It all started with a text from Captain Anthony Langes of HelpUFish Charters. At first I received a picture of multiple big striped bass followed by the simple question, “This weekend?” Unfortunately, due to previous commitments I was not able to take Captain Anthony up on his initial offer.
However, the texts and pictures just kept coming including one of an epic day that consisted of four fish over 40” for Richard Niechniedowicz and Aaron Daglow the owner of SlabZone Lures. That was it, I didn’t need any more prompting, I immediately texted Captain Anthony and we found an open date on my calendar.
If you are a Fish Sniffer regular, there is a good chance you have seen pictures of Captain Anthony’s catches: big stripers, giant sturgeon and huge sharks. His website: http://www.helpufish.net has links to his social media pages and to his popular YouTube channel which chronicles his adventures and is loaded with helpful fishing tips
A few days later, I met up with Captain Anthony at the Ninth Street Boat Ramp in Benicia for a mid morning start to our day of bullhead fishing. Captain Anthony put the throttle down and steered the boat west toward San Pablo Bay. As a youngster growing up in the East Bay, I spent many a day soaking bullheads for stripers.
Once we reached our starting spot in the mid bay, Captain Anthony methodically idled the area all the while monitoring his electronics. He carefully lined the boat up on his numbers and set the anchor. As he began rigging up our rods, I began to get nostalgic. Captain Anthony uses state of the art Cousins Tackle Rods, Avet Reels, and Fins Braided Line. The last time I fished bullheads I was using an antiquated fiberglass PacificStik, an old Penn and monofilament line.
When Captain Anthony pulled a bullhead from the bait tank, I noticed that his terminal rig was nothing like I remembered. Back in the day, I rigged my bullhead on a two hook sliding snell rig. Captain Anthony used a special needle to carefully thread the leader line (36”of 50lb monofilament) along the backside of the bait, starting just behind the head and exiting at the tail, taking care to leave the end of the threader sticking out of the entry point by the head of the bait. To the back end of the threading needle he attached the loop knot on the end of the leader and pulled it through the bullhead until the bronze double hook on the other end was lying snug up against the head of the bait. Using 25lb Fins 40G Braid for the mainline, Captain Anthony threaded on a sinker slide to which he had attached a 5oz sinker and to finish he tied the mainline to a 50lb rated snap swivel. On the snap, he clipped the leader loop and the rod was ready to fish.
Bait fishing with bullheads can involve long periods of watching and waiting. And on this day, this was certainly the case. Captain Anthony warned me ahead of time that the small tidal movements were less than ideal. But as a wise fisherman once told me, “You can’t catch’em sitting on the couch”, so I opted in.
After sitting on our starting spot for a large part of the outgoing tide without any action, Captain Anthony decided to try a few other locations. Unfortunately, the story remained the same. When the tide turned, the current was minimal. Like most good anglers, Captain Anthony has a strong network of colleagues and friends on the water. On some fresh information (a big thank you to Uncle Keith), Captain Anthony opted to move to an area near the Martinez Bridge.
Now it became a race against time. With just a couple hours of sunlight and tide left, we settled in for our last stand. Again, we sat patiently waiting for a school of active fish to move through. And then it happened, our first pick up of the day. My rod began to load as the fish steadily pulled line from my reel. “Tighten the drag, reel down and set the hook,” advised Captain Anthony. Following his instructions, I found my hooked up with a nice striper. The Cousins Tackle CPX 804S made easy work of the fish and it was not long before Captain Anthony slid the net under a nice 8lb bass.
After quickly unhooking the fish, I had my bait back in the water awaiting another bite. With twilight quickly approaching, my rod surged again as a fish started moving off with my bullhead. I tightened down the drag, reeled into the fish and swept the hook home. This time I could tell the fish was a little better. Within short order keeper number two, a clean 10 pounder was in the boat. Not only was it a great way to end the day but I also learned so much about bullhead fishing that I never knew from Captain Anthony.
If you would like to book a trip with Captain Anthony, he can be reached at 707-812-1825.