The BD Outdoors Signature Trip aboard Shogun Sportfishing in San Diego
MADE POSSIBLE BY
WORDS: MIKE MURCIANO
PHOTOS: IRA WALDMAN
The Sportboat Fleet in Southern California is unlike any charter fleet in the world. Nowhere is there a fleet of boats more fine-tuned to targeting gamefish in distant offshore waters. When most people hear Sportboat they envision “cattle boats”, overpacked fishing charters with novice fishermen sharing the rail elbow to elbow. This is not the case in Southern California, the Sportboat fleet is a versed arsenal of fishing boats, captains, and talented passengers. Some of the best bait fishermen I’ve ever witnessed have been on Sportboats, it’s a finesse fishery that really develops your skill as an angler. To be a well-rounded fisherman in the Southern California Bight, means being versed in a variety of fishing techniques and fishing Sportboats is the equivalent to getting your masters in live bait fishing.
The stories, history, and the inception of this style of fishing dates back to the days of Bill Poole in the 1950’s. He was considered the godfather of this industry (I highly advise reading FISH or CUT BAIT by Bill Poole for an in depth look at the history of this fishery). The contributions from Bill Poole to this industry are countless and he opened the door for great fishermen to take advantage of an industry, style, and fishery.
At BD Outdoors we’ll be shining a light on some of our favorite Sportboats in a series of articles. This first one is being kicked off with the Shogun, and guilty as charged I’m a fan of this boat, the crew and the operation so in advance I apologize if this article is highly in praise.
For starters, the Shogun is a 89’ Tedd Dunn built boat and it was made in partnership with Frank LoPreste, Tedd and Frank are considered two of the most influential names in SoCal fishing. During the Shogun’s time, there have been several captains, but it wasn’t until 2017 when Rene Monteagudo joined the ranks of the Lopreste fleet. Under Rene’s watch, the boat soon became a leader in the fleet as one of the best multi-day boats/ long-range boats. Since that time Rene has also taken Co-ownership of the boat which has allowed him an even greater level of dedication. Today, I believe the Shogun has hit its best stride under the watch of Capt. Rene Monteagudo. He’s been able to assemble a young and eager crew, with a never say “quit” attitude.
“You’re only as good as your last day of fishing”, that’s a comment I’ve heard over and over and for the crew of the SHOGUN this is something they take to heart. If you’re not producing fish in this fleet of amazing captains it’ll quickly show with all the sportboat options available. That’s why these guys try so hard, it’s a eat or be eaten type of world
What makes the Shogun a great boat is the crew. Frank has set a precedent that Rene has adopted in hiring his staff. They are high energy, young and ferocious when it comes to fishing. Get ready to fish hard if you’re with this crew.
Honorable mentions for Steve Gregonis, Ash Ryan, and Grant Kuhlberg as crew members, as they were off on the day of shooting.
FRANK LOPRESTE – What can be said about Frank Lopreste in a few sentences will never do justice, he deserves a book. Frank is sportboat fishing, he is an inspiration, a mentor, and a fisherman. Frank has been part of curating the most elite level of sportboats in the Southern California Bight. He’s no one hit wonder, if you look at all the boats, he’s been a part of or mentored you’ll see a few common occurrences: fishiness, professionalism, personality and respect. Frank has the ability of knowing if someone will make a great captain and has had an amazing track record in doing so. Frank today is still a captain and will take to the helm from time to time. One of the most giving and deserving people in this industry.
RENE MONTEAGUDO – The first captain of the Shogun, he is also a Co-owner of the boat along with Frank Lopreste. You can ask ten different people in the industry who the best sportboat captain is and you’ll get ten different answers. If you’re asking me, Rene is at the top of the list if not the best. Rene has a long history in the industry from fishing commercial in his youth to working on the San Diego and then the Shogun. Through all the boats I’ve fished on, I’ve never seen the “never give up” attitude like I’ve seen in Rene. He’ll go to the ends of the earth to get his passengers on fish and really takes his results on the fishing grounds personally. Truly one of the best.
JEN TULLER – The saying goes, “behind every great man there is a great woman”, in this case behind this great team there is a great woman. Jen handles logistics for the Shogun and is one of the most accommodating people I have ever met. She has a motherly instinct over the crew, they strive to please her out of respect. This is Jen’s seventh year with the operation and as someone who frequents the boat, I can say it would not be the same great experience without her. She has been there every step of the way to make sure the passengers and crew have every resource at their fingertips from permits and registration to special requests.
CONER SHANAHAN – The second captain of the Shogun, has nothing secondary about his performance. Under the tutelage of Rene, Coner is developing into a great captain. Something I’ve noticed about Coner is that he enjoys variety in fishing. When trips are under his watch he makes sure all make it into the holds from Bluefin, Yellowtail to Rock Cod. His approach keeps things interesting and assures every bit of tackle you brought on the trip will get utilized. On land, he’d never let you know but he’s an accomplished artist with capabilities in a variety of mediums.
JOE “SPEEDY” SOARES – Speedy is the relief captain and licensed operator. As his name implies Speedy has a knack for getting things done promptly. In a tangle, he can cut and reconnect lines in a moment. His family lineage comes from the commercial fishing world over several generations. He’s in a sense a Swiss-army knife and knows how to do just about everything and as well as fix anything. Beyond his fishiness and ability on the boat his accommodating personality lends itself nicely to the many passengers the boat sees over a season. He has the ability to keep things light and upbeat which is priceless when the mid-day doldrums ensue.
Recently we were able to jump on the Shogun to have a BD Sponsored trip. The trip was as good as any trip I can remember from the variety of fishing styles, and fish size, to countless prizes and giveaways. It was one of those trips that had you thinking that it had gone too quickly. In late summer it’s really anyone’s guess what you’ll come across from rockfish to marlin you just never really know. For us, we knew kelping and big bluefin were on the menu, but what we got in a fishing trip was more than we ever anticipated.
Captains have a plan and rarely do they leave the dock without one. Plans might be based around the caliber of fishermen on the boat, targeting counts vs. big fish as well as weather. On the first day of our trip, we would be targeting smaller grade yellowfin and dorado. I think in retrospect Capt. Rene was looking to give us a warmup knowing what he had in his back pocket. This first day ironed out the kinks on who needed some assistance rigging up, how to work collectively and get a sense for sportboat fishing and all that comes along with it. The kelp fishing was fast and hard hitting and actually had us at dorado limits quite quickly. It also allowed for a great experience for the handful of youngsters on the trip. Out of all the trips I’ve been on this trip had the most kids on it. I believe there were 5 or 6 and seeing them tackle the dorado bite was just awesome.
The amount of Dorado in our waters currently is unprecedented. For this first day we found two kelps that gave us our boat limit of Dorado. They were literally eating the paint of the boat.
On this trip we were joined by Capt. Rene’s twin boys, Mason and Gage. Here Capt. takes a few minutes a way from the helm to make sure the torch is lit bright for the next generation. Lights out dorado fishing, think he was stoked?
The interesting thing about the kelp patty fishing we did was that they were predominanly jugged with Dorado, the few yellowtail that were present were well into that 20lb. range.
If you’ve ever tried to gaff a dorado you know they can be tricky at times. Crew member Dylan was incredibly proffcient with the gaff when it came to these dorado, I even saw him gaff one mid flight after it jumped.
“If you got it bring it, cause we’re gonna use it”. The variety of sizes, fishing styles, heartbreak, tackle failure allowed for every single outfit to get used on this trip.
Frank Trout was a passenger on this trip, he quicky discovered the dorado were keen on the surface iron. Frank could really chuck an iron, it was impressive.
THE NIGHT BITE
With the fish holds topped off with limits off Dorado Capt. Rene announced that we’d be making a jump to a different area to see if we could find something a little more on the serious side. We spent most of this day moving to a new area that had seen little to no pressure. As we arrived in the evening and began preparing for dinner there was an odd sentiment. With little to no boats around you start to ask yourself “where are the other boats in the fleet?”, “did we drive all this way for a crap shoot?”, but those thoughts quickly went out the window when the dynamic of the crew started to change. Things went from light and cheerful to serious but upbeat, something was about to happen. It’s a positive sign when the captain starts to ramp up the RPM’s and starts to swerve back and forth to get right over a school. On the loudspeaker we could hear the captain say it was taking about 5 minutes to get over the front edge of the school of bluefin meaning it was a massive school. As we got over the school and cut the engines, all hell broke loose. It’s no joke when half the boat is bit on fish over 150lb. mark. The amount of casualties and failures drove many back to the drawing board to scale up gear, hooks and attitude. We fished this bite for over 5 hours. Several fish in the cow range and more and countless triple digit fish. What started with a bait stop turned to solely jigs and every kind was getting inhaled. Lots of casualties and trophies.
Big Mason here make sure this evening school stayed with us as the sun began to go down. Who knew the mayhem that would follow would go on for hours?
NAT GEO BLLUEFIN
Day 2’s night bite had many of us crawling into our bunks around 3AM or later. I woke up late the next morning and was surprised that I hadn’t heard the boat move the entire night. What I assumed was the entire boat was licking its wounds from a long night and great fishing, man was I wrong. As I emerged from my bunk and peered off the back deck trying to make sense of the situation, what I saw was a sobering and rejuvenating sight, 360 degrees around the entire boat was tuna foaming and there was not another boat in sight. Frantically, everyone began fishing and hooking fish, these were all larger grade tuna. Bites were consistent but you needed to put your effort in at the rail, we had 3-4 fish going with faster flurries at times. The expectation was to capitalize as bluefin would do as bluefin do and disappear, which was not the case. This group of fish stayed up all day and were never more than a couple of hundred yards away from us. According to Rene it was the best day time, fly line bait fishing he’s seen all year.
360 Degree around the boat!
Bluefin Everywhere, not a boat in sight.
After it was all said and done the trip came to a close. Not enough good can be said about this crew and the organization. The Shogun once again overdelivered and we had a great trip. Make sure to keep an eye on future BD Outdoors trips on the Shogun as well as other boats in the fleet. We have such a unique fishery here in Southern California with some of the best of the best captains around and we look forward to telling these stories.
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