Sunday, 29 January 2012

Road Trip to Warmer Climates & Huge Fish!

Well, I just got back from one of my most enjoyable road trips of all-time filming shows for Extreme Angler TV Season 11 in Charleston South Carolina & Sarasota Florida, and let me tell you, I am honestly bruised up and have some minor muscle aches fighting all those awesome fish!

Here`s one of the big Amber Jacks boated on Day #1 with Outrigger Sportfishing Charters out of Sarasota Florida.
Camera crew and I landed in Charleston SC last sunday afternoon and we`re met at the airport by our good buddy Patrick Crawford of Allure Fishing Charters who was kind enough to take us to our accomodations at the incredible Charleston Harbour Resort & Marina situated right on the ocean.
Big thanks go out to Patrick for setting this up for us.
Here`s the view from my room overlooking the ocean...breathtaking!
We headed out early on low tide on the 23rd in anticipation of locating the very abundant schools of redfish, some of which are in excess of 300+ fish per school!
Arrived a bit early and fished until the tide was right, then just like that, we started to see the small ripples and wakes made by the schools of travelling redfish. It sure didn`t take long to hook up with these hard, drag pulling redfish with the aid of Strike King glass minnow saltwater baits rigged onto an inshore jighead.
I fished with both Patrick and Clayton Crawford of Allure Fishing Charters who really put a lot of effort into their passion and career`s making sure all the equipment is in tip top shape and attract a lot of customers from across the U.S. to fish for these scrappy redfish and many other salt and freshwater species in the South Carolina area.
I brought along my trusty St.Croix legend xtreme and legend elite rods matched up with Ardent Fishouflage spinning reels loaded with 20 lbs braided lines and fluorocarbon leaders.
We all took turns hooking Red`s all afternoon with too many fish hooked, caught and lost to even count, but the many laughs and memories will last a lifetime.
Here`s a shot of Clayton & Patrick Crawford and I having a blast!
It sure made for one heck of an exciting show.
On the next day, we hooked up with Clayton`s dad, Gene Crawford and fished out of his extra large custom rigged pontoon boat witch has an enclosed driving area complete with propane heater, chesterfields, coolers, electronics and anything else you might need when you go fishing for huge Arkansas Blue catfish on Santee-Cooper Lake.
Here`s me and Gene with one of the big gals we caught on this day, man do these cats ever pull hard!
We fished with cut bait off bottom on a rig similar to a carolina rig keeping the bait off bottom with small in-line floats on the line below the heavy sinkers needed to get the baits down 50+ feet to where the big cats we`re positioned.
I fished with both Patrick and Gene for the entire morning and boated enough big hard pulling cats to film another action packed show with many hooksets and awesome looking catsfish.

Then we caught a flight to Sarasota Florida to hook up with my good buddy Bruce MacDonald how owns Olive the Lake lodge in Northern Ontario, but spends his winters in sunny warm florida, lucky dude!
Here`s Bruce and I with a great big red grouper he caught. What a awesome fight!

Again, we we`re fortunate to have good friends on this trip who picked us up at the airport and took us to the accomodations. In florida, we stayed at the very nice Hyatt Regency Sarasota, which rolled out the red carpet for us big time.
Another great place situated right on the water and close to many great restaurants and shopping opportunities. They Hyatt took care of all our needs including meals, docking, preparation and a very special dinner on the dock with the hotel chef preparing our fresh caught fish right in front of us and served at waters edge, awesome!
Here`s a peak at the fresh fish we had for dinner....
A pretty nice spread don`t you think?
They made us feel like millionaires!
Take a peak at the view from my room...very special indeed;

We fished two days with Outrigger Sportfishing Charters out some 30-50+ miles into the Gulf of Mexico with Capt Ryan and 1st mate Tom and once again, these guys are as professional as they come. The boat was rigged to the max with the latest in gear, electronics and specialized equipment to hook and catch the oversized fish available out of Sarasota florida.
The fishing was so good, we managed to film 2 action packed shows.
One show with the hard fighting Amber Jacks.
I have to tell you, these fish are POWER PLUS! They almost wore me out!

And on the second day, we fished a little further out into the Gulf for a chance at a Goliath Grouper and some Red, black grouper and possibly red snapper or mangroves.

Needless to say, the sights and experience will stay with me forever.
Before we even arrived at the "spot", we say fish jumping ahead of us, and upon a closer view realized it was a school of about 40+ full sized "flipper-dolphins" greeting us by jumping clear out of the water and racing around the boat at full speed, which was all caught on film, absolute amazing footage and experience!
We rigged up our pre-caught baits and as soon as they hit bottom, double header with hard fighting red grouper! Once you set hook on these fish, you have to pull up as hard as you can while reeling in as much line as you possibly can so they do not go back into the rocks they are hiding in, easier said then done!
We lost countless numbers of BIG fish, due to the sheer fish weight, size and brute strength down 160+ feet of water.

Fished for approx 2+ hours of non-stop hooksets and fish caught, broke off and lost, then decided to fish for some of the giants of the seas and baited up with bigger bait and almost instantly hooked up with the HARDEST fighting, most powerful fish I have ever had on a line, a monster 275+ pound goliath grouper. To be fair, Capt Ryan hooked the fish, and once he was wore out and lost about 10 pounds of sweat, it was my turn to fight the beast to the surface.
Words cannot describe the`ll have to watch it when it goes to air.
Just seeing that beast rise up in that Aqua blue water was breath taking.

All in all, it was a great way to start the new season filming shows in the sunny, warm climates of Charleston South Carolina and Sarasota Florida, but what made it even better, was being able to share it with my close buddies, Bruce, Patrick, Clayton and new friends Ryan and Tom of Outrigger sportfishing.
Time to re-group and get set up for the next road trip.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Never Retire from Fishing

I recently read an interesting article in a popular Men`s Fitness magazine while travelling on an airplane with my family on route to our annual winter holidays, a place a bit warmer than Ontario during the Christmas break.
The focus of the article was about when certain athletes should retire from their respective sport or activities and it struck me that the one thing that WE as anglers have going for us is longivity.

I don`t mean we live forever like vampires for hundreds of, but instead our sport, passion, hobby and/or career can span from the first days of holding a fishing rod to our last days doing the exact same thing, holding a fishing rod and waiting for a fish to bite!

It does not matter if your eight years old, or eighty years old, the enjoyment of fishing just never goes away.

Fishing can also mean so many different things to so many different people.

You could be competing on the highest platform of tournament fishing on the BASS or FLW tours, or participating in weekend club events or buddy tournaments with your wife, girlfriend or best friend, operating a charter business inshore or offshore, or a lodge owner with vast amounts of dollars invested in equipment and operating expences.

You could be the CEO of a company trying to break into the high-dollar game of stakes, risk & smaller monetary reward within the fishing industry as compared to other athletic or professional sports.
You could be content just getting away every other weekend with your family or buddies just looking for some peace away from the rat race of phone calls, emails & text messages that usually fill our every waking moment.

It doesn`t matter how you look at it or say it, just mentioning or seeing the word FISHING, can fill a persons mind with all kinds of pleasant memories, aspirations or excitement.

For me personally, I know I have been blessed to be able to do what I do for a living, career and hobby.
I know when the camera`s get turned off many moons from now and I slip away from the spotlight of the mega media platforms, internet & television screens, I will continue to just "go fishing".

I love being an ambassador for the sport and I`ll always be a competitive angler, even if it means just competing against myself and those fish I choose to pursue.
I will always take the time out to talk to people who approach me about fishing.
I will always share my love, passion and experiences with anyone who wants to listen or learn more about fishing.
But, I will NEVER RETIRE from fishing!!

Fishing has afforded me many pleasant memories in the mind vault from my earliest childhood to my adult life, not to mention, it has also afforded me to provide for my family and travel to some great places and fish with even greater people along the way.

I get to use some of the best fishing equipment known to mankind thanks to my sponsors and supporters. Equipment that I know I could have never afforded back in the day.
I only dreamed of using such rods, reels, lures or electronics.

Heck, when I got my first boat, a small twelve foot tin banger, I couldn`t even afford an outboard on the transom, so I begged my father to buy me a tiny electric motor and single twelve volt battery so I could use it on smaller ponds close to our house.
The boat was so small, I could lift it onto my car`s roof racks by myself, and I can still remember how proud I felt driving down the road with MY OWN BOAT....going fishing... independence at last!

And now, I just have to go out into the garage and stare at my pimped out bass boat and gaze in amazement knowing this old tug of a boat is MINE!
 It`s all wrapped up with flames, graphics and this big gas guzzling outboard on the back end, but got a huge overall a few years back so she can keep on floating my butt for years to come.

Having my own bass boat was not even in my dreams back was just too much to even comprehend. She may not be new, she may not be perfect, but she sure helps me get the job done in a big way and she is MINE!

Fishing is what I LOVE, what I was born to do, what I was born to promote, teach and share with the people in my life... during my life... and after my life.

I have never stopped fishing and neither should you.

If I can give you one small piece of advice, its this: NEVER retire from the things you believe in. Keep fishing the good fight!