Friday afternoon, I left work immediately after the weekly meeting with my boss and got on the road headed to San Diego.  I signed up for this trip back in November and the day was finally here.  After 2 straight late nights inventorying and reorganizing my tackle box, it was finally the day of the trip and I was really amped with anticipation.  After almost 3 hours in Friday night rush hour traffic, I arrived in SD ready for action.

They started boarding the boat around 7:30 pm and shortly after 9pm, we were on our way.  Quick stop to pickup bait (live squid and sardines, frozen squid already onboard) and we were on our way out of the harbor headed south.  One of the first orders of business was getting a trip briefing from Scooter, the first mate.  Scooter mentioned we were headed to the Finger Bank, just off the coast of northern Baja Mexico, about 30-35 miles south of San Diego.  We would get to the stop between 1-2am.  At that point, you could fish if you wanted to, but net yield would probably be zero.  Best bet was to wait until dawn, and then we would begin fishing in earnest at first light.  Recommended setup was go with a 1lb weight on the bottom and then have 2-4 hooks (4/0 size) on a gagnion or dropper loops.  He said to go with a sardine on bottom to target lings.  Squid strip on top for the bank perch (bankies).  He also recommended using a “breakaway leader at the end of your gagnion and the weight.  15# to 25# test so that if you got hung up on a rock, you’d lose your weight, but breakoff before losing your whole gagnion setup.  As I posted last week in Match the Hatch, guys put a lot of time, effort and dollars in the gagnions and/or lures used in the dropper loops.  The breakaway leader was a good idea to avoid losing critical tackle.

After the briefing, Larry Yoshida, Dan’s chartermaster and right hand guy gave us our swag bags of Sportfishing with Dan Hernandez products.  After getting my goodies, I met my bunkmates, Monte and Karl from Bakersfield, and checked into the luxurious accommodations 😉

Monte and Karl with their DH swag

Larry, DH's right hand man

Won't this be cozy?

At this point, I set my alarm for 5am and hit the sack.  The next morning, I woke up, had some breakfast and attended to my gear.  I setup my heavy combo with 80# white Power Pro tied directly to Shrimp 1 of John’s gagnions.  At the first stop of the day, I didn’t get bit at all, but the guy next to me on the rail pulled a nice ling.  Other anglers were catching decent reds and other assorted rockfish, but Salty was getting no love at all.  It was at this point I made a key decision for the trip and decided to drop down a weight class and go lighter across the board.  I went to my medium combo, with a 12 oz weight on bottom and lighter wire circle hooks for the next stop.  Now things started happening.  I immediately pulled a nice salmon grouper.  Dan came up and asked my name, and then he proceeded to setup a shot where he showed me with my fish and talked thru the setup I was using. 

I stayed with this combo the rest of the day, culminating in me eventually winning the jackpot with a 6lb, 1/2 oz red snapper.  My red beat out a couple of nice 5 lb reds and another ling cod around the 5lb mark.  Dan was also super cool in terms of me wearing my Salty gear, talking to me about fishing, and asking me about my thoughts on social media.  He also was very kind to sign Jake’s Dorado video.  It was a very enjoyable trip for me, and I’ll be joining Dan on some future fishing adventures.  Stay tuned for more info and enjoy the rest of the trip pics.

Dan the man himself

Winner on red!

Sean, Zarski and Scooter - let's cut some fish!

New friends. Good times.

 

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