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Gone Fishing

April 11, 2017

With the start of fishing season, meet a few of Paso Robles Wine Country’s avid fishermen.

John Crossland, Vineyard Professional Services, Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyards, and Bryan Cass, Cass Winery, can tell you all about balancing wine and fishin’ time! Plus, some interesting uses for wine bottles!

John Crossland, Vineyard Professional Services

President

How is fishing like grape growing? Fishing and grape growing take place in the most beautiful places on earth.  Fly fishing especially requires science (entomology), practice and an artistic flair to find success.

What fish is toughest to pair with wine?  That’s a tough question when one practices catch and release fishing.  When dining though, an oily fish such as Black Cod is a tough one. I find it will stand up to a nice Paso Zinfandel.

What is your biggest catch?  On a fly rod: a 50lb. “Baby” Tarpon caught in the Mangroves of the Yucatan Peninsula. On conventional tackle: 120lb. Striped Marlin off of Baja California.

Do you have a good wine-related Fish Tale?  Fishermen can be very particular in regards to with whom they are willing to partner with on hardcore outbound fishing adventures.  The group of 3 other fishermen I now do an annual adventure trip with were skeptical in regards to including me when they “fired” one of their group for not holding up to standards.  I humbly signed on to a fly fishing adventure with them to Alaska and was immediately able to have them declare me a keeper for the group when they found I had Fedexed a case of fine wines to the lodge, unpacked from my rod bag a tube containing four Riedel stemless crystal wine glasses, brought out a French Press with gourmet coffee and as a closer, a nice selection of Cuban cigars.  It was much later when they declared: Ok, he can fish too.

Can you use wine grapes or anything wine-related when fishing? When hiring a fishing guide, one can nearly always have a better experience when the guide knows his daily effort will be rewarded with a bottle of quality Paso Robles wine as part of his or her tip!

Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyards

OWNER

How is fishing like grape growing/winemaking?  The weather greatly affects both.

What is your biggest catch?  25lb. Salmon

What wine do you have in your glass while fishing?  Coors Light!

Do you have a good wine-related Fish Tale? My best fish story was probably last year when a big seal grabbed my only salmon of the year and took off with it like a dog with a bone.  I told my son to follow him with the boat because he had not broken the line yet. Finally, after about a 15-minute tug of war, he let it go, and we reeled it in. When Fish & Game looked at it at the dock, I had some explaining to do!  They laughed and said 90 % of the time the seal wins that game.

Any expert tips to share? Fish every chance you get,  You can make wine when it is raining.

Bryan Cass, Cass Winery

General Manager

How is fishing like the wine industry? From December 1st – March 31st, the fishing season is closed and the vineyard is dormant.  In April the vines wake up and the fishing season opens. Harvest time is when I always find myself trying to “harvest” the most fish as the season closes in November.

Red wine with fish? There are quite a few Italian and Spanish fish dishes that use cooked tomatoes in some way.  I think these types of dishes work well with light to medium-bodied reds, Grenache for example.

What is your biggest catch? I reeled in a 100-120lb. white marlin on a guided trip in the gulf stream off South Carolina (we let them go boat side).

 Do you have a good wine-related Fish Tale? I once landed a 20lb. blue-throated Mulloway with a handful of red wine grapes in its belly.  We were fishing a river mouth off the coast of South East Australia.  There is a Coonawarra winery near the coast that dumps extra red grape skins into the river, which flow to the ocean where the Mulloway, being bottom-feeders, have their fill.

Can you use wine grapes or anything wine-related when fishing? You could use the shiny inside part of a foil as a lure, the cork as a bobber would work as well.