Fishing trip to Jurassic Lake in Argentina

Denis Isbister from Wild Fish Wild Places tells us about his incredible, yet strenuous fishing trip to Jurassic Lake in Argentina.

“The southern end of the Patagonia region close to El Calafate is one of the most unforgiving and inhospitable areas I’ve ever visited in my fishing career. Dry, windy, barren and all around tough conditions make it a much uninhabited area, with the exception of sheep ranches and GIANT rainbow trout!”

According to Denis, Estancia Laguna Verde is the home base of operations for Lago Strobel, or as most have come to call it “Jurassic Lake.” The lodge has many fishing lagoons and depending on the time of year, the creeks are full of great fishing opportunities. Most people go there to chase the big trouts.

Denis, along with his buddy Martin, a 6 year veteran to Elv lodge, decided to make a hike one day to an area they call “the island” and the “aquarium.” Only a small handful of people have fished it the entire season due to the difficulty of the hike. It’s a 3-mile hike over treacherous boulder piles and slick rocks. The guys main focus was getting to the lake to go fishing.

 

Even though the guys were tired from hiking they were determined to go fishing. The next day they drove as far as they could and loaded up their packs for the day. As they made their way down the giant boulder field crawling over rocks, and jumping in between crevasse’s they could hear the splashing of fish eating on the surface. That alone was enough to kick the adrenaline in to overdrive and keep them moving toward their first spot called “the island.”

“As we approached our spot Martin spotted the first fish immediately and lined Dreu up on the mark. As he pulled his olive jig fly loose from his rod and made a cast it was almost automatic, like the fish have never seen a fly….oh wait they haven’t! The fish turned with reckless abandonment and ate the fly like it hadn’t had a meal in a week. The fight was on the fish got airborne 4 or 5 times and made some fast runs finally giving up to the net and Dreu had his first 12 pounder of the trip”

 

 

The morning went on like this for a while with more 8 to 12 pound rainbows getting landed. For the smaller trout the Okuma Celilo rod and the Okuma Inspira reel was used. For the larger trout the Okuma SST Trout rod and the Okuma Helios reel was used.

Denis decided he wanted to explore the area a little so he took his producer and started walking around. “We found a great spot high on the rocks with a deep water shelf within close proximity, perfect for big fish! As we looked around we spotted a nice fish cruising the shoreline and started making some casts to it. After a few rejections we changed colors and started back in with an olive bead head wooly bugger with brown hackle and a brown tail. I made a few casts and finally he bought it, the hook set and the fight was on. This fish knew the game, he immediately took me into the closest rock pile trying to break me free, then the next rock pile and again the next rock pile. This went on for 3 rounds in 4 different rock piles as I chased him one direction trying to keep him locked in when finally, I tired him out. Martin came to the rescue with the net job and landed this Jurassic Lake monster of 18 pounds.

What a day for a hike!

Fishing with Captain Joe Testa

Capt. Joe Testa, owner of No Fish Left Behind Fishing Guide Service has been fishing since he was a little kid. “Fishing for me is more than a business, it’s a passion and a pursuit. I love to catch fish, and I love to help other people learn how to catch fish. One of the keys to helping people catch fish is having the right equipment. That’s where Okuma comes into the picture. We started using Okuma rods and reels and fell in love with them right away. A rod and reel combo in the Helios series weighs around 10 ounces. These lightweight combos are super sensitive and yet have the ability to land big fish.”

Capt. Joe has two locations where he likes to guide. Inland lakes in Michigan for walleyes using super aggressive techniques, and The majestic Lake George in upstate New York where he focuses his efforts on beautiful smallmouth bass and monstrous lake trout.

“This past summer we expanded our repertoire on Lake George when we started jigging for lake trout in deep water. We used spoons and plastics and found the Helios 7’ MH spinning rod paired with a Helios HSX-30 spinning reel to be the perfect tool for the job. We caught a lot of nice fish, including some fish that had to push the ten to twelve pound mark.”

“The baits we used were pretty basic. Our most successful plastic was a 4-5” minnow style bait on a 1 oz. Old Fart Lure jighead. With lake trout, your two best colors for plastics are white and white! We used Garmin’s LakeVu HD ultra maps to find key areas to fish – mostly looking for humps coming out of deep water.  We scouted for humps that topped out at 80-90 FOW often with 100-130’ of water around them. Often the key was to scoot around the humps looking for fish and drop down right on top of them. If that didn’t work, we would work the edges of the hump where active lake trout were trapping bait up against the rocky bottom.”

 

When it comes to catching big fish Capt. Joe loves using the Okuma Helios rod and Helios spinning reel.

The Helios 7’ MH gave me a super lightweight rod with a lot of backbone to set the hook in 100 feet of water and the Helios HSX-30 reel’s super smooth drag performed flawlessly when a big trout would peel off a pile of line as it dove for the bottom. We love to expose clients to Okuma rods and reels because we believe in their products.”

“We would love to expose you to these products if you are ever in the Lake George area and want to tangle with a big Laker!”

Joe Testa

No Fish Left Behind Fishing Guide Service

www.nofishleftbehind.com

www.nofishleftbehindmichigan.com

instagram – @nofishleftbehind

facebook – No Fish Left Behind

Okuma Captain Spotlight- Keith Denette – The Constitution

We had the chance to sit down with Captain Keith Denette of the sportfishing vessel The Constitution who runs part of the year out of San Diego California, and part of the year out of Puerto Vallarta Mexico.  Keith owned and ran the Maximus for many years until it went down, and built quite the business on that boat.  Known for comfortable trips and big fish, Keith has come full circle in the industry, and we are proud to have him as part of the Okuma family.

Okuma- How long have you been in and around the fishing industry?

Keith- My whole life. Been Rodin reelin’ since I was 4. Had this crazy addiction to catch fish. Got a little serious when I was 11 years old when I worked on the Ellie M for Bob Levy in 1982 as a deckhand and deckboss Jon Barriqutro showed me what was up. Mom did not like me working on sportboats.

Keith at Fred Hall Long Beach

O- What got you started?

KD- My Father introduced me to river and lake fishing. My brother hated fishing and he would always take him over me. Totally sucked. He was 5 years older then me but  that was ok. Still found a way to fish the docks and beaches.

 

O- You have been a key player in the San Diego Long Range game for quite some time.  What are some of the boats you have worked on?

KD- Never been a key player at all. Always did what is right and always put my family and crew first. The rest falls where it needs to go. Always exceed our anglers expectations and never short them. Small boat knowledge when I was a kid mostly out of Channel Islands harbor Sea Watch, Ellie M, Morning Star, New Bluefin, Estrella. Worked my first yacht at 20 yrs old. Then it went all uphill from there. Channel Islands, San Diego, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. 40 to 72 footers. Calico bass to Giant yellowfin tuna. Bought Nicole and I our first home on Marlin tournament winnings at Catalina Island.

Constitution Yellowfin Tuna Puerto Vallarta

O- Clearly you had to work your way up to becoming a captain, and one of the premier captains at that, but what duties did you have along the way that most aspiring Sportfishing captains might not know they may end up doing? 

KD- Cleaning heads, vomit, etc.

KD- Still clean vomit from time to time. There is no rank on my vessel. Get it done attitude. If you wait for some one to get the job done for you. You may not have a job when we hit the dock. I have lived a life of cleaning and customer service. I have instilled it in my children and they follow it daily.

Constitution Yellowfin Tuna Puerto Vallarta

O- What year did you purchase your fist boat, and how did that all come about?

KD- Bought serveral skiffs not boats. Rod and reeled seabass and halibut and always enjoyed being on the water. My son Hunter wanted to work on sportboats and I chose to work with him and teach him right. We ran a 6 pk job in Channel Islands. Fished exclusively seabass and halibut. Purchased the Maximus together with the profits in one season together around 2007.

Constitution Yellowfin

O- With so much time on the water and south of the border, what made you take a serious look at the PV area and focusing your business on that area? 

KD- Fished Cabo San Lucas for a few years and had a great opportunity to run a 32′ Topaz for a highly respected friend from Ventura. He gave me the first opportunity to fish giant yellowfin tuna on my own. Been fishing Puerto Vallarta for 200 plus days a year for years then I can remember.

Constitution Yellowfin

O- The Maximus was well known as THE premier PV boat if you wanted to get down and catch big fish regularly.  How long did it take you to establish yourself in PV and gain a steady following?

KD- It took time. I was born In Port Hueneme California and my mother was born in Mexico City. Most of my family is from Guadalajara. I was able to get duel citizenship and start a business without any problems. I enjoy employing the locals of Puerto Vallarta. There I was able to get permits to operate.  I would run trips with 2-4 anglers. Whoever could get the time to come down I would run and take them fishing.  Very little food was put on the table at that time. Our family stuck together and made the best of what we have. May have not been the best desicions in life or the standard way of operation but I gave it my best. I give all the credit to my friend Brandon Hayward for showing me the light and released the first article in Western Outdoor News. Multiple page write up “Cow Fishing Vegas Style”

Constitution Double

Constitution Yellowfin

O- With what happened to the Maximus a couple years ago, did you have a plan to get back into a boat right away and continue on?  Was there some hesitation?

KD- Yes there was some hesitation. I was in a sort of depression. Not knowing what will happen. First time Nicole and I were unemployed and needed assistance. I was ready to take any job and do what ever it took to put food on the table and hang on to what we had. A fish Market came to mind. What turned the table was our solid customer base that insisted we keep the deposits for our upcoming season. They some how knew I was not out of the game. They were willing to wait a couple years for us to find the right boat. That inspired Nicole and I to find something that was safe and larger then what we had.

Sword Fight

Constitution Sportfishing

O- How did the purchase of the Constitution come about?

 

KD- Nicole and I walked the docks in San Diego and literally spent every day, all day on yacht world, dockstreet, and every resource we could find online. All it led up to was disappointment. One after another seemed we could make this one work or another. I had this crazy feeling a sportboat was going to pop up on the screen. Never happend. We made a full asking offer in Ketchikan Alaska to find out the seller got cold feet. One wall after another. Then one day we had lunch at a hotel in San Diego on our regular drives to San Diego and I decided to contact Frank Ursitti.

Constitution Sportfishing

O- Now that you guys are in full swing, how many trips a year are you guys running down in PV, and up in SD?

KD- Not sure how many trips I run. Honestly I leave that to my wife Nicole. All I know is I work everyday from Oct to May. Do some maintenance in May/June then I run everyday at the end of June to October. I think I’m on the water a little more then 300 days a year.

Triple

O- It has been incredible to see such huge fish coming over the rail regularly for you guys.  What is it about you that brings monster fish to the boat?

Monster Yellowfin

KD- Patience. We are always changing our game here. As conditions change so do we. I am constantly messing with the rigging that we use. I think we discuss as a crew what leader we should be fishing on every trip. Hook size, reel size, leader size and so on…I give credit to my crew. Stand alone we have the best operators, Deckhand’s and chefs available. Proud to have the same crew up to 10 years. Our passengers see it and feel it when they come onboard.

Western Outdoor News Cover Shot

Bottom Fish Too

O- As tackle has evolved over the years, is there anything special that you look for in gear? 

KD- Absolutely. Without the proper tools we have nothing. We have the funding to buy anything available on the market. I could care less what this company wants to give us this and that. What we have chose to work with is by far the best tools we can use to land anything that swims in these waters.

 

Rail Rod

O- Clearly your clients are looking for an incredible experience, and gear makes the trip. Are there any go-to set ups that you grab right off the rail?

KD- Sure. Plain and simple. Cost effective equipment that gets the job done. Okuma Makaira 30’s and 50’s is what we have onboard. Love to see a Makaira 50 narrow. I think that may be a game changer. I could see us with 50 narrows, topless 50’s and 80’s in the future.

Makaira SEa family

Makaira internal look

O- Anything else you’d like to add about you and Nichole or the Constitution business in general?

KD- Well she is my soulmate. We have been together since she was 15 and I was 16. We started a rockcod/shrimpfly gangion business when we were 17 years old. I worked in the fishing industry all my life. We have children. Our Daughter Isabella is 16 years old and my son Hunter is 19. Hunter just passed his 100 ton Captains course. NIcole answers the phone. Gives all of our angler all the nessesary information to guide our anglers to the best experience they can have. She never had the opportunity to fish the Maximus and she just got her first experience on the Constitution and got to experience how easy a female can come down and have a chance to catch a giant yellowfin tuna. Well she caught a 185 and a 302 lber. First time on her own boat. Pretty awesome I may add..

 

To find out more information on booking trips for giant tuna aboard The Constitution, please visit their website at https://constitutionsportfishing.com/

 

National Walleye Tour Round 1 with Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

         Okuma Inspired Fishing and Savage Gear Pro Dan Hassevoort is gearing up for round one of the National Walleye Tour in Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie. The National Walleye Tour is the top stage in professional Walleye fishing and Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort knows what it takes to be competitive fishing against the world’s top anglers.

 

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Radio: So Dan where is your head at right now just before you leave for a tournament of this magnitude?

Dan: Well, right now it’s all about getting the right gear together to be prepared for anything at this time of the year. You could find yourself jigging on the reef systems for spawning females or trolling deep water for the big females that already moved off the reefs. It’s all about timing and you have to assess the situation once you get there. My trolling arsenal is composed of the Okuma Cold Water Low Pro files CW-354D paired up with the Okuma Dead Eye Trolling Rod DE-CBR-861-MT.

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Radio: Why is this particular trolling combo so important to you and your fishing?

Dan: You need a rod that is versatile so you can be pulling planer boards and crank baits at one moment and then change up to lead core or snap weights. The DE-CBR 861-MT allows me to do all of that. The Cold Water Low Profile CW-354D gives me the perfect retrieve speed to get those big females in without horsing them but not taking too much time to allow the Walleye to work itself free. The low profile has enough line capacity to hold up to three colors of lead core which is more than enough to target the deep water tournament winning walleyes.

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Inspired Fishing Pro Dan Hassevoort is a former 2008 FLW Angler of the Year so winning is nothing new to this angler.

Radio: I understand that you like to jig deep reefs.  What is the best program for jigging the reefs?

Dan: I like the Trio 20 paired up with the 7 foot Dead Eye Jigging rod DE-S-701-MFT – I like the longer rod because I can vertical jig this rod and  it gives me a good casting range for throwing cranks baits or Savage Gear Fat Vibes over the top of the reefs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Radio: What kind of baits will you be using at this tournament?

Dan: Well, with the water being as cold as it is now I think crank baits will probably be the ticket. Trolling the Savage Gear 4 Play on lead core will be a go to bait along with the Savage Gear Manic Prey. If I am fishing on the reefs the Savage Gear Fat Vibes are pretty effective along with the Sand Eels on lead head jigs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

 

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Radio: Lake Erie is home to some of the biggest Walleyes in the country, so Dan, what is it going to take to win an event against the world’s top anglers?

Dan: Well my target weight for two days of competition for five fish is going to be 40 to 45 pounds which is a difficult task but that’s what it is going to take to win this event along with some long runs across some brutally rough water.

Dan Hassevoort

Dan Hassevoort

 

Dan Hassevoort has been on the Okuma and Savage Gear Pro Staff for a couple of years now, and has made us very proud up in the Midwest. 

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Wire-to-Wire Victory for Lassagne at the B.A.S.S. State Championship

Weighing limits of 13-10, 11-10 and 12-4 at the B.A.S.S. Nation Regional Championship, Mark Lassagne from San Ramon, Calif. On the final day edged out Rod Brown and Jason Hemminger as the California State Boater champion advancing to the B.A.S.S. Nation Nationals. Lassagne also earned the A.R.E. Top Angler award of $250 as the top-finisher, using the brand’s truck caps.

lassagne_BASS_Western_Championship

Lassagne stated he had one goal this week, which was to win his state and advance to the Nationals for a shot to compete at the 2017 Bassmaster Classic. He added that he was very proud of his travel partner Michael Coleman who earned the non-boater championship for California. They will both be traveling back to the national event together.

“The practice session at Lake Mead started out tough,” said Lassagne. “I only landed a few fish each day, but those few fish gave me the confidence to expand on what little I found.”

The key was fishing into the fish rather than what’s happening right now. So many times we fish the fish that are biting right now, but are moving away from that pattern. Lassagne figured with the nice weather the fish would be on the move to spawn, but he knew most anglers would be targeting the usual spawning places. With that in mind he decided to look for the out of the way spots, those subtle places that others wouldn’t look. Each day after boating a limit, he had to search for new water for the next day as each of his spots only held a fish or two.

“I found all of my spots using my 1040XS Garmin,” he stated. “The depth shading option on the Garmin was the key. Since the lake was over a 100 ft down, the normal mapping would show the coves going way back but with the depth shading you could see exactly where each cove ended.”

Lassagne’s fish were caught in less than 2 ft of water on a 5 inch, green pumpkin Yamamoto Senko.

The western pro had his plastic wacky-rigged on a Gamakatsu #2 dropshot hook with 10 lb braid married to 8 lb Sunline fluorocarbon spooled on a 7 ft, medium-action Okuma Helios spinning rod and a 2500 Helios spinning reel.

Helios Spinning

 

“The Helios set up played an important role in my success as I needed a sensitive rod and a reel that could make a long cast,” added Lassagne. “I would position the boat about 30 yds. from the back of a cove and cast the open-hook Senko on to the bank. I would drag it in the water to about a foot deep, wait for about 30 seconds, make another cast and then head to the next cove.”

Helios SPinning Rod

 

Follow Mark Lassagne on Facebook www.facebook.com/marklassagnefishing or at www.marklassagne.com

 

Marine Bass Angler – Mark Lassagne, from San Ramon, California is a popular pro bass angler, former US Marine, outdoor writer, guide, promoter and top competitor. In addition Mark is the editor-in-chief of Bass Angler Magazine

Target Big Fish on Makaira Popping Rods

By Capt. Rich AntoninoLarge Catch

 

There is nothing quite like hooking a fish and saying to yourself “is this fish too big to EVER land?”. That is the game that we play every day off of the coast of Massachusetts when targeting Bluefin tuna on spinning gear. It’s not fishing for rookies. It’s the type of fishing that can be equated to big game hunting, but with a spinning rod, not a gun. I’ve been doing this for a living for a decade and I have seen some of the greatest improvements in tackle heavily influenced by our efforts and experiences.

First, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight! When we see a school of Bluefin tuna feeding, there are times when 500lb fish are feeding alongside 100lb fish. The gear that can handle a 100lb fish will crumble under the battle that a true giant will unleash. As a field tester for Okuma, I’ve pushed tackle past its intended uses and through its comfort zone. I’ve broken enough reels and bent enough rods to know what works and what doesn’t. I’m proud to say that the Okuma Makaira popping rods are the real deal. They can handle whatever you throw at them.
How big is too big? 305lb Bluefin tuna? This fall, we landed an 82” beast on a Savage Gear Sandeel. That is the biggest that we have landed so far, but that’s not the part of the story that is important, nor shows how good the rods are holding up. We landed that fish in 65 minutes while fishing in 500’ of water. That is to say, we KICKED THAT FISH’S BUTT HARD AND FAST! This is where quality tackle and experience plays a huge part in fighting these fish.

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The best example of fighting a fish came several years ago, when a customer hooked his first tuna on spinning gear. He wanted to fight the fish solo. He had plenty of experience using light tackle for striped bass and bluefish, so he knew how to use drag to fight a fish. His battle took 85 minutes and the fish was….62” long and about 135lb. It was a great fish, but… I told him that if he knew how hard he could push his gear and had the experience of fighting a big fish like that; he would have landed it in about 15 minutes. He didn’t know what he didn’t know. After hundreds of tuna, I know what you have to do to land these fish.
The right rod. The right reel. Strong braided line. Perfect knots. The right hooks/hardware. And more people to help you fight the fish. This is what you need…
Have the right rod with enough backbone to lift that fish during a tuna’s famous “death circle”. The Makaira Popping rods are affordable (about $219) and tough enough for this. I have no doubts as I have tested them harder than probably anyone on Earth. A 7’6” rod is great for casting and doesn’t give up anything when it comes to fighting a fish around the boat.

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Fight the fish with enough drag to stop it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s not uncommon to fight a fish with 30+ pounds of drag coming off of the reel, and then palm the spool to increase the drag and turn the fish’s head. If you have never held a spinning rod using this much drag, try it. Use a “Cush It” to lessen the stomach/groin pain from the butt of the rod, or use a gimble. Remember that 30lb of drag running away from the boat is a different feel than 30lb pulling straight under the boat! When that fish is under the boat, never let the line hit the boat and watch the angle of the line to the rod to avoid “high sticking” which will usually snap the rod right about the 3rd guide… Your pulling power is best from “5 to 3” on the “universal clock”. To maximize this technique, think “get one crank”. You’ll hear the best captains yelling “get a crank!!!” over and over. Short strokes gain line. Remember that. Each crank is 4’.. When that fish is buried 50’ under the boat, you only need 12 cranks to land it.. Even better…get 24 half-cranks quickly. When that fish’s head turns, DON’T LET UP!
I have used many different reels to target these fish, but the list of appropriate reels to target the biggest fish is very short. Okuma is adding one to the mix that I am happy to say I have tried and successfully vetted on these big fish. It is with an early prototype reel that we landed our biggest fish to date. I fished a later prototype and it was markedly improved. I’m sure that the latest version will be even better. When it is introduced, another giant Bluefin tuna reel will be on the market. I’m excited about this reel. If you are using a reel that isn’t appropriate, you will either ruin it, you’ll lose your fish, or you’ll fight the fish for much, much longer than necessary. The rule of thumb with tuna is that “the longer you fight it, the greater your chances of losing it are” (that’s the opposite of shark fishing, but that’s another story).
100lb Guide’s Choice hollow core line from Tuf-Line. There is no room for backing; you fill the entire spool with it. You’ll have more than 400 yards of line on your reel…and you may need it all! Splice a nine foot 100lb fluorocarbon leader into the end or end it with a loop and use a windon leader. You do not want any knots connecting your leader. No discussion here. Period.
We end our line with a Palomar knot to a Spro power swivel/split ring to which we attach our lures. Once again. No discussion. This is how it’s done. We have never broken this connection.
Finally, you want help. We no longer let guys fight fish for more than 20 minutes. If you can last longer than that, you are not fighting it hard enough. There are times near the end of the battle when we are fighting the fish for one minute shifts, just like hockey. We fight these fish so hard that it becomes a team effort while landing it. Remember, it’s the thrill of the chase, the hook up, and the battle as much as it is the excitement of finally landing it.

 

joe
Get out there and have fun; in the offseason, fire away with all of your questions and I’ll be happy to help. During the season (late May – early December), I’ll see you on my boat where you can get the best lessons in person! I can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer and you can find me at www.blackrosefishing.com or on my Facebook Page

(https://www.facebook.com/Black-Rose-Fishing-105895832818219/)

My number is 508-269-1882 or captain@blackrosefishing.com. We target Bluefin tuna from New Hampshire to Rhode Island and offer full lodging/fishing packages for anglers or whole families.

For more information on the Makaira family of rods, please visit http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/rods/saltwater-1/makaira-abalone

 

Tennessee: River Monsters, Myths & Great Destinations

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Blog by: Captain Scott Manning

For over 100 years, myths and legends have flourished along the banks of the Tennessee River of monstrous creatures that live in their muddy depths. In the 1800s, tales of river monsters abounded throughout the river system, including a legend in which anyone spotting the creature was cursed. In the mid-1900s, the most popular legendary river creature became “catzilla,” a species of catfish that reportedly grew to the size of Volkswagen Beetles at several dams along the Tennessee River. There are some reported photos of monster catfish over 500 pounds during the 1900’s that seem to back up these claims.

 

What lurks beneath the placid surface of the Tennessee River ? Are there monsters in our midst? Newspaper accounts indicate divers, while cleaning out the intake to a local power plant, had to be rescued from the murky depths by EMS crews. Found floating and unconscious, they reported catfish so large that one of the divers was sucked into the giant bottom-feeders mouth, only to be spat out. The most common bait shop story states that a dam repair man goes down to check for cracks in the dam. He sees a gigantic catfish that could swallow a Volkswagen Bug whole. He comes up from the murky depths of the lake and never is a dam repair man again.

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However, the largest catfish in North America are blue cats, and the world record blue catfish caught in in 2011 weighed 143 pounds. While many of the world’s largest freshwater fish are located outside of North America, several large species can be found in area rivers, including blue catfish and flathead catfish. An angler better have stout tackle when doing battle with these beast. A Okuma Battle cat rod teamed with Okuma Coldwater reel will do the job just fine.

The Tennessee River, covering more than 650 miles in the south ranks at the top of most catfish & striper anglers “Bucket List”. The Tennessee River is formed at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers on the east side of Knoxville, Tennessee. From Knoxville, it flows southwest through East Tennessee toward Chattanooga before crossing into Alabama. Watts Bar Lake is a reservoir on the Tennessee River created by Watts Bar Dam as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority system. Even today, it remains one of the top catfish destinations in the US. Cabela’s King Tournament Trail holds a annual 2 day super event here each spring. Located about midway between Chattanooga and Knoxville, the lake begins as the Tennessee River below Fort Loudon Dam in Lenoir City, Tennessee and stretches 72.4 miles to Watts Bar Dam near Spring City, Tennessee. The Clinch River connects to the main channel of the lake at mile 568 near Southwest Point in Kingston, Tennessee. The partially navigable Emory River connects with the Clinch near the TVA’s Kingston Steam Plant just upriver from the meeting with the Tennessee. Including the Clinch and Emory arms, Watts Bar has 722 miles of shoreline and over 39,000 acres of water surface. Minor tributaries include Poplar Creek, Caney Creek, and White’s Creek. The lake contains several large islands, most notably Thief Neck Island, Long Island, and Sand Island.

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Fort Loudon Reservoir, located on the Tennessee River at Knoxville, is the uppermost in the chain of nine TVA reservoirs that form a continuous navigable channel from there to Paducah, Kentucky, 652 miles away. Fort Loudon is a popular recreation destination, known for boating and monster catfish. The tailwater area immediately below the dam is an excellent site for viewing a variety of waterbirds, including herons, cormorants, gulls, osprey and bald eagles.
The reservoir is connected by a short canal to Tellico Reservoir on the nearby Little Tennessee River. Water is diverted through the canal to Fort Loudon for power production. The canal also offers commercial barges access to Tellico without the need for a lock. Barges passing through the Fort Loudon lock carry about half a million tons of cargo a year.

Area attractions include the Oak Ridge Atomic Museum of Science & Energy, Dollywood Theme Park and Gatlinburg. In May of 2014, The Animal Planet TV Show filmed Season 7 episode 1 of Finding Bigfoot. That particular episode is still one of the highest rated watched shows in the world. World-famous Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge is a must-eat location as well as Calhoun’s BBQ on the river. I recommend Oak Ridge, Lenoir City, Kingston and Harriman as motel destinations with plenty of places to eat and not far from numerous boat ramps; such as Caney Creek Marina, Ladd Landing, Concord Marina and Tom Wheeler Park.

So if chasing legends or real world monster catfish is on your “Bucket List”; then East Tennessee and the Tennessee River system is a Can’t-Miss destination. Feel free to call Captain Scott Manning (865) 680-7672 for information ranging from area sites to guided fishing opportunities. Bring the kids; this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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Winter “Steelhead-ing” in the Real Northwest

 

Article by: Jeffrey Goudreau

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For those of you that know me, I am normally living in the far north fishing for northern pike, lake trout and other northern trophies.

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But recently I have moved to the Pacific Northwest of Canada on the Skeena River watershed to learn a new fishery and get out of my comfort zone a bit. The fishing here is open water year round and offers anglers interested in Steelhead, Salmon and other trout a heavenly playground to explore with trophies of all species. A bit different than the -50 degree winters I have been used to for the past while. A welcomed change!

The days are short here now. Typically I am at location for first light to maximize my days on the river. The day’s low temps are ranging from 0 to -5 degrees Celsius and a high of + 4 Celsius. The rivers are at their lowest of the year and allow an angler to learn all of the nooks and crannies before the spring floods the banks. So my strategy is to collect as much data during this period to allow me to map all pools, runs and areas that will be used for holding positions by salmon and steelhead later in the season.

 

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Up here there are two ways to fish big steelhead…Spey…And non-Spey.

I am not a purist of anything really. I try to avoid adopting this mentality because I feel as though it limits your life’s experiences and ultimately your trophy count once you’re on your deathbed. I once was walking downstream to my lodge room, after fishing on one of the best Arctic Grayling rivers in the world, with an amazing 50 fish plus day with multiple fish over 25 inches. I came across this guy that was casting dry flies. I asked how his day was going. He said, “lost a small one…but on the dries” as though that last bit was to be more meaningful than the fact that he was skunked, while on the best river in the world, for the species we were both after. I had a beer with the guy later and debated this topic. He wouldn’t budge and held steadfast to the idea that a dry fly caught fish was a better fish in some weird way. And I realized the downfall of stubbornness in anglers that night and will always remember this as a life lesson of what not to become. You do what it takes to get the fish in the net. Gear, bait, fly or bow and arrows. You learn to be efficient with any tactic and you learn how fish react and move in all conditions. Period.

Lately I have been working on learning the tributaries of the Skeena River. It is one of the best wild steelhead and salmon fisheries in the world. I’m finding fish ranging from 23 inches to 37 inches and on the hunt for a true 40 incher. The average weight seems to be 8-11 lbs and the fish are what seem to be majority summer run fish, full of color. There are silver “fresh-ies” lurking about in the mix and new runs beginning at the lower portion of the rivers in higher numbers now.

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Typically I am working walking pace water or tailout sections of a pool floating pink worms, egg patterns, beads and various jigs. The key is to have a decent expanse of this water condition. The smaller slips of water don’t seem to have fish in them or at least not for long during this period. They are congregated in larger numbers together in areas and are getting ready to spawn presently. Within just a few weeks this will begin here and most of the rivers will shut down for spawning.

I’m using two different Okuma rod and reel combos. A T40x TX-C-1092ML with a low profile Cedros and a Guide Select Float Rod GS-S-1363FR with a Trio 30S. The float rod allowed me to work my floats much easier at far distance than the T-40x with its extra length and was a smooth rod for hook sets and action. Awesome feel with big fish spooling out line. The T-40x allows for me to feel all strikes and to move big fish out of the heavier current. Also a very smooth rod. I’m super impressed with these rods and will be grabbing some larger sizes to deal with the larger salmon entering the rivers in upcoming months.

Lessons learned since getting onto the big “steelies” up here… Do not forget your net or you will spend most of your time warming your hands while you should be fishing…There is no substitute for good quality gear when dealing with big trophy fish and numbers. Enjoy life while you have it and are healthy!!

 

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Bait Fishing For Trout- Tips and Techniques

When it comes to bait fishing for trout whether it be here locally in one of our many Southern California lakes, or fishing in the High Sierras, there is specific proven method for “bait and wait.

For decades I have been a big fan of the Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder reels, especially the model 20. When coupled with an Okuma SST rod you have a combination that simply cannot be beat in either price or performance.

The Avenger 20 Baitfeeder is perfectly matched for 2 to 4 pound monofilament line. There are two things to remember about trout. First, they can be line shy which is why lighter line and fluorocarbon have become more popular when fishing for these critters. The second thing to remember is that with newer lines comes renewed faith in breaking strength. Where our concern for breaking off fish urged us to go to 6 pound line in the past, modern lines have incredible breaking strength. I have personally landed a number of double digit trout on 2 lb. line. You have to play the fish a little longer on lighter line in order to tire them out, but then again, the battle is half the fun!

So why do I like Okuma Baitfeeder reels so much? Trout tend to be lazy at times and furthermore need to be given proper time to eat the bait. Before the advent of bait runner type reels, we used to screw loose our drags so that when the fish picked up the bait he could swim with it and not feel any pressure. Key to remember was to screw the drag back down before setting the hook. Too often either excitement would over-take sensibility or the angler forgot to reset the drag, or else hastily set it too tight, both resulting in lost opportunities.

Using the Okuma Avenger 20, which by the way is the perfect size and is the only reel of its kind made by any reel manufacturer, everything is preset. Set your drags perfectly and loosen the bait feeder mechanism to its lowest setting which allows line to come off the reel freely when a fish picks it up. All you need to do then is simply turn the handle and set the hook and you are ready to fight your fish!

 

Lightning and Super Trout Fin & Feather

I often fish at the Palmdale Fin & Feather Club where I have been a member for the last 6 years and rely faithfully on this set up: A #6 or #8 Mosquito type hook, bullet weight ranging from 1/16 to ½ oz., small bead and Carolina Keeper. The reason for this type of set up is that it allows for the length of your leader to be shortened or lengthened on the fly in accordance to where the fish are holding.

Here is how you rig it. First, slide the bullet weight or sliding egg sinker on to your line. Next, slide on the small dark colored or clear glass bead (optional). I like this little addition as when you cast your line and it hits the water, when the weight slides against the bead it makes a slight “clicking” sound which often attracts fish. Many times I cast out using this method and get bit instantly. Following the bead pinch and slide your Carolina Keeper onto the line. By simply pinching the keeper and sliding it up and down the line, you can quickly adjust the length of your leader. Finally, tie on your hook, that’s all there is to it.

Now, what do you put on the end of the hook (kind of important right)? There are two methods that work with single hooks, both which work very effectively. Live bait (night crawlers) and Berkeley Mice Tails. Realizing that there are other manufacturers who make similar baits, the reason for the Berkeley brand is that they float. This is very important as bait which sits on the bottom of the lake won’t get bit no matter how bright the colors. Speaking of colors, best combinations for the Mice Tails are pink tail / white head, orange tail / chartreuse head, orange tail / white head and white on white.

When these artificial baits first came out, the tendency was to thread your hook right through the head. This still works okay, but my friend Dave showed me a better way which seems to get more action. Try threading your hook through the “neck” of the Mouse Tail right below the head. Doing this allows the bait to float off the bottom head up, tail down and will bounce up and down with the current.

If your preference is to fish the “bacon” as my buddy Jason affectionately refers to night crawlers, then remember that presentation is key. In order to present a night crawler to a trout in such a way that he will want to eat it, you will need 2 proper tools, a worm threader and a worm blower. Some people like to use the whole worm, but I prefer to use half and then the dark half of the worm as opposed to the lighter half. Call me superstitious, but another friend Big Fish Mike (I know, I have a lot of friends who fish), showed me this method on Lake Crowley the first time we ever fished there. Let me tell you, it made a big difference.

Once you have broken the worm in half, carefully thread it onto the worm threader by inserting the threader just behind the worm collar (this is the light section of the worm just about in the middle which divides the two halves of the worm) and thread it out the section that you have just cut. Once you have threaded your worm onto the hook this allows for air to be injected into the night crawler with the needle pointed at the un-cut end. There are many chambers in this section of the worm all which will hold air insuring that your bait floats off the bottom. Again, fish are not attracted to bait lying at the bottom of the lake.

Some anglers choose to tip the hook with either a salmon egg or even a bright colored Power Egg making it similar to the Mice Tails. Either way, one last important ingredient is to add a strong scent to your bait. Garlic, corn and anise are all commonly used attractants. The boys at Bite On have developed an old family recipe that I swear gets bit 10 to 1 over all other bait attractants. Try their Garlic, Crimson (Garlic with a red tint which helps in stained water) or Maize scents.

The final thing I will touch on is what to do with your rod once you have cast out your bait. You don’t want to miss that bite you have been waiting for all day, so to that end I like to put the odds in my favor by having both a visual as well as audible indicator. When the fish picks up the bait aggressively and starts swimming away with it, the audible part comes by way of the sound the Okuma Avenger 20 makes as line is singing off the reel. However, trout don’t always bite like this and in fact, sometimes swim towards shore rather than away from it. This is where a strike indicator comes in handy.

Strike indicators are easily made with simple household items such as an old wine cork or even an empty Easter egg left over from the kid’s big hunt last year! Simply attach a paper clip or small piece of wire to the egg or cork which will allow it to hang from your fishing line. Once you have cast your line and the bait has settled to the bottom reel up all of the slack and then set it into your rod holder (no need to hold the rod in your hands). Be sure to lift the Baitrunner mechanism at the back of the reel which allows for the line to come off the reel without resistance and now gently hang the strike indicator on the line about in the middle of the rod. When the fish picks up your bait and starts to swim away with it, before line starts coming off of the reel you will see the strike indicator pull up. Conversely, if the fish is swimming towards shore the indicator will begin to fall down.

Trout season is just now starting here in the southland and before you know it the Sierras will be back in business, God willing and the snow falls this year of course. Wherever you wind up with a line in the water put these quality Okuma products and techniques to use and catch that wall hanger!

Article by Brett Edmondson, Santa Clarita, CA
Submitted November 2015

Cody Wakefield Lands 420-Pound Blue Marlin- Solo

Check out this fantastic story from Cody Wakefield. What an awesome email to receive at our Ontario, California headquarters.

I started out in the early morning of October 1st 2015. Headed out of Oceanside Harbor solo in my 20’ Skipjack around 7:00am with only three rods on the boat. Got the killer bait: sardine, anchovies and mini-mack mix. All 4-6 inches, the prime bait for the smaller tuna/dorado that we have been catching at the time.

Thankfully, a radio call was answered or Cody Wakefield might still be somewhere off the coast of California.

Thankfully, a radio call was answered or Cody Wakefield might still be somewhere off the coast of California.

My mind was set on a wahoo. Landed a nice 70#-80# fish two days prior, so i set out with my mind on a wahoo…

Cruised for 25 to 30 miles or about three hours for nothing. Then finally, I ran into two nice kelps about 50-yards apart from each other, so i pulled right in the middle of the two and tossed a few live baits in the water and instantly watched fish boiling on my bait.

Tossed one on a hook and landed a nice 12-15lb dorado, On the second bait that hit the water I landed a 8lb yellowfin tuna. The 3rd bait, another yellowfin tuna- 4th bait yellowfin tuna- 5th, 6th, 7th, every bait that hit the water was inhaled within seconds of hitting the water. Had the tuna wide open in the corner….
Started having fun throwing bait in the corner watching them do what they do and act like piranhas. At this time two big 10 or 12 foot hammerheads are chasing tuna, doing circles around my boat. I’m still chumming the tuna, watching this show in front of my eyes unfold and just enjoying every minute of it. In the meantime I’m rigging up a shark leader, hoping a wahoo is gonna swim through here next and I might just try and bait a wahoo….. DREAMING BIG!
So I get done Rigging a 9/0 hook on a 175# steal shark leader. Tied the shark liter onto a clip swivel to straight 125-pound Spectra with only about 250-yards of line. Tied that onto the heaviest rod I had on the boat, a 5’5” Sabre Stroker Lite, 20-50lb weight with my Okuma Titus TG-15 two-speed.

At that point the two hammer dogs were gone so I proceed to keep chumming the fish in the corner and get them all stirred up and they were still there. I pinned on a bait to catch another tuna to hopefully pin onto my shark rig and hopefully a wahoo would swim by and eat it.. still dreaming big.

My bait is in the water about 10 seconds and not bit. Within the blink of an eye the craziest thing happens. The tuna ball up under the boat and act like a frightened bait ball and swim really fast all bunched up in different directions. Here comes swimming through a massive blue marlin all lit up and colorful under my boat chasing tuna. I wind in my bait the marlin gives it a look as he is now chasing my chum and hanging out around my boat giving me a full show of his magnificent colors. I honestly did not want anything to do with this giant creature, but then again I am a fisherman at heart and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of my eyes….
I pinned on a fresh yellowfin tuna from my fish box that was still freshly colored. I was not gaffing the fish so there wasn’t much blood or a wound on them. I then dropped the tuna straight back under the boat and watched it flutter down with a beautiful shine.  It didn’t get 30 feet under the boat when i see the Blue come cruising through with his mouth wide-open and the tuna disappeared into his belly. I let him eat it for 10-15 seconds and put the reel in gear and set the hook with all i got and it was GAME ON!!!!!

Fish finder lit up with some major fish.

Fish finder lit up with some major fish.

First thoughts that went through my head were “OH SHEEP, HERE WE GO,” I’m in for a long battle. I fought this fish and drove down on him for the next 30-minutes while we fought each other for our lives. At this point It was to hard to drive down and reel on him at the same time. I figured that I had heavy line and a big hook so I pinned the drag down on that Okuma as tight as she would go and let him tow me around.

Titus Gold two-speed getting run out of line by the big blue.

Titus Gold two-speed getting run out of line by the big blue.

It was a battle of a lifetime. I had this fish hooked in the belly and injured him pretty good within the first hour of the battle. He was about 50 feet under the boat doing giant death circles which was a little scary going from one side of the boat to the other. I didn’t have any idea how i was gonna get the fish on the boat so I eased up on the fish and got on the radio on Channel 72 where all the local skiff guys talk. Got Some help from another guy, Kevin Stewart, and about 30-minutes later he boarded my boat.

It's bittersweet when a billfish dies, but the young man won this sea battle.

It’s bittersweet when a billfish dies, but the young man won this sea battle.

I fought the marlin another hour or so and finally reeled him to the surface where he floated upside down and we stuck two gaffs in him, tail wrapped him and tried to get him on the boat but we couldn’t. Kevin Mattson and one of his buddies jumped on my boat and helped us get the fish on.

Adrenaline was through the roof at that point. I literally laid on that fish kissing and hugging thanking it for giving its life… But the fisherman won this battle. 

Blue Marlin

Cody Wakefield weighs his 420-pound blue marlin that died during the fight.