An unforgettable fishing trip at South Lake Tahoe

For the record, Gene (Gino) St. Denis of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. is a friend and has been a good friend for many years.

And, for the record, Gino is one of many contacts who graciously supply me with detailed, weekly fishing reports for the Nevada Appeal's Outdoors page.

And, also for the record, Gino is the sole owner and operator of Blue Ribbon Charters, a sport fishing guide service at South Lake Tahoe, which operates out of the Cave Rock Landing on the Nevada side of the lake.

Gino and his wife Barbara have teenage three children: John (age 18), Cheyenne (age 15) and Eric (age 13). He has been fishing at South Lake Tahoe since January 1980 and has become one of the premier sport fishing guides at "The Lake in The Sky."

As I've written a number of times, if you have a big party of 5 to 10+ fishermen, I recommend booking a Mackinaw (lake) trout fishing trip with Mickey Daniels of Mickey's Big Mack Charters at Carnelian Bay at North Lake Tahoe. He fishes almost exclusively at the north end of the lake.

With all due respect to Mick, I, for one, do not prefer to fish on a large party boat with all kinds of strangers who I have never met nor who I will never meet again.

Being one of many fishermen (patiently or impatiently) waiting for your number to be called to catch a fish, does not appeal to me.

However, if you have a small party of 1-4 fishermen, I recommend St. Denis.

He launches his boat at Cave Rock Landing, and fishes just about everywhere at the lake: North Shore, South Shore, East Shore and West Shore.

He fishes deep water for Mackinaw or toplines for Mackinaw, rainbow or brown trout.

With a group of not more than four people on his boat, you are assured of fishing with a small party of relatives or friends, which makes the camaraderie of one of those trips an unforgettable and enjoyable experience.

Some Lake Tahoe fishing charters take you out for a fishing trip of three hours, and then it's time to come back for the next charter waiting to go out. If you catch a fish in that short three hours, great. If you don't, then you have just paid for an expensive boat ride and nothing else. That's not my idea of sport fishing.

With Gino, you get your money's worth as he works hard to ensure you get a chance to not only catch a fish but to also try to catch your limit, if possible, during hours of fishing.

So, with that as a lead-in, I would like to tell you about an unforgettable experience for one lucky angler from the State of Texas, who booked a trip with Gino on May 24, 2008.

He was fishing on Gino's "PT-109" (remember John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in the South Pacific during World War II).

The PT-109 is a 20 foot long sport fishing boat with a 90-horsepower Honda motor with a 9.9 horsepower Honda for trolling.

That fisherman was Steve Vigil and he caught a monster-sized Mackinaw trout that will live in his and Gino's memories for many years to come.

Steve was trolling at a depth of 140 feet at the Ski Run Shelf at South Lake Tahoe with a "Trophy Stick" lure with no flasher blades, when: Bam! He got a giant hit and hit the jackpot.

After a fight of some 25-30 minutes, Gino netted Steve's trophy: A 27-pound, 7-ounce Mackinaw that measure 36.5 inches in length.

It is one of the largest Mackinaw trout caught at Lake Tahoe in a number of years.

Wow! A 27-pound Mackinaw trout! Sigh, I've been trying to get out with Gino to go fishing for two months, and every time we schedule a trip, the wind comes up and we have to cancel.

Why, oh why, couldn't that have been me. Geez, that 27-pounder would have put me comfortably in first place in the Ormsby Sportsmen's Association fishing contest.

Plus I would have had perpetual bragging rights on my three regular fishing partners, Norm Budden, Don Hettrick and Bob "Slick" McCulloch.

Gosh, wt. that trophy, I would have been all over the three of them like a cheap suit.

It would have sure made up for all of their constant teasing, harassment and tormenting.

In case you're wondering how amazing that big fish is, the all-time Lake Tahoe record for a Mackinaw trout is 37 pounds, which was caught many years ago.

There have been only a very few (probably less than a dozen) Mackinaw caught that have weighed more than 25 pounds.

That 27-pounder is the largest Mackinaw trout that has ever been caught on Gino's PT-109 in all of his years of guiding at Lake Tahoe.

Heck, who knows, the father or uncle or brother to that "big hog" is probably still swimming around somewhere in the deep, cold waters of Tahoe.

So, if you would like to see if you can catch one of those trophy Mackinaw trout, give Gino a call at 530-544-6552, and book a fun trip on the PT-109.

And, as a special note, if you are a Tahoe fisherman who launches your boat at Cave Rock Landing in the winter months, Gino is the Good Samaritan who plows off the boat ramp, be sure to tell him, "Thank You."

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you where you can get one of those Trophy Stick lures that caught the 27 pounder.

If he grins and says, "Heck, that's easy. Just contact Steve Foley, right here in Carson City at 866-270-9025 or 883-5742 or go to Internet website," he might have already bought a Trophy Stick.

• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal


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