02 Feb - 18 Feb Excel Ultra 16 Day

Dexter Outdoors

wtrbrdm

1143 Miles From The Landing
Apr 5, 2016
298
547
Colorado Springs, CO
Name
Ben
Boat
The X
I won't do any crazy in-depth report...just a quick write up on my first true LR trip. I'm open to pm's from anyone interested in a long trip for their first time...maybe give some advice on lessons learned...etc.

Last year, I went on the Excel Tuna Wars trip to get my west coast feet wet. After spending some time on the rail with Curt Wiesenhutter, I decided to skip the shorter trips and jump onto a longer one...so I booked myself on the 16 day Ultra Limited trip aboard the Excel. Like any other trip, I began preparing months in advance, which is half the fun.

My trip began outside of Washington DC a few days prior. With plenty of hotel points and Monster drinks, I loaded up the old mule and headed west. Night one...Texarcana. Night two....Tucson. Day three...arrival in San Diego. I drove due to work reimbursing my travel expenses at a higher rate and my follow on work trip to Colorado after this excursion....long story.
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The Excel returned after the Team Hoo trip and had a day at the dock. I was there when they arrived to see the offload and catch up with a few buddies. Jason allowed us to load the day prior to departure and even stay on the boat. I loaded my gear, yet opted to stay in a hotel vs on the boat.

Jaime, from Bob Sands, had made a soft intro to some folks he knew would be on the trip...as I knew no one. I figured this type of trip would be filled with LR veterans...and it surely was. After getting on the boat, I met the one and only Gallagher as well as Spongebob. These two delinquents, along with Allen and Bill, would be part of the table 4 crew for the trip.
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I won't list all of the folks on board, but there were some long timers such as Bubbles, Bob, Big Mike, David Petrescu and Al Merrick on board.. Yes...Al Merrick. One of my surfing heroes and the man who shaped my first stick when I first started back in '85. I kept my fan-dom in check but man...surreal. There were some other great guys on the boat...my apologies for not listing the entire roster. Capt. Mike was at the wheel...Jake and Joe in the galley....and our deckhands were Tim, René, Keith, Jeremiah, and John.

As with all trips...stop to grab bait...then 4 days of riding. We rolled by Alijos but the weather and water weren't cooperating. We set sights for the final destination and kept heading southwest.
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I will say that most folks said the fishing was the slowest they'd seen it in a while. We stopped on the way back for some break-the-trip-up fishing. For me...the trip was a win.

Kite: The kite rotation was utterly slow. Kite jail was long, but Bubbles did get the only cow of the trip...I believe she weighed in at #256. Gallagher got a #165 on the kite as well. I think we only got through #5 on the list the entire trip.
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Sharks and other bait picking pests: Not too bad overall, yet we did have a few days where we had to feed them before they left. They certainly didn't interfere enough to shut down fishing. Birds were come and go, but I did catch a Boobie which weighed in at probably #6 of beak and feathers.

Trolling: We did have a Wahoo pick-bite during the normal “look for tuna” troll. One of the days, however, we killed them in the afternoon. I believe there were almost 80 Wahoo for the trip. Not as much as prior years, but the afternoon bite was worth it.

Sardines: Most fish were caught with sardines both on flyline and sinker rigs. Everyone experimented with different weights and it seemed to depend on the day and time.

Big Bait: I ran a big bait skippy set up for a while...no joy.

Jigs: I jigged a decent amount....no joy.

Chunk: I did not chunk, but a few guys did...no huge success

Weather: We had a few great days, along with some days where she was blowing 20+. Not too bad overall.

Food: We were very well fed. The combination of Jake and Joe taking care of us was great....zero complaints.

My quiver:
Avet MXJ Raptor on a UC Monster - #30 for making bait
Avet MXL Raptor on a UC Wahoo Jr - #40 Wahoo bait
Avet JX Raptor on a UC Predator - #50 for Wahoo bombs
MAK20 SEA on a UC Viper - #80 to #130 bait
MAK20 SEA on a UC Viper - #80 to #130 bait
MAK20 SEA on a UC Viper - #80 to #130 bait
ATD30 on a UC Invictus - #130 big bait/dropper/jig

My catch:
Grouper – Some of the misc fish caught. I tagged 11 averaging around #10
Wahoo – I tagged 7. 3 being from the troll and 4 on bombs...which are my favorite.
Tuna – I tagged 2. There were tons of smaller #20 and #30 fish caught, which weren't tagged. My first tag was a #60 caught on a flylined sardine. My biggest was #102 which was caught on a flylined tube. This fish was my personal best and made the trip worth it....babysteps.
Lost fish – I was on a larger model for about 20 minutes before I had a connection failure. I did NOT run an FG on this set up. Shit just happens...live and learn. A few days later I was on another larger model for approximately 45 minutes before the hook pulled. Being coached by Tim on the bow, he says everything was done right....sometimes they just pull. Another fishing lesson learned. I was mad about both lost fish for about 5 seconds...before I realized that its...well....fishing. Grab another bait and get after it.
There was one "star aligning" moment that almost panned out. Dinner seating had started while an angler was still on a fish. I was in the galley watching when two deckhands began running up and down the starboard rail with gaffs...away from the angler. I went out and they said that a cow had been free swimming next to the boat. I turned to see a large flier glide over the rail and land next to my spot on the rocket launcher....almost directly underneath my big bait set up. A sign...divine intervention? I grabbed the flier...pinned it onto my set up and into the water it went. I hadn't seen the free swimmer but dropped the flier where the crew had seen it. Thoughts of a smoking reel filled my head, but alas...it wasn't meant to be. Good news being that Bill did end up getting his fish in before joining us for dinner.
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Although other opinions may vary, I had a blast and considered the trip a success. Sure could the current have been better and more fish caught...but it is what it is. I got a personal best, fished with some great men, and most importantly learned a metric shit ton. Fishing long range seems to be they key to keep you young at heart as you get older. I'm in...fully....100%....even more addicted than I thought I'd be. I'm signed up for the same trip next year. The additional few bucks for the Ultra trip is 100% worth it in my opinion. We had 17 of 18 slots filled and having such few folks on the rail...in the galley...and having a solo stateroom....worth every penny. I can't say enough great things about the Excel and the crew. I know that boats are subjective and everyone has their favorites. I enjoyed everything about this boat...the two times I've been aboard.

I departed San Diego when it was 70 and sunny.....wheels down in Denver Colorado at 4 degrees and a blizzard....3 days later we've warmed to 34 degrees and light snow .....FML. Until next year....
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SlideRight

Been there...
Jul 4, 2008
723
296
So Cal
Name
Lew
Boat
ss minnow
Well done! Commend your attitude aimed at enjoying while learning and focusing on the positive. Some trips are just better than others, but each one good for one reason or another. Most of all for the soul. Do 'em while you can. Thanks for the write-up!
 
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woodfish330

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  • Aug 14, 2012
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    Great report and picts brother! Your right... LR fishing is like "fisherman's crack". Once it gets in your blood... better start saving.... trip.... more gear... terminal tackle...etc. Your attitude is well balanced.... and your enthusiasm is infectious.

    For those who don't know who Curt Wiesenhutter is..... held World Records for YFT. I met him in the 80's.... he's quite a "character". He can talk your ear off though. Happy you got to fish with your legendary friend Al Merrick. Great guy also. We hope they welcomed you to the LR family.... and know the Crew and Skipper helped seal the deal! Drive home safely.
     
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    kzaam1

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    Nov 7, 2018
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    Kzaam
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    Jasmine
    Thanks for the report. Seems like it was a great trip!

    Off the point. Is that a Chevy colorado? How do you like it? Does it have the 3.5 and 4x4?
     
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    wtrbrdm

    1143 Miles From The Landing
    Apr 5, 2016
    298
    547
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Name
    Ben
    Boat
    The X
    Peaches and I are BFFs now.... We have the same twisted sense of humor and I think I've seen what I'm destined to end up like when I get older.

    The trip was indeed good for the soul. I get it that we all pay a good chunk of change for the trip. Fish are a bonus in my book. To me, it's the prep...the trip....the baits in the water...good company...lessons learned....being away from the daily grind that make the trip worthwhile.

    Off the point. Is that a Chevy colorado? How do you like it? Does it have the 3.5 and 4x4?

    Yes.... Colorado ZR2 (4wd, f/r lockers, etc) with the baby 2.8 Duramax Diesel. She's a workhorse.

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    bbuck

    Member
    Dec 20, 2005
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    Buck
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    sunk
    A few thoughts from another passenger on the Feb. trip. We did well on wahoo as noted above. Tuna was a different story. It wasn't that they weren't there. Capt. metered them throughout the day, they just would not bite, all methods were tried. Early in the trip the smaller (under 40#) fish went into the chunk box or were released. Later in the trip many 25-30 pound fish were tagged and became part of our total of 50 YFT. As for the kite, it did produce a 256# yft. but not much else. When we pulled anchor at the end of the trip #4 was still up for his 3rd. full day and nothing to show for it but a nice sun tan. On the plus side a good time was had by all and the weather was kind. For those going out this season, bring everything. Just no telling what will work. as a side note Kirk Wiesenhutter's 388.2 yft was and still is the 80# world record.
    .
     
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    canyonman

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    Dec 2, 2005
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    brooklyn
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    joe
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    Independence
    Bob the bank has been funky this year. Thanksgiving trip produced a decent amount of cows but not much of the 80 to 130 grade. Trips after that saw some good fishing on that same 80 to 130 stuff. Seems like your trip the bank was just off.
     
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    wtrbrdm

    1143 Miles From The Landing
    Apr 5, 2016
    298
    547
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Name
    Ben
    Boat
    The X
    Agreed... I know the one important thing I did was put in as much rail time and diversity as possible....switching things around. I'd read a ton about using the PL68s at the Bank....during grey light....so I did that as much as I could. Maybe next year...
     
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    fishordie

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Aug 31, 2005
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    Jamie
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    2013 Ranger Z521 with 250 Merc.: Now deceased.. Thank goodness
    Awesome Report Ben,

    Ben is one of the really good guys in the world.. We have had a blast over the last year or so getting him ready for the trip.. Ben Came to the shop to top off his supply list, driving all the way up to Van Nuys after driving to San Diego and then drove back.. His intro to Cali Traffic may prevent that application in the future.. On the other hand Dr. Hogly Wogly Tyler Texas BBQ has another fan. The man was ready and way ahead of the Ultra Long Range ready Curve.. I even tried to prepare him to meet my dear buddy Peaches.. Another one of the good guys in spite of appearances.. LOL

    P.S. Ben got me started on a new addiction..Shame on you Ben. Just waiting for the new 1 -10 Vortex.. LOL.

    Look forward to chatting soon.. Again, thank you for a great write up.

    Jamie
     
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    Eric Ancog

    Almost A Member
  • Mar 3, 2018
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    Lakewood
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    Eric Ancog
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    Independence, Shogun, Red Rooster III
    Great report Ben!! I've been thinking about doing one of these long range trips myself. So far been doing mostly up to 7 day trips but really want to venture to a 10+ day trip. Your report really is exciting and pushing me closer to pulling the trigger on one of those trips. I have all my trips planned this year so Im gonna start planning for 2021.
     
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    FishRock

    Still trying to figure it all out
    Mar 27, 2013
    2,083
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    JAM
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    Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
    Peaches and I are BFFs now.... We have the same twisted sense of humor and I think I've seen what I'm destined to end up like when I get older.

    Peaches told me I was his BFF! That scoundrel!

    Sounds like you have the right perspective on what you enjoy and how to take full advantage of it.

    That flyer landing on deck with a free swimming cow was certainly a sign. You did the exact right thing. Must have just been one click off on timing to get bit.

    Probably gotten half of my bites as the rail clears and most folks head into the galley for lunch or dinner.

    Thanks for the write up.
     
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    wtrbrdm

    1143 Miles From The Landing
    Apr 5, 2016
    298
    547
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Name
    Ben
    Boat
    The X
    Peaches told me I was his BFF! That scoundrel!

    Well this is embarrassing......alright Fishrock...you can have Patsy and I'll keep Jaime.

    For anyone debating on doing ther first LR trip ever or upgrading from a shorter to a longer one. Do it. Don't have the right gear...hit up Jaime or just use the boat rods/reels....good stuff and perfect for a first, second, or third timer. I'm just an idiot who likes to have his own stuff.

    Life is short and I refuse to be on my deathbed with a bunch of would have / could have / should haves. Work some overtime....skip some Starbucks.....and get after it.
     
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    Fishybuzz

    fishybuzz
    Apr 4, 2003
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    David Tang
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    Intrepid
    Thank you for the great report...you have the exact attitude that a real Long Ranger has...."It's fishing".....you will have your day when it all comes together and the cows will come......out of morbid curiosity what connection were you using that failed...???
     
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    wtrbrdm

    1143 Miles From The Landing
    Apr 5, 2016
    298
    547
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Name
    Ben
    Boat
    The X
    Bimini to Albright-ish. 35 wraps...no joy

    I know I know I know

    I didn't snug it up enough and questioned it but used it anyway. Mucho Grande lesson learned.

    Jaime already has the reels for a re-spool with hollow. Not sure why I didn't go hollow anyway. I was nerdy deep into splicing and serving years ago and will get back into it. Bought a jig and bobbin on here for a great price and will get back into it.

    I did have some FG posts on here and got to tying them fast and at really close to 100%. For some reason...I did NOT have confidence in them when I got on the boat. No clue why. Also no clue why I dropped the doomed to fail connection in the water. Live and learn.

    Got me educated with a quickness.

    I hope Jaime doesn't read this as we had many long talks about confidence in ones equipment.
     
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    Fishybuzz

    fishybuzz
    Apr 4, 2003
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    Jamie and I have had many conversations on life, fishing and and have solved many of the world's problems over good scotch and better cigars.....LOL....we just don't remember a lot of what we solved the next day standing at the rail.

    The FG is the connection I use with extreme confidence......it is the only connection I use.....but you have the right attitude and are learning from one the best Jamie....
     
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    FishRock

    Still trying to figure it all out
    Mar 27, 2013
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    JAM
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    Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
    I did have some FG posts on here and got to tying them fast and at really close to 100%. For some reason...I did NOT have confidence in them when I got on the boat. No clue why. Also no clue why I dropped the doomed to fail connection in the water. Live and learn.

    Got me educated with a quickness.

    One thing I catch myself doing too often is chasing something even better than what I have already honed to near 100% just because I got bored with it. I forget that just because I am bored with it that does not mean it is not the best solution. "If it ain't broke don't fix it!!!"

    Now I let Fishybuzz beta test everything before I try it. Once he has killed a few cows and declares it GTG I take a look at it. But only if I think there is still room for improvement. I also do what the captain recommends especially if he repeats himself.

    Though I will probably stick with my SX Raptor throwing bombs at Wahoo. Something Fishybuzz would never recommend.
     
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    Fishybuzz

    fishybuzz
    Apr 4, 2003
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    One thing I catch myself doing too often is chasing something even better than what I have already honed to near 100% just because I got bored with it. I forget that just because I am bored with it that does not mean it is not the best solution.

    Now I let Fishybuzz beta test everything before I try it. Once he has killed a few cows and declares it GTG I take a look at it. But only if I think there is still room for improvement. I also do what the captain recommends especially if he repeats himself.

    Though I will probably stick with my SX Raptor throwing bombs at Wahoo. Something Fishybuzz would never recommend.


    Yep still using the exact same cow hook I started with 20 years ago the one Mike Lackey recommended on my first cow trip ...caught a cow and never looked back...this is my bomb of choice.....
     

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    FishRock

    Still trying to figure it all out
    Mar 27, 2013
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    Alaska
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    JAM
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    Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
    Yep still using the exact same cow hook I started with 20 years ago the one Mike Lackey recommended on my first cow trip ...caught a cow and never looked back...this is my bomb of choice.....

    Notes taken.
     
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    808dc

    Newbie
    Dec 4, 2015
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    james
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    none
    Nice to see someone else in the DC area hooked on long range. I find it difficult trying to convince my friends out here to give it a shot. Most cant comprehend 10-18 days on a boat -- I couldn't imagine anything better.
     
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