Hi, been awhile since I’ve posted over here.  Most of my writing lately has been over at BD Outdoors (aka Bloody Decks).  Please catch up over there if you haven’t been following along.  For my article there this week, I wanted to cover a yellowtail technique that is important to know right now because of the emergence of squid.  

I don’t do straight trip reports over there.  This trip was an important milestone in the season though, so I felt like it deserved the full SCS treatment…


Island Yellows On The T-bird

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this trip almost didn’t get off the dock.  I had booked my spot online and just planned to go (like I wrote in last week’s BD article).  I figured it was a weekend trip and it wouldn’t be an issue.  Got to the dock though and found out we just made it happen with 11 anglers!  The Thunderbird carries 30.  I was already liking how this was setting up.  My friends Kelly and Nollie showed up bringing a friend of theirs, Monty.  I knew some of the guys on the crew.  I was good.

Things got even better after I settled in.  I checked the bait to find we were already jugged with both live sardines and squid!  Ah the candy.  It had been awhile.  It’s been on the scarce side during El Nino.  Good things can happen when you have the candy, so I had high hopes for the trip.

Capt. Andrew Viola would be running the trip.  His 2nd for this run was the relief captain from the Fortune, Bob Vierregger.  Steve (aka Scuba) and Kevin were on deck.  Chris (aka Goofy) held down the galley.  Chris gathered us on the stern for the trip briefing.

We’d be heading to one of the “local islands” (don’t ask which one, I’m not telling).  We had a weather window before an incoming storm, but Capt. Andrew liked our prospects for the trip.  We’d try for gamefish in the morning.  If that didn’t pan out, we’d rockfish.  Goofy said to be ready first thing as there was only a small morning window on their last trip for a chance at yellowtail.

I setup a surface iron rig, flyline for sardine, light leadhead for squid, and a standard double dropper before heading to bed.

The next morning I was laying in my bunk.  It was still dark…maybe 6am or so, but the boat had already slowed down into look mode.  People began stirring and I grudgingly got up and moving.  They dropped anchor.  Capt. Andrew told us over the intercom that he wasn’t marking fish, but to go ahead and give it a try.  I opted to go double dropper and picked up a couple rockfish to start the day.

Andrew didn’t like how we setup, so he repositioned a couple times until he was happy with how we were settling in on the anchor.  The current was fairly stiff heading toward the stern.  There was a kelpy reef maybe 20 yards or so behind us.  It didn’t take long before the yellows showed up and it was game on.

Kevin Cook on the gaff

The guys getting bit were on a slider setup with live squid.  I quickly switched to my light leadhead setup and got in the game.  I casted off the stern and almost immediately got bit, but it didn’t stick.  It happened again and I decided to setup a slider rig too.  I got bit again and it stuck.  I fought the fish for about a minute and the line abruptly went slack.  Shit!  Knot failure braid to fluoro.  I slowed down and carefully re-tied.  While I was re-tying, I noticed that Capt. Bob was killing it.  He picked up two while I re-rigged.  He was casting off the side and letting the current take the bait back.  Before his line got too far behind the boat, he was already getting bit!

I tied 40 fluoro to 50 braid and terminated with a 1/2 oz. slider and a 3/0 Aki twist hook.  I pinned on 2 squid and casted off the side.  Boom boom boom.  I knocked out 3 in quick succession.

It stayed good for about an hour and half before we settled into more of a plunker type bite.  During that flurry, all the fish were caught on bait except for one caught on surface iron when they briefly appeared under birds on top.

Around lunchtime it had been awhile before anyone was bit.  Capt. Andrew was on deck and looked out behind us.

“See that?  I can see the kelp now.  We lost our current.  Time to move.”

We were sitting at around 90 fish with the bulk of them in say the 12-15 lb. range…some smaller, couple bigger ones pushing 20.

Kelly’s 8th on the last stop

Where we were fishing was protected by the island, so when we moved it got decidedly sportier.  We could see the front heading our way.  The next stop was unproductive and we moved again.  Betwen the incoming storm and the time left on the clock, the next stop would probably be our last of the day.

Capt. Andrew told us he was marking a couple scattered fish.  We anchored up again and gave it a go.  On the way over, I setup my heavier rod with a high dropper….longer loop, stronger knot.  I figured I could rockfish with it, but if there were yellows around, I’d be safe.  It didn’t take long before Kelly hooked up to kick things off.  She was using a slider setup.  I was fishing the same way.

A kid got bit up the starboard side on a strip of squid on a standard double dropper.  What?

If I had a yoyo already setup, I would’ve given it a try.  Capt. Andrew did and scored one almost immediately.  What I did have though was that high dropper.  Dropped in off the side and it wasn’t long before I got bit.  Since I was on my heavy setup, I was able to quickly land that fish and drop again.  The guy next to me got bit.  I tried to move away, but his fish took his line into me AND the guy to my left.  Macrame.  HELP!

Kevin came to the rescue.  He got the guy to my left out first.  The guy with the fish was still on and I could feel the rhythm of his fish fighting.  It must have been stuck pretty good.  Kevin was doing his thing when all of a sudden the load got heavier.  “I think I just got bit!”  “Probably just his fish”, Kevin said.  “I don’t think so.”  Kevin freed us and sure enough, I had a fish on.  Me and the other guy both got our respective fish.  Thank you Kevin!

That was the day.  The final stop added about 10 fish to bring the boat total to 102.  I think Kelly was the high stick (of the anglers) with 8.  Capt. Bob had a full limit of 10 before he went to sleep.  Epic epic day.  The first 100+ yellowtail day of any boat fishing U.S. waters this year.  Congrats and thank you to Capt. Andrew and his crew.  Good times with old friends and new friends.  Excellent service throughout.  Too bad the incoming weather cancelled the next trip, but these guys will have more days like this one this year.  Get out and fish with them.  Tight lines!







Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,