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Beautiful sunset for our departure at Seaforth Landing

This trip has been almost a year in the making.  I’d never been to Colonet before and I was excited to get on a trip headed there with the Eclipse last February.  Unfortunately, that trip didn’t come about when it was cancelled due to weather.  As 2014 was winding down, Capt. Mark Gillette asked me if I was interested in organizing a trip.  Yes, I am!  🙂

Needless to say, there was a high level of anticipation going into the weekend.  I got down to San Diego early and stayed with my friend John Anjard.  When Friday rolled around, I arrived at the landing around 3:30.  Several of the salties were already there.  Originally, the trip was billed as the “Big Ling Extravaganza.”  The idea was to go to Colonet and catch some big lings and rockfish while the rockfish closure was in effect here in U.S. waters.  However, yellowtail had shown up at the same rockfishing grounds in the weeks prior.  Capt. Mark decided to move up our departure to 6pm to take advantage of what had been a morning yellowtail bite.  We almost made it and got off the dock at 6:30.  We left with a load of live anchovies, sardines and some mackerel.

Marc demonstrates the retrieve on a butterfly

Marc demonstrates the retrieve on a butterfly

Once we got underway, Mark came down from the wheelhouse to give his trip briefing.  First he introduced the crew…Captains Adam and Ping would 2nd and also work deck.  They were joined on deck by Damarius.  Chef Jason manned the galley.  Mark then recommended fishing with no less than 50.  He said to fish a full size heavy jig like the Salas 6x, drop it all the way to the bottom, and then hard wind through the zone.  He’d update us when we were fishing where he was metering marks of fish.  He expected to arrive at the grounds around 8:30-9 and said to be ready to do a drift on the yellows.  Mark said we’d focus on the yellows, but that rockfish would be present in the same area.

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Randy was excited about breakfast

After Mark was done, he introduced me.  I said a few words, then introduced our two 2 reps from Shimano, Marc Mills and Joe Senger.  Marc came up and gave a seminar on the two jigging systems they had brought demo equipment for – the Butterfly and Lucanus jigs.  More about this gear later… (see HERE)

The next morning, a beautiful sunrise greeted us as we sat down in the galley awaiting the morning offering from Chef Jason.  Jason didn’t disappoint.  He served up his gourmet version of the Hawaiian loco moco plate 🙂

After finishing breakfast, I went out on deck and we were close to being in the zone.  Several boats were already in the area.  Mark slowed down to start looking.  It wasn’t long before we stopped to start our first drift.  I started the day fishing the jig.  Almost immediately I was bit, but it didn’t take line…just a bocaccio.  Saw another bank perch get caught, but none of the target species on the first one.  The next one featured a few yellows going over the rail, with a handful of lings in the mix from people fishing bait.  I managed to get bit, but farmed both of my opportunities.  One of them popped me off taking with it my last heavy Bait Wrap jig 🙁  Then came “The Drift.”

We started out working a ridge that was 40 something fathoms down.  The yellows were suspended just over the rockfish.  I had switched to bait.  I dropped in and gave it 5 cranks over the hard bottom.  Not long after…fresh one!  Everyone started getting bit.  My fish got in the boat when Adam gaffed it.  In the process, my line got caught in that gap between the gaff and the gaff pole and got roughed up.  Being in the middle of a hot bite, I went back to the jig (7x heavy in mint sardine).  I was up on the bow and dropped in.  I wound hard through “the zone” (at least what I thought was the zone).  At that point, my line was getting kind of horizontal.  I was reeling in at a slower pace to just start things over when to my surprise, WHACK!  Since I was already close to the surface, it didn’t take long to get it over the rail.  I was telling my buddy Cody (who was fishing next to me) about the slower retrieve.  He was fishing one of the demo Lucanus setups.  You mean like this?  He was heavy.  Nice!  On the light gear it took him awhile to get that fish in.  Meanwhile, I decided to test my theory of the slower retrieve further.  I discovered a pattern where if I dropped down to about half my spool left and slow reeled back, I was getting bit by the time I reached about 2/3 full on the spool.  Discovering that pattern, I put 4 more fish on the boat in quick succession!  It was a good thing too.  At that point, we had drifted well off the ridge and below us was a deep drop off you couldn’t possibly hit bottom on.  The school just stayed with the boat though.  When it was all said and done, it was about 1:30 and we were pretty much done on yellows having put 97 on the boat in that one incredible drift.  The yellows were a really nice grade of fish.  Most were in the 20-22 lb. range.  I had one smaller one that was maybe 15.  My buddy Glenn Allen Jr. took JP on a fish that was probably 35 or more.

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First ling / yellow day for me

It was time to go rockfish.  We drove away leaving them biting.  Mark setup on another ridge away from the rest of the fleet to commence rockfishing.  I cut off my jig.  The Tranx/Teramar combo I was fishing had 65lb. Power Pro braid to a short topshot of 50 mono.  I had pre-tied a bunch of rigs on 50 for rockfishing, so I just tied a swivel where I had cutoff my jig and tied on one of the lingcod trap rigs I had pre-tied.  I added a pound of lead.  I found a larger mack in the tank and sent it down.  Whomp!  I was heavy.  It almost felt like I was stuck in a rock, but it came up ever so slightly…plus rocks don’t shake their head.  Yeah, it was a good one.  I was finally able to break it free and then I reeled it in slowly.  It seemed to take forever as we were fishing in over 400 feet of water.  I kept at it though and finally got it in.  The snelled hook had bent out, but the trap treble was buried in his throat!  🙂  I’ve never had a day where I caught a ling and a yellow in the same day.  I’ve tried for it numerous times fishing the Coronados, but it took Colonet to accomplish the feat.  My day was complete and we still had hours left to fish.

IMG_6553The good fishing continued until we finally stopped at sunset.  A few more yellows found our hooks (despite the fact we were rockfishing) to put a cherry on top of the day.  We ended up with boat limits of yellows, 38 lings, and an assortment of rockfish.  Lots of sore arms and backs, but smiles all around for the 24 anglers.  Thank you so much to Capt. Mark Gillette and his excellent staff.  The on deck crew was helpful, attentive and friendly as always.  Chef Jason wowed us in his galley.  And I also want to thank Eclipse administrative manager Sharla for all her help in putting together this awesome trip.  The Eclipse has more of these trips online, so contact Sharla to get onboard.  Thanks to Marc and Joe from Shimano.  We all learned and got to experience a different way to fish that was a lot of fun for everyone on board and the giveaways were much appreciated.  Thanks also to Get Some products for providing additional raffle prizes.  Most of all, thank you to all the salties who came out.  I’m glad everyone had a great time and I look forward to more great times on the water with you this year.  Tight lines!

Additional trip pictures can be found HERE

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