Q: When a columnist faces a deadline (Christmas Eve) and there’s absolutely nothing local happening on the fishing scene, what do you do?
A: After racking my brain without an answer, I turned to, what else, a newspaper. And there was the answer nestled on a corner of USA TODAY — music and seasonal wishes.
Here’s what a smattering of Central Coast fishermen had to say.
Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande
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I caught up with the bass fisherman par excellence, and he’s closer to the North Pole than to most of us. The Lintner family is spending the holiday as guests of a friend in Rathdrum, Idaho, some 60 miles from the Canadian border. To the delight of his kids, Allese, 11, JC, 8, and Jayden, 2, snow arrived Monday night. "My wife, Keri, is doing here what she does at home — baking scrumptious holiday treats while creating delightful aromas," he said. Family favorites are “The 12 Days of Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Damon Meeks, Atascadero
"Traditionally our Christmas Eve family gathering involves 20 people dining on turkey and ham. My wife, Jennifer, has made 2-foot long stockings. Mine is stuffed with essentials — shaving cream, razors, deodorants etc. My No. 1 wish is for my kids to be well for Christmas. LeAnne, 12, and Levi, 6. have been ill for a week. Whether I’ve been 'naughty' or 'nice' depends on who you ask."
Roger Haas, Morro Bay
"My wife, Tammy, makes dozens of delicious Bristey Lemon Cookies for Christmas. They are a wafer thin Swiss cookie." Daughters, Riley, 14, Lacey, 11, and Emme, 9, attend three different schools and are involved in a myriad of activities. The family spends Christmas Eve at grandma’s in Templeton and Christmas at my mother-in-law’s in Los Osos.
Mel de la Motte, San Luis Obispo
The President of Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition said, “I’m reasonably confident that when Darby Neil (Virg’s Landing), Steve Moore (Patriot Sportfishing) and I attend the July Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting we will be able to gain an 8 or 9-month long rockcod fishing season for 2011 and 2012. The more research done on fish stocks the more it’s confirmed that stocks are healthy. Lengthening the rockcod season from the present 6 months to 8 or more, that’s my holiday wish." All four de la Motte children will be at home for the holidays, plus three grandchildren, two spouses and daughter Emilie’s mother-in-law from Chile. Traditionally, the gift exchange follows attending church Christmas Eve. Mel says he’s been “nice” this year — a lot nicer than the Department of Fish and Game.
Steve Vidmar, Santa Maria
The Tri Valley Bass Club tournament director says playing “Guess Whats” is a tradition. The person who guesses what’s in the bag gets to keep it. "We’ve had a bag of walnuts passed around for 10 years. People continue to forget who won the bag the previous year. My Christmas wish is for a new boat. My wife, Mary, got me one 15 years ago and according to her it’s still new. Her perfect gift is Christmas songs on CDs. She’s off work Christmas week and plays them all day and watches holiday movies non stop. I hide in the garage. I’m always in trouble but never "naughty.' "
Dusty Kahler, Atascadero
"Christmas morning there’s always evidence on our doorstep that Santa has visited. We find muddy prints from reindeer paws along with hay and bits of carrots left by Santa’s hungry team. Son, Brayden, 6, is very excited this time of year. My wish is for fishing rods and reels and my mom usually comes through. A prime rib dinner is a Christmas evening tradition and my wife, Barbie makes some scrumptious Au gratin potatoes prepared in muffin tins."
Greg Malik, Atascadero saltwater fisherman
Annually, Greg’s wife, Jeannie, a seamstress, makes him a fishing shirt adorned with a different saltwater fish. The family gathering includes their four children. The main holiday entrée is prime rib. Greg’s wish list would be “for me to organize another surprise trip,” Jeannie assured.
Felix Camacho, Nipomo
"Fifteen of us gather at my house Christmas Day. We attend church first, then open presents followed by either breakfast or lunch. It’s an all-day event. Traditionally, we watch the movie 'Christmas Vacation' starring Chevy Chase. Gifts are more for the kids. Our youngest, Alie, was 19 months old Dec. 22. Monique is 8. My wish is for health and happiness that lasts all year.”
Tom Foran, legendary Atascadero saltwater angler, has owned the IGFA world record for a 163-pound opah since 1998
“I’m in duck hunting mode taking out my frustration on ducks,” he groused. His wife Lorinda said he phoned from the Los Banos area — where he’s freezing, but there are lots of ducks. Tom is riled by the shortened cod seasons and two years without a salmon campaign. Each year Tom’s buddies exchange fancy lures. He contends the lures are designed to hook fishermen, not fish.
Austin Bonjour, 16, Atascadero
"I’ve been successful this year in Ambushers Bass Club thanks to Powell rods, and Central Coast Bass Fishing products Mend-It, Bac-Rac and Cool Foot. In the final standings I was 9th and Graham Grove (6th). We were the only teenagers in the top 10. As a Co-Angler fishing from the back of the boat the Bac-Rac storage system enabled me to have four rods at my fingertips. The system eliminates the possibility of stepping on rods not in use. I thank my sponsor Will Hesch." Readers may recall the high school sophomore’s encounter with a bear during a June tourney at Lopez this year.
Paul Gates, Paso Robles
Paul and son, Clay, had roles, albeit reluctant ones, in the aforementioned bear caper. As the bruin swam toward the Gates, Paul was at the stern nearest the wouldbe intruder. Once he viewed the lethal claws up close he yelled at his son, “Let’s get out of here!” Laughing all the while, Clay responded. No doubt a family “talk” followed. The prime rib Christmas entrée will be furnished by Paul’s father, Johnny. Also attending at Paul and Dana’s home will be their three children.
Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo
The frequent jackpot-winning saltwater angler is gaining status as a tournament bass fisherman. "Having our daughter, Vanessa, 24, and son, Charlie, 22 together for Christmas always is my wife, Debra, and my No. 1 wish. Once a year my mom makes tamales. That’s our Christmas tradition. 'Silent Night' is our favorite carol.
Jim Nailen, Los Osos
"What do you mean, no fishing? I had a successful lobster fishing trip at Catalina on Sunday. I’m a Bah Humbug kinda guy but my wife, Maxine, starts getting ready for Christmas Nov. 1. She decorates a Christmas tree in each of our four windows facing the street, two upstairs and two downstairs. Prime rib is the Christmas entrée. On New Year’s we have a Dungeness Crab feast. Crabs are purchased from Morro Bay restaurateur Mark Tognazzini and Maxine makes an authentic Dungeness crab cioppino."
Gene Gray, Atascadero
Topping his wish list is for the world to become a better place. Feasting begins Christmas Eve and continues all day Christmas. "My wife Patty’s two sisters will be here. Her brother from Newport Beach will cook turkey or prime rib," Gene said. The Grays’ daughter Erin, 19, captained Cuesta’s water polo team. Daughter Kristen, 17, is learning the piano and will entertain with Jingle Bells.
Todd Livermore, San Luis Obispo
A family tradition is reading an Advent book. Wife, Merlie, home schools their three daughters, Jessica, 17, Rebekah, 16, and Aubrey, 10. Todd’s two wishes are: To win a bass tournament and repeat this year’s albacore harvest of 30 tuna in three trips with Roger Haas.
Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles
When he’s out on a lake in dad’s boat and yearns for a nap, son Evan, 3, empties the fishing rod locker and curls up. How’s that for resourcefulness? Any fishing Evan and his sister, Jordan, 2, do this holiday will be at a pond at grandpa Del’s. Assembled relatives participate in a football pool usually won by someone who has paid no attention to the games on TV.
This has been an amazing undertaking. Out of necessity major editing has happened. I understand when the younger set sends text messages they sign off with “lol”. The translation is “laugh out loud." That’s my wish to readers — coupled with "lots of love.”