Bruce at Fred Hall this year

Bruce at Fred Hall this year

Capt. Bruce Smith of Fortune Sportfishing is a guy that I’ve been wanting to fish with for a long time.  I first heard about the Fortune when a couple salty buddies rode with Bruce on a memorable San Clemente trip.  Yellowtail, halibut and seabass all hit the deck that day.  “Oh Joe…you shoulda been here!”  I hate hearing that sentence.

Then there was a huge buzz in the fishing community when he released his epic Clipperton Fly Fishing video.  I watched the counts as he transitioned from fishing Catalina and Clemente Islands, and continued to slay after moving the boat to San Diego for the offshore fishing season.

Wow…I want to fish with this guy.  The problem is that Bruce is chartered out usually…regular customers returning year after year because it’s a great experience.

Then the kids and I checked out his boat during the 22nd Street – Day At The Landing that I wrote about last week.  What a nice boat!  Bruce mentioned to me that he might put together an open party trip leaving Thursday night, fishing Friday.  He’s been posting a few open party trips to fill the void while the new Freedom team is getting their boat together.  When Bruce hit me up asking if I wanted to go, I didn’t need to think twice.

Just before departure

Just before departure

By the time boat left the dock Thursday night, there were multiple reports of white seabass being scored at the islands.  The weather was going to be good and had been stable.  Moon phase was right.  Visions of exotics hitting the deck and crossing off multiple fish on the Top 10 danced in my dreams as I went to bed on the boat.

We had live squid already when we left the dock.  We made our way to the south end of Catalina to make some more, but were plagued by sea lions and weren’t successful.  We stayed anchored up in the spot through the night and began fishing just before first light.

The sea lions were still there.  Their presence and a lack of current left us wanting.  Only a couple “batman” appearances and some cuda that got eaten by the dogs were the grim highlight of the morning.  Just after 8, Bruce decided it was time for Plan B and we headed to Clemente.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the 2 hour ride across the channel, we were eager to start fishing.  Unfortunately, the Navy asked us to proceed a little further down and we ended up by the Runway.  We proceeded to work a series of shallow water spots just outside the kelp line.  The main activity here was either light leadhead and squid to target calicos mid-water column, or work the bottom for sheephead.  I caught a calico just to say I did, then worked on catching #thatdamnfish.  Didn’t work out, but I got a couple monster scullies.  I was hoping while we were there that someone would catch a passing yellow, but that didn’t happen either.

At the backend of the trip, Bruce opted to make the best of it and fill some sacks.  I’d never rockfished here before.  I had taken out all my heavy weights and jigs in preparation for this trip.  We’d be fishing deep…at or just above the 50 fathom depth limit.  Time to get back to basics.  I rigged a standard double dropper and put on my heaviest available lead of 12 oz.  Bruce was recommending to go 16 oz., so I had to compensate with my cast to not tangle up.  For the most part I managed to stay tangle free and when I held bottom, it was really good.  Big reds, chucks and bocaccio readily ate the squid.  A couple anglers did have heavy jigs, and one of them was rewarded catching a big old red that eventually took jackpot.

It wasn’t the trip that we hoped for.  I’m sure Bruce would be the first to say it.  That’s fishing.  His Saturday trip went much better, yellows and a halibut were reported in the early report.  For the anglers on this trip though, I didn’t hear many complaints.  Bruce clearly made the best of the circumstances.  I enjoyed fishing with him.  The boat is comfortable, fishes well, and the crew was pleasant and helpful.  And Roadkill Bill’s food was pretty dang good too 😉  I’ll definitely be back.  Tight lines!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,