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January 2020 – A Year in Review & What’s on the Horizon for 2020

It’s hard – scratch that. Borderline unfathomable that the first year of this Seas the Slay journal has come and gone. It’s harder yet to find the words that adequately summarize the experiences, doors that have opened, friendships that have formed, and most importantly my appreciation for those along the way for the first 12 months of this journey. Not to mention the immense amount of invaluable lessons learned in the inaugural year! 

Admittedly, this likely is not my most riveting storytelling post to date but an important one that pays homage to those aforementioned lessons learned. As well as gives you a sneak peek of what’s on the horizon for 2020. But let’s start with a review of my 2019 Student of Slay trips as I believe it’s vital to reflect on and assess the past before marching forward. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from each, and the captains who made those happen.

February – Catalina Hook & Hoop with Capt. James Lega of Bight Sportfishing
Website: Instagram: @bight_sportfishing & @jlega81

  • Staying Persistent – I have a lot of work to do to be successful catching White Seabass. To me, this a technical fishery that requires a high level of know-how (and probably as importantly, know when) if you want to consistently have success. Learning the local spots, fishing and tracking through the different moon phases and then staying on top of schools when they roll through. 


March – An Epic Keys Odysseawith Capt. Rush Maltz of Odyssea Sportfishing Instagram: @odyssea_sportfishing_kw 

  • Putting in Your Dues – There is NO substitute for putting in your time on the water. It is extremely clear that Rush’s reputation and successes as a fishing guide are a direct result of putting in his dues, busting his ass and spending years fully immersed (on and in) learning his local waters. It’s not by coincidence that if you put in the time, hard work and pay your respect to this passion we love – success will come. 

April – A Quintessential Spring Islands Tripwith Capt. Jamie Thinnes of Seasons Sportfishing 
Website: Instagram: @seasonssportfishing 

  • Not Taking Any Days on the Water for Granted – From my time with him, I consider Jamie the humble master and it would be hard to believe that’s not contagious. It makes you sincerely appreciate the time spent on the ocean, with fishing just being a bonus. Albeit, a very rad bonus. 

May – “Never Give Up.” “Don’t get Skunked.”with Capt. Gavin Harbour of Pacific Queen 
Website: Instragram: @pacificqueensportfishing & @gavin_harbour

  • Never Underestimate or Forget the Basics – especially as it applies to live bait fishing. Taking the extra time at the bait tank and selecting the right one will pay dividends to your success. 

June– Building the Foundations of Fly Fishingwith Matt West of Orvis Colorado Fly Fishing School
Website: Instagram: @orvis & @flyfishingoutfitters

  • “Deliberate. Then be deliberate” – putting Matt’s philosophy into practice by taking the time to evaluate things before throwing a line is a discipline I will strive for moving forward. In all fishing pursuits, I think this is an incredibly valuable step. Then making the adjustments. Constantly being deliberate and proactive in noting what’s working, what’s not. Keeping tabs on your surroundings and environment. It’s easy to be lazy and try to grind things out but sometimes making big or even subtle adjustments will make or break your success rate. 

July – “Old” Fish, New Trickswith Capt. Ali Hussiany of Local Knowledge Website: Instagram: @local_knowledge & @bdoali 

  • Teamwork – and having the confidence in the group you are fishing with. No more is this important than private boat fishing with a small group that’s targeting potentially trophy species. Know your role and be coachable so that you maximize every single opportunity that’s given. 

August – Summer Time Silver Kingswith Capt. Eric Davis of Extreme Fishing Charters 
Website: Instagram: @captainericdavis

  • Becoming the “Go-To” Guy/Gal – something I certainly envy and aspire to are those who are true experts within a particular fishery. Captain Eric is no doubt a well-rounded angler and guide but 100 percent the “Go-To” for this local Tarpon fishery. Zeroing in and having a program completely dialed is something I aspire to reach.

September – West Coast Sword-Wishingwith Capt. Bill DePriest of Pacific Bill Charters 
Website: Instagram: @pacificbillcharters 

  • Avoid Distractions & Temptation – this one will be a tough as old habits die slowly for me. We took only the tools, bait, and mindset needed for deep drop swordfishing only. No jig sticks or live bait sticks or other items that would have tempted us (or at least me) into chasing the foaming Yellowfin Tuna next to our boat while at drift. One goal, eyes on the prize style fishing. 

October – Chase-ing Keys Swordswith Capt. Chase Fulton of Water Damage Fishing Charters 
Website: Instagram: @captchasefulton

  • Let Failure Fuel the Fire – fishing or at least certain aspects of fishing can have a steep learning curve. Failure or trips without catching your target species are inevitable. Even the great guides or anglers faced failed trips in their progression. Embrace that willingness to fail and keep grinding until your day comes. If I log the days and intentionally treat each failed trip as a learning experience, I’m confident a sword is in my future. 

November – Pura Vida Dream Tripwith Capt. Geovanny Leal on the Super Fly with Maverick Sportfishing Website:www.maverickcostarica.comInstagram: @maverickcostarica & @superfly_sportfishing

  • Count your Blessings – It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day nuances and stresses of life. But for me, time on the water provides the perspective of how truly lucky am I to have these experiences and a level of thankfulness that I have yet to find on land. 

As a quick final sidenote to recap the past year – all but 3 journal entries had “Persistence”, “Sticking with the Program”, “Time on the Water”, or some similar variation of as the top takeaways from each trip. Truthfully this was unintentional (and somewhat sloppy as a writer) but now in hindsight extremely insightful, truthful, and unsurprising. 

Which leads us to what is in store for 2020? Well, for those who have followed along, firstly my sincerest thank you! The amount of feedback, love, and frankly, shocking amount of support I’ve received to date has been unimaginable. For those newly tuning in, this whole Seas the Slay side project is largely about channeling my progression as an angler and sharing the journey along the way. 

For this year, I will be continuing in the same direction but with a slight twist. In addition to the trips like last year, that are more destination or species driven, I plan to mix in a more refined focus to really dial in the local Southern California bight fishery. My plan is to take half of my Student of Slay trips, here locally, on my boat (new to me last summer), using my gear and equipment as I typically fish it. But with the most important variable – the captains, experts, and true pros to guide me in my progression of mastering my local waters. 

Then, of course, I still have those destination trips planned out for the remaining months where the focus is again on learning how the pros operate in their respective fisheries, the continued lessons learned, and how those can be applied. Plus sharing those experiences, adventures, and people that make fishing that ever-growing obsession we chase!

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