(Rig Rundown is a continuing series on the Cutwater Logbook highlighting seasoned angers from the Cutwater Community)
Rig Rundown: Jon Shafer - MV Kari J.
I bought my 2016 C-28 (Kari J) new, and it is the central organizing structure of my passion. In addition to fishing I am a pro surf photographer, and use my Cutwater as a platform in the surf. Sometimes I get myself into hair-raising critical/heavy situations. It never lets me down. I have some cool photos of that to share. I am also a drone pilot and capture awesome Great White Shark footage from my boat. As far as fishing I have been a hardcore saltwater fisherman since the 1960s. In the late 60's my father's boat was one of the top Marlin fishing boats on the West Coast. My mom was the top lady Marlin angler of 1967. I caught my first Broadbill Swordfish at age 11 and have caught more Marlin than I can remember. Same with Tuna.
Where do you do your fishing?
I mostly fish the Northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz) Every Summer though my wife and I go on 10-day adventure from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border and to the Southern Channel Islands and fish the offshore banks.
What do you fish for?
In local waters I target Halibut, Rockfish, Yellowtail, White Seabass, and The Three Bs (Barracuda/Bass/Bonita). During the El Ninos and on our trips South it's all about Dorado, Tuna, and Yellowtail. One of these days I hope to hook a Marlin on the Kari J. I don't fish as hard as I once did. An artifact of old age, I actually release most of what I catch unless I know all of it will be eaten right away.
A month ago, my wife and I were alone 30 miles offshore with not another vessel in sight when we hooked and battled a Bluefin Tuna estimated at 175 pounds for well over an hour. We took turns fighting and maneuvering the boat. It took great teamwork to keep the fish from under the boat and the line out of the prop and rudder. Our Cutwater is THE perfect boat for couples like us wanting to go on long-range fishing adventures alone and in comfort!
Not including rod and reel, what are your favorite pieces of gear?
I used to own a tackle shop in the late 1980's and custom-wrapped all of my own rods. I also have a nice collection of classic/vintage Truline Rods and Newell reels as well as all sorts of casting/yo-yo jigs, trolling feathers, stuff like that. There is nothing quite like casting a live Mackerel into a school of boiling hungry Tuna or a tailing Marlin and watching them chase the bait. I have resisted all of the modern braided unbreakable fishing lines, I only fish monofilament.
How did you get into fishing?
I have been hooked since age 5. My father owned several sportfishing boats ranging from 28-48 feet through my teen years. After he sold the last one, I started fishing the large San Diego party boats.
Who do you usually go fishing with?
Mostly with my wife Kari ~ namesake of the Kari J.
What do you enjoy about fishing?
Nowadays for me it is not so much about fishing itself. Over my lifetime I have witnessed the decline of fish stocks, I do worry about the future. However, lately we've seen an unexpected huge surge or rebound in many species here in Southern California, due in part to conservation and reduced commercial pressure. Mother Nature is in fact resilient! Just look at the past 5 years and the resurgence of Bluefin Tuna!
Any good “fight stories” come to mind?
Gosh, there are so many. I was very blessed as a kid in the 60's when the original stocks of Albacore and Marlin were still robust. I caught my first Swordfish at age 11 and harpooned a huge one that dressed at 450 pounds at age 14. My first Striped Marlin at age 11 was pretty special too. Albacore fishing in the early 70s was truly special. One Summer (1972) I was able to experience lift-poling Tuna ~ just a long thick bamboo rod with a large hooked feather on the end. I think I decked over 30 Tuna in one hour!
What type of:
Rod: A collection of Cal-Star, Seeker, and vintage Trulines
Reels: Mostly Newells, but a few Penn conventional reels (no spinners)
Line: Ande or Maxima monofilament only
Terminal Tackle: I don't believe in all of the fancy-schmancy and expensive hooks. Mostly Mustad live bait hooks and circle hooks.
What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?
Rod-and-Reel: 180 Striped Marlin
Once you haul them in, do you have any cooking tips/recipes/smoking/grilling tips?
Preservation and handling are everything. If it is a warm-blooded fish like Tuna, bleed it as soon as possible. Be gentle and don't let it beat itself to death on the deck. Keep it cool, gill-and-gut, and get it on ice asap!
Any "fishing words of wisdom?"
The biggest mistake I see fishermen make is staying close to the fleet/following other boats around. Study local charts. Try new spots. Search for local knowledge, and don't share your secrets... ;) Fish live bait whenever/wherever possible.
Special thanks to Jon Shafer for contributing to the Cutwater Logbook.