logoWe Are The Outdoor Writers Association of California

OWAC AUCTION SITE OPEN!  Great items! Membership not required!  Click button to go to auction site.
OWAC is a non-profit association of media professionals who communicate the vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities and related issues
in California and the surrounding western region. 
More Info

Member Login

Sign In / Sign Up


Fishing (9)

PLANO, IL (March 27, 2017) – Sitting on a scant total of just 8 pounds, 9 ounces of bass at noon on day two of the three-day 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic at Lake Conroe, Texas, 25-year-old Bassmaster Elite angler Jordan Lee had no idea where he’d be standing just 28 hours later. As it turned out, he’d be living his dream of holding high the most coveted trophy in professional angling on competitive fishing’s grandest stage.

Jordan Lee is one of the hottest anglers in the Bassmaster Elite Series. Since winning the Carhartt Bassmaster College Championship as a member of the Auburn University Fishing Team in 2013, the young gun from Alabama has finished in the money an astonishing 33 times at 41 events, earning 14 top-ten finishes in just three Elite seasons. So what happened at the Bassmaster Classic between noon on Saturday and the final weigh-in on Sunday at Houston’s grand Minute Maid Park – while unexpected, dramatic and remarkable – really can’t be considered too surprising.

After coming to the stage with less than nine pounds at the end of day one on Friday, the Plano Fishing pro shocked the crowd at Saturday’s day-two weigh-in with a four-fish bag weighing 21 pounds, including a single bass over seven pounds.  

“I found a spot in practice and I really thought if I could catch ‘em off of it I could do really well,” Lee told fans and Bassmaster Elite Emcee, Dave Mercer. “I rolled up to it this afternoon and caught that biggest one, and there was a whole school of five pounders with it,” said Lee, who dredged the spot with a Strike King Football Jig to get back in the game. “I knew it was something special.”

Legendary names – St. Croix Rod and Angler’s Inn – unite to offer the pinnacle in bass fishing

Park Falls, WI (March 26, 2017) – Proving grounds. It’s where companies go to push the envelope in product development, punishing and testing gear to the nth-degree. Say, for example, you wanted to produce the most cold-tolerant car battery on earth. You’d be packing for International Falls, MN (“Ice Box of the Nation”) and The Cold Weather Testing Facility, where Pluto-like temperatures push prototypes to the limit.  

 In similar fashion, if you claim to build the “Best Rods on Earth,” you better be testing them on what might be the best bass lakes on earth. And that precise thinking is behind St. Croix’s union with Angler’s Inn International.

Located in the beautifully bucolic outskirts of Mazatlán, Mexico, Lakes El Salto and Picachos are shoreline basecamps for two epic Angler’s Inn fishing resorts, and where St. Croix recently pitted man against fish (hundreds of them) in the final development stages of the new, extra-long Legend Glass and Legend Tournament Bass rods. In the end, the rods won, but the black bass put up one heck of a fight.

Angler’s Inn International owner Billy Chapman Jr. sings high praise of his new relationship with St. Croix. “It’s an honor to be with St. Croix Rod. They make great products. My customers are going to love it.” Moreover, Chapman says his guests will be appreciative of not having to carry their own rods, because of the wide variety of St. Croix rods he carries in camp. Flippin’, buzzing, cranking, dropshotting.... whatever. St. Croix and Angler’s Inn have it covered.

Choosing between Lakes Picachos and El Salto could be the toughest decision you make all year. The newest lake in North America – quite literally – Lake Picachos offers an unimaginable biomass of bass.

Innovative FISKAS Balances introduce alluring designs, undeniable fascination for fish

Saline, MI (March 28, 2017) – Ever fished a balance? You know, those eccentric-looking, horizontal hanging contrivances with Scandinavian ancestry? Chances are, if you’ve been paying attention to trends in walleye, ice and even bass baits these past few years — even if you’ve never heard anyone utter the term “balance lure” — you probably have.

Ironically, even though the origins of the balance reach back at least fifty years, these steadfast fish catchers are just now garnering serious attention from anglers on ice as well as open water. Pioneers in innovative lures of Scandinavian design, FISKAS has long offered one of the most complete lines of panfish to walleye sized balance lures in North America.

’Balanced’ jigging minnow lures, like the FISKAS Swimmer, produce exceptional fishing for walleyes, bass and big panfish.

Interestingly, though anglers quickly recognize some of the walleye-sized balance lures armed with multiple hooks and a rear swim fin, additional unique designs from FISKAS (yourbobbersdown.com) give anglers a vast array of intriguing, potent presentations.

While many companies sell but a single swimming balance lure, FISKAS crafts and offers no fewer than 29 different varieties, all available in up to 15 hand-painted, fish-catching color patterns. Each intriguing model, in fact, boasts a unique body shape and specific balance point, resulting in its own lively swimming action. The FISKAS N23 Bug Eye, for example, darts on the up-stroke, and glides and wobbles appealingly on the drop.

The fun and challenge of fishing a FISKAS Balance, says Phil Morse, exceptional angler and 2005 North American Ice Fishing Champion, lies in experimenting with and discovering each model’s built-in aptitudes.

“Right now, as ice leaves big lakes and reservoirs, one of the sweetest presentations for shallow water perch and other panfish is a FISKAS Balance dressed with a microsplastic Little Atom Nuggie,” says Morse, who lives near Michigan’s perch-rich Lake St. Clair. “The beauty of a FISKAS Balance model N46 Minnow or an N25 Dogleg is that every time you jig it, the lure darts away from and then returns immediately to center, maintaining a natural, horizontal posture all along. Rigged with different plastics, each balance also exhibits its own distinctive swimming, gliding, quivering action.”

When covering water and casting, Morse fishes the FISKAS / Little Atom plastic combo below a stationary float, rigged with a small piece of rubber tubing on the bobber stem for quick depth changes. Hanging below, the compact, heavy FISKAS Balance provides extra horizontal coverage when jigged, widening its attraction radius relative to traditional jigs. Because each FISKAS Balance always returns to horizontal, the lure hovers in exceptional hook-setting position.

Morse adds: “The hooks on FISKAS Balances are sticky sharp—they always pass the fingernail scratch test. Fish get hooked with just a slight hookset; means I miss very few bites.”

Beyond casting and retrieving, Morse calls out the lures’ talents for vertical jigging presentations. In particular, he’s been hush-hush about a certain secret lure . . . until now.

“We’ve spent a ton of time watching how perch and sunfish bite lures on an underwater camera. When they’re touchy, it’s common for panfish to blow on lures, just nip at the jighead, or simply mouth a small portion of the jig without detection by the angler.


“I’m amazed more anglers haven’t discovered the FISKAS N24 Gill Getter. It’s a tiny (1/70-ounce) balance with a single hook protruding from either side of the jighead.

The Cat and the Fool

Most guys would not have been able to call me back to fishing after I quit. Gary Lamont maybe, the Miss L’s “Captain Jack” Montgomery, and Bob McMasters. Bob persisted even after I told him No for a week. He would make every accommodation, having his oldest daughter Lorraine work on Saturdays, for example, so I could take the day off.

I liked Bob, of course, and I liked his boat the Cat Special a lot, but I had turned a new page on which to write the story of my life. In his easy-going manner Bob shot down all my arguments. I wrapped things up in Ventura, put a temporary forward on my mail, and headed back to San Diego for another albacore season.

One group, out for a two-day charter, was hungrier than most. On Day 1 I cooked a first round of breakfasts, and every last man came back for more. At 11 am, I was just cleaning the grill after the second batch when guys began ordering cheeseburgers. I grilled the 20-patty stack in nothing flat and reached for another, but it was still frozen. No problem. I took my wide-bladed galley knife and inserted it between the first two patties. The blade slipped across the ice crystals and into my left palm. NO! Problem.

Rinsing it beneath cold running water did little to stop the flow of blood. I cupped my hand and stepped up into the wheelhouse, where Bob estimated that I’d need four stitches. I worked one-handed for the next several hours until the Miss L came to take me away. I recall standing on the Cat’s port rail, and when Bob said “Go!” I stepped out just as the boats rocked apart. By some miracle, Nick Cates was outside the Miss L’s starboard rail and caught me in the air.

Back at the dock, I drove to the emergency room for my four stitches, then back to the docks. There I learned that Bobby had brought the Cat back in to retrieve me so I wouldn’t lose my big tip from these notoriously generous passengers. That’s the kind of guy he was. I climbed aboard, and we headed back to the fishing grounds.

The season wound down. My resolve to give up fishing entirely was being seriously tested.

Then came the night we tied up at the bait receiver as usual. I wasn’t needed for the transfer of anchovies from the receiver’s nets into our bait tanks so I sacked out in my bunk in the starboard passenger bunk room. Dead to the world, as usual. So I didn’t hear the roar of the Fish N Fool’s engine as she bore down on us, nor the rush of water from the Fool’s bow wake. Not even the sound of the Cat’s structure breaking apart as we came down hard on the receiver’s dock and put a hole in the bottom of the boat.

Afterward I learned of the shouting between the two captains, and how mild-mannered Bob McMasters untied from the receiver to roar forward and try to do the Fool what had just been done to the Cat. Without success.

All I knew was that one of the deck twins woke me to tell me to get off the boat “because we’re sinking.” We were tied up at the Fisherman’s Landing dock and the pumps were humming away. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, gathered my overnight bag, my tackle box and my rods and headed up the dock. It looked like the end of the season after all.

BISHOP— Despite heavy rains and even record snowpack at higher elevations the Lower Owens ran gin-clear just below the Pleasant Valley Reservoir. The stretch of water was devoid of anglers due to crisp, cold 34-degree temperatures, but with broken clouds and still air, the day looked to be perfect fly fishing conditions.

The drive up to Bishop had flown by in six-hours flat, and other than constant distractions of changing scenery, the trip was uneventful. Leaving the less-than-attractive high desert of Palmdale, passing the airplane graveyard at Mojave, and finally catching sight of the huge Cinder Cones alongside highway 395 as it climbs toward the mountains, cares of the work-a-day world simply slipped away along the road.

Roadside signs pointed out the Hollywood Museum at Lone Pine, celebrating the rich film history of the area. Many of the hills along the way have been the backdrop for westerns shot on location nearby. Further up the road between the old towns of Lone Pine and Independence, is the travesty that was Manzanar, where 10,000 Japanese citizens were held during WW2. Now a national historical site the grounds and buildings are being restored in hopes of bringing enlightenment to future generations and perhaps a warning about the miss-use of government powers.

Those distractions had to wait for another day, perhaps when we return to Bishop in April for the Outdoor Writers Association of California spring conference.

Some great little motels await in Bishop and the folks at the Chamber of Commerce had recommended the newly remodeled Holiday Inn Express. The fresh décor and friendly staff really made getting in from the road a pleasure.

Finding the motel to be right down the street from the best damn BBQ, Holy Smoke Texas BBQ, I made a beeline for the dry-rubbed ribs and chicken.

With sunrise came the realization that the day was going to be bright and lovely. The fortunate chance that news having report exaggerated the incoming weather might have played into anglers not showing up along the river. Whatever the reason, the short drive north to the foot of the reservoir was easy and full of anticipation.

Local guide, Gary Gunsolley, had spent some time with me, giving tips on the Czech Nymph-no-indicator technique used most commonly along the Lower Owens. Simply a matter of wadering-up and getting into the shallow water of the river, then high-sticking the fly-rod, while searching the line for a tremble or change of direction. Nothing to it.

Two-hours after stepping into the knee-deep, frigid water I at last saw the tell-tale tremble and struck for the first fish of the day. This brown decided it would show me what L.O. trout are about and quickly I found the need to push up river, regaining some of the rapidly disappearing backer being ripped from my reel.

As I glanced around I was amazed to not see a single angler anywhere up or down the river. There’d be no help with this one. Gingerly stepping along the river bottom as fast as was prudent in such a chill, with the rod held high and constantly grinding the old Ross reel on my Sage, the line came in and at last, so did the 18-inch-plus fish.

Getting photos and releasing fish on your own is an art and every artist knows the difficulties of achieving desired results. The fish flipped out of the net and recovered very nicely before even one picture could be taken.

But lessons learned early in the day paid dividends as the day drew on. A few more fish at a few more spots though the tranquil afternoon were more than enough for any report and soon it was time to call it a day.

The ease of getting to this stretch of water and the lack of competition for spots and likely layups, makes winter fishing the Lower Owens a go-to option for this fly-guy’s next trip. Surely, I won’t wait till April before the road and the river call upon me to make the short drive up to Bishop and these beautiful waters once again.

Fishing Folsom Lake

As a general principle, do you want to travel toward a population center when looking for a place to fish? My opinion had been that we should be heading away from an urban area trying to find good fishing. Based on this idea I have not fished Folsom Lake in the decades I have been living in the Foothills. Recently I had my opinion changed.

In May, I attended an Outdoor Writers Association of California convention in Placer County. I was invited to fish Folsom Lake with bass fishing guide Don Paganelli. I was excited to go and find out what I had been missing. I have had reports from bass tournament anglers that there were some good fish in the lake.

The drought hit Folsom Lake especially hard. The water level had dropped to 116 feet below full. The dam at Folsom is much lower that Oroville and the water stored had dropped well below 25 percent of capacity. It seemed logical to me that the fish population would have suffered with the small remaining volume of water. We were going to be fishing the lake at close to full condition. Would there be enough fish to provide good sport?

Read the full story here.

What does a city girl know about fun fishing and farm ponds? You might be surprised. Country folks just walk behind their house or to the neighbors to fish a pond. To get to a river, stream or bigger pond, they can take a horse and get there and back in a short time. Okay, I know they have trucks and can get to a nearby lake but it takes a little more effort for us city dwellers to engage in such activities. In my territory we have wheels on everything. In my Ford 150 on an 8 lane freeway I can be at a lake in less than an hour, okay, two hours with traffic. City kids have bicycles and skateboards and can zip a few miles and get to their fishing spots. I remember in the old days when my boys jumped on their two wheelers and rode to a nearby private lake, jumped the fence and fished. When I tried to do it, jumping the fence wasn’t a good thing.

Out west we have aqueducts. We have lots of them if you can get to one and fishing is allowed. In years past, our family would sit on the bank of an aqueduct and fish for hours because there are huge catfish and stripers lurking about and we caught us some. It would be important for you to know that most aqueducts have slippery, mossy sides that I found out about the hard way. One nice afternoon while we were fishing my hat flew into the water.  I stepped just an inch into the water to get it and quickly slid all the way in. Did I mention there is usually a fast current as well? My family burst into laughter until they realized mom was in a panic and quickly heading down stream and reached out with a net to save me!

Read the full story here.

Malcolm Hardy took his dad, Lester, fishing at Clear Lake. It was Malcolm’s sixth bass adventure guided by Bob Myskey. This trip produced Malcolm’s personal best 8.4-pound largemouth bass. He is one of my favorite and most dedicated young St. Helena anglers. Have a look at Bob’s informative website at FishClearLake.com.

And you thought they were designed to catch fish … I fished with Rick Tietz, owner of Blade-Runner Tackle Co. and their lure designer at the Spring Conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) in late May in Auburn. He showed us some of the beautiful new bass lures they produce. I always said that lures were designed to catch people — because not many fish go to tackle stores. Well, Blade-Runner’s latest items proved me wrong and helped us catch 16 nice Folsom Lake bass on a beautiful day in Placer County where VisitPlacer.com hosted our three-day get-together.

Read the full story here.


Western Outdoor News Staff Writer

Point Loma—The annual 2.5-day Western Outdoor News charter aboard the 80-foot sportfisher Sea Adventure 80 ran long and hard to explore the waters around San Clemente Island. Known for its great yellowtail and calico bass action, SCI had recently shown signs of schoolie-sized yellowfin offshore and bigger model YFT close-in.

The 30-anglers, all guys, scheduled for this trip loaded up early and began stowing gear and getting settled. As of the 8:00 p.m. departure fall weather had yet to come to Southern California with tuna and warm water still coming across the border from Mexico in a never ending flood.

The usual deck-talk began with concerns as to where night driver and second Captain, Paul Panello, might run overnight. A call from Captain Harbour over the p.a. outlined the plan.

“We’ll go out and get bait and while we are there at the receiver I’ll fill you guys in on where we are headed,” came the announcement as SA80 pulled away from the H&M docks. While the grey light of morning was still hours away anglers considered where the charter was headed when reports of limit-style tuna bites south of the border had been all the news in recent weeks.

The answer came shortly as everyone gathered into the roomy galley salon for the briefing by the skipper and deckhand, Roman Rodriquez.

Article Categories