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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.

395 Big Fish Sierra Trout Opener derby hotly contested
Inaugural event attracts hundreds of anglers with big fish weighed in at four Sierra locations opening weekend; Allan Cole wins with a 9-pound, 9½-ounce brown

ALLAN COLE HOLDS his 9-pound, 9½-ounce brown from Lower Twin Lake at the Bishop Visitors Park. He is shown with his son Eric Cole and 395 Derby Director Billy Egan and the first-place prizes, topped by a Gregor/Mercury package worth $10,000 WON PHOTO BY PAT McDONELL

BISHOP — Well-known Brownbagger and lure designer Allan Cole of Henderson, Nev., won the first annual WON 395 Big Fish Sierra Trout Opener derby, catching a 9-pound, 9½-ounce brown trout at Lower Twin Lake Saturday on a A.C. Plug to claim the top prize of a 15-foot Gregor/9.9 hp Mercury outboard package on top of an EZ Loader trailer worth $10,000. The derby areas eligible were all Lone Pine to waters north of Bridgeport.

Cole weighed it on Sunday afternoon at Rick’s Sports Center in Mammoth, driving south from Bridgeport to weigh it on the same scale as second place finisher John Montgomery’s 9-pound, 9-ounce rainbow from Convict Lake the previous day. Cole had weighed the brown trout Saturday at the Lower Twin marina, unofficially at 9 pounds, 9.7 ounces after he caught it Saturday.

“Knowing Montgomery’s fish held the lead at 9 pounds, 9 ounces, he wisely drove south on Sunday to get the fish on the same scale,” said derby director Billy Egan. “It was a smart move because the fish didn’t lose much weight, and got him first place by half an ounce.“

Cole, 74, was fishing with his 40-year-old son Eric and caught it at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the middle of snow flurries and wind.

It was cold and snowing, he remembered, and when the rod went off in the holder he grabbed it and immediately knew it was a good fish. The AC Plug he designed with Owner treble hooks (“I love Owner hooks,” he said) was trolled 25 feet down on the lead core line.

ALLAN COLE HAS made the heavyweight brown trout scene for decades. This opener, the Henderson, Nev. angler took the No. 2 opening day big fish spot, weighing in this 9-pound, 9½-ounce Lower Twin Lake catch that went for a trolled A.C. Plug lure in a kokanee pattern. ERIC COLE PHOTO

“The fish chase the schools of kokanee,” said Cole. “You target the kokanee and the big browns are with them.”

Cole knows big browns’ habits. He has 42 browns over 10 pounds, and had a 26 pounder from Paulina Lake in Oregon back in ’03, and in 1978, he got the biggest trout in Sierra opening day history, a 20 pounder on Lower Twin Lake. This fish that won the derby, narrowly missed becoming his 11th brown trout over 10 pounds at Lower Twin, although he admits he has not caught a 10-plus pound brown from Lower Twin in a decade. The drought continues, but he won the derby.

Besides the Gregor/Mercury package, the big brown also earned Cole a $200 Flambeau Warming Kit and a $200 Sierra Slammer plastics package. It was part a $15,000 total of prizes given away over the weekend by WON to five of the top derby anglers who competed Saturday and Sunday. All top-five anglers also earned a Cousins FSP703 7-foot spinning rod and an ­Owner hook package.

“Where do you guys get all this stuff?” asked Cole. Indeed, it was a mountain of high-end tackle that went to the top teams — the top-5 anglers overall, and the top-5 anglers at each weigh-in location.

The weigh-ins were conducted at four weigh centers both days, with Derby Central being Bishop City Park. The other three weigh areas were Rick’s Sports Center in Mammoth Lakes, Ernie’s Ski & Sports in June Lake, and Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport.

As anglers weighed in, the weigh stations recorded the catches and relayed them to Billy Egan in Bishop. Egan is the Freshwater Events Director at WON and is also the WON BASS Director.

“The derby was a big success for the first-time effort, and with a few adjustments can be bigger and easier for anglers to sign up on-site at the weigh stations as well as through WON and also the Internet,” said Egan. “We learned a lot and were thrilled with 250 entrants. I think we can have 1,000 people entering this next year, especially with the continued support of Sierra retailers.”

The second-place finisher by the narrowest of margins was John Montgomery of Bishop with a 9-pound, 9-ounce rainbow from Convict Lake, who won a $1,000 Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker inflatable package, a Cousins rod, Owner hook pack, plus a $500 Panther Martin lure pack, and $200 Flambeau Warming Kit. He could have used that Warmer Kit. The weather at Convict opening morning was frigid with snow flurries. He said he started fishing at 4 a.m. and just before dawn, on his friend Mike Alvarado’s boat at the lake inlet, his outfit was slammed. He was using PowerBait, a No. 16 treble and straight 6-pound line.



JOHN MONTGOMERY OF Bishop with his 9-pound, 9-ounce rainbow caught at Convict Lake Saturday and weighed in at Rick’s Sports Center in Mammoth Lakes. He won a $1,000-value Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker inflatable boat, a Cousins rod and much more sponsors prizes seen in the photo with derby director Billy Egan. His 9-pound. 9-ounce rainbow from Convict took second place in the first annual 395 Big Fish Derby.

“It was a screamer,” he said. “He made at least four big runs. “It was a tough fish.” He credited his buddy, also an ex-Marine, with a great net job on a crazy fish.

Third place was taken by Glen McKenzie with a 7.3-pound rainbow from June Lake, who took home a $500 Rapala Lure Package, Cousins rod, Owner hook packs and a $200 Flambeau Warming kit.

Fourth Place was claimed by Vulfrano Perez of Petaluma, who caught a 6-14 rainbow on a Rapala from Lower Twin Lake, Bridgeport. He won a $500 Rooster Tail package from Yakima Baits and a $200 Warming Kit from Flambeau, plus the Cousins rod and Owner hook pack.

Fifth place was won by Mike Moniz of Discovery Bay with a 6-pound, 2-ounce rainbow from Upper Twin. He caught it on a Lucky Craft Lure, reported Jim Reid at Ken’s Sporting Goods, where he weighed it Saturday morning. That fish won him a $200 Flambeau Warming Kit and a $200 Thomas Bouyant lure package.

There were other ways to win, with special weigh station prizes. Of course, the champion, Allan Cole took the big-fish weigh station prize at Rick’s in Mammoth with his 9-pound, 9½-ounce brown taking a $200 Sierra Slammer plastics box, and a $250 Rick’s Sports Center Gift Card.

At Ken’s Sporting Goods, it was Vufrano Perez with a 6-pound, 14-ounce rainbow from Lower Twin Lake on a Rapala who grabbed the weigh-station prize of a $250 gift certificate from Ken’s, as well as a Bridgeport Vacation Rentals certificate for $550 for spot camping in the Sierra.

Ernie’s Ski & Sport weigh station at June Lake on the June Lake Loop saw Glenn McKenzie’s rainbow of 7 pounds, 3 ounces take a nice $200 Sierra Slammers Package.

Bishop’s biggest fish brought to its Visitor’s Park site was a 4.95-pound rainbow from the Lower Owens River Sunday on a Rapala by Ryan Nealon of Thousand Oaks, who won a $200 Sierra Slammer plastics package and a dream stay at Parcher’s Resort and a free boat rental at South Lake.

WON would to thank all the anglers who participate, all the national and local sponsors, and the weigh stations who helped over an extremely busy weekend, said Egan, the 395 derby director.

“I really think this a great idea, being a derby for all the Sierra, and it will really grow if it continues each year and especially if anglers can sign up and pay at the shop,” said Rick Flamson, owner of Rick’s in Mammoth Lakes. “I had three dozen people come to the shop who wanted to sign up Friday with cash, do it quickly. They just didn’t want to go online. It has a chance to be a huge event here opening day.”

Trash talkin’ among friends?
Captains meeting at Stone Brewery indicates pride, money are at stake in second annual WON/H&M Landing San Diego Offshore Jackpot

A dozen owner/operators and captains of the 12 sportfishers entered in the WON/H&M Landing San Diego Offshore Jackpot coming up July 1, were hosted by WON at Stone Brewery at Liberty Station by San Diego Bay, just north of the landings.

The season for tuna had already started, yellows have been biting for months, last year was a very good year. So everyone was in good spirits, on every level.

STONE BREWERY AT Liberty Station was a great spot near the landings for WON to host the owners and operators of the 12 sportfishers competing in the WON/H&M Landing San Diego Jackpot slated June 30-July 1.

First off, Connor Johnson of WON greeted everyone and thanked them all for coming. Then, free pairs of Costa sunglasses and visors were handed out to the captains, then came the hors d'oeuvres, followed by a steady flow of IPAs.

Then the trash talkin’ began. Well, only one of the captains was, but it was a start.

“You guys don’t have a chance, my boat is winning this thing,” said Frankie Brehna, owner/operator of the 65-foot Producer, who grabbed a pink Costa visor from the table and wore it upside down. “I’ll win it, even though you guys kicked me out of your code group.”

A few sipped their beers. No one said anything, and then one of the captains chirped, “Keep talkin’, Frankie. And by the way, that’s a real cute hat! You should wear that all the time. It covers your bald head.” Everyone laughed.

“This is fun,” said H&M Landing part owner and general manager Frank Ursitti. “Getting the guys together for this was a great idea — get some camaraderie among the boats and a feeling of competition.

“Hey, “I’m all about fun. If it wasn’t fun to fish and run a boat, why would anyone do it? You gotta have fun with this type of stuff.”

Joining Ursitti and Brehna at the lunch were Capt. Chuck Taft and his son Steve of the Legend, husband/wife team Dina Grivetto and Capt. Rick Scott of the Ocean Odyssey, Capt. Ryan McNichol and owner Richard Allen of the Invicta, Capt. Robbie Gray of the Constitution, Capt. Chris Randel of the Chief, Capt. Armando Marquez of the Producer, Lisa Phillips (representing her husband Capt. Brad Phillips) of the First String, Capt. Junior Garcia of the Old Glory, Capt. Dustin Tench of the Ranger 85, Capt. Mike Franchak of the Relentless, and Capt. Patrick Dorety of Sea Adventure II.

Tourney directors Connor Johnson and Ursitti have a goal — to establish the San Diego Offshore Jackpot as a season cornerstone of the San Diego fleet.

It’s centered at H&M Landing now, but Ursitti wants to expand it to include the other landings. Then, Ursitti said, the competition among the captains and crews will get heated.

“Last year we were not even completely full for our three boats,” said Johnson, an advertising rep for WON, who approached Ursitti with the idea last year.

Those three boats were the Ranger 85, Constitution, and Relentless. Ursitti liked what he saw in the fledgling event.

Said Connor, “This year we quadrupled in size, and of the 12 boats, seven are already sold out, so we are going to sell out every boat. That’s pretty amazing, I think.” Sold out are the Ranger 85, Constitution, Relentless, Daiwa Pacific, Chief, Invicta and First String.”

Two thirds of the Jackpot spots are filled. About 100 spots remain, and fishing is getting to a new level, with the tuna joining an already great bite on yellowtail. The five boats with spots are the Sea Adventure II, Ocean Odyssey, the Legend, Producer and Old Glory.

CAPTAINS FRANK BREHNA, right, of the Producer and Dustin Tench of the Ranger 85 are ready to have some fun at the Jackpot.

The tournament format is simple: anglers will pile onto the boat of their choosing Thursday, June 30 for a 9 p.m. departure. They will return no later than 7 p.m. on July 1, after fishing for the day. Each angler’s $275 ticket price for the overnight trip includes a jackpot buy-in, and the top three anglers will divide 100 percent of the jackpot money, with the top angler honored by having his or her name engraved on the perpetual trophy.

“If this event goes 100 percent full,” said Connor, “that prize purse will be over $6,600!”

The breakdown: The first place fish among all 300-plus anglers earns 50 percent of the total pot, followed by 35 percent for second biggest fish, and 15 percent for third biggest. Also up for grabs are six (of each) Okuma Metaloid reels on Cousins jigs sticks; three will be given away as early-bird raffle prizes, and the other combos will be raffled off at the weigh in. Each boat’s jackpot winner will win a pair of Costa sunglasses. More prizes are being added each week for the drawings after the boats return.

Like any of our charters, there will be awesome sponsor’s prizes. Tournament sponsors like Costa sunglasses, Okuma, Cousins Tackle, Trokar, Sufix, Yo-Zuri, Plano, Angler’s Choice Tackle, and many others will be giving away tons of gear at weigh-in raffles. Plus, each boat will have free Trokar hooks for every angler as well as supplies of Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon leader coils, and bulk spools of Sufix line to fill reels or add topshots.

“Not only are prizes being given for big fish but the perpetual trophy honors will be awarded to the top boat getting the winning fish, to be displayed in the hallowed halls of H&M Landing for all to see,” said Ursitti, who took over part ownership in the landing last year and assumed the tasks of general manager when longtime manager Phil Lobred retired. “This event is fast becoming the backbone of our summer season and a highlight of the San Diego offshore angling year.”

This is one of three annual WON charterboat tournaments on the coast. The upcoming Channel Islands Shootout is in its eighth year and the Rockfish Rumble just had its fourth annual running. They are both annual sellouts and keep expanding year after year. This event will surpass those in size in just two years.

This year’s jackpot will be covered by WON’s “dream team,” including myself riding aboard the Ocean Odyssey, veteran staffer Bob Semerau riding aboard the Constitution, Blake Warren will be riding aboard the Chief, and a team of reporters across many more of the competing boats, giving everyone a shot at sharing their success in the pages of WON.

* * *

Pat McDonell is editor of WON and directs the Cabo Tuna Jackpot.

* * *

Bookings are handled through the landing at (619) 222-1144 or book online at For event details, Connor can be reached at or at (949) 366-0921.

Odds and ends
It was interesting to see how the internet and weather projections for the big storm on the weekend affected decision-making by many. “Go midweek!”, as I did on the Commander to the 60 Mile Bank, but after that most decided to hunker down on the weekend, stay closer to home or head to the islands.

In all cases it worked pretty well. The big blow never really came. Our Chief charter on Friday from H&M whacked limits of tails and rockfish. Great conditions. The 60 Mile Bank’s bluefin were largely left alone because of the threat of the storm but when it became apparent the wind was not going to be too bad from the south, there were some nice scores on the yellows like the Chief’s and others, and some PB’ers nabbed some bigger grade tuna on the local banks on down to the Finger Bank.

The biggest news, though, is that the first yellowfin was caught, and that tells us two things: You can kiss off any chance of local albacore, which is hardly a big deal at this point with our bluefin season already started, and the yellowfin tuna season is going to be even earlier than last year. I have that feeling I’m going to spend a lot of money on boat fuel this year.

It feels strange that we have a big WSB section this week. But the story by Capt. Brandon Hayward is timely in that it deals with the here-and-now of the fishery, how to attack them in an El Niño year. The old methods, he says, simply don’t apply any more, especially at Catalina Island. Those days of wild WSB bites are history, for one season at least. I’m sure we’ll be okay, chasing tuna, dorado and dare we say it, wahoo?

As many people have now noticed, we are not holding the WON WSB tourney at Two Harbors, which I directed for several years. It was a little sad because I created the event 20 years ago. But… prospects are again we will have little squid, few island fish, few tourney anglers… therefore no tourney. Last year we did not even weigh in a white seabass. Only yellows and halibut. If the event is brought back, it will staged coastally, and you can fish wherever you like. That said, we have something coming up that will be truly fantastic, a coastal derby for all saltwater anglers in SoCal that runs 10 weeks. Stay tuned.

SUM FUN Capt. Brian Woolley reported from Dana Wharf Sportfishing that great rockfishing but more importantly, a changing of the water quality that might kick-start the yellowtail action off the South Coast. “But what also got me excited this week down in that deep water was some good uphill current that exchanged and cleaned the water up big time outside of 30 fathoms...” he said. “In that that movement/change of the water I saw the color change from blah green to clean blue green, I saw the bait, good mix of small anchovies- sardine mackerel, still a smattering of crab- basically it's water and life we haven't seen since December when we were catching and seeing the yellowtail here. So this next week we will for sure keep the sonar on and looking for any sign of gamefish.”

Kayaker wins MDR event. The results of the 41st annual Marina Del Rey Halibut Derby are minimal, but the winner is Tony Park who beat out 100 other anglers with as 29.1-pounder. Most of the anglers in the event fished on skiffs and a partyboat. He posted on FB: “This is the largest fishing derby in the LA area, I'm very proud and fortunate to have won this, fishing against power boaters, big yachts and teams. I won one for the kayakers! Thanks to all who wished me luck! TEAM SEWER!!!!!” He won a 3-day fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska.

Dean Jamison and tourney partner Brandon Buono finished second last January at the annual San Diego Anglers Open Bay Bass Tourney, but on Saturday at the club’s Champions Bay Tourney they had a chance for revenge among the Open’s top 25 teams. The pair moved up that one critical notch to top the field with 10.40 pounds for three fish. Mike Hill and Lance Picotte finished second, just beating out Dennis Burlason and Ed Howerton for third place. Big fish (4.84) went to John Beerling and Ty Ponder. Details at

 Top 5 Largest
 Largest Bass
 Buono / Jamieson
 3.75 10.40
 Hill / Picotte
 3.56 9.46
 Burlason / Howerton
 3.32 9.23
 Fitzgerald / Warren
 4.16 7.99
 Ponder / Beerling
 4.84 7.97

THE CHAMPIONS WITH checks, and their fish, on Saturday at Shelter Island.

DEAN JAMIESON WITH their 3-fish take, worth $750.

MIKE HILL AND Lance Picotte finished second.

DENNIS BURLASON, RIGHT, and Ed Howerton took third place.

BIG FISH (4.84) WENT to John Beerling and Ty Ponder, who is holding the fish.

The Balboa Angling Club held its Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet on Sunday and the Outstanding Angler of 2015 was awarded to Greg Taite, who also won the title in 2012 and 2013! Greg also went home with 6 buttons, 6 World Records, a Club Record and 8 Largest Fish Category Trophies.

The 2015 season was phenomenal thanks to the warm El Niño waters, and 80 buttons were awarded on Sunday including 32 for tuna and 26 for released marlin. A total of 353 marlin were caught and released by BAC members or on member’s boats in 2015.

The Balboa Angling Club also had nine World Records set by members last year, including our Small Fry Angler Sarah Taite for her 4-pound corbina on 8-pound line, and her 14-pound, 10-ounce bluefin on 30-pound. Proud Papa Greg Taite had a total of six world records for his 4-pound,15-ounce corbina on 2-pound, 4-pound, 13-ounce corbina on 4-pound, 3-pound, 2 ounce corbina on 16-pound, a 35-5 bluefin on 12-pound, 33-8 bluefin on 16-pound and 16-pound,11-ounce bluefin on 8-pound. It was a great morning for the Taite family with little Cole Taite also going home with a Button for his 3- 6 croaker on 2-pound test. Vick Sommers rounded out our 2015 world records with his 56-pound, 5-ounce white seabass on 6-pound test.

The annual San Diego Yellowtail Derby is coming, just two weeks away, with the Bali Hai Pre-Fish Seminar April 27, and this weekend at the April 17 Day At The Docks there is a booth for the tourney. The event runs April 30 to June 5 for biggest of any of these three species: yellowtail, white seabass and halibut. $80 entry fee, $40 for juniors and is open to private boaters, partyboats and kayaks for individual anglers. Details at or email John at

The show is never a ‘drag’
Now THAT was a great Long Beach Fred Hall Show, and with the 4-day Del Mar version coming up next week at the Fairgrounds, I have time to slow down a little before I spend some time there the 17th to 20th walking the aisles over 4 days. It will be more relaxed, that is for sure. As Bart Hall said on Pete Gray’s radio show, “if a company is not represented in some way at the show, then they probably don’t matter much in the industry.”

I hate to say it, but there is simply no time to look at all the new products, boats or tackle, not even close. Perhaps it’s because there’s simply too much and I can’t narrow it down. I would estimate I saw 20 percent of the people I should see, and 2 percent of the products.

One stop on Saturday I made proved to be fruitful on Saturday. After snapping a few shots of the Okuma crew, I stepped over to the adjacent Cousins area and said hello to the company prez, Bill Buchanon. You don’t get many chances to just chat with him these days and he’s good people, nice family. We could blab for hours, but we don’t have that luxury. His company is expanding like crazy. Much of it is due to the fact this guy really knows the fishing tackle industry. He grew up in it, fishing and manufacturing.

Well, he has a pretty cool new product and it was not even for sale at the show. It’s the kind of thing that I love to find by saying hello and poking around.


BILL BUCHANON OF Cousins and Mark Rayor of Jen Wren sportfishing ( with the prototype. WON PHOTOS BY PAT McDONELL

“Let me show you something,” said Bill. He walked over to an outfit, a Cousins rod with an Accurate reel on it. It was spooled up with braided line and looked normal except for a small black box plastic-tied to the blank, It had two small stainless push-in knobs like on a watch, and four or five wires coming out and glued onto the top of the rod.

“Here, hang onto this and I’ll pull and look at that little box’s screen,” He did, and I did, and the little screen read 25.2.”

“That’s the drag pressure,” said Buchanon. “The rod’s bend and the load on it from the drag are read digitally. Those two buttons calibrate it. So, you always know your drag pressure while you are fighting the fish. Something new. Mark Rayor designed it. He has a patent on it, and we’re going to use it in our rods. ”

Buchanon suggested we walk over a few aisles and see Rayor where he was exhibiting at his Jen Wren booth. Mark has a three-boat charter company at the East Cape. He got — and taught — me to dive and get my PADI certification 10 years ago at his house on the beach, he gives us reports quite often, and I see Mark every year at the Cabo Tuna Jackpot as his boats are always booked for the an­nual tourney. He’s still dives, but doesn’t have a dive op any more. Just fishing, every day possible. Rayor is a brilliant guy, a super nice guy, and knows his stuff. He wins big game Baja tournaments every year. He and his wife Jennifer were in their booth.

As Jennifer explained after hellos, her husband has been working on the drag pressure box for a “long, long time.” This prototype is external but Buchanon said it will be integrated into the rod design and construction. If all goes to plan, it will cost under $100 and likely closer to $75 more to buy a rod with this feature. The stainless buttons? For calibrating. Once calibrated, finding the drag on a digital scale, the load on the rod always tells you what your drag pressure is. It changes during a fight, based on the load pressure and now there will be no more guessing.

“You can’t know your current drag pressure during a fight. Guys are always checking drag during a fight, but you can’t really tell. You are guessing. With this, you can adjust on the fly. You will know.

“We’re still trying to figure it all out,” said Rayor, but he added Buchanon and Cousins were the first company willing to consider using the technology. Likely that is because few rods are now made in the U.S. and it can be done right at the Huntington Beach factory. And Buchanon loves to tinker and adapt.

Stay tuned. You will see this on the market, maybe at next year’s Long Beach show.

Here comes the big SHOW!


Celebrate the passion

See the 148-page digital preview of the Long Beach Show

Can it be this time of year again? Fred Hall Show time? It is, March 2-6, and the five days constitute more than a show, it is the unveiling of new tackle products, and for many of the retailers and manufacturers, it is the beginning of the fishing season.

For those in the booths and the boat displays, it’s a place to reconnect. And, there’s the seminars, hundreds of them, that sharpen the learning curve. It all happens at the Long Beach Convention Center, and it’s not so much a show but a 5-day celebration of our passion for diverse outdoor adventure.

By this time, if you are a subscriber or buy it from a retailer, you have the four-section, 148-page preview edition in your possession. A friend of mine Don Southard of Huntington Beach just texted me: “Thanks for the hernia, Pat. I just went to the mailbox.” For special issues, we sometimes offer non subscribers a look at the digital versions you can get with annual subscriptions. This is one of them. It really is easy to use.


If interested, just Click below for the 148-page digital PREVIEW edition of WON!!


To sustain that passion, you need to plan trips, buy a boat, snap up new tackle and learn from the experts. They are going to be at Long Beach. Every company worth its salt and fresh water is going to be exhibiting. If they are not, they simply aren’t serious about being in the outdoor business.

“There are hundreds of boats and thousands of booths at the Fred Hall Shows,” says show producer Bart Hall. “We have the largest marine electronics section of any shows in the West, more international fishing and hunting travel than any event in Southern California, and more celebration of the shooting sports than any show in our region.”

Hall learned from his father Fred some great methods to get people to the show and keep people in the aisles.

“My father’s vision back in 1948 was that we would provide a full day’s worth of family fun activities at a Fred Hall Show,” says Bart. “Each year we try to make the shows bigger and better. The problem is that there are so many things that people like about our shows that it is hard to get rid of anything so, generally speaking, we just keep adding things. Finding enough space for all of the fishing, boating, international travel, hunting displays and family fun activities that want to participate is really a problem. We just don’t have enough space and this year we will fill up all of the indoor and outdoor areas available to us.”

BART HALL, and his mother and father Lois and Fred Hall who started it all 70 years ago. In the photo below, Bart, just 9 years old, poses with Roy Rogers who came to promote on of the Halls' earliest shows. 


Hall said that while fishing and boating have always been their mainstays, they have expanded significantly over the last several years by adding hunting, camping, diving, archery, water sports, off-road vehicles, and one of the show’s biggest attractions, international travel.

Then, there are seminars. A place to rest, and learn.

“Over the course of the nine days of the two shows, we will present more than 600 seminars and workshops,” said Hall. You can hop on a Hobie kayak on the Hyatt Lagoon, attend a kayak seminar in the Hobie Seminar Room, learn to fly cast at either show, attend a quality seminar on the Cousins Stage or the Mammoth Lakes seminar area or the Okuma and Savage Gear freshwater mobile aquarium, or at the Accurate Saltwater tank.”

SEMINARS are everywhere that the show! Hundreds of the top pros offer free instruction. Check the 10-page official show program at the door for the show times and locations. 

 But there’s entertainment too — all free.

At both Long Beach and Del Mar shows, you can be entertained by the Kids Fish Free Trout Pond or Great American Duck Races. You can relax and watch the Dodge/Ram Ultimate Air Dogs, try your hand at archery, and kids can learn to cast from the good folks at Fishing in the City. In Long Beach, you will be astounded by Frank Addington Jr., The Aspirin Buster Archer; and in Del Mar, you have to take in the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show. Clothing is big at the shows, and for 2016 the Halls, with the help of AFTCO, are bringing back the popular Fashion Show that Pat Raitt of Bongos Sportfishing started and organized.

“Pat has passed away now but we hope her spirit will live on as we bring back the fashion show that she created,” said Hall. “It was wildly popular then and we believe it will be wildly popular now.”

Lon Beach Show hours March 2-6 are 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $16 for adults, $15 for seniors, and free for 15 and under kids and active military. And, of course, the kids fish for free at the Mammoth Lakes Pond.

Check out the complete seminar and workshop schedule at or the Western Outdoor News official 100-page show program at the door. That program has two pages of special coupons on pages 3 and 4. And, also be aware, that if you join the sportsman’s group, CCA, before the show, you get in free.

The exhibitor list can found on the website, and will be in the official Show Program at the door that will also contain a map with numbered booths.


WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS specials are a fixture at the show at two huge booths, featuring amazing rates on subscriptions and your choice of free gifts, plus the newspaper will offer some fantastic events to participate in, such as two trips to Alaska, Cedros Island, The Cabo Tuna Jackpot, two pro WON BASS events at Clear Lake and Lake Mead, Lake Havasu Striper Derby, Big Bear TroutfesT and three super fun one-day sportboat tournaments in San Diego and Ventura. We also have a dozen sportboat charters.


A few tips: Saturday DFW Panel Discussion, two special Pre-Show seminars slated; Pete Gray Let’s Talk Hookup radio show at Hayatt lobby Saturday AND Sunday

PRE SHOW SEMINARS! In addition to the over 400 seminars and workshops, the Fred Hall Show presents two more comprehensive 90-minute seminars before the show starts on Thursday and Friday. Tickets to these special presentations can only be purchased online at These special tickets include entry into the show and all attendees at these special presentations will get prizes from the presenting manufacturers. Both seminars take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year on Thursday, March 3, Cousins Tackle will be presenting Surf Fishing Guru Bill Varney; and on Friday, March 4, Berkley will sponsor ”Eastern Sierra Trout Fishing Tech­niques,” featuring legendary trout anglers Marlon Meade and Bob Halal.



-- One special event of note is on Saturday, March 5. It is the 3rd annual California Department of Fish and Wildlife Panel discussion featuring many of the leaders of the various parts of the DFW. Feature panelists will be Director Charlton “Chuck” Bonham, Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess, Acting Deputy Director for the Wildlife and Fisheries Division Stafford Lehr and Marine Regional Manger Craig Shuman. All will be assisted by Deputy Director of Communications Jordan Traverso. Also, Chief Bess will also give a special seminar at noon on that day talking about the partnership between DFW enforcement and ethical anglers and hunters. These are the hunters and anglers that are, after all, the “active conservationists.”

JOIN LET’S TALK HOOKUP, live Saturday and Sunday, hosted by producer Pete Gray and Rockcod Rick Maxa.

--Pete Gray and Rockcod Rick will be back with live broadcast Saturday and also Sunday at the Hyatt Hotel lobby from 7 to 9 a.m. both days. Listen in or join in, usually there’s some coffee pastries. Relax and listen or ask a question. If you can't get 1090-AM , use the free Mighty 1090 ap on your phone. You can listen anywhere. It's is super easy. It's how I listen to the show every week.


Again, here’s that link to the digital edition of WON. It’s super easy to use, and has ALL the seminar lists.

For the official show website...Click


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