CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER



ROAD TREKKER /
WON News Column by Gary Graham

Gary Graham's published credits would fill many pages, two books on saltwater fly fishing, and hundreds of feature articles.

His  current leadership activities in the sportfishing community include: Avalon Tuna Club, member since the 1980s, San Diego Marlin Club, International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Baja California representative; Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF), certified fly casting instructor; Outdoor Writers of California, president; Outdoor Writers of America.

Gary Graham can be reached at: roadtrekker1@gmail.com

Some things old and some things new
Part of the delight in spending time in my world is that there is always an abundance of information to absorb (or in some cases, to discard). Bouncing around from one fishing hole to another certainly broadens one’s perspective on a variety of different subjects, not just methods of fishing or local customs, but people who are making a difference.

While attending the Bisbee East Cape Offshore tournament recently, I chatted with some of the members of 62 different teams who were participating in the event; as always, they provided insights into both new and old tricks.


Matt Clifton, Scorpion Sportfishing, shared his recent success using a new deep-sea fishing planer. He reported that it seems to be working well for a variety of fish lurking deeper in the water column and that it was a lot more manageable than a downrigger.


For the record, since we were using them over three decades ago, along with surface planers to spread the pattern, let’s put that item in the “some things old” column. My Baja fishing buddy, Don Sloan, and I also tried them on the beach slow-trolling them from an ATV to fish with ladyfish for roosters in the ’90s.


My friend Ken Matney, owner of Hi-Five Lures, after insisting that heavier billfish lures were the key to success, proved it when many joyous teams won large sums of money fishing with them while competing in Bisbee and other tournaments over the years.


An intuition caused Matney to conclude that lighter lures might be better swimmers. To eliminate the weight, he replaced resin with foam reducing the weight significantly, and to add to their appeal, he offered the new ultra-violet, brightly colored lures in different sizes. That success would be in the “some things new” column.


On the heels of her remarkable success in coordinating a recycle program literally from the ground up, Theresa Comber, owner and operator of Baja’s Awesome Sportfishing and East Cape RV Resort in Los Barriles, has moved on to her next project and could hardly contain her excitement when I met up with her.


“We taught 100 Mexican children how to swim,” she blurted out as I approached her and husband Sean, along with the rest of her team at the ECO registration.


“Although the kids live on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, they use the sea to keep cool, but don’t know how to swim properly. There is no community pool or YMCA here, where many kids would normally learn to swim.”


“We had hoped to create “awe-inspired” swimmers and snorkelers. The results were incredible — better than we could have ever imagined. We’re teaching them to use masks and snorkels and when on their faces, their entire dog paddling bodies come to the surface, stretch out, float, and they move forward. In the midst of swim lessons, we’re teaching about reefs and reef fish, not just fish to be caught and eaten.”


“We’ll take them to a reef and many will see reef fish for the first time. We want them to understand this sea is one of the most bio-diverse bodies of water on the planet and it’s theirs, in their back yard. We hope they’ll experience Jacques Cousteau’s ‘World’s Aquarium’ here in the Sea of Cortez.”


Once again, Theresa Comber has introduced “some things new” to the area. Congratu­lations, Theresa, Shaun and all her local volunteers and supporters!


There is another exciting project, that I will be following over the next few months … IGFA is joining hands across the border with the Stars & Stripes tournament organizers as a part of its 80th anniversary initiative to teach 100,000 kids to fish around the globe by the end of 2019.


Their goal is to assist and encourage many local Baja tackle shops together with local captains and crews to offer classes where the children are taught the craft of generations before them — actual hands-on fishing lessons in courses at the tackle shops to ensure that the art of their forefathers lives on. Not certain which column that should go in — the “some things old” or the “some things new” column?


wehadhoped
WE HAD HOPED to create “awe-inspired” swimmers and snorkelers. The results were incredible — better than we could have ever imagined.


toeliminatethe
TO ELIMINATE THE weight, he replaced resin with foam reducing the weight significantly, and to add to their appeal, he offered the new ultra-violet, brightly colored lures in different sizes.


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Fads, fact and fiction
A fish aggregating (or aggregation) device (FAD) is a man-made object used to attract ocean-going fish such as marlin, tuna, dorado, wahoo and other pelagics. The devices usually consist of buoys or floats tethered to the ocean floor with concrete blocks. By all accounts, the FADs attract baitfish that in turn are an attraction for a remarkable number of pelagics of every description.

FADs have been around for decades, and frankly, my personal relationship with them has had rocky beginnings.


Somewhere in the mid-1980s, after reading many glowing reports of the successes of placing FADs in Hawaii and beyond, a handful of my fishing buddies and I decided that we would place one of our own in the middle of the 9-Mile Bank off San Diego.


onlytoreceive
ONLY TO RECEIVE a frantic email just a few days before my scheduled departure that tragically read “Foxi Lady” had caught on fire and burned to the water line; however, thankfully, everyone was safe.


We all pitched in with funds, time and effort and staged the entire project at the San Diego Yacht Club. There, we constructed the device out of PVC and filled many, many bags with sand with which to anchor the device.


By late spring on a Saturday morning, our flotilla of sports fishers, ranging from small skiffs to Bruce Kessler’s 48-foot “Zopilote,” gathered at the yacht club to be loaded with the various components, including sandbags, the PVC structure and lots of anchor line.


Our spirits were high and excited chatter filled the VHF radio as we headed out to the selected location for our FAD. Flat calm seas greeted us as we passed the Pt. Loma Lighthouse at the tip of Point Loma. Once on station, four of the larger boats circled stern to stern, each with at least a dozen bags lined up on the swim steps attached in sequence — to each other.


Our carefully laid out plan was to dump the sand bags sequentially; then release the FAD followed by more rope and the large marker buoy from the final boat in the line.


On signal, the first bag was dropped, and the others followed flawlessly gaining speed as they plunged into the depths. Then, the team released the FAD itself. All eyes followed the sequence to the final boat with the marker buoy.


Suddenly there was a commotion! Eyes widened. With every member of the team watching helplessly, one member on the final boat with the marker buoy frantically threw a metal grappling hook at the slowly sinking line that had somehow come untied.


Venture failed! The VHF remained eerily silent as the flotilla slowly made its way back to port.


FADS continued to be a success story in many locations. One of the most notable was roughly 100 miles off Quepos, Costa Rica, where anglers were regularly hooking 10 or more marlin per trip. As with all fishing, some raise more than that and reports of hooking and releasing double-digit billfish in a single day are not uncommon.


When my friends Pete and Denise Wishney, based out of Los Suenos Marina, invited me to fish the FADS offshore from Suenos, Costa Rica, in early July 2014, I eagerly accepted their invitation.


Only to receive a frantic email just a few days before my scheduled departure that tragically read “Foxi Lady” had caught on fire and burned to the water line; however, thankfully, everyone was safe.


Since then, most of the offshore tournaments held on the waters surrounding the tip of Baja now require that all fish hooked must be reported, and their location noted. Often, seemingly, while inside the grid, some hookups seem to be in the middle of nowhere, where it would seem unlikely fish would be congregating.


This has led to speculation by some local captains and crews that with the success of the FADS off the coast in Costa Rica, could there be some unmarked Phantom FADS that have been set in the waters surrounding Cabo San Lucas?


The answer to this question has thus far neither been confirmed or for that matter denied. However, I suspect that hook-ups in strange places may draw more scrutiny from teams and crews than ever before this upcoming season.


Stay tuned…


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


The kids are the Stars and the Marlin are the Stripes
The 22nd Annual Stars and Stripes Charity Tournament June 28-July 1 — was a one-off design featuring a blend of sportfishing, golf and so much more. During the 22 years, this feel-good affair has now raised more than $30 million on behalf of kids in Baja and the United States. Like every other year, it sold out, filling the Hilton Los Cabos Beach Resort on the Carretera Transpeninsular, Los Cabos, BCS, along the Sea of Cortez, drawing anglers from around the world.

This year, the event unfortunately coincided with Hurricane Bud and although it had been downgraded to a tropical storm earlier in the month, it left unsettled conditions, including off-color water and erratic sea temperatures inside the 40-mile radius fishing grid, according to teams that pre-fished the area several days prior to the tournament.


congratulationstoallCONGRATULATIONS TO ALL the teams participating in this event that raised $3.6 million during four days for kids’ charities on both sides of the border.


That intel, plus the impending full moon cycle, added up to discouraging prospects. Even so, the charity tournament attracted 61 teams with 232 anglers.


Apprehensive anglers and crews gathered at the iconic Chileno Bay, originally made famous by the pioneering Bud Parr, the American builder of the Hotel Cabo San Lucas in 1961, but now only a fading memory with a single sprawling “Casa” remaining from the original hotel, now surrounded by new homes under construction along with a hotel and clubhouse facility.


Newly implemented for the tournament was the “Tag and Release Division,” sponsored in part by “Gray Tag Research.”


The highly sought after Royal Slam would be given to any angler landing fish in three categories — yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo — as well as releasing a billfish.


The fleet of 40-plus boats ranged from an 80-foot, tricked-out, deluxe Viking Sportfisher to an equally well-outfitted, center-console 33-foot Grady White with three gleaming outboards; they crowded the start line as Director “Dicko” Gebhard perched on the bow, grasping his flare pistol tightly, pointed toward the sky and fired at precisely 8 a.m. Roaring to life, boats sped toward the horizon in a black-smoke and white-water world of pandemonium.


Tournament Command Center waited anxiously for that first radio call announcing a hookup. Would the pre-fish chatter of “slow fishing” along with “full moon-no bites theory” be confirmed? No. At exactly 8:30 the radio crackled to life as Team Enterprise aboard the “El Regalo” announced the first striped marlin hookup of the day as the command center crew grinned and exchanged high-fives.


From that first hookup, there were few lulls in the action; captain after captain called in mostly billfish, along with a handful of dorado and a few yellowfin tuna. The final striped marlin was landed by “Team Hook” just prior to lines out at 3:30 p.m.


The final tally for the day? An impressive 50 billfish, 10 yellowfin tuna and 6 dorado, plus a swordfish boated by angler Michael Fitzgerald and Team FISHING FOOLS.


Junior Angler, 12-year-old Cole Fearnow, Team FISH OTTA WATER, landed a 36-pound dorado, which put him in competition for the largest fish caught by a junior.


Everyone was delighted at the number of marlin caught and released on the first day and were eager to see if the following day would be the more of the same.


Saturday morning, Dana Bowman parachuted with a huge Mexican flag fluttering behind him in honor of that nation’s national Election Day followed by the 8 a.m. firing of the flare pistol to re-start the tournament.


Surprisingly, the pace quickened as the volume of billfish released continued to climb throughout the day. The competition in the release division was intense and the leader board changed repeatedly up until the final few minutes of the exciting finish.


After the data had been recorded and reviewed during the two-day event, the final tally was 117 striped marlin, 1 swordfish and 1 sailfish achieving a 1.95-billfish average per team.


In the game fish division, there were 28 yellowfin tuna and 11 dorado landed and brought to the scale.


starsandstripes
STARS AND STRIPES SPONSORS — Baja Sur's Secretary of Fisheries, Andres Cordova Urrutia, donated an invitation to the Stars and Stripes winning team overall to participate in the Annual Torneo Gran Final Serial Calisureños, held Aug. 10-12, 2018.


2018 Stars and Stripes Winners

Top Release Team

1st CLOUD NINE 15

2nd ENTERPRISE 14

3rd SAYGUNITE 1 & 2 11

Heaviest Dorado

1st SHIPS AND GIGGLES BRADLEE ARENDT Dorado 36-pounds

2nd HELIX ELECTRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Dorado 24-pounds

3rd MARLIN MAGIC ANDREA KESLER Dorado 11-pounds

Heaviest Tuna

1st HELIX ELECTRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Yellowfin Tuna 41-pounds

2nd CHRIS JONES GOLD TEAM MARK CRIPE Yellowfin Tuna 38-pounds

3rd HELIX ELECTRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Yellowfin Tuna 36-pounds

2018 Stars and Stripes

Daily Winners


Day 1 Heaviest Fish

1st SHIPS AND GIGGLES BRADLEE ARENDT Dorado 36-pounds

2nd HELIX ELECTRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Yellowfin Tuna 24-pounds

3rd CATCHIN ' A BUZZ ALEX BACARDI Yellowfin Tuna 23-pounds


Day 2 Heaviest Fish

1st HELIX ELETRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Yellowfin Tuna 41-pounds

2nd FISHING FOOLS Yellowfin Tuna 39-pounds

3rd CORONA BEACH DAVE CHRISTIANSON Yellowfin Tuna 24-pounds


Heaviest Weighed Fish of Tournament

1st HELIX ELECTRIC ROBERT BOSPLUG Yellowfin Tuna 41-pounds


Regardless of the “full moon theory” (when, according to theory, fish are not supposed to bite), the Stars and Stripes Charity Tournament tallied more than 121 billfish in its newly-implemented Release Division.


The top three teams each racked up double-digit tags and releases in the two-day event; pretty awesome for Baja stripers, but even more awesome for the charities that will reap the benefits of this one-off unique affair! https://ss18.catchstat.com/.

Congratulations to ALL the teams participating in this event that raised $3.6 million during four days for kids’ charities on both sides of the border.


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


Bob Bisbee Sr., a Baja Legend
Bob Bisbee Sr., patriarch of the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournaments phenomena, peacefully passed away June 14 in the north Dallas Metroplex, leaving behind a legacy, a loving family and a circle of friends from around the world.

Born March 6, 1933, in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, his life’s journey led him to California in 1958, where he met and married Aina, the love of his life, in 1960; it was a marriage that bridged 58 years.


bobbisbeesr
BOB BISBEE SR., patriarch of the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournaments phenomena, peacefully passed away June 14 in the north Dallas Metroplex, leaving behind a legacy, a loving family and a circle of friends from around the world.


Settling in Orange County, he founded the Marine Fuels & Sportfishing Headquarters on Balboa Island in Newport Harbor, a family-run business that slowly developed into a fundamental part of the fast-growing Southern California fishing and boating community. He provided tackle and fuel to the fishing vessels throughout Southern California and Baja, as well as becoming an excellent resource for the latest fish dope communicated via his shop’s VHF radio.


“I worked with Bob at his 76 Fuel Dock in Newport Beach for six summers in the early ’70s. I loved the job in large part because Bob was such a great boss and friend. I am still using his witty sayings to this day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bisbee Family. All the best.” - Argyle Nelson


Boats became larger and eager owners and captains ventured farther down Baja’s coast to Cabo San Lucas to fish the fertile waters filled with exotic fish reputed to exceed 1,000 pounds. As the fleet grew, technology also improved and Bisbee added a SSB (single side band radio) to his operation to provide a much-needed communication link for crews and owners traveling from Cabo to the U.S. in their yacht sports fishers. Not only was he there to deliver messages to families, but he also was there for emergencies and much-needed parts.


Ultimately, Bisbee became active in many personal and business ventures throughout Baja, specifically in Cabo San Lucas, BCS, allowing him to develop numerous life-long friends.


The Bisbee Black & Blue Marlin Tournament series was just a whim he had in the 1980s, which became a reality that changed his life forever when he founded the first Black & Blue Marlin Tournament with six teams and a purse of $10,000.


By 1990, Bisbee's lease in Newport Beach for the store and fuel dock expired and with prize money from entry fees near $750,000, he decided to retire and only operate the tournament. The Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas grew to a series of three and is now in its 38th year!


Bisbee ran the tournament until 1995 when his son Wayne took over. His daughter, Patricia, joined as a minority stakeholder and vice president and was joined by other family members as both full and part-time staffers.


He and Aina moved to Lucas, Texas, and resided there since 2006.


He is survived by his wife Aina, children Debbie, Bob Jr., Wayne, Tricia, Erik and Destiney, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also leaves his sister June and brothers Larry, Gary, George, and Bruce. A private family gathering was held in Texas on June 23.


Since his influence and friendships are spread throughout the world, the family feels that the most appropriate way for everyone who would like to say good-bye would be at a celebration of life in Cabo in October.


“On behalf of sports fishermen of Seychelles, Seychelles Sports Fishing Club and all of Seychelles sends its sincere condolences to Wayne Bisbee and the Bisbee family. We recognize and admire the amazing lifelong achievements of Bob Bisbees Sr. in the development and promotion of sports fishing, especially the gold standard of sports fishing tournaments – the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas. SSFC is honored to share the Bisbee family name in one of our tournaments with the Bisbee's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund which will carry on for years to come. While we may be oceans away in the Indian Ocean, we will be in Cabo in spirit as Bob Bisbee is honored in October.” - Secretary Seychelles Sports Fishing ClubGrant Heyer · Victoria, Seychelles


“As Cabo is where so many of us all gather each year anyway, we will all be able to offer him a toast and spread his ashes in the waters he loved so dearly,” Wayne announced.



Details will be posted on their website as they are finalized at Bisbees.com/FarewellBob , where comments and pictures can be displayed. All are very much appreciated.


“Mr. Bob Bisbee, founder of the famous Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, radiated his passion through sports fishing and inspired the lives of so many Los Cabos locals and international fishermen. His commitment to such an amazing sport has sprung endless open opportunities for our local sports fishing community. On behalf of our TAG Cabo Sportfishing team, we would like to thank you, and your family for the legacy you have gifted us all with here in Cabo San Lucas, MX. Thank you for paving the way for so many of us anglers. RIP Mr. Bob Bisbee Sr.” - TAG Cabo Sportfishing team


There are far too many condolences to include for this Baja Legend. Be it known that he was well-loved and added greatly to a people and place that he considered his “home” and his remains will be returned to the waters that he was drawn to throughout his life.


Returning to my roots
Before I begin my account of my recent trip to Loreto, I would like to comment on a very sad happening some 450 miles away. I join with others in expressing my outrage at the tragic news of the recent homicides in Bahia de Los Angeles. Hopefully, the perpetrators of this horrible crime will be apprehended quickly, and peace and calm can be restored to this community. My sympathy goes out to the families of both Jo Anne Butler and Ray Ball.

At the end of May, I was invited to tag along with the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) team, Ken Franke, Edwin Reyes, Pete Gray, and Rick Cutler, along with Celia Conditt and Captain Art Taylor of Searcher Sportfishing.


themostfashion
THE MOST FASHIONABLE is the La Mision, a 70-room hotel located on the Malecón offering extraordinary views of the glistening Sea of Cortez, located just a few short blocks from the launch ramp and Marina.


The entire team was headed down to Loreto to take part in the 6th Gastronomic Festival of the Almeja Chocolata, which would include a live broadcast of Pete Gray’s “Let’s Talk Hookup” on Saturday morning following the Yellowtail Tournament flare gun start at dawn.


As most of you know, Loreto was where my Baja journey first began decades ago, and this was an opportunity for me to return to my roots. On this trip, we used the Cross-Border Xpress as our port of entry, and less than 45-minutes from our arrival at the border we were at the Aero Calafia gate awaiting our flight.


I have visited Loreto countless times. What seemed like a small village on my first visit, has by comparison to other cities in Baja Sur retained that small-town atmosphere despite the many changes over the years.


Ed Tabor is long gone, as is his Flying Sportsmen Lodge where I stayed on my first visit. However, some colorful hotels now line the Malecón. The most fashionable is the La Mision, a 70-room hotel located on the Malecón offering extraordinary views of the glistening Sea of Cortez, located just a few short blocks from the launch ramp and Marina.


Before dinner our first evening, we had a meeting with the members of the event committee, along with business owners and visiting government officials, to determine the subjects that they would cover during the radio program.


We were later joined for dinner by representatives of SEPEDA and CONAPESCA. The hotel chef outdid himself with an impressive array of local seafood dishes. The team and visitors bantered over who would catch the largest fish on Friday with the winning angler/team earning a dinner at the expense of the loser.


On the morning of the tournament, light wind and nearly flat seas greeted the teams as they topped off the bait tanks with live bait and headed north to San Bruno where a handful of boats were already fighting fish.


The morning passed quickly. Only a handful of yellowtail were caught with Celia Conditt and Art Taylor each scoring one. Ken Franke and Pete Gray failed to match them which provided Art and Celia with bragging rights all weekend, plus a free dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for lunch before part of the team headed for a guided tour with VIVE Loreto, Rafael Villegas, and Maria to Mission San Javier, one of the oldest and best preserved of all the Jesuit missions in Mexico and the U.S., located only 32 km outside of Loreto on a paved road through the foothills.


bytheend
BY THE END of the day, the largest fish of the tournament was a 28.2-pound mossback belonging to Team Harker.


Later that evening after strolling through the quiet street in front of the Mission in town, we had dinner at the popular Mi Loreto, a family restaurant known for its truly authentic traditional Mexican foods, only steps from the Mission de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó.


The following morning began before dawn on the jetty surrounding the Marina as local anglers and government officials gathered to signal the start of the fishing tournament. The flare streaked over the Bay, and 22 teams raced toward their favorite spot in search of the largest yellowtail.


The two-hour live radio show, “Let’s Talk Hookup” was broadcast from the 4th floor of the La Mision Hotel overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Throughout the show, a steady stream of government officials, locals representing hotels, sportfishing, diving and other companies involved in tourism popped in. Pete and his guests fielded callers’ questions about what Loreto had to offer its visitors during their stay.


From 12 noon until 3 p.m. there was a parade of boats returning to weigh their catches. Over thirty yellowtail were caught, but only sixteen fish were weighed as the largest fish only scored. By the end of the day, the largest fish of the tournament was a 28.2-pound mossback belonging to Team Harker.


The centerpiece of the weekend was the 6th Annual Gastronomic Festival of the Almeja Chocolata which also included the award ceremony for the fishing tournament. The Gastronomic Festival attracted hundreds of tourists and locals alike who gathered to taste the traditional Loreto cuisine.


“The cuisine of Baja California Sur is recognized worldwide for the authenticity and deliciousness of its dishes, making it an important tourist attraction,” Secretary of Tourism, Economy and Sustainability (SETUES), Luis Humberto Araiza López, declared.


The secretary emphasized that this traditional festival internationally projected the vast and rich variety of Loreto cuisine, which in addition to its natural beauty and historical richness, attracts hundreds of people from different countries each year to taste the dozens of dishes made from local clams, fish, and seafood.


Following dinner, the cash awards, along with invitations to compete in the great Final SEPESCA 2018 series to be held August 10-11 at Loreto, were distributed to the winning teams.


* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website wonews.com. Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.


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