Ingrid Poole controlled 50 percent of Fisher­man’s Landing, and 37½ percent of Pt. Loma Sportfishing and remains the second largest shareholder at Seaforth. Ingrid is now remarried, enjoying life in Montana, and is slowly moving on, selling her interests, thus far in Fisherman’s and Point Loma Sportfishing.

FRANK LOPRESTE, IS still majority owner of Fisherman’s Landing and Seaforth, but recently the port of San Diego ok’d his partnering with Capt. Tim Ekstrom of the Royal Star and Doug Kern of Fisherman’s Landing Tackle.

The new owners are all familiar names to customers and partners.

Ingrid Poole was at the recent Fred Hall Long Beach show, visiting booths, old friends and businesses she and Bill had built or helped over several decades. She is moving into a new phase of her life. Six months ago, she sold 17 percent of Fisherman’s Landing to Frank LoPreste, 17 percent to Doug Kern (who is partners with LoPreste and a new investor — and more on that later of Fisherman’s Landing Tackle) and another 17 percent was sold to Capt. Tim Ekstrom, one of three owner/operators of the Royal Star. The San Diego Port Commission last month approved the transfer.

LoPreste told WON on Friday that soon another 16 percent owned by his ex-wife will be sold to the trio, 7 percent to Ekstrom, 7 percent to Kern and 2 percent to Frank.

“Tim and I will eventually have 24 percent of the landing and Frank will have 52 percent,” said Kern. “He’s the majority owner and he’s still the man. He and Bill built this whole thing at the landings and it’s time he’s the No. 1 guy. We’re minority owners, and I have to say we’re grateful for him to be here, and a chance to mentor us, because there’s a lot for us to learn about.”

DOUG KERN AND his equal partner Frank LoPreste in Fisherman’s Landing Tackle sold shares to longtime Tackle Manager Rick Maxa in January. Kern recently joined LoPreste and Tim Ekstrom in part ownership of the landing.

LoPreste said he didn’t make his majority ownership in Fisherman’s a key issue. Kern and Ekstrom requested it. “I could not be happier with the agreement,” said LoPreste. The three of us complement each other. Tim and I are ‘go out and get ’er done’ types, and Doug is more of the ‘Let’s write it down and think about this a little bit’ kind of guy. I don’t think we will ever have a disagreement, and if we ever do, it won’t stay that way. We’ll just sit down and revisit it.”

Kern is greatly respected and well-liked in sportfishing circles. He understands there is a calm transfer of power going on. There’s no room or time for internal struggles, outsiders and takeovers.

“What we’re seeing is an infusion of new blood, with people who care about the industry and the San Diego landings. We’re really unique; we’re three combined landings down here. It’s a changing of the guard, but it’s with people who know how it’s done, with integrity.”

Ekstrom was just heading out on a trip and told WON the opportunity has been there before, well before this year.

CAPT. TIM EKSTROM, one of three owner operators of the Royal Star, was recently approved by the San Diego Port Commission as part owner of Fisherman’s Landing with Doug Kern.

“I vacillated the first time years ago, but when opportunity finally did knock again, the opportunity to share ownership with Doug Kern was the principal reason I joined the Fisher­man’s Landing ownership team,” Ekstrom explained. “The respect I have for both Frank and Doug is directly tied to their contributions and dedication to sportfishing. Their history as successful proponents of our fishery speaks for itself. My role in the team is to bring the dock perspective into future management decisions. A strong rapport with my colleagues (boat owners and veteran crewmen) will provide them a direct conduit to landing management and ownership.”

“There have been many-a past misunderstanding between vessel owners and landing management simply due to a lack of perspective on both sides. It is my goal to bridge the divide when future challenges arise. I will advocate for the vessel owners and work to achieve landing objectives at the same time. Ultimately we aspire to be the landing that every vessel owner wants to operate from and every angler prefers to patronize which already been established in many respects.”

“Fisherman’s Landing is the premier sportfishing facility in Point Loma to be certain, but there is always room for improvement… where we will focus in the upcoming season.”

RICK MAXA, LONGTIME Fisherman’s Landing Tackle Manager is now part owner of Fisherman’s Landing Tackle with majority owners Doug Kern and Frank LoPreste. “It’s a dream come true,” said Maxa.

The transition of landings ownership in San Diego doesn’t stop there. Paul Strasser and Mark Pisano, who own 22nd Street Landing and San Pedro Bait Co. and keep their long range sportfisher Independence at Point Loma Sportfishing several months of the year, bought into that landing when Ingrid Poole sold 38½ percent of her shares, the same held by LoPreste. Capt. John Klein holds the remainder of the shares.

The landing is great hands,” said LoPreste. “I just love Paul, he’s the absolute greatest guys, and that Mark Pisano, he’s a hard working son-of-a-gun. I see a really bright future for that landing. The Sea Adventure is moving over from H&M and the Dominator is back on line.”

LoPreste, then, is the man in San Diego sportfishing. Owner­ship in the tackle, Fisherman’s, Point Loma and Seaforth in Mission Bay where he controls 53 percent The next largest shareholders are Ingrid Poole and the landing’s longtime manager John Yamate. One thing is for sure, rumors of LoPreste stepping back and relaxing at his ranch up north with wife Kathy, who loves fishing more than anyone in the industry, are partially true. Retiring?

Not a chance.

“I love the sportfishing business too much to stop,” said LoPreste. “I run the boat (his Royal Polaris) 75 days a year, and I’ll keep doing that as long as I possibly can. As for the landings, I plan to be here for a long time. I just love to work too much to quit. Yes, I do love being at my place up north, but every morning I check in with all three landings. And I’ve told my managers, as long as you do your jobs, that will enable me to keep going up there.”

Of course, H&M Landing celebrated its 80th anniversary as the oldest San Diego Sport­fishing landings with its own changing of the guard. Part owner Phil Lobred, after 37 years guiding the landing, recently turned over the management reins to Frank Ursitti, a prominent and experienced sportfishing industry veteran who has operated the boats Ranger 85, Coral Sea and Constitution from H&M Landing in the summer months and CISCO’s Landing in the winter. As part of the transition, Ursitti bought a 25 percent ownership of the business from another partner. Lobred retains his part ownership in H&M, however.

PHIL LOBRED, RIGHT, has turned over the managerial reins of H&M to Capt. Frank Ursitti. Lobred is retiring, but retains his part ownership in the landing, while Ursitti obtained 25 percent from another partner.

On a lesser, but no less important scale, Rick Maxa, who started working at the landing at age 16 and is now the Tackle Manager of Fisherman’s Landing Tackle, has bought into the tackle shop. Kern and LoPreste have equal and majority shares at the shop. Kern bought into the ownership in 1992, and hired Maxa, who is also co-host of Let’s Talk Hook-Up radio show on weekends. Maxa and Kern are also a bay bass fishing team, always in the top echelon of the San Diego Anglers Bay Bass open Tourna­ment held in January.

For Kern, 57, bringing in Maxa, 33, was a no-brainer, rewarding loyalty and hard work.

“It happened the beginning of this year and it’s the natural progression for our operations, and he’s been involved in every aspect of the business, and he’s one of the savviest guys in the tackle industry,” said Kern of Maxa.

Maxa weighed in on his new role as owner at the tackle shop where he started as a teenager. The industry has literally seen him grow up, in person, on the water, at fishing shows and in the shop, and of course on the air, on the Saturday and Sunday 2-hour morning radio shows. The opportunity and timing of new status as part owner in the tackle shop are not lost on Maxa.

“It’s crazy. I would say it’s a dream come true. I started in started in high school tying albacore feathers when I was 16, and here I am 17 or 18 years later. It doesn’t seem real. I’ve been here at the shop longer than I’ve been around.”

He said timing of the deal in January was perfect. “There’s not a better group of guys to work for, and we are in for a really good season, so it’s not a bad time at all to own a tackle store.”

Kern is equally excited about this season. Did the fishermen blow their wad last year in that amazing season? Is there some left for another one that might be even more epic?

“Fishermen find the money when the fish bite,” said Kern. “That has never been a problem.”

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