I’ll give you guys the quick and dirty on the trip overall.  I just finished writing the full trip report for the paper and you can read it in next week’s Western Outdoor News if you want more details.

I rode the Toronado out of Pierpont Landing and was repping WON for their 2 day charter.  We picked up live squid and headed out to the Cortez Bank for Day 1 of the trip.  Target species were bluefin and yellowtail.  Long story short, the bluefin were a no show, and the yellowtail were sporadic.  We picked up 8 yellows from 15-23 lbs.  There were a lot of big bonito out there as well, up to maybe 12 lbs.  The rest of the catch were bottomgrabbers with HUGE sculpin (up to 4 and 5 lbs!) and big whitefish being the main catch.  The yellowtail/tuna fishing was very similar to the white seabass fishing was this year…light sliding sinker rigs, floated out far away from the boat…bait and wait.  Meanwhile, we were only in 120 feet of water and you could drop down and break up the monotony of it rockfishing.

I got into my best groove of Day 1 using the 4oz Ahi Diamond jig in the greenback pattern and tipped with squid heads or bonito/mackerel slabs.  I was hoping to catch a ling, but I caught 4 chuckies (which were hard to come by out there), whitefish, bocaccio, and an s-load of sculpin.  The sculpin were so thick that Capt. Ray Lagmay commented there must be a carpet of them out there where we were fishing.  I finally stopped because my wrist was getting tired from reeling them in.

Day 1 highlights

Day 1 highlights

The weather was kinda snotty and since the exotic count was low, we drove to Clemente that night.  I woke up just after 4am and the boat was parked in Pyramid Cove.  I know lots of people catch fish in the dark/grey light, but I personally have never caught anything in those conditions.  On this trip, neither did anyone else.  Only fish caught in the dark was a big grumpy angel shark.

When the sun came up, it got hot really quickly.  Completely different day than the previous day.  It was nice to go tshirt and shorts vs. the full coverage of Day 1.  Fishing-wise, not much to report.  I picked up a short calico.  There were some other shorts and some perch, but no exotics until one of the anglers hooked up a halibut on a high dropper loop and squid.  We weren’t able to hang around though, because the Navy kicked us out of the cove.  The front side of the island was off limits up to White Rock, so we opted to work the kelp line along the backside.

Target species at this point was calico bass.  I was working a sliding sinker rig with a squid and catching shorts.  A few legals came over the rail, but the boat was swinging wildly making it difficult to get your fish on.  I kept having to reel up and re-cast to avoid tangles.  It got really tedious and a bunch of us switched up to try and fish the bottom instead.

Before I did that though, I managed to catch a short bass and noticed a nice shrimp in his mouth.  Hmmm.  I retrieved the shrimp before releasing the bass and then re-rigged my setup with a heavier 2.5 oz slider.  Oh yeah, I’m gonna take care of this damn sheephead curse right now 😉

I moved over to the starboard side of the boat, away from crowd on the stern.  I casted out and worked my bait back toward the boat along the bottom.  I was almost back to the boat when I got hit and it was heavy.  Oh yeah 🙂  I was fishing my light rod at this point, Terez 80M with my Revo Toro 50.  I had 40 lb Power Pro to a topshot of 25 lb fluoro (it was a giveaway so WTF 😉 ).  It was a good fight all the way up, but I felt really in control with my setup and didn’t have to move for the fish.   It got to color and I saw that black and red I’ve been waiting for.  Called for the gaff and I was done.  Monkey off my back.


Unfortunately, no more shrimp, but it didn’t matter.  I got my fish.  I ended up getting 3 more on squid strips (well 4 if you count the pinky I threw back) and that was the trip.  No more exotics for the boat.  The hali took overall jackpot for the trip.  Good trip.  Nice boat, good crew.  I’d probably ride with these guys again.  Tight lines!


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