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.

Isabella Derby: Biggest in the state
Giving it all away at Isabella

Fred Roach has this weird concept. He wants to give away every possible dollar at the three-day April 8-10 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, and that’s a lot of money. He says it’s simple math and economics. The more people that enter, the more cash he can give away, and if there’s any money left over as profit for the Kern Valley Chamber, he just buys even more Nebraska Tailwalker trout after the derby for the season. Then he takes the remaining cash and increases next year’s derby pot of money.

WHERE ELSE can you have a three-day weekend of fun and fishing competition for $10 a day? Lake Isabella, located in Sequoa National Forest, will have all of the campgrounds open and ready for the derby, service officials have told the Chamber of Commerce. Book ahead, though. Note that many previously available spots on the shore may not be above the shoreline this year.

”We really just want to give away the money, and the more money we give away, the more people get excited, and the more people who get excited means more people the next year will be coming to visit us in the Kern River Valley,” said Roach.

It’s a fun, inexpensive event that showcases the lake and Kern River Valley, which is spectacular this trime of year, especially with all this rain. Green hills, and the surrounding Sequoa National Forest make for a beautiful warm, spring weekend backdrop. For the family, you cannot beat the price. Much of the event’s popularity comes from the fact it is a destination event in Kern Valley, and this year a big draw is the higher water levels. Entry fees are only $30 for individuals and $65 for families of husband, wife, and three children. Registration closes at 7 a.m., April 8.

Fishing Reaganomics, you might say. This isn’t a new philosophy after 10 years of running the 28th annual event, which is quite likely the biggest trout derby in the world. I don’t know of a bigger event. Roach and the other organizers are just getting better at figuring out the best way to unload all the money and make it fun for families, 70 percent of whom camp or bring RVs to campgrounds that surround Lake Isabella. The other 30 percent stay in local hotels, two within walking distance of the lake. Others have the option of staying a few miles away at Wofford Heights just two miles away, or Kernville 10 miles away.

For a few years, they tagged trout, $1,000 a fish. Damned if the fish stayed free to roam the lake after the derby.

“We didn’t want that, and so we stopped doing it, and now we give away $1,000 a day over three days in a blind bogey $100 to 10 people in a drawing. Any trout brought into Derby Headquarters will be eligible for the drawing.

THE LAKE LEVEL is at its highest allowed level, 350 acre feet. Areas on the shore available in recent years are underwater, so a campground for $10 a night is an easy, inexpensive choice. Many are being opened and ready for the derby. Check the Kern Valley website to reserve. KERN VALLEY CHAMBER PHOTOS AND GRAPHICS

Unfortunately, the last five years the water levels have been dropping, and as well as entrants for the derby from a heyday of 2009 when 8,820 entrants battled over $75,510 to last year when 1,443 anglers attended. Still, last year Roach and the derby officials gave out $29,181, topped by a $10,000 payout to Joe Newman from Norwalk who landed a 27 ¾-inch trout off Engineer Point that weighed 9.88 pounds. Let me repeat that, ten thousand dollars.

JOE NEWMAN TOOK the big fish honors  last year for his 27 ¾-inch trout from Engineer Point. It weighed 9.88 pounds. Newman is from Norwalk.

This year, due to the rains, the lake level is at capacity, 360,000 acre feet, the fullest it can be for a safe level, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. The lake could go as high as 560 acre feet, but the Army Corps has the last word.

So, the lake level is the highest it can ever be, and interest and signups are also way up, and added to the pot this year is the chance to win a Crestliner/Mercury boat package provided by Western Outdoor News and Richard’s Boat and RV Center in Lancaster. Then there was there was the cancellation of the 50th annual Blake Jones Blind Bogey last weekend in Bishop due to anticipated and unsafe high water levels. The Lake Isabella Derby committee also embarked on ad campaign in various publications, including this one, and backed that up with exhibiting at the two Fred Hall shows in Long Beach and Bakersfield the past two weeks. As P.T. Barnum said, “If you don’t market, nothing happens.”

The two tackle shows were indications the derby is back on track.

“That really helped, being at the two Hall shows,” said Roach. “People really wanted to know about the lake and derby. The story line for us is simple, the lake is up, it looks fantastic, there’s plenty of water, the most water in six or seven years, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And it will be planted with a lot of fish. The 10,000 fish we got from the DFW are going to be released before the derby and they’re all beautiful and at about 1 pound, and we are buying Nebraska Tailwalkers, 5,000 pounds of them, 2 pounds and way bigger. We are way ahead of where we were last year in signups, so excitement is building.”

The big draws are the low cost to enter and camp, and the chance to win money in a variety of ways that involve skills and the luck of the draw. Much of the event’s popularity comes from the fact it is a destination event in Kern Valley, and a great three-day family value. Entry fees are only $30 for individuals and $65 for families of husband, wife, and up to three children.

As mentioned before, RVers and campers crowd the shoreline. This year some of those spots from previous years might not be available with higher water.

“There’s plenty of room,” said Roach, “But it would be wise to call ahead for reservations at the campgrounds because you can’t camp in many of the usual places on the shore as in the last few years. The high water this year is a good thing but it also means there will be many spots on the shore that will now be unavailable, but there’s plenty of campgrounds around the lake.” (See Map below)

As for being right on the water, the forest service is allowing the usual day use-only permit to extend to overnight, so a camper can be on the water’s edge all three days. The key is to get there early, in line by Thursday, and when it opens in the morning, the lakefront spots are first-come-first served. Then there are the campgrounds spots. It is wise to get a reservation before you come up. There are also access rods to the shore, and a map on the chamber website shows those, and those water-edge sites are open for three-day overnight stays.

There are a few restricted areas on the shore, and Keri Swindle of the Kern Valley Chamber says the Forest Service rangers will warn offenders first, and then ticket the offenders eventually. It’s rare for the derby. “Please have them call us (760-379-5236) if they are unsure of where to put their RVs or camp on the lake’s edge. “We want people to have a good time up here, not get a ticket.”

Let’s get back to the money and how it is handed out. In lieu of the state no longer allowing tagged fish, and the fact those tagged fish worth big money were often not caught, leading to criticism, there are two major ways cash will be handed out. The method that replaced the tagged fish is now based on the five longest fish. The Longest Fish is worth $2,000 and if the angler wearing the official t-shirt that amount is raised to $4,000. Second is $1,500 third is $1,000 forth is $500 and fifth is $250.  

 Said Roach, “This way it’s guaranteed we are giving the money, and that has seemed to solve the problem, and when I explain it to people they quickly understand, but unfortunately I usually have to explain to every person why we don’t have tagged fish.”

So, someone might ask, that top 5 payout is fine and dandy for those five top anglers, but we are talking about 2,000 to 3,000 anglers this year. Maybe more. The best method for spreading out the wealth among the masses, and keeping it fair for everyone and especially kids is a new derby wrinkle: The weigh-in/ Draw method. Each day those who weigh in fish at the tourney headquarters at the Moose Lodge by 5 p.m. will be eligible for the drawings. There are 10 drawings each day for $100 each. That’s 30 checks for $100.

Roach said there is also the “very popular” Bobber Bowl prize for anglers to win up to $300, and the Lake Trout Lotto splitting the pot for the “longest trout” guess.

Again, this is an inexpensive derby, $30 for individuals and $65 for families of husband, wife, and three children. Campsites are $10 a night. Warm weather, full lake, lots of chances to win. Maybe it’s time to take a break from watching your kids’ mind-numbing incessant soccer games that weekend. And you can’t have a phone in your hand if you are holding a fishing rod or playing in the lake.

So, again, the derby is over three days, and it’s coming up quick, April 8,9 and 10. Go to the website for more details on campgrounds and boat permits and various rules and the signup sheet. Registration can be done online at, or by application available at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce at PO Box 567, 6416 “D” Lake Isabella Blvd. Lake Isabella, CA. Phone (760) 379-5236. Applications received before March 20, 2017 will be eligible for the early bird prize of $500.

THIS TABLE OF teams and payouts shows the amazing numbers of teams that fish the derby when the water levels are up.

BOATERS: Lots of water this year

Boaters are going to be more plentiful this year, said derby chairman Fred Roach, and the chamber can help you plan your trip. While boats are not inspected for quagga mussels, rangers hope anglers will make sure boat’s bilges are dry.

There are two marinas, French Gulch and Red’s Marina. For example, French Gulch has 100 boat slips, secure and lighted, with a full array of boat and watercraft rentals, and they sell permits. As an example, an 18-foot boat costs $20 a day for a slip. It varies as to length of boat. Call the marinas to get all the details on bringing a bat or renting one, or renting a kayak. 

There is a small boat permit for the lake, annual or three-day $45/$15, and available at the marinas, the ranger station, Lake Isabella store, and the Crossroads Shell Station. For launching, there are several ramps located at various points around the lake, including the Main Dam (which is closest to the French Gulch marina), South Fork Recreation Area, Paradise Cove, Tillie Creek Campground and Camp 9.

Float tubes and kayaks are allowed on the lake, as well. No permit is needed for anything under 8 feet. Call French Gulch at (760)-379-8774. Check the two marinas’ websites for photos and other information.


A 2017 CV 1667 CRESTLINER BOAT, 9.9 hp Mercury Motor and trailer rig will be awarded as the Grand Raffle Prize.

Showin’ it off
Judging by the Facebook posts by friends who manned booths at the 5-day Long Beach Fred Hall show that ended Sunday, this week is a time for recovery and rehab. Being in a booth eight to 12 hours, setting it up, shaking hands, talking until hoarse, late drives home, early arrivals and weird food at weird intervals takes its toll. But there’s no business like show business!

The cigar tent with Bart Hall with fine scotch and fun conversation with a group of friends — among them Jon Pettey, and Pete Gray of Let’s Talk Hookup, Bart himself, Jack Nilsen of Accurate — on Saturday afternoon was clearly my undoing. It was all good, especially the single malt scotch, and I love the interaction with others in the industry in the cigar tent, in the aisles and at our WON booths. This was my 33rd Hall show, both attending and being the editor of WON and with fellow staff here “producing” the official show program. As one staffer here just said on the phone to a customer, “great show, but I’m glad it’s over. I’m exhausted.”

ON-THE-SPOT GIVEAWAYS along with a shot at bigger prizes including a boat and motor, sportfishing trips, Costa sunglasses and more kept both WON booths packed throughout the show. Every subscriber walked away with something! WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

This year the WON office/editorial/sales staff took over the task of selling WON subscriptions at the two booths. I was on this duty for three days, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday before collapsing Sunday. Pretty fun, really, but damn hard work, too. We were busy at the sub booth. An additional incentive to renew or be a new subscriber was to spin the wheel for an additional prize and in some cases, go into specific drawings for a dozen fishing trips, six pairs of Costas and the Grand Prize Sea Eagle inflatable/Mercury outboard package.

Here’s the results as we drew the names Monday morning. Steve Day won the $3,000 Sea Eagle/Merc package! The four winners of Costa sunglasses were Miguel Linarte, Dale Kurimoto, Janna Roznos and Johnjay Crawford. Winners of the boat trips of various trip lengths were: Jacob Henderson,Pacific Star; Tim Hall, Pacific Star; Roger Behle, Options; Kurt Thuemmler, Options; Darryl Toy,Amigo; Dale Sleight, Amigo; Evan Burgett, Island Spirit; David Morton, Island Spirit; Tim Norman, Ranger 85; Terry Hill, Ranger 85; Brent Sweet, Chief, Ron Rodriguez, Chief. Congrats. We called all of you today, Monday. Check your messages!

If I had to give a quick rundown of sights and sounds , I’d say this on the retail end, Turner’s was good. Make that great. The T.O.’s area was jammed and reel sales were epic. I mean that. Every day, all day. Avet reps said they “killed it” at Turner’s … Interest was super high at Daiwa as their new Saltiga and Saltist reels and the $100 Fuego baitcaster drew big crowds and sales. Daiwa gave its new J-Braid its own area. Wow, there was a lot of interest in this new super line … Accurate’s small, powerful Valiant reel in the BV-500 edition was a smash hit … Calstar intro’d their new rail rods 7470H,7470XH,7470XXHand7470XXXH for added power, and the GFGR 7400M for casting for WSB. The rod was previously available only as a blank. Both were big sellers … The word from the Highway 395 Row of vendors? A LOT of water. The lakes are full, and planting schedules are extensive. A shame about the 50th Blake Jones Derby being cancelled. See my editorial this week on that. Other than that, all good news from up there but the opener will be impacted on access, camping, upper elevation water being frozen or inaccessible the first month.

Shimano’s smaller 300 and 400 Tranx reels got a lot of booth attention and sales at retail outlets on a limited release, so demand was high. Right away the retail concerns were that the paddle handle for low gear models and the high speed power handle need to be interchangeable or as a purchase option. Minor issue, as they are beautifully engineered reels.

Xtra-Tuf boots had great sales on ankle models and new, flashy designs. Saw a lot of boxes of ‘em being carried out. I heard the $129 Grunden’s boot will be on retail shelves in early April, for $100. They are super high quality and on my purchase list when they do arrive. Foot comfort is critical.

Sadly, the Hayatt lagoon as a testing ground proved to be a brutal example of how most of us simply cannot cast a conventional reel. Two 70ish guys, volunteers manning that lagoon for a reel company, told me there were a lot of “professionals” testing reels. As in “professional overlays.” Picking the birds nests out, they said, was “elder abuse.” I think they were joking. Not sure.

Many folks at the WON subscription booths asked about Terry and Sue Goodridge who manned the booths at county fairs and sportfishing shows and events for WON for three decades starting with Terry’s late father Mason Goodridge. Terry and Sue retired last year after Day At The Docks and while they miss all the readers, I’m sure they are traveling all over the world, enjoying life and Terry is keeping that handlebar mustache well waxed.

So many people came by to say hello, and it is a chance for the staff – even though we were busy as hell signing people up – to hear input about the publication. It is gratifying, but we know we can do even better. A few mentioned my column last week about my dad and rockfishing. It means a lot, so thanks for the kind words.

For those who mentioned they really missed the white seabass tourney at Catalina, I know, I miss it too, but if it brought back, it would be next year, and under a different format and likely a different venue, Avalon. Catalina is a great spot to fish, but not so easy to plan a tourney and make a profit.

I stopped by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) booth inside the show to join the conservation group that growing in strength and numbers. It has to, for our sakes as fishermen. Business was brisk at the outdoor CCA-CAL booth where thanks to Bart Hall, a CCA board member, you got in free and a bag full of vouchers worth hundreds of dollars in discounts. The deal is a little different for Del Mar, said CCA director Wayne Kotow. So, the $50 package includes a membership, entry to the show, the coupon book, the goody bag and – here is where it differs from LB, there is an added Del Mar Incentive where, Kotow says, “everyone who purchases the package above is automatically entered into a drawing for a 1 ½-day trip aboard the Searcher out of Fisherman's Landing. The drawing will take place after the close of the Fred Hall Show in Del Mar on March 26. You do not need to be present to win.”

Next up, this week, is the “new” Fred Hall show in Bakersfield at the Kern County Fairgrounds. The Central Valley Sportsman’s show has been around for 40 years, but it’s way bigger this year under Fred Hall & Associates. Sold out on vendors. Friday to Sunday. Sounds like a real blast with eight or nine boat dealers where there was only one boat dealer last year, and a LOT more tackle and travel vendors being added to a show that has two weekend car shows, tractor pulls, about 1,000 RVs, lumberjack choppin’ and sawing with abandon, and Air Dogs showsand a ton of seminars on stages and the Daiwa Bass Tank. You have to get the details on those at

I might add, we had a big feature page on that show last week and the ad on page 34 gives a lot of details. Then, it’s Del Mar  March 23-26, Thursday through Sunday. We will be in our usual spot in the Exhibit/Tackle Room just inside the door to the left, offering gifts, incentives for two-year subs, etc. I will be in the booth at varying times. TBD as they say. Next week we will have our WON 24-page official program in the paper, and available at the door.

* * *

Pat McDonell is editor of Western Outdoor News and directs the Cabo Tuna Tournament slated Nov. 1-4, 2017.

DAIWA HAS A lot of new offerings for 2017, and their area in the casting pond was always buzzing with show attendees anxious to fire off some casts with them. WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

SCOTT LEYSATH’S presentations are just as much stand-up comedy as they are informative cooking seminars. WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

staffersintheavetSTAFFERS IN THE AVET booth knew their reels from top to bottom, and despite heavy traffic in their area, you could tell they were having a great time. WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

JARED SMITH AND SETH BLACKAMORE’S talks and slideshows are the most popular among the Eastern Sierra seminars year after year, and many in Long Beach were standing room only. They are a gold mine of information on fishing (both spin and fly) and backcountry activities in the Eastern Sierra. WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

THE FRED HALL SHOWS are becoming more and more a great opportunity for all sorts of “test drives.” WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

THE TROUT POND is always a big attraction, and this little girl had no intention of budging until she stuck one. WON PHOTOS BY MIKE STEVENS

It's show time!
Five great days, re-up your subscription with great gifts, discounts, spin the wheel for more gifts and bigger prizes

It all starts today at the Long Beach Convention Center. The 71st Fred Hall show that runs through Sunday. I'm headed up there in a bit, but I have to remind folks this is the key time re-up for WON.

WON will be handing out the official show program as the lines form, each day before the doors open. I would urge anyone coming in to get a copy. It has a directory of booths and booth numbers that match a two-page map, plus every seminar area and a director of those seminar schedules in the 96-page supplement. That's right, 96 pages. No one does it better, and it's the official show program. Not some digital version you can't even read on your mobile device. Sorry, but websites with a couple guys at home in pajamas take shots at us all the time on social media and I'm kinda tired of it. 2017 will be interesting as we get more aggressive on many fronts. Frankly, this show program kicks ass.

Be also aware WON will have two subscription booths manned by WON personnel, including the editorial staff and we are pushing hard this year with new gifts, spins on the wheel for more gifts, and a $5 discount (first-time ever we have offered that) on a two-year subscription including a second spin for instant extra gifts and you might get in the drawings for 12 fishing trips, a Sea Eagle boat, Costa sunglasses in the daily drawings. The Sea Eagle is the grand prize.

WON Editor Pat McDonell (that's me) will be at one of the two booths all day Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until 3 p.m. so stop by and say hello and renew or extend your subscription. It comes out to less than a buck a week to have it mailed to you each week. 50 landings, 400 lake, Baja reports, hunting and info on amazing charters, plus all the sales by retailers that could save you hundreds of dollars. If you want to get fired up about fishing, week in and week out, read WON. It's what we do.

Finally, sign up for $50 and join CCA-CAL to have a voice in sport fishing because it's a crazy no-brainer-- because you get a free entry into the show and a goodie bag worth hundreds -- even thousands of dollars -- in vouchers. Stop by and ask, and you will be blown away by all the stuff you get in the bag, plus the dang bag will carry a lot of booth information.

See you today and every day through Sunday, followed by the Bakersfield show, and then Del Mar. It's truly March Show Madness and we are in the thick of it.

Pat McDonell


LB Hall show debuts tackle

The right stuff unveiled: a preview


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

AHI’s new Deception Cedar plugs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated story on huge PV tuna


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

BY PAT McDONELL, Editor, Western Outdoor News

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

-Steve Triplett,new personal best 207-lb

-Earl McVicar first cow 228-lb

-Pauline Lam, first cow 280-lb

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

-Barry Cohn, 308-lb

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


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


BARRY COHN's 308 pounder.

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

RAY IKEDA with a115 pounder.

 PAULA LAM's 280 pounder.

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


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