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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!