The year in review: 2019

I feel as if this was year, of 2019, was most characterized by a lot of traveling but also more heavily punctuated by the following highlights.

Scuba diving in these locations:
Canary Islands, Spain – First time going to these islands.
Azores, Portugal – First time going to out to the islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Balearic Islands, Spain – First time to these islands despite the bad weather.
Madeira, Portugal – Diving on a Portuguese corvette!
South Korea – Jeju Island! First time scuba diving in Asia for the first time of my life!
Thailand – First time I ever went on a liveaboard and it was niceeeeeee!

scuba in thailand waters

I’ve been upclose with a Whale Shark before but this one circled around several times in Thailand. You have to appreciate these times because you might not get another moment like this again. That’s what other divers have told me.

Fishing in these locations:
United Kingdom – I went there several times but I still remember that 12 pound Rainbow Trout and 22 pound Pike!!!!!
Germany – First time I finally fished in this country – caught sea-run Brown Trout.
Azores, Portugal – I caught plenty of reef fish out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Czech Republic – First time fishing in a landlocked country! Big Carp! And Wels Catfish!
Madeira, Portugal – Red Snapper mania with a few bruisers in there to bend the fishing rod.
Spain – Zebra Trout! And catching tons of them!
Slovenia – Rainbow Trout and the awesome Marble Trout! And of course, the ultra rare Hybrid Marble/Brown Trout!
California, United States – After many years of catching my first halibut, I finally catch my second one. As well as my first Sturgeon of my life!
South Korea – Caught mostly reef fish and Mackerels but also caught a lot of Carp in a Fishing Cafe!
Japan – Fishing in Hokkaido for 3 days and I finally, finally land a Taimen!
Thailand – Mahi Mahi heaven and caught epic freshwater fish such as Mekong Catfish, Arapaima, Siamese Carp, Alligator Gar, and more!

I’m still trying to decide what was the most memorable fish of 2019 and it’s difficult to decide which one… I will take all of them! Ha. Maybe the 22 pound Pike might be the winner after trying for 2 years fly-fishing for them. But that Marble Trout and its half-brother, the Hybrid Marble/Brown Trout, were awesome as well after working so hard to catch something! The Taimen was a nice gift of a surprise as well. And then again, Thailand delivering an 80+ kg Arapaima and the biggest fish that I’ve ever caught in my life, a 120+ kg Mekong Catfish, are the fish that I’ll never, ever forget in my life!

pike mini england UK

Many a fish was caught this year including this mini-Pike in England where I later landed a 22 pound monster of a fish! You have to keep trying and going at it until success finally comes around. Never know, success might be drunk and stupid at that moment and time that you can easily grab it!

Hunting in these locations:
South Korea – Shot some pheasants in what was my first time hunting in Asia even though it wasn’t really hunting.
California – Open season on wild pigs!

100+ wild euro pig

I didn’t hunt much this year but I still got a 100+ pound pig. Decisions have to be made whether I fish, hunt, or scuba dive more…..

Sports games, particularly football, in these locations:
Koln Haie – My first German hockey game!
FC Barcelona – Went several times but the game that really comes out on my mind is my first Champions League game and when the team won the La Liga trophy in Camp Nou!
Chelsea – Big time London football club, one of the big three clubs (the other two being Tottenham and Arsenal).
SV Wehen Wiesbaden – Former third league Wiesbaden team got promoted to second league pushing FC Koln to the limits in the German Cup game.
Manchester United – First time going to Manchester and going to the famous Old Trafford stadium!
Union Berlin – I’ve seen their crosstown rivals, Hertha BSC, several times but this was a first for the other major Berlin team. This team later got promoted to first league for the first time in the club’s history where there was a major 2 day long celebration. Finally, the German capital will have a proper Berlin Derby that will actually mean something!
Eintracht Frankfurt – An improved Bundesliga team compared to past seasons to where the team was going deep in the Europa League.
VfB Stuttgart – Went to watch the visiting St. Pauli play and its hardcore fans.
Los Angeles Lakers – Two of the best basketball world’s players: Anthony Davis and LeBron James showcased their talents at the Staples Center
San Jose Sharks – Went to watch the visiting Edmonton Oilers and later the Washington Capitals, not the San Jose Chokers.
San Francisco 49ers – An NFL game in a very long time!

la liga trophy trofeo won in camp nou

Messi lifts the 2018-19 La Liga trophy in Camp Nou, Barcelona after winning the league on points.

I’ve always stated that traveling is far better when the trips involve sporting activities because you go through far more emotions of anticipation as well as the full utilization of your own experience and technical abilities. I recommend doing this as it’s not only just a test of your skills in new environments, but you just never know what might happen. Other people have noticed that I’ve spoken with far more passion about certain locations even though they themselves have also gone to the same places as I have.

I can easily hone into this vibe of jealously from other people that I really, really enjoyed my time of being at all these places while picking the more technical, difficult experiences/activities while everyone else picked the default option of being a tourist drone. I can sense that they want to do the same things like I do but they don’t do it for whatever reason. It’s easily assumed that most people out there picked the well-traveled path so the rewards are not as great as putting in the sweat, pain, frustration, failure, and hard work being put in. But as I stated before, people don’t want to put in the required hard work so they will continue to have the minimal mental reward experience – it’s like watching sports athletes perform so well out in front of the fans but the hard practices, training sessions, time spent in the gym are never, ever shown.

Someone asked me why didn’t I go to a certain FC Barcelona game? They played amazingly well during that game and won! Well… I went fishing instead… sometimes you have to make those hard choices in life – to do this or that! That’s what traveling is all about!

With the completion of the year of 2019, I look forward to 2020 with open arms to see what other challenges and adventures are out there for me. Bring on 2020! Let me do more! There certainly more things to do and achieve so I’m looking forward to whatever might come to me. Just note that if you are traveling, decide for yourself what you really want to do especially with the year 2020 coming up. Do not compare yourself to me and instead pick what it is that you really want in life because when people say that comparison is the thief of joy… it really is. It’s up to you and only you to figure out what are your true goals are and how you decide to achieve them. In my travels, particularly involving physical activities where failure is a possibility, continuous adaptation is a requirement for succeeding in new environments and situations. In other words, survive, adapt, and grow! Just don’t become a Dodo and die off as an extinct species.

marble trout slovenia

My first day was a horrid day in Slovenia for fishing as the fish weren’t biting but I kept trying and trying… I finally caught my Marble Trout! You should do the same in traveling – keep expanding and growing to adapt to become successful.

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San Francisco 49ers vs Atlanta Falcons – American Football Game

If people are not into the fishing experience that is available in the Bay Area, then watching an American football game can be quite an experience especially if you’re used to real football known, not soccer. American football is basically a religion in certain parts in the United States that some people say that it has already dominated the country. The biggest league, the NFL (National Football League), is considered to already own one of the week: Sunday, the day that most NFL games are played with some games played on Thursday, Saturday, and Monday.

home of San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara California Bay Area SFbay SF NFL team pacific west coast

Unlike in Germany where Bundesliga games would provide free public transportation via tickets, the USA does not provide the same services unfortunately. And parking and traffic can be a complete nightmare. So before going to any NFL game, make sure you do your research on how to get to the stadium and back.

However, this kind of football is not the kind that is popular all around the world as American football as it involves actual tackling, hitting people, lots of equipment, and actual specialization of each position. Unlike in football, where players could swap on the field from defender to midfield to forward, American football has certain positions where that is not possible or very difficult. Generally, players are either on offense, defense, or special teams. I won’t go into the specifics of the game, but I call it a very tactical view of playing a sport. Or if you’d like, go with my friend’s quick assessment of the game: hike the ball, play for 7-8 seconds (average length of each play), stand around for 20-30 seconds, and do it all over again until time runs out.

The San Francisco bay area has two NFL teams but one of them, the Oakland Raiders, is leaving to move to Las Vegas, which will leave the San Francisco 49ers as the lone NFL team. The 49ers team has had major success in the 1980s and 1990s winning 5 Super Bowls, and the Super Bowl is the only championship title that actually matters in American football. Winning your division or conference or awards does not mean anything; teams and players are judged on their Super Bowl wins. That’s why some players who are not great regular season players will garner attention all because they have a Super Bowl ring, which is given to Super Bowl winners. That’s why the San Francisco 49ers are in search of their 6th Super Bowl ring and despite San Francisco being part of their team name, the team actually plays in Santa Clara which is about 40 kilometers south of San Francisco proper.

big large enormous US American flag unfurled unrolled during national anthemn NFL game football

Foreigners might find this weird but the United States anthem is played before each and every game. This includes other sporting events as well so don’t think it’s a superiority thing or not when it comes to countries. It’s more of a reminder of how sports have grown over the years from the United States’s early years… that’s what I think.

After staying for so long at Candlestick Park (and whatever names came after it), the team moved to Levi’s Stadium because the leadership wanted the team to be closer to their headquarters which happened to be in the South Bay. But in reality, I think the team wanted more money so the team made the move.

49ers defense line linebackers levi's stadium niners

It’s 11 on 11 like football except these guys wear pads and everyone has their technical specialty and/or place in the field. A lot of its tactics based but remember, this is the professional level so there are no easy players or teams to pick on. Here, the 49ers defense is up against the Falcons’s offense.

huddle offense 49ers nfl football american game sporting event sports green field large expensive arena

You’ll see this quite often as teams will huddle up before starting play. This is where the quarterback will say which play or tactic that they will execute. And on a team, that requires all 11 players to know their role and place on the field.

Note: After the 5th or 6th week of the regular season, the NFL will go into what is called Flex Scheduling and move times of certain games but only for Sunday games. It’s like in the football (soccer) leagues in Europe where games will be rescheduled to have certain games become the primetime ones as well as to fit in all the other competitions going on. It’s even worse with the all scheduling traffic that comes with a major top-tier club that wins, wins, and wins some more. For example, I remember when FC Barcelona won 6 major trophies in one calendar year that they were jam-packed loaded with games and games: La Liga, La Copa del Rey, Champions League, summer games, La Supercopa, European Super Cup, and finally FIBA Club World Cup. There were a lot of re-scheduled games in that year! But American Football is a bit different that most games are set.

So the best advice is that you should double-check the times in case they have changed especially if you have already bought and/or have tickets in hand. Just know that the best candidates for these games are when both teams are really good and have serious playoff implications. So if you have tickets for a game that feature non-playoff destined teams late in the season, then there’s a good chance the game won’t be flexed.

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Going for that elusive Sturgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area

This is a fish that is not easy to catch: Sturgeon. I tried a few times in the SF Bay Area as well as once in the Czech Republic but I generally only caught other fish species. So to go after this rare, hard-to-catch prehistoric-looking fish was going to be a challenge. Their numbers are not great and abundant as they used to be in the past due to being over-fished as well as they require long periods of time in order to grow up to be of breeding age so any Sturgeon that is caught over 100 pounds is considered to be a trophy. There are history reports that people have caught Sturgeon that were over 1000 pounds but who knows what the real truth was back then. So to me, anything over 50 pounds is good enough for me.

Off into the night for Sturgeon. Never know when the fish might go…

On this trip, I was hopeful that this was going to be the day to take down another bucket item.

One Sturgeon! One Sturgeon!

That’s all I ask of! And I get one within a few hours! Yessss!

sturgeon Acipenseridae long-lived, late-maturing fishes with distinctive characteristics fishing fisherman

Not a big one but it was my first one so the bucket list item got crossed off. The night was still young so never know what the next fish might become.

Problem was that the fish was too small so it had to be released so off it went and back into the abyss of the black water.

But i was not worried as the Fishing Gods have blessed me with dumptrucks loaded with luck… again. i land an even bigger fish and this one was a KEEPER!

sturgeon bay area SF california san francisco fishing night time dark conditions

My next Sturgeon on the hook was a 50 pound fighter. Obviously, there are bigger Sturgeon out there but to me, as the second one, was big enough for a challenge. The key is to keep reeling because we can only use barb-less hooks meaning that once the tension is off, then the fish could spit the hook out.

But nevertheless the bucket list item was crossed off.

Categories: Hunting and Fishing, North America | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Washington Capitals vs San Jose Sharks – watch the visiting team, not the home team play

Just like the last time that I went to a NHL hockey game, particularly a San Jose Sharks game, I went to go see the other team play. In this case, I went to go see the visiting Washington Capitals who happen to be in first place in their division and have a future Hall of Famer player in their ranks: Alexander Ovechkin. Two years ago, the Capitals finally got over the hump by winning the Stanley Cup thus breaking the championship drought. It was thought that “Ovi” or “the Great Eight” (his nicknames) was only missing one thing in his resume: a Stanley Cup.

Capitals team warming up in SAP center former Stanley cup winner ice hockey eastern conference team

This Capitals team won the Stanley Cup just 2 years ago so they still some firepower as shown by leading their conference in points this season so far. Another reason why to show up early: to watch the players warm up.

Well, he finally did it. I actually saw Ovechkin play in his younger days as a rookie but at the time, I didn’t know who he was at the time despite him being highly regarded. So this time around, I can rectify my memory of him playing in front of me. And even though Ovechkin didn’t score, his teammates did all the damage to the Sharks.

Alex Ovechkin alexander russian player hockey skating moving winning play in california

Alexander Ovechkin, one of the best players in the NHL, looked to score but mostly made great passes to his teammates in this game. They ended up doing all of the damage against the Sharks.

Capitals win the faceoff against the Sharks

The Sharks most of the face-offs but couldn’t win the most important aspect of all: the score. However, here, the Capitals win the face-off.

One interesting thing about the Sharks is that I’ve never seen so many opposing team fans at the arena. I think because the team is doing so badly compared to the earlier years that tickets are more readily available. Another thing that I’ve noticed is the sheer number of open seats in the arena meaning fans (when their home team is getting blown out) are heading out the door much earlier than the game’s end. Couple this with more opposing fans being more prevalent and it looks like the home fans are outnumbered due to the empty seats.

Categories: North America, Spectator Sports | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Pig Hunting in Central California

I’ve hunted wild pigs in California before with the first hunt ending within 15 minutes after quickly spotting and shooting a good quality pig (a little over 200 pounds), but I figure the Hunting Gods will require me to do additional work this time around as they won’t be so lenient to me like the Fishing Gods have this year. Then again, I might get lucky on this pig hunt but always, it’s better that I put in some extra time of target practice with my trusty 30-06 (caliber) hunting rifle to ensure the accuracy of my flying bullets. I wanted to be extra sure that I would hit my target if I spotted a good-sized wild pig.

And guess what?

The Hunting Gods have provided again!

Of course, there was a bit of work required meaning that my guide and I had to drive around looking around in these wide-open spaces…

Herd of pigs feeding sunny hunting cali california paso robles central

Because of the cold morning, these pigs were feeding in the sun to get warm. It took awhile to find these pigs and they immediately got spooked and ran away once they saw my guide and I coming up on them.

wild pigs running fleeing escaping escape fugaz cerdo salvaje cazar caceria

And like all wild animals, they get scared at the sight of humans so they’ll run for it. There was one point where I had a shot but they kept running so fast, that it wasn’t worth it.

But within 2.5 hours, I was done. With just one shot, the bullet found its true aim and the pig was done. Time to get some baby back ribs and lots of sausage!

Successful pig hunt aftermath euro european pig species hunting california outdoors

After following the herd of pigs and then going ahead of them in order to cut them off, I got a great chance to take my shot at one of the pigs. I quickly set up and let one stand broadside until I slowly pulled the trigger. The pigs run but this one eventually dropped and now I have wild pig meat!

Contact:

https://www.bitterwateroutfitters.com/

Categories: Hunting and Fishing, North America | Tags: , | Leave a comment