Joe!  You made it

Joe! You made it

Busy weekend.  I went to Fred Hall Saturday morning.  My intention was to stay until around 2 and then have a nice leisurely drive up to Oxnard, check in, have some dinner and get on the Pacific Islander.

I ended up staying ’til 5-ish, discovered I had left my boots at home (rest of the car was already packed), drove back home from Long Beach, quickly ate and turned around and drove up to CISCO’s.  I’ve rarely felt that relieved and happy to make it to the boat.  Hopefully, all of you have a boat like this one.  I love fishing on it.  I’m friends with all the crew.  And I always catch fish on it.  It’s a happy place for me.

IMG_6882Other than the crew, most of my salty buddies couldn’t make the trip, but I was stoked to see Matthew make it out.  That kid can fish, but most of the rest of the boat looked new to the game.  That’s cool.  I figured we’d throw jigs and have the opposite rail to ourselves.  It was really great to see Capt. Steve Virtue.  Last week, he officially became the new owner of the boat.  I’ve been riding with the guy since he first started on the boat 4 years ago and it’s great to see a good guy realize a goal.

It was a full load of 30 passengers that went out.  We had live anchovies and frozen squid for bait.  Steve gave his customary pre-trip briefing and sent us off…”Let’s kill some fish!”

After the day that I had, I was quickly in my bunk and asleep.  The next morning as I laid in my bunk, it didn’t feel very good conditions-wise.  Waves were slapping high up the sides of the boat.  Every once in awhile, the boat would slow to negotiate a big wave.  It definitely wasn’t going to be the Lake Pacific conditions my friends and the crew told me they enjoyed on the previous day’s ride.  I tried to go back to sleep, but it was pointless.  When I eventually mustered the motivation to get up and go up top, this was the scene…

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Double lings!

And that was the lea side of the island.  I didn’t rig the night before and I sure as heck wasn’t heading up the side of the rail now.  I joined Laura in the galley and ordered breakfast.

By the time I was done, we were getting ready to setup the first drift of the day.  When we slowed down, the slop coming over the rail stopped and I went to grab a rod and rig up.  It was deceiving and I succumbed to the idea of jig and fly.  Bad choice.  I setup in my regular starboard/stern corner and casted far out against the drift.  By the time I hit bottom, I was on the port side.  Then my jig got hung up and I lost it.  Nice start.  I didn’t miss much.  Just a few small blues came over the rail.  We needed to move.

On the move, I went conventional double dropper with a pound of weight.  I picked up a decent chuckie, but it was lousy overall and we moved again.  And again.  Capt. Steve came over the intercom to encourage us that the weather was supposed to backoff, but we ended having to go shallow.  I heard shallow and decided I’d go back to the jig.  I picked up some new grub tail baits at the show and decided to rig an orange squid-scented one above a heavy Magic Metal jig in chrome with a red head.  Good choice.  Double lings (one legal) on my first cast 😉

Things started to get good at that stop.  Matthew, another kid Gary we met on the boat, and I were all casting jigs and scoring on almost every cast.  It was fun.  LOTS of short lings, with the occasional legal dropping into the sack.  Nothing big though.  I didn’t see a single fish I’d even guess to be double digits.

Conditions improved enough that we were able to do some longer drifts.  There were patches of sandiness in between the rocky areas and some sand dabs started getting caught.  I personally didn’t catch any, but it got me thinking.  Then one of the bait guys decided to hook one on his double dropper…no trap.  He put the first double digit fish on the boat.

We were drifting the same stretch over and over.  I decided to take the opportunity on a move to tie a sand dab rig.  Even though the conditions had improved, the drifts were still at a pretty good clip.  Great opportunity to deploy this rig.  Another good call…I converted 1 sand dab into 2 legal lings.

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We had a couple hours left in the trip and I only had 3 rockfish in the sack.  I decided to work on filling out my limit and tied on the pre-tied double pink squid P-Line setup.  It didn’t take long to secure my rockfish limit and still had a little time to go back to the jig for a few more casts.  One more legal to end the trip.  It was good.  I hooked 7 legals.  Matthew got 11 and Gary added 6.  Despite our success, one lady fishing with her husband took top honors.  Limits of rockfish and lings for each angler aboard.  No #thatdamnfish

It was tougher than normal, but Steve managed to piece together another solid trip in spite of the conditions.  The guy is a great captain.  And now he is the new owner of the boat!  I had a chance to chat with him on the ride back.  He’s going to do some different things this year.  I’m excited to see how it plays out.  Stay tuned.  Thank you Steve and the rest of the wonderful crew…Dan, Bryan, Sean and Laura.  See you all soon.  Tight lines!

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