3.5 Day Report (July 13-16) on the Success

LitiGATOR

Newbie
Jun 21, 2016
38
33
40
Ft. Lauderdale
Name
LitiGATOR
Boat
Conch
This is my first "report" on this forum, so I apologize for the length/format if it's not the norm.

My brothers, a couple friends and I had booked a 3.5 day on The Success a while back, but due to many circumstances we didn't get to go until last week. We had a trip out of Puerto Vallarta back in December aboard The Success but got blown-out after the first day due to the weather. We did manage one decent 150# yellowfin before heading back. Capt. Cary was kind enough to give us a credit towards another trip, and this is the one we booked. There were six people in our group, most of whom are experienced to very experienced fisherman back in Florida. I've been fishing off South Florida and the Bahamas my whole life, but the San Diego thing was new to me and something I've wanted to experience since I was a little kid. The trip didn't disappoint.

Capt. Cary has been dealing with some health issues, so Capt. Jeff has been running the boat and doing great. My brother and one friend flew in from NY, while the rest of us flew in from South Florida. We all met at the San Diego airport with no drama. The weather was great and we headed to Fisherman's Landing. I have been wanting to visit the Fisherman's Landing tackle shop for a long time, and blew through a grand pretty quick. If bringing long rods back wasn't such a pain, it would have been a lot more.

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After a couple meals, we all headed to the boat and loaded our gear. We met with Capt. Jeff and the crew and went over the game plan. Capt. Jeff had been on a decent yellowtail bite off San Clemente with some large-grade fish, and the bluefin were around. I didn't really care, just wanted to have fun, the rest of my party was of the same mindset. While we wanted to catch a bluefin (none of us had caught one), we weren't counting on it to define the success (no pun intended) of the trip. We loaded-up and left around 6pm

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First stop was fuel, and then the we hit the bait docks. Back home we have to bust our ass for bait! Wish we had these back in South Florida.

After some gear-rigging and bullish!tting, we headed -down to get a couple hours of sleep. The drone of the engines changed around 12am, and we arose to catch some squid, which was a little bit of a grind. They didn't show-up in crazy numbers, but managed to catch a few dozen. Around 4am, we got into a decent yellowtail bite, landing a few fish, all over 20#. They're an awesome-fighting fish and I wasn't expecting them to fight that hard. I broke-in some of the new rods I'd bought and the trip was off to a great start.

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Back home the sharks are a huge nuisance. In the Bahamas when we fish for yellowfin tuna, it's sometimes impossible to get a fish past the sharks. Well, I have to say -- your seals are worse! I can't count how many big yellowtail we lost to the seals, but they let us get plenty past them, too. It's crazy how fast/powerful they are.

As the bite slowed, we decided to run to the "43" and spent the afternoon/evening trying to get a bluefin on the Yummy Flyer. There wasn't too much wind so we had to deploy the helium. There were obviously a lot of fish, and boats around. We could see the bluefin come-up occasionally, but the marks on the sounder were solid. Frustrating, but pretty awesome to see so many of these fish around. We didn't get a solid bite the whole day, but did have one blow-up. We headed back to the same spot we had been the night before to make some squid and fish the yellowtail again.

As soon as it was dark, Capt. Jeff had us on the squid motherload. The squid were so thick you could literally walk on them. It only took mins to "pink-out" the wells.

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The bite at night was a slow pick of yellowtail and barracuda. Some of the guys went to sleep. Around midnight I decided to get some shut-eye, as Capt. Jeff expected the fish to start chewing around 3/4am. I told him to wake me. He did, and I woke the rest of the guys up. It was a really good yellowtail bite till the around 9am. We all caught multiple fish, the weather was perfect, and the fish were large-grade. Averaging between 20-30# with some larger models mixed-in. The seals were again a nuisance, but we had plenty of fish.

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Capt. Jeff got in on the action

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Slider rig and dropper-loop squid both worked. We also caught quite a few black sea bass, up to about 130#. I'd say we caught at least 10. After the bite slowed, we wanted to catch some Calico Bass. Capt. Jeff took us to a spot and it was wide-open. This was another new species for me and we had a blast on the lighter gear. We kept a few for lunch and released the rest. And speaking of lunch, Stan -- our cook -- was unreal. I've never eaten that well on the water, and maybe not even on land. Every meal was spectacular -- delicious and well-presented. The things he's able to do in such tight confines is amazing.

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Here's one example of breakfast -- Salmon Eggs Benedict

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Fresh hamachi, which we gorged on every day

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He made fresh calamari, hamachi sandwiches, fish tacos, and several other delectable meals. And of course fresh cookies and brownies. As one of my friends said "Stan, you're not even giving us a chance to get hungry."

After catching enough Calico Bass, we headed offshore for a bit to try for some ling cod but didn't get any bites. Capt. Jeff made a move to the other side of St. Clemente to try for some yellowtail and calico bass. After a decent steam, we arrived to awesome conditions -- and seals. We hooked a bunch of yellowtail but couldn't get any past the seals. But we were having a blast with the calicos, and other various species. Capt. Jeff asked us whether we wanted to stay here or try for the Hail Mary -- another shot at the bluefin. It was unanimous -- go loooooong. We had plenty of fish, a great time, and it wouldn't matter if we struck-out with the bluefin.

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It was a couple hours back to the 43, but Capt. Jeff had obtained some good intel and we got the kite flying quick. This time we flew the kite waaay out to the side. This was our last day of fishing and everyone was relaxing, enjoying the scenery, helping with the trolling/kite. My brother wanted to start filleting the yellowtail while we were trolling -- pretty efficient way to fish. We got some quick pics before filleting some of the fish.

My brothers and me


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After a few hours, we only had one blow-up to show. We were all content and enjoying the last few hours of the trip by gorging on sashimi, and friend calamari, joking-around, and watching the Yummy Flyer. I figured Capt. Jeff would give-up soon, but he didn't. He was on a mission. It was almost dark, and he kept going. I did a Hail Mary of my own, by going down to my bunk and changing into my lucky socks. Can't hurt, right? No sooner than 10-mins after the sock change, we get a blow-up on the kite. Mike was on the rod immediately and came tight!

We didn't care who caught what, we were all friends/family and just wanted to land it. After a few mins, my older brother took the rod. The fish was decent, but we had the heavy rod (Seeker OSP) and then three-speed Avet to put the wood to the fish. After a few mins Capt. Jeff took a turn

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Then it was my turn. We had a LOT of heat on the fish and it came to the boat relatively quickly (maybe 15 mins). I kept the fish away from the running gear, going back-and-forth across the stern as she did her circles. After a few mins we had color and I put the reel in low-gear and we prepared to land it. Everyone did their job -- as the swivel touched the tip I walked back and pulled one last time. Capt. Jeff sunk the gaff and that's all she wrote! We landed our first bluefin just as the sun was setting on a perfect trip -- literally. Here are the glory shots; we were all on Cloud 9.

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The tuna needed a Newport

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The fish had the Yummy Flyer so deep we had to cut it out.

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Everyone was ecstatic -- the trip couldn't have ended better. After the celebrations wound-down, we fished a little more for some rockfish and then made the ride back to San Diego.

Capt. Jeff is a bad MOFO. We'd fished with him before in PV, and now in San Diego. He's young and wants nothing more than to catch fish. I don't know too many captains that would have put in the work he did to keep fishing for the bluefin, burning fuel and daylight until his goal was met. Stan the chef, like I said, was incredible. Mate "Peanut" Mike was also great, as was the other captain "JK." We all had the time of our life and couldn't even bring home all the yellowtail we had, despite loading-up two 100# coolers. It was an easy decision to have the bluefin sent to a processor and shipped-back. 5-Star met us at the dock and took care of that; we should be getting the bluefin any day now. In the mean-time we've been gorging on Hamachi.

Mike and I prepared this back in Florida.

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Older brother back in NY put us to shame

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I can't wait to go back and do another trip, and will do a "true" long range trip before long. I highly-recommend Capt. Jeff Walker and The Success. He will work his @ss off to ensure you catch fish and have a great time. We had a blast. It was also cool to see all the LR boats which i've been following from afar for many years. I easily could have spent an entire day walking the docks, and another day just in the tackle stores, until the money ran out.

I have some more pics on my IG account if anyone wants to follow my various adventures: @marsad_q

Till next time, hope you guys enjoy and/or find this helpful.
 
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bdubs73

Member
Feb 7, 2008
629
961
San Diego
Name
Brian
Boat
none
Great report and clearly a successful charter trip! Your timing was good, the Yellowtail bite has settled in nicely! Glad you enjoyed the SoCal fiery. I have wanted to fish S. Florida for some years myself!
 
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bob1825

I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 11, 2007
    2,606
    1,151
    San Fernando Valley
    Name
    Jason
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    Anyone the fits my schedule
    You did an excellent job with the pictures and report! Two questions, what did you spend a thousand on (I'm a tackle whore too); and where did you get those tacos!
     
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    LitiGATOR

    Newbie
    Jun 21, 2016
    38
    33
    40
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Name
    LitiGATOR
    Boat
    Conch
    You did an excellent job with the pictures and report! Two questions, what did you spend a thousand on (I'm a tackle whore too); and where did you get those tacos!


    I build rods as a hobby and didn't have time to build any for this trip. More importantly, I wanted to see some of the west coast-style rods up close and in person, rather than just looking at specs and numbers online. I'm pretty familiar with the Calstar Grafighters and have about 10 back home, so I bough a 700H for the trip, and also a Seeker Black steel 280H, and then various jigs and terminal gear. I probably would have bought an Ulua as well but it's too long to bring back; that rod would be sweet for our mutton snapper and snook fishing back in Florida.
     
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    bob1825

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 11, 2007
    2,606
    1,151
    San Fernando Valley
    Name
    Jason
    Boat
    Anyone the fits my schedule
    I build rods as a hobby and didn't have time to build any for this trip. More importantly, I wanted to see some of the west coast-style rods up close and in person, rather than just looking at specs and numbers online. I'm pretty familiar with the Calstar Grafighters and have about 10 back home, so I bough a 700H for the trip, and also a Seeker Black steel 280H, and then various jigs and terminal gear. I probably would have bought an Ulua as well but it's too long to bring back; that rod would be sweet for our mutton snapper and snook fishing back in Florida.

    You can order one now and have it shipped! There is a guy who ships rods, etc., he might be able to help you out if you want to ship. Congrats on the purchase. You should come out for the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach one year, and bring $3K! Now about those tacos...
     
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    LitiGATOR

    Newbie
    Jun 21, 2016
    38
    33
    40
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Name
    LitiGATOR
    Boat
    Conch
    Oh and that tacos were from some place about about a block from Fisherman's Landing, which was highly-recommended and didn't disappoint. I can find the name
     
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    LitiGATOR

    Newbie
    Jun 21, 2016
    38
    33
    40
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Name
    LitiGATOR
    Boat
    Conch
    You can order one now and have it shipped! There is a guy who ships rods, etc., he might be able to help you out if you want to ship. Congrats on the purchase. You should come out for the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach one year, and bring $3K! Now about those tacos...

    Lol, I'm already planning on coming to that. Irrational is my middle name
     
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    simmo13

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Nov 12, 2010
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    Lb inshore
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    Simmo
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    19’ baja bayrunner!!!!!
    That is truly an epic trip. Fishy boat for sure. Wow would've loved to been tugging on those jumbo yellows
     
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    rick Jackson

    "Carpe diem"
  • May 28, 2015
    464
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    Name
    RIP Jim Peterson
    Boat
    Glasspar Avalon/SeaQuest
    There is a reason why the Success is so hard to book. This
    is a prime example, great write-up! :urno1:
     
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    Lake

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Mar 31, 2003
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    Are you on the Florida Sportsman's board as Litigator? I remember you from when I lived there over 10 years ago.
     
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    hilltop

    lurking in the shallows
    Jan 1, 2010
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    hilltop
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    sold, pangas, Intrepid, and diggin the RRIII
    Congrats and thanks for the report! Jeff is a full on Gunner, bummed to hear Carey couldn't lead the helm, but Jeff is the Man on that boat, epic!!!
     
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