IMG_6121It certainly started out routinely enough…I didn’t get to fish this weekend.  Juj was over.  She had yet another birthday party.  We also picked out a Christmas tree.  Meanwhile, I watched as landings up and down the coast reported big yellowtail scores.  Notably, the Aloha Spirit out of Channel Islands Sportfishing got 46 yellows and a halibut on Sunday (Dec 7th)!  I’ve never caught a yellow out of CISCO’s.  Getting one in December would be pretty awesome.  The Aloha Spirit was doing their Monday “Lingcod Special” so I decided to ride the Gent.

I got to the landing around 5:30 in time to make the 6am departure.  A few friends were up there to head out with me…Ron Briggs, Santiago Jimenez and David Ramsey.  It was a fairly light load of only 23 anglers.  We had live anchovies and frozen squid for bait.  I rigged a yoyo iron and  a dropper loop and closed my eyes in the galley for the 2 hour ride down the beach to county line.

We started to slow down and I walked out on deck to check out the scene.  A beautiful sunrise was coming up.  I could see a bunch of boats in the spot already…a good sign.  Capt. Donny Rowell slowed down and started looking.  We pulled up short of the crowd as Donny metered some yellows.  I started the day fishing a jig and got in 2 casts when I noticed the older gent next to me in a wheelchair slumped over.  Deckhand Chris was quickly on top of it…asking him if he knew where he was, if he’s on meds etc.  Long story short, Donny calls the Coast Guard and makes an abrupt turnaround back toward home.  That was a quick trip.

After about 45 minutes heading north, the Coasties pull up alongside and board the boat.  They were really young, but very professional.  They convince the man (John) to go with them and allow us to go on with our fishing day.  Another abrupt turn and we’re on our way back to County Line.  Yay! but by the time we get there, it’s about 9:30 and most of the boats are gone.  FML!

The Island Spirit is still there though.  We hear they’ve caught 14 yellows.  Hopefully, it wasn’t over.  We anchored up parallel to them about 30 yds north.  That’s when the day took a really bizarre turn.

I’m on the port side, facing south toward the Spirit.  I see something jump out of the water out of the corner of my eye.  I look up to get a better view.  I thought it was a dolphin, and I’m thinking, “That’s odd.  Like those those spinner dolphins I saw in Guatemala.”  Then it jumped clean out the water.  The whole body was maybe 6 feet out of the water and got parallel to the surface.  It was silhouetted against the horizon and that’s when I knew.  “That’s not a dolphin.  That’s a billfish!”  I thought it was a sword.  It was small.  I’m guessing maybe 80 lbs.  Donny was on the upper deck and had glasses on it and he said it was a striped marlin.  Wow!  I ran to grab my GoPro, but the show was over.  Or so I thought…

Paul Quan of Los Angeles was on the starboard side.  He was fishing a flylined mack.  “I’m hooked into the marlin!  What do I do?!?!?”  I saw it jump and that fast it was gone.  Typically one needs to travel to a place like Cabo to hook a marlin in December.  Who knew we’d be marlin fishing in December in the 805?

After that happened, nothing else could happen to top the day.  Donny had yellowtail marks throughout the day, but we never got into any kind of consistent bite.  Most gave up and rockfished.  Santiago hooked into 2 on the yoyo, but lost both to sea lions.  The boat got 2 fish caught by a father and son, Dorian and Nicola Salazar, on the son’s very first boat fishing trip ever.  The kid caught his on a dropper loop anchovy and the dad on a dropper loop squid.  For me, no yellowtail bites.  I caught a couple reds, one on a dropper loop squid I sent down hoping for a yellow, one on a Lucanus jig.  Caught another pinkie sheephead on a strip of mackerel hoping for a ling (caught a short ling too on same setup).  There were some other Johnnies and blue bass I gave away.  Pretty low productivity day, but I was glad to be out.  Seeing that marlin was incredible.  And hanging out on the water with friends is better than working.  I’ll take it.  Tight lines!

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