9 day Excel adventure 09-10 to 09-19-19!

Tom Honaker

I Should Upgrade My Account
Sep 27, 2015
1,151
1,950
63
Hotchkiss Colorado
Name
Tom Honaker
Boat
Royal Star
9 Day fishing trip on the Luxurious 120 foot Excel-beginning 09-10 and ending 09-19-19

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Departure Day 1 Tuesday 09-10-19.



With visions of Wahoo and big Tuna in my head, I experienced a restless night of sleep. Although set, I didn’t need an alarm, as I was up at 4am. I left my home in Diamond Bar at 5:10 am and headed south to Point Loma in San Diego. On the freeway for less than 5 minutes traffic comes to a screeching halt, accident ahead, and a great start to the day? I needed to stop for gas and shortly thereafter my Tire Pressure warning light came on, oh no, I must of picked up a nail? Not feeling any shudders or other symptoms, I continued on, hoping to make it to San Diego before going flat.



There was heavy traffic most of the way, except between Dana Point and Oceanside. Parking spots were plentiful, often like gold on a summer day. I joined 25 other anxious anglers, while arriving at 7:30 am; tire was a little low, but not flat. Something I will deal with when we return. Signing in was scheduled for 8:15 am, Passports mandatory.



The boat was scheduled to leave at 11am; and we began loading at 10:30 am.

I said hello to as many anglers as possible, a few knew me from Bloody Decks, I knew none of them. The charter Master Marty could not make it, and his partner Jerry held those honors. The cooks were Joe and Chuck, second ticket Mike and Sergio, crew of Vance, Keith and Nick, all special crew, well trained. Captain was Justin.



So we pulled away from the dock at 11:30 am, 30 minutes behind schedule. Loading bait on a long range trip is always an experience taking several hours. Some 700 to 1000 scoops take time. Also it is necessary to let the majority of the bait to settle before taking off.



Somewhat similar to a cruise ship, except for buffets, the meals on this trip are spectacular. You should never be hungry, unless skipping a meal while fishing hard.



Cook Chuck put out lots of snacks, as well as fresh fruit, Apples, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Melons, and Pineapple. I brought three books and finished all three before the last day, one almost 700 pages long. I do like to read, and there is plenty of travel time on these trips?



We cleared the harbor at 2pm. Discussions were made on where to start, spend a day fishing locally for Yellowfin and Bluefin, or head south. I was in favor of hitting the hot fishing locally for one day, however, those who had not enjoyed a long range trip before wanted to head south and target the Wahoo, whom most had never caught.



Lunch was Turkey and Bacon wraps. In addition to Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, there were general pastry treats at 10am and incredible appetizers at 4pm, such as Crab Cakes, Lox and Bagels, Jalapeno Poppers, chicken wings, and later in the trip Sushi and sashimi, from donated fish to the galley.



Dinner consisted of Pork Tenderloin, especially tasty sauce, Asparagus, and rice. Desert was Vanilla ice cream and Pecan Pie. I was assigned to stateroom #6, starboard side, forward, and shared it with Sean.



Captain Justin discussed the initial plans for fishing just before dinner. Tomorrow would be a travel day, and we were scheduled to begin fishing early am on Thursday at San Pablo.



At 10:30 pm called it a night.



Day 2 Wednesday-09-11-19



I was up at 4:30 am and the fresh coffee had just finished. It was close to a lake outside and remained that way for the rest of the day. Breakfast was served a little after 6am. There was always fresh fruit and pastries available. Sausage, Hash Browns, Toast and Eggs were on the menu.



Captain Justin stated that we would stop on any promising kelp paddies or breaking fish, so be ready. We did stop on a half dozen or more Paddies, with small Yellowtail and one small Dorado caught. Later in the day Trollers were put out and we did catch one baby Tuna and Yellowtail.



Lunch was Skirt Steak, sweet potato fries and Coleslaw, with hot bread.



Dinner consisted of salad, hot bread, both always served with dinner, Chicken Linguine with green beans. Desert was carrot cake.



It was lights out for me at 10pm. finished my first book.



Day 3 Thursday-09-12-19



I woke up at 4am and headed for the coffee. We anchored up at 6am, weather was stellar. Nothing was biting at this stop, and so we pulled anchor and moved further south for only a ¼ mile. There were lots of high spots in this area. Depth about 100 feet and loaded with structure, watch out?



The Yellowtail began to show, some hooked on dropper Loops and some on fly lined sardines. I Yo Yoed for a while, but no takers and the bottom was certainly treacherous, hanging up a number of times.



I began fishing 30 pound with Flouro on my Saltiga 30 setup. I was picked a few times, and had to be patient, as I started slowly. Finally I got a solid hookup and game on. These fish were all over 20 pounds with many approaching 28 to 30. I landed a solid 25 pounder.

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The bite lasted 4.5 hours, sometimes every bait was a hookup and other times you had to soak a bit for some time. We landed 125 Tails for the morning. I went 4 for 10, a little unlucky, rocked by two big fish, cutoff twice, unbuttoned once and lost a fish due to a nick in the line. With so much action, there were lots of tangles, with line being a constant victim. Both my 30 pound outfits were trashed during the bite, and I needed new line for tomorrow’s fishing, provided nicely by the crew for $10. I could not get bit on 40?



Captain Justin began heading south and told us he would explain plans for tomorrow at dinner. B-Bacon and French toast, L-Jambalaya, served over rice, yummy, an aroma to die for. D-NY Steaks covered with sautéed Mushrooms, Mashed potatoes, and Broccoli. D-Mixed Ice Cream.



Captain Justin announced we would be heading to Alijos Rocks, as we would be the only boat there. He suggested having 40, 50 and 60 pound outfits ready. He emphasized the need to keep pressure on any Wahoo hooked, no pumping, whether bait or lure used, including the troll fish.



Day 4 Friday-09-13-19



Oh boy Friday the 13th, what exciting things will occur? We anchored up tight to the rocks at around 4am. Angler Mike got things started on a dropper loop, landing a 48 pound Yellowtail. Bummer I missed getting a picture. About 6-8 other Yellowtail were caught. All caught on dropper loops. A few 10-20 pound Yellowfin were caught. I spent some time throwing a Raider Jig and got bit close to the boat by a giant Wahoo. It tore me up, diving under the boat and ran down the boat, line screaming out. Was tangled up and it allowed the Wahoo to bite through the line. I was not using wire on the lure, as recommended. Darn!



I managed to land a 15 pound Yellowfin, had several Wahoo take bait, but no hookups. We began trolling after the bite slowed down around 7am. It wasn’t long before the first Wahoo was landed on the troll. Several fish were hooked on bait and also on lures, with the Wahoo Bomb being the most successful. I tied one on, but it was too much effort for me to continue.

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I am only four months removed from open heart surgery, and my arm muscles have atrophied with little use, and with weight lifting restrictions of fewer than ten pounds for several months, rising to only 25 the week before this trip left. I had just started Cardiac Therapy, managed to ride the bike, the tread mill, and light weight lifting for a solid 45 minutes straight with no issues.

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We trolled and caught fish until the winds came up and the bite shut down at about 2pm. I caught my first Wahoo on the troll, about a 30 pounder. I am not sure how many Wahoo were caught; it was not posted on the boat or listed on the website. I’m guessing somewhere between 20 and 25. It was time to head for the Ridge, where Captain Justin said the Tuna were plentiful and it was generally an early morning bite. He suggested having 25 to 40 pound outfits ready.



We stopped on some kelp paddies and caught a dozen small Dorado, with a few 8-10 pounds. I kept an 8 pounder.



B-Sausage, Biscuits and Gravy, Eggs, L-Chicken, served with a Caesar’s salad, D-Baby Back Ribs, Rice pilaf, Brussel sprouts, D-Cheese Cake.



Day 5 Saturday-09-14-19



Anchored in the wee hours, everybody up at 4:30am, and the bite started almost immediately. Both Tuna and Tails were being hooked. A 42 pound Yellowtail hit the deck. I was bit often and put five Tuna on the boat in about 15 minutes. While most were in the 8 to 12 pound range, several 20+ up to 30+. My fifth Yellowfin was big and worked me good. I had to sit down and catch my breath. The Yellowfin was about 30 pounds.

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After a 15 minute break, drinking water to hydrate, it was humid, I was back in action. It was virtually wide open. I caught and released 23 Yellowfin and 8 skipjack, what a workout.



When the bite stopped we began trolling for Wahoo. We had many stops and a triple Wahoo once, several doubles. Both bait fish and lure fish were caught. We found another school of Yellowfin, with more big fished mixed in. They would only bite 30 pound. I hooked a Wahoo, without a wire leader on bait, and a miracle, I landed it, about 25 pounds. I added eight more Yellowfin for the day, most 25 to 30 pound fish.



Crew told me I had kept 11, which means I released or donated 20 during the day, plus the 8 Skippy’s. I was sore everywhere but couldn’t believe I could manage the stamina to accomplish this. I felt a very warm fuzzy feeling for sure?



B-Denver Omelet, L-Italian Subs, D-Yellowtail Picada and Linguine, D-Chocolate Cake.



So very tired, so I hit the sack right after dinner.



Day 6 Sunday-09-15-19



Anchored up on the area we caught this morning’s first Tuna and Tails. Folks were already fishing, with several Yellowtail caught on dropper Loops in the dark. I slept in for me, almost 6am, after yesterday, I had little interest in catching more Tuna and/or Tails.



After breakfast and fishing my second book, I decided to get a line wet. On my first cast I hooked a ten pound Mahi, and then I hooked and released two more 10-15 pound Yellowfin, then hooked a 30 pound Yellowfin and kept him. That makes 12 in the box, 3 more for limits. The bite again lasted four hours and it was all you wanted. I kept my last three for limits and stopped fishing.

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We started trolling and picked up quite a few more Wahoo; on one stop we caught eight to 55 pounds. On both my trolls, I missed, hooked one and it spit the hook, then got hammered again, but did not stick.



There was a spotter plane in the area and a seiner. Captain Justin was told about a nearby dead seal or other animal surrounded by Dorado, so he headed towards it, about 6-7 miles south. As we approached it, there were Dorado leaping everywhere. It was crazy fishing, as a bait thrown in the water was instantly inhaled, as 20-30 fish charged the bait. Just for kicks, some anglers were dangling a bait just in the water and literally could pull the bait out of a smaller fish’s mouth, and choose the one to let eat it. I caught a bunch, kept a couple, and gave a few to those needing them, and released the rest.


There were maybe ten over 10 pounds, with the rest smaller of the 100 caught. Loaded with fish and near boat limits we headed north to look for Bluefin. The wind came up big time and seas got nasty, although the 4-5 foot waves didn’t bother the boat too much. There was a little rock and roll on the swells. You definitely did not want to be on deck as the waves managed to crash as high as the bridge, with a foot of water running down the rails.

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B-Cream Stuffed French toast, L-Patty Melts, D-Pork Chops, home fries, Brussel sprouts D-Parfait.



Day 7 Monday-09-16-19



Travel day. Windy and rough all day.



B-Pancakes, Sausage and Eggs, L-Turkey Meat Ball sandwich, D-Seared Ahi, Mashed and Broccoli D-Cake and Ice Cream.



Day 8 Tuesday-09-17-19



Another Travel day, looked for Tuna in the afternoon and then stopped to make some Rockfish drift’s? We caught a few Lingcod and Reds, Misc. Rockfish. Most didn’t bother, conditions sucked.



B-Steak, Home Fries and Eggs, L-Shrimp Salad, D-1/4 roasted Chicken, rice, asparagus D-Parfait.



Day 8 Wednesday-09-18-19



Winds and seas were calm, as we approached the Butterfly bank and worked our way to the corner. Not much to find, metered some Bluefin several times, soaked bait, not many boils. We didn’t get on a biting school until 4pm. Greg hooked the first one on bait. I fished the flat fall for a little while, then after many types of bait, hooked a big one on 40 and #2 hooks. After a 15-20 minute brutal fight, I landed a 451/2 pound Bluefin. Had to take a break after that one, unfortunately I missed the best bite during this mandatory break for safety sakes. I think we hooked 8 fish in a matter of minutes; no way could I have fought another one right away.

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13 year old Mason was unbelievable, catching everything, most without help, what a trooper, reminded me of me at his age, die hard all the way.

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MY stateroom partner Sean with a big Bluefin

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Later I hooked and landed a 15 pound Bluefin. We certainly lost as many as hooked and maybe landed a dozen? A 50 pounder took the jackpot. We fished until dark, and were asked to break down our gear before the traditional last meal of Prime Rib. It was a sensational way to end the trip.



Captain Justin indicated we would tie up to the fuel dock around midnight, and wait until 5:30 am to dock. I was on the road to Diamond Bar by 7:00am, a truck full of fish, heading to my good friend Lal’s house where he would help me clean fish. Most people got their fish processed, but wasn’t spending money simply to give fish away and my freezer already has plenty of fish.



I was displaying the best of my catch at Lal’s house in Cerritos. Wahoo, Mahi, Yellowfin, Yellowtail and Bluefin.

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Spent 3 hours at Lal’s, then took off to deliver some fish to my mechanic Paul, just down the street, the spent another 4.5 hours removing bones, skin, and red meat, while packaging in zip lock bags for work. I enjoyed some sashimi for dinner.



Overall an epic trip, most likely my last long range, but who knows? I caught over 70 fish total, over 50 Tuna, most released, not counting 10 Skipjack also released. Fantastic and no issues with my heart; except loss of stamina, incredible, God Bless and thank you! What a sensational group to fish with.



Hook up! Cory
Did you happen to see what the water temps at alijos and the ridge were?
 
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Abusaade

Member
Aug 22, 2010
624
413
Compton, Ca
Name
Ahmad
Boat
none
Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip with us. It drew a clear picture of what’s like to experience a long range trip. I am certainly looking forward to my first next year. One question regarding the catch Limits and how it works on such trips?
 
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HK9

Newbie
Mar 16, 2019
1
3
61
So california
Name
Harvey
Boat
195 proteam
Excellent chronology of our trip Cory, I enjoyed meeting you and fishing with you and the rest of the guys and gals on the boat. I appreciate the time you spent with me learning the perfection knot which I have now learned to tie proficiently. Your truly a wealth of information regarding salt water angling. Hope you are on the water again sharing your knowledge with other fishermen soon!
Thanks Pal!
Harvey
 
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stephen campbell

aka "Soup"
Jul 7, 2016
505
844
75
oro valley az
Name
Stephen Campbell
Boat
S/V Bluechablis Valiant 40
2018-16day-excel-guests-web-res-15_orig.jpg


Now that is a "Long range fishing report" one of the best and on "our" boat.
 
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Tunaslam

I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
Apr 25, 2003
20,927
7,169
74
Diamond Bar, Ca 91765
Name
Cory Visser
Boat
N/A
Excellent chronology of our trip Cory, I enjoyed meeting you and fishing with you and the rest of the guys and gals on the boat. I appreciate the time you spent with me learning the perfection knot which I have now learned to tie proficiently. Your truly a wealth of information regarding salt water angling. Hope you are on the water again sharing your knowledge with other fishermen soon!
Thanks Pal!
Harvey

Harvey it certainly was a pleasure to share a rail with you, you fished as hard as anyone I know, well done. Hope we meet again someday?
 
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Tunaslam

I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
Apr 25, 2003
20,927
7,169
74
Diamond Bar, Ca 91765
Name
Cory Visser
Boat
N/A
Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip with us. It drew a clear picture of what’s like to experience a long range trip. I am certainly looking forward to my first next year. One question regarding the catch Limits and how it works on such trips?

30 fish total can be kept, no more than 15 of each!
 
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SCHeadhunter

Member
May 22, 2006
799
1,478
san clemente
Name
Tom
Boat
Sold to the man with $$$
Sounded like classic variety fishing down below. FYI, I have an older gentleman on my trip who tells us every year it’s his last long trip. This year was no different. Funny thing, he’s already sent in his deposit for next year after being home for 3 days.
You will go long again. It’s what we do.
Congratulations on a great trip. They run a nice program over there.
 
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robaire

Angler
Jul 22, 2013
1,109
649
Menifee, CA
Name
Robert
Boat
n/a
Very good write up Cory.
I've never been on a long but maybe one day....

Glad you're feeling well and I'm sure you will have many more excellent adventures in you.

Robert

p.s. if you decide to head down to San Quentin and need a 2nd or 4th let me know.
I've been there 3 times and still no WSB for me. THANKS
 
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apogee

My name is Apogee and I am a Squidaholic
Jan 29, 2009
3,046
2,020
Bakersfield
Name
Apogee..
Boat
Boston Whaler Outrage 28 (End Game)
I was there on that trip. I witnessed Cory (TunaSlam) being consistently hooked up. We fished three days out of the nine. The trip was awesome, albeit my interpretation as compared to the OP. On the first day, before anybody stepped on the boat, on the sidewalk we were gathered into a group where Jerry (Charter master) and Jason (Excel) asked for a collective decision as where to start our adventure. Jason, recommended going local for the YFT and BFT that were in the mix. He convincingly stated "Never leave fish to go find fish" and indicated that the YFT and BFT may not be around when we return. Cory agreed along with the majority of the other anglers with a confirmation head count. I did not agree. I knew nobody, zero and did not want to start my ride with conflict, but I could not live with myself, and stated so, to the group. I voiced my desire to go south and get into some warm weather and water with what I think would have more potential. Afterwards we boarded and let the adventure begin in earnest. It did not take long for the decision to be finalized of where to go for our first day. South, was the direction...Yipeee! The food was your basic grub for the most part. We had a couple of decent meals, one being the steak dinner, and the Jambalaya was very good for lunch on one of the days. Other than that it was Tater Tots, and leftovers for snacks. Really pretty much your standard COSTCO grub. A pleasent touch was there was hot baked bread for every supper. One of the 'cooks', decided he did not like Fox news which several of the older gentlemen onboard requested the TV to be directed, so after proclaiming he did not want to hear the news he would turn the sound down to inaudible levels and activate the caption mode so you would have to read what was being said out of sync with the visual. I felt that it was not his call, not his charter..I said nothing. At the 'Rocks' I got a troll Wahoo, and got bit off on four separate bait hook ups using single strand Titanium wire. The Wahoo, were not biting me off, oh no, it was the "Bronze Whalers" in the 200-300 lb range, frigging attacking and swallowing my hooked Wahoo. Very sharky out there at the 'Rocks'. When we moved back to the inside above (north) of Mag Bay. It got really good. A full mix of Wahoo, YT and YFT with a couple of Dodo's for good measure. We slayed 'em. I caught two Wahoo on my spinning reel tossing a Red/Green Captain Jimmy's Wahoo bomb. Yee haw, spinning reels make a fantastic noise when hooked up to those speedsters..The group was first class all the way. Truly a gathering of eclectic anglers of all ages that worked well with one another at the rail. Best boat ride ever. On the last day of the trip within 30-40 miles from Pt. Loma, we got into a slow pick of BFT. I think a total of seven fish made it over the rail in a collective 7 hour period. As the sunset was ending our adventure, I was looking to west holding my trusty Phoenix Black Diamond 20-60lb stick, with the brutish Talica 10 two speed, all spooled up with Power Pro and a 20' Seaguar 30lb flouro top shot, using a #1 ringed circle hook, I slowly went to retrieve my last bait of the trip that I had on a loooong soak way far away from the knitting party in the corner, and on my tenth or so slow turn of the handle a freight train slammed my bait. The last fish caught on the trip as I reeled furiously into the sunset. How fitting, how perfect.....It was the Jackpot fish!....
I win............Ap

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SCHeadhunter

Member
May 22, 2006
799
1,478
san clemente
Name
Tom
Boat
Sold to the man with $$$
3 days of fishing? That sux
I read his report and it looked like more than three days to me. Did I miss something? Morning at San Pablo, morning at the rocks, two mornings at the ridge, a day off shore for bluefin.
Looking for kelps in between.
Unfortunately it sounded like the rocks were not good enough to stay and put another night and day in.
On our eight day this season we went straight to the rocks and basically got the helmet and left mid day the second day. That cost us two days of fishing. But that’s the way it goes and when you have wide-open bites it makes it all worthwhile. That’s why you go on 8, 9, 10 day trips, so you get your shot at those wide open bites.
And oh the variety too.
 
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Hismosa

I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Oct 15, 2016
    3,046
    4,715
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Name
    Glenn
    Boat
    Boats n hoes
    I read his report and it looked like more than three days to me. Did I miss something? Morning at San Pablo, morning at the rocks, two mornings at the ridge, a day off shore for bluefin.
    Looking for kelps in between.
    Unfortunately it sounded like the rocks were not good enough to stay and put another night and day in.
    On our eight day this season we went straight to the rocks and basically got the helmet and left mid day the second day. That cost us two days of fishing. But that’s the way it goes and when you have wide-open bites it makes it all worthwhile. That’s why you go on 8, 9, 10 day trips, so you get your shot at those wide open bites.
    And oh the variety too.
    He's referring to the grumpy old man above(apogee) who was also on the trip and stated only 3 days of fishing.
     
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    Tunaslam

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
    Apr 25, 2003
    20,927
    7,169
    74
    Diamond Bar, Ca 91765
    Name
    Cory Visser
    Boat
    N/A
    I was there on that trip. I witnessed Cory (TunaSlam) being consistently hooked up.

    Michael it was a blast fishing and sharing past adventures with you, I am still pissed you knocked me out of third place in the Jackpot, all the best! Let's share a rail again soon.
     
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