SD came back with BFT

SD returned with BFT

Thursday I traveled south to San Diego…Round 2 for the offshore season.  I was down to ride the Eclipse again out of Seaforth Landing.  I boarded with 27 other anglers for an overnight trip targeting tuna, yellowtail and dorado.  I really wanted to go at least 1.5, but conflicting schedules and the rapidly dwindling supply of available rail spots made anything longer than an overnight impossible.  A mini-string of 1000+ bluefin tuna days had bluefin fever pumping throughout the salty community.  The San Diego, 3/4 day boat out of Seaforth, had recently started going offshore, and just scored their first bluefin of the season.  Anticipation was definitely high for the trip.

When we boarded the boat, it was already tanked with live sardines and anchovies.  Captains Mark Gillette and Chris Switzer (the co-owner/operators) would be running the boat.  Adam had returned to action on deck, with ironman Anthony, and Josh ably assisting.  Cristin was managing the galley.  Capt. Chris gave the trip briefing and we were underway.

I was feeling the pressure.   These bluefin tuna are a finicky fish, and an overnight offshore trip is a short period of time to locate fish in a mood to bite.  An offshore overnight is essentially a half day fishing trip with longer travel time back and forth.  Finding them would be a challenge, so you really want to be on your game to convert any opportunities you might have.  As we rode out, I dumped all my spools and wound them back tight.  Then I tied on 2/0 circle hooks on my 30 and 40 lb setups.  I brought a 25 and 50 just in case, but I wouldn’t be messing around this trip with anything out-of-the-box.

Way to go Steve!

Way to go Steve!

The next morning trolling lines were out by 5am.  It was still pretty dark, but we’d be fishing soon enough.  The sun was just starting to peek through the heavy clouds when Mark announced we were going to do a drift on a kelp.  How did he even see it?  I was ready to go with my 30 lb. rig and was at the rail while most were still pinning on a bait.  I was about to cast out, but looked down and saw free swimming yellows right below me.  So I dropped a ‘dine in front of one and was immediately bit.  Z-z-z-zip…POP!  Damn!  What happened there?  Clean break on my line above where the hook once was.  I was glad to have a second pole ready to go.   Casted out and got bit again.  I converted this opportunity and boated maybe a 12 lb-er.  Shortly after, we stopped on another kelp.  An angler named Steve, hooked up and reeled in a nicer model yellow.  The boat had maybe 10 yellowtail already.  Not a bad start to the day.

Fever!

Fever!

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the action for the bulk of the morning.  It wasn’t until about 11:30 when one of the trolling lines went off.  Hookup!  TUNA!  Get a bait in the water!  I had already thrown on the slide off the starboard stern corner.  By the time my line was straight out off the stern…FRESH ONE!  I could tell it was the right kind.  Another guy got bit on bait right after me.  The melee was over quickly taking a lot of the less experienced anglers onboard by surprise.  Oh well, I got mine, as did the angler on the troll and the other guy who got bit on bait.

Chris and Dane battle their fish

Chris and Dane battle their fish

The afternoon was better than the morning, but it was never wide open.  Stop, pick off a few fish, move on.  After lunch we found a couple dodo’s on a jig stop.  A schoolie bluefin on another jig stop.  More kelp paddy yellows.  It was getting close to being time when we happened upon a nice kelp.  More yellows to start the drift.  I was next to Steve when he picked off a dodo.  It was cool to see that electric purple flash of color below the surface.  As we drifted further away from the kelp, it became a long soak, but we stayed on it as every once in awhile, someone would get bit and boat another tuna.  Time was ticking down, when 2 anglers got bit and it was clear they were on some larger model fish.

It was a long battle.  Dane was fishing 40 and managed to land his fish in about an hour.  Chris was only using 25 and took much longer…like an hour and a half, maybe longer.  We were running way late at this point.  The boat had a 2 day trip leaving that night and I could tell Capt. Mark wanted to get moving.  After the first hour they’d been at it, I figured I might as well go for the Hail Mary.  A lot of opah have been caught this year, so now was as good a time as any to go for greatness.  I tied a Tady 4/0 in white with a glow back on my 50 lb setup and went to the bow.  Chris and Dane were on the opposite side doing their thing and I casted against the drift.  I let my line come straight and then wound up to make sure it didn’t interfere with the battle on the other side.  I tried this a few times, but no takers.

I soaked one more bait, but no bites.  Chris finally got his fish to color.  Adam and Anthony put 2 gaffs in it and we were outtie.  When it was all said and done, the boat had gotten 30 yellowtail, 12 bluefin, and 3 dodos.  Not bad for an overnight.  I got my one bluefin and 4 yellows, tying with Steve for most fish caught (he had 4 yellows and the dodo).  I was happy to get my one and really happy to convert all my opportunities after that first one lost.  I found out later that we had done pretty well compared to the rest of the fleet.  A couple boats did well on the bluefin, but some others got skunked.  Our 12 was a pretty respectable number all things considered.  On the way home, Capt. Chris was cutting and setup an impromptu sashimi station by the cutting board.  Fresh bluefin sashimi, including bellies (Mmmm…fish bacon) was enjoyed by all.  Thank you to the crew of the Eclipse for another good trip.  You’ll see me again before the season is over.  Tight lines!

 

 

 

 

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