I fished with Mike Pritchard on the old International Star about 7 years ago and have been dying to get out on the Tribute since he got that up and running. Unfortunately with this trip falling during the Del Mar Fred Hall show, Captain Mike wasn’t with us, but we were in good hands…!
Another long run to San Diego in heavy traffic, Danny and I got to the landing and found several friends on other boats. A number of the Seaforth boats were on their way out, with various destinations.
The Tribute was slated to run offshore. We checked in at the landing office, where we got both our sack number and bunk assignment. It’s always nice to get that out of the way, it creates less panic when boarding all the passengers if there’s not that mad rush for a bunk. We boarded and settled in. There were chili cheese dogs offered as we were leaving.
Captain Jake Hensley called everyone to the back deck for a safety meeting before we left, and introduce the rest of the crew. Our second Captain Jason Zenor, crew Brandon Sawyer, Sean Allen, and Shane Chapman, and we had Jesse Sawyer in the galley.
The trip was slated to return to Cortez bank, where they had been scoring well on the yellowtail, and picking off a few Bluefin as well. Wind late in the week put a damper on that, water was turned, cold, and green on the Cortez, we’d be heading for Tanner bank in the morning, and making an exploration of the Butterfly bank in the afternoon. Shane gave us a brief rundown of the best setups for the yellowtail at Tanner, primarily caught on yoyo irons, and Bluefin; most had been hooked on 15 pound fluorocarbon, smaller hooks, #1 or 1/0, and a very lively sardine.
They had already made the trip to the bait dock, so we were off and running early (but subsequently delayed with a return to the dock… someone forgot their California fishing license…)
Danny and split a chili dog, and I geared up and turned in.
When I got up at o’dark thirty we had troll lines out. As it got light we did a few turns over Tanner metering for fish, pulled in the troll lines, and started hooking a few on our first drift. I put my first yellowtail on the boat right at 7:00 AM, with four other fish on that first long drift.
More drifts, tough fishing in less than ideal weather conditions. There were lots of pulled hooks, a lot could probably be blamed on swell and a rolling boat.
We spent the morning at the bank, as promised. Resetting a number of times, and hanging a few all morning, we ended up there with 27 yellowtail, 5 bonito, and 80-some rock fish. Fishing my same Bait Wrap white squid jig all day, I went 5 for 6 on the yellows, with one lost at gaff due to angler error, and one big bonito.
We spent the afternoon offshore. Saw a few signs of tuna, turned on a couple of meter marks. Bluefin were doing a good job of being Bluefin, and running, scattering, or sinking out as we approached.
The food was great, what I had of it. My daughter had the flu all week and I was feeling less than fabulous. Dinner was pork roast, mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli with cheese and a nice salad, with chocolate cake for dessert… I was feeling better by that time and inhaled it… It was Wonderful!!
All around a very good trip considering the poor weather. The afternoon was decent, the wind came down and it ended up being a decent ride, but the damage was done and spotting fish in white cap conditions was tough. The crew was on top of us when we had a fish hooked to minimize tangles and give us the best chance of landing the fish that were hooked.
Ironically, JP was taken by one of the big bonito…. Deservingly to a guy that had a run of bad luck, with two reels that failed on him!
I’d been on the boat before it became the Tribute, a lot of work has been put into it. Galley seats are comfortable, new cushions in the bunkroom, and the bathrooms nicely redone, and it looks great!