Wednesday, February 15, 2017

AA Cow Hunt!

On a very cold January 25th morning 17 passengers gathered on the docks of Point Loma Landing ready to board the American Angler for their annual 14 day charter.  Lori checked us in and provided coffee while I provided Breakfast Cookies.  By 7 am we were loaded and departing for the bait receiver.  Rough seas were predicted for the next few days so Ralph was encouraged to stay home for his safety.  I put my reels on the rods so I wouldn't need to do it in rough seas. 

Ray gave us the safety speech and said we were headed to Hurricane Bank.  We encountered very rough seas all four days of travel down to the bank.  To pass the time, nine of us participated in a cribbage tournament.  An Avet fishing reel went to the winner.  We played 3 games with each participant.  I came in dead last in points, however, in my defense, I had just learned the game on last year's charter.  Ron was the lucky and good player.

After 3 days of travel the weather began to warm, however, the seas remained rough with 25 knot winds and 12 foot seas.  We arrived at the bank around 11 am on the 29th.  After trolling around for nothing, Ray put the anchor down.  Ron got a 145 and Jeff a 120.  Gallagher and I tried the bobber balloon without success.  As it would turn out, the balloon failed to produce the entire trip.  Doc picked up a 162 and Robin got a 120.  That was it for the day.

I began fishing before dawn on Monday the 30th.  I had two skippies eaten by sharks.  Around 9, I hooked a fish on a chunk.  It was a nice 120 pounder.  Eric and Robin also got a chunk fish and Ron got a kite fish. Robin's fish went 200 lbs. even.  Total of 8 yellowfin and 1 wahoo for the day.   Slow day overall so Ray pulled anchor and we headed to Clarion.

We arrived at the Island around 5:45 am.  After looking around, we anchored up at Racossa outside the camp.  We checked the NE corner but it was corroded with sharks.  We had screaming current and massive spectra tangles.  I was in one for an hour and missed the only bite of the day.  I managed one needlefish for the day.  We had 18 tuna for the day.

Fishing was slow.  We picked a fish here and there.  We checked in with the camp then Roy on the RP said the sharks had backed off at the NE Corner so we headed out there.  The first couple sharks we encountered we used for chunks.  That gave us chunks for fishing and caused the sharks to back off.  Unfortunately, it did nothing to discourage the needlefish.  We must have caught and killed over a hundred during our stay. 

February 2nd the fishing improved.  Gallagher caught a 203.5 and around 4 pm I hooked a 220 on a sardine.  The fish peeled off 500 yards of line straight away from the boat.  It had a big tail beat then suddenly it quit fighting.  I straight cranked the fish in and when it was gaffed, we could see why.  A small shark had taken a couple bites out of the belly which turned a 2 hour fight into a 30 minute special.  We had a total of 35 tuna for the day.  The bite was building.

The next day we had a flurry of 40 to 60 pounders where everyone got into the action.  Eric hooked a 150 and Jeff landed his personal best and first cow - a 248! We finished the day with 57 tuna and 2 wahoo.  Saturday we fished until 8:30 and caught 20 fish for the morning.  We ended the trip with 167 yellowfin tuna with 4 cows and 8 wahoo.  What worked was 100# pink fluorocarbon, short top shot and sardines.  Chunks didn't work and neither did the balloon.  There were a few kite fish but we only got to number 5 on the list.  My fish came on 100# pink fluorocarbon.  It was my 20th cow!

We settled in for the 4 day treck up hill usually the roughest part of the trip.  What a surprise when we had 4 flat calm days of travel.  We spent time breaking down gear and having a doubles cribbage tournament.  I drew Ray as my partner.  What a surprise to learn we have the same birthday and both love the color red.  We had 10 teams and Ray and I won the tournament and the money.  Yea Partner!

We arrived back at dock February 8th at 6:30 am.  Mike was waiting to help me unload.  Shig, Tim, Chris and Jackson came down to the docks to get some fish.  As it turned out, I had 11 tuna for the trip - more than I expected. 

I sent a couple fish to Fishermen's Processing.  I had one loined out so I could smoke it and the other packaged in 1 1/2 pound packages.  They do a great job.

Monday, December 05, 2016

2016 End of Season

LA Rod & Reel Club charter on the Pacific Dawn December 3rd closed out my 2016 fishing season.  What a closure it was too.  Limits of ling cod by 9:45 a.m. and limits of Reds by noon plus fishing with great friends Jim, Tom, Roland, and Andy.

Weather predictions sounded poor "Gail Force Winds for the inner waters and Small Craft Advisory for outer waters,"  A closer look at Passages Weather showed calm winds surrounding the Channel Islands.  Unfortunately, a few club members bailed rather than trust that Captain Pat Cavanaugh would never take the club charter out in dangerous or even really rough conditions.  I'm sure glad I didn't miss the trip.

I'll let the photos tell the rest of story.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Merritt 10 Day 2016

This year's Merritt 10 Day trip was another fun trip with good friends.  The trip started early for me when Gail (my roommate) drove down early for dinner and spent Monday night with me before continuing to San Diego.  Our landscape architect joined us for dinner and we shared stories and laughs.  Tuesday morning Gail departed for San Diego and I awoke with an abscessed tooth.  Fortunately I was able to get a same day appointment for a root canal.  Unfortunately, that put me under the weather for the first few days of the trip.

Wednesday morning we gathered at the landing early, checked in then the Red Shirts (landing crew) loaded us into carts and unloaded our gear onto the Excel.  My boarding number was 20 so the only tackle spot left was just outside of the Galley door on the deck.  We spent a couple hours at the bait receiver loading bait. I put reels on rods while Gail unpacked her stuff in our Stateroom 6 then I unpacked.
Justin had a meeting in the galley to give us the safety speech and let us know we are heading to Alijos Rocks.  He expected we would arrive around 10 am Friday morning.  Justin said our crew included Rudy as Second Captain, Jake and Matt in the galley, Travis, Chowder, Matt, and Colin on deck.  This was Colin's first trip.

Thursday was a long travel day.  Rudy gave a wahoo seminar in the morning.  Rudy said said we should use small hooks for leaders since our sardine are about the size of large anchovies.  I made a few more leaders and set up my wahoo gear.

Friday I was up early, as usual, and got ready to catch wahoo.  I was up in the wheelhouse talking to Justin as we approached the Rocks when my bad knee collapsed and I fell back against the door.  Justin asked if I had a brace.  I was wearing an elastic brace but fortunately I brought the strong stabilizing brace which I wore the entire trip.  Although it limits my mobility it keeps me from dropping to the deck when my knee gives out.

We arrived at the rocks at 9:45 am and trolled around for a while but the wahoo didn't want the jigs.  Finally Justin shut down and the wahoo bit the silver raider jigs and bait.  I managed to land a small wahoo on 40# wire with a small sardine.  I hooked several more but the wahoo bit through 40# wire.  Then the sharks moved in.  Big bull sharks and big brown sharks.  They would sit under the boat and take the wahoo before you could get it to gaff.  Justin put out the troll jigs again.  They still wouldn't touch them.

Justin continued trolling and shutting down on fish throughout the day.  I was up on troll and a marlin hit my marauder and broke my 270 pound wire leader to swim away with my marauder.  The wahoo bit the bait pretty well but getting them to the boat was difficult.  I switched to 60# wire and they bit through that as well.  I finally got a fish to gaff and as Travis reached to gaff my fish, a big shark took the entire fish.

I was really having a difficult time landing fish then I remembered why.  You know how you mentally bargain with God: "please let me have just one more fish and I promise I'll ------- !  I had made such a deal.  We have a major landscape project going on at home and the concrete pour had been rain delayed 3 times and I really wanted to see it so I had bargained away catching fish on the trip.  I got to see the concrete pour and now I had to pay the price.

Marlin were thick.  Everyone on the trip caught at least one marlin and one passenger caught 10.  These wahoo were strange.  A hooked fish would head straight away from the boat like sharks do.  Many wahoo were lost due to chew throughs and sharks making our land ratio about 1 in 10.  I assume it was because of all the sharks and marlin around.




We fished the rocks on Saturday as well with similar results, however we managed about 100 or so wahoo for the two days.  My count remained at 1 wahoo.  We headed to the ridge and I was up on troll in the morning.

We trolled the upper ridge all morning looking for wahoo to no avail.  We moved to the lower ridge and hit a school of biting yellowfin tuna in the 10 to 20 pound range.  No quality but they were biting.  As soon as a bait hit the water it was bit.  Everyone got in on the action.  I even caught tuna.  I only kept 10.  We finished the day with about 300 of these little guys.  Now we were headed to Mag Bay to make bait and head to the lower banks for a shot at the big tuna.


Justin woke us at 11 pm to fish for mackerel.  It took about an hour and then we went back to bed.  Monday morning we started at Lucitania Bank first then moved to Potato Bank.  We trolled around until Justin found a school of big ones.  Chunks were what these fish wanted.  Four were landed after epic battles.  Raphael's 291 pounder took 4 hours on 100# line to land.  Brad's 245 pounder, a kite fish and personal best, took almost as long.  The other two fish were 217 and a 247.

Raphael's 291#

Brad's 245#

I tried chunks, mackerel and sardine/balloon without a single bite.  There were a few hearbreaks like Ron Moy's fish and Milton's hook pull after a couple hour battle.  Justin said we were heading to the beach for Tuesday morning to fish grouper.

Milton was on fire.  He and his group from Boston area only come every two years and Milton had been talking about catching grouper since his last trip. As it happened, this was Milton's birthday and his lucky day.  He landed a big grouper and felt his birthday was blessed.  He was beside himself with joy.  Quite a few grouper were landed.  I even caught a little 7 pound grouper.

Justin moved the boat back to the Potato Bank for the afternoon bite on big fish.  Milton's day continued to be blessed as he landed a 285 pound yellowfin tuna after an epic 3 hour battle in the blazing sun.  I can't think of someone more deserving than Doctor Milton who is a cancer researcher and has 40 drug patents to his name.

Luck blessed others too.  Russel landed a 100 pounder, Don got a 204 (his personal best), Dennis (Doc) got a 217 and Oliver landed a 260 after a 3 hour battle.  A great day!

Milton's 265#

Oliver's 260#

I had one bite on the chunk that the hook pulled because someone was pulling on their line that was through my hook. I wasn't the only one who lost fish.  Jeannie lost a kite fish after an hour battle and Brook lost three - two broke his spectra and he borrowed a reel and got spooled but the reel's owner said "no" to tossing it over on a back-up rig.  These fish were very tuff and mean.  No fish was landed in under a two hour battle.

Now it was time to head north.  We trolled all day Wednesday working our way north.  Thursday we stopped at Benitos for a nice yellowtail bite.  The yellowtail only wanted the scrambled egg or blue and white 6xJr or smaller jig.  I didn't have either so Justin loaned me one which produced one yellowtail before a set of buoys drifted by and snagged the jig.  Justin hooked and handed me another yellowtail only to have that one race down and snag a lobster cage.  Time for me to call it a trip with 1 wahoo, 1 grouper, 1 yellowtail and 10 small yellowfin tuna.  Not my best trip, however, I did have fun and got to see 2300 yards of concrete poured in my backyard!