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Pat McDonell's Blog



EDITOR'S NOTES /
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.

Postscript on WSB
New IGFA record is likely



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



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


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


 However….


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


                                                        ***

 

Pat McDonell is editor of WON. He can be reached at patm@wonews.com

Highway 395 revisited, again
It’s winter and it’s trout season in SoCal, and just when the weather pattern changes, it will be Eastern Sierra Nevada time, and over the decades, no other region has dominated the trout world than the string of lakes along Highway 395. I learned to fish on those lakes 50 years ago, and tradition being what it is, that is where my two daughters Lauren and Megan learned to fish, hike, ski, and ride horses on pack trips.

It is where in 1977 I took my soon-to be-wife Lynda to camp at Gull Lake. If a marriage is going to work, take ’em camping, I say. Little did I know when I met her that her family had been coming up in a camper to Grant Lake for years. My nephew’s wedding this past summer was at the top of the ski lift at June Lake.


ablast
A BLAST FROM THE SIERRA PAST — The author and his daughter Lauren at a Sierra opener on the Lower Owens, way back when. She’s married, living in St. Louis and expecting her first baby right before the Fred Hall Long Beach show.

And, it’s funny, I didn’t start out as an outdoor writer, but 32 years ago I switched journalistic gears from basketball and football and ended up covering the fishing openers of the Sierra every last Saturday of April, usually taking my father and my father in-law. After those codgers passed, I now try to go with the brothers-in-law Bob or Dave.


I’ll be up in the Sierra this year, covering the action with other staffers like Ernie Cowan, Mike Stevens, Bill Karr and Martin Strelneck, but this year WON staffers are not just covering the opener, but adding some real pizazz to it with our 395 Big Fish Sierra Trout Opener headed up by Billy Egan our freshwater events director, and our Sierra sales rep Connor Johnson who are killin’ it on organizing and selling local sponsors this whole new program while Chuck Buhagiar is nailing down the national accounts for sponsored prize packages.


Connor just nailed down the four weigh stations, huge prize packages from sponsors for first to fifth place on opening weekend and I have a feeling it’s going to grow beyond even that level of giveaway. National lure companies through Chuck are jumping aboard with monster lure packages, as are local weigh-in shops like Rick’s in Mammoth, Ken’s in Briddgeport and Ernie’s in June Lake to encourage people to sign up and use their shop to weigh-in their fish.


True, there is a level of commitment to the derby opening weekend. Twenty bucks or $40 for a family. The details on signing up are here. But I can only say it will be worth it, the way the derby is shaping up. It’s pretty exciting really, and great to see so many facets of the industry climbing aboard something like this for the first time.


The weigh-in/photo spots along 395 are:


— Bishop City Park (WON derby headquarters), 668 Main St. Bishop, CA


— Mammoth Lakes- Ricks Sport Center, 3421 Main st. Mammoth Lakes, CA (760) 934-3416


— June Lake- Ernie’s Tackle and Ski, 264 HWY 158 June Lake, CA (760) 648-1175


— Bridgeport- Ken’s Sporting Goods, 258 Main St. Bridgeport, CA (760) 932-7707.


As time goes on, starting with this issue, we will be updating the prize packages and promoting the trout opener and offering tips on getting that big fish. I will be there with others, covering the opener, and with the storms we’ve been having and the quality of trout to be planted, I look for a fantastic weekend and season ahead.


* * *

Pat McDonell is editor of Western Outdoor News and director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot. Patm@wonews.com


Update: 74.5 WSB on kayak an IGFA record
 

Brian Fagan’s 74.2 pounder will be a new 80-pound line class record 


BY PAT McDONELL

WON Staff Writer


LA JOLLA -- Brian Fagan, 56, a Poway painting contractor who has launched more than 330 times from the beach at La Jolla, may have caught the biggest-ever white seabass from a kayak  on Thursday, Jan. 21 he caught a 74.2-pound fish at dawn on a six-inch mackerel down 95 feet on a dropper loop set-up.


"May" is the key word. 


The biggest ever “talked about” white seabass was a 75 pounder caught by kayak fishing innovator and legend Dennis Spike in May of 2000 at the Deep Hole near North County line above Malibu. That fish was just two inches short of 5 feet while Fagan’s was 5 feet even, and both fish were taped at 32 inches at girth. It is not known if Spike's fish was ever weighed, or was just taped. 

A few more things are known about the fish, a week later. The 74.5 pound fish will be entered into the record books as the new 80-pound line class record. It did not beat the all-tackle mark of 83-12 set in San Felipe, Baja in 1950, or the state record of 77-4 set back in 1950 in San Diego. But because he caught it on 65-pound spectra it does beat the current IGFA line class mark for 80-pound main line of 74 pounds set back in 1968 by Allan Tromblay. 


 The fish was brought to the beach and other kayakers told him to forget 50 pounds. The fish would be well into the 60s and maybe over 70 pounds.


So, he initially weighed it, with him holding the fish and standing on a bathroom scale at a friend’s nearby home, and then subtracting his 167 pounds. Actually it was all he could do to hold the huge seabass. His buddy’s job was to check check the scale.


“My buddy’s eyes bugged out when he saw the digital scale jump between 251 and 254 pounds,” he recalled. “He told me, ‘You have got to have that thing weighed.” Fagan took it to Mission Bay at a well-known local tackle shop with a digital scale. The shop happens to be near FastLane Kayaks. Owner Ron Lane and others who saw the fish, said Fagan, told him they had never heard of a bigger seabass. Is it?


Paul Lebowitz, a well-known kayaker and freelance journalist and former Kayak  Fish magazine editor is now with the marketing department at Hobie, based in Oceanside. Lebowitz was asked by WON to dig into the archives, for reports of anything bigger.


Lebowitz said that Andrew Allen of OEX Sunset Beach administers the West Coast Whoppers year-long big fish contest at Big Waters Edge (http://www.bigwatersedge.com). He reminded Lebowitz of Dennis Spike’s May, 2000 catch of a 75 pounder that is recounted at Spike’s website www.kayakfishing.com). At this point, it appears Spike’s fish has dibbs on the white seabass “record” for a kayaker.


As far as Fagan is concerned, the kayak white seabass record doesn’t matter. He told WON he was excited to just get a fish over 50 pounds after all these years of launching from the beach at La Jolla. His previous best before Thursday morning was a 44 pounder.


“I’ve just wanted to beat that and get to 50 pounds, and boy did I ever do that!” he said the day after the catch. He is a dedicated kayaker, and figures he has logged 330 trips at La Jolla. “I go every chance I get when I’m not working,” he said.


Fagan was fishing on a 14-foot Mirage-drive Revolution, a popular Hobie model. He told Lebowitz of Hobie, "I don't fish for records,” he said. “I just love kayaking. When kayaks came out I decided I'd never fish on a boat again. On a kayak you're your own captain. The peace and tranquility are more than worth the exercise, which is a benefit. At 56 I like the exercise.”


He added that he definitely set a personal best in fillet time.


“It took me 4 ½ hours to clean it this morning,’ he said when interviewed the day after he caught it. 

  

For the record, it was caught on an Avet SX reel with 65-pound Spectra, 40-pound Seaguar leader and a Gamakatsu circle hook on a dropper loop setup The rod was a Seeker BCBW 709-7'T rated for 20-30 pounds.  "This is my favorite rod, so light and so powerful at the same time," he said.

 

 He made the bait, a six-inch greenie mackerel, and sent it down at gray light, just before sunrise. It was pecked at, he tried to set the hook a few times, dropped out back down and it was slammed right away. The fish was tough, fighting over 35 grueling minutes.


“I thought it was a black seabass because I couldn’t even lift up the rod. It just didn’t budge. When I saw the fish, I almost squirted in my pants when I saw it was the right kind.”


He sunk in the gaff and then had the happy problem of not being able to use the Mirage-power pedals because the fish was across his lap and kept him from lifting his legs to pedal. So, he got to the La Jolla beach the old-style way. With a paddle.


It’s been a good winter at La Jolla, his favorite spot to launch at, and of course fish for big seabass and forkies


“It’s the most consistent,” he said. A few weeks ago he pounded the yellowtail, getting four quality ‘tails in one morning, and also scored a 38-pound white seabass on another recent outing. He’s had consistent action, which makes him even more obsessed with going when he can get a day off and get through the surf.


La Jolla is fun to launch at and bring big fish to. He said he had his few minutes of typical local fame at the beach. “I was a hero for a few minutes anyway,” he said with a chuckle. “Especially with all the folks on the beach and at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Of course, all the kids have to touch the eyeballs.” Of course.


Kayaking is its own kind of reward. It’s work, but hardly work.


“Everyone just loves something, I just happen to love kayaking,” he said. “I’ve had a kayak for eight years, and any time I can get a day off, I’m kayaking. I just love that I don’t have a boat, that I’m on my own and you the gas bill isn’t very big. When I want to turn left I turn left, and you make your own decisions on where to go and how to fish. That’s why I love it so much. People think I’m a little crazy to launch at 5 a.m. (in the dark) from the beach, but that’s who I am.”


He has a pretty good heart, too. He is a big part of the kayak on-line community at www.bigwateredge.com, and when Lebowitz’s college freshman son James died just over a year ago on Jan. 11 after he collapsed in his Cal Poly Pomona dorm room, although Fagan did not personally know Paul or his son, he knew of Paul as a kayaker and writer and editor over the years. Fagan attended the on-the-water kayak service for James. He also fished in the memorial benefit kayak tournament, which provides funding for a college scholarship endowment in James’ name.


Fagan is also all about helping science. His next task, now that he has filleted the fish, is to take the head to Hubbs-Sea World to see if it has the binary coded wire implanted in its cheek, which would indicate it is a hatchery “raised and released” fish. So, 74.2 pounds?


Now that WOULD be a record.


Pat McDonell is editor of Western Outdoor News and director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot. Patm@wonews.com


BRIAN FAGAN of Poway with his 74.2-pound white seabass he caught on Thursday morning off La Jolla on his 14-foot Hobie Revolution kayak, while dropper looping a six-inch live greenback mackerel at gray light. It was five feet long with a 32 inch girth and 12-inch tail.



San Diego Bay: Israel brothers take title


Calicos targeted; Another great event!  


Placing second last year, brothers Joe and Mike Israel  of San Diego came out on top in 2016 at the 21st annual San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Tournament with three calicos for 11.13 pounds; 130 teams and 34 kayakers competed Saturday



BROTHERS Joe and Mike Israel (dark hat) won the event on their Skeeter, fishing plastic swimbaits and crankbaits on the jetty for calico bass. Last year they placed second and won the “Champions” tourney among the top 25 teams invited back in the spring. They won over $3,000 for first place, the optional jackpot for first place, and for catching the biggest bass, a 4.35-pound calico that topped their 11.13-pound 3-fish total.


BY PAT McDONELL

WON Staff Writer


SAN DIEGO – Ever since the Department of Fish and Wildlife two years ago upped the minimum for all saltwater bass to 14 inches, the San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Event has been about quality and not quantity as the number of fish to be weighed in was dropped from 5 fish to 3 fish. When the San Diego Bay fishery sand bass and spotties are either in the bay or are not hungry, oftentimes calicos on the outside edge of the bay get teams the winning edge.


The San Diego Anglers fish club that holds the massive one event at the Shelter Island launch ramp under a huge tent has steadily moved the boundary farther inside the bay to level the playing field as the bay’s entrance has little kelp area, and there is only so much room to fish along the mostly submerged Zuniga jetty that runs almost a mile. There are, after all 130 to 150 two man teams and another three dozen kayakers in the field in this, the biggest fishing tourney each year in San Diego. Yet, teams know that when the sand bass aren’t around, calicos – even a few of them – can win the title.

Still, most teams confident and familiar with dozens of spots inside the bay, use the tidal movements to drift over the “pipe” (an underwater Navy structure that runs across the bay at the submarine base), various clam beds, ledges and deep structure stones in the massive bay for the big kicker sand bass, and hoping they finish in the top 25.


A major draw for the tourney is that in the winter there is little else going on in terms of fishing, the event is packed full of sponsors prizes, and sponsors pay the freight so the top 25 teams get their entry fee of $130 back. There is also a free barbecue for anglers and guests, free Ballast Point beer is poured for anglers, and it’s a huge gathering spot for anglers, their families and sponsors like Rancho Leonero, Vessel Assist/Boat U.S., Berkley and Izorline (any many more) who exhibit under the tent and participate. The sponsors are large and small. For example, tackle powerhouse Daiwa kicked in six Lexa rods and reel outfits worth a total of $1,800 for first through third finishers, and Bill Schaefer's Guide service sponsored the largest spottie jackpot. Many hands make for a fun, light load.


And like all tournaments, it is an annual social event, like a mini one-day Fred Hall show.


But the tourney hierarchy is a tough nut to crack. The teams are good, and they know the bay. Few teams crack the top 25 unless they know their stuff. This year the bay was, well, stingy on the 14-inch and bigger sand bass. Familiar names made up the leader board.


Joe and Mike Israel are two brothers who are avid saltwater and freshwater bass anglers who fish the Bay event every year. Joe, 31, a building contractor, and Mike, 31, a chemical engineer at Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, finished second last year – and then came back to win the 25-team Champions Invitational in the spring. This year they finished atop the field on Saturday and won a total of $3,250 in winnings by working the Zuniga jetty on their Yamaha-powered Skeeter bass boat, throwing plastics and crankbaits that produced a 3-calico bag weigh of 11.123 pounds, topped by the tournament’s jackpot bass of 4.35 pounds, to beat runnersup Dean Jamison and Brandon Bueno with 9.75 pounds, They won $750 for second place. Plus the Daiwa Lexo reel and rod outfits.


”We fished plastics and crankbaits on the jetty and any rocks we could find,” said Joe, who said they pre-fished the area they fished for weeks prior. That gave them the confidence to keep casting. “We knew the fish were in that area, and we stayed there. It wasn’t like it was wide open. We got a bite about every 3 ½ hours.”


It was a first title for them. They have fished together in each of the past 10 years. They missed a few tournaments in the beginning, 11 years ago, while Mike was in college. They took second last year, then won the 25-team Champions invitational last year, but this win was sweet, a long time coming.

“We finally won the big one,” said Joe. “I’ll celebrate with a beer, but not right now. I’m too tired. Tonight.”

Their $3,250 total in winnings came from the $1,500 first place prize provided by Fisherman’s Landing Tackle, the $1,500 team optional jackpot they paid extra for, and the $250 big bass jackpot for their winning cash total. They also won those Lexa rod and reel outfits from Daiwa.


As for the overall event’s success, the tourney was down a bit. It had 130 teams. A full field is 150. The El Nino rains, or the threat of them, may have affected turnout. It never did rain, but threatened at mid-day before clearing. There is that new 14-inch bass minimum that makes it tough to weigh in three fish (many did not). And last year’s fishing was tough. So was this year’s.


“For many the bay this year was a tough nut to crack,” said Dwayne Patenaude, co-director. “But, we had a great turnout and we did dodge the rain.”


As Trump would say, that was “Huge. "Really Huge.”


Third place was taken by Mike Palmer and Dan Weis with a total of 8.02 pounds topped by a 3.70 pounder. The top 25 and especially the top 10 were made up of tournament regulars who know the bay and can adapt. In this event, there are high expectations but usually few surprises.


Fourth place in the two-man open was Travis Hargis and Tony Gilbert with 7.90 pounds, fifth was Brandon Nelson and Darren Pasalich with 7.54, sixth place was taken by Ty Ponder and his 11-year-old son Ty, with 8.84 pounds, the seventh slot was filled by Doug Kern (who again sponsored the $1,500 first place payout at his Fisherman’s Landing Tackle) and Rockcod Rick Maxa (Let’s Talk Hookup co-host and FLT’s Tackle Manager) with 6.65 pounds, Lance Picotte and Michael Hill with 6.54 pounds, ninth was taken by the team of Phil Fitztgerald and Mark Warren with 6.27 pounds, and rounding out the Top 10 was the husband/wife team of Tom and Valerie Handzus, with 6.18 pounds.


There were 34 individual kayakers in the tourney. Jeff Bias won the Kayak Division sponsored by Fast Lane Kayaks in Mission Beach with a 7.60-pound total, followed by David Easton with 4.80 pounds, Ken Rosberg’s (last year’s kayak champ) 4.63 pounds, Chad Gerlach with 4.61 pounds Will Bowen, 4.61.


Side jackpots are always fun and lucrative. There were were cash payouts the biggest halibut, spotted bay bass and the biggest overall bass. (The halibut jackpot is a separate $5 fee at the ramp, the others are part of the entry fees.) The biggest flattie was a 11.89 pounder by the team of Ken Lovsletten and Glenn Casale. That paid $830 in jackpot money, $250 of that sponsored by Printing on Fifth Avenue, the rest coming from $5 collected from teams as they launched. The other two big fish jackpots paid $250. Rosberg, on his kayak, won the Biggest Spotted Bass Jackpot -- sponsored by Bill Schaefer's Guide Service -- with a 1.87 spottie, and the Israel brothers grabbed that $250 sponsored by Seaforth Rentals via their big calico of 4.35 pounds en route to their overall title.


For the full weigh-in results and information about the tournament and the club, see sandiegoanglers.com


The results link is below:


http://www.sandiegoanglers.com/?page_id=11


THE CROWD UNDER THE BIG TOP for the 21st annual San Diego Anglers Open Bayh Bass Tournament on Saturday at Shelter Island. The weather threatened rain, but never came. WON PHOTOS BY PAT McDONELL


THE SAN DIEGO ANGLERS CLUB volunteers kept the anglers and guests well-fed, while Ballast Point handed out free beer to the anglers and asked for donations to charity for non anglers.

DWAYNE PATENAUDE, co-director of the event, is interviewed by San Diego’s Channel 8 news after the weigh-in closed for the event, annually the biggest fishing tourney of the year in San Diego. There were 130 two-person teams and 34 kayakers. In the other photo, he stands with Robert Butler of Vessel Assist, the event’s title sponsor the past 10 years. Boat U.S. paid back the entry to every team that finished 11th to 25th.

FRIENDS AND FISHERMEN and sponsors were at the event. On hand were MC Swimbaits, Izorline, Ballast Point, Uni-Butter, Rancho Leonero, Berkley, Fast Lane Kayaks, Boat U.S/Vesssel Assist. and many more. Here, Wendy Tochihara of Izorline, 10th place finisher Valerie Handzus (fishing with husband Tom, not shown), Lori Sachau of Turner’s Outdoorsman and her husband Dave Sachau, and a trio from the San Marcos High Fishing Club, Craig Rappaport, and youngsters Grant Tilley and Mason Kindt.

 


ANGLERS wait to weigh-in, with the fish treated to a basket-filled trough, before being weighed, nurtured in the bass “spa” before being returned to the bay.

  

TEAMS LINE UP in the dark to launch at Shelter Island on Saturday with the help of an army of volunteers from the San Diego Anglers fishing club. Fishing was confined to San Diego Bay, all bass over 14 inches were eligible for the 3-fish weigh-in for the two-man teams that started the day at 6:15 and had to weigh-in by 2 p.m.



RESULTS OF ALL WEIGHINS


 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Joesph

Israel

Michael

Israel

11.13

2

Dean

Jamieson

Brandon

Buono

9.75

3

Mike

Palmer

Dan

Weis

8.02

4

Travis

Hargis

Tony

Gilbert

7.9

5

Brandon

Nelson

Darren

Pasalich

7.54

6

Ty

Ponder

Ty (TJ)

Ponder

6.84

7

Doug

Kern

Rick

Maxa

6.65

8

Lance

Picotte

Michael

Hill

6.54

9

Phil

Fitzerald

Mark

Warren

6.37

10

Tom

Handzus

Valerie

Handzus

6.18

11

Ken

Lovsletten

Glenn

Casale

6.03

12

John

Sedgwick

Roger

Lamberson

5.92

13

Rod

Frankenberger

Aron

Frankenberger

5.82

14

Nick

Pandza

Dan

Sachse

5.81

15

Neil

Barbour

Joe

Menegus

5.67

16

Dennis

Burlason

Ed

Howerton

5.28

17

Rigoberto

Cervantes

Ben

Arellano

5.04

18

Peter

Vanzutphen

Ranulfo

Austero

5.01

19

Chad

Fisk

David

Myers

4.92

20

Jim

Bostian

Bob

Williams

4.81

21

Doug

Schulte

Terry

Beckman

4.74

22

Derek

Marso

Cory

Stenovec

4.74

23

Paul

Weintraub

Tom

Buckalew

4.73

24

Jeff

Khachadoorian

Skyler

Khachadoorian

4.7

25

Gary

Brown

Eric

Brown

4.68

26

Brian

Irvine

Paul

Irvine

4.55

27

Chris

Laurino

Dylan

Laurino

4.13

28

Larry

Heron

Nicholas

Tharp

3.92

29

Tony

Souza

Barbie

Souza

3.86

30

John

Forster

Mario

Souza

3.73

31

Mike

Lane

Scott

Pethtel

3.27

32

Pat

McDonell

Floyd

Sparks

3.22

33

Alan

Ladd

Jacob

Willhelm

3.09

35

Jim

Francella

Jim

Cavanaugh

3.01

35

Ken

Crull

Doug

Macurda

3.01

36

Darren

Erlandson

Jeff

Cosgrove

2.83

37

Tim

Keeran

Chris

Keeran

2.8

38

John

Harris

Robert

Hunter

2.77

39

Chuck

LaVigne

James

Nelson

2.63

40

John

Jones

Michael

Corras

2.57

41

Terry

Mersy

Guy

Murray

2.42

42

Joseph

Correta

Ken

Schleicher

2.41

43

Tom

Gruber

Ronda

Ito

2.18

44

Scott

Cooper

Scott

Lohman

2.16

45

Thomas

Aranda

Jeremie

Wraight

2.04

46

Matt

Pearson

Ed

Remiro

1.76

47

Terrell

Pearce

Eric

Gage

1.65

48

Bill

Schaeffer

Joe

Cargel

1.63

49

Steve

Wechsler

Dennis

Sweeney

1.62

50

Dean

Smith

Jim

Medlin

1.61

52

Ronnie

Punongbayan

Rodney

Marquez

1.6

52

Richard

Maxa

Chris

Larsen

1.6

53

Adrian

Lugo

Mario

Alvarez

1.38

54

Kurt

Williams

Eric

Williams

1.33

55

David

Mitchell

David

Mitchell

1.3

56

Terry

Snell

Doug

Snell

1.17

 



Easy transitions
This usually is the time of year when temps drops, rain falls and the skiff sits in the driveway. Not so this year. Even with the rain we are gratefully receiving, there’s more options than ever for the small-boat folks. The water remains warm and fairly clean, comfy confines for yellows.

First, while rockfishing is closed here in SoCal, the rockfishing areas offer sculpin, which reopened Jan. 1, and the yellows are very much still around in the SoCal Bight. Best of all, for the past 18 months they have shown no signs of leaving. The problem is getting time to go as the storms limit the schedule for working stiffs.


Also, squid is showing off our coast. Small bits of candy bait, but if you can get some, use it the yellows on the dropper loop. It’s instant bendo if the fish are there, and they are. It beats grinding the iron, which I don’t mind. It’s a choice: search in the afternoon for birds and seals and toss out the light to see and maybe jig for them, or just throw the iron and get a few yellows on the moving tide periods and get a workout.


And oldtimer said years ago that one option for using fresh dead squid is to stuff a sardine or anchovy into the squid to give it some “life.” I imagine it would work. By “fresh dead” I mean the high-end kind sold at Asian markets, not frozen. By the way, the Options is on fire these days, with some huge seabass. Capt. Wes Flesch had a bunch last week on the squid he made, then this past weekend nailed a 52 pounder for a customer’s PB, and then I heard as I write this they have three big ones aboard.


The S.D. Bay fishing is very good as we approach the annual San Diego Anglers Bay Bass Open at Shelter Island. Of course, as a Carlsbad resident who knows a few spots here and in the Bay, I signed up a few weeks ago and my goal is always to make the top 25. I spend the day fishing a week ago, but it rained since and freshwater runoff doesn’t help the bite, but this last weekend FB was rife with stories of good fishing. I hope so.


Lobster hoop netting in deep water is not for everyone, but it’s the best way to score limits of bugs. Reader Joe Sadia sent me a pic and called to confirm he and two buddies fished in 350 feet of water at a secret spot on a trip out of Huntington Beach. The DFW came up on ’em on the first pulley hoist and saw the full Promar Ambush net and followed ’em around until they left after a few more pulls with limits. The photo of Joe is with one of the pulls is in this paper.


I was in doing a Q&A interview (2016 Mexico relations) with SAC prez Ken Franke just up the Scott Street boardwalk near Fisherman’s Landing and afterward stopped by to say hello to Rockcod Rick Maxa, the shop’s tackle manager and an annual top finisher in the bay event (Jan. 24) with the shop’s owner Doug Kern. Of course, Rick had several good suggestions on baits to try, and I bought a mixed bag of AA’s and Big Hammer and new supply of Hot Sauce. Sdanglers.com is the website for the fantastic event.


Again, the annual WON Catalina White Seabass tourney has been cancelled. Getting some calls on it. Too tough to put on a large-field tourney at Two Harbors when there are no WSB, and I think another “no-fish” weigh-in like last year would be the case. The island made it tough financially, as well. Most WSB guys want the coastal tankers anyway, and if we do bring a WSB event back, it will be an event based on the coast and people can fish wherever they like. In the meantime, this year we have a very fun saltwater event planned for all saltwater anglers over the entire summer. More TBA.


Sales of state fishing licenses were down in 2015 by 10 percent. Somewhat surprising given out great saltwater fishing, but alas, what drives fishing license sales is freshwater fishing, and until a few weeks ago, were in the middle of brutal drought. Many call for the 12-month sale of licenses, good for 12 months from the time you purchase. Both sides raise good points for change and status quo. You know what I’d like to see? No more stamps or paper licenses. One license fee, and a credit card with annual “stickers” and the DFG could offer different plastic cards for sale. But nobody listens to Turtle.


Next week is our Outboard Preview. Some cool stuff coming down the line as electronics and fishing continues to meld to make life sweeter and safer on the water. Most dealers we talked to are killin’ it on sales, especially repowers. Good news.


Contact WON Editor Pat McDonell at patm@wonews.com.


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