Tally Ho Sportfishing is hands down the best ocean fishing charter boat in Crescent City. In fact, it's the only one.
The weight of being the sole charter boat on this stretch of the sea is in good hands, however, as Craig and Bonnie Strickhouser, who are in their second year of owning the Tally Ho II fishing vessel, have a passion for sharing the ample fishing opportunities the North Coast has to offer.
"This is one of the only places in California you can fish on the ocean with this light of tackle," Craig Strickhouser said on a recent bottom fishing trip. His clients were using 20-pound test monofilament line and medium-action Ugly Stick rods to catch 20-pound, prehistoric-looking lingcod and a wide array of brightly colored rockfish from depths of more than 100 feet.
Although the slow pace of jigging a lure or bait off the sea floor inherent to bottom fishing can feel flat, light tackle and big fish make for interesting angling, especially when Tally Ho puts its clients on the fish, as Strickhouser frequently does. Back-to-back hook-ups and several people fighting fish simultaneously are common occurrences.
A big part of that excitement comes with the territory.
The North Coast's abundance of bottom fish provides much better opportunity than other parts of fished-out California, Strickhouser said, and local California Department Fish and Wildlife officers he has spoken to agree.
Tally Ho will be spending more time salmon fishing as well when the Crescent City bite picks up.
The impressive rocks and sea stacks forming St. George Reef and its aptly named lighthouse provide majestic views during bottom fishing and the habitat that makes for great fishing.
Another part of the excitement comes with the mystery of what will bite with such a variety of fish lurking near the rocky bottom: large-and-in-charge lingcod with monstrous jaws, scary-sharp teeth and a dinosaur-like demeanor are the biggest of the bunch, able to reach up to 90 pounds (limit two per person, at least 22 inches in length).
When Stephanie Petrakos, of Sacramento, hooked into a 20-pound lingcod Thursday, at first she thought she snagged a rock.
"Rocks don't move like that," said Bob Ginocchio, the previous owner and captain of Tally Ho, who still helps out on the boat sometimes, as he came over to help her land the fish.
Although it was Petrakos' first time ever ocean fishing, she had a hot hand, hooking several fish, impressing her husband Jonathan Petrakos, who's been fishing in Crescent City for decades. The 20-pound ling she hooked was officially weighed at Englund Marine for its lingcod contest.
Bright-colored rockfish like coppers, vermilions, black-and-yellows, chinas, quillbacks and even a rare tiger rockfish (which can live more than 100 years) are beautiful sights. The less attractive, but equally tasty black rockfish are so prevalent that you're sure to bring home dinner.
Rockfish are much smaller than lingcods but make for a fun fight and good eating. Ten fishin combinations of rockfish, cabezons and greenlings may be kept per person, making it easy to fill your freezer or feed your friends with bottom fishing.
Ginocchio, endearingly called "the old man of the sea" by Strickhouser and the other deckhands, had a history with Tally Ho's clients on Thursday.
Vickie Balog and her son Jonathan Petrakos, both of Sacramento, have been coming to Crescent City to go bottomand salmon fishing with their Crescent City-residentfather/grandfather, Steve Balog, for decades.
When Steve and Bette Balog passed away, each time their ashes were spread at sea via a trip on the Tally Ho with Ginocchio, a service that Strickhouser still offers for those who wish.
To book a trip with Tally Ho Sportfishing, call 707-464-1236.
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.