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Fishing Is My Day Job: From Florida to the Smith River

Fishing Is My Day Job: From Florida to the Smith River

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Florida Is In The News … Local angler Brent Randol went all the way to the Florida panhandle to catch this 30-inch, 10-pound red drum — surf fishing with shrimp baits. These are strong, smart fish; you might know them as redfish. They hang around near roots under mangrove banks. Be ready to turn their heads fast on hook-up — or they’ll twist that line around a root and go free. Pound for pound they will out pull and outfight the best largemouth bass you ever caught. Put them on your bucket list.

And More Florida … Fisher persons need enthusiasm and joy to get the fullest angling experience. For the past 20 years I have been lucky to have the leading “Enthusiasm & Joy” guru showing me how it is done. She is Lora Trinchero, my favorite fishing partner.

Here she is in max enthusiasm and joy waving the nice cobia she caught seven miles out in the blue water off of the Florida coast at Islamorada. That part of the Atlantic is a prolific fishery — and famous. (BTW when my sports hero Ted Williams, an expert angler, finished his career with the Red Sox, he built his retirement home there to be close to lots of fishing opportunities.)

This turned up when I Googled cobia. “Cobia has everything going for it. Flavor, texture, consistency. Because of its high oil content, the flesh stays succulent and moist no matter how you prepare it.”

Lora gleefully beats me every time we fish — first fish, biggest fish, most fish, last fish — I never even come close. Here’s just one of my misadventures fishing with her. Ask our pro bass guide, Bob Myskey, to tell you about “The Massacre At Shag Rock.“ Lora put 15 nice bass in the boat in about 20 minutes — while I sat not six feet away in the same boat with the same bait without a nibble. Wait, there’s more: one June she caught a beautiful 9.5-pound largemouth bass off of a little grass ridge in the middle of Clear Lake. Then, one spring day fishing the Delta for stripers with our pro river guide, Kevin Brock, Lora caught a huge sturgeon. Even when she had its head up even with hers, a whole lot of that fish was still laying on the floor of the boat.

For that magic trip when I do out-fish her I have a blond wig in my kit. I’m going to put it on and send out photos saying, “Blondes really do have more fun.” Stay tuned — but don‘t hold your breath.

Klamath River Dam removals … I just signed the petition “TELL WARREN BUFFETT TO MOVE FORWARD WITH KLAMATH DAM REMOVAL AGREEMENT.” There are four old dams on the Klamath that keep salmon from miles and miles of perfect spawning grounds. Getting rid of them can have a major and positive effect on increased salmon numbers in the Pacific. I hope you all will join me. Just go online at

More River Stuff … It’s time to plan your annual Smith River odyssey — to hunt for the wild steelhead that will be lining up for an upstream push as the winter rains crank up. These silver bullets are strong, smart and massive fighters when hooked. They got that way by swimming off into the ocean as tiny seven-inch trout three years ago. It’s obvious that they needed to learn self-defense fast. Usually the prime season runs from late December through February — and the hot bite is governed by two vital stats. It’s best when the river depth (stage) is from 9 to 11 feet. And the river flow is 8,000 to 10,000 cubic feet per second. These create that “steelie green” tint in the water that encourages them to bite. I’ll try to give you those metrics in my next columns and reports. Get out your warmest, driest outdoor gear — it’s cold up there where the Smith runs near Crescent City.

We side drift little balls of salmon roe — but the top fly guys have some bends in the Smith where they are successful. Need to be convinced? My fishing partner, Stan Press, caught and released a 20-pound steelie on skinny six-pound test leader. Steelhead are line shy so you can’t just horse them in on a clothesline. It was a perfect example of the teamwork needed between Stan and our pro river guide, Kevin Brock (800 995-5543).

I once wrote that the stretch of the Smith that runs through Jedediah Smith State Park is “God’s House.” There, steep granite banks sprouting little evergreen trees and wisps of fog in the rock crevices flatten out to a stretch of tiny riverside cabins with wood fire smoke floating straight up with the weather is good – or angling to the side when a front approaches. (Norman Rockwell couldn’t have gotten it any better for a Saturday Evening Post cover.)

Good News For Dungeness Crab Seekers … In somewhat of a reprieve to recreational anglers, the commercial crab season here is delayed, due to whale activity, until at least Dec. 1. This should keep the crab abundance at a reasonable level for all recreational anglers; including the trap thieves whose numbers seem to multiple each season.

This is not a happy weather time. Be careful out there! I hope you will choose an experienced captain to take you out fishing in these next couple of weeks — it’s no time to play “macho” on your own boat.

Out And About … Every once in a while I go “off message” to comment on local stuff. One of my favorite places to shop in St Helena is Acres on Main Street. They are doubling their retail space just in time for the holiday gift season. That suits me fine because I do most of my Christmas shopping there. I like their product selections and warm, hometown service. Even better — I can walk to Acres.

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