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Pre-dawn at Dana Wharf Sportfishing

When I went offshore 2 weekends ago on the Eclipse, you could feel that the offshore season was on the verge of exploding.  There were just too many fish seen for things not to come to a head soon.  Sure enough, the following weekend things popped.  The vast majority of the fish caught that weekend were at the tuna pens in Mexican water.  If you aren’t familiar with tuna pen fishing, there are holding pens where the seiners keep tuna and fatten them up to market weight before shipping them off to Japan to feed their insane bluefin appetite.  Free swimming fish tend to school up next to the penned fish and literally it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.  The density of fish in the spot, combined with the first appearance of a quantity of sardine bait for the fleet led to epic fishing.

Unfortunately, the euphoria of that weekend was quickly doused by the announcement on Monday (July 14) that Mexico shut down bluefin fishing in their waters.  Thankfully, the fishing gods have blessed us with local offshore opportunities unseen in over a decade!  When Sergio Fainsztein of Angler Chronicles invited me out for one his Owner Hooks on the water fishing schools (+ taping for the tv show 😉 ) for a 3/4 day offshore trip I quickly accepted.

It had been 2 years since I’ve had the chance to do this kind of fishing out of Dana Wharf.  In the days leading up to this trip, tuna had been caught on the Monte Carlo (1/2 day boat out of 22nd St.) and even as far north as the Channel Islands where the Sea Jay had scored on a crew trip checking around outside.  Once onboard, the first sign of the day to come was that we had full tanks of mostly sardines!

Once we got on the water, Sergio did a little briefing.  Capt. Larry Moore of the Angler Chronicles staff did a seminar on fishing bait.  Our buddy Jimmy Bass did a seminar on fishing a jig.  It wasn’t long before we found a nice kelp and did a drift on it.  Nobody home.  There was a volume of boats further offshore from us that had probably already hit the spot.  Onward.  We reached the flotilla and it was kind of a joke.  Nice paddy with a bunch of private boaters soaking bait on it.  Nobody bent.  Onward.

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We found a paddy we could fish by ourselves.  I was fishing that Colt Sniper jig on a my 30lb rig.  Nada for me, but the “students” were scoring on the live sardines.  It was the kind of offshore fishing I had first learned since coming here.  Long drifts with lively, swimming bait…not the run and gun throwing jigs on sonar marks, jumping fish or a jig stop that characterized offshore fishing so far this year.  I tried to the fish the Sniper on the next paddy, but birdnested my spool badly when I stopped midcast to prevent hooking an angler that was about to walk into my cast.  I was pissed.  With my 30 lb rig out of commission for the time being, I went to my 25 lb setup to fish bait.  As things turned out, it was the call to make.

The new candy bait

The new candy bait

The next paddy I was quickly bit.  And then again.  I was on camera for the second fish describing my setup (25 lb fluoro to Owner 1/0 ringed flyliner)…hope it makes into the show 😉  I was able to get a third fish on the light setup before I had a chance pick out the birdnest (ended up having to dump the whole topshot), re-spool and use my 30 to fish bait.  At that point, some tuna and dodos had come into the mix.  I noticed on the tunas that the lucky anglers had used a small slider in front of the hook.  I figured that getting deeper might give me a better shot at the tuna or at least some better grade yellows, so I added a slider.  Next drift, I did get picked up by something bigger.  The way it fought, headed down, it might’ve been a tuna.  I’d never find out though as my line got tangled in multiple lines.  By the time it was all sorted out, the fish was gone.  Ugh.  Oh well.  I added one more paddy yellow before we had to call it a day.  Final count was 70+ yellowtail, one each YFT/BFT, 4 dorado and one large bonito.  None of the fish were caught on the troll…all paddies and one stop on jumping fish.  It was a pretty incredible day fishing offshore AND IT WAS LOCAL!  Nice to be back at the landing by 4pm.

It’s really good out there right now.  Those in the know are saying that we are seeing conditions on the water not seen since the El Nino event of 97/98.  Don’t let the bluefin closure in Mexico keep you off the water.  Support our fleet and get your offshore fix.  Thank me later.  Tight lines!

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