The Group

Gail Force – Epic Catalina Yellowtail Fishing 6/9/2019

21 passengers boarded the Gail Force out of LA Harbor Sportfishing, leaving the dock at a little before 5:00 AM Sunday morning.  My friend Danny arranged the trip for my birthday.  After doing the same for several years now, it has become an annual event, filled mostly with friends of ours.

We had Captain Jared Malott at the helm, Calvin and Steve on deck, and Mark in the Galley, as well as helping on deck.

Breakfast on the ride out.
Breakfast on the ride out.

We arrived at Catalina Island after a smooth ride out.  Passing Avalon and going around the back side, we stopped at several spots with minimal results.  One nice halibut and a handful of legal calico bass and more shorts, minimal water movement, I was afraid it was going to be another slow trip.

Mike Nixon and Grandson Jayden
Mike Nixon and Grandson Jayden
Terry Flynn
Terry Flynn

A stop while working our way around the other side produced one nice grade yellowtail, then another.   A pick bite turned into a steady bite, and finally at times a wide open bite.  We ended up spending the rest of the day there and leaving a bit earlier than our scheduled departure because we were out of bait!

Patty Rich
Patty Rich

We ended up with 60 yellowtail, most around 18-22 pounds, plus the one halibut.  The crew worked hard to make sure everyone had a fish, ran around like crazy, and broke several gaffs!

Pam Sharp
Pam Sharp

Jackpot went to my friend Mark Ramero.

Mark Ramero, Jackpot winner
Mark Ramero, Jackpot winner

Thanks to all of the crew for a fabulous trip, and to all my friends for coming out!  Also, thank you Mark in the galley for the wonderful birthday cake!  I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Danny Lynch
Danny Lynch

The Gail Force is available for charter, with occasional open party trips!  For information on the Gail Force, visit:

https://gailforcesportfishing.com/

Fighting a Fish!
Fighting a Fish!
Full sacks = happy fishermen!
Full sacks = happy fishermen!
Ahran

Ahra-Ahn for Sand Dabs — 1/14/2018

Julian, and passengers, wait for the first drop.
Julian, and passengers, wait for the first drop.

My friend Julian asked if I’d like to go with him and a buddy fishing sand dabs this winter.  This being something I’d heard about but never done, I said I would.  He set a date and we made our reservations.

The boat leaves at 9:00 AM.  I planned to get down there around 8:00 to get my license for the year as well.  Checked in and waited.  Julian arrived and introduced me to his friend Allan.  Armed with my 5 gallon “Home Depot” bucket and several one and two pounds sinkers (Yikes!) I boarded with everyone else.

On board we had Captain Andy, James in the galley, and Cameron and Patrick on deck.  We had about an hour out to the fishing grounds.  Julian brought me a 10 hook sand dab rig so I tied that on, and I had a six hook rig in my bag I found in the attic that we could use for backup, if anyone of us lost theirs.

I ordered breakfast to eat on the way out…  a breakfast burrito, but put it in a bowl and keep the tortilla.  A little bit of hash browns, bacon, fried over easy egg, cheese and salsa.  Really good!!  Thanks James!

Sand dab rig
Sand dab rig

For the novice, a sand dab is a flatfish, similar to halibut and flounder, an opportunistic predator that camouflages itself on a sandy bottom, waiting to attack squid or small shrimp that pass by.  There is no limit on them, and California regulations allow you to fish for them with more than two hooks.  Anglers could be seen with anywhere from 6 to 20 hooks…

Pam, Official Member of the Bucket Brigade!
Pam, Official Member of the Bucket Brigade!

We ran out from Long Beach out near the oil rigs and anchored.  Flat calm seas, not much current, but 240 feet is plenty of line to get in tangles without any current.  We baited each hook with a piece of squid, drop down, and wait.  The nibbling started almost immediately.  When it stopped I wound up the first drop of 240 feet…. Nothing.  Not one fish.  And no bait.

Baited up and dropped again.  Julian said you needed to set the hook on them, so every few seconds, when you feel them nibbling, give it a good jerk.  But after a few minutes, I felt that strange vibration in the line that says its rubbing another line.  Wonderful.  Wind up again to find the line belonging to the guy next to me wrapped up on mine… and no fish.  5-10 minutes to untie the mess, bait up again (only about half of the hooks empty this time), and drop again.

Finally, after a few minutes, it felt like it could be a little heavier… (one pound of weight, its really hard to tell).  Wind up again… I have one sand dab, and 3 tiny little red fish.  “Julian, tell me again how much fun this is…”

Then the mackerel showed up.  Apparently they were in school… studying underwater macramé.  So you wind up halfway and find you’re wrapped up on someone who already has a mackerel almost to the surface.  While your bait is hanging mid water column getting the first guy untangled, you’re loading up on your own batch of mackerel, who in turn wrap up the guy on the other side of you…..  “Julian, is this the fun part?”

Captain Andy observes the disorderly jumble ensuing on deck, and announces we’re going to make a move.  We try another spot, that produces nearly nothing, and quickly move again.

I had arrived in a sweatshirt and jacket, both of which were gone before we left the dock.  As the day wore on it was getting downright warm.  I got a bottle of water and sat down in the galley.  James said they had done pretty good the prior day, and the fish hadn’t started biting good until around 1:30.

Sand dab
Sand dab

When the anchor drops again its nearly 1:00.  And within a few minutes there, we did start picking up a few more sand dabs.  I didn’t fill my bucket, as Julian had predicted, but I probably got it about a third of the way…  Not a bad day.

We called it a day and headed back in, with a 5:00 ETA back at the dock.   I cut off my sand dab rig, carefully rolled it up knowing full well when I go to use it again, it will be hopelessly knotted.  And put it back in my tackle bag… for next time.

And all joking aside, Julian, I did have fun!!

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Tribute Sportfishing, Seaforth Landing – July 15-16, 2017

 

Jackpot Day One
Danny’s Yellowtail – Jackpot Day One

This was a Soft Steel USA sponsored trip. 

Danny and I weathered a typically nasty drive down to San Diego, nearly 4 hours to go 127 miles.

The trip was schedule for 9:00 PM departure.  We check in at the office and grabbed dinner at the small “Seaforth Grill”.  Kit is wonderful and always takes good care of us, and remembered us from our last trip late June.

Breakfast
Breakfast
Lunch, served by Tyler
Lunch, served by Tyler
Dinner
Dinner

We got our gear out of the car, chatted with other anglers, and boarded around 8:30.  We got our geared stowed, and rigged up for the morning.  The plan for day one was to run down the beach for offshore yellowtail.

Captain David Burnside
Captain David Burnside

Crew was Captain David Burnside, with second Captain Sean.  In the galley was Kyle, with Victor lending a hand both there and on deck, and Robert and Tyler also on deck.  We had a light load, only 13 passengers!

Yellowfin
Yellowfin
Dorado
Dorado

The engines slowed at around 5:30 as we stopped on our first kelp paddy.  I was just grabbing a rod when I saw Danny hook a fish and ran back down for my camera.  (Probably a mistake, I missed our best catch of the day.)  Danny landed what would be day one JP, a yellowtail weighed in at 29 pounds.  The rest of the day was spent filling in our limits of yellowtail, with one 21 pound yellowfin on the troll.

Catch of Day 1
Catch of Day 1

I ordered a burrito for breakfast, but told him I didn’t want the tortilla, just put it in a bowl.  What I got was fabulous!!  Potatoes with cheese, egg over easy on top, bacon and a huge slab of avocado!!  Lunch was just as good – fettuccini with a white sauce and grilled chicken.  Dinner was a nice roasted rare and juicy tri-tip!  Very impressed with the food!

So there we were at the end of the day, discussing what to do tomorrow.  Captain David had settled on heading back up north to fish where some of the big Bluefin had been biting.  Heavy outfit should be ready with either a bait rig with a torpedo on a rubber band, or jig.  Flat falls were working well for them, but be sure to have a very heavy leader so as not to get chewed off immediately.

Kyle, Tyler, Robert & Victor
Kyle, Tyler, Robert & Victor
Tyler with the first Bluefin, 125#
Tyler with the first Bluefin, 125#

Up early again as the engines slowed.  We stopped on a few meter marks but no one would play.  The kite was put up with a “yummy flyer”… a large heavily rigged rubber flying fish, that would be bounced on the surface under a kite.  The baited Seeker rod had an Okuma 30W, 150# spectra, 130# Soft Steel mono, and the flyer was on a 400# leader.  As only one can be used at a time, we were put on rotation teams of three.  So first up was numbers 1 through 3, for 30 minutes, then the next three.

Yummy Flyer
Yummy Flyer
My turn on the fish
My turn on the fish
Danny with the fish near the boat
Danny with the fish near the boat

Hours dragged by.  We got our first bite at around 11 AM, and the team landed a Bluefin that taped out at 127 pounds.  A second one was hooked 30 minutes later, but lost.

Oscar fighting our fish
Oscar fighting our fish

Our turn came around again; me, Danny, and Oscar.  Only a few minutes into our turn, we were bit.  Oscar and I wound in troll lines we’d had our, while the crew brought the rod down from the sun deck.  A clip, that holds the troll line under the kite line, usually releases automatically.  In this case, it did not.  I thought based on that we had a smaller fish, but when they brought the clip and kite down to reach the spectra had melted a groove into the clip!  When the slack was taken in from the main line, the fight began.  Danny, Oscar and I took turns pulling on the fish, and let the crew in on the rotation as well.  From stern to bow, after half an hour fight, the huge fish came into deep color, rounded the bow, broke the surface, and took another short run.  Another agonizing 5 minutes, with Robert manning a push pole to keep the line from rubbing on the hull, Captain Dave and Tyler put gaffs in the fish.  Robert swapped the push poll for another gaff, and they dragged the fish to the open passenger gate and dragged it up through there.

Gaffed...
Gaffed…
Taping the fish
Taping the fish

We taped it at 258 pounds!  (Taping is a formula using length and girth measurements to calculate the weight of a fish.)

The kite went back up, shortly another 125 pound class fish was hooked and landed.  The kite went back up, but that was it, out of time, we called it a day to head back as the Tribute had another trip going out Sunday night.

Our youngest angler on a big bluefin
Our youngest angler on a big bluefin
Father and son team
Father and son team

Food today was awesome again!  French toast and eggs with bacon for breakfast, burgers for lunch, and pork roast for dinner was served shortly after we called it a day.

The three Bluefin were filleted and divided up evenly between the passengers.  With no bait fish caught, the passengers agreed to give the second day’s jackpot to the crew.

Thanks go to the crew of the Tribute, and to Tony Garza of Soft Steel USA for sponsoring this trip.

Awesome fishing, and for Danny, Oscar and me, likely the fish of lifetime!

Bluefin
Our 258# Bluefin

Soft Steel USA is sponsoring another two day trip with Tribute Sportfishing,  booked through Seaforth Landing, on Friday, September 22.  Space is available, but don’t wait!  This prime of the season trip will probably fill up early.

Eldorado overnight, Long Beach Sportfishing – 06/04/2017

I won a basket of four overnight passes for the Eldorado at the CCA Barbeque a couple of weeks ago. It was a great deal with the money going to a good cause.

Danny with Hook Up Baits fish
Danny with Hook Up Baits fish

Danny and I decided a local trip on Sunday might be fun, as Saturday was already sold out. We went down to the landing early Saturday to get some fried calamari next door, then checked in and got our gear out of the car.

The trip was schedule for 8:30 departure. We boarded around 8:00, got our geared stowed, and rigged up for the morning. The plan was to run to San Clemente to fish for yellowtail. I rigged a heavier set up (40#) for dropper loop, another with a slider, 30# for flyline, and a 20# for bass, and went to bed.

My first yellowtail of the day
My first yellowtail of the day

We got to the island very early, I guess we got some squid from a light boat out there (Dead or Alive) and the crew set out lights and made a little more. We already had some on board, so we were set with enough to fish with, though not enough to waste.

I got up around 5:00 AM. We had no bites at all until probably

Anthony, hot stick with four fish.
Anthony, hot stick with four fish.

around 7 AM, then lost half or more of the first 10-12 fish to a sea lion. After an hour or so, though, he seemed to have disappeared. We were bothered some throughout the day by some smaller ones, but losses of fish to them were mostly early morning.DSCN3278

We stuck around the same area pretty much all day. Captain TJ reset several times, usually setting off a new bite shortly after dropping anchor again. We picked away all day, usually hooking two or three at a time, losing a few, landing probably most. Not much around in the way of bass or other fish, although we did land a few calico bass, some legal, some whitefish, and a few sheephead.

We ended up with something around 35 yellowtail.

The weather was beautiful. The crew is awesome! TJ has a great group of guys on the boat, galley and deck! Food was great, they have some better selections on beer, and a soda fountain for a set price for the entire trip.DSCN3276

I still have two more passes left, really looking forward to going again!!

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Oceanside 95 – Overnight Offshore April 22, 2017

The drive to Oceanside isn’t nearly as bad as going all the way to San Diego.  There had been some early season activity on bluefin, so Danny and I decided to take a run and see if we could get in on it.

Guys in the bucket hunting.
Guys in the bucket hunting.

The bite had been mostly 25-30 pound fish.  We had geared up for that and heard at the last minute what they had been seeing was more in the 60 to 100 pound range, so I added a 50 pound outfit to my arsenal.

We left early and had a pretty easy drive down.  We were the first ones there, grabbed some fish and chips and waited to board.

We were heading to Mexico.  After everyone was on board and signed in (full boat), licenses checked or paid for, we headed to the bait receiver. Captain Rick gave a brief safety speech, introduced the crew, and went over the game plan.  We’d head pretty far south, and slowly work out way back through the day.  Have some lighter outfits to flyline, something heavier, at least 40 but preferably 50-60, with a flat fall, sniper, or bait hook and 2-3 ounce sinker on a rubber band to fish for the bigger fish at gray light or in meter marks.

Danny Lynch on troll rotation.
Danny Lynch on troll rotation.

With that, we were on our way.  Conditions  were a little lumpy on the way out, but definitely improving by morning.  The engines slowed at around 5:30, trollers out, the hunt was on.

Long day — Slow fishing.  Danny and I ordered breakfast plates, and returned to the deck to wait and watch.

Paddies were empty.  Metered fish scattered at the sound of the boat.  We finally found a paddy near noon that bit… and produced two tiny yellowtail.

Cheeseburger and a beer
Cheeseburger and a beer

We ordered lunch…  Doug cooked a patty melt for Danny and a cheeseburger for me.  Boat burgers are always awesome!

Patty melt and a Coke
Patty melt and a Coke

More trolling, the Captain Rick was on the PA telling everyone to “Get Ready!!”  Off the bow we could see in the middle of calm waters, heavy ripples pushed up from a huge mass of fish below the surface.

As we got closer, they vanished, only to pop up again a little ways ahead of us again.  This time Rick tried to run around the other side of them, only to have them vanish again.  The crew threw bait, we chased them several times, only to have them vanish and pop up again somewhere else.

Two nice bluefin
Two nice bluefin

Nothing hooked in all of the activity seen.  Bluefin being bluefin.

More trolling, more searching.  We slowed up on a meter mark, the crew threw bait, we lined up along the rail, shuffling along.  Finally, one biter, then a second!  The fish took the anglers up and down the rail several times…  Wraps and tangles were quickly untangled with the help of crew following both anglers at all times.  Eventually both fish were landed.  But no more than those two were hooked….

By the time those two were boated, it was time to head for home.  We trolled for a little longer before Captain Rick gave the word to pull in the troll lines.

Danny and I split a quesadilla, wrapped our gear, and I went down to sleep the rest of the way in.

Thanks again to Captain Rick and the crew of the Oceanside 95.  A slow day of fishing, but certainly not to any lack of trying.  I can’t wait to do it again!!

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Fortune Overnight – April 1, 2017

Photo courtesy Will Yip
Photo courtesy Will Yip

I saw my friend David Han had a charter on the Fortune for a Saturday and contacted him for a spot immediately.  The Fortune runs out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro during the early part of the year, and I always enjoy riding that boat.

I spent an hour or so baking cookies Thursday night; pumpkin and white chocolate chip, and chocolate chip.  Danny

Odd catch of the day: An Anenome
Odd catch of the day: An Anenome

had been talking to Greg Obymako, on the squid boat Pacific Carnage.  They’d probably be providing squid for us Friday night, if we were lucky, so I packed an extra box for Greg.

2nd Captain Gump, photo by Will Yip
2nd Captain Gump, photo by Will Yip

The trip was booked with an earlier departure, 8:00 PM.  I arrived at about 7:00 to find about half the load already there waiting.  No space in the adjacent lot, so I parked in a temporary spot and left my gear in the care of the guys already waiting while I parked my car across the street.  Everyone arrived, we boarded and were on our way out a little after 8:00.

Captain Bob, Photo by Will Yip
Captain Bob, Photo by Will Yip

We had Captain Bob at the wheel, with second Captain Gump.  Grant and Axel were on deck, with Julio in the galley.  After a safety speech, Captain Bob discussed the game plan and rigging suggestions.  We weren’t sworn to secrecy, so I’m guessing it’s safe to say now we were on our way to Santa Barbara Island to fish yellowtail, with, indeed, a planned stop at Catalina for squid.  Dropper loop or sliding sinker for squid in the morning, and slider for squid or flylined sardines suggested for late morning and afternoon.  I rigged up and entrusted Greg’s cookies with Grant, and went to bed.

Dean Okamura, with deckhand Axel
Dean Okamura, with deckhand Axel

I got up as soon as the engines slowed at around 4:30, and was on deck ready when the anchor dropped in the dark.  We’d settled in and started fishing when more boats started to appear through the fog.  The Thurnderbird was first, just off our stern, and the Pacific Star a few minutes later anchored just on the other side of them.

Just as gray light was creeping in, we got our first bite, and Dean Okamura landed the first yellowtail of the day on a dropper loop.  Several more were landed, and we ended up with 7, I think, before it got fully light out, almost all on a dropper loop.

Will Yip with Deckhand Grant
Will Yip with Deckhand Grant
Yellowtail on the Sardine
Yellowtail on the Sardine

The bite died out as it came fully light out.  There was zero current, not much going on at all.  Captain Bob had the crew pull anchor, and we were off looking around.  I ordered a breakfast sandwich while we were on the move.

Next stop, we drifted over a spot several times, with one or two bites on the yellowtail on each drift.  Flylined sardines were the best shot at them here.  I hooked and landed one on the second drift, hooked and lost one in the rocks a few drifts later.

Will Yip, with Chartermaster David Han on right,
Will Yip, with Chartermaster David Han on right,

That eventually stopped producing and we moved again.  We were fishing too deep for rock fish, so a few incidental catches had to be released.

I ordered a cheeseburger for lunch.  Burgers were hand made from ground beef, not the frozen patties, and was excellent!  I was stuffed!

New Ahi Squid Sabiki
New Ahi Squid Sabiki
Chucklehead on the Ahi Sabiki
Chucklehead on the Ahi Sabiki

For our final stop, Captain Bob moved us into a shallower area where we could keep rock fish.  I finished a sardine for a while hoping to find one more marauding yellowtail with no luck, then remembered I’d gotten some Ahi squid sabiki’s at the Fred Hall show, tied one on with an 8 oz weight, and caught a nice chucklehead on the very first drop with it!

And that was it!  At around 2:30, Captain Bob called it a day, and headed back.  On the trip in, Julio served up some spicy chicken wings with dressing and raw vegetables.

All around a great trip!  We ended up with 21 yellowtail, I think, one ling cod, and plenty of rock fish in the end to top that off.  The weather was beautiful, other than a bit of a bumpy ride on the way out.  As always, the crew was awesome, and right there to help whenever you needed them.

 – Special thanks to Will Yip, for allowing me to use a few of his photos in my report!

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Triton to Catalina, one last lobster trip for the season. 3/18/2017

Jim & Girls sandwich
Jim & Girls sandwich

We booked a couple of spots for this trip a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, Danny had to work, so I had to pull his nets too.
Got to the landing, first one there. I stood around for a while and Jim Racela and his friend Lisa showed up next, and finally we had a whole load of us in line and boarded. And we were off, a few minutes ahead of our noon departure, and a couple of minutes behind the Gail Force.
Nice having the bunks on the Triton, I grabbed one and slept most of the way to the island. The rock fishing wasn’t bad, mostly the typical smaller fish, but Captain Shane kept moving us around and we managed to get a few nicer ones. I brought some shrimp to try to get some sheephead, but I only caught little spotted rock fish on them, and finally got one decent sized red on squid. I decided to have Jeff cook up the rest of the shrimp in the galley. Good move!!

Bait
Bait… fixed!

Once we drifted closer to sunset the crew dropped the first set. I signed in as number 1 and Danny as 7. We fished while the nets soaked into gray light and then went to pull. I had a cheeseburger while we waited, finished in time for my first pull… Wow, was I getting weak? The net seemed really heavy. No wonder, my first one had 10 lobsters! 6 easily legal, 4 measured were all short. This was looking really good. Number 2 had 7 bugs, 3 legal… it went downhill from there. One or two legal in most nets the first round. Number 7 (Danny’s….. ) was empty.DSCN2797

DSCN2777DSCN2779

The nets were reset, we fished a bit more. There was not much biting in the dark. Second pull, my number one net had nothing, number 7 had two shorts. We didn’t get many at all in the second set, and by the time those were all up it was time to head in.
I didn’t get an exact count, I’d guess we ended up with around 35. Lots of fun, stiff this morning. Pulling nets in Long Beach harbor was a lot easier!!
That’s a wrap for me on the lobster season!! Good times!

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Pacific Queen 1.5 Day – February 25, 2017

Danny and I have become regular attendees at the Angler Chronicles Taco Tuesday events at Michael’s Sports Bar. A few months ago, Danny won a pass for a day and a half on the Pacific Queen, so we picked a weekend trip during what we hoped would be good yellowtail fishing.

We left Torrance around 1:00 on Friday afternoon. It would be the first trip on the Pacific Queen for both of us. The weather forecast looked ok, at least there was no rain forecasted for Saturday. Still, the drive down to San Diego was probably close to one of the worst I have had. However, on a brighter note, we arrived to find the

Old Glory
Old Glory
Vagabond
Vagabond

 

parking lot nearly empty, and parked right in front of Fisherman’s Landing.

We checked in, finding all of the staterooms full and only top and bottom bunks available. With possibility of rough seas, we both settled for bottom bunks, and went to Mitch’s to grab a bite to eat. Their mixed seafood plate is a favorite to share; with lots of fried calamari, shrimp, fish, French fries, and a crab cake, it’s plenty for both of us.

We got our gear out of the car and got in line at the top of the landing. The boat came in from fueling and getting bait, and we loaded right around the 6:00 time promised in the landing office.

We had help loading gear with lots of familiar faces in the crew, in spite of it being our first time on this boat; Captains Gavin and Bobby, and Johnny in the galley. We signed in and encountered something I found a bit unusual, the Pacific Queen no longer does a jackpot. After the safety briefing and trip plans, we rigged up and I went to bed.

I was freezing most of the night. I woke up at grey light and came out in a heavy jacket and sweatshirt, but the jacket went quickly back downstairs. We had relatively light winds, and it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been at night. We’d gone about 120 south, past Colenet, and seemed to be in very good company, with 8-10 of the other San Diego boats already around us. We’ll pulled up the first drift and quickly started hooking a few fish.

The first few drifts were pretty chaotic, with horrific tangles on every hooked fish. That did seem to improve some over time, as the anglers began to settle in, the crew reminding everyone to keep their lines in front of them… Each drift would produce a few fish, when the bit died, Gavin quickly reset the boat, and so it went most of the day. No real crazy bites, more of a steady pick.

Danny's Pacific Lures Jig Fish
Danny’s Pacific Lures Jig Fish

The winds slowly increased during the day. In the morning yo-yo irons definitely worked better. There didn’t seem to be any particular color that was any better; I saw fish landed on just about any color.   Danny got a nice one on a Pacific Lures 7 ounce SR Model in Dorado Image.

As the day wore on, bait seemed to be somewhat more successful; a heavy sliding sinker or torpedo on a rubber band. I caught a yellowtail around 18 pounds on a sardine with a 2 ounce sliding sinker on 30 pound Soft Steel Ultra mono.  A few fish were even caught on the surface, but staying higher up also put you in the zone that some big bonito were hanging around occasionally.

One of the larger yellows...
One of the larger yellows…

Although rock fishing was in the plans for the afternoon, that was foregone for windy conditions and a raging current.

We ended up with something between 50-60 yellowtail.

The food was awesome! Johnny had an egg mix ready for burritos for breakfast, but would make a plate for anyone who’d rather have that. Lunch was Caesar chicken wraps that were paired with a wonderful pasta salad, and dinner was slow roasted beef with mashed potatoes and gravy that was hot and very satisfying in the chilly night. Conditions had continued to deteriorate. As soon as dinner was over, I went to bed.

Lunch
Lunch

After a long day of fishing, I slept like a rock. (Other than waking up a couple of times hearing a passenger than was having a bit of a rough night… eeww….) We were back to the landing, unloaded, and on the road before 8:00 AM for a much quicker trip home.

Dinner
Dinner

Thank you to the crew of the Pacific Queen, for really staying on top of things, helping with tangles and gaffing, bleeding and tagging fish!

Also thanks to Heather Bodnar, for procuring a pass for the raffle!!

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La Paz, BCS, Mexico – Tailhunters International – September 30 through October 9

Danny and I spent a lot of time talking to Jonathan and Jillene at the Fred Hall Show, and decided to book a fall trip with his brother Charlie.On time!

We picked some potential dates and sent them to Jonathan. From their list of hotels, and with some input again from Jonathan, we picked a hotel. We had three days to fish, so he suggested one day at La Paz, one day at Las Arenas / Muertos Bay, and leave a third day to decide when we got there. We agreed and Jonathan took care of the rest. When our dates were set, we booked our flights.Ready to board

We left on Friday, September 30th. Flights were uneventful and arrived on time. From the moment we picked up our bags, EVERYTHING was taken care of for us.

Jorge picked up the three of us and loaded our bags into a luxurious van. We set out down the toll road, and stopped at a market along the way for drinks. Charlie got a soda, I got a beer, and Danny was looking for chocolate milk. None at the store we went to. He settled for a strawberry flavored milk drink and we were back on our way. Jill met us in the lobby of La Concha hotel and helped us get settled in our room.

The sunset from Tailhunter's
The sunset from Tailhunter’s

We grabbed a cab into town to have dinner at Tailhunters. The food was awesome! Jonathan came up and had a shot of tequila with us, then we went back to our hotel with instructions to meeting in the hotel lobby the next morning.

Dorado
Dorado

Saturday: We arrived in the lobby for our first day of fishing. Jonathan and Jillene were there with hot coffee, and packages of breakfast and lunch for each boat (and several bottles and boxes of chocolate milk for Danny!). Danny and I fished with Chito, Charlie with Bolie. We caught bonito early morning to be used as bait, and had great dorado fishing most of the day, both on the troll and fishing cut bonito. Most of the dorado were pretty small, but we scratched out a limit of decent sized fish to have processed to bring home. Danny and I brought light spinning outfits that we had a ball catching bonito on, and Danny hooked one small dorado on his as well.

Our gang with Jonathan and Jillene
Our gang with Jonathan and Jillene

Sunday: Day two we went over the hill to fish Muertos Bay. A little earlier, Jonathan and Jill were again there to greet us in the lobby. With breakfast and lunch in hand, we boarded a van full of other guests. I got ahold of my friend James “Hawk” Davis to share one panga with me, Charlie and Danny fished the other. Fishing had been even slower in Muertos Bay than La Paz. I told my captain, Victor, that we wanted to fish for rooster fish, so we drove around to Las Arenas to catch ladyfish for bait (I wished I’d have brought my spinning outfit, Victor did all the catching on ladyfish for us). They were reluctant, we

Rooster fish
Rooster fish

ended up with 3 baits, and set out to troll the shoreline for roosters.

Needlefish destroyed one of my baits. But a long slow troll with another one produced the fish we were looking for! I landed an estimated 40 pound rooster! We trolled around a little more for no more biters, and headed in to call it a day. Hawk went home, the rest of us shared stories in the van on the way back to La Paz.Guide Eric and Captain Dave

Monday: No fishing today. We’d seen advertisements for snorkeling with whale sharks and had asked Jonathan Our Guideabout it. He arranged for us to do that today, and told us to be in the lobby in the morning to be picked up by a van from the local marina. So when we got to the lobby, the driver was there waiting for us. A short trip to a beautiful marina, and we were fitted with masks and fins. Note, actually FITTED with masks. They had a variety of styles, and took the time to make sure each of us had one that fit properly so it wouldn’t leak!Whale shark

With a guide and a driver, we boarded a panga style boat for our trip out. We searched the La Paz bay for nearly two hours, while the guide assured us they’d find them, we were beginning to wonder. There were several boats out looking for them, and one finally stopped and put people in the water. We eased into the area with them, donned our gear, and slid into the water.Snorkeling with Whale Sharks

The boats all carry licenses to do this, and the guides instructed us that it is illegal to touch the animals, and kept close watch on their passengers to make sure they didn’t. The first one we found quickly scooted away, but we moved to another spot where we were in the company of six of them at one point. We were told these were juveniles, “only” 15-20 feet in length. They seemed nearly unaware that we were there, feeding in a nearly vertical posture, sucking in huge mouthfuls of water to filter out krill, and expelling water through their gills.

We hung around watching them for an hour or so in the warm tropical waters, then got back in the boat to head back to the marina.Sunrise

Tuesday: Charlie’s last day, we all shared a panga in La Paz. Fishing was slow, but Chito worked hard to find us a few fish… we got a few more dorado to keep, and released most of them. We kept one large fillet that Charlie and I took to the restaurant in La Concha, and they prepared a platter of fish for us; deep fried, grilled with garlic butter, and fajita style for tacos.

Dorado
Dorado

Wednesday: We checked out of the hotel, and Charlie went home. Danny and I drove to Hawk’s house in La Ventana and settled in. Hawk had arranged for us to fish with Fabio on Thursday, and he stopped by Hawk’s house in the afternoon to discuss plans for the day. Danny and I went down to the beach and fished a little in the surf and had fun catching a variety of little fish. We rigged what we’d need, had dinner, and turned in for the night.

Thursday: Up early, and down the block to the beach the pangas launch from. Fabio was already there. We loaded our gear in the dark and headed out. This was the first day we had wind. We tried to run out to the northern end of Isla Ceralvo to troll for wahoo, but the conditions were very rough. We came back in along the island out of the wind and trolled along there. No bites, no fish spotted. We caught a few baits again to fish for roosters and trolled along the sandy side of the island. One bite was likely a rooster, but didn’t get hooked. Eventually the baits were ruined by marauding needlefish.Trigger fish

We trolled back toward the coast for dorado, without a single strike. Danny asked Fabio if there was a place we could

Jacks on the beach
Jacks on the beach

fish for smaller fish with our spinning outfits, and he took us to a reef area along the beach. We had a ball catching small jacks, a cabrilla, trigger fish, needle fish, and finally told him we’d had enough and headed in.

Friday was a day off. We slept in and went back to where the boats launched with our light gear to fish in the surf in the hour or so leading up to high tide. The bite was non-stop, catching and releasing the same variety of fish we’d caught with Fabio the prior day. Back at Hawk’s house, he arranged for us to fish with Mundo, the Rooster King, the next day.

Captain Mundo, the "Rooster King"
Captain Mundo, the “Rooster King”

Saturday: Up early again to drive back over to Muertos Bay. Mundo arrived shortly after us, launched, and we were off. We fished for jacks for bait in the bay, but they were reluctant and the puffer fish were relentless. I caught two jacks for bait right away, and Mundo did not hesitate to give Danny a hard time about me outfishing them!Rooster

We moved to a rocky outcropping to the south and found schools of the small jacks puddling on the surface. Danny and I had a ball catching the little fish on our spinning outfits, and we ended up with plenty of them. We were having so much fun with them we were tempted to have Mundo stay and fish those, but we were off.Needlefish

Trolling baits up and down that shore, we got a few bites on needle fish, but no roosters. It was getting around 1:00, Mundo told us to wind them in and took off toward the launch area. We thought we were done, but he zoomed right by and up the beach the other way toward Las Arenas. We put out baits again and within a few minutes, Danny hooked up the right kind, and landed a 20 pound rooster.

We trolled around some more. Danny hooked something else we thought was another rooster, but Mundo said it was a needlefish. Usually they seemed to let go of the bait after a bit, but this one held on. Danny got it to the boat and Mundo grabbed it to unhook it. He could barely get his hand around it, and the thing must have been over 5 feet long!!Bonito

It was getting late; we were down to our last few baits. We trolled around a bit more, and finally told Mundo to call it a day.

Sunday: Its over already! We packed up in the morning and headed to Tailhunters. Our van to take us to the airport was noon, we left earlier to have one more meal at Tailhunters…. Cheeseburgers in paradise. Jonathan had our frozen fish there, so we loaded that up with some shrimp we bought in Las Arenas (shrimp season just opened!) and boarded our van for the scenic trip back to the airport. After a beer and a snack, we boarded for the flight home.

Back in California, we sailed through customs (they didn’t even ask to look in the cooler), got a cab outside the terminal, and headed home.

Absolutely wonderful trip! No hitches, no problems… Jonathan and Jillene were there to help with anything and everything. Their planning and coordination was what REALLY made this an awesome trip! We can’t wait to do it again!!

 

Sunset

Chief 2.5 Day – July 21-24, 2016

My first Yellowtail of the Day
My first Yellowtail of the Day

The weather forecast looked good (yeah, they’re wrong sometimes!) when we packed up for the drive to San Diego Thursday afternoon. We stopped for a quick visit with Jason at the BD Offices, and arrived a little later than we’d hoped.  The “LOT FULL” sign was out, but we pulled in to offload our gear, then I was going to go look for a place to park.  We got lucky… a couple of the day boats were just unloading and we got a spot in the main lot anyway.

Checked in at the office, and the boat was mostly loaded already. Fortunately, it was a relatively light load… only 22!  Still plenty of space for our tackle bag and rods!  Danny ran to Mitch’s for take-out, but the line was hopelessly long, so he got us a burger and fries from Jack in the Box.

With everyone loaded, off to the bait dock for some medium sized very lively looking sardines. The plan was to do some paddy hopping Friday, then head to the area off Ensenada Saturday where there had been some yellowfin caught the last few days.  After rigging all my rods, there was pizza in the galley, then I turned in for the night.

I got up when the engines slowed to start trolling, but it was only minutes before we made a stop on our first paddy. After two or three of them, we found one that was holding a few fish.  We hooked several on that paddy, put three on the boat.  Mine was the second of those.  We ran up on the paddy again for nothing.  Several more paddies, a few holding… by 8:30 we had 15 fish on the boat.  Three of them were mine!  They weren’t particularly line shy; I was fishing 30#.  But they were picky about the sardines…

Dolphin pod
Dolphin pod

The weather was rough in the morning, and only got worse. Those 15 only made it up to 25 through the rest of the day, plus two yellowfin on the troll.  Jackpot fish was 29#.  All the fish were good sized, we ran into one paddy that was holding some really small fish, and Captain Chris left as soon as we got a good look at them.

Day One's catch
Day One’s catch

Dinner was carnitas tacos with black beans, rice, and handmade tortilla chips. You could smell that pork roast in the pressure cooker all afternoon… it smelled awesome!!

Day two; I got up again when I heard the engines slow to trolling speed. The wind was howling.  By mid-morning the conditions were worse than uncomfortable… it was pretty bad.  We trolled all morning for not a bite, stopped on a couple of meter marks but the fish were gone before we even got set up to drift.  I had lunch and went to take a nap.

Three amigos
Three amigos

 

The engines slowed, and I debated getting up. The boat was rolling severely once it was set into a drift, but I got up anyway, fearing I would miss something.  Wind was blowing across the tops of the waves and spraying everyone on the rail, hand wells dumped water on anyone standing next to them.  Captain Chris said the fish were down 60 to 80 feet… and we had no torpedo sinkers in our bag.  I mooched a 3 oz from the crew, found a stray rubber band on the floor (these need to be added back to our tackle bag!)…  and cast off the stern.  I’d just turned the corner when I felt a slight tug.  Then nothing.  A second later, the fish came back around and grabbed the bait again.  Rough seas and 20# line, I wondered if I’d get it to the boat!  Robert (one of the deckhands) stood behind me and made sure I didn’t fall over backwards, and we managed to get the fish on the boat!

Gaffing Danny's tuna
Gaffing Danny’s tuna

That was it for a long time. The day dragged, with no jig stops and an occasional stop on a meter mark of vanishing fish.  A huge pod of dolphins held no fish, or if it did they wouldn’t bite.

The catch on Day Two
The catch on Day Two

Finally, late afternoon we stopped again. The weather was coming down and just as it seemed Captain Chris was ready to give up on a school of yellowfin, they started to bite, and bit for close to an hour.  Not a wide open bite by any means, but we ended up with 30 of them.

Dinner
Dinner

Dinner was bacon topped meat loaf with a cob of corn, salad and mashed potatoes. Comfort food, after a rough day…

We were back at the dock just past sunrise, offloaded and on our way before 7:00 AM Sunday morning.

We ended up with 25 yellowtail, and I think around 30 yellowfin, for 22 anglers, in spite of tough conditions. Captain Chris has a great crew on the Chief who worked together well.  Fun trip, I can’t wait to go again!!