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Road Trippin’ For Sierra Trout On 395

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The following appears in the June issue of California Sportsman:

By Mike Stevens

There is an arguably-overused saying along the lines of, “the journey is part of the destination,” and that holds a lot of water when it comes to fishing. For Southern Californians especially, it holds true for making the pilgrimage up U.S. 395 to reach the Eastern Sierra.

For Sierra anglers heading up from SoCal, Highway 395 is not a long, boring highway that needs to be endured before receiving the gold at the end of the rainbow, but rather a portal to a meaningful place that gradually takes on appearance of the destination, and less like the rat race in the rearview mirror.

While blasting northward on the holy highway toward conifers, peaks and trout, 395 itself has a lot to offer. Most travelers have been making the trek for years, if not decades, and have their own favorite places to stop, eat, explore, stretch their legs, maybe even fish before getting back on the road. Mine and yours may have a lot in common, or none at all. The point is, enjoying Highway 395 in your own way adds some cool elements to your trip and makes the drive seem shorter, even though, technically, it takes more time.

Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48, greets motorists on 395. (MIKE STEVENS)

Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48, greets motorists on 395. (MIKE STEVENS)

 

PLOTTING THE COURSE 

The way my longer Sierra trips work, it’s to my parents’ secure lodging at the Seasons 4 condos in Mammoth Lakes for a solid week, Saturday to Saturday. That meant that first Saturday was a travel day that had us (my brother and whoever else was riding with me, while my dad and stepmom head up out of L.A.) arriving in Mammoth between 2 and 3 p.m. – give or take based on whether or not we stopped at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga – tired from the ride and gassed from hauling gear upstairs at altitude.

We might head out for a light afternoon fishing the Upper Owens or the evening in the Lakes Basin, but it’s basically a travel day, with no “real” fishing until morning.

After about 10 years of that, I decided to do something about it, and I created “Day Zero.” Day Zero became the Friday before the trip, where rather than burn day 1 driving up, I’d make the drive on Friday, but not all the way to Mammoth.

On each Day Zero, I would pick a different town on the highway, and a different motel, even those of the “blinking arrow” variety. I would take my time heading up, stop where I wanted to stop, and get there when I got there.

This accomplished several things above and beyond making Saturday a full fishing day: It shortened the drive up since I was only driving to Bishop, Big Pine, Lone Pine or Independence. It allowed me a chance to wander around and check out each of those towns, “people watch” over beers in a saloon, fish some low-maintenance local spots and otherwise soak up whatever is going on in the immediate area. All for the price of an extra day off work, and a cheap motel room split three ways.

DESERT PIT STOP

From San Diego, the beginning of the line is where I-15 connects with 395 in the High Desert near Hesperia. Until a few years ago, when I downgraded to a more gas-sipping vehicle, I would stop at the Pilot gas station right there where 395 begins, grab an Arnold Palmer in the store and check out all the cool stuff they sell for truckers before topping off the gas tank.

These days, with the ability to make it all the way to Bishop on a single tank, I shoot past it.

The first little town is Adelanto, which reminds me of  pre-Starbucks Temecula, and there are some decent drive-through food options if it’s snack time. From there, there is a bit of a featureless jog across the Mojave Desert before running into Kramer Junction, home of Astro Burger, which looks straight out of a campy 1980s movie and worth a quick photo, and it used to be a good place to eat. Now, that’s a roll of the dice as it swaps ownership often. An antique outfit next door is covered in Route 66-esque road signs and old ad signs that motorheads dream about having all over their garage.

GHOSTS OF KERN COUNTY 

The next stretch shoots straight across a lot more dirt before snaking its way into the El Paso Mountains and into Kern County. As we pass through living ghost towns with names like Red Mountain and Johannesburg, my passengers and I like to play a game of, “find a living human being” – travelers don’t count, only residents – since, while parked cars in driveways indicate human existence, seeing one is rare.

Coming out of the mountains, Ridgecrest will be the last bigger city with most comforts of home until Bishop, several hours north, but 20 minutes further brings you to the confluence of Highway 395 and Route 14, where the L.A. Sierra pilgrims join the party. It is also the location of my first every-trip stop: Brady’s Mini Mart, or as we like to call it, “Scary Gas Station.”

Scary Gas Station is a Mobil Station, so it’s a worthy top-off-the-tank pit stop, but the sensory overload that either leaves you speechless for the next 25 miles, or unable to shut up about it, lies within the store itself.

If you’ve been terrified by it at a carnival or had a weird uncle, you know the flavor of the merchandise found here: Various figurines depicting Jesus under a rainbow of blinking LED lights; Made in China knives and weaponry right out of Game of Thrones; peace pipes; books on cassette; various items featuring wolf or eagle imagery; Confederate memorabilia and enough marijuana-branded bric-a-brac to make Willie Nelson jealous. I can’t speak for the ladies’ room, but the men’s room is equipped with a chalkboard on which I like to leave messages like “help” or “save yourself!” It should also be noted, that Scary Gas Station is in a constant state of “For Sale,” so think about it.

Lee's Frontier is a favorite stopping point when the author heads north. (MIKE STEVENS)

Lee’s Frontier is a favorite stopping point when the author heads north. (MIKE STEVENS)

 

MOUNTAINS AND MILKSHAKES 

As you zip by tempting but unfishable Little Lake toward the oasis-like town of Olancha, you find yourself cruising parallel to the Sierra Nevada and can see it evolving from the hilly southern end to more of an imposing, rocky-peak situation. Soon you’ll close in on Lone Pine, which serves as the gateway to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48 (14,505 feet, depending on who’s counting). Lone Pine also is home to the only Highway 395 business that I stop at every time – coming and going without hesitation – Lee’s Frontier Liquor and Chevron Station.

The routine at Lee’s Frontier is fill up the tank, have Efrain in the deli whip me up a sandwich and milkshake while I wander the store taking in the awesomeness of the mountain man essentials available for purchase: beer, bait, bullets, area maps, pork ‘n’ beans, local olives and chileno peppers. Then I park my rig near a mini-farm (no joke) complete with chickens, goats and horses, and slam that sandwich while staring down Mount Whitney from the best highway-level viewpoint in the state.

As a testament to the importance of this place to my soul, the business card for the joint is the best on Earth, and it never leaves my wallet. It shows a cartoon version of Lee himself, one hand clutching a gas pump, the other around Mount Whitney.

The Whitney Portal Hostel and Motel (I spring for the motel part) is a lodging locale in the regular Day Zero rotation. It’s also the first opportunity to catch some trout in easy-to-get-to drive-up spots like Lone Pine Creek and Tuttle Creek coming out of the mountains, and the Owens River that now for the most part runs parallel to 395 to the east of the highway. While the Owens always has fish, a quick check to the CDFW stock schedule for the region dictates which creeks we target, because while you are taking your time going up, trying all of them isn’t realistic.

ARRIVING IN THE HIGH COUNTRY 

At this point, I feel I have reached the Eastern Sierra. Signs in businesses saying “Welcome Anglers” are peppered all over the place for the rest of the way. Neon trout point out the tackle shops, and those signs with the fish and hook marking turn offs leading to fish show up with increasing frequency.

Heading north, just past Lone Pine rests Manzanar National Historic Site, which was a Japanese relocation center utilized during World War II. Probably the most historically significant point on the highway, I finally checked it out up close and it was a powerful experience. Not the proudest moment in U.S. history, but an important one nonetheless.

Independence is the next town and it’s one step above the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it level. Independence Creek, Shepherd Creek and Georges Creek are all worthy targets for hit-and-run casting, and like in Lone Pine and any other of these Inyo County Creeks, having a printout or checking the stocking schedule on your phone is the way to go.

Heading up the roads along these creeks can now involve serious elevation gain and air temps way cooler than down on the highway. The mighty Owens still lies due east of the highway, and down here, you can catch anything from planted rainbows to big browns to bass and carp.

Copperttop BBQ is a place to stop if you're hungry. (MIKE STEVENS)

Copperttop BBQ is a place to stop if you’re hungry. (MIKE STEVENS)

 

INDEPENDENCE DAYS 

On the main drag through Independence, one cool landmark is the Inyo County Courthouse that looks straight out of the Deep South, with its well-kept front lawn and four white pillars that dominate its entrance. (If you’re into true-crime history, Charles Manson was formally charged here with the infamous mass murders he masterminded in 1969 and was arrested with his “family” at nearby Barker Ranch.) It’s not necessarily stop-and-get-out-worthy, but it’s worth slowing down for a good look.

Next up is Big Pine, which, according to statistics on Yelp.com, holds the highest-rated restaurant in the United States – that’s right, in the entire country. Copper Top BBQ is an unassuming little place with a tiny footprint, and it doesn’t even have a dining room unless you count the seasonal walled tent that’s sometimes up or the picnic tables on the front lawn. Its namesake barbecue is strategically placed right next to the highway, so if you don’t stop this time, you will smell it and hit it on the way back. That’s the owner on the grill with the white cowboy hat on waving to the constant honking travelers zipping by that are familiar with the joint. While we always stop at Lee’s Frontier in Lone Pine, we won’t eat there if we are hungry enough for Copper Top.

Bristlecone Motel in Big Pine is huge on the bang-for-your-buck scale with clean, comfy rooms with vaulted ceilings and a “Beer Cave” in the attached full-service market (and hardware store) that comes in quite handy after five-plus hours of driving. This is another motel receiving the Day Zero stamp of approval, and it is well within a quick drive to ply Taboose Creek, Goodale Creek, or Baker Creek for easy-access trout.

Load up on groceries at Maghonay Smoked Meats. (MIKE STEVENS)

Load up on groceries at Maghonay Smoked Meats in Bishop . (MIKE STEVENS)

CITY SIGHTS AND BIG BROWNS 

While it’s a bigger city and only a half-hour from my final destination, some Day Zero drives have made it all the way to Bishop. If we are staying in town, every level of hotel is in town and a stroll up either side of Main Street (which is just 395 as it runs through the middle of town) can land you in several tackle shops, a couple very cool book stores, the Mountain Light Gallery and Rusty’s Saloon, Bishop’s premier people-watching watering hole. There is also a new brewery in town, and a little-known secret is some of the best food in Bishop is served at the bowling alley. If I am not staying a night in Bishop, I can’t skip Schat’s Bakery or Mahogany Smoked Meats to pick up some fancy provisions for the week that follows.

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Fishing opportunities are best via various access points to the Owens River, including a fly-fishing-only stretch below Pleasant Valley Reservoir, and PVR itself is a solid fishery in itself for stocked rainbows and the occasional wall-hanger brown trout.

After that, for me and mine, it’s time to roll into Mammoth, fill up the growlers at Mammoth Brewing and start hitting the water for real. However, a lot of people still have a way to go, and they too need some road trip diversions. Let me rattle off some in quick fashion.

If for some reason you are that far north and it’s breakfast time, The Stove in Mammoth is the place to go. The June Lake Loop has the Double Eagle Resort; a friend of mine who is a frequent guest says nonguests can use the spa, pool and gym facilities for a moderate fee. June Lake also has a new brewery worth a stop, and if you aren’t looking to get out of the car but want to mix it up, jumping into the Loop off 395 and reacquiring the highway further north is a nice, short, scenic side trip.

Another can’t-miss place to get grub is the Whoa Nelli Deli in the store connected to the Mobil Station in Lee Vining. I hit it on the way back from every trip up Tioga Pass to Saddlebag Lake, but hungry travelers continuing on to Bridgeport need to stop and eat what has to be the best “gas station food” on the planet.

That’s a long list. Much of it is my list. You owe it to yourself to make your own list consisting of proven winners and a couple wild cards just so it constantly evolves, and you are always exposing yourself to new features of Highway 395 with each trip north. CS

Clear Lake In B.A.S.S. Top 10 Tournament Lakes

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Most bass anglers in California would say Clear Lake is the mother lode of the Golden State’s prized  largemouth fisheries. And the national club B.A.S.S., which refers itself as “the worldwide authority on bass fishing,” would agree.

B.A.S.S. ranked the Top 10 Bass Lakes for 2016, and nationally Clear Lake ranked third (the list also included the San Joaquin Delta at No. 5 and Lake Berryessa at No. 7.

Here’s the B.A.S.S. overall Top 10:

1. Toledo Bend, Texas/Louisiana [185,000 acres] 2. Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, South Carolina [110,000 acres and 60,000 acres, respectively] 3. Clear Lake, California [43,785 acres]
4. Lake Erie, New York [30-mile radius from Buffalo] 5. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California [1,100 square miles]
6. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota [132,000 acres] 7. Lake Berryessa, California [20,700 acres]
8. Rodman Reservoir, Florida [13,000 acres] 9. Falcon Lake, Texas [83,654 acres] 10. Lake St. Clair, Michigan [430 square miles]

And here’s the Western Region rankings, which includes some other California bass fisheries:

Western Region
1. Clear Lake, California
2. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
3. Lake Berryessa, California
4. Lake Havasu, Arizona/California [19,300 acres]
5. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho [17,090 acres] 6. Lake Casitas, California [1,100 acres]
7. Tenmile Lake, Oregon [1,626 acres] 8. Lake Washington, Washington [21,747 acres] 9. Don Pedro Reservoir, California [13,000 acres]
10. Saguaro Lake, Arizona [1,267 acres] 11. Snake River, Idaho/Oregon [100 mile Hells Canyon Wilderness reach] 12. Potholes Reservoir, Washington [14,281 acres] 13. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho [25,000 acres] 14. Roosevelt Lake, Arizona [21,493 acres] 15. C.J. Strike Reservoir, Idaho [7,500 acres] 16. Lake Mohave, Nevada/Arizona [26,500 acres] 17. Banks Lake, Washington [26,886 acres] 18. Columbia River, Oregon/Washington [191 miles from Portland to McNary Dam] 19. Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho/Oregon [15,000 acres] 20. Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona [158,080 acres] 21. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona [108,335 acres] 22. Shasta Lake, California [30,000 acres]
23. Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Utah/Wyoming [42,020 acres] 24. Apache Lake, Arizona [2,568 acres] 25. Sand Hollow Reservoir, Utah [1,300 acres]

 

 

Surf’s Up, Bass Down

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The following appears in the June issue of California Sportsman:

By Chris Cocoles

Photos by Kirstin Scholtz, Kory Savage, Curtis Niedermier, Colin Moore and Todd Kline

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.

“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),” saysKline, 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.

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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.

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.

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 when I 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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

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

Young Anglers Tournament In San Diego

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The following press release is courtesy of San Diego Sportfishing:

Young anglers ages six through 15 are invited to compete in the free 14th Annual Young Angler Tournament this summer at the Shelter Island Pier, located at 1776 Shelter Island Drive on Saturday August 8th. This saltwater event is sponsored by the San Diego Sportfishing Council, the International Game Fish Association and the Port of San Diego.

The tournament will feature a points system to allow for catch and release. Winners-one in each age category between six and 15 — will be determined by adding up points for various fish caught. The angler with the most points overall will be recognized on the tournaments’ perpetual trophy.

IGFA representatives and volunteers from the United Pier and Shore Anglers Club, San Diego Rod & Reel, San Diego Anglers and the San Diego Fly Fishers will be on hand to assist young anglers and to tally points. Young anglers in the competition are encouraged to bring their own gear, although a limited number of loaner rods will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Bait will be provided by Anglers Supply,

Registration for the Shelter Island Pier Tournament slated for Saturday, Aug. 13th begins at 7:30 AM at the pier.  Fishing begins at 8:30 AM and ends promptly at 12 noon.  Prizes are awarded by 1 PM.  Hot dogs, chips, and sodas will be served to all registered anglers.  Lunch is provided, courtesy of Stump’s Village Market of Rancho Santa Fe and Tommy Gomes from Catalina Offshore Products and Specialty Produce.

Sponsors include OKUMA Fishing Tackle, Turner’s, Anglers Distributing, Big Hammer Lures, Friends of Rollo, Costa Sunglasses, Uni Goop, Tiburon Engineering, Point Loma and H&M Sportfishing Landings.  Prizes and raffle drawing items for the tournament include rods and reels, hats, T-shirts, fishing gear and deep sea fishing trips.  Loaner Gear, Bait, and tackle are provided respectively by Okuma Fishing Tackle, Anglers Distributing, and Friends of Rollo.

The San Diego Sportfishing Council is California non-profit corporation established in 1979 to promote San Diego saltwater fishing as an attractive marine recreational activity, to increase awareness and availability of “how, when and where” information on sportfishing opportunities.

For more information, please call the San Diego Sportfishing Council at (619) 234-8793 or log onto the website at: www.sportfishing.org

 

Shasta Tackle Company Purchased

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM MACK’S LURE

Mack’s Lure, Inc., manufacturer of the famous Wedding Ring and Smile Blade, today announced that it is acquiring Shasta Tackle Company, makers of custom trout, kokanee and salmon lures, including the popular Cripplure, Hum Dinger, Sling Blade and more.

The purchase of Shasta Tackle Company, based in Redding, Calif., further increases Mack’s Lure, Inc.’s share in several fishing tackle markets and kokanee, in particular.

TODAY'S PURCHASE OF SHASTA TACKLE BY MACK'S LURE PUTS THE WENATCHEE COMPANY HEADED UP BY

TODAY’S PURCHASE OF SHASTA TACKLE BY MACK’S LURE INCREASES THE WENATCHEE COMPANY’S PLAY IN THE KOKANEE MARKET. ABOVE, BOB SCHMIDT HOLDS ONE OF THE LANDLOCKED SOCKEYE, CAUGHT AT WALLOWA LAKE A FEW SEASONS BACK. (MACK’S LURE)

“What an exciting time for both companies and their customer base,” said Bob Schmidt, owner and president of Mack’s Lure, Inc. “This is two leaders in the kokanee market combining their strengths and ideas to offer anglers even more exciting products, as well as allowing Mack’s Lure to grow more rapidly and get in touch with an even larger base of anglers.”

“For 28 years, we have built a strong, deep-rooted, fast-growing company, but as business evolves, it has become more and more apparent that we needed a strong, well-established strategic partner to continue on our path,” said Gary Miralles, founder of Shasta Tackle Co. “We found that partnership with Mack’s Lure.”

The acquisition with Shasta Tackle Co. is monumental for Mack’s Lure, Inc., in that it further enhances our niche in the trout and kokanee markets. There are many followers of both companies, many of whom use both company’s products in their presentations, so combining them is a plus for everyone.

Effective immediately, all Shasta Tackle Co.’s products, while still maintaining their established product names, will be operated, manufactured and distributed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mack’s Lure, Inc. Miralles is joining the Mack’s Lure, Inc. staff in a product development and promotional capacity.

“This partnership will give me more time for product development and the freedom to focus more on the marketing and promotional side of the business,” Miralles said. “This merger will help to launch Shasta into a new level of growth; giving it the foundation to expand and grow in its existing markets and enter into new markets, as well.

“I am truly excited about the future, so stand by everyone?this is just the beginning.”

Fighting Invasive Species Partners Honored

The following press release is courtesy of Wildlife Forever:

Brooklyn Center, MN – All lights were forced on aquatic invasive species (AIS) as partners with the Clean Drain Dry Initiative™ recently celebrated three Telly Awards for television production. Awarded in partnership with Wired2Fish, media efforts spotlighted the Clean Drain Dry prevention message within the fishing and outdoor community.

Winning categories included Bronze Awards for Non-profit, Video/Cinematography and Editing. The award winning content is seen on television networks including Pursuit, The Sportsman Channel, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports South, Comcast Sports Northwest, World Fishing Network and WILD TV (Canada). Together the audience reach was 130 million viewers.

“It is very rewarding to represent and work with Wildlife Forever and the Clean Drain Dry conservation message, which aims to prevent AIS. We encourage all marine and fishing industry groups to support this initiative,” said Scott Glorvigen, co-owner of Wired2Fish.

The Telly Awards honor the very best film and video productions, groundbreaking online video content and outstanding local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs from more than 12,000 entries per year.

“Wired2Fish and our many partners have been instrumental in helping the Clean Drain Dry Initiative reach millions of anglers and boaters with the easy how-to prevention message. Invasive species threaten fishing, access and deter new anglers from participating. Clean Drain Dry is simple and people get it,” said Pat Conzemius, Conservation Director.

The Clean Drain Dry Initiative™ is the national outreach campaign to educate all outdoor recreational users on how to prevent the spread of invasive species. Working with local, state, federal and the outdoor industry, coordinated invasive species messaging focuses on strategic content, marketing communications and outreach tools for how to prevent.  For more information and tips on how you can help, follow along at Face Book at: https://www.facebook.com/CleanDrainDry/

About Wildlife Forever (WF): Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife.  For over 27 years, WF members have helped to conduct thousands of fish, game and habitat conservation projects across the country. To join or learn more about the award-winning programs, including work to engage America’s youth, visit www.WildlifeForever.org.

This Bear Is Just Chillin’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update:

The video above is courtesy of Los Angeles’ KTLA-TV, where reporter Christina Pascucci was on scene in La Cañada Flintridge. The community northeast of downtown L.A. had a pleasant June day with temperatures in the low 80s, but it was warm enough for the black bear in the video above to seek some cool water in a neighboorhood swimmming pool and then crossing over the water to rest under the shade of the trees nearby.

Here’s KLTA with more:

The female 250-pound bear was first spotted about 10:30 a.m. at a YMCA near Foothill Boulevard and the 2 Freeway, said LASD Lt. Randy Tuinstra. The Pasadena Police Department were also on scene, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for fish and wildlife told the Times that wardens were trying to chase the bear back into the hills.

“It’s a wily little fellow,” Hughan said. Officials do not think the bear is aggressive and is believed to be about three years old.

“The bear is terrified,” Hughan told the Times. “It’s just terrified of the noises, the police cars, the helicopters … We want people to back off.”

Several spectators lined the street to catch glimpses of the bear and to make sure it isn’t injured.

CDFW has been tweeting the events of the day.

 

Channel Islands Opening To Rock Crabbing

Channel Islands photo by CDFW

Channel Islands photo by CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

State waters around the Channel Islands are now open to both the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries. Today, the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) that they recommend lifting the remaining closure within the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. The recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries are also open from 36 58.72 N lat. at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor entrance) to the California/Mexico border. A closure remains in effect north of this location.

As a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.

CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to monitor domoic acid levels in rock crabs to determine when the fishery can safely be opened statewide.

Areas open to crab fishing include:

  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36 58.72 N Lat. at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor entrance).
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open in state waters off the Channel Islands.
  • Recreational Dungeness crab fishery is open statewide.  South of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line the recreational season is scheduled to close on June 30 and north of this line the recreational season is scheduled to close on July 30.
  • Commercial Dungeness crab fishery is open statewide. South of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line the commercial season is scheduled to close on June 30 and north of this line the commercial season is scheduled to close on July 15.

Areas closed to rock crab fishing include:

  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of 36 58.72 N lat.
    Channel Islands photo by CDFW

    Channel Islands photo by CDFW

OEHHA Memo

Invasive Fish Caught Has Human-Like Teeth

Photo by KPIX

Photo by KPIX

So this is weird. KPIX 5 in San Francisco has this report about a rather strange fish story:

Juan Gallo caught a pacu fish at the Lucchesi Park pond in Petaluma over the weekend. But as he lifted the fish from the water, its teeth cut the line.

A pacu is a freshwater fish typically found in the Amazon River and a relative of the piranha. While the fish is sold at U.S. pet shops, they’re illegal in California.

Gallo managed to keep a hold of the fish, and plans to turn it over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said if they don’t want it, he may have it stuffed.

Source: CBSLocal

Five California Locations Make Top 100 List

Clear Lake State Park was the top California family boating spot per a national Top 100 list. Photo by Brian Lull

Clear Lake State Park was the top California family fishing and boating spot per a national Top 100 list. Photo by Brian Lull

Takemefishing.org released its annual  2016 Top 100 Family Fishing & Boating Spots in America.” As my executive editor and I agreed, this is a pretty subjective list, so just because you and your kids’ favorite fishing hole didn’t make the list, don’t let rankings spoil your destination. But here are the California locations that made the cut:

5. Clear Lake State Park.

6. Brannan Island State Park 

29. Yosemite National Park 

38. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge 

66. Shasta Lake Bridge Bay 

86. Doran Regional Park, Bodega Bay 

So there you have the Golden State contributions to the list. I would have thrown Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe in there, but what do I know?