Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blown Opportunities

With our free Irvine Lake tickets expiring today, I took my pontoon out for the first time in something like 8 years.  The original intention was to fish here on Sunday but Chul and I decided to cancel that idea and head down to SD to fish the bay with Joseph and Tuck.  I arrived at about 6:15 and after waiting in line and assembling the boat I was on the water by about 7am.  Armed with my Scott S3S 7 weight loaded with a Rio Clouser floating line and red and black deerhair popper I tied over 15 years ago I started working the weeds.  It was not long before I had my first take.  The fly simply vanished, the bass just inhaled it.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  After a headshake or two the fish came off.  I suspect the culprit was the weedguard and it prevented a proper hook set.  Now amped I blew my load early on my next rising bass a few casts later.  I pulled it right out of it's mouth.  With the sun burning off the overcast sky I switched back and forth from floating line and popper to a 150 grain sinking line.  I managed a few bumps but was unable to get any fish to stay hooked.  By 11am I quit and headed back home to get some work done.  Frustrating.  Chul choose not to come after work when I gave him my morning report. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Banana Boat and Heartbreak

SD Bay has a huge naval presence including warships and the Navy SEALs.
I returned to SD bay again on Sunday this time fishing with Chul, Tuck and Joesph.  We fished the inside towards the Coronado Bridge.  Chul and I were in the pram and Tuck and Joesph fished in a tandem kayak.  I looked at that thing and instantly thought its going to be a bitch to cast out of that thing.
Tide predictions were good (at least on paper) and once we were actually on the water the tides were moving us quite nicely.  Chul casted out and realized that his flyline at his feet were a tangled mess.  He removed his spool off his reel and tried to fix it with his line still in the water.  In no time his fly was hit and Chul wrangled the spottie to the boat.  Only moments after I was on a spottie as well.    Not long after that fish it died down and fishing began to get tough.   The tides slowed much sooner than anticipated.  We should have started earlier.
We moved along and coasted to the bridge.  Noticing the tides now barely moving I switched from my 5 weight to my 7 with a faster sinking line, know that the fishing will now be a grind and I wanted to cover more water faster than waiting for the 150 grain line to sink.  I also switched to flies from a goby pattern to my ASS Fly.  In no time I was on fish and managed a few near the bridge. Originally designed for largemouth I wanted for the longest time try this fly out in the bay and it proved its worth. 

While fishing this section Chul managed a mystery fish that took him to the backing (at about 3:03 on the video).  Having not seen the fish since it broke of we can only speculate what it was.  Initially we thought perhaps a bonefish, a jack crevalle, maybe a big spotfin croaker or a white seabass.  Afterwards I called Ed to see what he thought given the way it fought, first it bulldogged than ripped line out and once it was put under pressure it bulldogged again.  Since it didn't dive during the run and just took line straight, Ed theorized it was probable a white seabass.  We'll never know.  It would have been nice to have at least seen that fish.  After Chul could calm his nerves and a quick smoke, we continued fishing and managed a few more spotted bay bass.  None of any significant size or numbers.  While it was not a stellar day for the bay it wasn't bad.  But we had to earn our fish this day.

The two loverboys on the banana boat managed a few fish a piece on their new fly rods with each adding some new species to his fish list, spotted bay and sand bass for Joseph and a lizardfish for Tuck.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trabuco Creek Fly Fishing

On a whim Chul and I headed out to a local piece of water that we read on a forum was holding wild trout.  We were skeptical as this water has poor spawning grounds and as such is normally stocked by the  DFW.  Because of this I hadn't been here in over a decade since it really doesn't appeal to me.  Chul cut his teeth fly fishing here and never caught anything remotely looking like a wild trout.

We got to the water and it was low.  Fishing was pool hoping and there weren't many pools.  We managed a fish a piece.  My fish looked wild.  Chul's was larger and fought wild, it must have been hold over that had naturalized.  we spent only about an hour before we were over it and called it quits.
Before fishing we went to Grill Hut for lunch and I ordered the ground beef kabob with rice and salad which was quite good.  It was nice sustenance for the hike ahead.

NPH Slam Vid


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Salt Water Bass Grand Slam

Spotted Bay Bass
With a full moon this week, the tides are excellent in the morning and again towards twilight so Chul and I decided to take his pram out for some salt water action.  We arrive at about 4 pm and headed toward the mouth.  The optimal tides, at least on paper, started around 5pm to about 7pm.  We fished for the first hour without so much a s a bump but when the tides started to move we fish began to bite.  Chul was the first to get a fish, a calico.  His first ever.  When he was about to take a picture of it with his iphone his girlfriend called and made a cardinal mistake and answered it.  The ultimate jinx and he paid for it for the rest of the day. 
Sand Bass
It took me awhile after about an hour and a half to finally get my first fish .  The first was an ultra dink calico.  I have caught San Gabriel trout bigger than that calico.  At about 6 the tides started to really move and the fish became more active.  For the next hour and a half I managed several salt water bass of every species completing the salt water bass slam- calico, spotted bay, and sand bass.  None of our fish were all that impressive with most in the pound range give or take.  Chul on the other hand paid for jinxing himself for answering the phone and didn't manage another fish until the very end and that fish was more of a fluke than anything else.  Not only was the calico an ultra dink but he took it because he left his line in the water while he was trying to clear my line out of the trolling motor propeller.  I wonder if this place will ever return to it's old glory with 100 fish days.  I've told Chul about those days and the lack of serious fish is starting make me look like I'm full of shit.
My second Calico (Kelp) Bass of the day.  Slam is complete.
Punishment for answering the phone on the boat.  When its time to fish the girlfriend can wait.
Earlier in the day I walked the dog at Irvine Regional Park.  Lately I've been walking the dog here because after we are done I throw a few casts at the ponds looking for a largemouth to bite.  It looks like the bass are in post spawn and no longer guarding beds.  It fact they are cruising throughout the ponds.  None are willing to bite in fact they spook anytime the fly comes near.  I managed to have one take on Saturday but I was too slow to set the hook.  One thing I really like about IRP is the statue of James Irvine II.  The city is named after him.  What is now a regional park was at one time his personal hunting grounds.  This statue depicts him hunting with a side by side and two setters. Its a proper monument to the man.
A proper monument to a man.
Afterwards I had lunch with the folks and they took me to Tan Cang Newport Seafood.  Its been at least a decade since we've eaten here and since then they have changed ownership.  We used to have to park a few blocks away and wait in line to get a table so we were worried that when we arrived the restaurant was only 20% full.  We hoped the food hadn't gone downhill.  Our worries proved unwarranted though.  The food was excellent.  They must have kept the same chef.  The lobster as I remembered it was perfectly cooked and excellent.  The chef showcases the lobster and enhances the natural sweet buttery taste of the crustacean.  We also had squab and fish stomach soup which were also excellent and a couple other dishes that weren't that impressive.  It was great fuel for the afternoon fishing.
Lobster done right.
Roast Squab
Fish stomach soup.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tag. Your It. SD Bay Jetty Wall Trophy Hunting

I managed to take advantage of an open invitation to fish San Diego Bay's jetty wall and after getting some intelligence from the guys at Marriott's yesterday I spent the entire night tying like mad.  I have plenty of flies to last a couple lifetimes but I have very few with weedguards.  I generally don't use them for the type of fishing I do. 
Although I've been itching to fish this bay for years, I've never made it down there.  Webb has been telling me all about it for years and what really sparked my interest is the small populations of incidental catches like bonefish and Jack Crevalle.  As I type this I'm in zombie mode.  I only spent maybe one hour last night before having to wake up and make the hour and a half drive down south. 
I met Scott at the ramp at 6am and I rigged my beloved 5 weight, 7 and nine weights.  Lined with 150, 250, 350 grains respectively I was ready for war.  Scott wanted to started at some shallow eel grass flats in hopes of landing a monster halibut.  While baitfish busted around the boat all we could mange were a few lizardfish.  Having never fished together Scott didn't know I was fishing a med flex 5 weight and when I connected with my first lizardfish with the rod bent to the cork he thought I was on a monster fish.  He even asked if I need him to get the net.  He laughed pretty hard after I managed to expose the dink fish.
One of many calico of the day
We moved to the wall, now switching to my 9 weight Sage RPLXi and within the first handful of casts I managed my first legitimate fish at SD Bay.  While not the trophy we were hoping for it put a nice bend in my rod and pulled much harder than what its size would indicate.  Scott was fishing a new experimental fly which was basically a deceiver type fly with a worm bass hook.  He was after pigs.  I was using most of the time a fly I got from Calhoun when I borrowed his heavy line rig.  A goby imitation that I don't know the name of, I'll have to ask him the next time I see him.  I tied a boat load of them last night.  I lost count of how many fish we landed it must have been around a dozen or so.  All the fish were around a pound give or take.  No whoppers and no big halibut that Scott was wanting.
Tagged Kelp Bass
I did catch a Calico that was tagged.  That was a first for the both of us.  Having not kept up with happening of our coastal fisheries, there is a lot of controversy regarding whether one should report the information to the biologists.  Fishermen simply don't trust that the information will be used to help fisheries rather be used against them and thereby closing more sections of water.  There is a pretty good article regarding this found here.  I think I have to agree with that author at the end:
For those of you still unsure of whether or not this data will eventually be used by anti-fishing groups to further their campaign against us, all I can say is I'd rather give them actual data to use against us than allow them to manipulate the lack of data by making preposterous and terrifying proclamations about fishery collapse. Those moves helped get the MLPAs established in the first place.
Now lets see if I win that $200 gas gift card.  At current gas prices that will fill up the Land Rover once.  All in all it was a pretty good day despite my lack of sleep.  I now know how Chul must feel like fishing after his third shift work days.
Scott fishing in front of an "audience"
Bass Thumb, a sign of a good day.  Even taping my thumb didn't help me.
A Colorful Calico but not the trophy we were looking for.
Scott's Carp belt buckle that he CNCed himself.

Since I was on Rosecrans St.  I decided to hit Adalberto's Mexican Food on the way home and order a California burrito.  I used to come here back in my college days when I visited friends attending the surrounding universities.  While it filled my empty stomach I recall it be much better back in those days. 
Thanks for the good times Scott.  We'll have to do it again.  There's a hog or two with our name on it.
Just some of the flies I was tying like mad the night before.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Expect Changes At Bob Marriott's

The owners of Rainbow River Lodge in Alaska have purchased Bob Marriott's Fly Fishing store from Bob.  While Bob will stay on board there will be many changes.  Some are already in effect such as increasing inventory.  Others scheduled for the future are a complete remodel and the return of the Fly Fishing Fair.  Vendors and fly fishing celebrities have already been contacted.  It should be exciting times.This group has also purchased Grizzly Hackle in Montana and Kiene's in Sacramento.  All three of these stores are expected to be premier fly shop destinations if they are not already.

Friday, April 19, 2013

And So It Continues...

Early this morning before the winds picked up I spent an hour walking up and down the banks of my local brown water looking for some carp.  Clarity is next to nothing and looks like a toilet after a meal of all you can eat Indian buffet.  Not one carp was visible I did see one trout sized bass that would have been impossible to cast to since it was in the undercuts and there was no possible cast I could make due to all the vegetation surrounding me.  What a waste of time.  I'm considering putting my fly rods back in storage and just concentrating on shooting sports.  Of course that is next to impossible as right now ammo is about as easy to find as gold.  Geez, give a brother a break...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Rough Season Continues

We fished MVL this afternoon and like most of our recent outings it was brutal.  A pair of dink bass for the both of us was all we could show for our efforts.  Tight lipped bass were not  our only problem but strong winds that prevented our boat from making a decent drift and playing havoc on our casts.

Stress Relief


Despite having it for months, I finally took my Glock 19 Gen 3 FDE out for the first time at Handgun Challenge last night.  Groupings were great despite not having sighting it in after changing sights to Trijicon HD night sights.  I was a bit shocked how well the groupings were since I haven't shot the pistols since last summer.  A LAPD vet even asked me what I did for work.  He was shocked when I told him what I did, I guess he thought I was in his line of work.  One thing I still need to work on I need to stop my support side thumb from glancing the slide release so the gun can go into slide stop after the last round.  This Glock 19 actually shoots better than my other one.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's Official, This Place Does Suck

If anyone I know ever asks me "Have you ever fished Puddingstone,"  my response will be "That place can suck my..."  Seriously, I don't think I've ever hated a place more.  Chul and I hit this water one more time despite our last lack luster outing a few weeks ago.  Since Chul managed a bass on topwater and I missed two bass on my last two casts I have wanted some revenge on this lake.  Just like the last time we were harassed by Ricky Rangers that if they did not have a book of regulations their life would have no direction.  I have been on that pram more than half a dozen times when Ed owned it.  Our buddy Kyung has been on it a hundred times when Ed owned it.  Never had we ever been harassed about the decal colors or numbers on the boat, registration or anything like that.  And we've made thousands of drifts directly in front of the Coast Guard station at NHP. Never once did the Coasties who happen to be staring at us give us a hard time and yet the Ricky Rangers on this lake (who have no law enforcement capabilities) give us grief.  Fishing was poor despite seeing several good bass and monster carp.  None were willing to take a fly.  Chul missed a couple and I only had one strike the whole day that I missed.  I did have one eyeball my bluegill pattern a while but refused to even make a charge.  What a waste.  I rearranged my schedule and Chul missed out on sleep for this crap.  Never again.  I don't care if fish are jumping into the boat, I shall not return. 
Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich.
We hit Bruxie Waffle Sandwiches for lunch afterwards and while it was okay it was hardly anything to write home about.  My sister raves about this place and goes to the one near my house every time she visits California.  I really don't know why.  It wasn't bad but hardly impressive.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Only Chumps Use Fly Rods...

I guess anyone who spends money on a fly rod is just an idiot...

Are you kidding me?

That's impressive.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In Hoonie We Trust

Upon returning from their debauchery bachelor party week in Mexico, Tuck emailed Chul and I that he and Joseph are abandoning our plan to fish Dixon Lake on Saturday.  I guess they had too much of the "donkey show" and were wiped out and needed some time to recuperate.  Without the boys I was in no mood to wake up early and head south.  Chul and I debated and decided to stay local.  After some discussion we choose to fish Newport Harbor.

Even though I took a hiatus from fishing this water, I know this water.  I really know this water.  If I call any water a "home" water, I suppose it's Newport Bay.  Last year I fished it twice and it disappointed me deeply.  Those 20-50 fish mornings I expected, those that Yosh and I experienced years ago didn't materialize.  Earlier this year I asked Capt. Bill Calhoun what's the deal with this place now and he let me know that the dredging screwed up the fishery pretty good.  Since last year's outing and hearing Bill's comments I've been somewhat skeptical of this place.  Nevertheless we decided to take the pram out to check it out.  Tides were not optimal but adequate.  The skies were overcast and it was somewhat cold.  Water temps are around 50 degrees.  Not at all optimal conditions.
We managed to get on the water sometime after 7am.  Since Chul hadn't recharged his battery from our last outing, I lead him toward Coast Guard section and not to my usually starting point near the mouth.  I didn't know how much juice his had left in the trolling motor.  I didn't want another experience like Ed and I had rowing that pram against the tide back to the launch point.  It took a few hours before we got any bumps.  We were fishing in some eel grass so we were getting hung up on very cast.  On one cast I originally thought I was hung up but I saw my fly line moving away like a halibut take I set the hook.  At first I thought it was just the tide moving the fly line until I felt a shake and then the line went loose.  I stripped the line in and noticed that the leader had broke at a wind knot I was too lazy to fix earlier.  The rod went heavy and I initially thought it was just a hang up but knew that it was a fish after I noticed the break.  I put on a new leader and a white and pink hoonie fly on.  My go-to fly.

Now drifting through the moored boats my rod went heavy again.  And again I thought I might have hooked up on some eel grass and as I stripped line the rod finally shook.  I knew by the fight it must be a halibut.  I pulled him up and finally saw the 15 inch halibut.  Every time I tried to land him he ran.  He eventually turned the boat and Chul's line and mine crossed.  Right after I shook Chul's fly off my rod the halibut came loose.  After leaving this section and drifted near the Sherriff's dock I managed another halibut this time of smaller dimensions.  I managed to land this one. 
By this time the tide was starting to move albeit not as fast I would have preferred.  We drifted by the boat club and Chul foul hooked two baitfish sized fish.  Initially I thought they were corbina but after a closer look the mouth and head were obvious indicator that it was something else.  I looked at it again and thought perhaps a baby white seabass but the upper fins were different and there was no barring on the body.  We normally don't photograph our foul hooked catches but since I had no clue what it was I took a pic.  I emailed it to Ed and he let me know its a queenfish.
We moved toward another section of moored boats and after a few casts I managed a spotted bay bass just under a pound.  As with all saltwater bass this little guy pulled harder than his size would indicate.  My T&T 5 weight was bent to the cork and the little guy even managed to turn the pram as he fought.  After releasing him I made a few more casts and missed a quality bass.  It took hard and fast but I managed to miss it some how.  That fish was solid.  I gave Chul my last white/pink hoonie and told him to put it on. 
After a few drifts he managed to get one on and after he pulled him up from the depths it was another spotted bay bass.  It was about if not bigger than the one I just landed.  The Hoonie fly it never fails.  I've never been skunked on the Hoonie.  This is my favorite fly for the surf or the bay.  It is Ed's also.  We are firm believers in it because its a producer but also because it was created by our good friend.  The Hoonie has for whatever reason lost favor among the SoCal surf/bay fly fishers.  I'm not sure why that is, I guess it's because it's creator, Kyung Kim, is in fly fishing exile and that all his friends (Bill, Webb, Joe, etc.) including myself and Ed don't fish the surf much anymore, so no one is really promoting the fly.  All the new surf fly fishermen have gravitated to newer flies but they are missing out.

Chul and I fished some more and missed some nice fish before calling it quits after our casting deteriorated to crap.  After loading the pram into the truck we headed to Crow Burger Kitchen on the way out for a Crow Burger and duck fat French fries.
The Crow Boy Burger
Duck Fat French Fries

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's Going To Be a Bad Trout Year In Our Local Mountains

Not even Ganesha could help us.
A nice trout that refused everything we threw at it.
Fishing has been rough lately.  Bass have been inconsistent and lately rather tight lipped.  So this afternoon we decided to see how our local trout waters were doing this year.  Trout fishing proved not much better than bass fishing.  Actually it was worse.  Water is low and most of the downstream water is gone.  Fishing was tough and Chul and I only managed two dinks a piece.  I lost a solid fish twice as my leader sucked and broke off at the fly both times the fish took.  Chul desperately casted to Hog Johnson that played Chul like a fool.  Rough fishing all around.  The quality we saw last year in our local waters has diminish drastically.  Trout fishing here at home is gonna suck.
At least someone is getting some action...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Snow Peak Cutting Board Set

Awaiting at my door when I came home today was another Snow Peak item.  This time it was the Snow Peak Cutting Board Set M.  The set consists of a natural wood cutting board that folds in half by a piano hinge and houses a Japanese made knife held there with strong magnet.  It's perfect for outdoor adventures that will prevent the knife from rattling while driving off road.  Rubber feet located at each corner prevents the board from moving around while chopping or slicing.  Snow Peak recommends rubbing olive oil to the unfinished wood which I did tonight.  The blade is thin and made of stainless steel with plastic handles riveted to spine.  The set comes in two sizes medium and large.  I ordered the medium and will be perfect for lunchtime use.  Generally field lunches for me are a more simple affair usually consisting of sandwiches or cheese plates.  So the smaller blade and board will work well for slicing salami, tomatoes, cheeses and the like.  It also fits quite nicely within my Engel fridge cover's front pocket so its readily accessible when its time for a quick meal.

Snow Peak Hozuki Lantern

USB port can be used to power the light
Fashion forward looking lantern
The look at the light.
In table top mode
At 100 lumens the lantern does well lighting up a room
Lit up
Without a doubt I'm a fan of Snow Peak products and when the Hozuki Lantern came out, it's intrigued me.  As my REI 20% coupon was about to expire,  I choose to use it on this Chinese paper lantern and Hozuki plant inspired fashion forward led lantern.  At about $90 before discounts, it's not a cheap light.  Lighting is variable with three brightness settings allowing up to 100 lumens at high power.  The light can be used as a candle placed upside down with even flickering with the wind.  Unlike most led lanterns made today, it is actually made in a first world nation while that may not mean much to some, it's a big deal for me.  Four AA batteries power this light and depending on setting allows for 8-80 hours of operation. 

Pro:
  • Bright and at 100 lumens, it lights up a tent or campsite brightly.
  • Unique design.
  • Can be powered by a mini USB but not rechargeable in this mode (which is a con).
  • Made in Japan.
  • Hanging hook allows more hanging options than most lights.  Can be hung on branches, doorways among other places.
 
Cons: 
  • The silicone shade can come off easily particularly when turning the light off and can be somewhat a pain to put back on properly.
  • One button for all settings is a pain.  I prefer simple on and off buttons, not ones that you need to tap, hold down, etc. to turn it off is a turn off for me.
  • The bottom open face exposing the bulb means if I'm hanging it from my tent when laying in a tent and look up I'll be blinded by a light at 100 lumens.
  • Candle mode maybe more gimmick than practical.

For me the jury is still out whether it's worth the price tag.