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.
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.
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!
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!
Jackpot went to my friend Mark Ramero.
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!
The Gail Force is available for charter, with occasional open party trips! For information on the Gail Force, visit:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
I still have two more passes left, really looking forward to going again!!
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.
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.
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.
We ordered lunch… Doug cooked a patty melt for Danny and a cheeseburger for me. Boat burgers are always awesome!
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.
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!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!