Two guys walk into a bar…


It was a slow day at the farm, although I did a lot of kicking. I shoved off at Glorietta Bay at 6:45 and caught a small spotted bay bass on my first cast. Got several bites after that, but nothing came home. Reverie sounded across the bay at 8, and I only had two. Fish can be bastards: I figured this to be a good day, especially after that first hook-up.


I was doing my usual round: down the wall and along the boats until I ended up near the golf course. I switched rods as I neared the end of the loop; this one was a Berkley Parametric 7-weight with two flies, instead of just a Clouser: It had a Gummy Minnow,


which I had never used, attached to the bend of the blue Clouser. It worked. I caught five more fish as I meandered down the small beach and into the driving range; half of them took the minnow, which surprised me.

Then I turned back and headed for the boat ramp. I was damned tired.

I ended up with seven and an important lesson: Experiment and, if willing, fish two flies. You’ll double your chances of hooking up just by adding a fly. And yes, get some Gummy Minnows.


The heat is on


As I neared the last boat near the golf course, I hooked a spottie.

As I neared the last boat near the golf course, I thought it would be splendid if I hooked a spotted bay bass just then. I had five before reveille rang out across the bay, and had picked up a few more here and there as I made the boat circuit.

My fly stopped suddenly; I hesitated, then sank the hook. It was a mid-size spottie. That’s called fish sense.


I caught two spotties within five minutes near His Glory.

My depth finder had lost battery power before then, but I knew the fish were holding along the sterns: deep clusters with occasional outsize shapes in 22 feet of water. It had been like this since I left the west wall and started kicking along the sterns.

Today was the hottest day of the week, and I surmised the fish would be active. A fish I caught early on confirmed this: Its gullet was jammed with bait fish. I was having a blast, and it wasn’t as cold as earlier in the week. A wool mask and gloves, along with an extra shirt, helped.


The fish today were heftier than on my last visit. Most took the fly gently, often inhaling it.

Once again, I hooked a spottie while drifting my fly during a smoke. This has happened so often that I now call this the Marlboro Drift. It’s kinda like Murphy’s Law: As soon as you let your guard down, a fish will hit. I smoke L&Ms; I can’t afford Marlboros. But you get the idea.

Shortly afterward, I caught a small halibut. Half-an-hour later, I hooked a 14-incher that threw the fly 10 feet from me. Later on, I lost a spottie. I hate losing fish and, in fact, don’t lose many. I read once that you can count it as a fish in your creel.

As I neared the last boat near the west wall, I thought it would be nice to catch a spottie just then to round out the one near the golf course.

Again, the subtle take, the hesitation, then the deep hook sink. It was a nice-size spottie. There was a delightful symmetry to the whole thing.

I finished with 11 at hand and two lost.


The empty boat pods often hold fish. I caught several there today. Richard Hayashi had called that to my attention earlier in the week. I caught all fish today with a silver Clouser minnow he gave me.


Chill out


Fish often hold along the buoy line in front of the beach.

It wasn’t a stellar day at Glorietta Bay, although Richard Hayashi and I caught a few. We cruised behind the boats, and Richard hooked several at some empty boat pods. Something big took his fly, but it got loose. I just wanted to get the hell out of there: it was damned cold, and my fingers were numb.



I landed this small spottie as I started to cruise down the boats.

As usual, the spotted bay bass were clustered behind the sterns, hugging the bottom at 22 feet. The morning chill probably threw off the bite. One of mine inhaled the fly neat the Coronado Yacht Club, where I often find fish. Instead of cutting off the fly, I pried it off and injured it, maybe mortally. It’s the type of thing that happens occasionally. And yet it leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth (no pun intended).


I should have tried the buoy line in front of the small beach, which often holds fish, but I was chilled and slightly


I like to fish for cool images when the bite is slow. Just be sure not to take pictures when your fly is in the water: You may be unpleasantly yanked to reality.

irked at my small take. We all know the feeling. Yet, it’s a trap. Time on the water is never time ill-spent. Sometimes you learn something important, such as keeping the hell out of the water when it’s too damned cold.


As I neared the dock, I saw withered roses on the surface.


Yank on the shank


I retured to Glorietta Bay today, scouring the water behind the boats.


The water near the golf course has been the most productive.

My legs ached from yesterday’s kicking and I had a weird knot on my back, but I returned to Glorietta Bay today, hoping the spotted bay bass were still on the take. I took the same route: down the wall, cruising down the boats and ending in front of the golf course, then turning back and fishing the boats again.

It paid off, but I had to be patient.


Most of the bites this week have been subtle. The trick is not too strike too soon.


My Clouser was mangled after two days of fishing.

I had tied on a small chartreuse Clouser but only got two fish in the first 30 minutes of fishing. The depth finder beeped incessantly as I made my way down the boats, showing clusters of fish hugging the bottom at 20 to 22 feet. I switched to the golden Clouser I used yesterday and immediately got a strike. Several more followed, growing in number as I neared the gold course.



Most of the fish, with some exceptions, were on the small side.

On my way back, I made several brief incursions into holding areas behind boats. That proved to be a smart move, because I got strikes in every lot. I kept kicking, nearing the final stretch to the wall. I landed three more. The wall, as in the previous two visits, wasn’t productive today, either, though the depth finder showed fish.


At the tail end, my hands were so slimy that they gave the Ion Cool Cam an unintended filter.

I ended up with 10 at hand. I missed at least six because the bites were subtle and I kept striking too soon. The trick is to hesitate, although for how long is a matter of trial and error. I lost at least nine yesterday.

As I pulled up at the boat dock, a small boat with bait fishermen arrived. They were impressed by my bag, since they had gotten skunked. They had fished deep and far, and even tried Tidelands.

“They’re there,” I said, pointing to the boats.

And that’s where I’ll be later this week.




I hit the water early, eager to start my kick down the docked boats.


This slugger was one of today’s heftier spotties.


Not a bad catch.

I returned to Glorietta Bay this morning, this time joined by Richard Hayashi and Mark Owens. I hit the water first as the sun was rising, and quickly made my way down the wall. Not much action there, although my goal today was to thoroughly fish the boats on the western edge.

I was not disappointed. I caught several spotted bay bass as I kicked down the docks, and had six or so by the time the anthem rang out. Richard and Mark had stayed behind.


This big fellow hooped my 7-weight .

The action intensified as I made my way through the loop of boots. I was also catching bigger fish, although the depth finder wasn’t showing the dense concentrations of fish I had seen on my previous outing. A small but  feisty mackerel gave my rod a swift ride.

I turned back at the last boat near the gold course, making my way down the boats again. I caught six more before I reached my starting point near the wall. Two slammed my Clouser as it dead-drifted while I was smoking.


Richard works the shallows.

I met up with Mark and Richard at the wall. Richard had landed several, and Mark was scouring the deeper water. Both had made forays down the docks.

I ended up with 15 at hand, one short of my best day at the bay. It had been a cold outing, but I got a warm reception.


A golden glow blankets the water as the sun rises.



Stern advice


I found heavy concentrations of spotties as I kicked down the boats at Glorrieta Bay.


I landed some hefty fellows today.


A year or so ago, Lucky Ketcham and I fished Glorietta Bay and didn’t do well. As we were packing up our gear, another float-tuber pulled in and we asked how he did. “Oh, I caught about 30 between the boats.”

Like they say, you have to find the fish.

I also knew Jimmy Cannon had done well near the boats, but—-again—I didn’t follow up on that tip. Today I made amends.


I fished graphite today. From left, a custom 6-weight with rattan grip and my favorite, a Sage RPLXI.

I kicked clockwise, along the wall, where I picked up a spotted bay bass, and the sterns of the moored boats. I had recently made brief forays into the area, but had only landed one spottie. That’s all the inspiration I needed.

I caught nothing between the boats, although the depth finder showed clusters of fish. I picked a few here and there, and kept kicking along the boats until I reached the pier along the westernmost edge and kept fishing along the sterns. The depth finder went ballistic.


This 12-inch slugger put a deep bend in my Sage.

There were heavy concentrations of fish behind the boats. I caught several fish, including a calico. As I made my way back on the opposite side, I ran into more fish. A 12-inch spottie gave my Sage 7-weight a good workout.


I was surprised to find a sand bass among the spotties. I haven’t caught one in awhile.

I had several bites on my way back to the boat dock, but the wall wasn’t in a giving mode. Obviously the fish were elsewhere. Then again, you could fish the boats tomorrow and come up empty-handed. Fish move around. That’s what they do.

I ended up with 10 at hand, my best day at the bay in a long while. But that’s just numbers.

Kick back and coast off the beaten path: You may have a sunny day in winter.

‘Dang!’ in a can

I was leary of Real Magic since I first saw it at Walmart many moons ago. After all, wouldn’t simply keeping your fly line clean improve your casting distance by itself? The $8 price tag also seemed too much of a gamble for a product that could turn out to be a dud.


Real Magic can be found at Walmart stores in the sports section. It costs $8.

Curiosity got the best of me and I finally bought it. However, it languished on my bookshelf for several weeks. Finally, I decided to test it today.

It works, so much so that I vowed never to be without it again.

I lawn-cast my Walton Powell fiberglass rod, aiming at a nearby object, without coating the line. I sensed some resistance in the guides as the Wulff Long Belly darted, although nothing worth fretting about.

I then sprayed Real Magic on a rag and coated the line. It dried rapidly and I made another cast to the same object.


My 7’9 Walton Powell glass rod peeled out line effortlessly after I coated it with Real Magic.

The line shot out like butter, overshooting the target by at least 12 feet with the same line speed as the uncoated line. Holy shit. I was getting 50-foot casts with a mere flick of the wrist.

I went in the house, changed reels and tried it again. Same result.

The can doesn’t specify whether lubricant needs to be applied on every outing, but after several hours of casting, I suspect it does.

Real Magic allegedly also reduces line memory. It also provides UV protection, is non-sticky, odorless and non-staining. It also allegedly reduces icing on guides, something which is worth noting by winter fishermen. TTI-Blakemore also says it softens and extends line life, be it fly, mono, fluorocarbon or braid. Since it is an anti-corrosion lubricant, it can also be used on rods and reels.

That’s a tall order, and only time will tell if these claims are true. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all. And that’s my line.

Holding out


I always fish the west side of Polio Pond first. It’s very productive in  warmer months.

I visited Polio Pond today, hoping to crack the code to netting fish. I tried several approaches: fishing a slow-sink line with a Woolly Bugger, then switching to a fast-sink and finally fishing the tules’ edges with a popper. I even took a 14-foot tenkara rod.

There was a problem: there were no signs of fish activity.


The east side of Polio Pond.

I fished the western shore first, and, concluding it had been bombed, tried the east shore. Not even a nibble, though I did catch some pretty leaves.

I realized I hadn’t seen any fishermen there in the past month or so, when I heard of fish die-offs.


I am turning to my Granger Champion more often. I paired it today with a Young Pridex spooled with a 6-weight fast sink.

I drank a beer at the RV park’s convenience store and headed to Champagne Lakes, another RV park down the road. I fished for a half-hour at one of the lakes. Though I didn’t score, I did see some signs of fish activity, mostly surfacing bubbles.

Richard Hayashi was a no-show, but I could hear him clearly: “Ain’t no fish in this ditch.”

Phantom11 - Copy

The Hardy “Phantom” has become another 5-weight favorite in my bamboo quiver.

It was not a total loss. I thoroughly enjoyed my 9′ Granger Champion, which I haven’t fished often, and relished the lovely patina on the grip’s smooth surface. I also fished a delightful (and rare) 8′ Hardy Hollokona “Phantom.” It’s light in the hand, like a trapped robin.

I also got an interesting tip from one of the groundskeepers at Polio Pond: it seems Fallbrook has a fishy stream running through it. It’s called De Luz, and, unfortunately, is mostly posted. However, public access is allowed about 10 miles north of Fallbrook, off of De Luz Rd.  For directions, click here. Also worthy of note is a cyclist’s description of the area.

“De Luz” means “of light.” I’ll point my hood there tomorrow: No-fish days darken my compass.

Single digit


A yellow film blankets the water as the sun rises at Spanish Landing.

Well, it wasn’t as bad as the title implies. I just didn’t catch as many fish as I hoped for, considering all the water I covered.


Richard Hayashi, left, and Mark Owens, before the hoedown.

Richard Hayashi, Mark Owens and I kicked off at 7ish from the small beach at Spanish Landing. I had a head-start and thought I would get walloped before I reached the bridge leading to the channel, but that wasn’t in the cards.

I had kicked to the second building, meandered close to the buoys and fished the other shore before I caught up with Richard and Mark. I was empty-handed; Richard had landed a few, including a halibut. Mark kept his cool under a cowboy hat.


This spottie inhaled my chartreuse Clouser between the docked boats.

We kicked out of the channel and fished between the docked boats. I knew there were big fish there, and soon caught a nice-sized spotted bay bass. Richard also landed one, and 15 minutes later had two more at hand. Mark stayed back and scoured water.

I changed flies three times: at first I had a red Clouser, then a bonefish fly that resembled Richard Cullip’s Crazy Dad and then a chartreuse Clouser that got me my only spottie. Mark had tied some very pretty Clousers, but maybe, in retrospect,  his leader was a tad too heavy; I need to experiment more and vary my retrieve. Richard has his game on.

The bay at times can be a little stingy, but a good time between friends is no small consolation.


I fished two fiberglass rods today; a 5-weight Fenwick FF84 (bottom) and a 7-weight Berkley Parametric.


I have known for quite some time that big spotties lounged near the docked boats, but hadn’t made a visit in almost a year. I’ll be back.






The chill factor

Glorieta12022015It’s cold in the early morning, and it takes a certain degree of motivation to kick in a float tube for hours. I don’t lack motivation; I lack sleep. What keeps me going is the anticipation of that shearing yank as a spotted bay bass hammers the fly. Sometimes, however, I just want to get the hell out and go for a long drive, and fishing is a good excuse for that.

It was one of those days. You smoke feverishly, shivering, and eye the water nervously, wondering why the hell you left home.

I was kicking down the wall at Glorietta at 6:45 and got some bites, one of them while I was lifting my line for a cast. I turned back, hoping for more, made a U-turn at the landing dock and kicked back to the docked boats again. I wanted to find out if indeed, as I had heard, there were fish in that neighborhood.


I fished near the boats for about 150 feet. I got struck early, heaved and was fast onto a nice-sized spottie. I went behind and between the boats but had no more bites. Back to the wall, and then to the buoys in front of the beach. Lots of grass on my way to the green buoy and back to the loading dock. No meat.

Three hours of fishing; one lone fish. Two hours of driving. The sun lifted the chill, and I learned something.

Sometimes, that is enough, for now.