Tag Archives: H&M Landing

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!!

Sea Adventure 80 2 1/2 Day Trip – August 2-5, 2014 – Lotsa Tuna!

My first fish of the trip, yellowfin tuna.
My first fish of the trip, yellowfin tuna.

Another long drive in heavy traffic to San Diego. The rain didn’t help. Danny and I arrived Saturday afternoon to find the main parking lot at H&M full. We unloaded our gear, and I left Danny to keep an eye on it while I went to park in the overflow lot. Two cars pulled in ahead of me, and after going up and down the first two aisles, I got that sick feeling… what if the lot is full? Coming down the last aisle, there were two spots remaining. Phew! I took the bigger looking spot… which in this lot I can barely fit my small SUV into, and went to pay. Done with that challenge, I wondered if I’d locked my car. I went back to find two vehicles poised by the last spot, in a heated argument. I pushed the lock button and tiptoed away!

We dropped our gear in line behind two other guys waiting; Ron and Rick, who agreed to watch our stuff while we grabbed a bite at Mitch’s. Shrimp tacos and fried calamari! Then back in line. Captain Scott McDaniels oversaw an orderly loading of passengers, we stowed our gear, and pulled away.

I heard talk among the crew about being short one deck hand. One of them took off down the dock and came back a few minutes later and introduced Tim to Gavin, the second captain. I listened in amazement as Gavin asked Tim if he’d ever decked before. “No.” Ever been on an overnight boat? “No.” “Well, listen, do what you’re told, and don’t talk back. You’ll do fine.” With that, we were off.

The crew had started loading bait. Nice sardines, what a relief to see those! Deckhands Bobby and Roman showed Tim how to load bait, and within a few minutes, he seemed to be fitting right into it. Captain Scott went over safety and emergency procedures, and turned it over to Roman to give one of the most informative (and entertaining!) tackle/fishing seminars I’ve ever seen on a boat. So many boats and crews seem to be skipping that part about casting at the end of the group of anglers and the tuna shuffle. There’s always someone who doesn’t know this stuff, and probably a few that forgot. It only took a couple of stops before everyone was following along and except for an occasional reminder to step left or step right.

Sunrise on Sunday
Sunrise on Sunday

I turned in for the night, and woke up to hear the engines slow up. We didn’t start the actual troll rotation for a while. Breakfast came and went. We stopped on a few small kelps for 2-3 yellowfin, and the morning dragged by. Shortly before lunch, Captain Scott slowed up on a meter mark and told us to fish 30-40# here. It was a long drift that we hooked and landed 3 bluefin, from 60 something to the largest 115#! I was disappointed I didn’t get one.

Three big bluefin, up to 115#
Three big bluefin, up to 115#

Back on the troll, a stop here and there. We had one nice long drift for nearly 100 yellowfin, 10-15 pound class for the most part. A couple of kelps went nearly wide open on small yellowtail, mostly around 8 pounds with a few probably pushing 15-18. The day ended with roast chicken legs and thighs, rice, and veggies with a garden salad. And homemade apple pie with ice cream!!

Sunday night chicken dinner
Sunday night chicken dinner

Next morning started with troll rotation backwards. (To keep us from getting bored, I guess!) Although we left with massive quantities of bait, we seemed to be going through it quickly, talk of taking it a little slower on the chumming was heard among the crew.

Rain... and a Rainbow
Rain… and a Rainbow

We travelled along, hitting a few spots for a few fish, and finally one stop (meter mark, I think) that had a good bite of yellowfin for a pretty long drift. This was a little better grade of fish than the first day, most 15 pounds and up, with a few pushing toward 25. After a couple on bait, and a steady bite, I grabbed my jig stick and cast a few times. Nothing. Then noticed the fish boiling closer to the boat, I just dropped the green megabait I was fishing a few feet in front of me and let it sink. Then it stopped! Reel in gear, wind… Fresh one! I landed that yellowfin, immediately dropped it again, and hooked a second one! The bite died out, and we were back on the move.

Late afternoon, with the wind coming up, Captain Scott called he was metering another school of bigger fish! We pulled up on it and set to drift. A few nicer yellowfin were landed, and one angler hooked into a bigger fish. After a half hour or so battling his catch, he got it close enough to get a look at it. It was a big blue shark. His disappointment was obvious. The fish eventually broke off.

The crew put up a kite at some point in the drift. The bite was slow, a few people stopped to watch. I was just standing around, most people had bait out on a long soak. Roman on the bait tank pointed out a pair of dorado cruising along a ways out from the boat. I grabbed the best looking sardine I could find in the handwell and cast out… in seconds I was bit. The fish took a long run before I got some line back on it from the corner of the stern. When it was 25 feet or so from the boat, it turned for the bow. With everyone on a long soak, it was easy to run up under everyone to the bow… and over Danny, pulling pretty much straight up and down on a big Bluefin that had been hooked on the kite! I went on with my dorado around the bow and back the other side toward the stern. Roman gaffed it in the corner of the stern, but as soon as its head came out of the water, it flipped off the gaff. (Always put your reel in freespool as soon as your fish is gaffed…!) The fish took off, leaving a trail of blood, and seemingly not much worse for the wear! In a few minutes it was back to the stern, Roman gaffed it again, and this time it made it on the boat! Still very alive, they threw it straight in the kill box… Danny was just coming back from the bow with his big Bluefin.

The highlight of the trip for us was landing these two nice fish
The highlight of the trip for us was landing these two nice fish

Ironic. We had been talking, and I wanted a big Bluefin, Danny really wanted a dorado. My little scale put his Bluefin right at around 40 pounds, my dorado at 17.5. While I was fighting the bull, his girlfriend was following him the whole time. When Roman gaffed it the first time one of the other guys threw out a sardine and hooked and landed her just before I got mine on the boat.

Running around that area a bit more, and trolling out of it toward home, took us about to the end of the second day.

Dinner was a roast tri tip, that was fabulous! Served with baked potato and salad, ice cream topped it off nicely.

Our novice deckhand did an incredible job! The crew really took him under their wing an taught him the ins and outs. Passengers were very patient with him learning to gaff on their fish, and although it was a little stressful sometimes waiting for him to hit it, I never saw him loose a fish. Some of the passengers with boat experience gave him tips on how to gaff, and how to throw chum. (I had no idea there was a specific way to throw a sardine!) There was a knife on the bait tank by the staple guns, and I explained to him the importance of bleeding fish before throwing them in the kill box. I don’t know about everyone else’s, but he bled every one of my fish after that! When the fishing was a little slower, one of the passengers handed off a tuna for him to land, and they made him eat the heart. He seemed to pick everything up really quick, and I hope he sticks with it. They worked him hard, but at the end of the trip he said he’d had fun.

We ended up with 270 something yellowfin, 11 bluefin up to 115 pounds, 50 some yellowtail, and 2 big dorado.

What worked:

While a majority of the fish were caught on bait, Megabaits worked very well. I tried a few colors, all of mine (probably half of my fish) were caught on a light green and silver 3.5 ounce, with a siwash hook. Also, in spite of the size of the sardines, lighter line was key. I fished mostly 25# line, with a 20# fluorocarbon leader, and 2/0 ringed thin wire circle hooks. I ended up with 11 yellowfin and the one dorado.

It turned out to be a great trip, with a good group of anglers! Always a pleasure fishing on the Real Sea Adventure 80! Can’t wait to do it again!!