Johnny Hendrickson has been fishing since he was
five. While growing up in Pittsburgh, PA Johnny would spend his
summers fishing with friends, from sun up to sun down. With the
support of his mom and dad, this hobby quickly turned to obsession.
Now 28 years old, and living in San Diego, CA,
Johnny has come to another crossroads in his 23 year-old passion,
fly-fishing. Open salt-water fishing and coastal experiences have
broadened his perspective and fishing resume. But at the core
of all the stories, all the fishing trips, and the beer consumption,
is the heart of a man possessing the ultimate infatuation and
commitment to the fishing life.
Mojo, as H describes it, is the magic stick (singing
it of course); mojo is what drives you. Mojo is passion, obsession,
and yearning for more. The mojo issue is a perfect place to introduce
Johnny H to the world, to laugh and learn from his enthusiasm,
devotion, and most of all the art of angling.
Kristi: This is the mojo issue, it’s all
about what gets people off, what drives them, what they are passionate
about. How do you think you are relevant to this issue?
Johnny H: That is the exact fact of what I do,
that’s it. I’m definitely into sports, friends and
going out and having fun, but when it comes down to it, the only
thing that makes me happy is being on the water, fishing. That’s
what drives me.
So did you grow up fishing in lakes and rivers?
H: If there was water I was there, it didn’t
even have to have fish in it.
K: After high school, what did you do?
H: I had visited Colorado Springs, CO on vacation
before, so I wanted to fish the Rocky Mountains and get out of
PA. Joe and I moved in 1996. Then after a bit we moved up to Fort
Collins, CO to go to Front Range Community College.
K: Who did you start fishing with in CO, and where
did you go?
H: It was mostly with Joe, but we met Alex, Heinz,
Duelley, and Tony and we usually went to fish the South Platte
River in 11 Mile Canyon.
K: When and why did you move to San Diego?
H: March 2003. I had done the freshwater thing
my whole life. I heard San Diego is a big game area with saltwater
fishing, Tuna and Dorado, Mako sharks and shit.
K: Where are you working now?
H: San Diego Fly Shop in Solana Beach. Mostly
sales and some guiding. Usually walk and wade surf trips to Mission
Bay. Some tuna trips offshore too.
K: How would your friends describe you?
H: Pretty inbred, honest, real, tell’em
how it is, true to myself.
K: What is it about fishing that you love most?
H: Not having all the answers. Being outside,
the clear head it gives me. I don’t think about anything,
it’s a real weird thing, not a thought in my head.
K: What if you could never fish again?
H: I’ve thought about that…(laughs)
K: Which one do you like better? Surf or Stream?
K: Salt water or fresh water fishing?
K: East Coast, mountain, or West Coast fishing?
K: Fishing alone or with friends?
H: With friends
K: Two-day excursions or two-week adventures?
H: Two-week adventures
K: Fishing with girls or guys?
H: Guys (laughs)
K: Fishing or sex?
H: Ah man….wow…how can I answer that…ahhh
K: Beer or cocktails?
K: Eat or release the fish?
H: Release for sure.
K: Fly-fishing or conventional fishing?
K: Fishing for Mako sharks or giant squid?
H: That’s easy, Mako.
K: Fishing on land or off a boat?
H: Land, cause your actually in the water and with
K: What do you say to people who don’t understand
your love for fishing?
H: I don’t have to explain it, they eventually
K: Is there a difference between east and West
Coast mentalities with fishing?
H: Absolutely! Etiquette. East coast fishers don’t
have the respect for each other or for
nature itself. People out west understand each other and how to
respect each other on the stream or lake, or whatever.
You go back to Pennsylvania every fall for the annual fishing
trip with the boys. Tell me about it.
H: I went fishing in 6th grade to the “Elk
Crick” in Erie, PA with friends of the family and I was
hooked. This area, the size of the fish, being able to see them
had grasped every ounce of my attention. I told myself come every
fall time I would be there. Steal head, giant lake run rainbow
trout, come to spawn there in the fall. They usually are at the
bottom of Lake Erie, but during October-March they come up the
river to get laid. I didn’t realize how important that spot
was to me until I left PA, so I gathered some friends from CO
and PA to start the annual PA fishing trip in 1997. Didn’t
take much recruiting. It’s been an experience! There are
BYOB strip clubs near the river. We go for two weeks, about 15
of us, and we are just belligerent. There is an area where a big
ledge overlooks the river, where you can just hang out and watch
the action. (Picture) All these guys on one side battle against
the other side to fish the same spot. Geeezzz!
K: Tell me you most famous fishing story.
H: It was March 1999, and I called off work. Tony
Springer, Matt Lashua and I went fishing at City Park Lake in
Fort Collins, a shit hole of a pond. Not too nice of a day, but
nice enough to go get a line wet. Went to the remote side and
a couple casts later I hooked a fish that took off for freakin
Wyoming! Finally after 30-40 minutes of battling I drug the fish
up over the rocks and onto shore. It was the ugliest fish I had
ever seen. It was half skin, half scales, a Mira Carp. Disgusting,
it would loose all its scales if it looked into a mira! Haha.
I knew it was a big fish so we went across the street, put it
in a clear trash bag and searched for a certified scale to see
if it qualified for a record. After numerous calls, we ended up
at Albertson’s deli counter. The deli lady let me throw
it on the lunch meat scale (it was certified) and she slapped
a deli sticker on it with the weight that said Carp. 19.52 pounds,
33.5 inches long, bigger than my cock! I sent the deli tag and
a ton of pictures to the Head Wildlife Division. Couple weeks
later I learned from the paper that I was the recipient of the
Colorado Master Angler Award. They sent me certificates for catching
almost the biggest fish on record in the state, missed it by 2-3
K: Biggest fish?
H: Mako Shark that I caught about 4 miles straight
off Mission Beach last June. It was 5-6 feet, 120 lbs. Mako sharks
are the 2nd fastest swimming fish in the ocean and have teeth.
You have to hook’em on either corner of their mouth, it’s
the only place.
K: Place with most bites?
H: Hard to say, probably the Ohio River in Moontownship,
PA. That’s the river I grew up fishing on, where my mom
would drop Joe and I off every day every summer.
K: Favorite fishing spot?
H: Elk Creek, PA, the same place we go to for
our annual trip. Something about that stream and area captivates
K: Weirdest/most rare fish caught?
Colorado Squaw fish, it’s the one in the picture where I
have on the orange hat, super rare. It’s on the endangered
species list. I caught it on the Colorado River near Newcastle
K: Favorite rod?
H: Sage 691-4 XP, salt and fresh water, great
rod. Also I had a new rod built for me by Josh Markvan to catch
trout, beautiful rod, gorgeous!
K: Favorite fishing brand?
H: It’s all junk, some of its just better
junk. It all goes to shit no matter how much you spend. You can
pay a ton for some good waders and they’ll leak after a
K: Best fly making company?
H: Hand tied flies are always the best, truly
works of art. There is this company from Thailand called Umqua
if I had to say. I tie my own flies for customers though.
K: Longest time you have gone without fishing?
H: If I have gone 1.5-2 weeks without fishing
I go crazy.
K: Longest time you have gone without sex?
H: 18 years!
K: Single and looking?
H: Always looking, give me some blonde double
D, just kidding. I look at girls like fish, I don’t have
a type but I like to put the fly out and see who bites.
K: There is a rumor about the size of your mojo,
does that have anything to do with your passion for fishing?
H: It’s the magic stick, haha it’s
my fly rod!
K: Why do men lie about the size of their mojo
and the size of the fish they catch?
H: It makes’em feel better about themselves,
that’s why pictures prove facts (laughs).
K: Anything else you want to learn about with
fishing, anything left to conquer?
H: Penn’s Creek, Coburn, PA. It’s
named after the founder of Pennsylvania. The stream starts underground
in a cave, super mysterious and world-renowned trout stream. I
wanna figure out how it works. I wanna talk to the old timers
who have been fishing it. You can ask them how to catch a fish,
and even though they have, they still can’t explain how
to do it. Tough technical moody water, it’s a great place.
K: What’s next for H?
H: God only knows. San Diego is a temporary place
to stay, just here to learn saltwater fishing. PA or CO, but when
I move god only knows. It could be next week or ten years from
now. All I know is I am so grateful for having two wonderful parents
that raised me right and that put their trust in me. I am so thankful
that they believe in what I do. Thanks mom and dad.