David Choate is a lifelong fisherman. His fishing life started at the young age of 3. His grandfather back in Indiana had a farm pond stocked with bluegill, crappie, and bass and he could be found there every chance he had on their family summer vacation.
His hooking skills were sharpened on those panfish in his grandfather’s pond but at the age of 7, he found the allure of ocean fishing…albeit from the Redondo Beach pier. He and a neighborhood friend would get out to the pier in the wee hours of the morning staking out their best spots on the pier. They were there to take advantage of the morning Bonito bite and then rolling into the Halibut bite in the afternoon. David talks of how the old guys would try to muscle in on the spot that he and his friend claimed only to be turned away by two very determined pre- teens!
At ten years of age his father took him out on his first ocean boat trip. That was a half- day trip aboard the Matt Walsh out of Pierpoint Landing, Long Beach CA. His catch for the day were some greenback Mackerel which he demanded to bring home and cook for dinner since he caught it…He may have never made those kinds of demands of his parents again! He started being a regular on the half, three-quarter, and overnight trips out of the different Southern California landings. He started to get exposure to our Southern California fishery. Bass, Bonito, Barracuda, and of course the local exotic fare the Yellowtail were all targets for him in those days.
At 14 he hit the big time! He went solo on an overnight trip to target the local run of Albacore tuna aboard the Pursuit. That trip changed his life forever, as he was the “Jackpot” winner! He had the biggest “Albie” of the day and the deckhand came to him with a proposition. He could either take the jackpot with him off the boat or he could let the boat keep the jackpot and in turn the boat would allow him to go fishing for free the next time. From that point on, he had to scrub the boat down, help with all the clean up chores, and keep the boat tidy. A small price to pay to fish for free. Ultimately it became his job to come out on the boat and help out.
This experience of being around seasoned fishermen helped to pave the way to his successes as a long range fisherman. Although he wouldn’t truly find out how much it would help until much later in life. Those men who helped shape, refine, and improve his fishing skill set are Gary LaCroix, John Gray, and Frank Grace. They taught him the ever important lessons of bait selection, how to hook a bait without injuring it, light line anchovy fishing, working the deck, maintaining the boat, and working in the galley. He now notes that those fishing lessons also turned into life lessons of how to work hard and attention to detail.
At the age of 16, his family chose to relocate to the East Coast. After a short 6 months of being back there, he decided to move back to the West Coast even without his parents. With his parent’s approval and consent, he moved back to California. He was taken in by those men who shared their wealth of knowledge of fishing and life with him. He finished his High School education and continued his life and passion for fishing.
Flash forward 15 years to 1987 when he took his first long range trip. It was a ten day trip on the Qualifier 105 with John Grabowski at the helm. That trip lit a fire than hasn’t dimmed throughout the following 20+ years. His Long Range successes didn’t start piling up right away. In fact, it took 3 trips for him to get his first Wahoo (his trademark name on the internet fishing message boards is WahooDad). That first Wahoo is what totally turned him on to long range fishing. He notes that the fish is so fine eating, it makes unbelievable runs, and is overall a great fish to catch. All he wanted to do from that point on was catch big Wahoo! Needless to say, he has an affinity for hard fighting fish that take a level of skill that not all fishermen have. However, even with all of the passion he felt for Wahoo, he had yet to truly find the type of fishing that he would spend the majority of his time focused on…Cow Yellowfin Tuna.
He continued to fish on long range trips from 1987 to 1994 without catching a tuna over 100lbs. Trip after trip the 100lb mark eluded him. In 1994 that changed with his first trip on the legendary Long Range vessel, The Royal Polaris. For 7 years he had not caught a fish over 100lbs. On his first trip aboard the Royal Polaris, he had 14 fish over 100lbs and one over 200lbs. Today, his “Cow Count” includes too many fish from 100-199lbs to count, 40 fish from 200-299, and 3 fish over the “Super-Cow” mark of 300lbs. David says, “It is interesting to see how each fish has its own personality. There are times when I have a 175lb fish on the line and its fighting so hard I would think it’s over 300! The size of the fish doesn’t matter to me. I appreciate each one I am given the opportunity to do battle with. I think those fish are magnificent and beautiful.”
With great successes like those posted up by David, his notoriety began to swell. He became an authority on preparing for, hooking, and landing giant tuna. Remembering of course those men who in the early days would invest themselves in teaching him to be a great local fisherman, they now seek David’s advice for being successful as a Long Range fisherman. Life came full circle when the once student had now become teacher to some of the finest fishermen on the West Coast.
Not only does he like to catch the fish, he is a consummate student of “The Bite.” He truly enjoys when the bite is tough. He says, “The requirement of “Razor’s Edge” focus is almost calming to me. I get so focused on what adjustments I need to make to get the next bite that nothing else matters at that point!” That is the same focus that he puts into his other passion when on the water, Calico Bass fishing.
As much as he loves the Wahoo and Cows, he loves to fish for big Calico Bass with live squid. He’s spent many years learning the ins and outs of fishing those Bass up in tight to the kelp with live squid and continues to pursue those scrappy fish. He hasn’t yet achieved his goal of the double digit Calico Bass but is confident that it is a fore-gone conclusion that he will have it in the future.
Although landing giant tuna and calico bass are still his primary objectives, David is now putting a priority on helping anglers prepare for their fish of a lifetime. He is regularly assisting anglers prepare for their trips via communication over the email and message boards as well as in-person seminars. He likes to see anglers who have the correct and applicable gear for the trip they are taking. He is also one to offer up his own gear once on the water to those on his trips who may be having a difficult time getting themselves sorted out. David says, “I want to see younger guys start getting into it. I am here to help people learn how to do all that I’ve been taught by the many great fishermen and captains that have shared with me. I am regularly one of the youngest anglers on the trips and I believe the time has come for more young men and women to join us out on the water for those life changing trips like I’ve had!”
In addition to being a part of the Seeker family, David “WahooDad” Choate also recommends Okuma Fishing Reels, Seaguar Flourocarbon Fishing Line, and Catchy Tackle. You will never hear David speak as much about himself as is found here. He is a very humble man who cares about his fellow anglers as well as the fisheries. If you ever have an opportunity to share the rail with this man, it will truly be a treat and should be taken seriously as there are many lessons to be learned from his many years of on the water experience.