IMG_5677I was recently introduced to Rob Lipschutz via a mutual friend.  Rob is from Pasadena, but currently lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington state.  He was coming down this weekend though and wanted to fish, so we made arrangements to meet and ride the San Diego on Friday, October 10th.

I hadn’t been on the boat all year.  Typically, I like to ride in Jan/Feb to fish rockcod before the US opener, but the yellowtail fishing has been good all year and they never really went.  Then I wanted to ride while they were enjoying their offshore season, but the timing never worked out.  I have a lot of respect for Capt. Ryan “Booger” Bostian and his operation.  The boat just may be the nicest local vessel in the entire fleet.  For example, an RSW (refrigerated saltwater) fish hold on a local boat?  HUGE.  More than the boat itself though, everything about the whole operation is on point.  When Rob said he wanted to ride 3/4 in San Diego, it was an easy choice.

We met at Seaforth Landing around 5am and departed at 5:30 with 36 other anglers.  Ryan was driving.  Matt and Toby were on deck, and Art was in the galley.  After a short stop at the Mission Bay bait receiver for a load of sardines, we were on our way to the Coronado Islands in search of yellowtail.

IMG_5679A couple hours later, we were on approach to North Island.  Boog dropped the sonar dome and the boat slowed down to look for schools.  On the way over, we were told that the fish were holding really close to the bottom.  Yoyo jigs were working, but the preferred method was a dropper loop on no less than 40 lb. line!  We’d soon find out why.

After circling around for a bit off the outside edge of the island, we came to a stop and I dropped in.  Boom!  Fresh one!  I was fishing the Tranx/Teramar combo that I had so much success with on Monday.  I was on the port/stern corner when I got bit.  I looked to my left and Rob was bit as well.  I went around the starboard corner and the fight was over.  Meanwhile, Rob was up on the bow fighting his fish.  I was back in the water when he came back around the corner with a huge smile on his face.  First stop of the day and we both put fish in the hold!

The fishing was good, but the sea lions forced us to move.  Unfortunately, the dogs dictating the fishing became a theme throughout the day.  Fishing heavy was critical because a) these were some nicer grade yellows, b) they were holding on the bottom, and c) the dang dogs.  We made a short move and found another school.  I got bit right away again.  It seemed like a nicer fish as it took awhile to even get him moving in the right direction.  I finally got him pointed the right way.  I was off by myself on the starboard side of the boat, so I figured I was good.  Then the line starts going out and away from the boat.  It was  pulling out fast.  Oh no.  My fear was confirmed when I see a dog on the surface with my fish in its mouth about 30 yards away from the boat.  I was trying to pull it out of his mouth, when Matt joined me on the bow.  “Want me to try?”  Go for it Matt.  He buttoned down the drag all the way and started cranking hard.  The dog only had it by the tail and Matt managed to pop it out of its mouth.  He was skipping the fish on the surface with the sea lion in hot pursuit.  Matt got back about 20 yards before the dog got it and this time he had a better hold.  Matt pulled hard again forcing the sea lion to bite off the bulk of the fish…leaving us just the head.  Ugh.  Time to move again.

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IMG_5688We ended up making a long move past the South Island.  We ended up in a spot short of the Rockpile, but still with a rocky bottom.  Despite losing the fish, I was in a mood to try something different.  I cut off my dropper and tied on a Bait Wrap Sumo jig in scrambled egg.  I tossed it out and got bit on the drop!  It didn’t pull big drag though.  Cuda?  Bone?  It was a bone.

It was noon now and Rob and I were both getting hungry.  Rob, “Wanna bet lunch on the next yellowtail?”  Sure.  I knew the grade of yellows in this spot weren’t at the level of the North Island ones.  I grabbed my 30 lb. stick (Seeker 909 and Revo Toro 50) and tied on a dropper.  In quick succession, I bounced a couple rats onto the deck.  “Rob, I’ll take a double bacon cheeseburger and a Coors Light.”  🙂

While Rob and I had our lunch in the galley, Ryan made a move back to North Island.  I was halfway done with my burger when the boat slowed down and we settled into a spot called the Keyhole.  Time to fish.  I grabbed the 30 lb. rig.  Mistake.  I dropped in and I was the first one bit.  While this setup was fine flylining a bait on the Enterprise trip, it was woefully inadequate on deep dropper loop yellows of this grade, with a pack of dogs running around.  Sure enough, the fish got picked up and I lost it.  Lesson learned.  I tried to fish the jig, but was getting no love while everyone else was getting bit.  OK then, I cut it off and tied up.  Boom!  Bit again.  I was doing well horsing it out of the deep, but I had some lines on me.  One of the other lines had a fish.  While Matt gaffed the other fish, mine got picked up by another sea lion.  Matt cut the other lines.  I pulled hard and managed to save it.  It turned out to be my biggest one of the day.

IMG_5691While all of this was happening, Rob managed to score 2 yellows AND a ling.  You dirty dog.  Nice!  At this point, I had 4 fish in the sack and lost 2.  I didn’t feel so bad though when Ryan said that Capt. Steve Peterson of the Mission Belle (who was just across from us) had hooked into a 50 lb. wahoo on surface iron.  The fish was ready to gaff when it got picked up and was lost.  I don’t know what’s worse, never having hooked a wahoo or losing one in that fashion.  Ryan had enough and we moved again.

Time was running out on the day and we made one last run to the lea of island.  Boog said this was going to be the last spot before we had to head back to the barn.  I dropped in and was the first to get bit.  Everyone was lined up for a drift along the port rail.  I was on the stern when I got bit and was lucky to get around to the starboard rail by myself…except for one guy fishing a jig.  Guess what?  He managed to get on my line.  Meanwhile, the dogs were back on us.  I was losing precious time dealing with the jig being on my line.  I stopped for a moment to let him try and get it off, but got impatient and went back to fighting my fish.  With the other angler and his jig in tow, I managed to get the fish to gaff.  Then a dog shows up.  I see the gaff, but it’s not Matt, Toby or Ryan on it.  It was a deadhead I didn’t know.  He missed it twice while at the same time trying to scare away the sea lion.  I was about to just bounce it (with the jig still on my line) when the dog stole it.  Final score: Salty 4, Sea Lions 3.  Call it a win.

I was up in the wheelhouse talking to Ryan on the way home.  He was saying that there was a volume of fish at Keyhole to the point we could’ve spent the whole day there had it not been for the sea lions.  Final boat score was 65 for 38 anglers.  Boog estimated we lost at least 50.  Sounded about right based on my own experience.  Overall though, a great day on the water.  Rob told me the last time he caught a yellow it was about a 12 lb-er at Cat a dozen or more years ago.  He got 3 of the larger grade ones, plus the ling.  He was ecstatic.  Thanks to Ryan, and his excellent crew for a great day.  Tight lines!

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