Category Archives: California Sportsman Exclusives

Surfing And Bass Fishing USA

Todd Kline On Hanging Loose And Catching Wall Hangers

By Chris Cocoles

Todd Kline came west to become a champion surfer, and bass fishing never seemed to be in the cards. At least until he decided to play cards.

Growing up in Florida, Todd Kline’s two biggest passions included surfing and bass fishing. After giving the former a try on the professional level, he’s doing the latter as a co-angler on the FLW Tour. (KIRSTIN SCHOLTZ/COLIN MOORE/FLW)

Growing up in Florida, Todd Kline’s two biggest passions included surfing and bass fishing. After giving the former a try on the professional level, he’s doing the latter as a co-angler on the FLW Tour. (KIRSTIN SCHOLTZ/COLIN MOORE/FLW)

“I’d see bass boats going up to reservoirs when I was actually going to the casino on the Indian reservation, probably Barona (near San Diego),” says Kline, who has been both a surfer and an angler at the professional level. Perhaps next he’ll play in the main event at the World Series of Poker, but he’s made a living doing what drove him in his younger days in Florida before eventually relocating to Southern California.

“I had (bass anglers) tell me, ‘I’m going here or there,’ and I’m almost laughing about it and saying, ‘OK, cool; have fun,” the now successful FLW co-angler based out of San Clemente – located along the Orange County coast – says with a laugh. “But then when I did some research I realized that the bass fishing was actually great out here.”

After seeing the world as a surfing pro – he still racks up the frequent-flier miles as a commentator for the World Surf League – Kline is a four-time bass tournament winner on the FLW’s Costa Series Western tour, where he’s earned about $125,000 in prize money fishing tournaments with the established professionals, though co-anglers who win tournaments can make a large purse.

So, yeah – one week he might be interviewing some of the world’s elite surfers in Perth, Australia, and fishing a big tournament at Clear Lake the next – it’s good to be Todd Kline, who shared a little bit about hanging 10 and landing 10-pound largies.
Chris Cocoles You have done a little of everything you’re passionate about. Are you kind of living the dream?
Todd Kline I think about it all the time, how fortunate I am. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich doing it. But I see a lot of guys who might be wealthy financially but they’re not happy. And I’d rather have the happiness.
CC Let’s go back to your younger days in Florida and how you evolved into who you are now.

Kline cut his bass teeth back home near Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida’s famous fisheries, but after he moved to California he never expected he’d have the opportunity to catch big bass in the Golden State. (TODD KLINE)

Kline cut his bass teeth back home near Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida’s famous fisheries, but after he moved to California he never expected he’d have the opportunity to catch big bass in the Golden State. (TODD KLINE)

TK I grew up in Fort Lauderdale and where I spent the most time in my childhood and my teenage years was a little bit inland in Davie-Plantation. And I did a lot of bass fishing out there on the golf courses and canals and ponds. But I also did a lot of snook and tarpon fishing because where I actually lived on the water in Plantation was brackish and there was a pumphouse and dam where the freshwater met the brackish. And when those pumps would open up due to rain, the snook would just go ballistic.

Kline (left) lands a bass during an FLW tournament, where he’s won four events and was co-angler of the year in both 2013 and 2014. (COLIN MOORE/FLW)

Kline (left) lands a bass during an FLW tournament, where he’s won four events and was co-angler of the year in both 2013 and 2014. (COLIN MOORE/FLW)

CC I know that some of Florida’s bass fishing can be epic. Did you have convenient access to it?
TK Where I grew up we mainly fished at a lake called Sawgrass and Holiday Park, which is part of the Everglades. We went out on boats a lot out there, but as I started getting older we started doing more trips out to (Lake) Okeechobee. But whenI lived back there I just fished, and I think that’s what most people do; they grab their tackle box and grab a rod and if they catch fish, they catch fish; if they don’t, they don’t. But when I moved out here (to California) it was for surfing. And I didn’t know you could bass fish because freshwater’s not prevalent. But once I had some friends out here take me under their wings that I really started learning about fishing and understanding why that fish bit and why are they eating shad versus crawdads and those types of things.
CC As a kid in Florida, you were in an area where fishing opportunities are endless, but what or who influenced you to love it so much?
TK For me, my father started it initially, but I’d say 90 percent of the time that I fished in Florida I didn’t care if I went by myself or if a friend wanted to go. Sometimes I’d even go fish mullet and give them to some of the (locals). I just wanted to fish and I loved being on the water and getting outdoors. As a kid I wanted to be a park ranger.

CC What are some of your favorite early fishing memories?
TK I’ve got a ton of them. Some of the things that really stand out at a young age, I was probably 8 years old and I would walk to the dam near my house. There was an old man fishing live bluegill and just smashing big snook. Another time I was at Lake Okeechobee with my mom staying at a friend’s house. I was walking the bank and I’d caught a wild shiner on bread and it had died. I was almost trolling it from the bank and remember this big wake coming up behind it and I ended up catching about a 6-pound bass. I was with my dad at Okeechobee and ended up hooking a big one that got hung up on the tules and I started crying [laughs].
CC When did you discover surfing among all this fishing?
TK Surfing came into my life a little later when I was about 13. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I gained a pretty quick success at it so it drove me to be better and better. It made me want to pursue it. And fishing and surfing did get similar in the sense that you don’t need anybody else; it’s just you, the environment and leaving the chaotic world behind. That’s what you do when you go surfing or fishing. That’s what I think the majority of people intend to do.
CC I’m curious about the surfing culture in Florida. The East Coast isn’t known for having big waves like here and in places like Hawaii.
TK Florida as a whole is very inconsistent for surf. From Palm Beach south it gets blocked by the Bahamas, so you miss a lot of it. The epicenter for surfing is Brevard County and that’s Sebastian (Inlet State Park) north (toward the Indian River and the cities of Palm Bay and Melbourne). I used to surf up there all the time and stay at friends’ houses. I used to spend a lot of time staying with Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champ. It’s very challenging to be a surfer there and what I think was positive was that you grew up on extremely small surf. When you surfed waves that small it made you a very good small-wave surfer. And it also makes you really read a wave where you have to calculate your turn properly. But once you were ready for a bigger wave, it was much easier. A lot of times when we would go to compete, whether it be anyone in the world, a lot of guys would already mentally lose. At the end of the day it’s just like a fishing tournament where the conditions are the same for everybody. If you mentally have your head in the game, you have a great chance of winning it. But if you want to sit back and complain and look at all the things that aren’t perfect, you’re probably not going to do so well.
CC On the subject of surfing, is there a connection of any kind between a surfer reading a wave and a bass angler reading water that looks like it might hold bass?
TK I think for me, the parallels that I’ve really seen between fishing and surfing: From the competition side, to me it’s the mental side. I see so many guys in tournaments – similar to what I’ve seen in surfing – we’re out there practicing in a presurf leading up to a competition and there’s somebody who’s just on another level. Their equipment looks great, they seem to really be in-tune with the waves that are on at that time, and as soon as they put their jerseys on, something changes mentally. Now they look like a completely different person. And you see that in a lot of sports. And at the end of the day, it’s between the ears. For whatever reason, we see guys in competitive fishing who got their photos on Facebook and
other social media and they’re catching 6-pounders, 8-pounders. But as soon as that tournament starts, you look through the list expecting to see them at the top and see that they only caught three fish. What happened? If you see this from these individuals time after time, you think, “Hey, this guy’s a great fisherman but as soon as they call for boat 32, and the guy takes off, all of a sudden his mind starts racing; “I need to go to this spot; no, I need to go to that spot. Throw the crankbait; no, throw the topwater.” And they’re done.

So the point I want to make: The mental side of things when it comes to competitive fishing is very similar to fishing or any other sport or even work, for that matter. If you don’t have confidence and didn’t prepare properly, and you don’t believe in yourself up until the final cast, you’re probably not going to be very successful.

Celebrating after a successful FLW tournament. (CURTIS NIEDERMIER/FLW)

Celebrating after a successful FLW tournament. (CURTIS NIEDERMIER/FLW)

CC Tell me about moving to California to chase the waves as a surfer at such a young age.
TK I think I was about 20 or 21 when I got out here. I had a good friend who I grew up with in Fort Lauderdale and moved out to San Diego for college at San Diego State. He came home one Christmas and we were catching up. He knew about my background in surfing and he said, “If you really want to try and make a living at this, you need to move out of South Florida because there’s only so far you can go down here.” He said, “Why don’t you come out and live with me in Southern California? You’ll be traveling anyway so I’ll charge you next to nothing for a room. Leave your stuff and you’ll have a hub to come and go from.” California is the epicenter for media for surfing and it’s a good base to come and go. He said I should come and give it a shot. Sure enough, I loaded up my little Toyota Tercel and he was driving his Forerunner out. So we loaded up both cars and carpooled across (the country). Fast forward 23 years now and I’ve never looked back.
CC How tough was it for you to get into the pro surfing circuit?
TK I had a handful of sponsors at the time, and one of them was Matt Kechele’s Surfboards, which was based in Brevard County. He was a good friend of mine and I used to stay in his house often. He had a distributor in Japan for his surfboards and I started going to Japan and promoting his surfboards. Back then (Japan) only had a domestic tour. You only could compete over there if you were Japanese. By the time I moved to California, they had stops there for not the world tour but the qualifying series. It opened up to anybody, so I immediately started competing in those. I think the first year I won three contests. I went from a guy who was just getting some editorial (coverage) to “this guy is the next Kelly Slater.” It wasn’t true, but that’s the picture that they painted. So it was great timing and I was able to get to a whole new level with sponsors. Things fell into place for me.
CC Did you surf most of the time in Japan?
TK They would hold the competitions as close as they could to major cities. One of the areas was a beach called Chiba, which is straight out from Tokyo. I’ve been to Japan I think 20 times and I’d stay up to five weeks in length. I’ve surfed everywhere from Okinawa, which is the furthest south, all the way to the very north, which is their Alaska, on Hokkaido (Island) in Hakodate. When I first started going over, people would ask me the same questions because you don’t know of Japan having good surf. August and September they get a lot of rain and when it does, it blows out the river mouths and they get these perfect cobblestone points in front of these river mouths. And right on the tail end of it is the peak of typhoon season. You get these typhoons going past Japan and they send in these swells. It gets literally world-class. But the contests were held in smaller surf, and again, going back to my background in Florida, I was able to capitalize on those conditions because for a lot of the guys who come in from overseas who would say, “Why are we competing in this?” And I would say, “Cool, there’s an opportunity for me to take this.”

“I’m living the dream life,” says Kline, with his mom and son after a day of fishing at El Capitan Reservoir near San Diego. (TODD KLINE)

“I’m living the dream life,” says Kline, with his mom and son after a day of fishing at El Capitan Reservoir near San Diego. (TODD KLINE)

CC With all that you’ve done at an advanced level, have the competitive juices always flown for you, whether it’s been on a board or a bass boat?
TK At the end of the day, I’ve always done it for fun, but if I’m entering a contest or a tournament, I’m entering because I want to win and compete against the best guys. Obviously the money’s awesome and helps pay the bills. But when you know you’ve beaten a field of 150 anglers or beat 125 of some of the world’s best surfers, that’s why you do it. That was one thing that was tough (eventually giving up surfing at around 25). You get to a certain age and with your body you know what you still want to do, but you just can’t physically do it at the level you want. It’s a bummer when you have to slowly step away from that. You always want to compete. When I transitioned from surfing I used to play a lot of cards. Let’s face it, it was gambling – but what I found in the tournament world I was still competing.
CC How did your post-surfing career evolve?
TK One of my first sponsors as a kid was Quiksilver, and I stayed with them until I was about 21 and I had moved out here so I went with a different company. And when that ended, I went back knocking on the door at Quiksilver. And they said, “We’re not going to bring you on as a 100-percent surfer, but we’ll bring you on as a surfer part-time and work you into a marketing position and build a future here.” I said, “Sign me up.” At the time, they were the Nike of the surf world and I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity. Over a 16-year run I worked my way up to one of the marketing directors. Eventually I got caught up in the corporate downsizing but they gave me a great package, which gave me time to sit back and realize what I wanted to do. And then I did my first FLW tournament and in the first year I was able to win angler of the year (in 2013). And this was something that I really wanted to do. I thought, “I can’t make a living at it necessarily right now, but I how do I do this, pay the bills and feed the family? But the timing couldn’t be any better because at the time, the Association of Surfing Professionals changed hands to a new group and renamed it the World Surf League. They brought in a unified broadcast team for the world tour events. And I was able to join that team and that has been the nucleus of my income, traveling the world to the tour events as well as some of the qualifying series. And I’ve been able to work with them on a schedule to give me the opportunity to fish the FLW events. And it’s come full circle. I’m living the dream life.
CC How much do you enjoy talking about surfing now?
TK I love it. I still get to travel to some amazing places. I just got to go to Western Australia near Perth, and (this month) I get to go to Fiji and that’s one of, if not my favorite place, to go in the world. There’s a small island called Tavarua, where the people are amazing. I’ve been going there for years, and I won’t see those people for a year and as I get off the boat with 50 other people, they’ll say, “Hi, Todd!” It’s so cool that they’re on the other side of the world and they still know my name. I love the job; I’m still passionate about surfing and how it’s continuing to evolve.
CC Were you always thinking about fishing while surfing consumed you?
TK In Florida I fished a lot more than I surfed, partly because it was so accessible there. Here, it wasn’t as accessible. When I traveled around the world, I brought along a fishing pole. I used to bass fish in Japan. When I got back here, I didn’t really get into (bass fishing) until 10 years after I moved to California when I stumbled across a little pond called Laguna Niguel with a buddy. We crushed the bass, and six months later I bought a bass boat, and in another six months I started doing team tournaments. And I haven’t looked back since.

CC And you can thank the trips to the casino for that.
TK (El Capitan Reservoir) is right around the corner from Barona (in Lakeside), and I’d see a beautiful bass boat and I would ask, “Where are you going bass fishing?” I was almost shocked to see a boat. But I bought a lot of books and researched online – it was about the time the Internet was just kicking in – that highlighted all the different fisheries in California. You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, “Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish.” And it’s not Florida but at times it can even be better than Florida. So that’s when I started to dive into it.
CC What’s the biggest bass you’ve ever caught in California and how about in tournaments?
TK I actually caught two that were exactly the same – they were both (12 pounds, 6 ounces). The first one I caught early after the process started. I was fishing Lake Mission Viejo out of a rental boat and I had my wife with me. I was dropshotting a Roboworm in probably 25 feet of water. I got bit and set the hook and couldn’t move it. My wife was sitting back in the sun and I said, “Honey, I think I got a giant one.” As it was coming up you could see this huge fish. I had never seen a bass that big. Once it broke the surface I said, “Oh my gosh.” Probably four years later I was fishing Vail Lake (Temecula) with a friend, Art Hill, and we were throwing jigs. I got bit and swung and caught a fish just under 10; we were high-fiving and put it in the livewell and we were going to take pictures. I retied to make sure my knot was still good and fired right back on the spot. I felt the same bite and set the hook. I told Art, “I think this one was bigger,” and it was also 12-6. I had one fish over 8 pounds at, of all places, Lake Havasu on the final day of an FLW (event). And last year I got one almost 8 in the Delta. Those are my two biggest in tournaments.
CC If that wasn’t enough, you’re guiding now (toddklinefishing.com). Where do you take your clients out now that you’re the one who’s the California bass fishing guru?
TK I just started doing it this year, but it’s mainly Lake Perris and El Cap. For me, the lake I know most – and unfortunately it’s closed – is Diamond Valley. That’s going to be reopening and I’m super excited for that opportunity. I can’t wait for (San Diego’s San Vicente) to reopen.
CC What’s the FLW experience been like?
TK This is my fourth year and it’s been fun on a lot of levels. I’m learning a ton, I’ve had success and I’ve met great people. One of the cool things is I’ve literally had pros either call me or pull me aside and ask me questions about how I’ve had that success in such a small span. They’ve (asked about) the mental capacity in competing. They want to pick your brain. To me, that’s rewarding. CS

“You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish,’” Kline says of California’s bass fishing like Clear Lake, where he pried these beauties out of. (TODD KLINE)

“You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish,’” Kline says of California’s bass fishing like Clear Lake, where he pried these beauties out of. (TODD KLINE)

Editor’s note: For more on Todd Kline and his guide service, go to his website (toddklinefishing.com) and follow at instagram.com/ toddokrine.

 

A FAVORITE IN HIS TACKLE BOX
One of Todd Kline’s favorite bass weapons is a topwater lure, jerkbait or crankbait from Ima, a Japanese-inspired company based in Temecula.

Kline’s experiences fishing at Temecula’s Vail Lake with his friend Art Hill, who regularly threw Ima products at hungry bass, introduced him to the brand.

“A lot of times, if I was using a particular bait and wasn’t getting bit, he was using an Ima bait and I’d say, ‘Let me get one of those.’ It got to the point where they were baits that, for me, were sought after,” Kline says. “And once I got into the FLW Tour, I was going to reach out and see if I could partner up with them.”

“We were able to set something up that worked for both parties, and this is my third year now. It’s been a good relationship.”

Kline thinks his time in Japan surfing and bass fishing also makes this a good fit for him to represent among his sponsors.

“I think they pay a lot of attention to detail and I think that translates to the baits that they make,” he says. “Everything from the paint jobs, the hooks, weighting for casting or the bills that they put on and make them run, all of that goes into the making of a perfect bait. Sure, they don’t work every day. But they do seem to rise to the occasion more than the other manufacturers that make a crankbait or jerkbait. (Ima) has something more that make those fish react to them.” CC

Rick Barry Letting It Fly … In The Water

Rick Barry (right, with his wife, Lynn) has become a passionate fly angler.

Rick Barry (right, with his wife, Lynn) has become a passionate fly angler.

The following story appears in the December issue of California Sportsman. Photos courtesy of Rick Barry and Wikimedia.

By Chris Cocoles

Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime Golden State Warrior Rick Barry famously – and damn successfully – shot his free throws underhanded.

He’s spoken out about the frequent misses of noted NBA stars but dreadful foul shooters such as now retired Shaquille O’Neal and current stars Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. He’s wondered aloud why those who clank free throws so frequently don’t follow his unconventional form that connected on about 90 percent of his attempts, fourth best in league history.

Shooting free throws is nothing, Barry says; he would love to get those guys to try casting flies on an Alaskan river.

“It’s much more difficult,” Barry interrupts when asked to compare the two artforms. One was one of the trademarks in a brilliant basketball career that saw Barry named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players when the league celebrated its silver anniversary in 1996. The other has become a passion for the 71-year-old, who hosts fishing adventures to Alaska and Baja through his website, rickbarry24.com.

“In basketball, shooting free throws is the same distance every time (15 feet from the foul line to the hoop). It’s the same-sized ball, the same-sized rim every time,” Barry says. “And I don’t have to deal with any freakin’ wind. Casting is much, much more (hard), having to cast in different wind conditions. But it’s fun.”

And it’s a pastime Barry has only recently discovered and became smitten with.

 

Barry was named one of the NBA's 50 Best Players during the league's 50th anniversary season in 1996.

Barry was named one of the NBA’s 50 Best Players during the league’s 50th anniversary season in 1996.

DON’T LET THE age fool you: Rick Barry is active and fit, despite being on the north side of 70 years old. His playing career ended in 1980, but he stayed busy with various business ventures. He successfully found a niche in broadcasting and as an opinionated sports talk radio host on KNBR in San Francisco and reveled in the role of proud papa watching his children play basketball at both the major college and professional levels.

Until eight years ago, he mostly spent his free time on the golf course and as a road and mountain bike rider. The latter passion is one he rarely partakes in these days after suffering a serious injury accident last year near his Colorado home.

“I’ll never go fast on a bicycle again,” he says of the crash that fractured his pelvis in five places.

But fly fishing keeps him busy enough anyway. A friend’s offer almost a decade ago was a game-changing moment.

“Scott Minnich is a good buddy of mine in Colorado Springs (where Barry and his wife, Lynn, now reside); his son and my son (Canyon, who is playing basketball at the College of Charleston) grew up together,” Barry says. “(Minnich’s) been a fly fisherman for 35 years, and one day he asked me if I wanted to go fishing.”

Barry’s previous fishing experiences were minimal and unremarkable, so it wasn’t like he was in a rush to get back out onto the water. Still, he accepted Minnich’s invitation. And something seemed to click; perhaps it was his competitive streak as a former jock still fueled by something actionable. Despite the degree of difficulty casting flies, Barry was hooked.

“I realized that there was so much more to it than you realize. It’s not like the fishing where you just sit there and hold the stupid rod in your hands and pray that something bites it; it’s an actual art form, and so I was very impressed with that,” Barry says. “If somebody had told me 10 years ago that my passion in life would be fly fishing, I would have said they were on drugs with my type A personality. But I really loved it.”

Minnich proved to be a fine mentor in terms of Barry getting the hang of a fly rod. Over the years, he’s picked the brains of guides who’ve hosted fishing trips. The basketball player in him sees the coaching side of the experts who have fished a lot longer than he has. So whenever he meets a new fisherman, he lets them know to not be bashful when they see him doing something wrong on the river. Pointers are always welcome.

“You have to always be welcome to criticism, and it’s all constructive criticism. It’s no coincidence that the better I’ve become with my casting, the more fish I’ve hooked,” he says. “I’m getting better at it, and I’m up to the point now where my casting is good enough I’ll be able to go and do some bonefishing (in the Caribbean), where you have to be really accurate with your casting – otherwise, you’ll never catch any.”

Still, Alaska is where this fly fisherman feels most at peace.

Rick Barry fishing 8

BARRY’S FIRST TRIP to Alaska was not for fishing but golf. He played in a charity tournament in the Anchorage area. One day while there he was invited to fish and managed to catch a king salmon, but had to be told by the floatplane pilot it was landed out of season.

“What the hell did I know? I didn’t know anything,” he recalls. “I said, ‘(Shoot), you didn’t tell me the rules.’”

But fishing with his friend Minnich convinced Barry he wanted more and to experience fishing more often. He looked around for an Alaska lodge that offered what he wanted. He ultimately began regularly visiting Rainbow River Lodge at Bristol Bay’s Lake Iliamna. Barry also set up a salt- and freshwater trip to Boardwalk Lodge on Prince of Wales Island along the state’s southeastern panhandle.

“I go up there every year and try to put trips together for businesses or individual groups,” Barry says. “I had a guy who wants to go next year with about six people, and he asked me, ‘What kind of salmon should I go for?’ I said, ‘Do you really enjoy catching fish?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ And I told him he wants to get silvers. Of all the fish you’re going to get in the salmon family, the ones that are most fun for me are silvers. Those suckers will jump and fight.”

Barry knows he’s in heaven for an angler when he’ll head out with his group to fish and the only other fellow visitors that day is the wildlife sharing the river. He’s seen more bears than other people in all his years fishing Alaska’s rivers.

Once, Barry was filming an Alaskan outdoors TV show with his friend, former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Jones. Between shoots they decided to join in the combat fishing chaos of the state’s popular Kenai River during a salmon run. It was blatantly obvious which scene Barry preferred.

“Holy crap. I looked from one bend to the other on the river and there were 60 freaking (anglers). And another boat pulls up to us and was 10 feet away. This what not my idea of fun fishing,” he says. “Thank God I got to experience it once because I’m so happy I never did that on a trip to spend five, six, seven days doing that; I would have hated it.”

About the only negative he has to say about Alaska is he wishes the Wi-Fi were stronger so he could better enjoy another pastime: watching movies and his favorite TV shows on Netflix. But then Barry remembers he’s “in the middle of nowhere,” in a place where he can make cast after cast and bring in fish after fish.

Lynn hasn’t caught the bug, but she did accompany her husband on a three-night trip they bid successfully on during a charity auction. They had to hike for an hour on Alaska tundra before finally reaching a stream. They saw all of two other human beings the entire duration of the trip.

With so little fishing pressure, Barry managed to hook 35 rainbow trout and about 20 grayling on dry flies. Of the trout he caught and released, about 30 measured 20 or more inches. Even Lynn managed to catch almost two dozen grayling. This was paradise, about a million metaphorical miles away from the congestion on the Kenai – another reason why Barry keeps returning every chance he gets. Someday, he’ll catch a 30-inch rainbow.

“Maybe I’ll get lucky on my next trip,” he says. “We’ll see what happens.”

But he’ll enjoy all of the smaller and even too-small fish along the way.

Barry and fishing buddy, World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd

Barry and fishing buddy, World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd

THE BARRY FAMILY is to basketball what the Barrymores are to acting, the Wallendas to high-wire acrobatics and the Kardashians/Jenners to reality TV stardom. Of Barry’s six kids, only daughter Shannon never got involved in playing basketball.

Rick was known for his unique but rarely copied foul shooting technique (son Canyon shoots his free throws underhanded for his current college team). The family patriarch’s fabulous career included more than 25,000 points scored, a Rookie of the Year award, an NBA Finals MVP award for the 1975 champion Warriors and five first-team All-NBA seasons. Lynn, who is Canyon’s mom, was a star basketball player at the College of William and Mary and later remained in the game as a coach and administrator.

There are also four older Barry sons: Scooter won an NCAA title at the University of Kansas and spent many years playing abroad in pro leagues. Drew is his college alma mater’s (Georgia Tech) all-time leader in assists and played for four NBA teams. Jon (ESPN) and Brent (TNT) are successful TV analysts who also had lengthy pro careers (Brent Barry also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1996). Scooter, Jon, Brent and Drew all attended Concord’s De La Salle High School.

“I’m hoping to get them up there (in Alaska), and I know Scooter told me he’d really like to go,” Rick says of his sons. “But they have young kids and they’re busy with what they’re doing. One of these summers I’m hoping to convince them to take their boys and go with me.”

And who knows? Rick Barry said events happen in threes; his sons all played basketball at a high level just as he did. At one time or another, Scooter and Brent also dabbled in broadcasting like their dad and brothers have on a full-time basis.

“Hell, the third thing can be that they all become fly fishermen,” Rick says.

Still, there is no shortage of sports royalty for Rick Barry to head up to Alaska with. There is World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd, who fished with Barry in Alaska this summer. One of Barry’s closest friends, former Warriors teammate Clifford Ray (see sidebar), is a regular fishing partner who went with Barry on a trip to Sitka and to Prince of Wales Island in August.

Even legendary NBA/ABA star George Gervin, who was known as “The Iceman” during a Hall of Fame career, got in on the action. That spurred a joking twinge of disdain from Barry about these two hoops gunslingers meeting in Alaska.

“George is a spincaster. He didn’t have any waders or boots. But he came up with his son (and a couple others) and we did mostly saltwater fishing and we did some freshwater too. We had a good time,” Barry says, recalling that not many old basketball war stories were swapped. But The Iceman did get in a memorable photobomb.

“We have a great picture where I’m holding up a nice silver salmon, and George is in the background with his son and they’re both giving me the finger.”

Barry at the Warriors' 2015 NBA championship parade in Oakland.

Barry at the Warriors’ 2015 NBA championship parade in Oakland.

THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY Area’s pro basketball scene came full circle on June 19. On a sun-splashed morning in Oakland, the city celebrated the Golden State Warriors’ NBA title victory parade. Besides the current team – led by league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry – also involved were some of the franchise’s past stars, including arguably its greatest player, Rick Barry.

He was the 1975 NBA Finals MVP when the Warriors won their only other championship since moving west from Philadelphia in 1963.

Barry, who lives in Colorado but has spent a lot of post-NBA time in the Bay Area – including a stint hosting a popular sports radio show – initially was leery about attending the parade when the organization asked him and others from the team’s past to participate.

“I told them when they asked me, ‘There’s no reason for me to be at the parade.’ They said they wanted to (bring back) the history and have the guys there,” said Barry, who was joined by several of his former teammates and the team’s 1975 head coach, Al Attles.

“I just didn’t want to take anything away from the team. I didn’t do anything.”

Yet Barry and other former players are still revered by Golden State’s fan base, which has been among the most loyal – and perhaps longest suffering – of all the teams in the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area. Barry received a loud cheer from the estimated crowd of 500,000 when he was announced.

“I was just happy for the new ownership and the fans more than anything else,” says Barry, who publicly chastised Golden State fans when he jumped on the microphone in 2012 and defended co-owner Joe Lacob. He was booed loudly by the Oracle Arena crowd during that ceremony to retire the jersey number of former Warriors player Chris Mullin.

Admittedly, the team had gone through years of mediocrity and bad basketball, but Barry angrily called out the haters that night. And just three years later Golden State won its first championship in 40 years, when Barry led the way.

“It was great for the players to experience what it’s like to do that. Forty years is certainly a long time,” Barry says. “It was great for the city (of Oakland) and the Bay Area.”

On Oct. 27, the Warriors opened defense of their championship by hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. Before tipoff, the team was awarded their title rings and the banner was unveiled at Oracle. A representative from each of the franchise’s championships was also honored. It was a no-brainer who from the 1975 team would appear: Rick Barry.

He’ll always have a soft spot for where he had the best days of his fantastic basketball career.

“I’m thrilled to have been a part of that,” Barry says. “I’m always happy to go back to be a part of what they’re doing. It will always be a special part of my life.”

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Barry makes regular fishing trips to Alaska these days.

THE FISHING IN Alaska can be so prolific that Barry sometimes gets spoiled.

“You catch so many fish and it’s so beautiful. It’s such a special time when you’re up there, get away from everything and get into nature and God’s beauty and be hooking into a lot of fish,” he says.

On one river float, the guide pointed out to Barry that a large trout was on the other side below some tree cover. The conundrum? There were roughly 12 inches between the water surface and
the branches.

While the guide was skeptical there was enough room to get a cast in that space, Barry wanted to give it a shot. “Let me try,” he said.

Recalling the moment, Barry says, “I got out of the boat and into the water, got down low and just cast it sideways and level with the water. I tried to make sure that I got my length correct. I threw a couple casts that were a little too long. I shortened it up a little bit, and after a couple of casts I threw it in there. It hit the water and that fish came up and exploded – it just nailed that fly. It was a 23-inch rainbow and I thought, ‘If I don’t catch another fish the rest of the day, this is still awesome.’”

Still, catching fish is what the sport is all about. In basketball, the name of the game is ultimately getting the ball through the hoop. Some anglers go to Alaska hoping to catch that once-in-a-generation trophy salmon, trout or halibut. But Barry is more about quantity than quality. He’s perfectly fine with a catch-and-release day where he’s constantly landing fish, size be damned.

“For me it doesn’t matter if it’s 4 inches long or 40 inches long. It’s all about the strike and setting the hook. That’s why I can’t understand why some people get so enamored by going out trolling with the rods in the holder,” Barry says. “All of a sudden, they hand you the rod. That’s not fishing – that’s reeling. Even in the times when I do go out and saltwater fish, I want to hold the rod.”

And he’s done so through hours upon hours of casts during annual trips to Alaska (his bike wreck prevented going up in 2014). Barry loves to share stories of an endless cycle of casts, bites, and catch-and-release action.

A couple years ago, Barry was at his beloved Rainbow River Lodge on a solo trip with a group he wasn’t familiar with. Every day he’d go out and was asked upon the return how he did. He’d caught “about 100” on the first day.

“The guy said, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ So I go out the next day and the same guys ask, ‘How did it go?’ ‘Another great day. About 100 or more fish.’ So I go out on the third day and come back and tell them about another 100 and something fish. They said, ‘That’s insane.’ By the fourth day when they asked again I said, ‘You really don’t want to know.’ ‘Come on, tell us what you did.’ I said, ‘Two hundred and twenty-four fish.’”

All of the jump shots he’s made, all of the underhand free throws he’s swished in basketball have been replaced by other astonishing percentages. Barry recalls once landing fish on 24 consecutive casts of his fly rod. During his trip with Raymond Floyd in August he texted, “I hooked over 500 in four days!”

There are more awaiting him for years to come.

“This might be crazy,” he says, “but my goal in life is to be 100 years old and go fly fishing at Rainbow River Lodge.”

Don’t bet against him. By then, making a perfect fly cast will probably be as simple a task for Rick Barry as shooting an underhanded free throw was: almost a sure thing. CS

 Editor’s note: More info on Rick Barry’s fishing trips can be found atrickbarry24.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@Rick24Barry).

 

Rick Barry (left) and Clifford Ray are former teammates, close friends and fishing partners.

Rick Barry (left) and Clifford Ray are former teammates, close friends and fishing partners.

A TEACHING MOMENT

If there’s one thing best friends Rick Barry and Clifford Ray haven’t seen eye to eye on, it’s that the former loves to fly fish and the latter prefers a spinning rod on the water.

Barry, teammates with Ray on Golden State’s 1975 NBA championship team and now best friends, has tried to convince Ray to start casting flies.

“I’m trying to get Clifford into fly fishing,” Barry said of Ray, who played seven seasons with Golden State during a 10-year NBA career. “Clifford’s the one I do more fishing with than anybody else. Clifford’s like a brother to me.”

Ray, a rugged, tough-as-sandpaper post player who averaged nearly a double-double (9.4 points, 10.6 rebounds) during Golden State’s 1975 title run, is almost as passionate about fishing as his buddy. Just not so much for casting flies.

“He’s a spincaster. I (had a trip) lined up in November to go for steelhead (before it was canceled). But (Ray) would have do it with fly fishing (gear),” Barry said back in August, when they usually take an annual fishing trip to Alaska. “I’m sure I can convince him to give it a try. And I’m hoping it works, because I want him to catch a steelhead on a freakin’ fly rod.”

On one of their trips, Ray’s son came along and “Everett is hooked on fly fishing,” Barry said proudly.

He thinks the knowledge he’s learned from mentors he’s fished with like Al Caucci – the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame inductee to complement Barry’s place in basketball’s ultimate shrine to greatness – in Montana and Pennsylvania’s Delaware River can be passed down to Ray. Then he can start catching steelhead once Barry encourages to him to pick up a fly rod. –CC

Recalling A First Aussie Hunting Adventure

Urban Huntress 1

 

The following story appears in the October issue of California Sportsman:

By Brittany Boddington

My very first trip to Australia was around 2005. I was about 19 years old and had just really gotten into hunting big game.

My dad, Craig Boddington, took me over to hunt with his buddy Bob Penfold, who owned Hunt Australia Outfitters in those days, although Matt Graham owns it now. This would be my first buffalo hunt and I was using my brand-new Ruger No. 1 in .405 Winchester.

I had never hunted with a lever-action gun before, so we took some time at the range to get me accustomed to the action. My dad told me to sit in front of the TV and load and unload the gun with a spent round (never with a live bullet; don’t worry). That way I could build up some muscle memory and be able to more quickly reload in the event that I needed to get off a second shot at a buffalo.

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DOWN UNDER ‘LUXURY’ 

I had hunted in Africa a couple times by then, staying in plush African-style tent camps. The Australian outback was an entirely different experience, however. The camp had everything we needed – and about a million mosquitoes that I could definitely have lived without.

The tents were regular camping tents with cots inside – totally sufficient. The shower was outdoors with tenting material around it; although showering was risky because you basically served yourself up as mosquito bait as soon as the clothes and bug spray came off.

The pesky bugs aside, the place was amazing; we were right on the swamp edge and could hear crocodiles moving through in the night. The vegetation was sparse and there was buffalo sign all around. There were also huge herds of wild horses and donkeys in the area that would take off at first sight of us. Still, watching them run and kick up the red dust was unbelievably pretty.

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SIGNS OF BUFFS

We set out looking for buffalo in a typical spot-and-stalk fashion. We drove around until we saw tracks and got out to check on them. It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon a big old buffalo bull along the side of the swamp edge. Thankfully, we spotted him before he spotted us.

We jumped out of the truck and got prepared; I loaded my .405 and put it on safe. I love the single-shot Ruger No.1, knowing there is very little room for error. I knew I only had one shot at this because even after practicing like crazy, I probably couldn’t reload in time to get a second shot off if the buffalo ran.

When we got close, the buffalo spotted movement. I don’t think it knew exactly what was there, but it knew something was off and stood at attention. It stared directly at us for a bit before going back to eating the grass. As soon as I was steady I took a deep breath, let it out halfway and squeezed the trigger.

The bullet hit the buffalo hard; the bull reared up on its back legs in a typical heart/lung shot response and then took off clumsily. It didn’t go far before crashing down right at the edge of the swamp.

I put one more shot in for insurance and then we made our approach. My guide Peter was super cautious walking up because he really didn’t want to have to retrieve the bull out of the crocodile-infested swamp water. The buffalo was dead and I was extremely relieved; my first dangerous game hunt went off without a hitch!

Urban Huntress 4

BEAR DOWN FOR A BOAR

We still had some time in camp, so we went looking for a wild boar. Though I only had my .405 with me and it might have been a little overkill for a pig, it sure did the job! My boar was a target of opportunity.

We tried sitting over a bait and only saw a bunch of small pigs, but the guys in camp knew that there were a few bigger pigs in the area so we went for a walk. Sure enough, we bumped into a boar digging and I hit it with my .405. To my surprise, the boar ran and we chased it until we found it mostly down about 50 yards past where I had shot it. I put a second shot in and that finished it.

My first shot had been a bit too far back; I was pretty excited and probably didn’t take my time getting steady. The wild boar was jet black in color and had a nice set of tusks on it. It was a great way to finish up a very eventful hunt in the bug-filled but beautiful Australian outback! CS

Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based hunter, journalist and adventurer. For more information: go tobrittanyboddington.com or facebook.com/brittany.boddington.

California Sportsman To Sponsor Clear Lake Tournament

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California Sportsman and our friends at the Konocti Vista Casino recently announced plans to team up and host this great event!

Konocti Vista Casino’s Spring 5th Annual Team Classic is set for May 2 and 3, 2015. There is a guaranteed $1,000 big fish prize on both days!!!!  One cast of the line could get you $1,000. Last chance to sign up is at Konocti Vista Casino on Friday May 1. Application are also available at Clear Lake Outdoors in Lakeport, Calif.

For an application, click here:

For more information on Konocti Vista Casino, click here or call (702) 262-1900.

Some additional scenes from last year’s event:

 

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Clear Lake Team Tournament Signup

 

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IMG_2619

 

California Sportsman and our friends at the Konocti Vista Casino recently announced plans to team up and host this great event!

Konocti Vista Casino’s Spring 5th Annual Team Classic is set for May 2 and 3, 2015. There is a guaranteed $1,000 big fish prize on both days!!!!  One cast of the line could get you $1,000. Last chance to sign up is at Konocti Vista Casino on Friday May 1. Application are also available at Clear Lake Outdoors in Lakeport, Calif.

For an application, click here:

For more information on Konocti Vista Casino, click here or call (702) 262-1900.

Some additional scenes from last year’s event:

 

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One Shot, And That’s A Wrap

What are the best fishing and hunting movies of all time? These six make the list of our resident film buff and California Sportsman editor Chris Cocoles.

By Chris Cocoles

My executive editor has painfully accepted that I’ll sometimes – actually, lots of times – sneak a movie-inspired headline into California Sportsman stories.

I admit it – I’m a movie geek of the utmost proportions and extremes. Christmas Day may mean family time and reflection, but I still managed to sneak in a matinee first showing of The Imitation Game. As much as I get stoked about filling out a March Madness bracket, so do I when checking off my picks for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor every Academy Awards night.

This is just a nonscientific and highly biased list of my favorites. I know I missed some that probably belong (The Old Man and the Sea’s original version with Spencer Tracy likely deserves to be here), but I managed to rewatch some old classics. Here they are, in no particular order (though I think I subconsciously listed The Deer Hunter first since it’s so awesome):

The Deer Hunter (1978)

Robert De Niro’s Michael, traumatized by the atrocities he saw in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, which paralyzed his friend Steven and caused his best pal Nick to lose his mind, returns to his Russian-American Pennsylvania roots a changed man. He stalks a giant buck, and utilizes his creed that, “A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don’t listen.” Only Michael can no longer take that one shot, even with a trophy right within his sights. “OK?” he shouts as the animal is spared. It’s just one of dozens of powerful moments director Michael Cimino crafted, including terrifying games of Russian roulette and a beautifully haunting score.

The deer hunts, filmed around Washington’s Mount Baker, captured the essence of the movie’s theme. And I would argue the cast gathering around a table singing God Bless America is one of the most underrated scenes to end a film.     

Awards buzz: The Deer Hunter was the biggest winner of its year’s Academy Awards with five Oscars, including Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken).

Notable line: “I’ll tell you, Nick. You’re the only guy I go hunting with, you know. I like a guy with quick moves and speed. I ain’t gonna hunt with no ass*****.”

On Golden Pond (1981)

Much of the buzz of this classic is generated in the tension between off-screen and onscreen father and daughter Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda in their only film together (and the elder Fonda’s final film appearance before he passed). Their estranged relationship in the movie was not unlike what it was for many years in real life, perhaps without such animosity.

But some of the best scene-stealing moments turned out to be Henry Fonda’s Norman Thayer Jr. – a gruff, stubborn and crotchety old man – bonding through fishing with his daughter’s soon-to-be stepson, bratty, arrogant and defiant Billy. They form quite the odd couple: bickering at each other, blaming each other for nearly setting fire to the house, clinging to a rock together for survival after their boat wrecks.

And their fishing scenes were priceless, including Billy landing Norman’s nemesis trophy trout, Walter (a monster rainbow that was set free to swim another day). The father and daughter ultimately followed suit in the bonding process, and the great Katharine Hepburn (“The loons! The loons!”) quietly was brilliant.

Awards buzz: Henry Fonda and Hepburn both won Best Actor Oscars among three wins and 10 nominations. Jane Fonda accepted the award for her ill father. The young breakout star, Billy, has barely been heard from again.

Notable lines: “Well, it’s doing a pretty good trout imitation – get the net!”

“Good God! It’s Walter! What the hell are you doing in here?”

A River Runs Through It (1992)

Before Brad Pitt was Brad Pitt, he was Paul Maclean, a troubled but likeable young man in Montana during the 1920s in director Robert Redford’s adaptation of Norman Maclean’s novel. Gorgeous sets define this movie of fly fishing rivers as a metaphor for life’s ups and downs.

Pitt’s Paul and Craig Sheffer’s Norman are complete opposites – Norman is a Dartmouth grad and responsible, in love with a local girl; Paul’s a hard-drinking and hard-gambling newspaper reporter getting deep in debt with some rough Montanans.

What they have in common is fishing, and they cast flies in the Big Blackfoot River. Norman sees how at peace Paul is filling his creel box with trout. When Paul gets caught in the rapids trying to land a trophy fish, it’s his time, Norman knowing he won’t be able to save his brother. The fishing scenes and Redford’s narration from the real Maclean’s book are haunting.

Awards buzz: Academy Award win for Best Cinematography; two other nominations.

Notable line: “Neal, in Montana there’s three things we’re never late for: church, work and fishing.”

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

Admittedly, when I first saw this I was skeptical about the title, but having a big crush on Emily Blunt and loving fishing so much made it a no-brainer to check out. And it actually was a pretty good, if unnecessarily sappy, story. The debonair publicist, Harriet (Blunt), conflicted with the fate of her missing-in-action new boyfriend in Afghanistan, just as quickly it seems falls for the nerdy but handsome fish biologist, Fred (Ewan McGregor). The hook – pun intended – is what seems like an absurd idea of a rich Yemeni sheik’s idea to import Atlantic salmon to the waters of his desert Middle East location.

The fishing scenes meant to portray Yemen – but actually filmed in Morocco – were rather inspiring, as was the system of makeshift fish ladders put in place to coax the salmon to head upstream. Just don’t expect much of an unpredictable conclusion and you’ll be fine.

Awards buzz: Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture Comedy or Musical (despite a few laughs, I’m still not sure why it wasn’t deemed a drama), Blunt for Best Actress and McGregor for Best Actor. Nobody won anything.

Notable lines: “But fishermen, I have noticed, they don’t care if I’m brown or white, rich or poor, wearing robes or waders. All they care about is the fish, the river and the game we play. For fishermen, the only virtues are patience, tolerance and humility.”

Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995)

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau had some of the best chemistry among buddy movie duos, so combine these two geniuses with fellow legends like Ann-Margaret and Sophia Loren (in the sequel), and you have comedic gold. Set in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota, all things fishing serve as a backdrop to finding love again in your golden years.

Fishing-related gags are gloriously done throughout the flicks: Dead, rotting fish thrown in the backseat of cars; fish planted in a tuxedo pocket at a wedding; frozen fish used as weapons during a fight; fish that fall through a cut net; the quest to catch a whiskered monster known as Catfish Hunter. (Like Walter in On Golden Pond, the catfish was spared being mounted on Matthau’s wall.)

These movies are cute and worth your time just watching co-star Burgess Meredith’s hilarious (and dirty) outtakes during the closing credits.   

Awards buzz: None of note, though Meredith got totally snubbed as Best Supporting Actor. Either that or give him a special award for funniest old guy in movie history.

Notable lines : “Max, let’s let him go.”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“Dad tried to catch that fish for 20 years. Catfish Hunter deserves to be in the lake with Pop.”

“Gustafson, you are one sick bastard.” CS

Editor’s note: Have a favorite fishing or hunting movie moment? Comment about it on our Facebook page (facebook.com/pages/California-Sportsman-Magazine/568564509850112)

Girls, Guns And Dangerous Game

Red Bluff-based clothing mavens Jenifer Adams and Norissa Harman of Girls With Guns go international in new TV series, Universal Huntress

By Chris Cocoles

They’ve come a long ways, metaphorically at least, from designing outdoor fashion clothes for women out of a home garage in Northern California. Jenifer Adams and Norissa Harman had a vision that spawned a successful company, Girls With Guns Clothing.

But while the gals remain small-town at heart, choosing to continue their work out of Red Bluff, a quiet hamlet of 14,000 off Interstate 5, 130 miles north of Sacramento, even for these ambitious entrepreneurs, traveling across a continent, an ocean and hunting the wild lands of Africa in front of a TV camera was something altogether different.

The girls with guide Yvan Nieuwoudt and a South African white rhino that was darted and examined to check on its health progress.  (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

The girls with guide Yvan Nieuwoudt and a South African white rhino that was darted and examined to check on its health. (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

Just as the Girls With Guns brand has taken off, Adams and Harman just seem to have found a niche on Universal Huntress TV, a Sportsman Channel series that premiered in December.

We see Adams and Harman crisscrossing the African continent (and New Zealand), not only hunting exotic species but also experiencing new cultures and engaging in adventures like skydiving, hot air ballooning and bungee jumping.

“We are definitely outside the box,” says Adams, the more adrenaline-charged half of the team. “You’re going to see about 75 percent hunting and 25 percent will be something exciting, something fun. And the main part is Norissa and I are best friends who started in our garage to design a clothing line. We’ve grown the company so much, we have opportunities to talk a little bit about who we are and where we came from.”

The idea for their show came from a world away. Adams and Harman were on their way to the Sacramento International Sportsman Exposition when we caught up with them in January. Ironic, since that was where they met South African Emaneul “Kappie” Kapp. Sort of.

A YEAR AGO, Kapp, a publisher and outdoor film producer, was walking the aisles at the massive outdoors show and saw the Girls With Guns booth. He had an idea to discuss a possible television show opportunity. Unfortunately, the ladies weren’t there at that time.

“I’d played around with the idea of a women hunting show for a while and they sounded like the perfect fit,” Kapp says. “I left my business card at their booth and requested they call me.”

With their professional hunting guide Yvan Nieuwoudt giving instruction, Jenifer Adams prepares to take a shot at a black wildebeest and Norissa Harman shoots footage during an episode of Universal Huntress TV. The duo own and operate Red Bluff-based clothing company Girls With Guns.  (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

With their professional hunting guide Yvan Nieuwoudt giving instruction, Jenifer Adams prepares to take a shot at a black wildebeest and Norissa Harman shoots footage during an episode of Universal Huntress TV. The duo own and operate Red Bluff-based clothing company Girls With Guns.
(UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

Kapp thought Adams’ go-for-it attitude was reminiscent of himself. Harman, admittedly the “chicken one” of these two BFFs, seemed more like Kapp’s wife, Chantelle, also a member of the production team.

“One of the things Kappie told us is he was looking for something a little different,” Adams says.

But even Kapp wasn’t sure what to expect when “I got a call from two girly girls from Northern California.”

“We spoke on the phone a couple of times and I eventually got them on a plane to South Africa,” Kapp says. “I met them for the first time in person at O.R. Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg (South Africa).”

They hadn’t known each other besides some conversations done over Skype, but the chemistry among those behind and in front of the camera made for a great match.

Harman says during production her and Kapp’s relationship is more like a brother and sister who may bicker while shooting in some of the most remote and wild lands on earth, but are indeed like family at the end of the day.

Adams, here with a wildebeest, says, “I think I learned a lot about myself on that trip. It was just surreal. I fell in love with Africa.” (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

Adams, here with a wildebeest, says, “I think I learned a lot about myself on that trip. It was just surreal. I fell in love with Africa.” (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

“Since we’ve met each other, it’s been for the better. He’s taken us out of our world, where we grew up, to his world, to show his perspective,” Harman says. “For that, I’m very grateful for him. I think there have been a lot of special moments that we’ve all done together and he’s been there to see us grow. To capture that together, it’s been fun.”

Over the course of filming, Kapp found the stars of his show learning from their mistakes, both on the actual hunts and the process of producing episodes of a TV show in the African bush. They went through hours upon hours of footage, narrowing them down to fit into the 22 minutes of running time.

Adams and Harman even found themselves operating a second camera as B-roll footage. (Among the guests on the first season was aspiring country music singer Morgan Mills, who wrote and produced the show’s theme song, Let’s Ride, sung by Mills and featuring established country music performer Colt Ford.) 

Adams says the relatively small crew on-hand during production simplifies the process.

“When you’re hunting you already have your guide or PH (professional hunter), your cameraman, and Norissa and I always hunt together. Through Kappie, he’s taught us some limited camera skills,” Adams says.

“They had to learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera, and it took some guidance to get them to relax and not feel uncomfortable,” Kapp says. “I still provide them with guidance, but they’ve come a long way from our first hunt.”

ON THE FIRST episode, Harman and Adams joined guide Marius Kotze of Rhinoland Safaris (rhinoland.co.za) in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. They were greeted on a dirt road by roaming elephants and rhinos and their land cruiser became temporarily stuck in the middle of a rising river – just a typical day of mayhem on an African safari.

“I think I learned a lot about myself on that trip,” Adams says. “Just getting out of the country, seeing some amazing people and being in some awesome hunting territory. It was just surreal. I fell in love with Africa on that trip.”

Harman (here with a bull gemsbok she harvested in South Africa) is the less adventurous of the duo, but she conquered some fears by engaging in both skydiving and bungee jumping. “I’m proud that I did it. Would I want to do it again? Probably not.” (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

Harman (here with a bull gemsbok she harvested in South Africa) is the less adventurous of the duo, but she conquered some fears by engaging in both skydiving and bungee jumping. “I’m proud that I did it. Would I want to do it again? Probably not.” (UNIVERSAL HUNTRESS TV)

The girls harvested their first African continent plains game animals on the first show. Adams successfully hunted an impala, zebra and kudu on that initial two-week trip; Harman got an impala and kudu.

Adams also hunted two of Africa’s “Dangerous 7 Game” animals, lion and hippopotamus.

“That lion hunt, it was the first time I had ever hunted an animal where it wanted to hunt me back,” she says.

On the pilot episode, when the women both made successful shots, they became overcome with emotion, particularly Harman.

“(Viewers) didn’t get to see the whole story. I actually missed (the shot) a couple times on that trip,” she says. “The animals are different there. They are really fast moving and I think my nerves got the best of me – having a camera on you, that whole factoring into making a good shot. So, of course, when I did shoot my kudu, I’m such an emotional person and wear my heart on my sleeve, I can’t help it. I cry a lot and this whole season you’ll see lots of tears.”

Adams is not one who shows her emotions so quickly – there’s that yin-yang trait between them again – but also had a moment during the time between the shot and the confirmation that the animal was down. Adams thinks the anticipation of where they were and the stalking process created so much tension it felt natural to let loose a few joyous tears. 

“One thing is certain – they truly love what they do and they are emotional when it comes to the beautiful trophy they have harvested. Sometimes it’s laughter and at other times it’s tears, but there is always a lot of emotion involved,” Kapp says. “Our TV show is in real time and with no reenactment, and therefore the real emotional scenes on camera are (compelling).”

The pitch of two hunters with such different personalities would be an easy one for a producer to have interest in. On one side of the table a risk taker willing to push her entire stack of chips into the pot at any time; on the opposite side, a risk avoider who raises an eyebrow at even the slightest of all-in moves.

Guess which Girls With Guns business partner did not have parachuting out of a plane over Africa on her bucket list?

“We are a good balance,” Harman says. “I think a lot of it is just the unknown. We’d never done anything like that. When I got there I had no intention of doing that. I mean, why would I want to jump out of a perfectly good plane? But just the energy and meeting the people, the moment convinced me to try it. So I’m proud that I did it. Would I want to do it again? Probably not.”

There was also the cultural experience of visiting countries such as the Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, which was priceless (an episode was also filmed in the south island of New Zealand).

Learning a few phrases of one of South Africa’s and Namibia’s official languages, Afrikaans, has inspired further studying of that dialect for future trips to that part of the world.

cs_mag

“I think it’s a little bit humbling and life-changing and a little bit in our face,” Harman says. “Just because here in the U.S., we have the luxury of grabbing a glass of water, checking the Internet and going to the movies. And these people don’t have that luxury. Kids can’t just go to a faucet and grab a glass of water like we do. They’re going to watering holes or digging a hole in the middle of a dried-up creekbed to drink water with sand in it. Jen and I will probably keep those moments forever and never take for granted what we do have.”

Adams was floored by the diversity, both in the people of the various countries visited and the constantly changing topography. She didn’t expect to see mountains not unlike those located a short distance from her Northern California home (“I don’t think a lot of people realize that,” Adams says). It wasn’t long until they’d go from mountains to a sandy desert and then a rainforest.

“We were just so grateful for the opportunity (to be there) and to hunt in a situation we’ve never been in before,” Adams says. “To know where Norissa and I came from, we were able to see things that most of my family and people back home will never have the opportunity to see. I felt very lucky and blessed to be there.”    

AS WE’VE SEEN frequently in this social media-obsessed world, when you hunt, you’re likely to be frowned upon by the Twitter and Facebook crowd. If you’re a woman who hunts, it’s chaos on the keyboards. Vile online attacks of female hunters have gone viral with a sinister tone.

Most hunters understand and accept that the anti-hunting sentiment won’t be going away anytime soon, and a show like Universal Huntress TV will surely be considered taboo from day one with some refusing to find a common ground.

“One of the things that we’re learning as we go, and we hope the audience will learn with us; we try to ask questions and then ask more questions,” Adams says.

“We need to understand the importance of conservation. It is something that’s a little bit different here than in South Africa. But honestly, there isn’t that much of a difference – taking a mature animal and making sure that we don’t overhunt them. Norissa and I are trying to learn as we go and pass it onto our audience. I hope they’re able to see that.” Universal Huntress TV hopes the stories it tells – about hunting, about friendship, about culture and about conquering your fears can send a positive message. 

“It’s really for people to just be themselves. We have a lot of young girls who look up to us now, and we really never expected to be role models,” Harman says of her role as clothing designer but also messenger about the sport their line sells to. “So we just hope that they can see what hunting has done for Jen and I. It’s been a bonding experience, kind of like a sisterhood. So if there are girls out there doing this together, it’s something they’ll be able to share like we’ve shared. It’s important for us that they see that.”  CS

Editor’s note: New episodes of Universal Huntress TV can be seen on Mondays on the Sportsman Channel. More information can be found at thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/universal-huntress.com, Twitter (@univhuntress) and Facebook (facebook.com/universalhuntress). Check out Girls With Guns clothing apparel at gwgclothing.com, Twitter (@GirlswithGuns), and Facebook (facebook.com/girlswithgunsclothing).

Friends And Family Plan – Literally – For The Big Fred Hall Shows

How does the Hall family pull off the giant Long Beach and Del Mar sportsmen’s shows? It takes a small, but close-knit staff, reveals organizer Bart Hall

Story and Photos By Bart Hall

CAMARILLO—As we head into the 69th edition of the Fred Hall Shows in March, events of this scope and magnitude don’t just happen by accident. It takes careful coordination and detailed planning.

General manager Mike Lum heads a small Fred Hall Show staff. Lum has spent his entire life in the fishing and hunting industries. As a young man, he began working retail in local Southern California gun stores. Eventually, Lum was associated with Andrew’s Sporting Goods and helped to turn that company into the regional powerhouse that it eventually became. Those stores are now called Turner’s Outdoorsman, but it was Mike Lum who got them off the ground and laid the foundation for their eventual extreme success.

Bart Hall (left, with wife) Ginny, has taken over the lead for his late father,  whose Southern California outdoors shows turn 69 with Fred Hall Show events in Long Beach and San Diego. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Bart Hall (left, with wife) Ginny, has taken over the lead for his late father, whose Southern California outdoors shows turn 69 with Fred Hall Show events in Long Beach and San Diego. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Back in the days when the Fred Hall Shows were in the final stage of exhibiting at the now defunct Great Western Exhibit Center, it was Lum and I who convinced my father, Fred Hall, to allow retail selling at the shows. Before then the shows were truly just a place to “show” products. Selling was not allowed.

While Lum remained at Turner’s they had an exclusive on retail selling at the Fred Hall Shows. That ended when Lum moved on to a local sporting goods distribution company and eventually became an executive for an online sporting goods enterprise. He joined the Fred Hall Shows about 16 years ago and has become the person responsible for the detailed planning of these enormous events. His intimate knowledge of the retail business related to fishing and hunting is unmatched by any other person in the sports show business.

Morgan Hall (left) is Bart and Ginny Hall’s oldest son. His wife Katie has guided the shows’ transition into the electronic age. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Morgan Hall (left) is Bart and Ginny Hall’s oldest son. His wife Katie has guided the shows’ transition into the electronic age. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Complementing Lum is Tim Baker. He also came out of the Turner’s group, and at one time held the same title as Lum did at the local retail giant. Baker eventually went on to become the marketing manager of the Okuma Fishing Tackle Company. He has an intimate knowledge of the fishing business from both the perspective of retail sales and the manufacturing of fishing tackle. Baker is an avid hunter and has a wealth of knowledge about anything having to do with firearms and accessories. Tim is married to Lynne Baker and they have two lovely daughters, Teal and Brooke (yes,  he is an avid waterfowl hunter and angler). Lynne is obviously a patient and understanding woman. Their 2014 email Christmas card showed the family on an elk hunt.

Baker doesn’t allow the office to become too somber. Laughter is part of his aura. He and his family are welcome additions to the Fred Hall Show staff and we are lucky to have them.

A FAMILY BUSINESS

Katie Hall is married to Morgan Hall, the oldest son of me and my wife, Ginny. Katie is the smartest person in the room – any room – and she guides us through the maze of electronic gadgets and social media of the modern era. She is the operations director and keeps track of everything that goes on with the shows. Katie is part advertising agency, part graphic designer, part computer technician and part show analyst. Despite having two young children at home (Aidan and Samantha), she is always on top of her work and often works late into the night to stay ahead of the curve.

Ginny has been here for over 46 years. Once she married me, she married the Fred Hall Shows. Ginny also spent 20 years teaching around Los Angeles, and her many exploits into unchartered ground set her apart from the regular teaching community. Ginny spent 20 years pioneering the teaching industry and setting standards in challenged academic communities that will be hard to duplicate. Throughout all of that, she always worked for the Fred Hall Shows.

Sammy and Katie Hall participate in the kids’ trout, which will again feature several family-friendly events at the Fred Hall Shows. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

Sammy and Katie Hall participate in the kids’ trout, which will again feature several family-friendly events at the Fred Hall Shows. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

As my parents got older it was Ginny and I who did all of the “real” work of putting the shows together. Ginny remembers everything! Tell her your birthday and she’ll know it forever. I am cantankerous and often short with people. Ginny is funny, charming, pretty and extremely likeable. Many late nights and many long days spent working by us eventually lead to the greatest consumer sports shows on the planet. Today, Ginny is an owner and the associate producer of the Fred Hall Shows.

UNSUNG HEROES

Most Fred Hall Show attendees don’t get to see the people who make these shows possible. Dave Mandagie has been with us for most of his adult life. His beautiful wife Barbie and three special children, Amber, Ashley and Brooke, have all been a part of the Fred Hall Shows for decades.

Mandagie is a unique individual. He actually is the definition of unique individual. Dave is intelligent and extremely capable. He works hard and is quiet; he is sophisticated; he is also the funniest SOB on the planet. If we had only started writing down his soft-spoken, spur-of–the-moment improvised comments on things that have happened over the last 20 years, we would have a book that would make us all rich. Mandagie makes me laugh so hard I cannot breath. He is not just a great husband, father and worker, he is my friend – and that is a very short list.

Mandagie has put together a quality that staff includes Eric McCully, who is the guy you want next to you in the foxhole. In the dictionary under the word dependable they have McCully’s picture. He is husband to Chante and father to Dillon and Reese. McCully also brings us his cousin Jonathan Carlton from the same great gene pool.

Rick Gaskins and his wife Janet are also part of our group. Gaskins brings sanity and normality to this group of unique individuals around here and is a breath of fresh air.

Robbie Mandagie is Dave’s brother and the only person around giving Dave a run for the “unique individual” award (another outstanding gene pool, though Robbie may have hit his head on the bottom of that one!).

Billy Treviranus, his wife Terri and their sons Hunter and Colton give us some height at power forward. Just because Billy is tall and handsome doesn’t mean he can’t work. He can and he does. Terri has the brains in that outfit.

At one time, before Danny Mandagie went to work for the U.S. Border Patrol, he was part of the crew. Dave brought us Lyall Belquist when he was 13 years old. I had to call his mother to get permission for him to work with us. She assured us that fishing and hunting was his passion and she would appreciate it if we let him work with us. Lyall expects to get his doctorate in marine biology soon. The work he has done over the past several years on behalf of aquatic species and local anglers has been nothing short of miraculous. We are very proud of him.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FAMILY

Some of Ginny’s family help with the shows as well. Occasionally, Ginny’s brother Mike helps us. His beautiful daughter Crystal is married to one of our key exhibitors and works us at the front desk at the shows. My nephew, Ginny’s sister’s son, is also a great help. Jay Settle is big, energetic and always smiling and helpful. I like that guy. And, of course, there are Lindsey and Lindsey at the front desk. They are no relation to anyone, just friends of Crystal.

My sons, Morgan and Travis, grew up around the shows and their “papa” Fred, just as I did as a child. They love these events and help out every year when they can.

Now my grandchildren love them as well. Hannah is 13 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, beautiful like her mother, but she also looks like her “papa.” She’s a great student and a fantastic athlete and can play any sport she tries.

Aidan, 13 years, is also tall and handsome, a great student and aspring filmmaker. He shares Morgan’s passion for fast, powerful cars, and they race RC cars together. Ten-year-old Hunter is, naturally, a hunter. He passed his hunter’s safety course when he was 8. He loves hunting, fishing and sports. I think he’ll be my future golfing buddy; he’s granny’s cuddle bug.

And then there is Samantha. Sammy is 10, dark-haired and beautiful, and one of the most fantastic artists I have ever seen. We’ll be seeing her work in galleries some day. She is also an outstanding athlete. Hannah, Hunter and Aidan all have passed their hunter safety courses and have valid California hunting licenses. It was a great day for me this year when they all joined us in Blythe for the opening of dove season.

Our scuba and free-dive section is helped along by my “brother from another mother,” Jonathan Hall. His experiences as an LAPD diver and FBI CSI diver have been invaluable to our fledgling dive efforts.

Our publicists Craig Pobst, formerly an executive with the J. Walter Thompson group, and his partner Craig Nichols give us excellent advice and keep our advertising focused. Publicist Amy Foley keeps us smiling and keeps us on our toes. Her contacts and insight into local media are amazing.

The next generation in the Hall family: (from left) Sammy, Aidan, Hunter and Hannah Hall are grandchildren to Fred and Lois Hall. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

The next generation in the Hall family: (from left) Sammy, Aidan, Hunter and Hannah Hall are grandchildren to Fred and Lois Hall. (FRED HALL SHOWS)

I also want to acknowledge Russ Luke from Global Experience Specialists. His team of expert decorators, teamsters and electricians keep everything moving smoothly. Wes keeps the boats moving and the forks rolling. Last but not least, our old friend Barry Greenberg keeps us in touch with the automotive industry.

The Fred Hall Shows exist because of this extended family. Of course, the Fred Hall Shows are a business. However, for this show-production family, the yearly evolution of the events transcends business. The fact that we can all work together toward a common goal makes these shows more than just a business – they are a way of life.

And now with the re-acquisition of the Fred Hall Shows to the Hall family and the addition of Duncan McIntosh as a partner, the Fred Hall Shows are getting ready to be bigger and badder than ever. CS

Editor’s note: Bart Hall is the show producer for the Fred Hall Shows, which will be in Long Beach from March 4-8 and San Diego from March 26-29. For more information, go to fredhall.com.

CHiPing In For The Community

The Willows office of the California Highway Patrol holds an annual pheasant hunt that benefits the local community, widows and orphans of fallen officers, and others. 

By Chris Cocoles

Each fall, the California Highway Patrol’s regional office in Willows, just west of Chico, hosts an annual pheasant hunt, which will celebrate 15 years this fall.

The idea started in 2000, when a now-retired lieutenant who was also an avid outdoorsman reached out to a local hunting club, Thunder Hill Ranch, about hosting an event. It’s since become a popular destination for both CHP personnel and locals in what is a hot spot for hunting in Northern California, on the first Friday of November.

Held on Clear Creek Ranch near Corning, the California Highway Patrol’s annual pheasant hunt attracts officers and local bird hunters from throughout the Sacramento Valley. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Held on Clear Creek Ranch near Corning, the California Highway Patrol’s annual pheasant hunt attracts officers and local bird hunters from throughout the Sacramento Valley. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Since that first event, Thunder Hill’s proprietors sold their property and moved to an out-of-state location, but for the last three years the hunt has been held at Clear Creek Ranch in Corning (530-520-4034; clearcreeksportsclub.com), which is located adjacent to Rolling Hills Casino.

“We have an average of about 150 hunters. I’ll send out flyers around the end of August,” says Tracy Hoover, public information officer for the Willows CHP headquarters. “It’s just a good day for the community.”

It’s a full day too. Hoover says volunteers begin showing up around 7 a.m. to set up coffee, hot chocolate and donuts tables for those who attend.

Participants split the day between shooting clays and hunting birds with volunteer guides. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Participants split the day between shooting clays and hunting birds with volunteer guides. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Half of the field will participate in a morning hunt, while the rest will engage in clay-shooting competition. That rotation flip-flops in the afternoon session after a snack. At the end of the day there’s a catered lunch of tri-tip and sides for everyone.

“We’ll have a raffle, and it allows us to donate the money to the 11-99 Foundation (714-529-1199; chp11-99
.org),” Hoover says of an organization that assists CHP families. “We donate to the widows and orphans fund, and to our local high school for Sober Graduation. And there are other various organizations around our community (that receive donations). It’s just a lot of fun and something we all look forward to every year.”

The event always ends with a raffle, with proceeds benefiting not just the CHP’s family foundation, but local organizations. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

The event always ends with a raffle, with proceeds benefiting not just the CHP’s family foundation, but local organizations. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

It was a natural fit for the CHP to want to host a special hunt each fall. Willows is in the heart of a waterfowl and upland bird hunting paradise  the Interstate 5 corridor between Sacramento and Redding, 162 miles apart.

Both past and former employees are a big part of the event.

“We have a lot of (CHP) retirees who come out and hunt,” Hoover says. “Our officers volunteer their time at the hunt, and it’s not a work day for them; they have to volunteer their time. We only have about 23 officers in this building, and I believe only one didn’t want to either work the road or volunteer his time. Our officers do the clay stations and a couple actually do the guiding. Without them we wouldn’t be able to put it on.”

An average of 150 hunters attends this very popular pheasant hunt each November. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

An average of 150 hunters attends this very popular pheasant hunt each November. (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Hunts like this bring together the tight-knit law enforcement units up  and down the Sacramento Valley.

“We have people who show up from as far away as Stockton CHP, and they bring their friends from agencies like the sheriff’s department,” Hoover says. “A whole bunch of different agencies help out with this and come out to hunt.”

Hoover’s only been in the Willows location for a few years, but many officers and administrators there are hunters and anglers.

“We have a lot of hunters in our department. My husband is a (CHP) sergeant and he’s a huge hunter,” Hoover says. “One of our other sergeants here is a big duck hunter. He just got back taking six weeks off – and he did a lot of hunting.”

“People just really, really enjoy it and they look forward to it,” Willows CHP public information officer Tracy Hoover says. “It gives us a great honor to be able to donate money to the community in general.” (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

“People just really, really enjoy it and they look forward to it,” Willows CHP public information officer Tracy Hoover says. “It gives us a great honor to be able to donate money to the community in general.” (TRACY HOOVER/CHP)

Most of these annual hunts have gone without a hitch – Hoover recalled one incident where someone fainted on the ranch. And it’s the kind of event that brings the whole Glenn County city of Willows together each November. 

“People just really, really enjoy it and they look forward to it,” Hoover says. “I start getting phone calls months in advance. It gives us a great honor to be able to donate money to our 11-99 Foundation and just the community in general.”

The cost to participate in the November 2015 hunt is $125. For more information, contact Tracy Hoover with the California Highway Patrol at (530) 934-5424. You can also email her at Thoover@chp.ca.gov to request a flier for the hunt. CS

PROS/JOES: Dial in your electronics to become a better winter bass angler

Technology has changed the game of bass fishing forever. Period.

If $500 nanosilica rods, $360 magnesium reels and $30 vacuum-metalized, 3D-etched baits aren’t proof enough that the catching of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bath has advanced to a level of science that would confound Mr. Spock (the Vulcan, not the child psychologist), take a peek at the 9- and 12-inch sonar/GPS screens that are now adorning bass boats across the country.

Thanks to manufacturers like Lowrance and Humminbird, your on-board electronics can now tell you where you are in the world down to a few inches, shuffle your iTunes playlist, draw you a picture of a rusted-out car body that you used to think was a brush pile at the bottom of your local bass lake, and serve you a salami sandwich.

Maybe not the sandwich. But everything else on the list above (courtesy of GPS mapping, Sonic Hub, StructureScan and Side Imaging), is now part of the well-equipped bass angler’s electronics cluster. And all of that gadgetry and science can translate into one thing: your on-board computer systems can help you catch more fish.

Oh, how times have changed.

“Years ago when I put my first boat together, I had probably $1,200 worth of electronics total,” says Kent Brown of Ultimate Bass Radio in Sacramento (ultimatebassradio.com). “This year’s boat when it’s all together, it’s upwards of $5,000 of electronics, which is about half of what I paid for my first bass boat. Electronics have become a really, really big part of your boat, but there’s a reason for it. It just cuts the learning curve so much, it’s incredible. Simple as that.”

Brown is a shining example of the evolution of the modern-day bass fiend, and the necessary adaptation to/use of technology. While he still uses old-school Lowrance buoys to help mark his spots when he’s fishing deep structure, he’s also about as well-versed on the tweaking and functionality of the electronics on his new Triton as anybody in the West. He’s gone from paper and pencil notes to punch-of-the-button information storage, and he’s a better angler for it.

“Dude, I learned to run the Delta with a map folded between my legs,” he says. “That’s how all of us old farts learned it. Now, the GPS will give you a topographical reading – a perfect map of the Delta – tell you exactly where you are, tell you whether the tide is coming in or going out, how much it’s going to move that day. It’s all right there with the touch of a button. You’re getting information that you had to scratch for years to learn back in the day, and it’s making you a better angler, if you’re using it right. We have a distinct advantage that we’ve never had before. It’s not cheating, either: you still have to get the fish to bite.”

Seeing what’s down there: The best example of how profoundly a good set of electronics can influence your fish-finding ability crept up on Brown one afternoon as he was idling across a channel at his home lake, Folsom Lake near Sacramento. It’s a body of water that he’s been on hundreds upon hundreds of times and knows like his own back yard, but one cruise over a spot with a new array of Lowrance HDS electronics completely changed the way he’ll fish a certain area from now on.

“I was idling over a channel, talking on my cell phone and happened to look down at my screen the first year I had StructureScan,” Brown recounts. “I found an area that’s about 150, maybe 200 yards long where there’s a stretch of trees still standing in the main channel, about 60 feet down. When they cut the trees to make the reservoir, they just left those trees down there. I had no idea they were even there and I’ve been over that spot 500 times, but StructureScan drew me an absolutely perfect picture of what was down there. My first drag through there with a purple rubber worm and a jig, I caught one 5 pounds.”

Your first step: take your units out of automatic mode and ditch the basic, video-gamey fish-finder setting. Brown cranks the sensitivity as high as he can.

“I want to see everything that’s down there,” he says. “If I’m pre-fishing or on a new lake – of if I’m deep-structure fishing on Oroville or Shasta and I just want to see that darterhead working down there – I can pick up stuff that I couldn’t see otherwise.”

Finding new territory: Topographical mapping features are a godsend when fishing a new lake. SideScan and the like are fantastic detail-providers once you’ve identified a piece of structure, but smart use of a topo map is the first step in actually finding potentially fishy new areas.

“Once you understand how to read those maps – you know, the lines running real close together are a sharp break, the long lines represent a flat tapered area – it gives you the structure, and lets you expand on stuff you’re already fishing,” Brown says. “If you usually fish the end of a point, a topographical map might sow you that there’s really an even steeper break 75 yards away.”
Stay on your spots: While old-school sight triangulation and reading what your sonar is telling you are still functional ways to find your way back to your favorite ledge, brushpile or submerged roadbed, the simple touch of a button saves you time untold.

“When you find that rockpile, ledge or break that has fish on it, it’s ‘beep’ and it’s stored forever as a waypoint,” Brown ways. “The ability to store a waypoint it just awesome. You can leave a spot and go back 10 years from now, and be literally 3 feet from it.”