It only took one early season Saturday offshore run to convince Matt and me that we probably weren’t going to be doing anymore offshore fishing this year. Now that the fish have moved well out of range of our little boat I can proudly say that we never did take that second trip.
If you’re wondering why I’d be proud of sitting out the best offshore season in at least 15 years; the answer is simple. I hate fishing around other boats.
While I’d assume that most boaters would prefer to have a spot of biting fish to themselves, for some reason those same boaters can’t help themselves from joining any flotilla of boats they see; regardless of whether or not anyone is catching anything.
Be it on a kelp paddy, an offshore high spot, a squid nest or a local bank, if there are fish biting and people know about it, it’s going to turn into a gang bang. While it’s still possible to catch fish in these situations, the frustration associated with these scenarios takes a lot of the fun out of it.
As an example of this I’d like to share an actual series of text messages a friend and I exchanged last Sunday, while he was fishing and I was riding the couch.
6:30 AM – Friend: “Going to fish yellows on the Shoe this morning”
6:31 AM – Me: “Good Luck”
10:30 AM – Me: “They biting”
11:00 AM – Friend: “No it was helmet. I can’t be around all those boats and took off to fish cod. I swear I will never chase local yellows again with the masses. I pretty much got run over by the *** (sport boat). Apparently he wanted to drop anchor on the rock that I was fishing so he pulled up and dropped the pick 10-feet from me. I loudly offered my opinion about his driving skills but the captain just stayed in the wheel house. Then some guy pulled up and asked if he can follow me in. I told him that I’m not going in for a while. He said that he didn’t have a compass or GPS, so I told him to wait until the fog cleared or follow a sport boat in.”
12:00 PM – Me: “Sounds horrible”
12:15 PM – Friend: “So mad at myself when I was out there. Like what the #%$$ did I expect to find? Never again!”
Does any of this sound familiar? I’d bet that just about everyone that’s fished this year has at least one similar story and some probably have dozens.
Private boaters aside, I feel even worse for the sport boat captains. These guys have been assailed by swarms of private boats for so long that that their only recourse is to pretend they’re not there. It must suck to have to drive around dodging private boats all day and I can understand them getting frustrated enough to drop anchor right on top of someone. It’s just a bad situation in general.
The good news is that every boat comes with it’s own steering wheel and it’s up to you to choose where you want to go.
Personally, I’ll almost always choose to drive away from the fleet. This decision often leads to questions like, “You’re fishing bass this weekend? Didn’t you know the yellowfin are biting full speed ten miles from the harbor?” My answer to that is, “Of course I know the yellowfin were biting ten miles from the harbor. That’s why I’m fishing bass.” If I know about the bite and the person asking me the question knows about the bite, it’s a pretty safe assumption that everyone else does as well and that hot yellowfin bite will have morphed into just another ugly gang bang.
While it’s great to be able to post a report with pictures of the big yellowtail you caught or a deck full of tuna, in my opinion it’s not worth it if those pictures come at the price of a frustrating day spent fishing around other boats. That’s the reason I only took that one tuna trip this year. Sure I like catching tuna, just not enough to put up with the nonsense that goes along with fishing for them.
Trust me when I tell you that there is a great sense of relief that goes along with the realization that you don’t need to go out and fish for tuna or yellowtail just because they’re biting. It may feel like it’s your responsibility as an angler, but trust me; no one is going to think any less of you if you don’t.
Once you’ve been able to expunge your inner lemming, you’ll be free to go and fish for something you like catching.
As you’re heading out, you can wave to the fleet off in the distance and wish them the best of luck on their upcoming gang bang.