Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday fishtale...Forth of July plaid

Here's a "Throwback Thursday" post from Forth of July 2008...

Cal and I have been talking about doing a marathon boardfishing day...parking a car at one beach and launch at another beach about a mile and a half north.  Plans were to hit the outside of the kelp where the big boats play, stand-up boardfish with the drift all the way down to to the other beach and then make our re-entry at the nice mellow flat beach. We decided that the 4th of July would be THE DAY!

At 5:30a we met up at the beach...a line of cars and RVs already waiting for some slumbering park ranger who would probably open the gates an hour later.

I left my car in the empty restaurant parking lot hoping it would be there when I got back and piled all my stuff into Cal's van for the trek north. 

After a few pleasantries with the local AM boys in the lot we hit the water.   We high tailed it through the thick kelp and hit the outside by about 6:15a. Gorgeous sunrise...some fun looking waves (I was trying to ignore them and not get swamped on the paddle out) but not a lot stirring...

Conditions are perfect...glassy and not a lick of wind. It stayed that way for most of the day. I found a nice open channel in the kelp for some fly casting...

It couldn't have been glassier!

Made a few cast down the edges of the kelp and low and behold...plaid! I think a buddy gave me the lucky fly at a Trout Hugger's Ball. Good mojo!

Did a lot of paddling and a lot of casting...unfortunately not a ton of was slooooooooooow. The benefit of standing up paddling is that you can see cool stuff like a kelp crab hanging out on top of the kelp. (remember I'm a marine biologist so non-fish ocean creatures are cool too!)

About midway through our trip we find a nice honey hole...Cal's already caught a few plaid and cudas a bit further out to sea but now we're seeing a little more consistency. The tide's filling in and water's starting to move. Now we're starting to see a bit more bait. I get this nice plaid on a swimbait.

With bait cruising the surface I bust out my fly rod again...and BAMMOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Fish on! I did my best to keep it out of the kelp...a tough chore as this horse drug me around...2.5lbs of beautiful checkerboard!

Cal had borrowed my "Green Bean" rod that I bought just for kicks at Fred Hall this past March. It's about 15" long, rigged with 6lb. and absolutely zero backbone for fighting fish...but what the heck! Cal's got good mojo and pins a 3" swimbait on. Low and behold...he's full bendo!!!!

Whatever it was swam straight into the kelp and after numerous attempts to coax it out Cal gave it one last pull and the swim bait comes flying out of the water...without it's tail. I'm thinking...small cuda (Cal had already caught several) but most likely a fish of the plaid variety.

After all the "hot action" Cal breaks out some snacks and we hang in the kelp for a little R&R.   Then Cal cruises off in search of more prey...and he finds it...mack and more plaid on the Green Bean!

After that the fishing was a little slow with Cal pulling in a few more small plaid but nothing for me. The surf was up a bit as we cruised into Cardiff. I fished the inside for a few minutes...but with head high sets rolling through I called it a day...5.5 hrs after our launch...and headed home for lunch and a nap on the couch. Lots of fun...I can't wait for the YT and bonita to move in closer to shore.

 The story in pictures...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baby Tarpon in Campeche, Mexico

Wow, it's been FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR to long since I last posted.  I’ve been busy chasing a now 3 year old so my fishing time has been, to say the least, limited.  Two weeks ago I took my first vacation with my husband without our son to the Yucatan Peninsula. My husband has a fly fishing TV show (Conway Bowman’s Fly Fishing the World on the Sportsman Channel) so we were there to shoot two episodes…all tarpon…all the time!

My goal for the trip was to:

1)       Catch a tarpon…baby, juvenile or adult…I didn’t care.  I just needed one!
2)      Catch a tarpon on my stand up paddlboard.  I’ve bene thinking about this for YEARS!  Flats and mangroves are ripe for the picking with a  stand up paddlboard (SUP).  You can access areas that are tough to access with a boat, sneak up on your prey and fish with very minimal amount of gear (this could be a drawback however!).
3)      Relax, do nothing and lay in a hammock on the beach.

The long and short of it was…that’s exactly what I did.  The details…

First half of the trip (organized through FlyTreks ) was to Campeche on the NW corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Lodging: Ocean View Hotel - two stories - no elevator, super clean, great service, big rooms, pool, restaurant open early for fishermen, quiet, free shuttles to town, and close to Walmart if you forgot anything!  (Yes, Walmart!) I advise you bring your own coffee if you like good coffee both regular and decaf.
Fishing:  Baby to juvenile tarpon ranging from 5 to 40lbs in the mangroves and open water from pangas (or SUP)
Time of year: Early May
Weather:  HOT…HOT and HOT…95-98 degrees with 98 percent humidity.  Light breeze in the morning and 10mph+ by the afternoon.  

Tackle: Orvis 8wt Helio II with Mirage reel.  Floating line and 30lb tippit.  Flies varied…tarpon toads…cockroaches…surface poppers.

We never got the offshore juveniles in the 20-40lb range due to wind but the smaller ones in the mangroves were awesome!  They ranged from 5-9lbs. and they were plentiful...and I mean plentiful!  We were either sightcasting to rolling tarpon or blind casting to areas where tarpon would stage up and ambush prey in key spots in the mangrove.  From the time we hit the water until about noon it was game on!
 Making TV!

 Conway is up first!

 Making more TV!

 Loving those jumpers!

 Baby poon!

 My first one to the boat!

 Open water delight!

My biggest was found in the open water!

 Another juvenile poon.

 Hidden mangrove cave holding lots of baby poons!

 Poon bubbles!

 Conway got one in here...tough casting and fishing with the tight quarters!

 Hooking up on my first tarpon on my SUP!!!

I had to sit down in order to use my legs to backpeddle the fish out of the mangroves as I fought it.

 Fish on!

 It's a jumper!

 Landed it amidst a tangle of line!

 I was so stoked!!! You're looking at one happy fisherman...woman...whatever.

 Always released!

 Hooked 4-5 more that all jumped but spit the hook. This was my favorite photo captured by my husband.  Lots of factors working against me on a SUP...very little leverage to set the hook, get towed around by even the smaller fish, limited space for even a pair of pliers or extra tackle and feet dangling in the water that could attract other species.  But it was all totally worth it!

The boat launch was across the street from the easy, convenient and the hotel had awesome air conditioning!

 This thing got destroyed after a few fish slammed it!

 The colorful and historic town of Campeche. It was sacked by "pirates" over and over so they built a wall around the city.  There are also lots of old Maya ruins in and around town. 


We went through several of these...slow stead strip then BAMMO!!!!!!!!!!!!  Strip strike and just hang on for the jump!

 Tarpon toad, Helios II and Mirage reel...the tarpon slayer set up!

 Fighting one!

 Cockroach fly...another proven winner!

 Typical afternoon delight...fresh shrimp ceviche, mango with chili sauce and ice cold beer. 

Next blog will be the second half of the trip on Holbox Island on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Stay tuned...

Thanks to Fly Fishing the World, Orvis, Hobie Stand Up Paddleboards, Columbia Sportswear and Kaenon Eyeware!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last boardfising at Swamis

With the Marine Life Protection Areas kicking on January 1, 2012 in I decided I HAD to paddle out for one last boardfishing session on New Years Eve. I needed a few photos to show my son Max when he's 20, "This was the last day Swamis was open for hook and line fishing." Perhaps by then there may be some new regs that allow for alternative year closures so we can still enjoy the area every 2 or 3 years...perhaps.

The area has been fishing well all year. My friend Ty either surfs, fishes or both almost every morning. He was regularly getting 20-40 fish...calico and sand bass in the 2-4lb range with 5-7lbrs not uncommon and even pulled up and released 3 40-50lb black sea bass (probably the same one I'm guessing). Calvin from Boardfisher nailed three thresher sharks from the area this summer and of course the party boats did their usual pillaging all season as well.

I put the word out about the final paddle out and, well, no takers. Clearly the holidays and everyone's busy schedules kept them away so Conway and I loaded up and paddled out. Surf had picked up and was running head high and slightly overhead sets but luckily that is the beauty of easy channel to help you get out past the breakers without getting swamped.

The thick clearing fog was actually pretty neat to paddle into...a little ominous with random lobster boats appearing out of the fog. Here's Conway on his way out...

Fishing was actually fairly slow with very little tidal movement but as the fog continued to clear the day turned into a gorgeous sunny day. Here's Conway chillaxin' in the kelp...

I managed a beautiful calico in the thick of the kelp with a lead head and swim bait...

As the tide peaked and water movement came to a dead halt we picked up and decided to head out to look for whales and other marine life. About half a mile south and another quarter mile paddle west we found what we were looking for...spy-hopping grey whales. Unfortunately they were still another half mile away so photos just don't do it justice. We just sat and watched as the gorgeous beasts played offshore launching themselves out of the water and landing with a huge splash and a wave of their tail as they sunk below the surface only to repeat it over and over for about 15 minutes. It was quite the spectacular site and although I wished we were closer it was something I've been wanting to see for years on my stand up paddleboard.

As the seas calmed and the whales continued their migrations to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez we paddled back to Swamis for a few more minutes and a few last casts. I dropped a big ol' swim bait to the bottom and bounced it along the bottom hoping to hit something on the head when I got the tug I was waiting for...well, a little tug. Then more tugs...and my line went tight. Super stoked to end my illustrious 2011 fishing season at Swamis with a nice fish I reeled this nice sand bass in. It was our nanny's birthday and she jokingly requested a fish for her present as we walked out the door earlier that morning...this bass was for her. I normally CPR (catch, photo and release) my fish but seeing as this area would be closed indefinitely I figured it was ok to take this one home.

I was sad as I paddled in but remembered that hopefully some day Max, Conway and I will paddle out here and be able to catch big calico, white seabass and halibut out in my favorite kelp. If not, I have a lot of good stories to tell Max when he grows up...and a few photos too!

Not sure where my next boardfishing adventure will happen but trust me...there will be more! I hope everyone had a great New Years!

Happy 2012 fishing everyone!