Nor Cal Ducks Win AAU Boys Basketball Championship

Matthew’s (#0) and Michael’s (#23) AAU 10th grade AAU Basketball team recently qualified and competed in the AAU’s National Championship Event in Austin Texas July 18th through July 22.  Their team -The Ducks-won 4 straight games and were victorious in the finals after a double overtime win.

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Fabulous trip to the Fragrant Harbor……Hong Kong!

 

Last year when we were deciding where to go for spring break 2018, Matthew said “I’d like to go to Hong Kong”. I had never been out of the airport there and have always heard it is a good place to visit and how great the food is. I would say the trip exceeded all our expectations!

We arrived after a 14 hour and 55 minute non stop red eye flight from SFO to HKG and when we left the airport, it was non stop action for 7 full days.

We stayed in a flat on Nathan Rd in Yau Ma Tei. We could not have picked a better location for our needs. There was a McDonalds steps away from our front door so Melanie and the kids could get an American breakfast daily. There were dozens of small food stalls with in our block for me to get my Hong Kong breakfast daily. Up the road from us was the  Ladies Market and down the road was Tsim Tsa Tsui,

We went on a 4 hour Food Tour in the Tin Hau area of Hong Kong Island with our guide Michael. We sampled an amazing brisket noodle, soup filled dumplings, roast goose, egg tarts and dim sum. I have eaten most of that before but have never eaten a goose. Very delicious! Our guide Michael was great and it was a well spent 4 hours.

The next day we went on a 5 hour tour of the city. I made the mistake of telling our guide we wanted to see as much as possible so we went all over the place and did not get to see Victoria Peak or the Giant Buddha. We will have to do that next time. Over all good tour with our guide Nicole (Australian gal) but would have liked to see different areas than where she brought us.

Melanie and the kids love Din Tai Fung! We ate there when we were in Singapore a few years back and have not been there since. So, our FIRST meal in Hong Kong was Din Tai Fung. We ate there again a few days later AND it was out LAST meal in Hong Kong! The family loves the soup dumplings and fresh made noodles.

I wanted to visit the fishing village of Tai O so on the second to last day so we took the MTR (public transit) to Lantau Island. We went right by Hong Kong Disneyland and Melanie and Emma’s eyes grew wide. I told them to go and I would take the boys to Tai O. This was about 11am in the morning. On a whim, the girls decided to take the Disneyland Express and off they went. The boys and I took a taxi to Tai O to see the quaint little fishing village.

We were done sight seeing there around 1:30 so we decided to take a taxi to Disneyland to meet up with the girls. What a full day it was. Disneyland was very small and not very crowded which was nice.

During our time not sight seeing or eating, there was plenty of shopping done. This place is a shoppers fantasy for sure. We did squeeze in 2 days of Afternoon Tea. One at the Peninsula Hotel and the other at the Ritz-Carlton.

The food there brought me back to my childhood growing up in Malaysia and Singapore. There were foods I ate that I had not eaten for many years. For me it was culinary heaven. I don’t think I ate anything that was not delicious.

There are so many other places to see and visit so I know it will be awhile before we see Hong Kong again. That saddens me because it was such a wonderful trip. Melanie and the kids thought it was spectacular too.

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Short trip to Bailey Creek Lodge

A couple weeks ago were able to find a day to spend at Bailey Creek Lodge. The boys invited their friend Brendan and Emma invited Brooke. We were also lucky to have Victor and Judy join us!

We arrived Thursday afternoon around 2pm and were fishing by 3pm. The boys did not fish trout that day. They walked up to the upper pond and tried for some bass. Emma and Brooke fished a little right before dark.

Dinner was fantastic that night. Caprese, sous vide filet mignon, Himalayan pink sea salt baked potatoes, sous vide asparagus and a HUGE piece of chocolate cake a la mode. It was delicious and we all fell into a food coma.

With the outside temps in the low 40’s the boys insisted on going out to the hot tub. A bit chilly… they were able to withstand about a half an hour of that.

Morning came way too soon. Breakfast was served at 8am and it was Cindy and Peter’s (owners of the Lodge) signature French Toast breakfast. The kids loved it and left nothing on their plates. Then came large portions of scrambled eggs and bacon. Oh boy…another food coma…

Everyone fished the morning and the fishing was superb. I think Emma was the top dog with well over a couple dozen fish landed. We could not have asked for better weather. It was T-shirt weather and we could have easily fished in shorts and flip flops.

This was a fun short trip and we will repeat within the year. We are treated so well by Cindy and Peter that just seeing them makes the trip special.

Wonderful to have Victor and Judy there too! Great company and I needed Victor’s fish netting skills when everyone was hooking up!

It was an enjoyable, short trip to Bailey Creek Lodge. It’s a bonus that it’s only about 65 minutes away for us. On the way home, a quick stop at Buds Jolly Cone in Red Bluff.

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The boys Sweet 16!

The boys turned 16 this past week. What a ride! They are growing up to be good human beings and we are grateful for that. Im sure a lot of luck goes into that and we are blessed for it. I can remember when they were infants, friends would always say “Wait until they get into the terrible twos”. The boys never went through that stage (neither did Emma). Then my friends would say “Wait until they are teenagers! They will be a handful”. Well so far so good. Hopefully the boys will prove them all wrong.

Now that the boys are dedicated to basketball almost all year long AND “girls” are coming into play…there are not as many opportunities to fish with them. That does sadden me a bit but it’s just another chapter in my life. I look forward to the next chapter with enthusiasm.

SONY DSC

 

 

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Great fishing in NOLA!….NOT!

In the weeks prior to this trip, I’m not sure if I was more excited about the fishing or the delicious meals we were going to have. We were booked for 4 nights which meant 4 good dinners at 4 different restaurants. It didn’t quite work out that way, more on that later….

We stepped out of Louis Armstrong Airport to feel 80 degree temps with some humidity. The boys said “Dad, I thought you said it was going to be cold?” I said nothing but I SHOULD have said “Just wait until tomorrow!”

The forecast for the next day called for high winds and a high of 62 degrees. A 20 degree drop in air temp and stiff wind will surely shut the fishing off. That’s what I was thinking to myself but I texted our Capt. and asked him what the plan is for tomorrow. He said the winds will be too high in the morning but the forecast called for decreasing wind though out the day. He said he would pick us up at our hotel at 10am. I though for sure he would cancel but who am I?, he knows this situation better than me right? Well we got to the marsh by 11:20am and it was blowing. Tough to see fish let alone cast to fish. We called it quits early (3pm) and headed back to dock. Wasted day! We should have canceled.

The next 2 days was similar. Windy and mostly cloudy which made for tough conditions. We had 2 maybe 3 good shots at fish in 3 days. It made for long days sitting in the boat even though we called it quits early for all 3 days. You know the old saying about beating a dead horse… that sums it up well for us. Another sum for us was ZERO fish for a 3 day guided fishing trip. I don’t think that has ever happened to me before. First time for everything I guess.

Looking on the bright side, we had amazing meals! Right after we checked into our hotel on our first day, we walked straight over to Felix’s. This was 3:15 in the afternoon. We ordered 2 dozen charbroiled and 1 dozen raw and an order of “crab fingers” which are basically small crab claws. We devoured all of it in a short period of time and then walked straight to Acme Oyster Co. across the street. There was a line forming there at 3:45 in the afternoon!! Crazy.

We were seated at the very back of a FULL restaurant. As soon as I sat down a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Are you Meng?” I said “No I’m Wayne” but I recognized him from his Facebook posts. It was Glenn Ueda. A well known fisherman extraordinaire from SoCal. We have some mutual friends and it was great to finally meet him face to face. Out of all the places we could have sat, we were seated at the same table as him. Out of all the places we could have eaten at, we chose Acme at that particular time. Small world.

He was in NOLA fishing with Greg Moon and had some success. His guide canceled his trip on the day we should have. We should NOT have gone out.

Now to the food….We ordered 2 dozen charbroiled, 1 dozen raw and some crab fingers. Sound familiar? We wanted to do a direct comparison. Verdict….. the boys liked the Acme charbroiled a little better because it’s loaded with cheese. I’m not a huge cheese guy so I thought Felix’s was way better. Still the best charbroil oysters I’ve had. The crab fingers at Felix’s was also much better.

After fishing the next day we were very hungry and since the Saints game had just ended, the French Quarter was packed with people and all of the restaurants had long waits. Felix’s was close and there was a shorter line so we ate there again. Two dozen charbroiled and 2 dozen raw plus a couple Po boys. Great meal.

Night 3 we had reservations at Revolution. I ate there with Melanie, Meng and Gina a few years back and it was our favorite restaurant on that trip. It is a top ten restaurant in our book. We sat down at our table and the waitress kindly asked where we are from. I said Northern California. She said “Oh my husband is from Northern California too. A town called Chico”. OMG really? We talked about that for awhile. Small world.

Back to the food. I ordered the seared scallops with seared foie gras on top. I have never had foie gras before. One bite of that and I could not believe my taste buds. It was fantastic. The boys had great meals too so of all the places we had to choose from for our 4th and final dinner in NOLA, we went back to Revolution!

I had the scallops again, Michael had fish and Matthew had the duck. ANOTHER great meal.

We had to fly out the next day but not until 4pm so we slept in a bit and headed to Daisy Dukes for breakfast. Nice place but not quite as good as Jimmy J’s.

We had to leave for the airport at 1pm so at Noon we all decided to eat at Felix’s one last time for lunch! You guessed it, 2 dozen charbroiled and 1 dozen raw! Along with 2 plates of crab fingers. We savored every last morsel knowing it will be a long while before we get food like this again. What a great finishing touch to 5 days of culinary bliss.

Yes the fishing was downright terrible for us but the food made up for it. Sitting at the airport waiting for the plane, the boys said it was a fun trip even though we didn’t catch anything. Then they commented on the meals. We all agreed it overshadowed the bad fishing.

No NOLA next year for the boys. They will be on the Varsity basketball team next year and there is practice and scrimmages through out Thanksgiving week. It will be awhile before they go back I think. For me, I have no plans on going with out the boys unless a great CE class or conference  comes up and is held there. Crossing my fingers!

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Bad salmon good stripers

A few weeks ago I wanted to fish for the Late Fall salmon run that should have been trickling in the Lower Sac. I met Benson at 9am (no waking up early!) at Gianella and back trolled for salmon in a few spots. No fish roll, no pull downs no action. It was Deadsville.

We decided try our luck for striped bass and it payed off. I was throwing my new Sage X 890 with T14 and Benson used my Winston IIIX 896 with T8.  Our flies were 1/0 hybrid rattle Clousers in olive over white with some chartreuse that Angel taught me to tie.  I LOVE that pattern. It is my go to pattern now for just about all my baitfish patterns.

We both caught fish in almost every spot we tried. It was great to find fish after very slow salmon fishing.

We continued heading downstream to hit all the…as Dan Blanton would say…”HPS” spots. We got one nice slow moving bend in the river and I cast first towards the bank. I hooked up immediately to a feisty 3-4 pounder. Benson cast directly upstream from me while I was playing in the fish and hooked up to something SOLID. That fish took him around the boat a couple of times and then settled in for a tug of war with the Winston.

This fish was Benson’s PB for stripers on a fly. It was 37 inches long.

We called it quits so we could end the day on a high note! We were off the river at 1pm.

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Crabbing in Bandon, Oregon

 

This is one the boys favorite trips. From about January onwards they say “I can’t wait for Bandon”. This year they invited their godfather Pop B. We picked him up in Anderson early Tuesday morning and after a couple stops on the way north we arrived in Bandon a little after Noon. We got a quick fish and chips lunch and all our shellfish licenses and off we went to launch the boat.

We crabbed for 2 hours and called it quits at 36 crabs. The weather this year was excellent. Low 60’s the entire week with mainly overcast skies. A stark difference than the valley weather we were experiencing back home.

We rented a different house this year and I would say it was slightly better. The house was a little smaller than last years house but this time the beach was our back yard.

This year the crabbing was great. We got easy limits on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon (48 crabs each day) and the ocean was calm enough for us to try some rockfish fishing offshore. We spent only a short time offshore and Matthew landed only 1 good sized rockfish.

The bad news this year was I got sick somehow. We all ate the same foods but I came down with bad intestinal cramps. It happened on the morning of the best clamming tide so we were all disappointed that we did not get to clam this year. That is something we all wanted to do again.

As usual the food was great. Eating the freshest crabs for dinner and one of the best ice cream (from Face Rock Creamery) for dessert is bliss.

Already booked for next year!

 

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Golden Dorado, Tsimane Lodge, Bolivia.

 

This trip has been in the works for almost year and it finally came to fruition last week. Papa John, the boys and I were waiting at SMF for our flight and to our surprise the boys’ godfather Benson Kanemoto showed up at the airport. Apparantly he was going on the trip all along but wanted to surprise us. He did just that! The rest of the group were Mike Michelak, Cleldon Nelson from Reno, John Blower from Fort Meyers and Tim from Boston.

The commute from Sacramento to Tsimane Lodge in the middle of the Bolivian Jungle was very taxing. There were 4 legs to the commercial flight then a 2 hour plus small charter flight from Santa Cruz to the Indian Village then a 90 minute boat ride upstream to the lodge. When we arrived we were greeted with cold drinks and a delicious lunch.

We happened to be seated right in front of Marcelo (one of the lodge owners) and his wife on the flight from MIA to Santa Cruz. Marcelo was joy to be around. He is very hospitable and made us feel very welcome. He took us to a restaurant that served Japanese Peruvian fusion food and what an amazing combination that was. I’ve never tasted flavors like that before and it was simply delicious.

After we settled into our rooms a few of us went out to fish the run right below the lodge. It wasn’t too bad. A few fish lost and one landed.

The next day was a beautiful warm morning. However by late afternoon, dark clouds appeared and a light rain began to fall. What came later that night was a front that contained heavier rain and very cold temperatures. There was a record polar front that swept through Argentina a couple days before. It dropped to 23 degrees there. The next few days for us was serious cold temps that we were not prepared for. Morning temps were in the high 40’s to low 50’s and there are no heaters in the rooms. Most everyone slept with just about as many clothes as one can wear to bed. It was bone chilling cold. If we were prepared it would not have been an issue but we were all packed for hot humid jungle weather. Luckily there was a heater in the main dining hall and we were able to warm up a bit before heading back to the chill of our ice box…oh I mean our room. Luckily we packed waders because I don’t think we could have waded wet in that cold weather.

As you can imagine the cool temps shut the fishing off. The next 3 days were really slow. The water had muddied (but cleared in a day and a half) and cooled off significantly. We learned from the head guide that dorado are finicky and want ideal water temps. Too cold…no bueno…too hot….no bueno.

These dorado are migrating up the river foraging on the spawning baitfish the Indians call sabalo, a sucker type baitfish that eat the moss off of rocks. They are up in the river by the tens of thousands, maybe more.

Towards the end of our trip the fishing was starting to improve but it was a bit late. Everyone in our group (except Michael) did land some big fish but you can count them on one hand.

The meals at the lodge were excellent. Wonderful local and Argentinian flavors in which we savored very much. The presentations were fabulous as well. The comfort level of the lodge was better than expected for being smack in the middle of a jungle. However, a heater in each room would have been welcomed!

The lodge and guide staff were also great. Such friendly and kind people. We truly enjoyed their company. The lodge host Chucky is a wealth of information and his personality is well suited for his job. Our nightly entertainment was primarily stories/jokes told by Mike Michelak. He can definitely capture an audience. What a wealth of knowledge over his many years in the fly fishing industry.

As mentioned the fishing was tough all week. Michael was the only angler that had not landed a big fish right up to the last day. It had nothing to do with his skills. I’m of course bias but I have to say he is an excellent caster and fisherman. All three guides mentioned that to me. On the morning of our last day fishing, we had an opportunity to ask for our favorite guide. We chose Franco. He was our guide for 3 other days prior and I really liked talking to him during the day. The other guides we fished with, Lucas and Alejandro, were good too but Franco and Michael had a nice rapport. He knew Michael had not landed a fish larger than 2 pounds. First thing in the morning Franco brought us to a flat just downstream from the Pluma/Itirizama confluence. We saw feeding dorado immediately and Michael was able to get a cast into them. Within a few seconds he was hooked up with a big fish and after a few minutes, the skunk was off! That fish removed all pressure from the day for all three of us and thus we really enjoyed the rest of the day. The fishing was again tough but if it wasn’t for that morning’s big fish, our attitudes would have been much more somber. Instead, we soaked in all the beauty of the clear freestone stream, deep green jungle flora and had smiles throughout the day. What a relief!

During the last half hour of the last day we stopped at a deep run. We knew it was our last chance to get a fish. A few minutes later Michael hooked into something that he thought was a snag. It bit, but after that it did not move. The guides knew he had a stingray on. While that ray was being landed I hooked into a really good sized fish. I wanted to take pictures of the ray so I swapped rods with Michael. He then proceeded to land a really nice dorado. I guess that would be called a tag team fish. Just in the nick time. After pictures we had a long hike down to the dugout canoe and back to the lodge.

Matthew on the other hand had a successful trip considering the fishing conditions. He was able to hook and land multiple large fish and most of them sight fishing.

We saw lots of ocelot and jaguar tracks, caiman, tapir, honey badger, macaws and a toucan. Our mode of transportation was fascinating too. We fished in Indian made dugout canoes and a locally made boat that is long, narrow and powered by a small swamp type outboard. VERY efficient boat that adapts perfectly for that type of river. I was very impressed.

Fishing for golden dorado was not on our immediate bucket list. Papa John had been there 2 other times and had raved about the fishing program. We would not have made this trip it were not for him. Yes the fishing had its ups and downs (mainly downs) but the overall experience more than made up for it. The time spent with Papa John was priceless. I know we will cherish this memorable trip for many years.

 

 

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Springtime shad and stripers on the Sac, Feather and Yuba Rivers

The boys have finals next week but were able to break away to do some shad and striper fishing on the Feather and Yuba this morning. The stripers were there but almost all sub-legal. They fished for about an hour and landed 15 and only 1 was a keeper.

We headed up the Yuba all the way to the dam and it was superb up there. The shad are everywhere and willing to bite. We were there to harvest some shad roe to eat and to save for our crab traps for Bandon, Oregon. The boys fished for a little over an hour and they landed 39. They lost almost as many! During one stretch Michael was 7 for 7 casts (got to 9 for 10) and Matthew had one double.

There were a few sturgeon near the face of the dam and the shad are THICK up there.

Might have to head up there again before the water drops to normal flows.

Last night I scouted below Scotty’s and it was slow for shad but I did land a 31 inch striper on a shad fly. My biggest striper on a shad fly.

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Spring Break in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

After our summer trip to London and Paris, Melanie and Emma have been talking about going back there NON STOP! It was truly a great trip but we were not going back this soon. So, the closest place to Paris is Montreal! The city has the highest population of French speaking residents right after Paris.

We stayed in an apartment on Rue St. Jacques just a block away from the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. Very French area!

When we arrived at 1:00am Sunday morning, we were greeted with 4 degree temps and 15 mph winds. With the wind chill factor, it brought the tempurature down to double digit below ZERO. It was the coldest all of us have ever been. The NorEaster that hit the east coast hard, caught some of Montreal too. It also caused a huge snow storm that dropped almost 3 feet of snow in 2 days onto the City. Our trip to Quebec City was canceled (the tour operator said they almost NEVER cancel a tour due to weather) and our guided ice fishing trip was also canceled.

We did come prepared for cold weather so we were comfortable.

Montreal is known to be a foodie destination and though we did not have any particularly fantastic meals, portions of the meals were indeed incredible.

We hired a personal guide for a “Grand Tour of Montreal”. It was a 4 hour walking/driving tour of the City. Our Guide, Andre Saint Amant, was very good and knew the city well. We also went on a food tour that brought us to amazing chocolates and the best bagel I’ve ever eaten.

The kids love Afternoon Tea so we booked a couple afternoons at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Montreal. This was the first Ritz-Carlton in North America to bear the name (1912). As expected it was spectacular and we all felt twice was not enough.

We visited pastry shops frequently and I would have to say it was very close to the quality of Paris. This arrangement is made of no flowers but all handmade edible goodies….including the “clay” pot!

On the way home our flights were delayed in Chicago due to the storm but we did not have to stay overnight at the airport, thank god.

Another memorable trip and this will be a place we will visit again and hopefully during better weather.

 

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