Fred Hall 2020
Digital Show Guide
In This Issue:
- Suzuki ECSTAR When Quality Counts
- Hardbait Tuna
- Suzuki Introduces New High-Performance Fresh & Saltwater Outboards
- Hook & Tackle – Apparel From Experience
- Fish Tracking From Space
- West Coast Marine Rigs Parkers Right
- Captain, Angler, & Ocean Fanatic – Shaina Cox
- Gamakatsu Hooks & Gear – Only The Best
- Satellite Maps To Catch More Fish
- Ketcham Tackle Fred Hall Specials
- Local Knowledge Season 5
- Thresher 22 Center Console – All New For 2020
- Net To Fork – Bugs For Dinner
- Snook Quest – Mazatlán, Mexico
- 2020 Fishing Tech
- The Watery World In Leather
- SoCal Has Purple Fever
- IGFA – Hard At Work For Fishing’s Future
In this issue:
Suzuki Introduces New High-Performance Fresh & Saltwater Outboards
Hook & Tackle – Apparel From Experience
Fish Tracking From Space
West Coast Marine Rigs Parkers Right
Captain, Angler, & Ocean Fanatic – Shaina Cox
Gamakatsu Hooks & Gear – Only The Best
Satellite Maps To Catch More Fish
Ketcham Tackle Fred Hall Specials
Local Knowledge Season 5
Thresher 22 Center Console – All New For 2020
Net To Fork – Bugs For Dinner
Snook Quest – Mazatlán, Mexico
2020 Fishing Tech
The Watery World In Leather
SoCal Has Purple Fever
IGFA – Hard At Work For Fishing’s Future
Suzuki ECSTAR When Quality Counts
No matter the horsepower or number of engines hanging on the transom, modern-day boat owners have a serious monetary commitment in outboards. So needless to say, you need those engines to last. And yet, many people look at a jug of oil, the life-blood of an engine, and actually debate in their minds whether to save a few bucks and buy the cheap generic oil or go for something name-brand.
It’s a natural tendency and easy to understand, but once you weigh the logic, quality oil is money well spent when you add up all that is on the line!
When it comes to engine oil, there is more involved in the products than just a name. Take Suzuki’s ECSTAR V7000 Semi-Synthetic engine oil for example. This oil goes through rigorous and expensive testing to earn its FC-W Certification from the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA). ECSTAR oil is built to withstand the high-RPM, high-friction demands that are placed on outboard engines. Suzuki describes ECSTAR V7000 Semi-Synthetic 10W40 Marine Engine Oil as a proprietary blend of premium mineral oils and synthetic lubricants, with an additive profile designed to stand up to harsh conditions on the water. – Advanced detergents keep internal engine parts clean – Higher quality base oils improve fuel economy and help engines start easily in cold weather – Special additives help protect engines in both salt and freshwater environments.
If you want your outboards to last longer, check the oil regularly, change it on schedule, and go with a quality oil like Suzuki’s ECSTAR. It’s worth it.
The way the bluefin tuna bite has been the last few seasons, getting bit can often be as simple as finding a foamer and casting a popper into the middle of it, boom.
While those days are great, there are plenty of days when finding a foamer is tough and even when you do find one, the fish are so keyed in on small anchovies that it can be almost impossible to get them to commit to a bigger lure. On those tough days, anyone who’s spent time targeting bluefin knows that having a variety of lures in your tackle box can spell the difference between success and failure.
Before I get into the specifics of the lures I like to fish for tuna, I’d like to take a look at how these fish behave. Starting with foamers, I’ve seen enough aerial shots of them to know that the whitewater is just the center of the feeding activity. In most cases, the whitewater represents the spot where a school of baitfish is balled up on the surface. While there are potential bites to be had in the middle of the foamer, those fish aren’t just sitting in the middle of it feeding. Tuna are always moving forward and, since they don’t bend in the middle, aren’t known for making the tightest of turns when doing so. As such, the tuna that just slashed through the bait ball at speed is going to travel some distance before it can turn and make another pass. Depending on the amount of fish in the school, a tuna’s trajectory can put the outside of its swing a hundred feet or more from the foamer itself. The reason this is important to note is because the tuna doesn’t lose its interest in feeding while making a turn for another pass at the bait ball.
So, by casting your lure into a foamer, presenting it through the melee and retrieving it, you’re basically missing out on targeting all of those fish. Likewise, when you fish a popper and get clear of the foam, you might still get a bite in open water. Due to the “pop and pause” cadence of the presentation, though, you might get a fish’s interest with the popping commotion, only to have it arrive at your lure when it’s being paused and pass on biting it because it doesn’t look like a baitfish while it’s sitting idle in the water.
Some days the fish don’t care and will bite it anyway, but some days they won’t.
Rather than relying on the lucky timing sometimes associated with popper fishing, I’ve switched entirely to hardbaits that allow for a continuous presentation. By eliminating the long pause, any fish attracted to the lure from a distance will be met with something that is a reasonable enough representation of a baitfish to trigger a strike. In fact, since I made the switch to fishing hardbaits, I haven’t had a single trip where poppers got bit and hardbaits didn’t.
There are a huge variety of styles, sizes, and colors of hardbaits on the market, and while I’m sure all of them work in different situations, I’ve narrowed my arsenal down to just two lures. If you’re new to hardbait fishing, I suggest going out and buying whatever baits you think look good. But while you’re shopping, I recommend picking up a sardine-colored Yo-Zuri Hydro Pencil and a silver Rapala Subwalk 15.
Both are walk-the-dog style baits, the former on the surface and the latter sub-surface. Over the last few years, I have yet to have a trip where the fish were biting and wouldn’t bite one or both these baits. Though similar in design, the two lures offer different presentations and are fished on different outfits.
Starting with the Hydro Pencil, which only weighs 1 ounce but casts like a much heavier lure, I use a Rainshadow Judge Series 810ML rod matched with a Revo Toro Beast 50 reel filled with 65# braid. This beefed-up bass rod casts the bait well and has accounted for multiple 75 to 100-pound bluefin on my boat.
This is my go-to bait when targeting bluefin and yellowfin that are keyed in on micro bait. I’ll present the lure by casting it into the foamer and deploy very short sweeps of the rod to move the bait less than a foot at a time while I pick up slack with my reel. If the fish are in a cooperative mood, I usually won’t get past the first or second sweep without hooking up. But if they aren’t and I get to the edge of the foamer without getting a bite, I’ll drop my rod tip to the water and turn the handle as fast as I can.
That action will take the bait subsurface and give it a tight kick as it’s running through the water. My impression is that it looks like a baitfish that has broken from the school and is racing to escape. This seems to really get the tuna fired up and I’ve had tuna race in and hit the lure so fast that they’d be under the boat and out the other side before I could even catch up to my slack line. This is the only situation in which I’ll throw this lure, but it works well enough that I always have one tied on.
The Subwalk is a much more versatile lure, but it’s not designed for offshore use so you’ll need to change out the hooks and rings before you take it fishing. I swap my hooks out with 2/0 Owner 4X trebles and heavy Hyperwire split rings. These hooks are significantly larger than the stock hooks but won’t negatively affect the lure’s action, what little of it there is. My go-to rod and reel combo for this lure is a Rainshadow RCLB 80M matched with a Penn Fathom 25N star drag full of 80# braid. This set up works fine for fish up to 125 pounds, but as Matt Kotch learned a couple of seasons ago, it will kill you on 200 pounders, so cast wisely.
When fishing around foamers, I’ll start my presentation off with the same short rod sweeps I use with the Yo-Zuri. But once past the foam, I’ll switch to a very long sideways sweep of the rod, followed by quickly picking up my slack line and repeating. The only drawback to this presentation is that it packs the line loosely on the spool, so every few casts, I’ll make one and just wind the lure straight back to get the line tight on the reel.
While the Subwalk is a great lure for fishing foamers, it really shines when targeting fish that are feeding subsurface. When the fish are up foaming, the casting target stays pretty stationary but the fish tend to move around a lot more when they’re chasing bait below the surface. In these situations, it pays to figure out the direction the fish are moving and then set your boat up ahead of them in a position that allows you to present your bait perpendicular to their line of travel.
In this case, I’ll make a long cast ahead and to the side of the school and make the same long sweeps of the rod tip, followed by picking up slack. If the school is big, or not moving too fast, you can get multiple casts on them, but once they’re past you you’ll need to move the boat ahead of them and repeat the procedure. Since tuna can only look up, out and forward, the key to this presentation is to position your lure in a manner that will give them time to see it, turn on it and eat it.
If you’re casting to the location where you see them, they’re going to have passed that spot by the time your lure hits the water.
The best advice I can offer when fishing hardbaits, or any other lure for that matter, is to always take a minute to look at what the fish are doing before charging in and firing off a cast. If you watch the direction and speed at which they’re moving, you can predict where you’ll need to put the boat to be in a position to put your bait in a location that they’ll not only be able to see it but react to it before they swim past.
Suzuki Introduces New High-Performance Fresh & Saltwater Outboards
Suzuki DF300B – “B” Stands for Big and Badass
Looking for all the power and performance you can squeeze out of your offshore dream machine? Search no more. Suzuki Marine has the perfect answer for hard-charging saltwater anglers with boats rated for a maximum of 300hp or for 600hp in a dual array – the Suzuki DF300B, the world’s first 300hp V6 4-stroke with contra-rotating propellers.
It seems simple, really: two 3-bladed props on one lower unit provide the unique thrust that used to be available only with a pair of counter-rotating motors. Key benefits of Suzuki’s exclusive prop design include improved speed, thrust, handling, and the superior efficiency delivered by six blades vs. only three.
The DF300B’s contra-rotating prop system, which has already been proven on its 350hp predecessor, provides superior “grip” at the prop blades when it’s time to hit the throttle. The result is an excellent hole shot and amazing acceleration.
The exceptional performance of contra-rotating props is most evident when pushing large, heavy, fully-loaded boats packed with eager anglers, tackle, ice and a tankful of bait. In addition, Suzuki’s two-stage gear reduction (2.29:1) contributes plenty of low-end torque without sacrificing top-end performance.
Add compact size and lightweight – 727 pounds for the 25-inch shaft, 747 pounds for 30-inch – and you get a motor that is also much easier to handle.
With the engine’s power distributed over six blades rather than three, Suzuki is able to reduce the size of the gears and create a sleek, hydrodynamic lower unit that slices through the water with minimum drag.
While the increased blade surface area and contra-rotating action deliver exceptional acceleration, there is another bonus to the sleekly-engineered DF300B – incredible reverse thrust.
This quick burst of power is especially useful in tight situations such as docking and other close-quarter maneuvers like passing a scoop of squid to one of your partner boats.
All this power and grace comes with a fuel-efficient design that’s perfectly happy with 87-octane fuel – a major benefit. The DF300B’s 4.4-liter V6 maximizes combustion efficiency with a 10.5:1 compression ratio and dual fuel injectors in each cylinder.
Using a pair of compact injectors ensures a more precise fuel mix in each combustion chamber, improving atomization and avoiding off-center combustion, a common cause of engine knock. Injecting 100% of the fuel into the cylinder at exactly the right moment also keeps the fuel cooler, providing up to 3% additional power.
A dual-louver, direct air intake system on the DF300B helps the engine breathe freely for optimum performance, separating out water, spray, and moisture for improved reliability. This unique intake system provides cooler, denser air for more consistent and powerful combustion.
Suzuki Precision Control drive-by-wire throttle and shift controls offer easy integration, making the DF300B perfect for vessels with second stations. Other advanced features include Suzuki’s Easy Start, Troll Mode and compatibility with Multi-Function Display Screens.
Fuel efficiency, reliability, excellent acceleration under heavy loads and in rough seas, ease of handling, quick connection to modern electronics, and much more make Suzuki’s new DF300B the powerhouse of choice for big center consoles and sport cabin sportfishers.
It’s no wonder why Suzuki has won more NMMA Innovation Awards than any other outboard manufacturer.
Suzuki DF200RSS AND DF150RSS — Latest RSS Motors Build on Legacy of Pro Performance
The ultimate proving ground for high-performance outboards in the 150- to 250-horsepower range has always been the professional bass circuit. Speed, reliability and – perhaps most of all – a best-in-class hole shot have long been the benchmarks of performance, and Suzuki’s new-for-2020 DF200RSS and DF150RSS were engineered to excel across the board.
When Suzuki Marine set out to design the highest-performing motor to hang on the back of a tournament bass boat, they chose to focus on a 250hp model — since 250 is the maximum allowed in the top-level Bassmaster Elite Series and Bass Pro Tour Major League Fishing events.
The Suzuki V6 4-stroke DF250SS is a proven success, catapulting Lake Havasu’s Dean Rojas to Champion of Major League Fishing’s tournament last May on Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama. In the meantime, Suzuki’s engineers were hard at work transferring the bigger motor’s latest technical innovations to the 2020 DF200RSS and DF150RSS outboards.
The DF200RSS and DF150RSS are both inline 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve motors designed to power lightweight, high-performance fishing boats. Besides bass boats, the category includes bay boats and other styles of inshore and offshore skiffs.
Suzuki wins more NMMA Innovation Awards than any other outboard manufacturer because they have the best engineers. The key changes that the new 200hp and 150hp outboards borrow from their V6 big brother are found in the lower unit and the crankcase, as each motor now features a robust new lower unit design and a sleek gear case with a powerful gear reduction of 2.0:1. Suzuki’s previous outboards in this class were already famous for getting out of the hole fast – now the hole shot has to be experienced to be appreciated.
Each new Suzuki gets the boat rapidly up on plane, and the acceleration continues as the new lower unit transfers more of the engine’s power to a new Watergrip Sport propeller for outstanding performance across the powerband, as well as eye-watering top-end speed.
The new 2020 150hp and 200hp models share Suzuki’s Big Block 175 cubic inch powerhead, with dual overhead cams, 16 valves, and a 10.2:1 compression ratio for superior throttle response. Suzuki’s Multi-Stage Sequential Fuel Injection and Variable Valve Timing (on the 200) also help the dynamic new outboards deliver torque, quick acceleration, and fuel efficiency.
The sleek cowling on the DF200RSS and DF150RSS has a modern, upswept design that looks great on any type of boat and is a perfect complement to the Matte Black color scheme. This design, however, is as much about performance as it is good looks.
Incorporated into the cowling is a semi-direct air intake system that delivers cooler air directly into the engine’s tuned, multi-stage induction module. When an engine is able to breathe cooler air, it operates with greater efficiency and delivers stronger acceleration and higher top-end speed.
This unique cover design also features one-way air ports that allow the rotating flywheel to push warm air from underneath the cowling, reducing the temperature inside the engine.
Inside and out, from top to bottom, the new-and-improved DF200RSS and DF150RSS models are engineered to deliver more of what boaters and fishermen want in a performance outboard.
All you have to do is hold on tight and catch the fish when you get there FAST.
For more information on these new outboards, or any of Suzuki’s full line of Ultimate Outboard Motors from 2.5 to 350 horsepower, please visit www.suzukimarine.com.
Hook & Tackle – Apparel From Experience
So much about fishing and boating relies on experience. The same goes for making fishing and boating clothing and the family behind Hook & Tackle clothing has plenty of experience. Hook & Tackle is family owned and operated and they started in 1963.
Check out the latest offerings that are already proving to be a hit with anyone who loves being outdoors!
Lifeguard Straw Hats
Hook & Tackle’s new selection of Lifeguard Straw hats offers a wide variety of cool updated designs and functions. They were the first to bring these hats to the market with not only a printed graphic pattern on the brim but also on the crown of the hat.
Keeps you cool!!
Superb quality! People cannot get enough… Probably one of their fastest-selling items in their collection.
Available in many designs in two sizes, M/L and L/XL. Retail cost is $30.00
Printed Hoodie Hi-Performance Fishing Shirt
Hook & Tackle’s new Printed Hoodie Hi-Performance Fishing Shirt is made of a superior soft breakthrough Wicked Dry & Cool Poly material that wicks moisture while keeping you cool. It also features a hood, quick-dry radial sleeves for expansive arm movement, and is odor resistant and UPF 50+ for maximum sun protection.
Available in many styles from sizes S-3XL. Retail cost is $50.00
Premium Reserve Tees
Hook & Tackle’s new selection of super soft and stretchy graphic tees are made of a premium reserve cotton and are offered in many graphic designs and colors. These are so soft and extremely comfortable that it makes them great for everyday use!
Available in sizes M-XXL. Retail cost is $24.00
Solar System Performance Tee
Hook & Tackle is introducing new graphics for 2020 in its Solar System Performance tee collection. Included are the Yellowfin Tech Tee, Crossing Hooks and the American Tuna. This ultra-soft micro-cotton hand tee is quick-dry, odor resistant and has UPF 50+ Sun Protection. This performs exactly like a high-performance polyester shirt but with a soft cotton feel!
Available in many graphics and colors from sizes M-2XL. Retail cost is $40.00
Wicked Dry & Cool Hi-Performance Fishing Shirts
Hook & Tackle’s new collection of Wicked Dry & Cool Hi-Performance Fishing Shirts are made of a superior soft & stretch breakthrough Micro-Poly that wicks moisture while keeping you cool. They also feature quick-dry, radial sleeves for expansive arm movement and are odor resistant and UPF 50+ for maximum sun protection.
Available in many styles from sizes XS-3XL. Retail cost is $40.00-$45.00
New Oceanic Short
Hook & Tackle, known widely as the inventors of the Beer Can Island short, now offer the Oceanic, made of 81 % Poly, 12 % Cotton, and 7% Spandex, providing a built-in stretch technology. These shorts offer a fixed waist, belt loops, secure back pocket, and mobile pocket in a 9” inseam. There are over ½ a dozen new styles being released mid-2020. They will all be great for land or sea!
Available in sizes 30-42 and extended sizes up to 54
Retail cost starts at $55.00
You really can’t go wrong with any of the Hook & Tackle collections because they are all crafted by experience and a love of the outdoors. That’s a winning combination!
Check out the Hook & Tackle website for more great fishing and outdoor apparel.
Fish Tracking From Space
Almost a decade ago, Bill Dobbelear, general manager of Gray Taxidermy in Florida, conceived the idea of introducing a network of more than 10,000 captains and mates around the world to a method of tagging and releasing sport fish caught in their respective areas.
In January 2015, the non-profit international, fully interactive fish tagging organization, Gray FishTag Research (GFR), a 501(c)(3), was launched in Los Sueños, Costa Rica, the sportfishing capital of the world. They planned to collect information in real-time, capturing valuable scientific data directly from professional fishermen in every part of the world where Gray Taxidermy was providing tags and equipment at no charge to local captains and mates.
GFR created an Advisory Board of prominent individuals from the sportfishing, conservation, and scientific communities around the world who shared common goals and recruited locations for research centers throughout the GFR network along with sponsors (*listed at the end of the story).
Dobbelear has met his goal, and then some. GFR is international and entirely powered by the world’s largest network of fishing professionals of some 10,000 charter boat captains and mates.
GFR also cooperates with FECOP (Fish Costa Rica), GHOF (Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and ROFFS (Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service).
In addition to the traditional “spaghetti tags” being distributed for use on sport fish caught in the different areas, GFR also recruited donors to assist in an aggressive satellite tag program, deploying the tags in select regions on a variety of species.
Roosterfish 2015, Costa Rica
Los Suenos, January 22, 2015: members of the Gray FishTag Research team, Dr. David Kerstetter (Nova Southeastern University), Dobbelear, and advisory board members Zsolt Szekely and Carter Takacs successfully deployed the first-ever pop-off satellite archival tag (PSAT) on a roosterfish. (The roosterfish was named in memory of Todd Flanders). The sat-tag deployment took place while fishing with Captain Ishmael of the “Sunny One” and First Mate Christian Bolaños from the Official Research Center, Los Sueños Resort and Marina, a five-star resort and marina centrally located in Herradura, Costa Rica.
The roosterfish measured 35 inches and weighed approximately 17-pounds at the time of the sat-tag deployment. The MiniPSAT Satellite Tag, 2.2 ounces, 5- by 2-inches in diameter, was attached to the roosterfish for 16 days.
The results of this “first of its kind” roosterfish sat-tag deployment demonstrated two crucial factors: first, a roosterfish can handle the initial stress as well as swim and function normally with the sat-tag attached; second, roosterfish do not just stay in one location or live on one rock off the coast of Costa Rica – the roosterfish migrate and exhibit dives to depths greater than 75 feet.
Striped Marlin, Baja California Sur
The striped marlin “Tracy” was caught by angler Dave Bulthuis and tagged with a satellite tag (PSAT) on Nov. 1, 2016. The PSAT stayed in the fish and collected data for 38 days.
At its closest point, “Tracy” was 5.6 miles from the shoreline of Baja Sur. The fish traveled approximately 924 miles in a southeast direction. During those 38 days, it swam over the Mazatlán Basin and spent 10 days around the Rivera Fracture Zone.
Although striped marlin “Bill Gray” and “Tracy” were tagged on the same day, “Bill Gray” went north up into the center of the Sea of Cortez off Loreto, and “Tracy” went south.
They each demonstrated a vertical movement pattern similar in profile to swordfish, with nighttime hours spent at the surface and daytime hours spent at depths of 120 to 240 feet.
Of the two marlin, “Bill Gray’s” journey up into the Sea of Cortez created the most stir. Most of the sportfishing on the east coast of Baja Sur at Loreto has been for yellowtail in the winter months and dorado during the summer. The fleet of traditional pangas and trailer boats seldom ventures offshore more the 20 miles.
A local fisherman, Robert Ross from San Cosme, BCS, observed over the past 20 years that the area where “Bill Gray” remained was, in fact, a prolific area for billfish and giant tuna, as well as dorado and wahoo – all of which are attracted by huge schools of squid.
In November 2018, the Marina Puerto Escondido, with 100 slips accommodating larger sportfishers and mega-yachts to 200-feet, had its grand opening.
Encouraged by the documented success of Robert Ross over the years during the month of May, and the expanded list of species he had encountered, which added yellowfin tuna and billfish to the customary dorado and yellowtail, in May 2019, the marina sponsored the 1st annual Robert Ross Fishing Tournament.
Twenty-eight teams participated in the event. According to Ross, 136 billfish were released during the two-day tournament, which underscored and confirmed the data gleaned from GFR’s “Bill Gray” sat-tag in 2016.
Striped Bass, New York
2019 Collaborative Striped Bass Satellite Tagging Expedition, New York
Satellite Tags deployed May 21, 2019
Location: New York Harbor
First-ever Satellite-Tagged Striped Bass
Gray FishTag Research, along with Advisor Mike Caruso and The Fisherman Magazine teams, traveled to New York City to catch, satellite tag, and release two excellent candidates to carry the tags for the first time in the history of the local striped bass fishery.
“Liberty” was tagged on May 21, 2019, around 1 p.m., and the tag released from this striped bass on July 9. The tag floated and eventually washed up on Cape Cod Canal near Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts.
There, a woman walking the beach recovered the tag and returned it to the GFR office. At no time between those dates did the tag ever lose all three components – light, temperature, or depth.
The team at Gray FishTag Research spent two weeks with the Marine biologists and technicians at Wildlife Computers to compile the data the first tag collected.
This study is exceptional in many ways. In satellite tagging, the team typically must wait for the deployed tag to release and more limited data to be transmitted through Argos satellites. As a result of the discovery of the actual tag, the data points were recorded in 15-second intervals.
The GFR team collaboratively stated with great certainty that “Liberty” traveled over 300 miles (straight line) from New York in eight weeks, spending most of the time in offshore waters following the contour edge of the continental shelf in the northeast, also known as the Canyons.
In all fish telemetry, there is always a small margin of error, which is minimal in this study because the original satellite tag was physically recaptured.
The second fish tagged, named “Freedom,” was caught a little west of the first fish on May 21, not far from the Statue of Liberty aboard the charter boat Fin Chasers with Captains Frank Wagenhoffer and Dave Rooney.
The timing and location of the catch, tag, and release project was planned around the end of the Hudson River spawning in hopes of capturing a pair of post-spawn bass; at 42 inches, “Freedom” was precisely the fish they were looking for!
On October 22, while doing his regular cleanup, Peter Dello stumbled upon the Wildlife Computers’ MiniPSAT device from the Northeast Striped Bass Study.
After being tagged in the lower Hudson River on May 21, data showed “Freedom” heading in a southeast direction above the Hudson Shelf Valley, making it to the westernmost tip of the Hudson Canyon just inside the Babylon Valley – roughly 100 miles – for the Memorial Day weekend.
The Wildlife Computer tag revealed that “Freedom” spent the next month moving out and about within 20 or so nautical miles of that point, eventually zigzagging her way through Block Canyon out towards Veatch Canyon before heading north towards Nantucket Shoals in early July.
The second $5,000 Satellite Tag “Freedom” washed up along that legendary striper hotspot at the Jersey Shore, and began its transmission on October 19 after popping free of the striper.
In early November, researchers confirmed the tale of a 42-inch striped bass caught and released from a Fin Chasers charter on May 21 in the lower Hudson River. Where she traveled in those 152 days, and how far she went, may surprise every striper fisherman and scientist along the entire Striper Coast, north, south, and east of Asbury Park. The data confirmed that both fish had gone offshore to the outer banks and canyons.
2019 Collaborative Blue Marlin Satellite Tagging Expedition, Costa Rica
The following question prompted the study – “Are the blue marlin found in quantity at the 80-mile seamount offshore in the rainy season the same body of fish caught inshore during Dec. and Jan.?”
The GFR team (12 strong) headed out to the FADS – 80 miles off the west coast of Costa Rica near Los Sueños Resort and Marina – last July aboard two Maverick boats provided by Will Drost of Maverick Fishing, out of Los Suenos Marina. On their one-day trip (on what the team later referred to as “Blue Marlin Mayhem”) they managed to deploy three satellite tags. They are awaiting the data that is expected to be available this spring.
GFR is an essential means for promoting the sustainability of marine game fish and increasing public resource awareness. The program is collecting information in real-time, producing valuable scientific data directly from fishermen in many parts of the world, and providing a bridge between professional fishermen and angling enthusiasts with the scientific community, which is desperate for pertinent data.
All fish species in every ocean are being monitored. Billfish, sharks, general offshore and inshore fish species are being tracked and recorded. Results provide scientists and biologists with valuable information on migration patterns, fish stocks, growth rates, habitat depths, and much more.
The data collected is being analyzed and used for scientific purposes and shared with any interested parties at NO COST.
The success of the program is made possible by the participation of fishing professionals, official research centers, and the contributions from donors and sponsors. GFR’s pledge is also to continue to offer all tags, applicators, data cards, hands-on training, and support to the professional fisherman for FREE, as this continues to be the key to accurate data and the success of the program.
Since 2015, the number of sat-tags deployed has increased every year as other species were targeted, including swordfish, roosterfish, and last year, striped bass, along with blue marlin.
Roosterfish in Costa Rica = 9 Swordfish in USA = 2 Swordfish in the Cayman Islands = 3 Striped marlin in Cabo = 8 Blue marlin in Costa Rica = 3 Striped bass in USA = 2
* Advisory Board Including; Steve Hagett, Dave Bulthuis, President, Pure Fishing; Captain John Brownlee, Maverick Yachts; Eric Leech, Tracy Ehrenberg, Pisces Sportfishing; Samantha Mumford, Premium Marine; Kristen Salazar, vice president, Casa Vieja Lodge; Chris Scanzillo, Caterpillar Marine; Captain Dave Marciano, Captain & Owner FV Hard Merchandise; Carter Takacs, harbormaster, Marin Pez Vela; Zsolt Szekely, president Dolphin Electric Reels; Daniel Espinoza, manager, Maverick Yachts; Tami Noling, Gary Graham, That Baja Guy; Greg Stotesbury, Gerry Benedicto, Seaguar; Albert Battoo, fishing director, Tropic Star Lodge; Jody Whitworth, Captain Ray Rosher, James A. Donofrio, Executive Director, RFA (Recreational Fishing Alliance); Keith Poe, Accurate Reels; Michael Caruso, The Fisherman Magazine.
*Research Centers, The Fisherman Magazine, Sunset Marina, Aquaworld, Ocean City Marina, Crocodile Bay Resort, Grande Alaska Lodge, Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Marina Pez Vela, The Pisces Group, The Zancudo Lodge and Casa Vieja Lodge, J-Dock Seward Alaska.
Sponsors: AFTCO, AA Video, American Fishing Wire, FECOP, Costa Del Mar, CR Primo Fishing Tackle, Seaguar, Southern Most Apparel, Squid Nation.
Gray FishTag Research Tagging Expeditions 2020
Want to be part of the solution? Join a GFR Team on one of its many different tagging expeditions to famous sportfishing destinations where teams consisting of staff, guests, and members of the Advisory Board interact with local Captains, mates, event sponsors, Research Center personnel, and scientists.
Share the excitement of being part of a team deploying implantable electronic and satellite tags, as well as conventional spaghetti tags on a variety of exotic species – roosterfish, striped, blue, black, and white marlin plus swordfish. These are just a partial list of fish that are targeted.
For more information contact Roxanne Willmer, [email protected]
West Coast Marine Rigs Parkers Right
Kevin Kelly of West Coast Marine molds factory Parker boats into dreamboat, West Coast fishing machines, perfect for chasing giant bluefin tuna and tanker seabass.
Parker Boats and their signature Yamaha outboards are a frequent sight at launch ramps along the West Coast. While they all look great, the best of the bunch has been molded to function optimally in the unique fisheries offered along our stretch of the Southern California coastline.
Kevin Kelly, owner of West Coast Marine in Costa Mesa, specializes in designing the Parker of your dreams. His years of fabricating and rigging experience show in every Parker he turns over to his customers.
“I always order the highest horsepower Yamaha available on all my Parkers,” says Kelly. “We’re talking about a full bait tank, a full gas tank and at least 2 to 3 fishermen. I don’t want someone walking around the custom bait tank on the deck wishing for a bigger motor.”
West Coast Marine offers Parkers in sizes anywhere from 28 feet to the 18-footer.
“Our bread and butter is the 2320, the 23-foot pilothouse boat,” notes Kelly. “There are quite a few out there that we have done. They are all modified to be more in tune with the way we have been fishing out here recently – chasing the big bluefin and white seabass.”
Kelly offers a full custom electronics package with every Parker he sells, and even those packages can be configured to meet the needs and desires of his customers. The package includes a multi-function display screen, radar, fishfinder, VHF radio, and antenna.
“Furuno, Simrad or Garmin – we can do them all. What matters most is providing the unit the customer is most comfortable using,” Kelly adds. “That will include a 9-inch or 12-inch screen and a 1000-watt transducer.
“The 2520 and 2820 can easily accommodate a 12-inch screen, but we can just squeeze in a 16-inch display if you want. On both of those, you have plenty of room for a split-screen display. You can also add additional display screens to the system,” Kelly notes.
Long offshore runs to the banks and the islands are a reality of Southern California fishing and West Coast Marine’s modifications build in both better performance and safety.
“One thing we offer on all our Parkers is to create a dedicated house bank of deep cycle marine grade sealed batteries, independent of the engine batteries, to run the electronics,” Kelly explains. “That’s for safety and convenience.”
System redundancy is also built into the custom bait tank installations on West Coast Marine Parkers.
“We mount a freestanding bait tank on the deck. On the pilot houses that’s typically a 48-gallon up to 85-gallon Blue Water Bait Systems or Pacific Edge tank, depending on what the customer wants,” says Kelly. “Everything we do is dependent on the size of the boat and what the customer wants.”
The tanks come with lids that can be used as cutting boards and rod holders attached to the tank that can be used for bait nets and gaffs. The bait system includes a strainer on the pump intake that keeps out eelgrass and other contaminants.
“Parker does have a tank mounted in the port corner, and it’s okay for hearty fish like mini macs or squid,” said Kelly. “We keep that intact plumbing-wise, but we do key into the plumbing and tap it into our big tank. So, you can turn a couple of valves and use the factory tank as an auxiliary pump.
“It’s important to have a standby system – you don’t want to be 60 miles offshore and have your bait roll!”
West Coast Marine also equips its Parkers with rod holders/rocket launchers, most often a 15- to 20-rod capacity rocket launcher featuring two staggered rows of tulip-shaped rod holders so that reels will fit.
The hardtop on Parker’s pilothouse models is strong enough to hold everything from a simple stainless belly ring observation post or a full-blown tower that can be equipped with a fiberglass dash, throttle control, hydraulic helm pump with steering wheel – you get the picture.
“The full tower is quite a bit more expensive, from $17- to $20-thousand depending on the package,” says Kelly. “We mount the VHF antennas as high as we can, that means on the top of the tower if that’s what you opt for.”
Custom seating and storage configurations for you Parker are also available from West Coast Marine, and Kelly will be glad to tell you of the past modifications he has made.
Ending it up with the front of the boat, the factory bow rail from Parker comes in two choices – regular and West Coast. “The West Coast rail is 8 to 10 inches higher and we have even added another 8 to 10 inches to that, resulting in a railing that gives you the confidence to run up to the bow and cast a bait to a foamer or follow a big seabass around the boat at night.”
Confidence in your rig – that’s what it’s all about.
Check out West Coast Marine to layout your SoCal Dreamboat.
Captain, Angler, & Ocean Fanatic – Shaina Cox
“What are you, a girl?!”
I hear my feisty kiwi boss yell over my shoulder as I am elbows deep in a boat engine well, trying to remove a seized bolt to replace the starter.
I accepted the challenge and, with all my might, successfully loosened the bolt to finish the job. At that time, I was the dockmaster over a fleet of rental boats while I was working towards my captain’s license. They loved to give me the tedious, tight-spaced jobs and called me “little fingers” since my hands could fit into the tiny spaces so common on boats. My New Zealand boss, Lance, was my favorite boss and boat mentor. He was smart, hardworking, tough, and never treated me differently because of my gender. I just had to learn quickly and do the job.
It was this experience that sparked my passion for boating. I realized then that I wanted a career in the boating field.
I continued doing dock work, maintenance, and mechanics for 4 years. I earned legitimate sea time and knowledge for my captain’s license. I began crossing the channel from Long Beach to Catalina Island and I fell in love with the aquatic life and fishing. At first, I would fish with store-bought frozen squid and hand-me-down rods with Walmart spinning reels. It was sufficient for a little basic bass fishing, but then I moved to Catalina Island and began learning much more about fishing from my boyfriend, who has been fishing and living on the island his entire life.
We spent our time offshore fishing, deep dropping, and I began to catch much bigger fish than just saltwater bass. I was hooked! I started using my ocean/boating knowledge to go out on solo fishing trips. I was very proud to come home with dinner that I located, hooked and gaffed on my own.
Because of my obvious love of fishing and having received my 100-ton captain’s license, I got a job offer to work on an offshore sportfishing boat called the “Chief”. I was the night driver and I would work the deck in the mornings.
It was tough yet rewarding and I absolutely loved it.
It was a whole new kind of fishing for me. It was fast-paced, long days, and lots of testosterone. Get in where you fit in, is what they told me. The captain and crew were tough, yet patient with me. I didn’t receive any favoritism and I really had to step up and show what I could do on deck. You definitely have to have thick skin and a good sense of humor (and lots of energy drinks). I began getting more job offers such as working on the “Options” sportfishing boat out of Long Beach and taking a sportfishing boat through the Panama Canal, fishing along the way and catching new species.
Not all my jobs have been as receptive to a female captain/fisherman. I have been looked over for many job openings due to my gender. I have had a lot of comments made to me by lonely fishermen. I have been pitied by others, saying they threw me a bone because I was a woman, without knowing my skill set.
But at the end of the day, I know my worth and my skills and I am constantly striving to become a better fisherman and continue to gain more knowledge. I have been very fortunate with past bosses, captains and crew. I appreciate all the patience and wisdom I have been extended.
I feel very blessed when I look out on the horizon at a beautiful sunset, steaming home with our catch. There is no other feeling like it in the world.
Gamakatsu Hooks & Gear – Only The Best
Gamakatsu continues to track the hottest trends in a multitude of fisheries and then sets out to provide anglers with premium quality hooks designed to excel specifically for each type of fishing.
From bluefin to bluegill, Gamakatsu makes a quality hook just for you.
Assist 520 Ringed
In the relentless pursuit of perfection and simplicity, Gamakatsu has added a welded ring to their tournament-winning Assist 520 hook. The constant jigging motion is tough on looped monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. Gamakatsu has taken every nuance of uncertainty out of the technique by adding a welded ring. Not only is it nearly unbreakable, but the ring is also much faster and easier to connect to the jig eye using a split ring. Available in 3/0 to 6/0 sizes in packs of two. Rigged with 160# (3/0, 4/0 sizes) and 220#- (5/0, 6/0 sizes) braided line.
Nautilus Circle HD with Ring
The new, solid, one-piece ringed version of the Nautilus Circle HD hook allows live bait to swim more freely, keeping it alive longer and enticing more prey to engulf it and your hook.
At that point, the finest high-carbon steel penetrates deep and locks in tight for the battle ahead. The Ringed Nautilus HD Hook features 30% heavier wire than the regular Nautilus and 50% less than the Super Nautilus. While its core credibility has been proven in the Southern California bluefin tuna fishery, there is absolute evidence of its prowess in many other heavyweight bouts with monster gamefish worldwide like sturgeon, halibut, grouper and so much more.
Straight Eye 4x Strong Offshore Octopus Hook
One of the more versatile hooks in the Gamakatsu line up, the Straight Eye, 4x Offshore Octopus Hook is built to handle big fish. Used for everything from grouper to seabass, the offset beak point penetrates quickly and can be used on either large live baits or chunk baits.
Tuned Tuna Plug Hook with Ring
These Tuned Tuna Plug hooks with a solid welded ring will enhance any of your favorite tuna plugs. The one-piece solid ring allows the hooks to swing more freely, giving a fish less leverage to escape during the fight.
Dry Bag Backpack 20L
There are so many ways for your gear to get wet when fishing or enjoying the great outdoors. During extreme conditions where rain, waves, boat spray, or unforeseen accidents could really dampen the fun, store your gear in Gamakatsu’s Dry Bag Backpack 20L. 100% waterproof with sealed seams and breathable back padding for comfort. Top rolls and clips securely to prevent leakage. The front zippered pocket protects valuables. The bag compacts tightly for storage when not in use. Large enough for any overnight or multi-day trip.
Check out these and more at the Gamakatsu website.
Satellite Maps To Catch More Fish
One of the most common mistakes that offshore anglers make is to run the same route and fish the same spots, trip after trip after trip. It’s perfectly understandable because that’s how modern humans are programmed to think. Our everyday routines are filled with familiar locations and dependable outcomes – the favorite coffee shop on the corner of Hwy. 101 and Jasper St. to get that perfect morning buzz or that market with killer carnitas on the way home from the office. But when you really think back to those repeated offshore fishing trips to the exact same spots, how many times did you actually catch fish right where you were expecting to find them? Once every five trips? Or maybe only the first time you ran that route, but not again since?
The problem is that offshore species like tuna, dorado, wahoo, and marlin don’t spend their whole lives at fixed spots on the map. The open ocean is mostly an empty, barren desert with little pockets of productivity and life here and there – but these pockets are constantly on the move with ocean currents. And so, pelagic gamefish also need to stay on the move, to seek out and follow these areas where they can find enough food to survive.
The most successful offshore fishermen find these productive pockets of water, instead of blindly fishing the same old spots trip after trip.
How do they do it? They use satellite maps of the ocean, such as sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll maps, to track the productive zones and catch more fish.
Sea Surface Temperature
Most fish are exothermic, or cold-blooded: their body temperature changes with the surrounding water, which in turn affects their metabolism. When the water gets too cold, metabolism slows down and the fish don’t need to eat as much. It’s much easier to get a dorado to eat a live bait or jig in 71- or 72-degree water than in 67-degree water, because the dorado in cooler water literally isn’t as hungry. On the other hand, when the water gets too warm, it can’t hold as much oxygen and so the fish have a hard time breathing.
The result is that each species has a preferred temperature range, and pelagic species move around with the water circulation to stay within that range. Using satellite SSTs will help you find the areas that have the right temperature water for your target species – both where you might find them, and where you might be able to get them to eat your bait or jig.
Thermal range: when regional water temps are near the low end of the preferred range for a species, working the warmest water in the area will be the most productive strategy for finding your target species.
Tunas are a special case. They’re able to maintain warmer core temperatures than the surrounding water by trapping heat generated by constant swimming muscle contractions. This means they can handle a wider range of water temps than many other offshore species, and it also gives them the advantage of boosted swimming performance over their cold-blooded prey. Bluefin tuna are champions at this, which may partly explain why you can sometimes find them in SoCal and northern Baja even during the colder winter and spring months. Yellowfin tuna, on the other hand, can’t trap heat quite as efficiently as bluefin and need warmer surface waters to warm themselves up, which is why you’ll be hard-pressed to find many of them in water colder than around 64-65 degrees.
Temperature can also indicate distinct water masses. Without getting too deep into fluid dynamics, a water mass is basically an area of water of a certain density, that hasn’t yet evenly mixed with nearby water of different density. Density in the ocean is determined by a combination of salinity and temperature, but in the open ocean away from coastlines and river mouths, surface salinity really doesn’t vary all that much. So, temperature accounts for a relatively high percentage of the variation in density and therefore is useful for distinguishing different water masses.
Finally, water temperature can also show other important oceanographic processes. A strip of extra-cold water along the California and Baja coast in the spring and summer is a sure sign of coastal upwelling, which draws cold nutrient-rich water up to the surface and kicks off our springtime plankton blooms. That sudden drop in water temp, though, will also kill any budding calico bass bites as their body temps drop and their metabolism slows way down. So, you can even use SSTs to point you toward reefs where upwelling hasn’t dropped water temps to boost your odds that bass will still want to bite.
Chlorophyll? More like bore-o-phyll, amirite? Well, not quite, Billy Madison. In the open ocean, chlorophyll is where the action is – it’s produced by the phytoplankton at the base of the food chain, allowing life to flourish. Zooplankton eat phytoplankton, and small baitfish eat zooplankton and phytoplankton. In turn, bigger gamefish like marlin, tuna, wahoo, and mahi chase down these smaller baitfish.
The tradeoff is that lots of chlorophyll also makes the water really murky, which makes it easier for baitfish to hide from bigger predators. In general, predatory gamefish like albacore patrol along the cleaner edges where they can easily see any baitfish that get caught out from their safe hiding spot in the murky water. But other species, like bluefin tuna, don’t mind the dirty water and will plow right into it where most of the food is.
Chlorophyll: High chlorophyll levels mean lots of food for baitfish and murky green water to hide from predators – but these tuna don’t seem to mind.
Chlorophyll, like temperature, is also a good indicator of different water masses. Colder water is able to hold more dissolved nutrients that plankton need to produce chlorophyll, so you’ll often see areas of cool, green, nutrient- and phytoplankton-rich coastal water extending out as filaments or eddies into clean, warm offshore water. These boundaries can be especially productive zones to look for offshore gamefish.
Breaks, Fronts, and Convergence Zones
You often hear that fish “stack up” on breaks, or places where the water temperature or color changes rapidly over just a mile or two. Baitfish are on one side of the break and gamefish patrol the edge, waiting to pick off any bait that strays across the line – or so the theory goes. It sounds simple enough, but that’s exactly the problem: it’s too simple. Sometimes really strong temperature breaks that change as much as 4-5 degrees are completely barren of life, while a break of less than half a degree just 10 miles away is loaded with tuna. Other times you won’t find any life until you’re 3 or 4 miles away from the actual break. And why should a gamefish stay on its side of the line in the first place, if all the food is just on the other side?
In reality, breaks are still a useful roadmap to finding pelagic gamefish. But, understanding the more complex oceanographic dynamics at play will help you read the roadmap better and stay in the productive zones longer.
First, sometimes these breaks actually do form fronts and convergence zones – narrow strips of water that accumulate life right on or near the break. Convergence zones form when ocean currents collide into and/or slide past each other, gathering drifting flotsam like kelp paddies and weed lines. These, of course, attract baitfish that hide in their structure, along with gamefish like dorado and yellowtail that both eat the bait and use the structure to hide from their own predators. The physical mixing of the two water masses along the narrow strip where they meet can also create plankton blooms and attract filter-feeding baitfish and the gamefish that follow.
Convergence zones: Temperature breaks can indicate convergence zones that gather flotsam like kelp paddies – and the fishes that use them for both food and shelter, like yellowtail and dorado.
Even if the break isn’t a strong convergence zone, though, it still likely marks the boundary of different water masses, some of which will hold more life than others. If you’re trolling along and getting steady jig strikes but then cross a slight temp or color break and your bites dry up, you’ve likely crossed into a different, less-productive water mass. The break didn’t necessarily have all the life right nearby, but it can be a useful indicator of where the good, productive water ends. In this case, you should turn around and work back through the water mass that produced all your jig strikes. A quality high-resolution satellite image can show you which direction the break runs, so you know which way to point your boat to get back into the productive water.
Water masses: Chlorophyll breaks (top) and temperature breaks (bottom) can indicate boundaries between distinct water masses, especially where they form in the same location.
Finally, it’s important to remember that satellite maps paint a picture of the ocean surface, but not necessarily what’s below. The open ocean is a dynamic three-dimensional volume of water extending thousands of feet deep, and of course, gamefish aren’t always right at the surface, either. A temperature break on an SST image doesn’t always extend straight down vertically – it can angle in or out as it gets deeper, even over several miles horizontally. If tuna are holding at 20-30 fathoms deep, they may still be on the same temperature break that hits the surface a couple of miles away.
Ketcham Tackle Fred Hall Specials
Ketcham Tackle is excited to make their 6th consecutive Fred Hall Show booth the biggest and best yet, with many incredible deals on name-brand products!
- Shimano Terez rod blowout sale $100 off!
- Daiwa Proteus 8’10” Jig sticks $100 off!
- Daiwa D-Vec reel backpack 50% off $49.99!!
- 2019 Model Daiwa Lexa 300 HD Blowout $184.99! 2019 model Lexa 400hd blowout $229.99!
“Our booth is one of the largest retail booths at the show and it is filled with bargains. We bought all of Shimano’s remaining inventory of 2019 model Terez rods and will be blowing them out for $169.99. That’s $100 off normal retail! We will also be offering the same incredible deal on all Daiwa Proteus PRTB810HFJ 8’10” jig sticks, and Proteus spinning PRTB80HXHFS rods will be $129.99, also a $100 savings!”
2020 will go down as the year of fluorocarbon wars at the show.
The major brands are offering very aggressive deals. The new Daiwa J-Fluoro and Soft Steel Fluoro will be offering a buy 1 get 1 free! Seaguar is offering a buy 2 get 1 free on Premier, Pink, & Gold Label Fluoro, and Yo-Zuri will be offering buy 2 get 1 free on their fluoro as well!
Come and choose from a massive selection of jigs, including a buy 2 get one free on Tady, and a huge inventory of 2019’s hottest jigs from the JRI company!
Get set up in the specialized swordfishing section with everything you need to tap this new fishery. Ketcham will have all of the gear you need to catch a swordfish including lights, hooks, wind-on leaders, bent-butt rods and electric reels. They will be offering a Daiwa Seaborg 12000MJ electric reel loaded with 700 yds of 80# Daiwa J-braid, paired with a Daiwa Marine Power MP71XF-RT Rod for $1729.99 – that’s a savings of over $500!
Many of these amazing deals won’t last long, so we suggest making your first stop at the Ketcham Tackle booth to ensure you don’t miss out.
103 E 17th St #2, Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Local Knowledge Season 5
It was about five years ago when our team originally decided we wanted to try our hand in the world of fishing shows. Starting out, we knew we wanted to do something different and unique. After all, the old TV formula of “grab and grin” had gotten old and hard to watch. That is how Local Knowledge began.
We wanted to make a show that was genuine and shared the passion and sense of adventure that has driven Rush and me since we were kids. We wanted to tell stories about the people, the places and the lifestyle that make our sport great. We wanted to make sure that anyone would have access to our content, anytime and anywhere. We wanted to bring a level of production quality and visuals that had never been seen in outdoor programming.
Most of all, we wanted to make a show that we would watch and be proud of.
Looking back on four seasons and forty-eight episodes, it’s hard not to be stoked. We have been blessed to travel the world, experience amazing fisheries and spend time with some amazing people. Best of all, we’ve been able to capture these adventures to share with our audience, family and friends.
After four seasons of fishing and filming together, Rush and I still have a lot to learn about each other’s hometown waters and the fishing that each location offers. For me, there’s still a lot to learn about the fish and the waters of South Florida and I can’t wait for that next Keys trip. With the fishing we have experienced in the SoCal bight for the last five years, Rush has been lucky to experience some of the best fishing the West Coast has had to offer for the last 100 years and possibly ever.
We have also been lucky to travel outside our own areas and explore fisheries that have been totally unfamiliar to us, all the while checking off “bucket list” fish at an amazing pace. We both love nothing more than getting to fish in a new location while learning from some of the best captains and anglers in that region.
Who could forget the insane grouper fishing we found in the tiny town of Abreojos, Baja in Season One? Or the near 500# Swordfish we landed after a 6-plus hour battle in the Florida Keys that same year!
Season 2 brought Rutchy his first bluefin tuna ever, and a trophy model to boot. A trip to Puerto Vallarta produced a pair of giant yellowfin tuna, one of which brought Rush to his knees and almost killed him in the process.
Season 3 took me to Australia for the trip of a lifetime (and a near-death experience) with the Nomad crew while Rush and boys stayed home to hold down the fort after Hurricane Irma smashed directly into their home island. Later that season we were all able to re-connect in the North East with Tyler and his crew aboard the Cynthia C and harpoon some true Atlantic giants.
Season 4 kept the parade going with a fall trip to the magical Mag Bay for all-you-can-catch striped marlin with some wahoo and groupers mixed in. We visited our friends at Gatecrasher Sportfishing and chased dinosaur-like sturgeon. Then we caught up with our old friends, Crackerjack Sportfishing, in Seward, Alaska for a ripper bite on the big halibut and lingcod the area is known for.
There are many parts of these trips that never make the show, but we will never forget, well beyond the long days and rough weather. Things like “cheating certain death” while being run off the road by a sleepy trucker somewhere between LA Bay and Guerrero Negro while towing a 32’ center console in Season One comes to mind. All the travel, the delays, being hassled by foreign customs, seasick cameramen, the food poisoning and on and on. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?
All of these catches, misses and near-death experiences have added up to a ride that our entire crew wouldn’t trade for anything. This only fuels the fire to see what’s around the next corner or just over the horizon. We want to keep pushing forward in search of new adventures and make sure that Local Knowledge never gets stale or run-of-the-mill.
Season 5 brings new locations, new fish and new friendships. Rush and I will always fish hard in our respective fisheries, and we will continue to seek new and unique locations where we can explore and learn.
One of these new spots for Season 5 has our whole crew fired up. We recently arranged a trip with the great folks at Namotu Island (namotuislandfiji.com) in Fiji. This has been a spot on both of our bucket lists for many, many years. After decades of hearing surfing buddies come back with epic tales of waves and fish, I can’t wait to finally check it out. Doing our research has proven this is just the kind of fishery we love to explore.
Namotu and the surrounding waters offer everything a traveling angler could want. They have three distinct fisheries much like Florida. The Fijian waters offer flats fishing for bonefish, GT’s and other exotics, while the reef tops offer many of the same species that I fell in love with while in Australia – everything from GT’s, coral trout, red bass, and a couple of dozen other exotic gamefish. As if that wasn’t enough to look forward to, we have timed our late January trip to coincide with the yellowfin tuna migration through the nearby waters. Other offshore targets this time of year include wahoo, barred Spanish mackerel, dogtooth tuna and more.
Looking forward to Season 5, we’re also planning on taking advantage of (hopefully) another historic SoCal season filled with the usual characters and of course the big bluefin we have been blessed with. We will also explore the newest fishery right here at home, broadbill swordfish. While we scratched the surface of this fishery in Season 1, we have a score to settle and with a little luck, we’ll get it on film.
We also plan to venture north of SoCal and check out some of the great fishing around the Channel Islands. This is an area neither of us has fished, but the never-ending stream of white seabass, yellowtail, halibut, and rockfish reports have us jonesing to visit.
Another area that has been on our radar since day one has been the Pacific Northwest. This is the year we will drag the big SeaVee north and explore what this fishery has to offer. The PNW is home to some incredible rockfishing, salmon, crabbing and of course huge numbers of our old friends, albacore tuna.
Just writing about these upcoming adventures has me ready to pack and run out the door.
I’m constantly reminded of just how lucky we are to have the support of our audience and sponsors. Without you, none of this is possible. We are absolutely proud of the great list of people and companies that have come together to make this all possible. Brands like Evinrude, AFTCO, Costa, YETI, PENN, SeaVee, Mustad, Seakeeper, JL Audio, Casa Vieja, SeaDek, The Salt Water Angler and Bubba have all teamed up to give us the ability to “live the dream” and we truly appreciate it.
As we have just kicked off filming Season 5, I’m more fired up than ever to continue sharing our adventures this year and, in the years, to come. As always, we rely on you, our fans to keep us on track and help us find new adventures. If there’s something you’d like to see on the show or somewhere we need to visit, please let us know.
You can reach out to us via social media @local_knowledge or [email protected].
Thresher 22 Center Console – All New For 2020
Thresher is very excited to announce the introduction of the all newly-designed Thresher 22CC for 2020. All Thresher Boats hulls are built with pride at the Ensenada factory and then 100% finished and rigged in the San Clemente, CA facility.
The Thresher 22 CC continues to be the go-to workhorse, but now with some major upgrades!
“We’ve redesigned the console layout with a swing-open front door which allows access into a large enclosed head. The transom splash well was removed, extending the aft deck fishing space, which we enhanced with full knee pad rails, a walk-around transom platform and outboard bracket that will accommodate single or twin outboards,” said Brandon of Thresher Boats. The boat’s improvements also include aft in-deck port and starboard macerated storage/fish boxes, a straight transom wall with built-in cooler/storage box/bait tank system and sea door out to transom platform, an all-in-one captain’s bench seat system with internal 40+ gallon bait system, bow in-deck storage boxes, extended beam to 8’6”, extended LOA to 25 feet (36” transom bracket), increased interior gunwale heights to 24” (aft deck), increased total hull freeboard and increased fuel tank size to 102 gallons.
Felix L. of Chula Vista happily offers his experience owning a Thresher boat: “I bought a new 22CC from Brandon back in November 2019. I have to say this was the best purchase I have made, this boat is AMAZING, and it was love at first sight!!! I couldn’t be happier. It handles amazing; I have taken it out in less desirable weather and it still killed it. Not to mention all the head nods and compliments I get at the ramp because this thing looks beautiful and sleek.”
- NMMA Certified
- Limited Lifetime Hull Warranty
- Family Owned & Operated by So. California locals
- Built for West Coast Style Fishing
Single Mercury or Honda Marine 150hp 4-Stroke Model – $42,995 + Tax
Single Mercury or Honda Marine 200hp 4-Stroke Model – $46,495 + Tax
Single Mercury or Honda Marine 225hp 4-Stroke Model – $48,995 + Tax
Dual Mercury Marine 115HP Command Thrust 4-Stroke Model – $51,995 + Tax
Fred Hall Special (Come See Them @ ROW 1600)
Make Your Deposit @ The Fred Hall Show & receive $3000 Off MSRP on any model!
*Add a West Coast Trailers Tandem Axle, Galvanized Trailer w/ Brakes for only $3,495.
Visit ThresherBoats.com or contact Brandon @ (949) 293-6113
1238 Puerta Del Sol
San Clemente, CA 92673
*By Appointment Only
Net To Fork – Bugs For Dinner
Fall in most parts of the United States means that the leaves begin to fall, the air gets brisk and in some cases a flurry of snow. In San Diego, Fall means California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) season.
California’s coastal waters are home to a multitude of invertebrates (species lacking a backbone). The California spiny lobster takes a particularly special place within this group as a highly sought-after target of both California’s recreational and commercial fisheries.
Recreational lobster season runs from the Saturday proceeding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after the 15th of March (Saturday, September 28, 2019, through March 18, 2019). September and October in San Diego might be the best time of year for weather. Typically, the weather is in the high 70’s to low 80’s which in my opinion is the perfect time to drop some hoops for those tasty local lobsters.
The first month of the opener can be very productive so don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your gear is in order.
It is very important to follow the rules so that we can sustain our fishery for years to come. Please take notes:
Recreational Bag Limit: Seven lobsters per person.
Minimum Legal Size Limit: Three and one-fourth inches, measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell (3 ¼ inch carapace). Please see the lobster brochure on the right for the diagram on How To measure your lobster.
Permit Requirements: CDFW Spiny Lobster Report Card and California recreational fishing license, available at CDFW Online License Sales and Service.
Skin and SCUBA Diver Gear Requirements: All skin and SCUBA divers must only use their hands.
Pier Fishing Gear Requirements: You may use up to two 2 hoop nets while fishing from a public pier.
Vessel Fishing Gear Requirements: You may possess up to 5 hoop nets while fishing from a vessel, but the total number of hoop nets from a vessel cannot exceed 10, even if there are more than 2 people on the boat
Fishing Locations: See CDFW Online Mapping Tool.
I will share with you what I know about our fishery in San Diego. I’ve had some very good nights hooping and some very bad nights hooping. I’m relatively new to the sport and have only been hooping now for 4 years. I have taken meticulous notes so I can figure out a consistent crawl which has been more than challenging. I’ve been asked to write this article more for my cooking skills than my lobster catching abilities (laugh out loud). Like most, I prefer to use the Promar conical hoop nets that look very much like a volcano. My bait of choice is fresh sardines from Everingham Brother’s Bait Company. I bring along a bucket from Home Depot; have the bait attendant put the live sardines in the bucket then I use a hoe-like tool to chop them up. In my opinion, you don’t want to over chop the bait, but it is also important not to under chop it either. You want to chop just enough so that you get those nice chum particles floating in the current to attract those tasty “bugs” to your hoop. I’ve been told that split salmon heads also work well. I prefer bait cages vs. the tubes which have become popular over the past few years. The tubes are particularly awesome if you are in an area where you are being harassed by sea lions. Sea lions can destroy your gear and make for a very frustrating night.
Fishing has a lot of mental aspects to it and I happen to feel more confident using the bait cages because, in my opinion, they allow the chum to flow out easier creating a better bait “slick” or chum trail straight to your hoop. I have also been using Bite-On Lobster & Crab attractant which was created by Tony Williams of Bite-On. I’m not sure what magic elixir is in the recipe, but I can vouch for it and tell you that this stuff works. Tony also sells scent pads that fit perfectly into his heavy-duty made bait cages. I figured a little extra scent won’t hurt and adding a little Bite-On improves my confidence.
I typically hoop in 25 to 50 feet on hard bottom spots in the harbor. Hard bottom spots will show up on your depth finder with a thick solid yellow mark for the ground. The more yellow the harder the bottom. Hooping next to a structure will increase your chances to score a limit as well. It is very important to keep your hoops out of the channel or you will be ticketed by Harbor Police or have a greater chance of losing them. If you are going to hoop the channel edges, you can add weight to your hoops by buying chain links and zip-tying them to the outer edge of your hoop. This will help keep them in place by making your hoops heavier for when tides are stronger. Based on my notes I have had more success an hour before slack or an hour after slack, whether it is an outgoing or incoming tide. I have had my worst nights on a full moon. I’ve also had very good nights during or after a hard rain. The freshwater runoff tends to flush the lobsters out of the rocks which creates a better crawl.
As a chef, I have had a lot of experience cooking lobsters. I’ve cooked them every way imaginable; boil, poach, steam, etc. My favorite way to cook them is by sautéing them in a pan. This method can be a little more challenging, but once you get it down there really is not a better way to eat your trophy catch.
I start by removing the tail from the body. I then split the tail in half with a very sharp knife. Be sure to remove the translucent vein that runs down the middle of the meat.
I lightly sprinkle the following spices on the pink meat: Chili Powder, Granulated Garlic, Onion Powder, Cumin, Black Pepper and Kosher Salt.
Next, lightly drizzle either avocado oil or grapeseed oil on the meat and carefully massage the oil and spices on to the tail making sure it is evenly coated.
The purpose of using these types of oils is because the smoke point is higher and will not ruin the flavor of your lobster. If you use Extra Virgin or Sesame Oil there is a very good chance that the pan will catch fire or smoke which will destroy the lobster’s elegant flavor. Vegetable oil is okay to use as well if you don’t want to spend the money on a higher-end oil.
Use a good non-stick pan and preheat on high for about a minute. Place your lobster meat-side down and sear for approximately 30-45 seconds before flipping over to the shell-side. I will lower the heat to medium and leave on the shell-side until the tail starts to curl into a ball. As the tail starts to curl into a ball, I will place several nice cubes of butter into the pan and flip the lobster tails back to the meat side and finish them for about 1 more minute. Turn the heat off and let the tails rest in the melted butter for 3-5 minutes before eating.
I like to dip my lobster into melted garlic butter and the fastest easiest way is by chopping up some fresh garlic and melting it with butter in the microwave for about 2 minutes. I know what you are thinking, “More Butter!?” Yes, “More Butter! More Better!” is what my French culinary instructor told me when preparing lobster. I hope you enjoy and can’t wait to see your pictures. You can follow and DM me on Instagram @destroyer619.
Tight Lines and Happy Hooping
Matt Moyer-Ballast Point Brewing Captain
Snook Quest – Mazatlán, Mexico
Anyone who has run across Capt. Kit McNear at the multitude of fishing tournaments and Baja excursions he’s run knows the man is a bundle of energy, a whirling dust devil who combines a passion for fishing with a humor both cynical and optimistic – and all the time displaying very little in the way of patience. And the locals love Señor Kit (“Keeet”).
So, imagine Kit pacing along the dock with a nearby panga and skipper ready to catch the afternoon bite – a short window in the late fall – and the bait hasn’t arrived.
“I went up to the hotel to ask where the bait was and they said, ‘It is coming,’” recalls McNear. “Normally it comes in a car, usually in a container in the back seat.
“Finally, I hear the panga skipper say it’s here, and I look over and all I see is a motorcycle.
On the back is a small box with the live shrimp inside. Only in Mexico. The shrimp farms are on the other side of Mazatlán and a motorcycle is the best way to get through the traffic.”
Live shrimp. What fish doesn’t like it? When this story was pitched to Florida-based BD Outdoors editor Capt. Scott Goodwin, he asked what bait or lure was used. When he was told live shrimp, he said, “You can’t beat that!”
There are lots of places you can fish with live shrimp. Not so many close to Southern California, however, and definitely not many that offer incredible fishing for big snook.
Mazatlán has both – and a regular visitor in Kit McNear. It was a long inevitable path that drew McNear to the mainland Mexico coastline.
“I got my first taste of snook when I was a dive instructor in the Dominican Republic in the ’80s,” says McNear. “I knew nothing of snook. I saw them when I was diving.
“The hotel I worked at in La Romana, the Chavon River was on their property. That river was filled with fish despite commercial fishing, just loaded with snook from 5 to 6 pounds with some up to 25 pounds.
“I had permission to go in there and no one else did,” Kit adds. “I caught a lot of them trolling a red and white Heddon River Runt from a little skiff, but it was best at night with live bait.”
Back in California, McNear used his captain’s license to start a fishing charter business. He got his boost into the sportfishing industry through his friendship with Dick Gaumer, a founder of Angler Magazine and, at one time, president of Fenwick Rods. Through Gaumer, Kit got together with Don Iovino, who helped him get his first sponsor – Ranger Boats. Gaumer renamed Angler Magazine to California Angler and the title, along with South Coast Sportfishing, was briefly owned circa 1984 by US Bass.
Bill Ray ended up with California Angler and that’s where Kit landed as the Fishing Schools Director for 2 1/2 years, staging his first trips to Baja’s Hotel Las Arenas.
Kit met Tony Peña at one of the shows and they hit it off. Peña, who had a fulltime civic government job, was hitting his stride as an outdoor writer, landing articles in all the local publications. Kit helped him get placed in California Angler.
“Tony heard about this new operation, Coral Star, in Panama and he and I went to do a story for California Angler,” says McNear. “Where the boat was anchored at the island was a really good spot to catch snook.”
McNear took his Fishing Schools to Western Outdoors where he would run trips and events for 18 years – and continue to chase snook. While billfish and yellowfin tuna are the big draw for many Panama anglers, it was always the snook for Kit.
“Over the course of 18 trips to Panama with friends like Pat McDonell and Danny Jackson, I caught lots and lots of snook fishing with a small sardine-color Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow,” he says. “You just have to watch out for those nasty saltwater crocodiles.”
Speaking of crocodiles, another California Angler assignment sent McNear to a resort in Australia to fish for a species related to snook – barramundi. Both fish are catadromous – they spawn in saltwater and move into freshwater for forage and shelter.
“During the big rains in Australia, large freshwater lagoons called billabongs form in the rivers and fill up with barramundi and catfish – and saltwater crocodiles,” tells McNear. “The crocodiles will come right out of the water and take you. I was fishing a 400- by 500-foot billabong and the whole time there was a guide up on the bank with a rifle. He told me if he said duck, I better duck. He never needed to use the rifle and the fishing was great.”
McNear’s work often took him to Baja and particularly La Paz, where he attracted regular groups like Marty Burch and Don Southern’s Team Borracho. Now Kit’s work is all in Mexico running tournaments at the Van Wormer’s Palmas de Cortez Resort in the East Cape and for the El Cid Resort in Mazatlán.
La Paz has long been where Kit keeps his boat(s). Early on he found out he was literally sleeping on snook when he stayed aboard in the marina.
“I always have a swimbait and a Krocodile ready on my boat,” he says. “It just so happens that my marina is the oldest and holds more fish. The bait, sardinas, comes into the marina and they stay there and there is always a lot of mullet.
“I’ve caught small snook in the marina at night off my dinghy and landed a few bigger snook up to 19 pounds.
“All the other ones I hooked…all I know is they ripped off line and went under the boats and that was that!”
A famous pangero by the name of Mario holds the unofficial record for the biggest snook taken out of La Paz, McNear notes.
“Mario spearfishes snook for the market – it’s legal for local commercial fishermen – and 15 years ago he showed me a snook he speared at the outer dock that was 57 pounds weighed on the market scale.”
The world record is a 59-pound, 12-ounce black snook caught south of Quepos, Costa Rica by Orlando, Florida snook guide Ward Michaels, who reportedly caught the huge fish trolling six-inch sardines over spawning area outside a river mouth.
Mario knew of a wreck in Bahia de La Paz that held huge snook, and Kit arranged for Tony Peña and friend Linda Niles to go out on Mario’s panga.
“They blanked the first day, the conditions just weren’t right – Mario said he knew the fish were there,” recalls McNear. “The second day they trolled a CD-18 Rapala and hooked and lost several snook in the 15-pound range. All they had for bait was dead mullet. They put that out and Linda Niles caught a snook that weighed 35 pounds. So, the big ones are out there.”
Yet McNear soon found a spot centrally located with everything needed for excellent snook action – Marina El Cid Beach Hotel Mazatlán.
When this writer saw Marina El Cid it was brand new, the first of several El Cid marina developments that include a Yucatan location, and isolated on the edge of the coast adjacent to a new breakwater channel in a largely undeveloped area surrounding a massive estero. Now there are four marina complexes, numerous beachfront resorts, shopping centers and golf courses. Few are as beautiful and as well located as the El Cid Marina Beach Hotel.
Marina El Cid’s Aries Fleet has quick access to a wide stretch of coastline that is studded with submerged wrecks. There are also numerous developed and undeveloped bocas (river mouths).
The sum result is one of the most unheralded inshore fisheries in the world and some fantastic opportunities for big snook.
Up until recently, something was missing from the equation – live shrimp.
“About 8 years ago the fishermen out of Mazatlán started using live shrimp,” says McNear. “It made sense. There are lots of shrimp farms around, why not use it for bait?
“Here’s how I found out about the fishery: five years ago, I was running a Dorado Shootout in November at the El Cid and I heard about the snook.
“I have been friends with Geronimo Cevallos, the Director of Marina Operations, for 25 years,” adds Kit. “He is a graduate of the Maritime Academy of Mazatlán, a legend, and a pioneer.
“Geronimo took me out in his boat and there were lots of boats out there. We drifted between them and I caught 5 snook and 3 or 4 pargo in less than an hour. We could have caught more but we had to get back to the tournament!”
Kit has made it a point to target Mazatlán’s inshore fishing a couple of times a year and especially the fall action.
“Here’s the interesting thing. If two anglers fish half a day, they’ll only need 125 to 150 shrimp for 5 to 6 hours of fishing. It is not hard to keep the shrimp alive, but they do require clean water and a low flow in the bait tank. They can live in a tank with water sloshing in and out. They tried keeping a big container of it in the water at El Cid but you have to feed it, etc. So, they just went to delivery. The Marina places the order for the shrimp for anyone who is fishing inshore.”
Which takes us back to the beginning of this story. After wrapping up the 2019 Van Wormer’s East Cape Tuna Shootout, Kit jumped on a Calafia Airlines jet from La Paz to Mazatlán (there are direct flights out of LAX) and a 30-minute ride from the airport later he was at the Marina El Cid, ordering shrimp. Live, please.
“The first day I fished on a super panga with Ramon, an experienced skipper who knew why I was there,” says McNear. “There are 10 wrecks outside the marina. We fished four hours that morning for 2 snook, a corvina and 21 pargo (you can keep 10).
“We went in for lunch (because I ate all the food on the boat) and fished from 2 to 5 that afternoon,” Kit adds. “We went to some different wrecks. I told Ramon he could fish and we caught 2 pargo, a 27-pound jack crevalle, a permit and we both lost several big fish in the wrecks. He caught a 20-pound cabrilla on a spot he said held big grouper – 20 kilos and up.
“That’s where we lost most of our big fish. It’s a really big wreck and we just didn’t have a chance. One fish was smoking off line and we were going to cut the polypropylene anchor line and chase it. Then it found the wreck.”
While the tackle on the boats is okay, McNear recommends bringing a couple of short, fast action, heavy jigging rods like the Shimano Butterfly or Flat Fall rods. A strong reel that gets line quickly on the spool (the smaller Penn Torques are the local choice) loaded with 50#- to 65# Spectra and topped with five feet of fluorocarbon leader with a dropper loop and 5 ounces of weight completes the setup.
“Anything over 50# fluorocarbon and you won’t get any bites,” notes McNear. “What I have found – and the local skippers don’t agree – is I get more bites with 30- to 40# fluoro.
“If the snook turn their heads and get into the wreck, it doesn’t matter what you have tied on!”
Position and conditions are key.
“Time of day doesn’t seem to matter, the water color varies from off-color to semi-clear – that doesn’t matter, what matters is you have to have current,” Kit says. “As far as position, it’s fishing a structure spot and you just have to be on the structure. The skippers know where the structure is, but sometimes they don’t really want to get right on top of it or miss it using their reef anchors and polypropylene rope.
“This is fishing on the bottom and you have to be right on top of the wreck,” he adds. “I’ve seen this on side scan sonar: The snook are right on top of the wreck, the pargo just off it, while the jacks, corvina and permit kind of move around the wreck.”
McNear had time for a morning trip on his last day.
“On the second day my captain was Jonny Boy, another old, experienced skipper,” says Kit. “We caught 9 snook and lost another 4 or 5 big fish. We had to come in – we were out of shrimp and out of food. I had a delicious lunch. There’s a professional cleaning station right there at the dock. You just need to bring Ziplock bags and most rooms have a kitchenette and you can put your fish in the freezer.”
McNear notes that there is also a great fishery close to the El Cid and Mazatlán for snook chasers who like to chuck lures.
“There are really big snook during the spring near the river mouths, and I have fished that with Geronimo,” says Kit.
The fall fishery is all about the shrimp – and it has to be alive and the bigger the better.
“If the shrimp is dead a snook or corvina won’t eat it, but pargo and just about everything else will,” McNear advises.
“There are two theories on the best way to hook a live shrimp. Either way, you use a 2/0 to 3/0 O’Shaughnessy-style hook,” says Kit. “One is in the head, which is a technique especially popular in Florida. There is a ‘horn’ on the top of the shrimp’s head in front of the brain where you can pin the hook.
“The other method is to pin the shrimp through the tail and that’s the method I like to use in Mazatlán. You hook the shrimp through the tail one time through the last little fleshy area right in front of the tail.
“Some people like to use two shrimp hooked through the tail because it offers a bigger profile, like two squid for seabass,” he adds. “Just remember 150 shrimp gives two anglers up to 4 to 5 hours of fishing when fished one at a time. On the other hand, bottom bandits like triggerfish and small pargo are a nuisance, but usually only take one shrimp at time. Just like seabass fishing, when the big guys see little guys feeding, they often move in and take over.”
Kit points out that hooking through the head is a more natural presentation, particularly in situations such as shallow water fishing in Florida when anglers cast and drag the shrimp back along the bottom.
Yet getting a hook through a shrimp that remains alive is the main goal for the inshore fishery.
“Another reason I like to use the tail is I am more successful at keeping them alive,” he admits. “Shrimp are spiny, and they get more pissed off when you hook them through the head, so it’s easier hooking them through the tail.”
After a live shrimp is effectively booby trapped, snook fishing the wrecks off Mazatlán is just dropping the bait down on the wreck and getting ready to pull like hell.
“The most fun comes from never knowing what you are going to hook up with next!” concludes Kit. “You do all right and land a few nice fish and the next thing you know a fish takes you right into the wreck. Once the skipper kept saying ‘Tanto, tanto!’ which means fool. I thought I was fishing with Mr. T!
“I can’t wait to go back.”
2020 Fishing Tech
What’s new in the world of fishing boats and gear for 2020? Will all these techno-gadgets really help you catch more fish?
You want to stay up to date on what’s hot, what’s new, and what will help you catch more fish? We thought so – and we’re here to help.
Considering how quickly modern tech advances, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest and the greatest unless you make it a full-time job. So that’s exactly what we do, and we’ve been keeping our eyes out for any and every new development. Here are some of the top teched-out fishing boat features, tools, and technologies that we think can help make your 2020 a year of serious angling achievements.
Perfection in Piscatorial Positioning
Getting your boat into exactly the right fish-catching spot and keeping it there has always been a challenge, but it’s one that’s been made much easier with technology. GPS and then its integration with fishfinders revolutionized this part of the game, but now the importation of navigational abilities into sonar itself has become not just possible, but even commonplace. The key ability? Being able to touch the fishfinder screen where you see the structure and/or a cluster of fish, and set a GPS waypoint at that spot. Then you can switch over to or split-screen with the chartplotter, and navigate right back to it. At first, this feature showed up on a unit or two, then it spread, and now just about all the manufacturers offer it at some level in the model line. If the fishfinder sitting at your helm doesn’t have this ability, upgrading your electronics will give you a serious leg up.
Another way you can enjoy better boat positioning: take advantage of the latest in marine bathy charts. In the past year, we’ve seen updates in chartography like Garmin’s g3 data with high-res depth shading, Raymarine’s Lighthouse NC2 charts with data from Fishing Hot Spots, and C-MAP’s Precision Contours with contour lines down to one-foot increments. At the same time, the ability to draw your own contours has been expanding while also becoming simplified. Whether you do it via the C-MAP Genesis system, Navionic’s SonarCharts, Raymarine’s RealBathy, Humminbird’s AutoChart Live, or Lowrance’s Genesis Live, you can set up your MFD to record the fishfinder pings and GPS positions and create your own uber-accurate bathymetric chart – often in real-time.
When it comes to fishing and boat positioning, perhaps the most important recent development, however, has to do with how you hold your position. Minn Kota made the anchor obsolete when they introduced Spot-Lock GPS virtual anchoring, and many of us have taken to utilizing this feature to hold a boat in position without the need for an analog anchor. But while the cat came out of the bag on this ability long ago, in recent times your virtual anchoring options have expanded widely. Today on larger boats the outboards can do the work, with systems like Yamaha’s Helm Master, Mercury’s Joystick Piloting, and SeaStar’s Optimus. Just press a button to hover the boat in place over a wreck or reef, or tap the joystick to move a few feet in any direction as you work over the productive bottom.
Though virtual anchoring has been around in a number of forms for several years, there are three new entries into this market that are sure to make waves in the coming year. Both Lowrance (the Ghost) and Garmin (the Force) introduced new brushless-motor electric trolling motors this year. Both integrate fully with MFDs to provide complete position-holding control, and although these new electrics are designed for freshwater use, it’s a fair bet that saltwater models will follow. Finally, Minn Kota has upped the virtual anchoring ante with a monstrous 87-inch shaft Riptide Terrova model. Thanks to that incredibly long shaft length and 112-pounds of thrust, this bow-mounted electric can Spot-Lock a boat up to 30 feet in length and 10,000 pounds of displacement. Rhodan is also a huge player in the “big boat” trolling motor market with a whopping 96″ shaft topping their line of options.
Side-scanning sonar is nothing new, but the abilities today’s units offer most certainly are. Several now incorporate super-high frequency ranges (Humminbird’s Mega Side Imaging+ and Raymarine’s HyperVision) up to 1.2 MHz. While using uber-high frequencies does limit range (to about 100 feet in either direction), it does also provide spectacular detail and the ability to pick out both fish and structure well away from the boat. Talk to any captain who’s used these units extensively, and they’ll verify that the ability to see port and starboard in radical clarity can be a game-changing ability. And dropping the output to lower hertz ranges still provides for looking even farther off to the sides, albeit with lowered detail levels.
If you’re a NavNet TZtouch3 fan, also worthy of your fish-finding attention in 2020 is Furuno’s new Deep Impact DI-FFAMP. This is an amplifier designed specifically for the TZtouch3 fishfinder, which utilizes both CHIRP and continuous wave signals to pulse two- or three-kilowatt signals down through the ocean and attain more depth penetration than previously possible.
Another area we’ve seen leaps and bounds when it comes to seeing things: radar. Whether you’re looking for birds beyond visual range or trying to locate that buoy the fish are swarming around, maximum sensitivity is critical. Simrad’s new HALO20 (24nm range) and HALO20+ (36nm range) pulse compression radar antenna boost update speeds at close ranges to near real-time, with up to 60-rpm sweeps. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Furuno’s latest radar, the X-Class, can peer out to 96 miles across open water – yet also has short-range detection down to 20-feet.
Okay, so maybe it won’t help you catch more fish, but the new Cortex from Vesper will boost your safety margin – and that’s something any boat-owning angler can appreciate. By combining a VHF radio with SOTDMA AIS and a cell-based remote monitoring system, then placing the package in a phone-like handheld controller with a four-inch touchscreen (a hub sits belowdecks), the Vesper becomes an all-in-one communication and safety system. We tried one out and found tasks like making a DSC call, activating AIS MOB, or tapping into NMEA network system data, were all fast and intuitive.
Another communication device that’s become integrated into our boating lives is the cell phone. Whether you’re just calling and texting or you’re dialing up a fishing or navigational app, chances are that you use your cell phone on your boat – and there’s also a pretty good chance you’ve cursed a dead cell phone battery more than once. Enter, the ROKK Wireless Waterproof Charger, the first IPX6 waterproof-rated wireless phone charger designed specifically for marine use. You can mount this little disk under the dash, and when you sit your cell phone at the helm it’ll draw a charge. There’s also a cradle-mount version available for surface-mounting at the helm.
What new fishing and boating tech will we see developed in 2020 and the coming years? That’s anyone’s guess. But we all know one thing for sure: it’ll be a full-time job trying to keep up with the latest developments. So, stay tuned, people, stay tuned.
Sidebar: Tackle Tech
It’s rare that tech developments in the world of fishing reels are substantial enough to change the way we fish. But when Shimano introduced the I-DC4 braking system, which utilizes a microcomputer to constantly adjust spool braking and virtually eliminate backlash, we found it just about impossible to get a bird’s nest even if you tried to make it happen. The one problem? You had to drop big bucks to get a Curado DC with the tech. But that’s no longer true, with the SLX DC 150 series reels. These come in well under the $200 mark and get I-DC4 power into the palm of your hand.
Fishing with Fusion
Entropy assures that whenever you put a bunch of pieces-parts together, over time, they will eventually fall apart. This goes for everything we build, including fishing rods… or does it? The 13 Fishing Fuse is constructed in a new and totally teched-out manner, with a (patent pending) carbon fusion process that melds all the parts into one seamless piece. That means vibrations travel through the rod and into the reel seat and grips without interruption, providing the ultimate sensitivity.
Eye in the Sky
Ever wish you could film bird’s eye view of the action on your boat, send a bait or lure 20 casts away, or remotely scout for weedlines and tailing fish? Sounds like you need a drone, and if you have a Raymarine Axiom at your helm, you can enjoy fully-integrated drone control (for DJI Mavic Pro, Pro Platinum, 2, and 2 Zoom models) right at the helm. You can also see what the drone’s camera sees displayed on the MFD, see the drone’s position and direction of travel on your chartplotter screen, and use automated flight controls (like shadow the boat, orbit it, or return to it).
These are just a few of the highlighted fishing tech products for 2020 and beyond.
The Watery World In Leather
Lance Boen has spent the last seventeen years with his family living in Carmel Valley Village, California, located along the Carmel River. The stunning coastline of Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Santa Cruz, and Monterey are the perfect inspirational scenes for Lance’s incredibly unique form of art.
Lance Boen works his incredible sculptures of fish, wildlife and nature scenes out of leather. “I form, tool, and hand paint the leather to create larger-than-life-sized fish sculptures and installations of fish in their underwater world,” says Lance. “On select sculptures, I incorporate leather items such as vintage saddle tack, western holsters, baseball gloves, fly wallets, and other interesting items to embellish the fish and installation environments.”
“This summer we will be embarking on a new life adventure. We purchased a home on Flathead Lake in Polson, Montana. We have family in the area and I send several sculptures every year to Montana. There is such a strong outdoor sporting community in Big Sky Country,” said Lance.
When we asked Lance about his hobbies and their relation to his artwork, he replied: “I connect with nature through fishing, whether wading in a river, feeling the current on my body, or casting from a boat or dock. I feel grounded and at my best when I am near water. My artwork reflects my love for nature, angling, fish, and water.”
Lance described himself as an artist at a young age. High school found him in AP Art Class working on a portfolio for college acceptance. He focused on painting with oils and acrylics in his undergrad at the University of LaVerne. “Toward the end of college, my painting started to become more sculptural. After college, I continued to pursue my art career and was accepted to the Claremont Graduate University art program where I received a Master of Fine Arts. I feel blessed to have shown my artwork in museums, group shows, and galleries throughout the United States.”
Lance has goals of continuing his unique art and expanding his sculpture into more public spaces like airports, resorts, commercial spaces, lodges, and hospitals – “Places where more people will be exposed to my artwork,” said Lance.
“I would like to continue to have my artwork assist me to travel, fish, and meet people around the world.”
When asked about the hardest aspect of his medium, Lance said, “My artwork can be large in scale, physically demanding, and quite labor-intensive. The process is satisfying and the finished sculpture reflects my passion for each work and gratitude for living a creative life. I like working through ideas as a sculpture progresses. I enjoy relaying a collector’s outdoor adventures into their commissioned sculpture. It’s very satisfying when a collector loves the finished product.”
Lance sees his work as a reflection of the passion for fishing and the outdoors that is shared between his clients, collectors and himself. “The mural scenes that I tool and paint on the sculptures tell stories of adventures on the water. I like to incorporate images that I see while angling. I want to create an interesting art experience for my collectors and inspire them to get outdoors,” said Lance.
You can see more of Lance Boen’s artwork on his website.
SoCal Has Purple Fever
A new sickness has swept over the SoCal fishing community: Purple Fever.
This newly unlocked fishery for Pacific broadbill swordfish has anglers fired up to get their shot at a fish that was once considered a unicorn in our waters. Much like the El Nino of 2015 and the subsequent development of a large bluefin tuna fishery, SoCal anglers are in a frenzy to get up to speed and refine the techniques to provide more consistent swordfish bites.
It’s hard to imagine our fishery changing again with the amazing things we have seen over the last five seasons, but this one seems to have changed our “game” forever. Previously, local anglers were lucky to see maybe one or two swordfish a year sunning themselves on the surface. Usually unprepared and under-gunned, anglers would present a live mackerel or a dead squid in an attempt to get a bite. More times than not, the fish would show no interest and eventually spook. If the angler was lucky enough to elicit a bite, the fight, more times than not, ended in heartbreak after several hours of agony.
Back in 2015, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (P.F.M.C.) approved a trial program of Deep-Set Buoy Gear fishing in the Southern California Bight with the intention to reduce and eventually eliminate the traditional drift gillnet fishery. This decision was reached after several years of research by the Pfleger Institute for Environment Research, or P.I.E.R., proving the technique is viable.
In this experimental project, five commercial fishing boats were allowed to set and work 10 buoy gear rigs each for three seasons. The rig is surprisingly simple. The top of the rig features a “high flyer” style buoy and a couple of smaller floats with 800-1200 feet of heavy monofilament line attached to it. At the bottom of the line, there’s a heavy sinker and just a few feet above there’s a flashing light and “dropper lead” with a large baited circle hook attached.
These boats fished up and down the coast for three years while having their catches monitored by P.I.E.R. and the P.F.M.C. The results were impressive with many boats having banner years harvesting swordfish with this “clean” method of take. Shortly thereafter the PFMC approved the Deep-Set Buoy gear method for commercial swordfishing.
While this experimental process was underway, a handful of local anglers “in the know” were paying attention to what was going on.
Before long, a few of these anglers had modified the technique for rod and reel fishing. Not surprisingly they started catching “unicorns” right here in our backyard!
The gear and techniques are a little different than what we are used to using, but with a little research and a few bucks, you can get in the game as well.
Most guys are using an electric reel or some form of electric assistance. Some of the popular and lower-priced options include the Shimano Beastmaster 9000 and Daiwa Seaborg SB1200. Both of these reels are compact and up to the task of handling our average 150-pound swordfish.
With so many bigger fish from 200-400 pounds in our waters, many anglers are opting for more heavy-duty solutions that can also be clipped into a harness to fight the fish standing up. Hooker Electric reels are known for making rock-solid electric reels by taking proven technology in the form of a Shimano or PENN big game reel and adapting it to work with a heavy-duty brushless electric motor. By adding features like an auto-stop line counter and level wind, Hooker offers a great swordfish option. Hooker also makes a removable motor for those that want to fish stand up in a harness or using a rail rod but can benefit from 12-volts when checking your bait.
Lindgren Pitman also makes the largest electric reel in its class, the S-1200. Originally designed for commercial applications, it’s become very popular with sword fishermen in the South East USA for its reliability and durability. The LP reel also gives you the option of quickly switching spools which allows anglers to easily use the reel for other things like pulling dredges.
The final option is to use your existing big game reels with a device like a Reel Crankie or Speedy Crank. These devices allow you to use a standard electric drill to power a conventional reel. This makes doing bait checks and clearing lines much easier than cranking by hand. Beware, these devices work well, but you’re going to need at least a couple of battery packs for your drill as they do eat up a pack pretty quickly.
Once you’ve decided on the reel solution that fits your budget, it’s time to find a rod. Ideally, the rod will be a 6-foot or 6.5-foot bent butt rated for about 80# line. You want a rod that has a soft tip so you can see the often subtle bite of a swordfish, but it also needs to have a strong backbone to lift the king of the sea during long, hard battles. Fortunately, you can usually repurpose a rig out of your heavy bluefin or trolling tackle. If this rod isn’t already a part of your quiver, a little research online and you will quickly find some solid options in the $500 range.
Now that you’ve got your rig together, it’s time to spool up. Most guys are using 80# hollow braid. This yields the best strength while still being thin enough to cut through the water without too much drag or resistance. We like to use hollow braid because it gives you the ability to make seamless connections and splices. When you fill your reel, make sure to leave about ¼” of space on the spool to allow for a heavy wind-on leader.
Your wind-on leader should be about 60-feet long and either 200# or 300# test. There are many great pre-made options that are ready to fish out of the bag. If you like to make your own wind-on leaders, quality fluorocarbon like Seaguar or a harder monofilament like Momoi Xtra Hard works great. You’ll also need to add a floss loop a few feet below your connection loop to hang your weight and light on. It’s not hard to learn and probably worth your time if you’re going to be fishing for swords often.
Now that you have your rod and reel spooled up, it’s time to think about the terminal tackle. At the end of your wind-on, you will want to crimp a ball bearing swivel. Before crimping the swivel on, most guys are sliding one or two small diamond style lights on the line. You will crimp your bait leader to the other end of this swivel. The bait leader should be 300# or 400# test to prevent chew offs during extended battles. These fish aren’t line shy, so don’t be afraid to use heavy leaders.
The other end of your bait leader will have your hook and bait of choice. For rigging a large squid, a Mustad 7691 in size 11/0 has become the standard for our fellow anglers on the East coast. A 16”-20” squid seems to be the perfect bait in our waters. You can source these squid at most saltwater tackle shops now and you can often get them for a few bucks less at an Asian market.
Many tackle shops are selling pre-rigged baits as well. These include rigged squids, strip bait and belly baits. They do cost a couple of bucks extra, but for a lot of people, it’s worthwhile for the convenience. Just make sure you’re buying a reputable brand. Losing a big fish over a cheap crimp or hook would be heartbreaking.
The only other piece of terminal tackle needed is your weight. These generally range from 5-12 pounds with the preferred style being a “sash” weight. These long skinny weights are easy to store and drop perfectly into a rod holder to prevent them from rolling on deck. You’ll want to attach the weight to a swivel and longline clip using some large stainless split rings. This longline clip will attach to the floss loop at the top of your wind-on leader.
Now that you’ve got the tackle out of the way, you will want to have your local tackle shop place marks on your line at 800, 900 and 1,000 feet. These marks will give you an idea of how deep your bait is swimming. Even if you are using an electric reel with a counter, these make a great backup. You can also mark your line yourself by stopping your boat in the depth you want to mark, quickly dropping until you hit bottom and then mark the line with a sharpie. We use three marks for 800’, four marks for 900’ and so on.
Prime season for swordfishing seems to be June through November. During these months the fish will be prowling our local structure spots looking for an easy meal. These spots include ridges like the 9-mile bank, the 182/182 ridge and offshore banks like the 302, 14-mile, 43, etc. Swordfish also really like to work canyons like the La Jolla Canyon, Carlsbad Canyon, Newport Canyon, etc. The fish will also be found away from structure on established temperature breaks.
When looking for a place to drop in these areas, remember the golden rule of offshore fishing, “find the bait, find the fish.” These are big, hungry fish and they are never going to get too far from the kitchen. Learn to dial your sonar system into a lower frequency like Low Chirp or 28-32 hertz to best show the bait down in that 800-1200’ deep zone you will be fishing. When you locate the bait, you might even mark a fish. They usually appear like a “hot dog” shaped mark.
When it’s time to drop, make sure you do it SLOW to avoid tangles. Since your weight is above your bait the bait will be forced upward as you drop and you don’t want to wrap your mainline. It should take about 10 minutes to drop to 1000’. Put the clicker on and a little drag on the lever and let it lower itself down at about a foot per second.
Now it’s time to crack a cold beverage and stare at the rod tip. Sword bites can be as subtle as a little peck that just barely moves the rod tip. They can also just pile on the bait and start ripping drag. More times than not, it’s something in between. Once you have a solid bite and the rod loads up, wind, wind, wind! You want to “get tight” as soon as possible and get that hook buried in the fish.
If you are dropping or drifting and your line goes slack, WIND LIKE HELL!
This means a fish has eaten your bait, felt the weight and is now swimming straight up to the surface to try and shake the weight now attached to his face.
These are just the basics. Do some research on your own to dial in your process. Read up on the Internet, talk to guys who have a few fish under their belts, etc. Most importantly get out and do it, learn and experiment. This type of fishing requires a great deal of patience and isn’t for everyone. You can expect long days of staring at a rod tip and not catching anything. But when it comes together, there’s no better feeling than conquering the King of the Sea right in your own backyard.
IGFA – Hard At Work For Fishing’s Future
Over the past year, The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has been hard at work in California to help protect game fish, educate the next generation of anglers and recognize the achievements of California anglers.
Thanks to a tremendous show of support by the recreational fishing community, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) voted not to proceed with permitting a longline fishery outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone during their November 2019 meeting. This is a big win for the United States West Coast and comes on the heels of last year’s California bill that will ban drift gillnets by 2023 and the recent authorization of a limited-entry deep-set buoy gear fishery for swordfish. This victory could not have been accomplished without the IGFA’s partners at Wild Oceans, the American Sportfishing Association, and CCA California. Special thanks go out to IGFA Trustees Bob Kurz, Chase Offield and Bill Shedd for providing public comment at the November PFMC meeting.
During its September 2019 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) unanimously passed a motion to authorize deep-set buoy gear as a new way to commercially harvest swordfish. The IGFA has worked ardently on this issue for the last four years alongside Wild Oceans, the Coastal Conservation Association of California, the American Sportfishing Association, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Authorization of deep-set buoy gear by the PFMC compliments a law passed in California last year that will ban the use of drift gillnets by 2023 by providing the commercial sector with an ecologically and economically superior method to harvest swordfish that benefits commercial fishers, recreational anglers, and the environment alike.
Children are the key to the future of recreational angling. It’s vitally important that we get young people out on the water and teach them how to be ethical and responsible anglers. By doing so, we will help secure the future of our sport. As part of the IGFA’s 80th anniversary celebration in 2019, we launched an initiative to teach 100,000 kids around the world to fish over the next three years. Over the past year, the IGFA has reached nearly 20,000 kids in 23 different countries, on six continents. Our network of members and partners in California have been influential in helping us reach this goal and in 2019, we successfully reached 3,000 youth in California. This could not have been possible without the support of our partners in California including Reel Guppy Outdoors, San Diego Anglers, Southwester Yacht Club, Balboa Angling Club, and numerous IGFA Trustees and Representatives. To learn more about the IGFA’s youth education initiatives and programs, please contact IGFA Youth Education Manager Lisa Morse at [email protected].
World Record Updates
In 2019, the IGFA approved a total of 25 new IGFA World Records for fish caught in California. Here are some of the highlights from the past year!
California angler Tracy Hartman set the new IGFA Women’s 2-kg (4-lb) Line Class record with this beautiful largemouth bass. Her lunker largemouth weighed in at 5.3 kilograms (11 pounds, 12 ounces), which more than doubled the weight of the previous record. The bass was weighed, measured and released safely to be caught by another lucky angler someday.
The women’s 6-kg (12-lb) Pacific bonito fly record now belongs to Kesley Gallagher after she caught a solid 3.1-kilogram (7-lb) fish while fishing off Catalina Island in California on September 23, 2018. This is Kesley’s tenth IGFA World Record and the eighth different species she has held a record for.
Father and daughter duo Tom and Ali Pfleger scored two impressive Pacific bluefin tuna records.
Tom beat his standing men’s 10-kg (20-lb) line class record with a 93.9-kilogram (207-pound 3-ounce) tuna that he caught on July 26th, 2018.
Roughly a month later fishing the same waters, Ali earned the women’s 15-kg (30-lb) record for a 96-kilogram (211-pound 11-ounce) tuna that she landed in just 20 minutes. This is the second Pacific bluefin IGFA World Record for Ali and the sixth for Tom.
As we move forward into 2020, the IGFA is excited to continue this important work in California and beyond. Southern California has a rich history of angling and the IGFA is pleased to be working alongside all the passionate anglers in this area of the world.
Please visit the IGFA’s booth at the Fred Hall Show to learn more about our programs and initiatives, and take advantage of some great membership promotions we are offering exclusively during the show.