Fishing the NorCal Coastline

During the past week I headed out to the coast to try my luck targeting new species and perfect techniques fishing nearshore species from the surf and rocks. I grew up ocean fishing, from boats to piers and rocky shoreline.

I never had much success fishing the surf in the past, and set out to target Surfperch for the first time at Stinson Beach. Armed with a 7’3″ Spinning Bass Rod with 18lb Samurai Braid with a 6lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon leader, I set out fishing the south side of the beach. The majority of my fish came on a Berkley Gulp 2″ Sandworm. I used a 1 1/2 oz Egg sinker Carolina Rigged with a 12 inch leader and size 4 octopus hook.

I ended up catching over 14 perch over two days, spending 3-4 hours at the beach each time. Kept one keeper red tail and one barred for a BBQ at my buddy’s.

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Friday I headed out to Slide Ranch and Ft. Baker Jetty to poke pole for Monkeyface Eels and Rockfish. My friend Andrew and I were able to land 7-8 Monkeyfaces, keeping 3 for dinner, as well as a keeper greenling.

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Made Monkeyface Eel fish ‘n chips, using beer batter (mix of flour, beer, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper)

 

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Sunday I headed out to Doran Park Jetty, and left the Poke Poles in the truck, deciding to focus on trying to catch Ling Cod, Cabezon and other rockfish. Missed one bite on a big hammer swimbait before switching over to try drop shotting for rockfish for the first time. I rigged up a 4″ Keitech Swimbait in Silver Shiner with a 2/0 Medium Wire Roboworm hook and a 3/4 oz drop shot weight.

Caught a pregnant Buffalo Sculpin fairly quickly at the base of a large rock.

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Worked my way out farther on the jetty. The incoming tide started ripping pretty good, and I casted my drop shot diagonally/parallel with the jetty and let it drift back to me. My line started going the opposite way and I reeled up into a keeper size ling. It was a fun fight with the spinning bass rod and 8lb test.

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I released both fish to fight another day. I was able to land over 7 different species of fish including, Redtail and Barred surfperch, ling cod, Buffalo Sculpin, greenling, monkeyface eel, sand dab and a dungeness crab.

You can find all the baits I used at Monster Fishing Tackle. Feel free to email me through the contact button at the top of the page with any questions on how to catch some fish on the Northern California coast yourself.

They’re Biting up at Clear Lake!

Got back from the WON Bass Pro-AM at Clear Lake last night. Fished with boater Shawn Lee on Saturday, keying in on chunk rock with jigs and drop shot, to put 21.7 in the boat and good for 9th place after day 1. We had a good limit by 8:45 and kept culling little by little, but never got the huge bite we needed to separate ourselves from the pack.

On day 2 I fished with local pro Brian Bailey. We grinded all day, putting some smaller fish in the boat early on drop shots and flick shakes. Most of our better fish came on frogs later in the day fishing the backwaters. Ended up  hooking myself in the leg with a Lunker Punker past the barb as I kneeled to net one of Brian’s fish over a dock. Used the braid wrapping trick to yank it out very successfully and quickly and got back to fishing. We ended the day with 18.3, unable to get the big bite.

I ended up finishing the tournament in 20th place with just over 40lbs.. The standings were very tight with just over 42lbs for 10th place and 44 for 5th.

If you don’t know how to remove a hook from your skin, I suggest you look up “removing a fishing hook from skin” on youtube and watch a few videos. Having done it before made it a quick and harmless process for me, even with a fairly larger hook.

Some of the baits that were working for us were:

6″ Roboworm Margarita Mutilator/Morning Dawn w/ a Roboworm Rebarb hook.

Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog in Cali and Buck Nasty. (darker bodies)

 

Fishing Berry Deep, Lake Berryessa!

Since moving down to Napa, Lake Berryessa has become adopted as my new home waters. I can get to the ramp in just over thirty minutes, launching is free, and there’s healthy populations of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. So whether its an impulsive last minute fishing trip or a planned one, I end up there a lot.

On Friday I headed out to Berryessa on an impulse, and to figure out how the fish are responding to this wacky abnormally sunny winter weather, with water temperatures hovering around 51 degrees. I drop shotted, spooned, jigged, cranked and even threw an alabama rig. Didn’t get a bite. Zilch. I was struggling to find anything alive all day on the graph. It was the first time I didn’t land a fish at Berryessa since I started fishing it late last summer. The one bass fisherman I talked to at the ramp said his only fish was over 5lbs on an alabama rig in around 20 feet of water.

Yesterday, I got to the ramp around twelve once more, looking for revenge. When I go fishing solo it gets personal. Just me and the fish. I tried focusing on chunk rock points in around 25-35 feet of water, throwing the drop shot and spoon. I was still failing to mark fish, and chose to make the run from the south end (I launch from Capell Cove) to the Putah Creek Road bridges in the north end. In the past I’ve been able to entice some nice bass to hit either a drop shot or senko on the fall, thrown up against the bridge pilings.

Surrounded by trout fisherman anchored up to the pilings and trolling under the bridge with down riggers, I began to attack the pilings, watching my line, waiting for it to stop. It never stopped. I marked fish on the bottom, 70 feet down, and began to slowly work my drop shot. Finally I got that familiar tick tick, and set the hook into what hardly qualified as a fight. A 4 inch bass in 70 feet of water? You’ve got to be kidding me. Definitely a testament to fishing with braided line, in being able to pick up such a light and deep bite.

After giving up on the bridge pilings and praying I had enough gas to make it back to the ramp, I made the run back to Capell Cove, not wanting to give up, but starting to get dark and cold fast. I idled by a few last rock points, keeping my eyes glued to the graph, and finally saw a solid school of fish stacked up in 45 feet of water. I downsized from a 6″ Roboworm in Morning Dawn color to a 4.5″ Roboworm in Prizm Shad color. First cast produced a decent smallmouth out of 46 feet of water. A few minutes later, I brought in an identical smallmouth. The key was to work the bait very slowly, giving it the slightest shake and pause. I headed back into the ramp with my hands finally smelling fishy, and content in knowing I had learned a little more about the fishery.

In Short: 2.5 Fish caught (does 4 inches count as a half?), 45 feet deep, using a 4.5″ Prizm Shad Roboworm with a 1/4 ounce drop shot weight, off a solid rock point.

Drop shot setup: Dobyns DX702SF, Shimano Stradic CI4, with 15lb Daiwa Samurai Braid/ 7lb Sunline leader.

You can find all these products at www.monsterfishingtackle.com

Winter Cleaning

Annual maintenance of one’s reels is often overlooked by many anglers, for one reason or another. Some are intimidated by figuring out where to start and what to use. Others have messed up their reels too many times or simply don’t want to take the time. Whatever your reasons, take a deep breath, turn on some tunes and open up your reels, because come spring time you’re not going to want to deal with that coffe grinding sound and malfunctioning drag.

There are only a handfull of essentials one really needs to thoroughly clean a reel:

-Oil: Use either the oil that came with your reel, or a versatile oil like Quantum’s Hot Sauce, which you can find at MonsterFishingTackle.com

-Reel grease: I like Cal’s reel grease.
-Rubbing Alcohol: (Isopropyl) and Qtips: To clean off dirt.
-Reel tool: (to take off handle) or small screwdriver

I like to use a small muffin baking pan to keep the parts in order as I take them off the reel, so I don’t have to think about the order when I’m putting them back on or consult a schematic. It also insures you’re not losing your parts by simply lying them on a table. You can use one of the muffin molds to hold some rubbing alcohol for cleaning off dirt.

muffin tin Winter Cleaning

A Day Off!

I’ve been having the itch to hit the water real bad lately. You know what I’m talking about. When all you can think about is hooking into a fish and forgetting everything else but trying to get it in the boat. Fortunately, my boss let me know we would be taking the day off today, and I instantly started getting the boat ready. I decided to head up to Lake Hennessy, just north of Napa, between St. Helena and Lake Berryessa. The lake has a 10hp and under limitation, so I would be using only my trolling motor today.

I put the boat in the water around 12pm and set off exploring. It was the first time I put my boat in the water at Hennessy, as I was unclear on the restrictions. I drive by the lake every day on my way to work at a winery on Pritchard Hill. The day started off slow, mostly with me running around on the trolling motor trying to mark bait and fish, and having relatively little success. The lake is fairly shallow, with it being hard to find water deeper then 30 feet. I committed to throwing an 8″ Huddleston around for an hour, as it’s a well stocked trout reservoir.  My first fish (1-1.5lbs) came on a shakeyhead off some tules in 6 feet of water… quite the opposite of the deeper water and ledges where I was assuming the fish would be.

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I spent another couple hours fishing a little shallower, throwing some more plastics, a vision 110 jerkbait, and eventually moving out to deeper water again  trying a DD22. I decided to head towards what would be the middle of the section of the lake I was in, as I worked my way back to the ramp. I kept my eyes on the graph with my spooning rod in hand, waiting to mark something. After about five minutes of zig-zagging my way back I saw one real solid arch on the graph, stopped the boat and sent my spoon down. I jigged my spoon up once… twice… three times… SLAM. If you’ve ever hooked into a fish on a spoon before you know the feeling. The rod almost flies out of hands as you yank your rod up into what feels like a brick wall.

This fish was hot. My spinning rod was doubled and I could feel head shake after head shake. I thought it was going to end up being a big rainbow. Instead it ended up being a nice largemouth just over 7lbs at 7-01. It was a great fight and I was stoked to actually single out one fish off the graph and get it in the boat, when often times you can be marking many fish and never get a bite, which is what happened to us at regionals.

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I continued zig-zagging towards the ramp after I released the fish. Again, I marked a singular fish on the graph, and on the fifth jig hooked into another fish on the spoon. This one came up a lot easier, but was just as surprising when I saw what it was.

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I had to head in with the sun setting and my battery getting low. It was a great day on a new body of water. I filmed earlier in the day, but nothing eventful happened and I ran out of batteries. I promise to have some new footage up soon!

Wishing I was Fishing

I can’t stop thinking about going fishing. I started working full time at a winery in Napa, CA just over three weeks ago. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to swing by the lake as much as I would like to… The winery I work at is situated just above Lake Hennessey, so I’ve been keeping 3-4 rods in the truck (more then I need) in true bass angler fashion. Short trips after work have been satisfying some of my hunger to get out on the water, but I’m going crazy for a tournament.

This past Saturday, my former roommate and OBT teammate, Nick Doring and I headed to the Delta. We hit the road at 5:30 in the morning, rushing to beat the light. I was relieved to find the boat fired
up nicely after sitting around for weeks.

We fished some areas around Frank’s tract and little franks, focusing on current around breaks in the tules. We ran into our good friend Carter Troughton and his father Greg, who had their day cut short by a trolling motor issue, but not before we watched each other pull in dink after dink. It was a dinky day. Tournament fish, keepers, toads, pigs, whatever you want to call them, were far and few between. We ran down to Little Mandeville, fishing inside on the incoming tide and around the flowing current breaks on the south end. Nick was able to bring a largie just short of five pounds into the boat and another one around two pounds. It was a small moment of victory to finally get some “Real fish” into the boat on what was a rather relaxing day on the water. It was just what I needed… but I still have the itch.

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I have a lot of video footage from Berryessa and the Delta I’m trying to piece together. Until I get it up and going into the new year, I will be trying to post more frequently. As of now, I am planning on fishing the FLW Everstart series as a co-angler next year, as well as enter some WON pro-am events. Come the new year, I really won’t be thinking about anything other then fishing.

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From Oregon back down to California

In June, I graduated from the University of Oregon, where I spent four years of my life learning, meeting new people, and of course, having a blast fishing tournaments and hanging out with the guys on the Oregon Bass Team. Just recently I moved down to Napa, California, forty-five minutes north of where I grew up in Marin county. In the last week I’ve been on a fishing frenzy, after a short hiatus consisting of figuring out my life and moving from another state.

On Tuesday I went on a solo afternoon run of Lake Berryessa, fishing it for my third time, and first time over more then a couple hours. After helping a family jump start their boat at the ramp only to figure out the alternator clearly wasn’t working, I figured out some new water and was able to put 11-12 fish in the boat, including a smallmouth, spotted bass and largemouth bass, with the biggest fish being a largemouth just over three lbs caught on a Lucky Craft gunfish. I was pretty surprised to get into a mid afternoon topwater bite on the gunfish, landing several decent spots and largemouths on point breaks in the Narrows. The species diversity of Berryessa makes a fun lake to fish, and fairly unique in my mind compared to Oregon, where spotted bass are pretty limited, and the ability to catch all three species in a day isn’t common. At only a 40 minute drive away from my house, I see myself spending a lot of time on this body of water.

First smallie on berry.

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Caught a bunch of these toads.

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Large on the gunfish.

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On Wednesday 8/10, I went out with former Oregon Bass Team president Carter Troughton on his home water, the CA Delta. I’ve had good success in the past in the FLW college circuits, finishing in the top 5 three out of four times, but I’ve never had a chance to fun fish it, or mess around trying new tactics. Carter put us on fish right away, putting on a clinic with a black a red jig in the early morning, flipping to docks and the inside weedline along rip rap. We switched over to cranks and spinnerbaits and pulled in some decent fish throwing to tule points with flowing water. We caught fish on jigs, drop shots, spinnerbaits, cranks and t-rigs, but were not able to find any sort of topwater bite. I had a blast catching some jig fish on a flipping stick using braid, after using a more of a finesse approach for the most part in Oregon. I’m hoping to get back on the Delta tomorrow and practice punching weed mats, with the summer sun cooking away. I had several odd catches during the day. The first with my worm being dragged behind the boat as I had my entire spool out of the reel, as my line managed to get between the spool and the frame somehow. As I was untangling my line I felt a tug, popped my spool back in and set the hook with my sideplate off and reeled in a 10 inch fish. Later on as I was untangling a line wrap at the tip of my rod, I felt another tug and set the hook by pulling on the line, hand lining a decent 2lb fish to the boat. Carter caught our big fish for the day, around 3 1/2 lbs, blind casting a T-rig out in front of the boat while we were using the trolling motor to move from one bank to the other. We ended up with easily over 35 fish, with the best 5 somewhere around 13 1/2-14 lbs. The Delta’s diversity and uniqueness give an addicting quality that I’m going to have trouble staying away from.

Carter’s boat on Frank’s

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Carter joking around in the SwaggerBass tee

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Thursday, I got up at 530 to head to the Berryessa one more time for a solo run, hoping to find that early morning topwater bite that everyone seems to reference with the lake. I slept through my alarm several times as some friends back at the U of O, decided to keep calling me from the bars. As I debated sleeping in a little bit longer, I thought of braid screaming with my topwater disappearing below the surface, and quickly packed into the truck. I checked out the same spot I had good success on during the afternoon on Tuesday, only to find out the fish weren’t having it. I wasted a few hours stubbornly in the Narrows (off the main lake), before deciding to make a run and fish some deeper main lake rock points. I consulted my topo map and consulted my electronics, running from point to point, allowing me to put 4 decent largemouth in the boat. Once again the big fish was only 3.07 (after he spit up about a 6 ounce shad?). It was a tough grind out on the water, and I was beat after a couple hot days in the sun, so I called it quits around 2.

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It was a great first week of fishing (with more to come) during my first week back in California. With most tournament circuits wrapping up, I’m excited for next years season, and upgrading to a bigger boat before the end of the year. I’m going to start working harder to document some more of my fishing with my GoPro video camera and keep you updated. Until then check out some of my footage on my youtube page @reedfrazierfishing. Tight lines.

Cottage Grove Grind

The OBT held its fourth annual late winter/early spring tournament on Cottage Grove Lake (20 minutes south of Eugene) this past weekend. With the cold weather refusing to give way to spring sun, the fish are a little behind with water temperatures just barely reaching the low 50′s. Ten members of the OBT headed out for a 7:30 launch, with members of the Emerald Bass Club volunteering their boats and time to help take out a new wave of OBT members. Fishing was tough for just about everyone not named Chris “The Entitled One” Parks, and Freshman FLW Qualifier Kyle Schneider. The two racked up five fish for just over 16 pounds, with four of their fish coming right off the bat, using crankbaits and drop shots. After the first two hours, as per usual at Cottage Grove, the bite shut off and the mental grind tested the patience of everyone out on the water leading into the 3pm weigh in.

Anglers reported catching fish on the flats, breaks in depth and deeper water up to 25-30 feet. All of the fish caught were of good size, averaging almost three and a half pounds. The top boater and student were awarded with their choice of a rod from IROD, paid for by the OBT. Third place received a package of plastics from WAVE fishing.

The Results (for those who weighed in a fish):

1. Schneider 9.12 (3 fish)

2. Parks 6.14 (2)

3. Johnson 4.08 (1)

Crowl 4.05 (1)

Myers 4.03 (1)

Rocky 4.01 (1)

Parks Sr. 3.15 (1)

Frazier 3.13 (1)

Things are heating up.. but not really

With spring supposedly around the corner, although we seem to constantly be waiting here in Oregon, bass fishing is just starting to heat up on the local lakes. While we don’t have to deal with ice outs here on the west coast, I certainly have not spent as much time on the water as I’m used to this winter. Last tuesday was the first time I took out my boat and headed down to Cottage Grove Lake, twenty minutes south of Eugene, OR. After a smooth launch, with the ramp just barely in the water, my roommates Nick “Hookset” Doring and Jonathan “Yonny” Weiland, and I headed out amongst the floating debris caused by the raising water. We launched late, just past four o’clock, after rushing to the lake with my roommate getting out of work around three. After running the boat up and down the lake we settled down on the trusty rock wall, and put a couple fish in the boat with the drop shot; a yearly ritual. As my friend jokes, “Wall. Dropshot. Repeat” The OBT will have its first tournament of the year at Cottage Grove Lake on April 9th.

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First Place! FLW College Fishing Lake Roosevelt

On February 19th, my partner Ross Richards and I were able to get our first ever win in an FLW College Fishing tournament. Ross and I have been fishing the FLW events for three years now, being able to rack up four top five finishes, while failing to earn the ever elusive first place. We knew it would be our last FLW tournament fishing together if we failed to qualify for regionals at Roosevelt, and were more determined than ever. We had previously finished eighth on Lake Roosevelt two years before, while I also finished in eighth last year with teammate Jacob Bliss.

Tourney day started off with all eight of our teammates packing into a suburban, filled with bags of clothes, tackle, rigged rods and rod tubes. Needless to say it was quite a nightmare trying to get all the doors closed, and the forty-five minute ride to the lake from Payson, wasn’t going to be too enjoyable for anyone. (Pictured below)

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We headed to a pre-spawn transition area where we had caught fish of good size in previous tournaments, banking that some of the fish had moved up into shallower water. Using drop shots, we casted to the outside of the brush lines and were able to pull in a limit by 9:15. We spent four hours in the same area, being able to cull up and catch the kicker we needed. (Video below… It’s pretty comical on a couple different levels, particularly my growling)

After switching areas with our bite shut off and the rain pouring, we tried a few spots before finally getting into some more fish in the twelve-foot range, once more casting into cover. We quickly put eight more keepers in the boat but none would cull and it was time to go in. We were disappointed we didn’t get to cull our smallest fish, and thought it might hurt us in the end. Rather then waiting in suspense on stage, we decided to wait it out and weigh in at the end of the tournament. With Arizona State sitting in the hot seat with 9-14, we thought we had a good chance at taking it, but we couldn’t believe it until we saw our weight of 12lbs even flash on the screen. It was the second win in a row for the University of Oregon, and already we are looking forward to the third event on the Delta with high hopes.

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