On Wednesday, I had just published my post, Three Ways To Use Fish Dope As A Party Boat Angler.  It was just before 5pm and I was thinking dinner, prep gear, and then get to bed early.  My plan was to leave my place at 4:30am Thursday morning to make a 6am departure on the Enterprise.  I didn’t get to see Capt. Andy Siratt on my last trip on the boat, and on Tuesday, they caught a striped marlin!  I’d also seen reports of wahoo in the channel between Long Beach and Catalina, so my plan was to bring trolling gear and go big.

Then I got a call.  It was my buddy Clark McNulty of HookBuzz.  I had guest posted for the blog on his site back in the Spring.  I had reached out to Clark and told him about the post I was working on about Fish Dope.  We made tentative plans to head out next week (25th or 26th) so that I could test the Fish Dope info.  “Joe, you wanna head out tonight and do your test tomorrow?”  Really?  Tonight?  I was planning on fishing tomorrow anyway…OK, I’m down.

What have I gotten myself into?  Well I guess I better get my dope together and go.  I logged in and printed out the following info…

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Then I ate, got my gear together and headed out to meet Clark.  I parked my car at a gas station in Huntington Beach off the 405.  Clark picked me up.  A couple of his friends, Brooke and Sonny were in the truck.  I loaded my gear and we were on our way.  The boat was parked at the marina by Seaforth Landing on Mission Bay.  We got there around 11pm, loaded up the boat, and rigged the rods.  Then Clark and I reviewed the “dope.”  We decided we’d start in the area between the San Salvador Knoll and the 302 where there was a concentration of “Hot Bite” indicators.  Clark punched the first set of numbers into his GPS.  We took a little catnap and then departed from his slip around 1am.  After a quick stop at the bait receiver, we were underway.  Clark set the course and we took shifts at the helm (respect to all my 2nd Capt buddies – thanks for driving while I sleep!).

sunrise

IMG_5758Around 6:30am the sun is just starting to come up and the trolling lines go out as we neared the numbers plugged into the GPS.  We pulled a couple marauder type lures close to the boat in the middle, and then tuna feathers on the outside.  The water was a balmy 72+  already.  It didn’t take long to connect.  Hookup!  No sign of the kelp we were searching for, but a blind jig strike on one of the feathers.  I’m reeling in the troll fish and there’s a follower.  I pause to let Clark and Brooke toss in baits behind it and they both get bit.  We go 3 for 3 to start the morning.

A short while later, we find a kelp, smallish one, but seems like it would be holding.  We all throw baits on it, but I’m the only one to score.  Still, it’s a pretty good morning with half our limit or dorado filled and it’s not even noon.

We kept moving.  The rod pulling a feather on the starboard side gets bent and in a split second nothing.  Piece of kelp?  I reeled it in to check and find the feather completely sliced off.  Whoa.  Hoo?  I tied on a new one and we kept going.

A short while later the feather on the other side gets hit.  This time, Brooke reels it in.  The rest of us quickly get a bait in the water and soon we’re all bit.  Blue flashes are whizzing all around us under the surface.  We could’ve easily plugged the boat on that stop, but we got in the 4.  Limited out before lunch!

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Now what?  Based on the chart I had printed out, the water looked to get warmer to the southeast, toward the 371.  I had a wahoo bomb and so did Clark.  I took off the 2 feathers and replaced them with the bombs for the outside trollers.  For sh*ts and giggles, I had a 5th trolling setup and I put on a one of my big Gaji lures with the Mean Joe Green skirt and deployed it way down the middle.  We motored along and nothing happened for a long while.  Suddenly though, one of the marauder rods gets hit.  Another quick hit and it goes slack again.  Go to check it and it’s chipped.  Another hoo?  We’ll never know.

That was essentially it.  I’ve never plotted the course for an offshore trip before and we limited out on dodos based on the info I got off Fish Dope.  In contrast, we encountered a few other boaters out there and one of them had gone all morning for nothing.  Did we just get lucky?  Judge for yourself.  The ocean is vast and trying to find fish in the middle of it is even hard for the most seasoned of boat captains.  Beginner’s luck on my part?  Maybe so, but given the cost of fuel and bait, not to mention your time spent, I’d rather go out with some sort of plan than to just throw a dart at the map and hope for the best.  I’m a believer.

Thanks to Clark of HookBuzz for indulging me on my little experiment (Whew!  I’m glad it worked out).  Thanks also to my buddy Danny Lynch of FishDope for bringing SoCal Salty to the attention his BD Outdoor bosses.  Please check out all of these great salty websites.  Tight lines!

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