Swagger Fishing Around the World: MINNESOTA
While most people in the U.S. head south in February, Swagger Fishing decided to break the norm and head north to ice fishing in Minnesota. With bitterly cold winters and “Land of 10,000 Lakes” as the state motto, Minnesota is one of the best places in the U.S. to go ice fishing.
To get the full experience and lessen our chances of calling it quits from the cold, we rented an "Ice Castle" on Mille Lacs Lake, which is a small Minnesotan town located about an hour and a half north of the Twin Cities.
Once checked in, we got in our huge Ram truck and followed our guide on a few miles of ice to get to our home for the next few days. On our way out we crossed a man-made bridge made of snow and a sheet of plywood that went over a massive crack in the ice -- but they told us that it was, “no big deal.” Our guide showed us around our ice castle, a.k.a. A double-wide trailer parked on 22 inches of ice in the middle of a lake. It was crazy and different in all the right ways...perfect.
FISHING - Our ice castle had eight holes drilled through the floor and into the lake for possible fishing. Four holes had "rattle reels", reels with little bells in them, mounted on the ceiling above the hole. The lines from the reel hung down into the water. The bell inside the reel would start jingling when a fish was on, pretty relaxed compared to what we are used to.
We quickly learned that ice fishing doesn’t really have a schedule. Lines were in at all times and you could get a bite at any time. Unlike any other fish we've ever caught, it seemed like the walleye couldn’t be happier to be out of the freezing cold water. Once the fish had a hook in their mouth they almost gave up and just patiently waited to be brought up. We caught about 20 walleye in two days, our biggest being a 27”, but unfortunately nothing in the slot to keep and eat.
We got to experience something that couldn’t be more different than what we are used to. Fishing without a boat, surrounded by ice, catching fish that seem like they want to be rescued from the water.
Swagger Fishing Around the World: LOUISIANA
Each year, local Florida Keys backcountry charter captain, Chris Jones, from MudPuppy Charters heads out to the bayous for a few months and we were lucky enough to join him out there in November.
Of course, Swagger Fishing couldn’t make a trip to Louisiana without making a stop in New Orleans, so we spent a few nights on Bourbon Street before heading out to the bayou. From our experience, everything we heard about New Orleans was pretty spot on. Late nights, tons of dancing, endless music and the best deals on drinks we have ever seen (3-for-1). The Po Boys were absolutely delicious as were the humongous raw oysters, which were only 50 cents an oyster.
FISHING - From New Orleans, it took about two hours to get to our destination in the bayou, and to put it simply, we’ve never seen wildlife, including the fish, as big or as plentiful as it was in the bayou. Hundreds of the ducks were so fat from eating, they couldn’t even fly...they'd just kind of flap across the surface of the water.
We went fishing for three days on the MudPuppy's Hells Bay boat and we caught massive redfish and black drum one right after the other. Our biggest redfish was about 37 inches long, but we caught plenty of others that were close to that length. Fishing out there was so fun, we already have another trip planned with Mud Puppy for this November.
You can view MudPuppy’s Instagram here. @mudpuppycharters
Swagger Fishing Around the World: NOVA SCOTIA
Our experience in Nova Scotia was fairly different than most of our other fishing trips. Our goal was big tuna, but unlike most of our trips which are in the tropics, Nova Scotia is another world.
FISHING - We went fishing for two days and our charter boat was located in Lismore, Nova Scotia, which is on the west side of the big island and south of Prince Edward Island. In two days, we caught three monster tunas, two 600-pound tunas and one 800-pound tuna. The waters were fairly calm and the captain and crew were super nice and a lot of fun. It was an excellent trip.
Swagger Fishing Around the World: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
While many of our trips this have been a few days of exploring and fishing in a new city, our story has been much different in the Dominican Republic. Over the last few months, the Swagger has been located in two cities in the Dominican Republic and we’ve had the opportunity to see and learn a lot about the people, culture and the fishing.
FISHING - Our first location in the Dominican Republic was Casa del Campo, a beautiful resort located in the southeast. We made several fishing trips, but we didn’t get quite as many big bites as we expected. So after a few months we changed spots to Marina de Cap Cana, located in Punta Cana, which is on the eastern-most tip of the island.
Both locations are beautiful tropical paradises and unlike Florida, you don’t have to run far to get into deep water. One thing we did learn from fishing in the D.R. is the seas are pretty rough. Most of the days we went out, the seas were anywhere from 4-8 feet.
So far, the most successful fishing trip in the D.R. was the trip we made in the second weekend in November. In two days we caught 10 marlin -- four blue marlin and one white marlin on the first day and five blue marlin on the second day.
Swagger Fishing Around the World: HAWAII
After we wrapped up with the major billfish tournaments in 2015, Swagger Fishing changed courses and headed over to the Big Island of Hawaii in October. While in Hawaii we met up with our friend and local guide, Joe Thrasher ( Kaiwi Joe ) and he showed us a trip of a lifetime.
FISHING - We went fishing out of the Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor in Kona with Capt. Tony Clark on the Ihu Nui. We departed from the marina and after five minutes on the boat, we were in 9,000 feet (1,500 fathoms). It’s pretty crazy how deep the water is in such a close proximity to the island.
After two hours of trolling back and forth, it was fish on, and man, what a fight. It was our first pacific blue marlin and it was 400 pounds. Fought it for probably 30 minutes to an hour before reeling it in. After the fight, we filled up with a delicious fresh fish ceviche that Joe made on the boat. The next day, we went out again and landed another blue, probably about 150 pounds. Definitely a successful fishing trip.
Offshore fishing is very big in Hawaii, but locals don’t necessarily need a boat to go out and get a monster fish. Our friend and guide, Joe Thrasher, introduced us to ulua fishing, fishing from the rocky shoreline at South Point.
But use caution, fishing at South Point is pretty intense and not necessarily for tourists.
Ka Lae is one of the earliest Hawaiian settlements and it is sacred to Hawaiians. So if you visit, be careful how you treat the land and other fishermen, and be sure you know what you are doing. Ka Lae is home to the remains of an ancient Hawaiian temple (Heiau) and a fishing shrine.
South Point is known for strong ocean currents (referred to as the Halaea Current) and high winds , so the waves that crash against the rocks can get really, really massive and it wouldn’t be hard for them to carry someone out to sea. In fact, the current is named after a chief that was sucked out to sea and lost his life.
There are also many holes in the lava rock drilled by fishermen. The fishermen would use the holes to tie their boats to land because the current could easily take a boat out as well.
Peacock Grouper: Hawaii's Invasive Fish
Though Hawaii is fairly isolated, it’s not immune to invasive fish species. Hawaii’s fish population are threatened by the peacock grouper (Roi in Hawaiian), which was introduced to the Hawaiian waters in 1956. Like Florida’s invasive fish species (lionfish), peacock grouper is primarily caught by spearfishing and it dominates the coral reefs and eats the native species.
During our trip, Joe held the First Annual Dry ‘Em Out Invasive Species Tournament and Swagger Fishing proudly sponsored it. In total, over 1,000 peacock grouper were caught and the winners, Jeff Alberts and Garrett Nishihara killed over 210 peacock grouper. Every little bit helps.
Swagger Fishing Around the World: JAPAN
This June, Swagger Fishing made the very long journey half-way around the world to Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo is a pretty crazy place on all kinds of levels and fishing is a huge part of the culture. Tokyo is the world’s largest city coming in with a population of nearly 14 million. It is the Godfather of sushi, home of the world’s biggest fish market and it is located on the water, so fishing isn’t a very far drive.
FISHING - After getting our Jeep from FCA Japan, we started our Japanese fishing adventure and we departed from Tokyo to Lake Kawaguchi, one of the five lakes outside of Mt. Fuji. We found our guide from Paddle Freaks Outfitters and he drove from Tokyo to the lake with us.
We arrived at Lake Kawaguchi after an hour and a half drive and while it was beautiful, conditions were overcast so we couldn’t see everything surrounding us, like Mt Fuji. Lake Kawaguchi is known for its bass, so our guide set us up with fishing permits, the right gear (they use pork lures because plastic is not allowed in the lakes over there) and we threw out some casts from the lakeshore for a few hours. No bites, but no worries, the next day’s trip was off-shore.
After a lunch at a random strange theme park at Mt. Fuji, our group split ways. A couple of us stayed in the city of Fujinomiya and checked out a couple of Mt. Fuji’s surrounding landmarks -- that famous, forbidden forest, Aokigahara Forest, and Shiraito Waterfalls. The others ventured over to the nearby Mt. Hakone and stayed in an old hotel, circa 700 A.D., that was built around natural hot springs.
The next day we headed over to Tokyo Bay outside of Yokohama, about a 30-minute drive from Tokyo and this trip was for sea bass. Since we were on vacation and jetlagged, It was sunny, the water was pretty flat and we did run through a huge red algae bloom something we’d never seen before. We spent a few hours cruising from place to place and passing some massive cargo boats. After a few hours, we had caught a sea bass and a mackerel, both decent sized.
Aside from actually fishing, the importance and interest in fish and seafood is all over Tokyo and Japan and we definitely got a taste of it. We checked out the world’s biggest fish market, the Tsukiji Fish Market, very, very famous for its early morning fish auctions for massive tuna. Our guide in the market was awesome and we saw some of the biggest tunas we’ve ever seen. The market is gigantic, over 900 stalls. Outside of the market we ate at a sushi spot across the street and had some delicious tuna.
We did find out that there’s a few of our favorite local fish aren’t available or even really known over there, like mahi and wahoo (ono), and it made us remember, fishing in South Florida really is awesome.
Swagger Fishing’s #MyJeepStory
To celebrate the last 75 years of the Jeep brand, Jeep created a special campaign for Jeep drivers and owners to submit their stories with Jeep. Since Jeep vehicles were used in two of Swagger Fishing's last trips, we decided to participate in the campaign. Here's our My Jeep story.
In the last year, Swagger Fishing has visited several fishing destinations and in Hawaii and Japan Jeep vehicles were what we needed to get around. On both trips, our Jeep gave Swagger Fishing the freedom to explore something totally new and it made it possible for us to experience everything we wanted to see and do. Here’s a look at Swagger Fishing’s #MyJeepStory fishing trip to Tokyo and Japan in summer ‘16.
In June, four of us made the very long journey half-way around the world to Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo is a pretty crazy place on all kinds of levels and fishing is a huge part of the culture. Tokyo is the world’s largest city coming in with a population of nearly 14 million. It is the Godfather of sushi, home of the world’s biggest fish market and it is located on the water, so fishing isn’t a very far drive.
On this particular trip, our Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit was everything we needed to get from Tokyo to Lake Kawaguchi, around Mount Fuji, make a stop at Mount Hakone and to Yokohama. Though driving was a little scary at first, the Uconnect navigation system helped us get around and made us a little more comfortable. Unlike the smaller cars that are very popular in Tokyo, the Grand Cherokee had plenty of space for the whole group and all of our gear.
Without a Jeep, we might have just stayed in Tokyo and missed Japan’s stunning natural beauty, ancient culture and diversity. We’re super lucky and happy to have had our #MyJeepStory. Thanks, Jeep!
Watch our #MYJEEP video below!