Trip Report: Offshore On The Legend

I had mentioned in last week’s post how I wasn’t ready to go offshore immediately after getting back from my trout trip. Fishing the bay was the perfect setting to get in the right frame of mind. I was ready to go back out and try to make something happen with the blue kind this week.

I was able to get on a Fishing Syndicate sponsored trip midweek on the Legend. I went with my buddy Marcus Fain to host the trip. Robyn Yoshihiro is a captain on the boat and also reps FS. The trip length was an unusual 1.75 days. The thinking there being you get two night bites, which has been an effective time to catch the bluefin on big flatfalls and knife jigs. We departed H&M Landing on Wednesday, July 28th at 10am.

After loading up bait, Capt. Steve Taft pointed us northwest toward the bluefin grounds. I rigged up a flyline bait setup using 35# (I used to love that pound test from Blackwater. Opsin is making it now.). I also setup a sinker rig on 50#, and then a big knife jig on my heavy setup (100#) using the FS Offshore Composite rods.

I ran into an issue with one of the rods I brought for the trip. My rod bundle had blown over when I was unpacking my car. As I was rigging up on the boat, I noticed that one of the guides had popped out on the rod that I had intended to use for my flyline bait setup. Not a problem. I substituted the jig stick I brought to throw a colt sniper to use for bait.

This decision ended up being a big factor in the day.

After about 3 hours we were in the zone and started looking. It wasn’t long before we could spot foamers of fish around. I started out the day fishing bait. Marcus opted to go with his sniper rig. Guess who made the right call?

This was pretty much how the entire afternoon went. Spot birds, see the fish below them, slide into it, maybe a fish or two would get hooked. Occasionally, the fish would sink out, but still stick with the boat for awhile. Capt. Steve would tell us what depth he was marking fish. I tried the sinker and even the jig for some of those, but neither produced.

Only jigs thrown into the initial foamer got bites.

On the one hand, it was awesome to see so many bluefin. Some of the foamers we saw were a football field in length. I eventually abandoned my bait setup and tied on a small Daiwa SK jig (my original plan for my jig stick). Out of all those fish though, we ended up with 8 bites for 2 fish. Talk about sustainable fishing.

Spirits were still high despite the lack of action for the majority of people fishing…myself included. There was still another full day to go of fishing. I think it was safe to say though that collectively we were over it on bluefin.

Little did we know that Capt. Steve had a trick card up his sleeve.

The trip previous to ours was a 3 day adventure that saw the boat catch 2 bluefin, 2 yellowfin, 11 dodos, and 435 yellowtail! Most of those yellows had come off of one giant kelp paddy. I had heard of this before, but this trip was the first time I had actually seen one of the GPS beacons they use to mark a kelp. The Legend owns 3 GPS units. Two were on the boat. The other had been deployed on the magic kelp.

Steve set a course south to find the big kelp. When they fished it the previous trip, it was around the Finger Bank. When we set out to find it again, Steve said it was off Colonet. We traveled south through the night to find it. Colonet is already about 60 miles south of San Diego. This was going to be a long drive. The next morning, we were still motoring south at a good clip. The sea was up down here. When Steve said the kelp had traveled even further, it was easy to understand why. By the time we finally caught up with it, it was already mid-morning.

I sure hope it was still holding fish.

Thankfully it was. I had asked Robyn her opinion (she worked the last trip too) what I should fish for the paddy. She said 40. I’m glad I took her advice. The yellows were on the smallish side (average 8-12 pounds), but they were eager to bite, pulled pretty hard and were very squirrelly. A lot of the people on the boat were shall we say new-ish to the sport and not the most efficient in handling these fish. On 40 I was able to bounce my own fish and not have to wait on the crew who had their hands full. I was able to get back in the water quickly and have multiple opportunities per drift.

I want to say we drifted the same kelp 6 times!

Steve was shaking his head in disbelief. I think the last drift on it still managed to produce 4 or 5 more fish. Crazy. When it was finally done, we pointed our way north, dragged trollers, and looked for more kelps. The rest of the day ended up being more of the same. There was one jig stop that produced a single yellowfin, but it was mostly more kelps. A couple of them held small dodos.

There was an angler on the trip, Doug the Dentist, who had placed his tackle box next to mine. He had a brand new, never used, custom wrapped Syndicate rod that his family had given him for Father’s Day. His birthday was the Friday we got back. He had told me that more than bluefin, he really wanted to catch his first dodo. He ended up being one of the lucky 3 who got one. He got it on his new rod too.

That was the trip. I ended up with 7 yellows. I lost 3 right at color or trying to bounce them. I lost another one in a massive tangle. No big. I have to say, it was nice to have a “normal” offshore experience fishing kelps. I would’ve liked to have had the opportunity for a try on the bluefin at night. I had a new jig that was rigged up and ready to do some damage (or so I think), but save it for next time. Thanks to Capt. Steve and the rest of his crew on the Legend. They took great care of us. It’s a comfortable boat. The AC in the bunkroom was so welcome! I’m headed up north to fish salmon, but I’ll revisit bluefin when I get back. Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is ...