Amid rumors of a decent yellowtail bite going on at San Clemente Island, and a great looking weekend weather forecast, Danny Lynch and I went in search of a Saturday trip over Easter weekend. We hadn’t fished with Captain Rick Slavkin on the Oceanside 95 since last season, so we booked a couple spots on an open party trip and started packing.
Danny and I drove down to Oceanside Friday afternoon, with a stop to pick up Danny’s friend Joey. We got to the landing, unloaded, and I parked in the lot across the street. We put our gear in line, signed in at the office, and got some fish and chips from one of the little local restaurants.
We got the word to board around 8:30, everyone checked in with license in hand (more on that later) and we were on our way. Capt. Rick gave the safety speech and talked about the plan for tomorrow. We’d be heading to San Clemente Island (of course). We loaded up with some nice looking sardines, but Captain Rick noted that most of the yellowtail had been caught on the iron. He recommended a setup for bait as well, just in case. The sardines were a mix of small and medium, the crew suggested 1 to 1/0 size hooks.
I rigged up for jig and for bait, and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and it was quite bumpy… a few loud bangs made me almost want to get up and check our tackle bag on deck to see if it had fallen over.
I woke up to the smell of bacon and got up. We were surrounded by sportboats, probably at least 10 or 12, all shuffling around each other and drifting through a small area. Most of the passengers were fishing iron, I started off with that as well. With all the red crabs around I tried a Bait Wraps red squid. Rick was metering fish, but none were biting. Not much current or wind, I switched to a 6X Jr sized red squid. I ordered breakfast, and just as Doug came out of the galley with my plate I heard “We’ve got one hanging!” Doug offered to put my breakfast in the oven, and I ran back outside. Jolene Thompson was coming up from the stern to the bow, and I think everyone she passed asked “Bait or iron?” Bait. Everyone switched to bait. Jolene landed her fish (that first fish of the day took JP…) I did a few more drops on the iron, no one else got bit, so I went in and had my breakfast.
I switched to fishing a sardine. After a while a couple of fish were caught on iron, seemed mostly scrambled egg, so I tried a yellow jig. Nothing. Another was landed on a light green and white iron, so I switched to something closer, a white mackerel. Third drop and I was bit, and landed my first of the day!
The fish came in waves, with 2-3 people bit at a time, and one or two landed.
Somewhere mid-morning we were visited by fish and game, who checked all our sacks and our licenses. The wardens were very nice, laughed at our occasional jokes, handed one passenger a pen and told him to sign his license. (Very nice of him, as he could have just as easily issued him a citation for that.) When they left us (I think we were first), they made the rounds to the rest of the boats in the area, and then left.
Later Danny caught a nice yellowtail on a flylined mackerel, I switched back to bait for a few minutes (mostly to rest!) but as Captain Rick predicted, most of the fish were on iron.
I switched back to my jig and within a few minutes hooked and landed my second fish of the day.
We had a slow pick at the yellows all day. There was cut squid, and a few people took an occasional break to drop a piece of squid and pick up a few rock fish and whitefish.
With no trip on the books for Easter Sunday, Captain Rick stuck it out a little later than usual, but the yellowtail bite had drifted off to nothing. We called it a day and headed in with 20 yellowtail and a bunch of miscellaneous bottom fish.
Doug made tri-tip and offered sandwiches on the way in, with cole slaw and baked beans. Nice flat ride home. And we actually got back much earlier than I had expected.
We had a great group of anglers and a lot of fun! I met a lot of people in person that I’d only talked to previously on-line, and saw a few old friends as well. We had beautiful weather and a fun day on the Oceanside 95!