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Hacker on the New Del Mar (Feb 7)

Sometime before Thanksgiving a big thread amongst the salty folks was, “Are the yellowtail going to continue to bite?”  At the time, boats out of CISCO’s were catching at County Line, the Horseshoe bite was going, Box Canyon, Coronados…bites along the whole coast.  My thought at the time was that at some point it had to slow down.  That there would be spots of activity, but not the widespread coverage we were seeing at the time.

Once we got deep into December and into January, the bite pretty much followed that form.  Although private boaters were finding some fish here and there in other spots, for the most part it was the New Seaforth working the coast north of San Diego and the 3/4 day boats out of Dana Wharf fishing Box Canyon.  This weekend…the whole coast bit again.

What really caught my eye was my buddy Hacker posting he caught 1 of 21 on the Saturday morning ride on the New Del Mar out of Marina del Rey Sportfishing.  Then he re-rode and caught a 2nd.  Wow!  February yellowtail in Santa Monica Bay.  That happening is very unusual and pretty awesome.  A few were caught up north, and it bit for the usual suspects down south too.  True to form, it happened over the full moon.

I was kicking myself I didn’t go Saturday, because the thought did cross my mind.  I was so tired though from my first week at the new gig and I didn’t get up.  Not the case Sunday morning.  I was up making some coffee at 5 when I decided…I’m gonna go 😉

I made it to the landing with plenty of time.  I wasn’t the only one who thought this was a remarkable thing happening and decided to ride.  Lots of friends were onboard.  It was the regular crew of Capt. Danny Ericson, Vic, Eric and Little Victor on deck, and Dylan in the galley.  We left the dock with 58 anglers and a tank of large sardines.  I figured it would be a yoyo and dropper loop affair, so I rigged both.  I brought a bass rod in case the day was a bust and we went leadhead and squid bass fishing (there was some frozen whole squid too).  As it turned out, I didn’t need to bring it.

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Capt. Danny Ericson on the gaff

I figured we’d be heading toward Palos Verdes where the yellows were last seen in the Bay.  As we edged past the breakwater, there was a pretty decent wind going that kicked up some whitecaps.  I went inside to get out of the wind, but it wasn’t long before the boat slowed down to start looking.

First stop the action was immediate.  One yellow for 2 hookups.  I had what I thought was the third, but it didn’t fight right.  It turned out to be a ling.  See you in a month.  Then we had a drift that turned out to be the longest bite of the day.  I was on the starboard side (wrong side), but we were pretty much elbow to elbow around the whole boat.  I was fishing my mint 7x heavy that worked so well for me at Colonet.  I noticed Kaley out of the corner of my eye.  She was fishing on the bow, wrong side also, but the first person I saw get bit.  As it played out, I never noticed more than 3 people bit at the same time, but the school stayed and a fair amount of fish got sacked.  They were nice fish too…call it 17-26 lbs.?

Long story short, we had our shots throughout the whole ride.  Danny said he actually saw bigger schools later in the day, but it just wasn’t full speed the way it was at times for them on Saturday.  I personally didn’t get bit, but it was still very exciting to see what was going on.  I’m glad I went.  I didn’t notice any fish getting caught on bait.  I saw one rent rodder get bit, but he didn’t turn the reel and quickly lost it.  I can’t say definitely, but it appeared that the smaller yoyo’s bit better, but it was definitely the jig (vs. bait) and no pattern seemed to stand out.  I saw blue/white, scrambled egg, birdshit, that funky green/black shiny Tady…they all caught fish.  Guessing at the final tally, but I’ll say 25 for the 58 onboard.

It was good enough that if I didn’t have to go to work Monday, I’d ride again.  There are pelagic red crabs in SMB.  Lots of signal of good things to come.  I think this is only the beginning of a year that we’ll be talking about for a long time.  Make plans to enjoy it.  Tight lines

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UPDATE: President’s Day (Feb 16th)

I went again and rode both the morning and afternoon rides.  Long story short, we had our opportunities and the boat landed 16 for the day.  There was quite a bit of boat pressure out there and after the morning we never found them again.  We had our shots though.  I got bit what I thought was twice.  The first time, it quickly came unbuttoned when it went down the rail and got tangled in multiple lines.  The second time came at the end of the day.  Capt. Danny said it was the best school and I was seemingly one of the first to get bit.  As it turned out though, it was my buddy Santiago Jimenez who was bit.  He was on the skiff of our other buddy Manny who was fishing just across the way from us.  When the fish got to the surface, Santi yelled over, “Joe, I can see your jig.  Gimme some slack bro.”  Dammit.  Oh well, assist to Salty.  I swear I’m cursed.  My buddy Mark Smolak ended up taking JP with a fish that weighed out at 30 and was a part of the big day end opportunity.

Since then, things have “tailed” off.  A few fish are getting caught, so there is hope that the bite can still heat back up.  If you can get out a few days after this weather blows over, it’d be worth a shot.

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