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Project 602 - Fishing
 
Project 602
(Food, fun, and the bizzare in Arizona)
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Underwater Fishing Camera
Posted - Jun 30th, 2014 6:30am
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There is something endlessly appealing to me about seeing things underwater.  I'm not bored of the world above by any means, but like seeing things in slow motion - everything is cooler underwater (a phenomena certain to be studied by future generations).  So it should be no surprise to anyone that I decided to bastardize an action-cam and try to use it as an underwater video camera on a recent fishing trip to Lake Powell.

I'm not sure why I didn't try this before.  I've had my little GoPro Hero for a year or two now.  I just never considered the option to drop it in a lake.  For the record, these things are supposed to survive up to about 200 feet.  Something I probably should have looked up before I left...

Regardless, I did learn a few things:
  1. You really need 2 lines to guide an underwater camera.  Having just 1 causes the thing to spin and makes it hard to keep it pointed in a single direction.
  2. Underwater videos work best when the camera is pointed slightly up from the bottom or slightly down from mid-water.
  3. Not being able to see the results of your filming till you get home from your trip sucks.
  4. Due to the bubble lens on the older GoPro's like mine - the autofocus doesn't work right underwater, and everything you film will come out blurry.

While it was still a fun experiment, the reality is that it didn't work out very well.  I blame everything above for the weird, blurry, boring videos I made on this first attempt.  I have attached a couple of them to this post below.  I have also been looking around for other solutions.

Turns out there are a few commercial options like the Aqua-Vu.  At first, this looked like it solved most of the problems I encountered.  It has a live view screen, and its designed with a little fin on the camera to keep it moving in 1 direction.  Unfortunately, after emailing back and forth with their staff, it became clear that the reason their website doesn't list things like camera and screen resolutions, is that they are waaaaay behind the technical curve.  $500 is just too much money for a 640x480 camera and a 320x240 screen to view it on.  The GoPro for comparison, has a max resolution of 1920x1080 and costs about $200 and my phone has a resolution of about 4 gazzillion googapixels.

Other companies do offer higher def models.  If you have 6 grand you can even buy a remote control submarine to film for you.  There are also a nearly endless number of professional solutions if you live in a fortress of cash...which I don't.  Fortunately, there seems to be another option if I'm willing to undertake another project.

The newer GoPros come in a case that films just as clearly underwater as they do on land.  Additionally, they come with a wifi transmitter that can use your phone or ipad as a live screen.  I originally asked my friend Hunter if this would work underwater and got an authoritative lesson in 2.4Ghz technology.  Short answer - No.  Long answer - it should be possible to use a waterproofed coaxial cable to transmit from the water to viewing device.... at least for 50-60 feet... in theory...

So now I just need to get a new GoPro, buy some coax cable, waterproof it, come up with a rig that lets me control the depth/angle/direction of the camera within its case, and go fishing again! Doable - but it will have to wait.  I'm currently working on a few other projects.  For now, feel free to checkout the blurry, green, underwater world of Lake Powell in the videos below.
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Lake Powell Spring 2014
Posted - Jun 28th, 2014 1:35am
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I really love Lake Powell.  Just when I think I've seen all it has to offer, I have another great trip, and another new experience.

My dad and I have been fishing mostly 'down' lake by the marina/town for the last few years.  I'm not really sure why other than its easy.  Well that and we can stay at the local motel and get a hot shower every day.  This time though, we opted to fish for a full 3 days and stay on the lake for a few nights.

Lake Powell is big - maybe not great lakes big - but its big enough that you can boat in 1 direction flat out for 4 hours and not even get close to the other end.  Staying on the lake and bringing extra gas is basically required if you want to get anywhere near Dangling Rope marina (sort of a half way point in my mind).  So we packed on a couple 5 gallon cans, our sleeping bags, a few bags of Fritos, and set out.

We got an early start on thursday and headed up lake towards Friendship Cove.  The lake was down a bit so the 'cut' - the man made channel that lets you save about an hour or two getting to Padre bay - was just a little too shallow to get through.  So we took the long route.  Along the way, we tried fishing at the Cookie Jar, a place or two in Gunsight Bay, and some random points in the channel.  Nothing but deep blue water and worn out casting arms.  Things were much better in Friendship Cove though.

The water was a little green, warmer (@68 degrees), and it didn't take long to find some pretty decent stripers.  We tried a few different locations, but caught most of our fish anchored in about 35 feet of water - fishing at about 20 feet with everything from anchovies to worms.  The bigger fish(4-6lbs) were occasional pickups, but it was pretty easy to tell when a school would swim by.  We'd pick up 1 to 3 fish in rapid succession, then nothing for a half hour, then it would happen again.  It made for some pretty entertaining fishing.  At one point my dad had a striper wrapped around the anchor line, while I had one on in each hand.  I was trying to reel one in with my teeth when he finally got unstuck and grabbed one.

Sleeping was great.  The air was a little cold, but the sky was clear, and the stars were beautiful.  I crashed out each night watching the milky way and listening to my audio book - pretty much the best thing ever.

We didn't bring back any trophies, but we did manage to boat some small and large mouth, a bunch of stripers, a few catfish, and even one walleye which my father pulled out of navajo on our way back.  I also had some time to try out my GoPro as an underwater video camera.  Will post on that later.  For now, check out the pics below and I'll try to upload a video of our trip back through the cut.  Couldn't have been more than 18 inches deep - my dad is nuts.  He's also a great fishing buddy.
 I took this pic as we headed up lake the first day.  Considering this was the main channel around 9am the lake was smooooooth. Its terrifying how deep that lake is - the depth finder reads 1115 feet.  Do not drop your keys. Where we hung out in Friendship Cove the first day.  My old man with a pretty decent striper and a pretty silly hat.  Me with a slightly smaller striper but an absolutely fabulous hat!  We tried fishing these dead trees for crappie but couldn't find a single one. We returned to our original spot, kicked back, and enjoyed the warm sun and cool breeze. My dad - the fishing dwarf.  Sunrise on the last day - such an amazing place.
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Fishing Lake Bartlett June 2013
Posted - Jul 8th, 2013 9:53pm
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It had been far too long since my dad and I went fishing.  So even though it was screamin hot, we decided to head out to lake Bartlett to try and catch a giant flathead or two.

Bartlett is looking pretty good this year.  The lake is full unlike the last few times we've been there and its full of shad, minnows and other bait fish.  We went on a Thursday so we didn't have to deal with other boaters either - pretty much the perfect conditions.

We started off the afternoon by catching bluegill around the docks.  No clue why flathead like the spiny little monsters but the bigger the better and after an hour or two we were all set.  We then traveled up towards the north/river end, found a cove to anchor in and set out the underwater light.

The cycle is always the same - first the plankton show up right on the light.  Next come the minnows that start circling round.  The shad come by a little later and dart in and out of the light.  Then if your lucky the big fish start showing up to chase the shad.  I know that doesn't sound that exciting but its always fascinating to watch and is one of the reasons (along with the absence of sunlight) that night fishing is so fun.

It took a little while, but the bigger fish did eventually show.  Around 9pm we picked up our first crappie - one of the largest I've ever seen.  Then it was one here, one there, until we boated our 30th around 2am and called it a night.  We did put out some bluegill for flathead but it was a half-hearted effort after such a good night and I think we were both just happy to crash out under a starry sky.

We tried bass fishing for a little while in the morning and did catch a couple of small ones but it was crazy hot so we cleaned the fish, packed it in, and called it a day.

I'm kind of ashamed it had been so long since my dad and I had been fishing.  I hardly ever meet anyone who goes in my line of work and its even rarer to find someone who will fish all night then get up and start again at 5am.  Thanks dad for takings me fishing.
This is from my dads last trip to Bartlett - its the kind of flathead we were hoping to catch.... mabye next time Flat, sunny, and hot - a perfect Bartlett afternoon. Rushin up the lake at sunset My dad testing the early morning topwater bite. The first and only bass of the trip Fortunately the crappy fishing was a whole lot better :) Its a crummy picture - but a fantastic fish.  That dial reads 2.5 lbs! The stringer was so heavy this is the best my dad could do to lift it!
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A Cold Day At Saguaro
Posted - Dec 20th, 2009 5:13pm
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With all of the other silly crap I've done this year, I've been neglecting the local fisheries.  Even though its been cold and rainy, I took this last week off and couldn't resist heading out to Saguaro with my dad.

We both knew that fishing wasn't going to be epic, but since neither of us had been to Saguaro in many years we decided to make a day of it.  The 2 of us headed out Wednesday morning for what was a seriously cold day on the water.  We didn't leave early, maybe 7:30, and when we arrived there was only 1 other car/boat there.  Something kind of eerie/cool about having a lake all to yourself.

Saguaro is very close to town so if the weather isn't crappy its usually full of jet-skiers and Sunday boaters - not great fishing conditions.  In a way then, these kinds of days are the only way to fish the lake.  Times when no one else wants to be there.

We headed east down the canyons to get out of the wind right off the bat.  In the decade or so since I've been on the lake, things have changed quite a bit.  The lake has become much greener, trees and tall grasses have overgrown what used to be sandy beaches and flat camping areas.  It was also a lot smaller than I remember.  That phrase seems to keep haunting my trips to our lakes here.

The fishing wasn't much to speak of - only really had 1 bite all day.  With that few people though, the wildlife were out everywhere.  Herons, falcons, ducks, we even saw a brief fight between a bald eagle and a pair of red-tails.  The whole place was quite peaceful, something I'm sure happens there all too infrequently.

We did manage to get a few bites over by Butcher Jones Beach.  Almost certainly from trout they had dumped in the lake recently.  In the end, ever fearful of crowds :) - we headed in as the sun finally came out and a few more boats showed up.  A cold but amazing day on another majestic Arizona lake.
This makes me cold just to look at it. Saguaro really is a georgeous lake.  Lots of huge cliffs like this. Another really cool canyon wall (pictures dont do this place justice) Going past this sign will cost you a prop. My money was on the Eagle, but the Hawks were up by 5 when we left. A Blue Herron stops in for a quick meal and a drink This was a desert beach when I was a kid.  I have video of me playing SmashBall there. A shot of Butcher Jones beach... kind of a creepy name now that I think about it? You can just tell that my dad appreciates my photography :)
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Oversized Sturgeon
Posted - Aug 27th, 2009 5:53pm
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On our last day in Oregon, my dad and I met up with guide Charlie Foster who spends his whole year fishing on the Columbia for sturgeon.  He takes people out for what they call keeper sturgeon (4-5ft) about 2/3rds of the year, but during this magical time he guides exclusively for what I can now say with all seriousness - Oversize Sturgeon.

As per the norm, we met Charlie at a dock called The Fishery around 6:00am just west of the Bonneville Damn.  He actually reminded me a lot of our last guide Scott - quiet, light hearted, but with a slightly serious edge.  I guess when you fish for waterbound Buicks all day long you kind of have to be?

We got a great view of the area from the second we put out on the water.  This was a much more lush environment than Astoria.  Removed some distance from the cold ocean winds, this place looked like the island from King Kong.  Giant trees, a wide rolling river with dark green water and mountains covered in mist.  It was the perfect place to house a monster.

The fishing gear didn't look nearly as big as some of the rigs I'd used offshore, but the poles looked disturbingly thick at the base.  The actual rigging was 75lb test braided line with a 3lb lead ball followed by a 150lb nylon shock leader wrapped around and thread into a full 12" shinier with a big barbless hook.  After anchoring, Charlie floated these rigs down the river behind the boat using a second pole that clipped a massive bell shaped foam bobber to the main line.  When the bait was far enough back, someone yanked on the float line and the weight/bait dropped straight down at that spot and stayed there.  Another place, another Darwinian setup.

As soon as we yanked the float off of the 2nd line, Charlie said "3 minutes" with kind of a wry smile.  Unbelievably - 2 minutes and 50 seconds later one of the poles started to bounce and a few seconds later I set the hook.

At first, it didn't seem like that big a fish.  I could feel some weight as well as the vibration from him swimming around.  Then all of the sudden this beast breaches 150 feet behind the boat.  "Its about an 8 footer" Charlie says nonchalantly and my dad starts yelling where's your camera!?  Meanwhile I start to wonder what the hell I just got myself into as I fumbled the camera out of my jacket pocket with an adrenaline clenched hand.

When the fish decided it wanted to go downstream, the line screamed out against the drag and Charlie cut loose the anchor line to follow.  It was all I could do to hang on, and for a while the fish had the rod pinned to the edge of the boat.  The handle of the pole was digging into my stomach with each move the fish made so I was only too thrilled that Charlie offered me a fighting belt.  When my dad finally got that situated the fish had turned its head and I took the opportunity to try and take back some line.

I knew what I was supposed to do -- rear back then reel down.  Only the fish was too heavy to pull back on.  Every move I made was made twice again by the fish.  I managed a few feet here or there but my back was quickly tiring and within about 10 minutes I was in trouble and my lower back was burnt up.  I had a plan though - crouch in the corner and use my legs and the side of the boat for leverage.  It worked and over the next half an hour I was able to battle the thing back toward the boat and eventually get back on my feet.

All said and done Charlie estimated the fish at a stout 250lbs.  Above average but not completely unusual(says him!).  We snapped a few pictures, released my opponent and I tried to figure out what on earth I would do if we caught something bigger?  At some point I just wouldn't have enough strength to pull back and then what... get beaten?  Fortunately it was my dads turn next.

It took a little over an hour before he hooked up with a monster as well - a 6 1/2ft dinosaur that also flew straight out of the water right after getting hooked.  My dad was consumed and at 68 he stood there toe to toe with that fish only stumbling a few times when a run caught him off guard.  A bad back, bad knees and a nasty tennis elbow were all forgotten.  This is what we came here to do and damned if he didn't take care of business.  About 30 minutes later with a smile from ear to ear he pulled the sturgeon boatside.  Another impressive fish that weighed in around 150lbs.  How Charlie could be the only guide there that day is beyond me.  We had each had the experience of a lifetime and it was only 8am.

As it turned out, the rest of the day slowed down quite a bit.  I caught a few smaller fish between 3 and 4 feet, as did my dad.  Then just after lunch, my father hooked up with a 7 footer.  This one gave him only slightly more trouble as it was heavier (@175 lbs) and ran out a ton of line at first, but Charlie was great at maneuvering the boat into a good position to help fight the fish.  I have some great video of him fighting this second fish and will hopefully have it up soon.  Its impossible to get a good photo of them boatside as they are too heavy to lift and too long to fit in the lens from within the boat.

What I really needed for the day to be absolutely perfect was to catch just 1 more oversized goliath.  All dogs have their day and this was mine fortunately, as that's exactly what happened.  Right before our trip was to end, I hooked into a solid 7ft fish that was fresh from the ocean and full of piss and vinegar.  It jumped completely out of water twice before shooting straight to the bottom then running us sideways towards shore.  These fish put you in a corner and keep you there, but I'm proud to say I didn't have to resort to any tricks this time.  Following my dads example I stood tall and got pulled down only once when it finally saw the boat and made a long run back.

This is the kind of experience that I could gush about for days.  Its pointless though really.... its something you have to experience for yourself and something that every fisherman should do at least once.  Thank you Charlie for a great day I'll never forget, and thanks dad for being there.  I couldn't ask for a better fishing buddy :)
Another painted sunrise on the water The float we used to drift the bait back. I usually fish for things about the size of our bait. 3lbs seemed like an absurd amount of weight just a day earlier. That purple lump is a 5 foot sturgeon.  Too small Charlie says! I hook up with something big. And this is me right before things turned south. I had to spend about 20 minutes hunkered down like this. I finally land a fish that is bigger than I am. A grin from ear to ear as I pose with an 8ft sturgeon. This is Charlie right after he told us we hooked up with that first fish in just under 3 minutes - a well deserved grin. I think this captures the atmosphere of the area pretty well. Another scenic shot.  That tower is an eagle nesting site. When one of those poles plummets you know your in for a ride. My dad hooks up with his first big sturgeon. Hold on pops! His fish finallly makes an appearance at the surface. The look of a happy fisherman. Photos are taken strictly on the fishes schedule.  When they are done - they just flick their tail and leave. Even the smaller ones like this put up a great fight. They are really beautiful phrehistoric looking creaturs. My dad rears back against another whopper. Charlie pulls the fish along side to measure it. This is about as far as you can lift one of these out of the water without going in yourself. We caught a few keeper sized sturgeon that day. This is a good shot of the sensors they have in their skin around their nose. I was bound and determined to keep upright on this 2nd big fish. Of course when they want to run, you cant do anything about it but hang on. The only photo I have which gives a good sense of their scale. Im still grinning like that A parting shot of [The Sturgeon General] - ha. The Fishery indeed. The actual fishery store next to the doc.
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Salmon Fishing In Astoria
Posted - Aug 27th, 2009 4:10pm
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"I've never caught a Salmon" is something I'm thrilled I can't say anymore.  It was one of of many fish I hope to check off my list in the next few years as I travel around working with various guides.  This trip was with Capt. Scott Pitts on the Columbia river in Astoria.

My father and I joined some folks from Idaho: Mike, Karl and Ela on a full day fishing trip for Silver and Chinook Salmon.  Apparently there are just a few weeks each year that you can harvest these fish in each area, so when that time comes to a town like Astoria, the fishermen hit it hard inundating the river with boats and crab pots.

We added to this fray from first light, showing up at the doc to meet Scott in some cold and seriously wet morning air.  There was a little bait shop called Tackle Time next to the boat ramp that sold licenses, snacks, and drinks.  They open when the sane world is still sawing logs and were full of sass when we walked in at 5:30.

As the sun rose, I got my first real view of Astoria and the River itself.  A massive river as wide as a lake, spanned by bridges and surrounded by cliffs and forest.  It looked as I always imagined Alaska would.  The real surprise was that the fast moving water wasn't that deep.  Occasional shipping barges were navigating very specific channels as they went out to sea.  The water was moderately warm, blue/green and just slightly salty - the result of the ocean mixing with the Columbia during the incoming tides.

The area we were fishing is called buoy 10, and I think everyone in the zipcode knows about it because they were all there.  The horizon was boat to boat on each side of us.  Scott had told us earlier that this was supposed to be a record run of over a million fish and since each angler can only keep 2 fish a day, folks show up daily to land the pricey fish.

The fishing is done almost exclusively by trolling.  Large weights with spinners are kept down in the fast moving waters by downrigger or glider.  Cut herring or spinners are used as bait and most boats which hold 5-6 fisherman put out 1 line per person spacing all that equipment out by depth.  Our guide described this kind of fishing as long periods of waiting interrupted by complete panic.  This turned out to be absolutely true as nearly every fish we caught immediately raced for someone else's line in the mass of tackle that flowed behind our boat.

Things started off slow that morning and after an hour or so Mike nabbed the first salmon on a fluke as he was pulling out his line for us to go elsewhere.  It wasn't a bad catch at around 7lbs, but it was a native so we had to let it go.  Only hatchery fish are allowed to be kept.  They clip a fin on all test-tube fish so that you can tell the difference.

The day picked up though as the tide changed.  The fish came in waves where you would sit and bullshit for a few hours.  Then suddenly 3 lines would all hook up at once.  When they did it was complete panic and we actually lost a lot of fish.  Mike and my dad definitely had the lucky seats as they each picked up 3 or 4 fish while I had a tougher time just landing a single small silver all day.

The salmon there are heavy enough that along with the current they can snap a leader as I found out after my father handed me what was probably the biggest fish of the day (upwards of 15lbs).  I felt pretty bad as you could see it thrashing about 20ft behind the boat - but that's just how it works sometimes.  If it was always guaranteed then it wouldn't be such a thrill when you did land one.

The weather changed as often as the tide did.  At some points it was downright hot and at others it was cold and wet.  One of the most interesting things we ran into was the "rip".  A standing wave where the out flowing river met the incoming ocean and created a turbulent wall of water.  Following this for a while netted us our best fish including a 8-9lb silver for Mike and a scrappy Chinook for Karl - the only one we landed that day.

We were still short a couple of fish though as the day was supposed to end.  Scott really wanted me to land a few more fish though and help everyone limit out so we actually stayed out till nearly 6 oclock running up and down a specific stretch of the river landing about 2 fish per pass.  Unfortunately we had to call it a day before I got another strike, but it has to say something great about the day that I didn't mind.  Good company, a beautiful day, and my first salmon was more than enough to hold me over till our sturgeon trip a few days later.
The Tackle Time dock in the early morning sun. Sunrise on the Columbia. Scotts son was helping out that day and joined us on the boat. Karl reminded me so much of my brother I almost called him Sam a couple of times. Ela tries to keep warm in the wet morning air. My dad with his first native - Scott was quick to get these back in the water. I spent most of the day chilling out and bundled up like this. Mikes first half of the day was pretty tough and we was thinking this bait was all he was going to catch. Boy was he wrong! Capt Scott at the helm... this dude was pretty hardcore. All the boats had these absurdly giant nets. One of the riggings sans-hook/bait A typical salmon spinner One of the reels we used - they all had line counters on them to help get the depth right. My dad and I wait out the next wave of fish. Some lucky sapp owns this amazing house on the hillside. Some cool scenery from our pit-stop back at the dock. One of the bridges that crosses the river to Washington. The USS Tetanus here is actually an operating crab boat. The run back at the end of the day was a little moist. The spread of fish we kept that day(we caught about as many natives too) My dad with his best 2 fish. Ok... so maybe mine was a little puny but it still counts! Can you guess which brother caught the bigger fish that day? The cleaning station just off the river. Prices there were fair but we packed our own fish to save a few $$ The name of Scotts boat is appropriate.  The guy really worked hard to help us catch fish.
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Another Great Trip To Lake Powell
Posted - May 16th, 2009 10:31pm
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I just got back from whats beginning to be an annual trek to Lake Powell.  For the third Spring in as many years I find myself wiped out, sun baked, and grinning from ear to ear after the experience.

From the get go, this trip was a little different from the last few.  The stripers were boycotting the lower end of the lake so we decided to try our hand fishing for large and small mouth bass up in Last Chance.  This was quite a ways up the lake for our little boat, but luckily they had reopened "the cut" which dropped the two hour trip to just a little over an hour.

We worked our way up towards the end of Last Chance and started throwing various jigs and worms that the reports had hinted at working well enough.  We got a late start that day and it showed as the morning fishing was pretty slow.  My dad pulled a nice crappie and a solitary laregmouth out of one cove, but all I could manage was a guppy sized smallmouth that we put in the livewell for later use as bait.  Its possible that a little more time in the area would have paid off, but we couldn't keep ignoring the folks paddling their bassboat down the canyon forever.

When you see a boat that's conked out in Lake Powell you have a decision to make.  If you stop to help its going to take forever to tow them anywhere(the place is huge), but if ignore their plight you are almost certainly doomed to karmic vengeance.  We oped for the prior as its always nice to appear virtuous and spent the next hour or so towing the stranded fishermen to their campsite.  They were nice enough, and told us they'd been doing well the last few days on green and crawfish colored jigs.  They even gave us some and topped off our gas tank.  Unfortunately we had pretty much burnt the morning by then, so the remainder of our efforts back in the canyons produced only a tiny smallmouth or two.

The wind started coming up as the day moved on and we fished various rock piles and boulders where we could find shelter.  Eventually we hid back in Padre Bay at a place my dad calls the Cookie Jar.  Our luck turned and I landed my first walleye on a brown curly-tailed jig as well as a few smallmouth and a leech ridden catfish.  My dad also picked up quite a few smallmouth there.  Before the day ended we decided to try a few more areas but the wind had other plans and we had to pack it in just before sunset.

The next morning we opted for a different strategy.  The only folks at the fish cleaning station who found any stripers were fishing in Navajo so we went back there in hopes of finding a few ourselves.  There were signs of shad in the very back of the canyon, but all we could catch were a few very small stripies.  We went most of the morning throwing crank baits, anchovies, grubs, and anything else we could think of.  Eventually my dad managed to pull in a fat 4-5 lb stiper on a gray/white crank bait and I matched him on an anchovy.  Unfortunately that's all we could squeak out and decided to move on and burn the remainder of our bait in Antelope.

It looked like the rest of the day was going to be rather uneventful until a fish hook decided it wanted a home in one of my my fathers fingers.  I had to watch in cringing horror as he used the worlds dullest pocket knife to carve a hole next to the hook and then smash the barb down and yank the hook out using a pair of pliers.  He finished this procedure by washing the hole out in the lake and applying some duct tape to the wound.  He then proceeded to lure a really nice smallmouth into the boat - his finger bleeding decoratively around him the entire time.

It may not sound like the best trip ever, and I'm a little wiped so my writings a bit off, but the experience there is always much greater than the sum of its parts.  The cool air, the warm sun, the post card worthy canyons; they make the journey worth the effort and keep me looking forward to my next trip back.
It was good to be back on the water that first morning This is the kind of great bass territory youll find in Last Chance. My dad with his first fish of the trip This was my first fish of the trip... (its okay to laugh) Woohoo!  Me grinning like an idiot with my first walley One of the smallmouth we pulled out of the cookie jar The lake was absolutely full of smallmouth like this Navajo Canyon on the morning of the 2nd day Can you guess which one he caught :) It took a few hours of chumming and soaking baits but I managed a nice stiper eventually The results of a little on-the-lake surgery The best smallmouth of the trip was landed using only 9 fingers A georgous end to a really great day
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BookACharter.com
Posted - Apr 9th, 2009 8:21pm
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I guess this post is a little self serving.  Of course posting about ones life even if it for the interest of others is at best an exercise in restrained ego.  Nonetheless, I've just launched a side project I've been working on for quite some time - BookACharter.com - a website that lists fishing guides and saltwater charters.

Sadly, its not going to change the world or turn stone to bacon, but its my sincerest hope that it will help make fishing a little more popular and a little easier to do when traveling around.  The idea is a simple one.  Punch in where you want to fish and what you want to fish for.  The site will then tell you who can take you fishing and give you details about all the guides and charters.  A simple concept to be sure, but it took me nearly 3 years to get the code right and the design in order.

I haven't been working on this alone either.  The idea actually originated from my business partner Marc who has helped bring this site into being and kept pushing us forward when I really just wanted to quit and do something simpler.  My hats off to him and my best hopes that his marketing chops bring the site into fruition (and make us a few extra bucks in the process).

It will be a little while before we have enough guides and charters on the site to really make it shine, but next time your planning a vacation or just get the bug to catch that fish of a lifetime give bookacharter.com a look.  After all, unless you've caught a car-sized marlin in Cabo, seen a Tarpon take flight Florida or landed a barn-door halibut in Alaska - you haven't really lived.

So check out the site if you get a chance.  I'd love to see some comments on what people think of it, and if you're really feeling generous you can toss a link on your blog/homepage/website/cat/dog/whatever - that would help a lot!
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Fishing Corpus Christi
Posted - Oct 3rd, 2008 9:32pm
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After fishing for 2 days in Port Isabel, I figured it would be time for some different scenery, and so my dad and I headed east to Corpus Christi.  It was a little shocking to be honest.  After having spent the last few days in a somewhat small vacation town, I was a little unprepared for the very touristy and chain driven city.

I probably would have found the town a little more to my liking had the fishing been better, but even though the weather had improved a little - fishing was really tough.

We met our guide, Mike Angel, at Clem's just after 7am.  The mosquitoes at the dock nearly ate me alive before we could get to the water.  Once in the bay though, the water was dead calm and we were treated to a double sunrise over a few juvenile redfish.  Unfortunately that was about all there would be besides a few scattered small trout for the rest of the day.

The original plan was to head out to the oil rigs and fish the big water for Snapper, Kings and Ling.  Unfortunately, 5ft swells were just too much for Mike's boat.  Props to him though for journeying all the way up to Baffin Bay in search of the Reds.  We traveled a looooong way and fished hard from 7am till almost 5pm.  We as well as everyone else we saw were using live shrimp and bait fish behind big "chugging" bobbers.  The technique involved yanking the bobber forward every few seconds to make it look and sound like a feeding fish.  An interesting contrast to Port Isabel where we exclusively fished with artificial lures the day before.

Fish or no fish, there were still some amazing sites out on the water.  Over the years a few people have been allowed to build what I could best describe as fishing shacks on strips of land created from dredging dirt.  Barges stormed up and down the channel from Corpus headed towards Mexico, and the water was filled with wild life.  We saw huge turtles, schools of jumping mullet, and all manner of birds.

Sun baked and wind worn, we finally made it back to Clem's "whupped".  We weren't alone though as the high waters left over from the recent storms had made it tough for everyone.  We added a few more trout to the cooler, said our thanks to Mike and schlepped back to the hotel.  There is definitely a big redfish with my name on it out there somewhere, but it will have to wait for another day.
Sunrise on the Laguna Madre Bait and/or Lunch They call these things piggies because they snort just like one.  Very odd but very lively bait. One of the barges we saw running down the channel Did I mention that these trout have monster vampire like fangs? One of the better trout of the trip. The sign says it all.
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Fishing Port Isabel
Posted - Sep 25th, 2008 8:09pm
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I promised myself this year I would start traveling more and catch these fish that I've always dreamed of.  To that affect, I went to Texas a few days early on my way to Austin so that I could go fishing with Danno Wise in Port Isabel.

I'm happy to say that while the weather threatened to squash my dreams a couple of times, we persevered and had an amazing time.  Before I get into the fishing though, I think its worth mentioning the place we stayed.  The White Sands is definitely a fisherman's hotel.  Its light on the decor and a little down and dirty, but each room has a freezer for your fish and the restaurant opens at 6am so you can eat before catching your boat at their dock! I can't stress enough how cool it was to walk 20ft out of your room and step onto the boat you'll be fishing in that day.  Did I mention that its only 40 bucks a night?  That alone practically guaranteed that I'll come back.

But enough about the high class caves that keep us warm - lets talk fishing so you'll know what I want to go back to.  The first day started out pretty windy.  We braved the initial waves and began catching "trout" almost immediately.  Using a strange float/rubber shrimp combo as well as the shrimp jig alone we probably produced 18 or 20 of them that first day.  Many were below the 20inch legal size limit but a half dozen made it over and I caught one that was nearly 3lbs.  We spent most of that first day searching for redfish but they never materialized.  What did show up on the last cast of the day though was a monster Jack Crevalle.

When your using rods designed for 4 and 5lb fish, your really not prepared to boat a tuna-class critter.  Nonetheless, as my father held onto my shorts to keep me upright in the ever increasing waves, we chased after the fish to prevent it from spooling me.  Somewhere in the back of my head I knew it probably wasn't going to happen but I kept as much pressure as I dared on 10lb test and after 2 or 3 good runs and about 15 minutes I managed to boat the thing.  We estimated that it weighed between 30 and 35lbs and after a few pictures of me grinning like an idiot on Christmas day we let the brute go.

I honestly thought the trip would all be downhill from there.  Fortunately the 2nd day my father and I each managed to catch our intended prey - a Texas Redfish.  Unfortunately, both were just below the legal size limit of 25 inches, but they were still beautiful fish.  Towards the end of the day, Danno shuffled us over towards the mangroves in quiet hopes that we could latch onto a Snook.  My dad was the recipient this time and both Danno and I knew what he had the second it rocketed out of the water.  Pops is an angler to the core and laded it without a hitch, but according to Danno they get off most of the time.  It was quite a catch and a great exclamation point to another good day on the water.

I could go on about the quirky little town, the restaurants we ate at, even the convenience store across the street that sold shoes, hats, food, drink, liquor, bait, and fresh seafood, but its a bit much.  Its simpler for me to post a few images and let your imagination fill in the blanks.  Needless to say - Port Isabel is a real gem.  At least for October fisherman, the town is nearly deserted, the fishing is great and I can speak for at least 1 guide who was a lot of fun.  I think I'll just have to make the sacrifice and go back next year :)
This was the view heading out from the White Sands on the first morning. My dad with his first good trout of the day Me with my first good trout of the day The first day became a weird combination of sunny, windy, and cool.  Not perfect for fishing but great for just being out there. Every once in a while we would latch onto these little ladyfish that would go bannanas. Danno Wise (our guide) with a nice little trout of his own. Fighting hard just to keep in the boat. I still can't believe that I landed this big Jack on 10lb test! Saw a little storm damage from the hurricane on our way back in from the first day. Texas beaches sure are different from California's.  We stopped at this one along South Padre Island. Out early the 2nd morning. My first Redfish.  I couldn't have been more proud. I guess everyones first red makes them smile :) A great pic of the Snook my dad picked up along the mangroves.  What a fish! Back to the docs and on to Corpus for our next adventure.
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