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/

 

Komodo SS-Stainless Steel

The New Okuma Komodo SS Casting Reel not only has amazing levels of drag output to take on the largest fish, but it stainless steel main gear, stainless steel pinion gear, along with its heavy duty stainless steel drive, and spool shafts offer serious power and durability.

This powerful reel can take on the largest freshwater fish like pike, musky and salmon, along with the toughest inshore species like stripers, jacks and trophy calico bass. The ALC: Rigid diecast aluminum frame and sideplates form a rigid, but lightweight platform that is comfortable to fish, and ensures consistently smooth casts and retrieves.

The Komodo SS is corrosion resistant with stainless steel bearings. It’s available in both right and left hand retrieve, and is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.

Okuma Fishing Tackle Introduces Three New “Canadian-Style” Mooching Rod Families

Mooching is a heavily-preferred technique in Canada for targeting salmon in saltwater. There is much to like about it. Long, limber rods and single-action reels create a fantastic fishing experience where every inch of line is earned and every fish a special event. Continuing a mission to inspire angler participation and enjoyment of the the sport, Okuma Fishing Tackle has proudly introduced new Celilo, Salish and SCT Mooching rods.

Each of the new rod series includes four foundational moderate/moderate-fast rod actions. Two 9’ actions include a medium power rated for 15- to 30-pound line and a medium-heavy power rated for 20- to 40-pound line. Two 10’6’ actions include matching powers to the 9’ models, offering anglers their choice of powers and lengths.

At the core of each series are smooth, responsive 24-Ton carbon blanks. The material delivers loads of inherent power, but does so over a wide-range of flex. As salmon make strong runs, interrupted by violent head shakes, the rod blanks take it all in strike with even pressure that keep hooks solidly connected.

If fishing rods were defined by actions alone, there would only be one series of rods. At each step, Celilo, Salish and SCT incorporate different components and technologies so angler can choose the exact experience that fits them.

Celilo, MSRP $64.99-$69.99

There’s an elegance to the simplicity of Celilo rods. Defined by great rod actions, workmanlike components make them accessible to all anglers at an MSRP of $64.99. The guide system includes stainless steel guide frames with titanium-oxide inserts. The handle system includes cork fore and rear grips. Reel seats hold strong with stainless steel hoods. From a pure fishing perspective, Celilo rods deliver everything an angler needs. Celilo rods are backed by the Okuma 1-Year Limited Warranty.

Salish, MSRP $89.99-$99.99

Salish begins with beautiful rod actions and completes them with beautiful components. The guide system features stainless steel frames and inserts for long-wearing corrosion-resistance in saltwater environments. Handles include two options. The first is a lightweight shrink tube rear grip with compressed cork fore grip. The second is custom 3K woven carbon fiber rear grips with shrink tube fore grips. Offering the ultimate in durability and good looks, 3K woven carbon fiber rear grips shrug off wear from rod holders, clean easily and deliver a lifetime of good looks.

SCT, MSRP $149.99-$154.99

SCT Mooching rods will appeal to those anglers who want the very best-of-the-best. SCT stands for Spiral Carbon Technology and it’s a core feature of ultra-premium SCT Mooching rods. SCT is a double helix wrap of pure carbon thread from tip to butt of the rod. Each carbon thread is comprised of as many as 6,000 micro strands of carbon. SCT reinforcement protects the blank beneath from both exterior damage, and interior stress when under load, by resisting ovaling. Ovaling is then a rod blank is taken out of its round shape when under heavy pressure. When rod blanks go out of round, they lose an exceptional amount of strength, becoming the number one cause of structural blank failure. SCT rods dramatically increase strength and durability.

Every other component of SCT Mooching rods are also the best they can be. The guide system features Fuji double-foot SV guide frames with “O” ring inserts. The handle system includes custom Okuma 3K woven carbon fiber fore and rear grips. Okuma carbon fiber grips provide a positive grip, superior durability, exceptional good looks and clean up with minimal effort.

 

Okuma Metaloid expanding its family of reels

The Okuma Metaloid has been a solid reel in the Okuma line up for a couple of seasons now capturing many a big fish.  With the incredible SoCal Saltwater season we had last year, these reels were definitely put to the test.  This year, Okuma has added left hand reels into the lineup.  We have also added a couple new colors into the fold.

The Metaloid M-5IIB

The Metaloid M-5IIR

 

Here is a video by Okuma Product Manager John Bretza talking about the expansion of the Metaloid family.

Okuma Fishing Tackle prides itself on inspiring participation in fishing and creating a better angling experience. When fishing for hard-fighting species like tunas, yellowtail, groupers or stripers there’s no greater frustration than trying to bear down on fish with the opposite hand than is comfortable.  In follow up to the blistering success of the initial Metaloid lever drag introduction, Okuma is introducing a pair of 2-speed models in left-hand retrieve for 2016. Left-handed Metaloid introductions include the M-5IILX and the M-12IILX for exceptional versatility. Additionally, both the size 5 and 12 are now available with the angler’s choice of either matching red or blue spool, drag lever and handle arm. Same incredible reel, now in full black, black/red or black/blue.

Learn more about the Okuma Metaloid family of reels at http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/reels/lever-drag-reels/metaloid
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Shore Thing Charters Continues Epic Fishing

Capt. Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Fishing Charters out of Bay St. Louis, MS sent in some great reports and photos recently of some excellent fishing down in the gulf.  Check out his most recent blog post here: http://shorethingcharters.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-boats-have-been-booked-everyday-but.html

Okuma Azores Spinning Reels Poised To Make Major Impact On Saltwater Fisheries

Make no mistake; in the highly competitive world of fishing tackle manufacturing it’s not enough to produce another “me-too” style of product that currently exists in numerous forms in the marketplace. To have an impact, new product must advance the angling experience and/or bring a new level of performance members of the angling community where it did not exist previously.

For the avid angler, this competition means that the gear available today at any given price is simply leaps and bounds better than what existed in the past.  In this healthy competitive environment, the consumer wins.

A happy group of anglers showing off the fruits of a successful albacore trip.

Within all of the 2015 new product introductions from Okuma Fishing Tackle, the new Azores spinning reel demands attention as a product of seismic level impact.  To the discerning consumer, the Azores will rock your world.

Azores design is a joint project that was inclusive of the brightest engineering minds the United States has to offer, based upon parallel goals of increasing strength and majorly advancing corrosion-resistance, Azores delivers three core advancements that make this reel not only World Class, but the Class of the World at a modest retail price that begins at $119.99.

These three components include dual anti-reverse systems for the ultimate in confident pulling power, a larger and more rigid spool shaft than any competitive reel and a three-piece carbon fiber Mechanical Stabilization System that eliminates galvanic corrosion on the interior of the reel while also maintaining pinpoint alignment of internal parts. Of course, none of these advancements preclude Okuma’s existing high-performance features anglers expect:  Dual Force Drag system, aluminum body, sideplate, rotor and knurled-arbor braid-ready spool, water tight multi-disc drag, seven stainless steel bearing drive and high-density gearing.

As Azores approaches its release to the retail markets, we’ve pulled together some commentary from our product testers in the field.

“We’ve really been on a terror this week with the Azores reels,” said an excited Mark Coleman, one of Okuma’s West Coast-based product testers. “We’re up to 50+ albacore on the one and 30+ on the other. The third has about 20 fish. All reels are functioning like new. In the big scheme of things that is a lot of tuna on one reel. More than any of the others I’ve tested! Honestly this is the best saltwater spinning reel I’ve used.”

The Azores is right at home on both inshore and offshore waters.


West Coast Okuma Capt. Bob Woodard displays a quality dorado taken on the Okuma Azores reel.


Paired with an Okuma Maikara spinning rod, the Azores makes a sweet combo for all kinds of hard fighting fish.

“The Azores Z-65S is everything an angler looks for in a reel,” noted Jason Schall, another key Okuma tester based out of Charleston, SC. “The corrosion-resistant coating and gearing, the Mechanical Stabilizing System combined with the water tight drag seal is perfect. The rigid aluminum body and side plate give it the strong, solid, heavy-duty look and feel on the outside that it also is on the inside. I caught over 250 fish in a week on this reel, with most of them large sharks and very large redfish. One of the redfish I caught was only 3 inches from a new IGFA length record!”

In Southern California, Okuma tester Capt. Bob Woodard has been putting the Azores to use on one of the best SoCal saltwater seasons in a decade. Woodard has scored numerous yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and some quality dorado on a spinning set up consisting of the Azores 65-size reel paired with a Makaira MK-C-701M spinning rod.

While the majority of fishing for yellowtail is done with conventional outfits, Carmen Macdonald and Brandon Cotton, both part of Okuma’s Marketing front, switched it up a bit while on a recent fly-in trio down to Cedros Island, BCS Mexico.

Azores doing work in the surf on a quality striped bass.


“You might see a few guys on a sportboat fishing spinning tackle for yellows, but most guys are gonna be using conventional tackle most of the time. We’d caught a good amount of the forkies on conventional tackle already, so we figured let’s mix it up and tag a few on the new Azores spinners,” said Cotton. “I tell you what, that reel is extremely strong and stable, and the drags are super smooth and powerful.”

The new Azores will be shipping to retailers starting early November. Check out more information, plus watch the complete product video, here at http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/reels/2015-new-reel-series/azores.

Okuma and Savage Gear sponsored Tribute Sportfishing 2.5 day report

What started off as a 2.5 day coastal trip for Ling Cod and the possibility at some yellowtail, turned into an absolute epic trip for VERY early season offshore pelagics. After hearing a report a week earlier that the Sportfishing boat, The Eclipse, got into some unexpected yellowfin tuna, our trip aboard the Tribute filled up fast. With a limited load of 28 passengers, this spacious vessel out of Seaforth Landing in San Diego, was the place to be. Once the reports hit, the boat filled fast.
When we all arrived down at the boat after work on Friday afternoon, we arrived to overcast skies. That in itself didn’t damper any of the thoughts of tuna and yellowtail that were filling the anglers minds.

Sunset view while at the bait receiver in Mission Bay


While anglers were getting signed in up at the landing, we took the boat on over and got her filled up with primed sardines, anchovies, and mackerel.

Pulling up to the bait receiver in Mission Bay


Scoop after scoop of cured, primed bait came over the rail. This was really good looking stuff too!

A big scoop of Sardines getting dropped into the tank.


Back at the dock, anglers were lined up and ready to get on board and start the journey. As the team of anglers was boarding the Tribute, they were greeted by Dave Brown, Promotional and Events Manager for Okuma and Savage Gear. He was in the galley handing out swag for the trip.

Swag for the trip included, Okuma Hats, Savage Gear Beanie caps, Okuma Rod Wraps, Savage Gear T-Shirts, and stickers.


The time came to shove off, and off we went. After hearing the reports the plan was to make the long trip down to fish offshore day one, and if it didn’t look good, we’d head inside and fish coastal or islands for yellowtail.

Tribute gets ready to pull away from the dock and make the journey south.


The boat departed about 9pm and off we went. We had about a 160 mile run south to start to get into the fishing zone. Along the way we saw plenty of sea life. Dolphin, Porpoise, and even a huge pod of Sperm Whales were sited. We all got a some rest that first night and when we woke up, well, we still had quite a ways to go. We were getting some reports of early fish from boats that had gotten down to the zone earlier, and it sounded really good. We were all getting really excited.
We dropped the trollers back mid day, and started the official trolling rotation shortly after that. About 3pm, we found what we were looking for. A nice pod of dolphin that were holding Yellowfin. Yellowfin…this is May right? Crazy! From that jig strike we only got a couple fish. No bait fish came up. Captain Mike Pritchard made the choice to pull the trollers so that we can get on down to the zone and not be stopped by 1 and 2 fish jig strikes. This was a great call. Once we got down into the zone it went crazy. Fish were spotted all around. Deep sonar marks, breaking fish, etc.

One of the day one fish that ended up being one of the biggest fish of the day. Caught on an Andros 5 mounted on a Makaira rod. Good fight, but worked that fish to the surface.


Here Jake is holding up a nice Bluefin caught on the Andros and Makaira combo.


Day one went on and we ended up with a pretty impressive count of about 35 various tuna and a handful of yellowtail

A look at a few of the fish for day 1 laid out to be cleaned and jackpot awarded.


After fishing was through, we all headed in for a delicious meal prepared by Tommy.

The first dinner was pork roast. It looked and everyone said it tasted absolutely delicious. You couldn’t even get these guys to look up for a picture they were so focused.

Hard day of fishing followed by a hot meal.


After the amount of fish we saw around the area, capt Mike made the decision to stay in the same spot. We put out the sea anchor and drifted the area until dawn.
When the sun finally came up, we started fishing. We trolled around a bit for jig strikes that came fairly regularly. Some jig strikes would turn into a 10-20 fish stop. The decks were getting pretty bloody, and the fish hold was filling.

After a jig stop.


On occasion, we would stop on some deep meter marks. The Bluefin would come up charging the boat. Some of these stops went on for a good while.

An anglers getting his bluefin to gaff. The Andros was the weapon of choice for this fish.


Andros getting it done again on another nice fish.


After getting a few fish in the box, it was time to have a little fun. I got some fish on bait and some fish on the slide with Savage Gear Sand Eels. It was time to take out the Komodo 350’s and put a whoopin’ on some Bluefin.

Dave Brown with a nice Bluefin taken on the Komodo 350 and Shadow Stalker rod.


The fishing just went on and on. We took every second of that extended trip to take advantage of MAY tuna fishing. It was incredible.

Here the Cortez 5 and Cedros Coastal rod did the trick. Artificials worked great on this trip as well.


I had some raffles, gave away some prizes, and even had a contest. Biggest fish caught on one of the Okuma set ups won a new Cedros Coastal Rod. Lots of anglers tried out the gear, and from what they said, we even have a couple of converts.
Here are two winners of the Cedros Coastal rods.

Okuma prize winners.


After stretching it out as long as we could, Captain Mike made the call that it was time to start the 17 hour journey home. But…after two days of looking, we found our first kelp patty. And wouldn’t you know, it ended up being a stop for right around 60 yellowtail.
Once all of the gear was packed up, anglers cleaned up and headed to dinner. Chef Tommy had a delicious Tri-Tip dinner ready for everyone.

Tommy hard at work at the grill.


Tri-Tip the last night to wind up the trip.


It was a great trip all around. The crew of the Tribute really takes good care of you. From keeping the boat clean, to the care they take in processing your catch. Not to mention Captain Mike Pritchard for going the extra distance getting us down on the fish.
I mean hey, this is May still right? Crazy!

For more information on upcoming Okuma and Savage Gear sponsored trips aboard the Tribute, visit www.tributesportfishing.com.