Cates is Selling the New Loann

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After 46 years in sportfishing business, Nick Cates putting his boat up for sale

Ed Zieralski
UNION-TRIBUNE Staff Writer

August 9, 2003

Nick Cates never wanted to be a superstar in the sportfishing business.

A self-proclaimed "grinder," Cates preferred life behind the scenes. He left the heavy lifting to legends such as Bill Poole and Frank LoPreste, long-range captains and innovators who own three landings and other interests and all the responsibilities that go with them.

"I never wanted to work that hard," Cates said.

Not that Cates hasn't worked at his craft. His one-day fishing operation on the New Lo-An at Point Loma Sportfishing has been a mainstay for 18 years and remains one of the better ones in the fleet.

"This is my 12th year riding on this boat, and the only reason I come back is Nick," said Joe Zeable of Phoenix during a recent trip to the albacore grounds.

But soon, Cates is going to turn the wheel of the New Lo-An over to someone else. After 46 years in the sportfishing business, Cates, 58, is selling the New Lo-An. He's leaving the one-day fishing grind, leaving a business he's been in since he boarded the Mission Bay-based sport boats Seabiscuit and Spitfire as a 13-year-old.

"It's just time," said Cates, 58. "You only have so much time. I decided a couple of years ago to move over for the young guys."

Cates said he'll still do some relief captain work or run a deck for a friend, or his son, Andy, captain on the Red Rooster III. But he'll soon leave in his wake the days of having to find a school of fish and hustle the big 65-foot sport boat back to the dock by 9 p.m.

The sale of Cates' boat is pending. Cates' said LoPreste, who owns Point Loma Sportfishing, where the boat is docked, was instrumental in finding his successor on the New Lo-An. Paperwork will be drawn up soon, and the new owner will be announced. Cates said it's premature to identify the new owner.

"Frank wants the new owner to carry on his philosophy of fishing, with an emphasis on customer service," Cates said. "The new owner will have to be someone who will run a first-class fishing operation."

Cates, though much more understated and laid-back than LoPreste, ran that kind of boat, following his predecessors, the New Lo-An's first owners, Dick Gaydosh and Don Sansome.

When a respected former long-range captain recently looked into buying the New Lo-An, he praised Cates for how well he maintained the boat over the years. Like its owner, the New Lo-An wears its 42 years well.

"You have to keep the little puppy running, keep the customers coming back," Cates said on that recent one-day run for albacore, 75 miles south of Point Loma. "I owe it mostly to my crew, all their hard work over the years. And Bill McKinney, he designed the bait tank on this boat, rebuilt the galley on the Prowler. There isn't a thing on the boat we haven't touched up in the 18 years we've had it, from the deck to the electronics. We've had to keep up with the competition, because the guys in this fleet work hard. I didn't want to put a fish hold on this boat. But the competition made us."

The "we" and "us" are Cates and business partner Buzz Brizendine, captain on the Prowler. Cates and Brizendine bought the Prowler in 1979 and purchased the New Lo-An in 1985. They'll dissolve a 24-year partnership when Cates sells the New Lo-An.

"Buzz is 10 years younger, and he wants to keep on going," Cates said. "It's been a great partnership."

Brizendine, who is based at Fisherman's Landing, Cates at Point Loma Sportfishing and Ray Sobieck of the Producer at H&M Landing formed the landings' Big Three when it came to full-day runs in the 1980s and early '90s. They persevered through some lean fishing years and were rewarded with 12 straight seasons of good fishing for either yellowfin or albacore. That also brought in more competition in the form of boats from the north.

"We had some really lean years," Cates said. "I remember 1979, '80, poor Buzz didn't take a paycheck for the first couple of years we had the boat because everything went back into it. We had to work long-range boats, take ecology trips, you name it, just to make the payments."

Cates said one of the more difficult decisions he made was fighting the temptation to buy a long-range boat and enter that game.

"I saw that if I wanted to make a lot of money in this business, I had to go long-range," Cates said. "But I didn't want to get into that, back-to-back long-range trips, a long time away, doing it year in and year out."

Cates is so low-key that he said passengers often get off the boat without realizing he was the man in the wheelhouse who put them on fish. His longtime cook, Greg Muller, is the boat's personality and can name passengers on sight. And Cates said Charles Hunter, who is Cates' friend and regular on the boat, was another character who always made fishing fun.

Cates leaves behind a string of former deckhands who have gone on to make something of their lives, some on the water, some away from it.

Cates' son, Andy, and Jeff DuBuys are successful long-range captains on the Red Rooster III. Bradley Phillips and John Stratton own the First String.

Jason Wolford is a lawyer in San Francisco. Another deckhand owns a laundry in Los Angeles, and another became an accountant. Kevin Winfield runs canoe and kayak trips trips and a glass-bottom boat in Morro Bay.

As for Cates, one of his passions is big-game hunting, and he plans on doing more of that. He also plans on visiting some of the ranches he's hunted and helping the ranchers with cattle and such.

"I did it last year in Wyoming, and it was great," Cates said. "They didn't want to put me on a horse, so they gave me a quad and let me help them push cattle that way. It was a blast, learning someone else's game."

Asked what it is he'll miss the most from the daily grind, Cates, true to his nature, picked the most basic, everyday things.

"Just being out here in nature every day," he said. "Seeing the sunrises, the sunsets, the purple water, catching yellowtail, my favorite fish to catch. Yellowtail, yellowtail, yellowtail. Catching albacore is more successful, we'll catch more fish. But yellowtail fishing is more fun. That and those sunrises and sunsets over La Jolla when I was a kid on the Seabiscuit and Spitfire. Those are the memories that stay."

WOW.... any one know who the buyer is???
 
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Guzzler-1

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He's one of kind . A great skipper and will be missed by everyone that has fished his boat . Hell . I've almost been fishing his boat as long as he has owned it . Matter of fact I have . My son took his first overnight tuna trip on the New LoAnn when he was 10 .The man wouldn't stop until he had fish ! You won't find em any better than Nick .

Michael :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:
 
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bajaspearo

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I met Nick recently, inconspicuous as usual, fishing a 3/4 day trip for yellowtail. It was on the Mission Belle. He noticed me doing an underhanded cast where I incorporate a tricky little line pull to spin the spool, which aids casting lighter baits. He asked me where I learned it and I told him, from a Prowler deckhand named Donnie (Mullet, as known by most). Nick laughs and tells me quietly that he was the one that taught Mullet the cast.

Nick and I killed yellows that trip and chatted about Prowler's great crew and other awesome stories. So lucky to have met the man personally responsible for my so cal saltwater fishing education and the many awesome memories that accompanied.

Thank you Nick Cates.
 
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tunanorth

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I met Nick recently, inconspicuous as usual, fishing a 3/4 day trip for yellowtail. It was on the Mission Belle. He noticed me doing an underhanded cast where I incorporate a tricky little line pull to spin the spool, which aids casting lighter baits. He asked me where I learned it and I told him, from a Prowler deckhand named Donnie (Mullet, as known by most). Nick laughs and tells me quietly that he was the one that taught Mullet the cast.
Thank you Nick Cates.


"The Prowler Flip" developed during the 1983 El Nino, in reaction to tiny pinhead anchovies needing a good cast on 40-50 pound lines.
Still one of the most amazing displays of casting skill in the sport of fishing.
It has spread to other boats, notably Mike Lackey on the Vagabond uses it to deadly effect.
Never saw anybody do it before Mullet in 1983; no real surprise that Nick taught him.
RIP Donnie "Mullet" Boulet.
 
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MJB

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    sold it!!
    "The Prowler Flip" developed during the 1983 El Nino, in reaction to tiny pinhead anchovies needing a good cast on 40-50 pound lines.
    Still one of the most amazing displays of casting skill in the sport of fishing.
    It has spread to other boats, notably Mike Lackey on the Vagabond uses it to deadly effect.
    Never saw anybody do it before Mullet in 1983; no real surprise that Nick taught him.
    RIP Donnie "Mullet" Boulet.
    So let's see this cast.......sounds like you do a roll cast while you spin the spool?
     
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    tunanorth

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    Bringing up a 12 yr old thread?



    Probable that Bajaspearo was just trying to make a connection with the past and his 2015 encounter with Nick Cates.
    I liked it because it lets younger folks know who came before them and what they did, both recognizing those who are still with us [Cates], and those who are departed [Boulet].
     
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    tunanorth

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    So let's see this cast.......sounds like you do a roll cast while you spin the spool?



    Its an underhand "flip" like in freshwater bass fishing, but at the same time you give the line coming off the spool a little yank to get it spinning so that the bait itself is not having to any pull on the spool, but is just going out with zero friction.
    Its a bit of trick to get the line going out at exactly right speed, takes a good bit of practice.
     
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    tunanorth

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    Blackfish

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    Besides the post being by the late Surfdoc, you know its an old thread when you read, "albacore grounds" LOL
     
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    ConSeaMate

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    Besides the post being by the late Surfdoc, you know its an old thread when you read, "albacore grounds" LOL
    I have the best last memory of Stan....I told him I had some rods and reels for his kids down in Mexico.....I met him down at Fiesta Island and he didn't realize I had 30+ outfits for him....he gave me the biggest hug!......that was a lot better then his 2am calls ....lol....RIP Stash......
     
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    Mo Betta

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    Fuckin Stan....always knew who was callin at 2AM LOL.
     
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