Offshore 3.5 day Pacific Voyager 11/21-11/25

PENN

bliss

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Jun 23, 2009
216
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Brandon
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22 key west bay reef
Grab a beer before starting this one.
Before getting into any details I would first like to thank Dave B. for letting me onto this private charter, after a late in the game Cabo cancellation I was lucky enough to jump on. Secondly, the Captain and crew of the Pacific Voyager, you made this trip amazing and one I will never forget.

Day 1 -
I got to the dock early around 9 am for a noon departure and to my surprise, I was not the only 1. In fact, more than half the charter was there and ready to board. I introduced myself to the guys that were there and went to grab my gear. In the parking lot I met the Charter master Dave and hopped a ride in his dock cart down to the boat. Once onboard everyone got situated and got checked in. Soon thereafter Captain Mark called all into the galley for a trip rundown and safety brief. I remember Mark asking for opinions and taking votes on what we should chase first. The yellowfin had been biting well 3 days before but a big storm that brought high winds and heavy rains, that may have changed that and we would be the first to find out. After a short deliberation, we had decided to make a short run and look for yellowfin before pursuing big blues on the outside. We baited up with nice deans 4-5 inch mostly and took our time doing so, doing our best to keep the bait in good shape for the next 3 days. We pushed out of the harbor and were pleasantly surprised to find calm seas and almost no wind. Figured we had about 2-3 hours of sunlight so we concentrated close and slept at Coronados that night. The afternoon showed promise with a stop on a good school of yft but only managed a few skipjack. Dinners, drinks, sleep and high hopes for the trip.

Day 2 -
The day started off slow with us looking at the same area we had found fish the day before and the area that had bit best before the storm. No sooner than getting breakfast and coffee down Captain says we are going to make a run to an area that is seeing a good amount of bluefin and only about 12 miles from where we are currently fishing. I put out a troller and made myself at home in the stern. We had a jig strike or two on skipjack on the way there but nothing that turned into the right kind. Shortly after one of those jig strikes the Captain gets on the loud speaker and lets us know we are on a BIG school of yellowfin, to start the chumline and keep it going strong. If you have not been on the Pac Voyager it is hard to describe but that Captain Mark is a fishing guru and knows exactly what he is looking at on his electronics. He is also very vocal with the crew and passenger about what he is seeing, for this reason alone I will be back. I grab my 30lb stick (self wrapped Calstar 875H with a Penn Fathom 25NLD) and get ready for the boat to go out of gear. Before we stopped we could see bluefin from 40-150 lb and yellowfin 20-40 blowing out of the water full speed. IT'S ON. Baits go out and it doesn't bit right away, as a matter of fact, it takes a good 10 minutes before the first bite but once it started it was on until sundown. 5-6 hours of beautiful grade yellowfin from 20-40 lbs. When the sun went down day 1 if memory serves me right we were sitting right about 150 fish for the 14 guys on board, talk about smacking them. As the sun went down, the crew came around and took tally for who wanted fish fillet, G/G or whole. It was about this time I could smell dinner. Steak, mashed potato, asparagus, and salad was amazing. Cruz our chef for the trip really makes a good plate. Shortly after dinner and a few drinks the Captain gets on the loudspeaker and lets us know we have some big fish under the boat and a flat fall now would be a good idea. Most of the guys were fast asleep after whacking them earlier that day so me and a few others had an open rail, and thats when things got interesting.
On my second drop with the glow jib pictured, i went bendo. Came up quick and easy making me believe i didnt have the right thing on. From the second i hooked the fish I had a crew member with me, these guys are pro's. I walked the fish up to the bow and got color in about 5 min, i saw what i had. Cruz confirms its a big fish. The fish sees boat lights and takes off, taking about 250 ft of line happily i look down at my Penn Squall 50VSW and see he hasn't even gotten to spectra. The fish takes me around the boat 4 times, gaining a little, loosing a little. After about 40 minutes i make a home in the stern, starboard side and its big circles time. The fish is at color for about 10 min and gaffs go in at the 45 min mark, IM SCREAMING. The second captain Charles tells me he thinks I have a cow and takes off for the tape. During the fight we had gone 3/4 on bluefin over 100....i had no idea, I had paid no attention to what was going on and was solely focused on my fish. Tape goes out and Charles lets me know I have a cow, 202LB. HOLY COW. The other two fish were well over a 100. Time for pictures and by this time, i come back to reality, look around and the entire boat is awake and dropping flat falls. F%^K Y#A. The rest of the night went without action, i showered up and layed in my bunk all night, not a wink. Heart was still pumping off the fish of a lifetime.

Day 3 -
This turned out to be our slow day. We fished the same area as the day before and picked away at the same grade of Yellowfin as the day prior but still kept seeing that 100+ bluefin show, no go. About 1 o'clock we decided we had enough of the yellowfin and that it was time to go blue looking, exclusively. We handed off the bite to the Fortune who went full bendo as we pulled away. Again, the crew made quick work of knocking out fillet, G/G while we moved to a new area. I was completely impressed with the fish handling and attention paid to the catch. The day carried on with a few bft schools found but only yellowfin willing to bite. I would say this was a 50-60 fish day, a great day by anyone's standards. The dinner day 3, what a spread. We had baby back ribs that were better than anything I had ever had in a restaurant. Fall of the bone tender and delicious. Cruz made amazing meals all day long and kept the galley stocked with snacks as the days went on but the dinners were out of this world. Day 3 concluded early for me having not slept the day prior but I will say, when I went to bed there were flat falls being dropped and at 10 when I woke up to take a leak a few guys were still dropping. DIE HARDS.

Day 4 -
By day 4 I had so already had the trip of a lifetime topped with a fish of a lifetime and I was on cloud 9, with a great night of sleep. My plan for day 4 was to enjoy the time out on the water and the company of a great group of fishermen. It was a slow morning, picking away at a few yellowfin....until it wasn't. We probably had half a dozen stops throughout the morning and at about noon Mark gets on the speaker and lets us know we are on something different. I watched a few hookups, reel screaming runs and snap offs before i bump up to 50lb (a self wrapped Calstar 800xxh with a Penn Fathom 40, braid to the brim and a 50lb flouro top shot). For about an hour I went without a bite and decided i would take my chances at a larger fish and lighter line in hopes of getting a bite. Move to 40lb (a self wrapped Calstar 700xh with a Penn Fathom 30, braid to the brim and a 40lb flouro top shot) nothing. I remember right about the time i was going to go get a beer i look off the stern and see a jumbo boil on the surface and corndog yells out 'fresh-one'. Corndog was hot stick for much of the trip. I ask him what he is fishing and he replies 30, sounds like a bad decision but what the hell....already had a stellar trip. Grab the 30 stick again and take my time finding a bait. Firecracker 5 incher pinned on, watch a fish boil 10 ft from the boat and drop it right where the swirl was still showing and boom, IM ON! FRESH!!!. Fairly quickly, i knew i had a good one on, much better than the 30lb yellowfin we had been on. Took it slow, made my way around the boat a few times and right about the 1 hour mark I get color. 100 ish bluefin SAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEET. Make quick work of the big circle dance and Kody and Mitch stick my 2nd Bluefin of the trip. STOKED on 30LB! Penn Fathom 25nld is a great reel for this grade of fish. For the next hour or so i hung out with Corndog who clearly had a better fish on. I watched his technique for fighting the big fish on light tackle. I always appreciate learning new techniques from seasoned anglers. Gaffs go out and Corndog's 100+ comes over the rail, what-a-slug. At this point, I'm about done...until we get into a wide sundowner. Kite bites, more 20-40lb yellowfin and a sprinkle of 40-60lb bluefin. I pulled 2 or 3 fish in and decided to sit back and enjoy the view. It is incredible to watch a group of guys that know how to fish, in a wide open bite. Dave's group on this particular trip was full of stick's, I enjoyed fishing with every one of them. Sundown came too soon and i was first to breakdown gear and get a shower in. This also meant first at the dinner table. The best of the trip in my opinion, Cruz made a mexican feast. Green chile chicken enchiladas, rice, beans and fresh salad with ice cream sunday deserts. A few drinks and off to sleep.

I woke up at about 3:30 the next morning and we were just pulling into the dock. Squared up in the galley and made sure to take care of the crew. These guys killed it, went above and beyond and deserved every dollar and more. Cruz, Kody and Mitch were so in-tune with one another you would have thought they had been working together all their lives.
Walked out on to the deck and got all my gear up to the truck. When I returned to the boat the fish unloading had started. Finally tally was 14 deck carts full of fish. 12 with whole fish and 2 stuffed to the brim with fillets. Took my fish to Marios, as did most and was impressed 3 days later when I picked them up. Well packaged and more than I expected.
I cannot believe I finally got my cow and a 100lber on the same trip. This is by far the best trip I have ever been on. Best group of folks i hav ever fished with. Best boat and crew i have ever seen. I will 100% be back again and hope to relive this trip next year.
 
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bliss

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Jun 23, 2009
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Brandon
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22 key west bay reef
Pics

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Mark C.

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Jul 20, 2005
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Excellent read and pics, congrats on your epic trip and fish, Brandon. Some things never change, captain Mark being on the fish being one of them! Just when I was ready to put the gear away...
 
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woodfish330

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  • Aug 14, 2012
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    Great report.....excellent crew and skipper. Congrats on the big fish brother.....it's not finished yet. Don't put them away..... personally I believe bigger fish are still here... and will be for a while. As the smaller fish move on.....less competition for the bigger fish...for dinner. Keep the bigger guns ready. Haven't heard much from the CORTEZ or TANNER banks .... commercial or private. Santa Rosa canyon.....As well. Could be "holding". Now ...aren't you happy that damn CABO trip got canceled. ...lol!
     
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    Jun 22, 2015
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    Great report. Marko is definitely one of the best captains ever. I love that boat. Good work and happy holidays.
     
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    ZZZZZ

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    Dec 11, 2003
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    You probably still have a cowfish perma grin. Well done on the cow and way to be prepared. Direct hit with the jig on the 50 size reel. What a well rounded trip.

    Must agree with Marks skills and enthusiasm. Gets the blood pumping. PV is also part of a very lethal and well organized code group. The big boys
     
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    Corndog

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    Hot damn i saw a report finally from my last fun trip and I debate whether to add a rundown to this or start my own but honestly u had the big Cow of the a trip and I flew back home to a full blown blizzard in Colorado so let's just keep your story as the focus....congrats Brandon. U beat me to the dream of a moo cow. I'm a very very tired soldier going from that fun too the mess I have here dealing with shoveling and all the other crap u get living in Colorado. Luckily the gal and kid I spend my at home attention too are away and I have a boring Saturday night with a "no alarm clock morning' for the first time in a couple weeks coming ...

    First let me say to Brandon. CONGRATS MAN that FISH u got that night was incredible. I was trying to scratch the eye boogers and find out why I couldn't tie knots for the flat fall game as I came upstairs. Damn night meds lol. U were on top of that fish very vocal as u chased what u knew was the SD marker. I only sat there dreaming a little and wishing I had prepped in advance....

    For me this trip fell on a ever shrinking calendar that although I likely was the first to book with Charter Master Dave B who I met on a Picasso Apollo Puerto Vallarta Charter I also have had a fuller than full schedule here at home with construction remodeling at work. A gal and a kid I've been supporting through a tough deal and so many other random things including a real estate refinance appraisal a day before my flight out. I and her were a touch stressed but I try to shoulder the challenges.

    I literally started packing the morning before flying out. I got up early to pack before work then after and onto the airport.... luckily after my 7 day on the Spirit I left a handful of "Bluefin or bust" rods with my old Captain Mike Keating to lighten the travel costs and load.

    A couple days prior to departure the email comes of the need for the Yellowfin type stuff to which I told Dave B that I'm up against a wall but will figure it out....the class act as a charter guy he is he said no worries we got what your missing. I appreciated the hospitable gesture but as I'm used to flying to San Diego I filled my void of equipment in my mad dash and hauled out a PSW 760H and a 760 MH as well as a United Composites Swimbait Finatic in Heavy to cover the lighter stuff.

    I got in crazy late from Colorado and stayed at the Vagabond as a known territory near my old ride.

    I jammed across the street to that little bar and even convinced an Uber driver to roll me through "drive-through only" Jack in the box being it was after midnight. Heck I didn't get my bags at the airport until like 11:50pm.

    I woke up late missing an alarm that might have been set wrong.... :D

    I did hot laps to H&M for breakfast and grabbing my well cared for packages from my endeared past employer and now loved humans and finally got back to poop, shower and check of the Vagabond with a 3rd Uber ride since Landing..

    As Brandon the Stud mentioned everyone was on the boat loaded WELL before I showed up lol.....oops :D

    Matter of fact I barely had time to dink around up in the Seaforth office to take a mental check of what I might think I might be missing.

    Oh well. My fault for sure but probably saved me a few bucks. Back in September I mentioned to Capt. Keating I had this late year trip on the PAC Voyager. Instead of the why not with us he said "oh Mark? Your going to like him. He's good"....Anyone that Mike Keating likes I don't even think twice about looking on the Interwebs to get the scoop.

    Well crap just lost a bunch of writing :(

    (Continuing on)
     
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    Corndog

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    Corrected the Bad Grammar 12/12/2019. :D

    On I go after losing a bunch to a retarded cell phone moment :imdumb: . Too fast forward past departure and bait dock and first night I go right to the heart of the trip.

    I want to share not as much from a story telling but from a perspective that might help the rest of the BDer's that might spring money and support the last few crews out chasing what can only be described as incredible late season US water close to home Tuna fishing.

    Friday I was fairly expecting the start of the day to be a rough one. The weather that came through before our trip was the type of weather that in many cases would shut everything down at this time of the year. This was the Pacific Voyager's last trip of the year. But Mark was on the hunt. I could tell from my early meeting with him where I introduced myself as Jason but might be known as Corndog on the Spirit. He laughed and said we're going to have fun aren't we? I knew Mike Keating's endorsement of him being a good one would mean we were in it if there were fish to be found. Good Vibes but slow start.

    It took a while to find the fish but when we finally did it felt like there were many casualties that might have been avoided.

    Such as tuna fishing. But when you get bit letting the fish run or if your fishing light line as was recommended let that sucker run. You got a lot of time to reel it all back in. But the excitement of hooking up Big Tuna definitely caught a few of us eager anglers off guard. In this first bite of the trip there were some nice ones around.

    I'm the type of guy that likes to fish heavy until I'm told otherwise by the fish. When I realized these things were being pretty picky I dropped down to 20 lb test on a torque 15 star drag. I finally got my bite after there were already a few casualties. Managed to get a pretty darn decent Yellowfin that weighed In I think 44lbs after the salt soak which I let run a long ways and took my time fighting in. It's funny how a few fish that stay hooked will slowly get things going. As the day went on from there more and more fish got hooked. Not just because of my fish. The others were making it happen and thought it started slowly it sort of turned into some pandemonium at times. I managed to get a couple Bluefin bites in all of that pandemonium as well as a retarded amount of Yellowfin. Everybody was catching and I'm pretty sure Brandon was one of the high-sticks that day. This was the day that I had fun throwing poppers, rubber, metal, whatever I could to find bites. I love to find new ways to get those little suckers to bite. I've always appreciated not just catching fish after fish on a little wiggler on a hook but finding other ways new ways to build confidence.

    By any accounts had this been an overnight trip this would have been one of the best overnights many had seen. But as this was a longer trip and the sun was going down we were going to do something that night I'm sure. I was exhausted from travel and catching plenty of Fish and I went downstairs to try to get my sleep. That proved to be the wrong idea as at about 9 or 10 I kept thinking I was hearing feet running around and I pulled out my ear plugs that I was listening to a movie on and eventually heard yelling and realized something up top was happening.

    As I came upstairs and saw the few anglers hooked up and especially Brandon running around yelling his head off. I realized it was time to get a freaking flat fall on. But quite frankly I failed miserably. Shame on me for not having a rod ready to go earlier in the day when that was going on (another lesson for a the readers.... BOYSCOUT MOTTO) . But to be honest it probably didn't matter because I wasn't there when it happened. Even coming up after the hookups came it is probably too late. Congrats to those that we're upstairs when it all happened.

    Eventually everybody went back to bed after all the hell yeah high-fives and pictures and I went to bed thinking what the heck am I doing here. I only fish once twice maybe three times a year if I'm super lucky on the ocean and I just missed another chance to try to put a cow on Deck. But I couldn't be too upset I had a pretty good day.

    The next day things if I remember correctly started pretty slow again and it felt like we had fish boiling all around the place and we were in a stalemate. Fish didn't want to bite we were watching them boil around and definitely found them and what were we to do. Lighter line was the color of the day. But I kept noticing that there was some boils that appear to be very large fish. I kept a rod on standby with a 3/0 hook and 60lb test. Just in case I had found the right sardine to send out. I ended up having that right sardine and I pinned it on the 60 lb test sent it out right off the stern and when nothing would touch a damn thing got picked up put the drag forward and immediately knew it was one of the right kind. I look back and told Mark this is the right thing. And after a bit of time had a fish probably a little shy of a hundred pounds hit the deck. Pretty awesome to get bit on heavier line when it's hard to get bit on anything. But I owe it to the lucky bait I found at that moment. As the day went on again we caught more fish every day on as this trip was amazing.

    That fish ended up being day 2 jackpot and any questions about day one were unquestionably squashed by Brandon's flat fall fish. More goodness more fun good dinner good meals everybody went to bed again with high hopes beforehand of a flat fall moment. But the fish never amounted that next night.

    On day 3 after we had so much Yellowfin and only a small handful of Buefin we got into yet another morning bite on the Yellowfin. It came to the point of we need to run away from these things and we handed off an incredible bite to another boat. We ran way out closer to an island which gets closures from time to time. Mark got all excited about the fluffy fish on the sonar. And it seemed we had our bite for the Bluefin about to come. The boys dumped a ton of bait over and we had Bluefin that showed well with pretty darn large boils around but they did not want to come to the boat. Charter Master Dave hooked up a couple fish on some metal jigs. I kept trying to force the heavier line but it wasn't happening. This Bluefin was acting pretty typical picky picky picky Bluefin but none of them seem to be biting. I finally decided that I was just going to take a chance drop down a 30 lb test and send out a bait. I found a good one walked right up next to Brandon cast out and when I felt it hit the water and run I looked over at him and said this Baits getting bit. It didn't take too long before that bait went screaming away and got bit and as I slide the lever forward and felt that line go screaming off the reel I realized it was the right thing and at the same time realized I might have made a mistake putting a bait out on 30 lb test with such large Bluefin in the area. Brandon and I communicated and I told him 30 pound got bit and he proceeded to follow up immediately for the bite himself. He got his fishing in far faster fashion than I did. I could tell the rod he had and the reel being a 25 vs my 15 and a heavier stick he definitely had a couple of advantages to his side. I've long tried to be patient with big fish and that's when I knew my only chance of catching it would be to be patient. We went around the boat about a thousand times I knew I had a very fine wire hook in this fish but I threw every trick I could at it and it was just a mean fish at the end of the day. As mentioned in other posts after a few hours I got the fish and it taped out at 112 but had so much weight in the bottom half of it I wouldn't be surprised if it went close to 120 from previous fish I've seen. I could barely hold my lunch fork after that long fight but threw back in immediately after. I immediately hooked a Yellowfin which I handed off. The sun was setting and things were starting to really heat up and I ended up catching a couple more Bluefin right in the middle of the ripper Yellowfin bite. Mark was laughing his ass off in disbelief. What a heck of a way to end a three and a half day trip in November in California waters. All in all who knows how many fish we caught. The lessons learned that I could share with people ready to make to their own trip would be to make sure that your reels are in working order. To test your knots and know that they're ready to go.

    .....if you can get bit on heavier line I always believe in starting heavier and then working my way lighter if I can't pull it off. this Yellowfin always seems to have some very large Bluefin not far out. I'm not saying it's easy to get bit on heavier line. But it doesn't mean it's impossible and you got a much better shot if you got bit on 40 50 or 60 or higher versus getting bit on 20 25 or 30. Always make sure you know the condition of your braids and that there aren't under wraps or anything else weird or surprises you're going to find if you hook that fish of the year or of a lifetime. If you do have a fish heading towards the sunset don't be afraid to put that rod butt down into the corner below the rail and stand that thing up towards the sun and put a little extra pressure. not saying to turn up the drag too much because as your school drops the drag pressure goes up but there's something about pulling all the way back on a rod that seems to change a fish's mind at some point. We had plenty of casualties from spooling fish or reel failures. Not to say we would have got them if we didn't have reel failures because getting hooked up on 30 or 40 lb test on 100+lb pound fish doesn't always equal success. I would say many more are lost than landed. But as with tuna fishing bad things happen with big fish start running you out of light line.

    All these guys on the trip were pretty amazing dudes. Brandon was a hell of a fisherman and kept going and going and going I kept catching fish myself. I never gave up except for the night when I could have flat falled but I actually folded flat LOL. I try to push myself to dangerous points at times but man how cool is it to have a boat that keeps you in the game long enough to be able to keep going on and on. I will be back on the Pacific Voyager one day. I hope it's with Dave and these guys. Thanks Dave thanks Brandon for putting up a report. If it wasn't for me sitting here on Saturday night with nothing to do other than think about sleeping in tomorrow I probably never would have shared my own part in it. You seem definitely like one of the guys to shoot for if somebody wanted to beat. I'm glad I got to share a rail with you. It will be another year I'm sure before I get back out it will be lake trout and ice fishing and all kinds of cold-weather crap for me moving forward but here's a few pictures that I can share from our trip.
     
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    Corndog

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    I need to edit grammar (edited) still on last post post but if I don't post now I likely never will once my important ones make it back home. Awesome trip.

    Happy to be home with my favorite people but man I'm lost when the boats not rocking

    Still working on cleaning reels and putting stuff away til next time.

    Thanks Dave. Brandon I had fun
    Mark and crew you are great.
    Fellow passengers. We had one of the good trips. I promise I know the difference. Don't take this trip for granted.

    Those debating going. If u got a shot on a boat that has a reputation of getting them just go. My buddy Justin on the Aztec posting they can barely find bodies makes me want to sell the farm and take advantage of these rare historical opportunities. Sadly I have made commitments long ago that Trump Tuna fishing but Lord knows if they weren't everything to me I'd be at the ramps every chance I could ready to roll

    Corndog out

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    tunastryker25

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    Corndog and Brandon, it was a pleasure fishing with you guys on this trip! Watching you guys landed those fish on 30lbs test was special and I learned a few things!
     
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    Nov 1, 2004
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    Gary Nordyke
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    Brandon it was great fishing with you and all aboard. You definitely were the hot stick! You're rail techniques were the best I have ever witnessed on those bluefin. The crew of the PV is also the best I have ever fished with. Cruz food 2nd to none. Thanks for the post and hope to fish with you all again. Gary
     
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    Corndog

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    This thread / report is way, way cool. Thanks to you guys....for the great read.
    Glad u made it through the short school bus post by me lol....I promise I will edit the o a comprehensive thought soon lol
     
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    Corndog

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    I am guessing you used voice-to-text, judging by some of the word choices :-)
    Lmao. Yes....totally. I was trying to type like crazy and my phone goes good for a while and then it's like the NSA listening in or something my finger texts get auto corrected like in a bad horrible way. Then I decided screw it. Going to talk these thoughts and after I post I will fix it. But talk text is bad too. Wondering how many marriages are lost over this lol
     
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    Corndog

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    Corndog and Brandon, it was a pleasure fishing with you guys on this trip! Watching you guys landed those fish on 30lbs test was special and I learned a few things!
    Kevin I enjoyed your company no doubt. Those Tuna on 30lb in reflection were pretty rad. On 7 day in September on the Spirit every big fish hooked on 30 unfortunately found their freedom. I've lost plenty in my younger days trying to count chickens before the eggs hatched and lost too many trying to rush it. Those fish hooked on lighter line definitely require some Patience lol.

    I hate hooking bigs on light. I'd rather get the right gear bit and pull like hell lol

    Hope we hit it again in the future
     
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    tunastryker25

    Almost A Member
    May 14, 2007
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    Kevin
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    Triton 2486 WA
    In the last 30 or so minutes of your epic smack down on light line, I sworn you were going to loose that triple digits fish, especially at color when it was going ape shit! Patience was key for sure!

    Looking forward to sharing the rail with you again soon.
     
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