IMG_4870A week ago, I noticed a picture from one of the Marina del Rey deckhands, Jordan Davila.  It was a yellowtail he had caught at Catalina Island on the Spitfire.  That’s odd.  The boat never leaves Santa Monica Bay.  Come to find out Capt. Jeremy Maltz got a wild hair, decided to do something out of the box and went out there.  They didn’t have the anglers on the boat and only Jordan managed to land a fish out of 10 hookups.  Given the run a few weeks back of local exotics, I told 2nd Capt. John “Couch” Corzel to give me a heads up if they decided to look outside.  Thurday night (Aug. 7th), he announced he was going to head out to Catalina on a yellowtail or bust expedition.  He also said they had live sardines for bait…another rarity given how the bait has been up this way the last couple years.  Game on.

IMG_4862Friday morning, I headed down to Dock 52 to board the boat.  Not everyone had gotten the message.  Couch announced his plan and that we’d be back late to the dock…probably 7pm or later.  The boat usually returns around 3:30pm.  We lost several anglers who decided to stay and ride the halfie instead.  I boarded with 30 other anglers and we left the Bay.  It was going to be a long ride over…3 and a ½ hours John said.  On the way, he told me that Jeremy had gone on a 2 day tuna trip.  He left John free to run the boat as he wished.  John only recently got his ticket and had never made the trip to the island as a captain.  Nevertheless, I had confidence in his decision and was excited to go.  The crew onboard was John driving, Derek and Chris (aka Chewey) on deck with pinhead Kyle, and Axel manning the grill.  There was a solid mix of regulars I recognized, and a few adventurous rent rodders.  We’d definitely have some sticks that could execute if John could find some fish.

After the long ride, we proceeded to start fishing on the east side of the isthmus.  John started a drift and before he even said fish, regular Justin was hooked up on the bow throwing surface iron.  I was fishing my normal 30# setup to throw the sardines.  I didn’t get bit and we drifted off the ridge that John had setup on.  Justin boated his yellow.  A couple bass and barracuda hit the sacks too.  John mentioned that they liked the lighter line up here, so I switched up to the 25lb. setup I brought for the day (Seeker 196 – 8, Abu Revo Toro 50 spooled with 40lb. braid to a 25lb. fluoro topshot).  This time I got bit.  It was only a cuda that ended up biting me off.  I scored a nice legal calico though.  I would’ve preferred to release it, but given the scratchinesss of the morning, I sacked it for the boat count.  We proceeded to try a few more drifts working our way south along the island.  Not much for anyone except a couple bones, and a couple more keeper bass.  I had one more mystery bite that seemed to be something of note, but I got tangled up on another line and it ended up coming off.  That was the morning.

John decided to make a longer move around to the backside of the island.  I took the opportunity to have a bite and a little nap.  When we got around to the other side, we saw some of the other ¾ day boats.   Capt. Andy on the Enterprise said on the radio he got several yellows first thing in the morning before the dogs (sea lions) came in to bust up the party.  We tried one drift in the spot Andy vacated, but when it didn’t bite we kept moving.  Time was running out in the day.  We fished across from him a few clicks north, but still nada.

We pushed on and found the Betty G. and Triton tucked into a little cove by themselves.  We could see that someone was hooked up on the Triton and John was metering fish in the area.  We proceeded just past them and anchored up fairly close to a sheer cliff face.  John would later tell me that there was a big meter mark of fish in the spot.  Immediately a few of us hooked up.  At this point, I had switched back to my 30# setup because I didn’t like the backbone on the 196 when I was fighting the mystery fish (should’ve brought the Teramar).  To aid myself though, I tied on about 2 feet of 30# fluoro and it proved to be a good combo.  I got bit and fought the fish for about 5 minutes before it broke off.  It was the right kind, but my line came back frayed.  I was using a circle, but maybe he just really swallowed my bait and the line rubbed?  I quickly re-tied and got back in.  I got bit again and this time I got it.  Derek and Kyle took turns brailing bait and the bite seemed to build.  It got pretty chaotic on deck, but definitely in a fun way as cries of “Fresh one!!!” echoed off the cliff.  I got bit again in the melee, but it immediately popped off.  Other anglers fared better…Terry was top stick with 5 on bait.  Foamer got 4 on the jig.  Jeff “Chickenfoot” Spence got 4 mixing it up.  Time was definitely running out in the day.  Couch said, “10 more minutes!” a few times, but someone kept getting bit to extend the clock.  Axel snuck in one on the jig before we had to leave them biting.  When the dust had settled, 42 more forkies had been sacked up.  My amigo, Juan (aka Carlos) Sierra took JP with a fish that was maybe 16-17 lbs.

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What a fun day!  I was disappointed in my 1 for 3 performance.  I might’ve done better if I had my jig stick (in SD getting fixed), but shrugged it off.  It was great to just be a part of this maiden voyage.  When we got back on the frontside of the island, I got signal and was tweeting and posting.  John called in a report to 976-Tuna.  Chewey wanted me to do it, but this was John’s moment.  By the time we hit the dock, the reservation count was over double our trip’s headcount.  I was happy for John and congratulated him.  I hadn’t been on the boat since my surprise biscuit last year, but picked the day to go.  Thanks again to Capt. Couch and his crew for a really great day on the water.  I’ll try not to wait another year.  Tight lines!

EDITORIAL NOTE – They caught 103 on Saturday.  If the bait holds up, looks like they might keep doing this trip.

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