Last Wednesday, I went out for Round 2 of the offshore season.  As you’ll recall, I had a pretty rough go of it in Round 1.  This time I had a better picture of what to expect and felt better prepared for what was to come.  Considering that this trip would allow us 2.5 days on the water to locate some biting schools of fish, I was confident the outcome would be different.

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Capt. Adam consulting with Danny Lynch of Fishdope

I was part of a group of 28 anglers that boarded the boat for a 4pm departure.  Capt. Adam Williams would be driving with 2nd Capt. Steve Petros; Anthony, Damarius and Greg were on deck; and Chef Kairi handled the galley.  Upon departure, we made a quick stop at the bait receiver for a load of mostly anchovies, again with the big macks, a handful of sardines, and random brown bait (no red pelagic crabs this time, but the little yellow was there).  Upon leaving the bait receiver, Capt. Adam gave us the usual safety briefing, then reviewed the gameplan.  We’d try to make some more fin bait before moving on and heading west.  The previous day’s results from boats fishing down south weren’t good.  Adam had a tip from a research vessel out in the Tanner/Cortez Bank area (U.S. water) that there was a good sign of the larger model bluefin that had recently gone missing.  He said it would be a lot of run and gun style fishing…looking for fish on sonar marks, looking for birds, dolphins or jumping fish, or stopping the boat on a jig strike.  He advised to rig up a Megabait (or similar) on minimum 40 lb. test and be prepared to throw it on the slide or when we had another indication of fish.  It would be about an 85 mile drive out, then we’d start fishing at first light.  Bait making was slow and we pressed on.

Headed for points west

Headed for points west

Day 1 – Big Game Hunting

IMG_4496The next morning we found ourselves out at the banks.  It was a bit bumpy and overcast, but quite good for this part of the ocean.  I checked in #2, so I was in the first trolling rotation.  I got some coffee and put in my time at the stern, but nothing happened.  After getting in about an hour, I rotated out and went inside to get some breakfast.

The rest of the morning was similarly slow.  Around noon, we spotted some birds working and pulled up on a school of jumping fish.  We threw into them and drifted out for a bit.  It was different “soaking a bait” with a jig.  Adam said the fish were marking about 20 fathoms below us, so I tried to drop down to that level and yoyo through them in hopes of a bite.  I was standing at the rail next to angler Mike Hall of Torrance.  Mike was fishing a beat up chrome Salas 6x on 50.  He started a slow retrieve when he got picked up by something substantial for the first bite of the day.

 

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Mike was about 30 minutes into the battle when his trusty old Penn International started failing on him.  It was expanding, and the plate holding in the gear started coming loose.  A screwdriver was located to tighten it back up, but the drag mechanism got messed up in the process.  Mike somehow managed to persevere despite the reel malfunction and was rewarded with a beautiful bluefin tuna in the 70+ class.

After another long drought, we happened on a school of jumping fish…same size as Mike’s bluefin…as the light started fading.  It was an epic sight to see that class of fishing jumping around ahead of us.  As we slid into them, angler Ryan Fugit of Riverside tossed his Megabait into the jumping school from the bow.  One immediately responded with a bite on his 9 foot long Okuma jig stick.  Fighting a fish of that size on a 9 foot stick wasn’t optimum, but Ryan managed it and was rewarded with a fish that was probably within 5-10 lbs. of Mike’s earlier fish.

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We continued on a little while longer, but that was it action-wise for the day.  Kairi put out an excellent dinner and Capt. Adam updated the gameplan.  Given the unwillingness of these fish to bite, we’d move south and inside to hopefully locate some willing yellowfin and yellowtail for Day 2 of our offshore adventure.

Day 2 – The Dawn Of A New Day

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It was bit of a somber group that sat down for July 4th dinner.  Any lingering feelings about the previous day’s fishing were washed away though the next morning by the amazing sunrise that greeted us.  The water was grease calm.  It just felt like a different day.

We were situated just east of the 1010 Trench.  Visibility was high and it wasn’t long before we located the first kelp of the day and drifted on it.  Capt. Adam said it was jugged with fish.  It didn’t disappoint.  The action was fast and furious as hungry yellowtails were eager to bite and made their way on deck.  I got the skunk off fishing a Spanish mackerel on 25 lb. fluoro rigged on a Seeker 196-8 with my Revo Toro 50.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it handled a 10 lb. paddy yellowtail.

We had a nice run on that kelp and moved on.  A vast pod of dolphin was spotted and as we caught up to the school, two of the trolling rods went off.  A young angler stationed on the port stern reeled in the first yellowfin of the trip.  It was also his first ever tuna.  You know what that means…he was game and choked down the heart along with a craft IPA from new boat supplier Helms Brewing of San Diego.

No other bites so we quickly moved on to catch up with the dolphins and hopefully more yellowfin.  I was up on the rotation and posted on the port stern corner too.  When we slid in front of the pod again, my rod went off and I boated my first tuna of the season.  It was a schoolie yellowfin that bit on a black/purple cedar plug.

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IMG_4546Once it hit the deck, it spit out some small bait.  Noting the size of fish they were feeding on, I re-rigged my 30 lb. setup with a smaller jig…choosing a Shimano Colt Sniper in silver and green.  I quickly had the opportunity to use it as we came upon the second kelp of the day.  Great call.  The kelp was full.  At this point, the sun was up.  The water was crystal clear and yellows could be seen everywhere underwater.  It was exciting to watch them chase the lure.  They were so hot, they competed to bite our offerings.  It was good.  Even when they didn’t bite, watching the chase was too much fun.  Everyone did well and it turned out to be the big stop of the day yielding 62 fish!

We alternated jig stops on dolphins and drifts on kelps until after lunch.  Wide open fishing.  I got 4 on the Sniper before I started playing around with some other jigs.  I caught yellows 4 ways last year (flylined sardine, yoyo, surface iron, leadhead and squid).  I was hoping to get one on a Waxwing, but it never happened.  I probably wouldn’t have a better opportunity than now to get one in this fashion and rigged the bone color in the second to largest size.  There was a kelp close in off our stern and I threw past it.  The jig did its wide kick on the retrieve and caught the attention of passing yellow.  The fish turned to chase it and bit aggressively.  It was a better model that managed to make it home to the kelp where I lost it.  Bummer to lose the jig, but a thrill nonetheless.  I managed to catch another one on a Bait Wraps sardine 7x to bring my total to 6 before the bite tailed off.

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Final fish

Final fish

The afternoon was slower, but it was a steady enough plunk to keep everyone interested.  It was starting to get towards the end of the day when I came up again on the trolling rotation.  The sun was going down and the wind started to kick up a little.  I was ready to call it a day and go in for dinner when my rod went off…again on the purple/black cedar plug.  It was another schoolie yellowfin to bookend Day 2.  That was it for the trip.  Another nice sunset and another great dinner to close out the proceedings.

Final boat count was the 2 big blues from Day 1, plus 5 yellowfin, and a bunch of yellows for a total of 200+ mixed fish.  All the YFT were troll fish, so the Day 2 jackpot was won by Eclipse regular Hai Le with the biggest of 5 larger model yellows.  It was a good day.  Capt. Adam did a nice job of managing the trip.  He played his tip giving us an opportunity for trophy fish Day 1 (the 2 BFT caught were the only ones for the whole fleet’s weekend count!).  Day 2 he played it more conservatively and put us on a volume of fish to make the whole group happy.  The crew was at their typical attentive, high level of service.  Chef Kairi kept things light and fed us well throughout the trip in the galley.  Thank you for another great experience.  Tight lines!

Editor’s Note – These offshore trips are typically the most expensive trips of the year for most anglers.  Given my financial situation right now, I wouldn’t be able to make it out without the help of a lot of people.  Special thanks to Capt. Mark Gillette, his other captains and crew of Eclipse Sportfishing.  Thank you to my sponsors AFTCO, Costa Sunglasses, and Wild River tackle bags.  Thank you to giveaway sponsors, Megabaits, Candy Bar and INOX lubricants.  Thanks to Vance Contreras.  Most of all, thank you to the Salties who came out to support me and the boat.  I hope you had as much fun as I did.  I couldn’t do any of this without all of you!

Here’s a link to additional photos from the trip

Here’s Pam Sharp’s trip report on Bloody Decks

 

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