This article originally appeared on June 18, 2019 in Fresno Bee by Roger George.

Chad and Al only used Hookup Baits and the most popular was the 1 oz Chovy Big Game and 1 oz Mint Big Game were the ticket. – Jojo

A recent two-day fishing trip to San Luis Reservoir with two professional saltwater tournament anglers, Chad Gierlich and Al Vasquez of San Diego and Hookup Baits, reinforced the fact that you never know what’s going to happen on the water.


Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert.

The wind was blowing like crazy. It was about 11:30 a.m. before they opened the lake and we launched from Dinosaur and headed for Portuguese Cove for some wind protection in medium 10-15 mph wind.

We began fishing some flats and points. The fish were clearly suspended and inactive but we keep trolling – catching one here and there. Chad finally had a good fish hit that went a personal-best 30 inches.

Two hours later the wind came up suddenly and the waves got bigger. I headed for the western shore where the waves are the least and then skirted along it back to Dinosaur. This is the safest strategy to use in a hard west wind.

The now 30 mph-plus wind was throwing the spray back into the boat every few seconds. We were all dripping, totally soaked. I looked over and Chad and Al were laughing; this was nothing for a saltwater angler, they told me. Yeah, we were safe, but I sure needed some dry underwear soon!

We had caught a few fish, but it had been a tough day overall!

The wind had slowed way down. Early in the day, though, I heard a high-pitched screaming noise and the boat stopped. I turned off the engine, but the screaming continued – the tilt control pump was stuck on! We tried a bunch of things but no-go. It was 8 a.m. Time for the cavalry!

I called Ed’s Marine, and my go-to mechanic, Bill Manuszak, was in! He told me what he thought would work to fix it, but getting the cowling off (it was stuck against the rear deck) was going to be a bear. Taking his advice, we got the hood off, looked for a vacuum cleaner-type hose and disconnected the coupling inside it. Reconnecting it reset the system and it worked perfectly! Bill had saved our bacon!

Soon after, the day got dead calm and it seemed like a prefrontal low shutoff bite. We had around six fish by 1 p.m. I looked all over the lake, but the fish were hiding. So far, Chad and Al had gotten the worst of it!

About 2 p.m., a northwest wind came up, the temperature moderated and the puffy clouds came out. I told the guys we were going to a spot that didn’t have any fish earlier, but it felt right.

As we came off plane I began seeing fish over the point at 40 to 70 feet. We put down two lures, went 30 seconds and had a double hookup of nice 23-inch fish! We spent the next 2½ hours catching fish on everything you could think of – Lucky Crafts, saltwater Hookup jigs and various other minnow baits – as the schooling melee just kept going. Having two efficient pros in the boat kept us hooked up all the time. The fish were way above-average school fish with many going from 27 to 30 inches and 10 pounds.

When the counter hit 63 for the day, the bite suddenly shut off. Done!

We had hit a melee bite for those 2½ hours like I’ve never seen: fish going 5 to 10 pounds and not a single fish under 22 inches – all carefully released.

The next day there was nothing in the area and the bite had gone cold. Typical fishing!

We had been soaked, had engine trouble, endured bad winds and chased inactive fish but persevered until we hit an epic bite. You know: never give up!