Trip Log 9/15-16: So-Cal Fishing Sampler

Showing our friend Emil from Penn around our backyard for a Southern California variety pack.

Oh boy. From my semi-limited experience with these types of things, usually when planning trips months in advance with coordinating multiple schedules, timing the seasonality within a fishery, adding cameras, and pressure of living up to the hype built up – all results a recipe for hard fishing. Well, here is a contrary tale of when a hardcore bass fisherman from Georgia gets his first experience into offshore fishing here in Southern California.

Day 1: “Go Big or Go Home” – 100 mile run to the big bluefin

“Do you have much experience offshore fishing?” One of my first icebreaker questions after picking up Emil Wagner from the airport. “Not really. I’ve been amberjack fishing down in Florida but otherwise no other saltwater experience. But I’m super pumped!” That last piece you could feel was sincere and genuinely excited to be on this adventure.

I’ll spare the AM routine most of us know so well but the game plan was exactly as the name implies: Go Big or Go Home. And with the only game in town being big bluefin way out at the outer banks (Tanner), a 100 mile run west was going to be Emil’s christening into our offshore tuna program. Well, I’ll save the words (1000+ if thee ole’ picture is worth adage is valid) and sub in the pictures to tell the story of how our day went….

Truly as good is it gets. Every “fun token” (frozen flying fish) sent out produced a big blowup and all but a couple stuck yielding us 5 before calling it a day. Everyone was smiles ear to ear!

Bluefin tuna on the rail

Day 2: Low-key half day to explore the Islands

I hadn’t really realized it but it has been a minute since I’ve been down to the Coronados! One of my favorite fisheries in our backyard and one I’ve missed of late. So with a bass guy eager to tap into our saltwater bass scene, we met up for round 2 (after sleeping in from the hardcore day before that is). We hit the docks around 11:30 + fueled and baited up + ran south of the border for a fun change of pace day.

The bass bite was definitely scratchy at best and they seemed to be in an off mood. This despite finding nicer (warmer & cleaner) water than I anticipated. We did manage a few (maybe a dozen-15) but we had to work through the spots with long drifts and lots of casts. I don’t think our guest of honor Emil minded though, as his eyes were lit up the entire time stepping into a familiar(ish) yet an equally exciting new world of saltwater bass. Unfortunately, we found zero signal of yellowtail so unable to show off our bread & butter So-Cal gamefish.

With the day waning and the promise of In and Out looming, we pushed out from the islands to check a few stones for the bottom variety. And well, true to form – first drop + first drift, Emil bagged a double with a stud Red!! Bonus points for it eating the Gulp (part of the Pure/Penn fishing family) and staying on brand lol.

We made a couple more drifts over some very productive stones with every drop yielding bites. Also, gave Emil a shot to mess with the slow pitch jigging setup and a few more taco drops for Jessie.

All in all, an amazing two days on the water showing Emil a sampling of our local fishery. The “Go Big Go Home” bluefin trip literally could have been drawn up any better. Great captain (just don’t tell him I said that) + great crew + dialed-in gear all working together to capitalize on amazing fishing. Blessed to be part of days like these on the water!!

Jordan Jennings grew up boating and fishing the lakes of his home state of Michigan. Cutting his teeth on the bass, salmon, perch, and pike of local inland lakes. His passion grew into saltwater fishing on the Gulf of Mexico when visiting family in Florida. He was lucky enough to come from a family ...