Scene in my present bar. 11 lb and 12 lb-2oz bass
Scene in my present bar. 11 lb and 13 lb-2oz bass
          Fishing has been my avocation for as long as I can remember. My father also loved to fish and  some of the most miserable times of my life were when he took the family to the New Jersey shore so that he could fish off the jetties. Picture it! Hot day in the sun, all four boys are sunburned, cranky, sandy, and very tired. My Mother also in the same state and Dad still out on the rocks trying to catch a fish. And we were faced with the horrendous traffic jams on the one lane road back to Newark. No matter what time you left the shore for the 60 mile drive, it took at least 5 hours. Did I mention the New Jersey mosquitoes? All in all it added up to a miserable day


          The scene changes. I'm about 13 years old and visiting my Aunt Mateel in Long Beach, Long Island, N Y. I was fishing off a dock on the bay side and having no luck at all. A very elderly gentleman came up and started to fish right next to me. It seemed that every time that he dropped his bait in the water, he had a fish on. I never did catch one and I'm sure that he had at least a dozen. I left very disgusted and perplexed. But that's the way that it goes sometimes. I've been skunked many times after that but that episode sticks in my mind, maybe it was because my ego was bruised.
          I stayed at my Aunt Mateels beach front house at the foot of Virginia St. in Long Beach, L.I., N. Y. After not catching any fish, I still had some bait left in a bucket by the gate in front. I was all dressed up and we were going out to dinner when my Aunt Mateel told me to get rid of the smelly old bait.
           I stepped out the gate onto the beach and was thinking of the cook in 'Mutiny On The Bounty', when he stepped out onto the ships deck, wet his finger to find out which way the wind was blowing and promptly threw the contents of the bucket into the wind. You know the result. Well I did the same thing and had to go into the house to change my clothes and take a shower.


          Some of my earliest fishing was when I was 11 years old and we lived in the Adirondack mountains of N Y. There was a lake, called Loon Lake, about 1000 feet through the woods and we would go over there with a pole, line, hook  and some worms. We caught yellow perch and some catfish. There were also a lot of frogs at the lake and we would go out at night and gig them. The lure was a piece of cloth on a hook and I dangled it in front of them. The hooked ones would be put in a fenced enclosure until there were a sufficient number for a family meal.


          Many years ago, Millie and I were towing our rig along highway 98 in Florida near Port St. Joe and decided to drive along the peninsula and out to the point, about 15 miles, to camp on the beach. We found a beautiful isolated spot and camped right there. There wasn't a person for miles. We could see Port St. Joe in the distance but nothing else. I think that the area now is called 'St. Joseph Peninsula State Park', out highway 30E.
          We had a nice dinner and a drink or two and after dark, at the low tide, I decided to walk in the shallow surf and see if I could gig a few flatfish that normally lay in the sand. I had a gig, so off we walked in the water about one to two foot deep. It was warm and we were enjoying the walk when the water seemed to be a little deeper. Now, two feet and then three???
          I was using a fluorescent lantern to look for the fish and the light was diffused with no beam. The incoming tide was now up past our knees and lapping at our belly buttons. Which way to go???
          The flashlight was of no use and there were no discernible landmarks in the dark. I then made the decision. Rather than keep walking and possibly drowning while swimming out to sea, we would stop and determine where we were. I shut off the light and we stood there in the dark with the water still rising. !!!FUN!!!!
          All that we could see was nothing. After about three to five minutes, with our eyes used to the dark, I slowly turned about and looked in all directions. I did see some lights in the distance and decided that they were at Port St. Joe and that we would head for them, even if we had to swim the thirteen miles. We headed that way and went as deep as our armpits and then the water became shallower and we finally were on the beach. I think that we were only about 150 feet off the beach but if we went the wrong way, it would have been a LONG swim.
          Being happy that we were still alive, we walked the beach back to camp. Millie says that I went out again looking for fish but you can bet that I kept the shore in sight. Oh!, I never did gig a fish.


          I might as well let you know right now that once in awhile I can goof. I owned a 12 foot, round bottomed boat, (Don't ever buy a boat or any fishing gear at Sears). I used it on a very calm and slow flowing river in Virginia. I never caught many fish but that is not my story.
          One day I stopped the boat next to a very steep wall and for some reason, put my foot on a protruding rock with the other foot still in the boat. You guessed it, the boat started to move out from the shore, my legs stretched as far as possible and my hands were holding onto a bush. There I was, what to do?. The only alternative was to let go of the bush, drop into the water and try to swim and catch the boat. Lucky me, there was another boat about 100 feet away and they responded to my frantic supplications and rowed over and pushed the boat towards shore and I recovered my normal seat. WHEW.


          Time goes on. Near Panama City, Fl., the commercial boats, that fish for sharks to extract the vitamin A from their livers and cut off their fins for soup, are berthed.
          Twice I made arrangements to ride along with them. A very interesting experience. On the way out they would harpoon porpoises and cut them up for bait. Their flesh is very bloody and an attractant to sharks. This bait was put on very large hooks that were attached to a mile long chain, then they would put out this chain with markers to show where the ends were. The next day they would retrieve the chain by means of a powerful winch.
          If the sharks had been on the hook for a long time, they would be almost dead but if they had been hooked just a few hours earlier, they could be quite lively and dangerous.
A trip out of Panama City, FL for Great White Sharks
A trip out of Panama City, FL for Great White Sharks

          On both trips they caught a Great White that was at least 20 feet long. The sharks were piled on the deck and taken to a moorage on an island where they would cut off the fins and hang them on a wash line to dry, The oil was extracted from their livers and put into barrels and sold to Borden Co. who processed it for the Vitamin A.

          On the day that I arrived in Panama, I was very lucky in a poker game and was able to send for Millie and Gail and to have them come to Panama over the Christmas holidays. {That is another story worth telling} Mildred was pregnant with Jay at the time so when she arrived I gave her $50 to buy some new clothes, after she had the baby. A few days later I saw a Tonkin cane surf rod in the P X and there went the $50.
          The Chagres River was close to our base. This is world famous for it's tarpon fishing but I was never able to land one. Another skunk! Not  too bad though considering that for every 10 strikes you get one hookup. And for every ten hookups, you land one tarpon, if you really are a good fisherman and the fish doesn't manage to disengage itself.


          My favorite quest is for largemouth bass. Luckily, I've been able to fish for them on some of the best lakes in the world, like those in Florida, Mexico, Texas, California,, Arizona and Cuba. n fact, I was the resident pro in Cuba for nine trips. More about that later. My brother George owned a fish camp on the St. Johns river in Florida, close to where Big and Little Lake George meet. The nearest town of any was Palatka Florida. His camp was named Trophy Bass Lodge.
          I spent many days fishing there and always caught bass, mostly during the spring when the bass were spawning. We used river shiners for bait, that we caught in the nets that my brother had set out in the river. He also sold the excess shiners that he caught. He had ten large 10 by 10 foot nets and they were held in place by four poles. I always had a goodly supply of bait and I caught many fish but as in all fishing, sometimes you were skunked too. If you pulled the nets at night, they would be loaded with small catfish.
Nice morning catch from the St. Johns river FL at my brother's Trophy Bass Lodge. 13 lb-2 oz bass from the St. Johns River, FL
Top: 13 lb-2 oz bass from the St. Johns River, FL.  
Bottom: Nice morning catch from the St. Johns river FL at my brother's Trophy Bass Lodge.
          Since I had fished at my brother George's fish camp in Florida many times, I decided to reciprocate and take him to Mexico. He brought his son along and all they had to pay for was their airfare. We went to Lake Obregon in Mexico but the fishing wasn't too good. We did catch some bass but nothing like I had been used to. For some reason, possibly mine, we didn't get along too well and the trip didn't turn out to be much fun. The details are not important but you can't win them all.
          George and I also took a trip to Eastern Canada for bass and trout. Even though we fished many lakes in Ontario, we never caught any fish. To solve this we hired a guide to take us out. The same story, no fish. George and I began saying that if he didn't show us some fish by a certain time, we were going to throw him overboard. As the time approached, he got very nervous but we didn't toss him over.
         The largest bass that I've caught was 13 pound 2 oz. and I have it hanging in my bar right next to a 11 pounder that I caught in Cuba. [MORE INFO LATER]


          I've done a lot of salt water big game fishing in Mexico. For about 14 years we took our trailer to Rincon De Guayabitos in Nayarit which is about 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. We camped at a place named Tropico Cabana Trailer Park. Our sites were situated very close to the beach. Here we launched and recovered our boats through the surf. We would spend the four winter months there and fish about four days a week. We filled the freezer with Dorado [Mahi Mahi] and canned many cases of yellow fin tuna. There were lots of Pacific Sailfish [up to 120 lbs.] caught and a few Marlin were also boated  plus Wahoo and a variety of other fish. We would start our trolling of three lines about seven miles out where the blue water started. You would look for a trash line or any floating debris because that was where the Dorado hung out.
          A Dorado is what we called a Bullheaded Dolphin.
Launching my own Dorado luring island at Tropico Cabana RV park in Rincon de Guayabitos, Mexico
Launching my own Dorado luring island at Tropico Cabana RV park in Rincon de Guayabitos, Mexico
Image 005
 A floating tree was a perfect place to find them. There wasn't that many trees to be found so I decided to make my own floating island. I bound a lot of palm fronds together and towed them about ten miles out and put a small flag on it so that I could find it. No, I never did catch any fish near it. It seems that the debris has to be in the water a long time so that small fish and sea animals are attracted to or near it and that draws the Dorado. A good try though.
          On one occasion I was about 30 miles out and had a  sailfish on. In those days I used an Avon 12 ft. inflatable boat. Well, I got the fish close to the boat and then he started  a sawing type motion and was lunging at the boat. Before I could counter him, he put his bill into one of my rubber pontoons. I  boated the fish and gave it to friends that were nearby and then slowly trolled toward shore. I caught a nice Dorado and then I realized that the pontoon was leaking a lot of air. Off I went at full speed and ran it up on the beach. I got a good razzing from my friends but I was able to fix the leak and a  few days later I was back on the ocean.
          The same thing happened once again. This time I had him hooked on my short heavy duty marlin rod. As he approached my rubber boat, he again started the sawing motion. But now I was prepared for his antics and used my rod to fence with him. After about four or five minutes of this, I poked him in the eye and he backed off. I pulled him closer and with my gloves on, grabbed his bill. He didn't like that and since he was still very 'GREEN' [meaning, not the least bit tired] we then ended in a pumping match with him doing most of the pumping and me hanging on.
          Finally I was able to wear him out and boat him and since he was hooked in the bill and not hurt, I released him. Besides, I already had many bills from previous catches in my collection at home, in the garage. I never keep a Sailfish that is bill hooked since they are not injured in any way. The ones that I keep, and give to the natives, are the ones that are hooked in the mouth and are bleeding since the sharks will get them in a few minutes.    
          Once, about twenty miles at sea, I was trolling and looking back at my lures when I hit something solid with the boat,  What a shock cause there was nothing in sight that I could collide with. It turned out that I had hit a large sea turtle that was basking on the surface. It got my attention, to say the least.
            On another trip about 20 to 25 miles out, with nothing in sight, I stopped to have my lunch. After sitting quietly for about ten minutes, I was startled to hear a noise similar to a freight train bearing down on me. I jumped up and looked and saw a large whale about 100 feet behind me 'blowing'. I started the motor and went about a mile away and settled down to finish my lunch. The same thing happened again about ten minutes later. Were they doing this on purpose just to play with me or scare me? Whatever, it worked, and I was scared for a few seconds.


       To find where the tuna were, we left at 0600 in the dark and headed out due west on a 270 degree compass heading, at full speed [20 knots average] for three hours. Then we would put our lines out and troll and scan the horizon for any activity. We were looking for birds since they would hover over the tuna and spinning porpoises and feed on the scraps of the bait fish. You would not believe the maelstrom on the water with feeding birds, spinning porpoises jumping and other fish breaking water.
A nice mess of tuna

          When you hooked up with a tuna, it was quite a fight to get it in the boat. In the meantime the school of fish has moved on and the chase was on again. After three or four hours of this activity, you are dead tired, sunburned and the bottom of the boat is awash with fish and blood, It's time to head for shore, about 60 to 75 miles away. You found your way back by going east on the compass until the mountains came into sight on the horizon and then you adjusted your heading to find home. A very long day. Now you have to clean the boat, cut up the fish and ice them down so that they could be pressure canned the next day.  FUN???
          A trip out was always beautiful and different. I've seen lots of whales jumping and splashing back into the sea. The resulting splash and foam reminds you of a large airplane that might have crashed into the ocean. Many is the times that I have run over Manta rays with a wingspan of over 15 feet [I've hit several of them while trolling] and one even hit my hand with it's wing while I was holding the side of the boat. I've also seen thousands upon thousands of small spotted rays in a school that stretched for miles plus the always present porpoises that raced under your prow and were impossible to lose regardless of how abruptly you maneuvered your boat.


          Another Mexican spot where I liked to fish was  Cabo San Lucas. This is famous for large game fish, especially Marlin. The first thing that you need to do to fish for Marlin is to catch some bait. This is done by going to a special spot and putting a 'Little Joe' down deep. This lure is a series of about eight small hooks on a line and each hook has a small tuft of wool to attract the mackerel. A lot of bait is needed since it is very difficult to keep them alive in my small boat without a live bait well.  Also the thing to do while catching bait is to put the first one on the hook of the heavy line rig and let it 'free line' or swim around just in case a large fish is in the area. I did this and  'Surprise'.
         After I had enough bait, I tried to reel in the heavy line but I felt great resistance and it was obvious that something heavy was on the line. I motored along to retrieve the line and saw that I had hooked a Thresher Shark. Each time that it moved it's tail, we went for a ride. I estimated it to be 11 feet long and weighing about 11 hundred pounds and me in a 13 foot aluminum boat.
          I followed it for about two hours, hoping that I could figure out some way to subdue it. I finally decided that the fish had won so I got as close to it as I could [it stayed about 6 to 8  feet below the surface and was in plain view.] and cut the line. I doubt that the shark even knew that he was hooked up to my boat.
          So off I went to try to catch a Marlin. While trolling off the coast among the large charter boats, with a chop of about one to two feet, I felt a spray and noticed that the constant pounding had opened a seam in the front of the boat. Off I raced for shore and ran it up on the beach. That was the end of the fishing for that trip. I loaded the boat on top of my pickup and headed for Fresno Ca. to get it repaired. Another skunked day.


          I've fished all the major lakes in Mexico and several times have landed over 100 bass in a day,  I've also had many adventures, like having my outboard motor stolen plus being held up on the lake and everything stolen while they held a gun aimed at my chest. Read on !!


           Bandits showed up at a lake called Comendero that was about 80 miles east of the main highway just south of Culiacan. [the drug center of Mexico.] It all started on a cold drizzly afternoon  when Ben Tang, Mickey Toliver and myself were in Mickey's bass boat near the shore, about 15 miles up Lake Comendero. I saw a small boat out on the lake but paid no attention to it. A few minutes later I looked up and it was coming at us at a high rate of speed. It swerved and pulled up short of us and 5 men stood up in the boat. Three had automatics, one a revolver and one a sub-machine gun. We all raised our hands.
          They asked for money, Mickey had 350 dollars and gave it to them. They wanted cigarettes, we had none, they asked for gasoline, all that we had was in the boats tank.
         Then they made us get out of the boat and climb a steep bank. Three of the bandits followed us up the bank and each one kept a gun aimed at our chests. The other two ransacked the boat, took all our rods, tackle boxes, binoculars, and anything else of value. This took about twenty minutes and all the while the guns were pointed at our chests. Finally the leader threw the boat keys overboard and tore a handful of wires loose. [luckily the wires only went to the fuel tanks] Then they all got in their boat and raced away, shooting in the air.
          We have a problem Houston!!! It was getting dark, rainy, no boat keys, no extra food or warm clothing and nobody knew where we were. etc. etc. Our boat was about12 feet off the shore, in the brush. Mickey got undressed to swim out and retrieve the boat but I was able to hook it with a long branch and pulled it to shore.
          About 100 yards away was a small island that faced the main part of the lake. We used the trolling motor to get us to the island. I told Ben that I would try to gather some dry brush to make a signal fire and to keep dry and he should try to rewire the ignition so we could use the boat to return to camp. After about 15 minutes, Ben called to me to come off the hill. He said 'I just remembered that I put a set of spare keys in the boat, now I've got to find them' It took about 5 minutes and he found them and we started back up.
         We were living in a Bass Outfitters enclosure and happy to arrive there.  It was next to a very small village. At various times during the night I was awakened by a total of 14 shots. The next morning we pulled out our bass boat and headed for civilization. Did we call the Police? 'Hell no'. We checked with a local American and he told us that it would cost us about $300 to get a cop out from town and there was nothing that the police could do to help us. They would have cost us a lot of problems and money too.
          So it goes. Things got a lot worse in that area and finally the Army came in and cleaned it up, so they tell me. They claimed that they caught the bandits and had them all in jail, Even sent me a FAX of their pictures and a newspaper article but nobody believes it was the same five. The locals say they know who they are and what ranch they live at but nobody is going to go in and bring them out.
          Back to Northern Mexico. Millie used to go with me to Lake Dominguez, near El Fuerte. To get to the lake you had to follow an irrigation canal for about ten miles and then cross a bridge to get over the river. This bridge was very narrow, had wooden planks across it and many of them were missing. At times, I had to get out and replace them so that my wheels wouldn't fall through.  A scary ride to say the least. At the lake we had to cross the dam that had a 60 degree turn about half way across. It always seemed that it was impossible to do, but somehow I  managed to make it.    
          At the lake shore we dry camped. The only life to be seen was an occasional boat and the cattle that seemed to like to eat everything in camp. Bass fishing was great! One day about six of us caught enough to fill the back of a pickup. It took until  midnight to fillet them by our Mexican helpers, There was no fear of 'Bandits' in November 1999.
An afternoons catch Millie and I camp at Lake Dominquez
An afternoons catch Millie and I camp at Lake Dominquez


          My friend Mickey Toliver from Tempe AZ. {The same fellow that was with me when we were held up in Mexico} called and asked if I would like to do some bass fishing in Mexico. I jumped at the chance because I hadn't done much bass fishing during the past two years and I would be with a couple guys that I had fished with before. I loaded up my truck and drove to Tempe AZ. and spent the night with Mickey.
          The next morning we loaded his 27 foot motor home with all our gear and he, Ben Tang and I headed south. Ben was driving the suburban so we had two vehicles to use. Crossed the border without too much trouble and since it was getting dark, we stopped at a small trailer park in Santa Ana Mex. for the night. The next day we went on to San Carlos Mex. and stayed at Mickey's house. A beautiful house overlooking the Marina and bay.
An even 11 lbs at Lake El Salto, Mexico
An even 11 lbs at Lake El Salto, Mexico
          A few days were spent there doing odd jobs on Mickey's house and 28 foot diesel boat.  No time to do any deep sea fishing since the boat had some transmission problems. We drove further south and went to a fish camp on Lake Obregon {Oviachi}.  There was a bass tournament going on. We checked the results of 25 boats, a total of 25 bass so that was enough reason for us to head out for another lake. On to Lake Salto.
          At Lake Salto we pulled into a fish camp of a 'good friend', Billie Chapman Jr. We asked to park our motor home there and we were told that he wanted $150.00 per night, just to park. {Some good friend} We were already committed with the boat in the water so we stayed the night. We fished for a short time and we each caught about 15 bass.
          I talked to some Mexicans and was told that 150 yards away we could park for free at the waters edge. Great! At this  spot was a man named Nacho, and he said that we could camp there and also we could put our bass boat right on the shore. Perfect. We could go out fishing and he would guard our motor home. The only drawback was the droppings of several horses, cattle and mules that were grazing in the area.
          Here is where the local netters brought their tilapia to be loaded on big trucks to be sold in Mexico City. This was no deterrent to fishermen that could be on the lake for free. Upon leaving we tipped the caretaker lavishly insuring that we could park there again. [Note; this is about 3oo feet from Ben kings lease where I spent six weeks in 2001, Jay and Jan also spent a few weeks there, and We plan to fish it again in Jan. 2002.] I did.
          The next morning we were out on the lake seeking the wily and elusive Largemouth Bass [called Lobino in Spanish] We did very well. I boated 47 fish and my buddies did equally well. A long  but fruitful day. Early to bed and up at 0430 the next day to fish again.
          It was another great fishing day and  I boated an even 50 fish, all solid and great fighters. We threw most of them back as we had no large freezer with us. The following day we changed our tactics and used more spinner baits in the brush. I boated an 11 lb. 0 oz. bass. Had it weighed at the fish camp and was able to release it alive. I would liked to have had it mounted but I already have two larger ones on the wall of my  bar. Also, we had no way of keeping it until we could find somebody to mount it. Maybe I'll catch it again someday?
A nice hog
An example of 3 one/half days catch of bass

         Later that same day, I had another 'Hog' on my line but with the boat moving  against a tree, the wind blowing and my not letting line out for it to swim free, I lost it. My total for that day was 37 fish. The following day we  tried for large fish with worms and spinner baits but the biggest that I boated was about six pounds. Total today, 23 fish. Remember my two friends are catching as many, if not more than I did.
          Same routine, early to bed, fish stew for dinner and up before dawn the next day. We fished  about half a day [I caught 19 more] and then we pulled the boat out and headed  for  Rincon De Guayabitos Mexico. {about 35 miles north of Puerto Vallarta] and stopped at Los Mochis for the night. We know some people there and we all went out for very good tacos. On further south the next day.
          At Rincon we stayed at Mickey's house, another beautiful place on the beach. We had several dinners at friends, visited the trailer park where Millie and I had spent many winters but it was almost empty now.
          Two days later we drove to Lake Aguamilpas, near Tepic and were able to park for $5 a night .The wind came up most every afternoon making it difficult to fish but we did fairly well in the AM.  We averaged about 25 fish each per day and they were all healthy bass. My biggest was a little over 5 lbs. We fished for three days, visited Billy Chapman Sr. fish camp and then we drove back to Rincon.  
          On the way to San Carlos, Mexico, at night in a Suburban, the Chinese friend was driving and the speedometer read 155 km., that equates to 95 mph. I was scared. A rock in the road, mule, horse or whatever, and if we hit any of these or blew a tire at that speed, we are dead. I mentioned it in a nice way but he took affront to it and we are no longer friends. Good, at least I'm still alive to tell the story. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I thank Mickey for asking  me.
Mexico bass Mexico bass
Mexico bass Mexico bass


          Back to  Mexico in 2001. My good friend and longtime fishing buddy, Brigadier General Ben King, invited me to visit with him at the lakefront property that he leases at Lake Salto in Mexico. It is located 100 km. south of Culiacan and 100 km north of Mazatlan, then about six miles east toward Cosala. A beautiful and large lake on the river and is probably the best lake in the world for BIG largemouth bass.
          I left Las Vegas on New Years day and arrived at the lake on 4 Jan. Ben King was there and two of his buddies from Texarkana, TX. and the two 'Man servants, POLO and ARMADA'. I must explain this right now. Ben leases the property for $300 a year but you must employ POLO too. Polo insures that nobody will steal, bother or in any way molest you. Armada is his son and is a very big strong fellow..
          Their job is primarily security {If you leave the camp. they will stay there} and help in any way that you choose. Example: They help launch and recover the boat, unload it, bring the tackle in, clean the fish, keep the tank full of gasoline, chop firewood, make a fire in the evening, keep the area clean, wash  all the dishes, shoot and clean doves, wash the truck, etc, etc,. Their wives even sent us some tamales and homemade cookies. No matter what we asked, they did it right away. This of course cost money. Ben, Jay and I's.
          After I had been there for four weeks, Jay and Jan came down. This was the first time that Jay had gone bass fishing since he and I went to Lake Obregon about 30 years ago. We fished all day and every day and did quite well. Several times Jay caught more fish in a day than I did.
          The fishing  wasn't the greatest due to a series of cold fronts that passed through the area and kept the water temperature down. We did catch a lot of fish and many in the 5, 6 7 and 8 pound variety. Jay boated a eight pound fourteen ounce bass for his biggest. We went out every day, sometimes twice if  it wasn't too windy. Once in awhile we would go to La Cruz, the nearest town, for gas, propane, water and any other supplies that we needed, even a pretty good dinner in a local restaurant. There are also several fairly good restaurants in Cosala, about 30 miles East.
          For a little diversion the three of us drove over to Lake Comendero [this is where my friends and I were held up some years ago] for a day of fishing. We hired a PONGA and two guides and fished for about three hours. I caught three, Ben five and Jay thirteen. None of any and we decided that the terrible drive over there was not worth the effort.
          I bumped into several old fishing buddies while on the lake and in general had a wonderful time. Hope that I'm able to return next year.
          Jay and Jan spent a few days in Mazatlan and then toured Mexico. I spent one night there and went on down to Rincon de Guayabitos, the place where Millie and I used to spend our winters. There were very few of the old gang around and with the windy weather, fishing was lousy, so I didn't go out for Dorado or Sailfish. Made it home in four days.
          Mexico is getting very expensive, Tolls alone are about $150 each way to Puerto Valarta, gas is $2.00 a gallon, food etc, also is very high and in the tourist areas, exorbitant. I hate to give them all that money but that is where the bass are. So it goes.
          While on this trip I kept seeing the word Massacre, twelve people killed, in the Mexican papers. When I got to Mazatlan, I saw an English paper and found out that twelve people had been lined up and shot because the bandits could not find the man that they really wanted to kill over some drugs. The massacre occurred about 4 or 5 miles from where we were camped on the lake.          
Story of massacre within 4 miles of our camp
Story of massacre within 4 miles of our camp

          I returned in 2002 to the same fish camp. It seems that my friends lost the lease on the property but were able to secure a five year lease on the property right next door. A group of Bens friends chipped in and are putting a concrete slab down, erecting the shower and cut two roads in so we can pull our trailers into the camping area.
          We are right on the water and have a nice place to  moor our boats. The old lease ended on 1 Feb and I had planned to move onto the new property when I got word that Jay and Jan wouldn't make it down, so I packed up and headed home.
          I caught 293 bass during the 17 days that I fished but they were all small. Now there are too many commercial outfitters on the lake, too many tilapia netters and it is showing up in the catch. There are a few ten pound bass caught quite frequently but nothing like it was a few years back. Also the local politics on the lake are being fought over by the outfitters. A shame since there is constant turmoil and problems. Another great spot being ruined.


          During the last few years I've joined my old Buddy Chuck Stratton and friends and we've gone to a place called Port Renfrew, British Columbia. It is situated close to the extreme southwestern point of British Columbia where the Straits of Juan De Fuca meet the Pacific ocean. There is a small fish camp about two miles up a stream and they have a dock where we can moor our boats and a large parking area where we camp.
          From there we can go down the river and out on the ocean to fish for halibut, salmon and get a sufficient supply of large Dungeness crabs. This fishing is not for the old and decrepit. Here is a typical day.
          Up at about 5 A M and onto the boats [we use one 25 foot and one about 19 foot] and down the river to the bay. Our destination is the Swiftsure Banks about 13 miles out. We eat breakfast on the boat on the way out. One morning breakfast consisted of a pot of cold string beans left over from the previous night. The water is always rough out there and the boat goes through many gyrations during the day and it is best to always have at least one hand on the rail and your gut pressed up against it for balance. This is the easy part.
Nice Halibut and 2 Yelloweye Port Renfrew, Canada
Nice Halibut and 2 Yelloweye Port Renfrew, Canada
          When we reach the fishing grounds, the fun begins. The bottom is 300 to 350 feet down and halibut feed on the bottom. So out come the very stiff short rods and we put a 2 pound weight on to get the bait to the bottom. The large curved hook is baited with a generous piece of octopus. Down goes the weight. You must keep the bait close to the bottom so it is a constant adjustment to keep it there plus you have to pump the rod to keep the bait moving up and down. This alone gives me enough exercise to last several months. Now, you hope that nothing takes your bait because if it does, you have to reel it up the 300 plus feet.
          So you are 'lucky'?, and hook a 100 pound halibut and are cranking it up. No easy job since it is a very strong flat fish and doesn't want to come up to the surface. But it finally arrives. Now is the dangerous part because a 100 pound flapping fish in a boat can do a lot of damage to the boat and to you if you get in the way. The secret is to have a very strong man with a large gaff and when it is surfaced, to gaff it and in one motion bring it up and over the side and flop it into a large barrel that we keep on the deck. During this maneuver, the two pound lead weight is swinging around the air. O K, its in the barrel but is still very much alive and unhappy. So we try to perform an upper lobotomy to silence it. Again, not an easy job since the head is at the bottom of the barrel and the fish has to be turned head up. The knife is sharp and pointy and great care must be taken so that only the fish is killed.
          Back we go to drifting and if we have any more hookups, we go through the same procedure. We also pull up some nice  Yelloweye [a red fish] from the depths but when they get to the surface, they die because their stomach bladders blow up.
            On the way back, we troll near shore and catch some very delicious sea bass and pull our crab traps that have been out all day. We always catch enough for dinner. It's been a long day and all are very tired but we aren't finished yet.
          Back up the river to the dock. Now we have to scrub the boats, another back breaking job. When that is finished, the fish have to be cleaned and filleted. More fun!. Then it's time to package the fish and divide the packages up. Take them off to town where a good guy has let us use the electric in his barn to keep our freezers going and our fish frozen.  Back to camp and a few drinks are in order. Remember it's always cold and raining so we attempt to get a big fire going. After a few more drinks and some wild stories, somebody says 'When are we going to eat' And it's about ten o'clock by now and all have had several potent libations.
          The food is always good and only has to be heated since Chuck has prepared it before he left home. We get Elk, Chicken, Steaks, Crabs, Fish, etc,. etc,. Always delicious and never any left over. Well it is now at least 11 o'clock so we go to bed because we have to go through the same routine starting early tomorrow morning.
          After 6 to 10 days of this great 'SPORT??' we still have to break camp, load the rigs and boats and freezers and drive back to the USA. And get ready for next year. Well a next year came and it was 2000 and the whole trip was a total disaster.!!!
          But before I get to 2000, as we were packing up to leave there, I was feeling kinda low and lethargic. I mentioned it to the guys and they offered me pills saying that I was having a heart attack. Well, I let them load the trailer and then drive me into Victoria where they set me up in a trailer park. Later on that evening, after a nap, I was up and off to a restaurant. I continued the trip back to Vegas with no apparent problems. At home I went to see my cardiologist. He admitted me right then and the next day I had four bypasses, I3 days in intensive care and kept alive on a respirator. CLOSE!!!! Now on to the next trip up North.
          In 2000, I went up a few days early and wandered around Victoria, B.C. I headed for Port Renfrew but decided to fill up with diesel. In the gas station a car was at the pumps but already finished so I gently waved him on. He didn't move. I waited and finally decided to drive around him. Didn't see the pickup parked next to me--- Lost the poles to the trailer awning. On to Port Renfrew.
          I arranged for the camp site and awaited the gang that were due the next day. Decided to rig up my rods and  be ready for the next days fishing. Went to the truck to get my rods and they were not there. Great. Now what do you do? A friendly Canadian loaned me a salmon rod and when Chuck arrived, he loaned me a couple boat rods and I was ready to go out.
          The gang arrived on time, 12 guys and three nice boats, 20, 20, and 24 feet long. Chuck launched his and they went out. John launched his and out he went. Mine was already in the water. Then  Dave was going to launch his but he couldn't get his truck started. They worked for hours but no luck. Another friendly Canadian came by and he was a mechanic. He got into it and was able to get the starter cover off, stick his finger in it to hold a spring and it started. Now they can't shut it off so they headed to Victoria to a Dodge garage, 70 miles away. After two days and two nights they convinced the Dodge people to fix it and they came back.
          Chucks inboard engine started to sputter so he was towed in. They thought that it was a head gasket, so after  many phone calls they found some in Victoria. Off went his son Bobby to buy them. After pulling the 'heads', they discovered that a cylinder was cracked-that's the end of that motor. They decided that they could still fish by being towed out, trolling on the 15 horse outboard motor an then be towed back in. Great. I5 minutes of trolling and the outboard quit. They were  towed back in. Took the motor to Victoria and had the problem repaired.
          Back to the guy with the truck starting problems. He made it out OK in his new boat but then the electrical system screwed up and he lost all his electronics. Back to the dock and we pulled him out of the water. We now have one boat working normal, one on the outboard and mine. Then the tip of the salmon rod came off and I was finished too. Back to the dock. I pulled mine out.
          After six days of chasing around the ocean by 12 fishermen who know how to fish this area, no one had caught a salmon. I packed up and left. On the way out on a very steep tight curve, I dragged the rear of my trailer, probably bent the frame, bent the rear bumper, etc. I headed back to the USA. It was only $125 each way on the ferry and I had to wait about 14 hours to get one. No more Port Renfrew, next year we'll fish out of Neah Bay, WA.
          A few years back we altered this routine and drove all the way up to Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We put our boats in and then went 65 miles due East, up a fjord to a small outpost where they had a motel and docks for the boats. We fished for salmon in the area close by but it was not too lucrative an endeavor. I think we caught 15 small salmon in seven days. You can't always win.


          Back in the 70's I got a job as the Resident Bass Fishing Pro in Cuba. For the life of me I can't remember how I got that position [Guess I'm getting old] but that isn't important. What is important is that I got paid for fishing for bass in an unfished area with lots of big fish.  Every two weeks I would fly to Houston TX., talk to my boss Dan Snow then fly to Merida, Mexico to pick up my customers. Cuba was off limits to U S citizens so we had to go to Mexico to fly across. I had a Mexican contact that helped me get the necessary visas, hotel rooms, etc. before we left.
          It was always a hassle with the Cuban consul but I would make the deadline and we would fly out on Mexicana Airlines. The plane was always full of people plus they stored freight in the rear and in the aisles. A real mess. Upon arrival in Havana we would be met by our Cuban guide but still had to go through the custom lines. There would be a bus there to take us to the hotel for the night.
          The next day a bus took us to Guama in the Zapata swamp. This was close to the U S invasion spot near the Bay of Pigs and we would stop at the small elevated building that Castro used as his headquarters..
          The resort at Guama was a series of small buildings that housed 2 or 3 guests. It was primarily used as a resort for European Communist Nationals that had made their quota in their jobs and were rewarded with a trip to Cuba. These people came from all the communist nations.
          We were given the choice bungalows to stay in. In fact we were kind of pampered because we brought American currency into the country. The food was very good, and every Friday they would have a large buffet on the porch of the club house. They served things such as crocodile, turtle, fish, and much more. We were always allowed to eat our fill and after we had left the room, the other guests were allowed to come in and eat what was left. If there was still some more left, the Cubans were allowed to finish it off. There was a souvenir store but nothing to buy.
Only picture taken at Guama, Cuba
Only picture taken at Guama, Cuba
          Now for the fishing part. We had a skiff assigned with a 'Guide' to steer the boat for two fishermen. The guides had absolutely no idea how to fish for bass or how to run a boat. They would run the boat into the dock every time that they came near it. I even gave each one of them a lesson in how to maneuver a boat  and this helped a little, but not much.
          The first rule of fishing this area was that under no circumstances would you ever get out of the boat. There was no bottom to the water. It looked only a few feet deep but there was a very thick layer of silt that had built up over the centuries and would not hold anything. AND THIS IS WHERE THE BAY OF PIGS INVADERS WERE GOING TO GO .
          Back to fishing; We used artificial lures and caught lots of bass. The water was always calm. I can't think of any place that looked better then this for fishing. This is the only photo that was taken in Cuba.  The guides were of absolutely no use but all the customers were seasoned bass fishermen so they caught many fish. I had my own boat and would race around the lake checking to make sure that everyone was having fun. Our big problem was with their outboard motors that were of Russian make and were copies of  Chrysler, which is our worst outboard. We had lots of beer which was included in the price and everybody enjoyed the trip.
          After five days of fishing we would board a bus to return to Havana for the night. We stopped at a crocodile farm enroute. There were thousands of live crocs there. They raised them for food and the leather. Back in Havana we would go for a walk in town, escorted, but I was able to sneak out one night and went to the bar {El Floridita] where Hemingway used to hang out. We also were able to see the show at the Flamingo open air nightclub.
          On one trip I had a television crew from Oklahoma City with us and they were making a documentary of the bass fishing.  I was in a lot of the filming. They put all their equipment on the plane except the cameras and when we landed in Merida, it was all missing.
          During our evening walk in Havana, a group of young men would always come up to us, single me out and ask questions. I always gave them straight answers which I'm sure the government didn't like. After nine trips, my boss received a letter from the Cuban Government saying that I would not be allowed into Cuba again. So I lost my good job. Part of the problem was that they checked each of us out on their computer list and Russian list and I'm sure that my CIA affiliation played a large part in their decision. Instead of not letting me back in, they could have held me in there and who would help?. All in all, it was a great adventure and fishing experience.


          There always has to be the bad with the good. Some years ago I wanted to fish the Baja, then take a ferry across to Rincon and then fish several bass lakes. Really a fishing trip of the lifetime. I didn't want to go alone so I invited an old Air Force friend, that I had fished with before. I figured that we could get along for the whole trip. WRONG. Well I explained it all to him, set a date and had my trailer, boat, tackle and everything ready to go. The day arrived for us to leave and he didn't show. {He lived in Salem Oregon.] Three days later he showed up with no excuses. I should have known right there and gone on alone.
          But, I gave him a set of keys and off we started. The first stop was about 20 feet away so he could close and lock the trailer door as we pulled away from the wall by my house. This was accomplished  in a normal manner except that he had lost his set of keys and mine were locked in the trailer. so we went to the factory in Calif. and they went in through a skylight to open the door. A great beginning.
          On we went. He had a strange preoccupation with road signs and was able to read every one to me. I could barely be quiet but a day later it got to me and I pulled over and explained to him that we weren't getting along very well and had a long talk. He agreed to change his ways and I said that I would try to be a little more tolerant.
          Well, we crossed the border and he did quiet down a little. We stopped for lunch one day and I foolishly ran the generator in the back of the truck to keep the freezer going. When I finished  eating and went outside, a large block of wood next to the hot exhaust of the generator was on fire. The rug was also starting to burn and I hollered to him, he was still in the trailer, that we were on fire and to bring the fire extinguisher. Old speedy  finally made it out the door but by that time I had the fire out and had burned my hand doing it. One more incident and they were adding up.
          We got as far as Los Barriles on the Eastern shore of the Baja. We camped at Verdugos R V park and were ready to go Marlin fishing. First we had to set up camp, unload the boat, get the tackle ready, etc,, etc,. While I was doing all this, and we were eager to get on the water, he spent the whole afternoon setting up a drain for the sewer hose and we didn't need that for a few days. The beach sand there is very deep and coarse so that it is very hard to walk on and a tedious job to launch and recover the boat.
          Early the next morning we got going and went out on the ocean. It was a hot day and the fishing was lousy, and we were fatigued when we came in about ten A M for a rest. We needed to lock the boat  and I asked my friend for the keys, that he was supposed to have on him. Well, he didn't have them and I had to trudge  through the deep sand to go up to the trailer and get them. That completely wore out  my stamina and patience. I told him that it was 11  A M and a plane leaves from San Jose Del Cabo at 130 PM and he had better be on it. He was! I figured out the fair share of expenses and sent him a check. That was the last time that I ever took anybody along on a fishing trip. I'm sure that part of the problem was mine but then, it was my trip.


          I did score though, on a trip to Nova Scotia. I went out on a commercial charter boat for tuna. We left in the dark and were in a deep fog for several hours and when we did stop, we were right next to  several other fishing boats. I think that spot is called 'Soldiers Rip'. There was a fast current and the captain kept
524 lb tuna
524 lb tuna
the motor in gear while we let our lines out the back. Every once in awhile a  boat would get a hookup and disappear into the fog. Finally, my time came and I had a good hookup.
          We backed down to the fish and I fought him but pretty soon he made a lunge and the steel leader was looped over his back and we were dragging him. He soon died from the water going through his gills backward. Then it was just a tug of war to drag him in. We did and we radioed the base to have the photographer meet us and take my photo. The blue fin tuna weighed 524 pounds.
          But now, what to do with my dead fish? The nearest facility for processing the tuna was forty miles across the bay, in Mass. There the fish was worth about 4 cents a pound and you had to eviscerate it, cut off the head and tail and transport it to the processing plant. I tiptoed off the dock and hoped that somebody didn't tap me on the shoulder and say 'Hey fellow, you forgot your fish'.
524 lb. Blue Fin Tuna
524 lb. Blue Fin Tuna

         It so happened that one of the locals did prepare the fish [we caught two that day] and took it over to Mass. Today it is a different story. Blue Fin tune is highly desirable in Japan for Sushi and the Japanese buyers are at the dock and will buy all tuna that are landed, and fly them over to Japan. The price of a today can go as high as $30,000 dollars, as is. Yes, I said $30,000.


          During the last 4 or 5 years I've been going crappie fishing at Lake San Carlos near Globe Arizona, on the Apache Indian reservation. The fishing had been great but in the last few years it has slacked off due to the drought and the lake has gone down about 100 feet and is only 4% full. I meet a good friend of mine there and the group ends having about 10 rigs of his friends and family. We generally eat together, play bean-bag for dollars and in general have a lot of fun. I kind of look forward to doing that each year. I have lots of help if I need it with my boat or whatever. My friends name is Val Earle and his wife is named Dolores.

          There was also fantastic crappie fishing at Lake Novillo in Mexico [Read TRAILERING for the details of my last trip there.] I've caught well over 100 crappies a day  at the lake and many other anglers have similar luck. One generally finds a bush and you can fill your bag right there. The problem years ago was that to launch your boat, you drove 6 miles, crossed the dam, if they would let you, then to a tunnel that  you had to back through to reach the launch spot, launch and finally drive out to park some distance away and walk back to the boat. A pain in the neck. The campground wasn't too bad since they had electricity and some water, Also a very small restaurant. The owner was a Doctor from the USA [although he was Mexican] and he and I became very good friends. I even brought down my satellite T V and sold it to him for $200, then they could pick up the satellite over Mexico.
Net full of crappie from Lake Novillo, Mexico
Net full of crappie from Lake Novillo, Mexico


          On our trip across the Pacific in F-84s [see operation 'Fox Peter One'] we stopped at Eniwetoc for a couple days. The base had an amphibious vehicle and we were going to take it out fishing. I sat next to the driver and while descending a very steep road to the beach, he put the transmission in neutral and we started to careen down the dune at a great rate of speed. The brakes weren't good enough to stop it. I grabbed the emergency brake and pulled as hard as I could. I did get it stopped before we went into the water.
          Then we entered the sea to go fishing. We hadn't gone very far when it became obvious that something was radically wrong. He had forgotten to close the sea cocks so we made a 180 and barely got back on the beach before the DUCK could sink. That was the end of the fishing that day.

Ron's boat with a catch of Kings
Ron's boat with a catch of Kings
           Most of the people that we wintered with in Mexico, lived in the Northwest. To beat the Las Vegas heat in the summer, we migrated to the North. For at least six or seven years we spent a couple months at Westport Washington. Several friends lived there, Ron and Yvonne Miller, and Helen Durham. Jim and Wanda Karst would bring their trailer to Westport. We had two 24 ft. boats and salmon fished most every day. Fishing was great during that period and there were probably over one hundred commercial boats out on the water every day. We mingled with them at times but generally Ron and Jim knew where to find the large Kings.
                I had never believed in what is called a 'BITE'. I'm a believer now. There would be 1-2 hundred boats fishing for salmon and you wouldn't see any action or any nets being used. All of a sudden it seems that every boat in the fleet had a fish on and the nets were waving all over the ocean. I think this occurs when a school of salmon are passing through but nobody else seems to agree with me.          
          We gutted a refrigerator and put an electric plate in the bottom and used this as our fish smoker. The results were delicious and we canned many cases of smoked salmon, plus many cases of salmon. I think that I still have a few jars in the pantry.
Nickel King catch King
Nice King catch
          We also dug  'Gooey Ducks'. Once was enough for me as it is a very strenuous process. Clams were available for the taking and we had many seafood dinners out in the open. We would open the small clams, put a drop of BBQ sauce in the shell, onto the fire and when it sizzled, into the mouth. Fabulous food. I still am able to harvest clams and oysters but the salmon fishing has gone the way of the dinosaurs, in fact, I don't even try to fish for them anymore. Note; There seems to be a resurgence of salmon in selected parts of the Northwest, but I don't get to fish there anymore. [2002]



          Just after Mildred and I were married in Ft Meyers Fla. in 1943, we made arrangements to go out fishing in a small boat with a guide. We arrived at the dock early in the morning only to find everybody very busy. The previous night they had been out fishing and spotted a school of pompano,[ a very delicious and expensive fish] They threw a net around the school and now were busy preserving the catch before the fish spoiled. No fishing that day.


          I did a lot of bass fishing at my brother George's fish camp
Top Photo: Beauty from Lake George FL
Lower Photo: Nice mornings catch at Trophy Bass Lodge
[Trophy Bass Lodge] on Little Lake George in Florida. He had ten shiner nets out so I was always assured of plenty of bait and his guide friends would give me hints on where and how the bass could be caught. Of course, sometimes I did well and there were times when I was skunked. My biggest bass was a 13 lb 2 oz and to bass fishermen, that is a monster. My largest after that was 11 lbs that 
          I caught at Lake El Salto in Mexico in Nov. 99. I also have many 8 to 10 pound bass to my credit. No small accomplishment.
          Several days after I had caught my largest bass, I had a friend come down to fish and stay with me. We got into a sort of discussion about his putting used toilet paper in a basket in his trailer. Guess he was peeved at me but we went out fishing anyway, near to the same spot where I had caught the monster a few days earlier.
          I hooked another, at least as big as my biggest. The net was up in front by him and I asked for it, no net. The bass pulled line out. I got him close to the boat again and again he didn't pass the net. Out went the bass. Once more I worked him in and still no net and this time the hook pulled out of the basses belly and he swam away. I pulled up the anchor, back to the dock and told him to get the hell out of there and I have never seen him since.
          After my brother sold the fish camp, he had his house and marina just a few hundred feet south on the lake. His Marina held about 25 boats and I always had a place to moor and park my trailer.
          That is all over now since George died and his new wife sold all the acreage, two mobile homes and the Marina for $90,000. Georges children didn't get a cent and that is another family tragedy.


          This is another time that I lost. Millie and I were on a trip with the kids
Millie skunked me again at lake Eibsee, Germany
Millie skunked me again at lake Eibsee, Germany
to Germany. We spent a few days at the USAF R and R camp that was on a beautiful lake.
          We rented a boat and tackle and Millie and I trolled for lake trout. To give you the final score, she caught 5 or 6 nice trout and I was skunked. We had the hotel chef cook the fish for us for dinner.


          Another favorite spot to chase the wily salmon was out of Neah Bay, WA. It is located at the extreme western tip of Washington state on the Straits Of Juan De Fuca. The Indians have a village there and the fishing is always very good in the Straits and nearby Pacific ocean. You can fish for salmon in the straits or go out in the ocean by Tatoosh Island or along the rocky shore.
          There are lots of campsites and docks to moor your boat. Many times we have met our friends there and enjoyed a couple weeks of fishing and fun.
          The fishing for halibut is also excellent about 11 miles out. It's a rough days work doing that, but fun. [see Port Renfrew item]


          Chuck Stratton and I decided to float a river in Montana in our two Avon inflatable boats. He and I were in one boat and his two sons and a friend were in the other. Chuck and I headed down river and the boys were to follow. We caught a few trout on the way and then pulled to the shore to wait for the boys.
          Suddenly we noticed one of the oars floating by. Then we saw an emergency oar that was in their boat float by. We knew that they were in trouble.
          We started back up the river, along the bank and in a little while met one of the sons who was looking for us to aid the other two boys. Their boat had hit some heavy rushes and slid up under them and the two boys were hanging on and couldn't get free, while the one boy was able to get to shore to find us.
          We were able to extricate the two boys and none of them were injured but we all had a pretty good scare.


             For many years I have wanted to write a book on fishing but never got around to it. These are some of the titles that crossed my mind:







Etc. etc.

Year Number Total
1976 223 223
1977 162 385
1978 235 620
1979 503 1123
1980 247 1370
1981 61 1431
1982 71 1502
1983 113 1615
1984 214 1829
1985 437 2266
1986 359 2625
1987 166 2791
1988 242 3033
1989 171 3204
1990 48 3252
1991 171 3423
1992 878 4301
1993 423 4724
1994 962 5686
1995 753 6439
1996 167 6658
1997 219 6877
1998 71 6948
1999 299 7247
2000 78 7325
2001 229 7554