Kayak Bivouac for Bonito and Bass

by | Nov 12, 2009 | bob clouser, bonito, calico bass, clouser minnow, fly fishing travel, hobie, saltwater fishing

Whenever I’m on the road I always try to wet a line if I have time. I don’t know why more traveling folks whether it business or pleasure don’t try to do the same. It takes little to pack a rod and reel. I guess most people just assume there’s not much to fish for. Like me down here in Southern CA today, what in the world would I bring a fly rod here for? Duh! How about the ocean?

On October 30th, I ventured out with an old friend, Rich Garrett, who generously took time from work to take me fishing. Rich and his gal Mary Lou hooked us up with their friend, Mike Allen, a pro for Hobie Cat, and we sea kayaked outside Newport Beach.

Mike Allen is an expert in kayak fishing to say the least and he kindly took the day and time not only to join us fishing but also teach us how to use a sea kayak. Kayak’s are great fly fishing tools and within five minutes I was sold on the Hobie. We had the option of paddling and/or pedaling for moving in these kayaks. I loved this option because pedaling freed my hands so I could cast to fish with ease.

Today was a gorgeous 85 degree day with no wind. I quickly found myself two miles out to sea rolling in huge Pacific waves while chasing a school of bonito. I’d of chased bonito all day but somehow I’d ventured a long way away from Mike and the gang. I knew as a total rookie that wasn’t such a good idea and didn’t want to worry everyone. Also, it occurred to me that a kayak could resemble a seal to a big shark! I’ve fly fished for blue and mako sharks in the nearby waters off San Diego and recently friend Jeff Patterson actually caught a great white on the fly down there! So as fast as my legs could pedal I hauled ass back near shore. There I met up with Rich, Mary Lou and Mike and dredged Clouser Minnows along the kelp beds. I have fished the surf in Southern California several times and learned the good fly’s should have some orange and gold. Therefore, the Clouser I used was orange and white with some gold on the body. Throughout the afternoon we landed a handful of handsome little calico bass and mackerel. A fantastic day!

The Clouser Minnow was originally designed by Bob Clouser to be a freshwater fly, but tied in bigger sizes, it is deadly in the brine as well. A great prospecting pattern, you can cover alot of water with this one on those rare occasions when you might not know exactly where the fish are hanging out. On the retrieve it darts like a wounded baitfish just begging to be swallowed by something higher on the food chain. This fly should be tied sparse to imitate the long, narrow silhouette of most baitfish. Since the weighted eyes are on the bottom of the fly, it rides with the point up, so you can drag the bottom with it and not get many snags.

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!