After a 10 year hiatus, this is what I have learned after 3-3day trips this year.

CI_SeaWolf

Member
  • Feb 13, 2006
    591
    798
    Camarillo, CA
    Name
    Tom Farrell
    Boat Name
    Wellcraft 22' W/A
    After a 10 year break caused by life and career, I decided to get back into the offshore fishing.
    The first thing I did was to start studying what kind of fish were being caught and what kind of tackle was being used by successful anglers. I noticed that reels are getting more compact and powerful, and rods are longer, lighter, and more powerful too. I used to read about some of the pioneers that used rail rods on trips for large tuna like Wahoodad and others. We weren’t getting the big Bluefin in the days when I stopped fishing, we still had a few opportunities for Albacore, and the occasional large Yellowfin that showed up in the day and a half to two day range. I was amazed by the amount of success on the big Bluefin. Found a used 1x3 Seeker OSP on the classifieds here, purchased a 16 VISX, and a 40NLD2. Lucky enough last fall to get a spot on a 2 day on the Pacifica.

    Last fall, my trip went pretty good, got a limit of small Dorado, 3 20ish lb. Bluefin, and a 35 lb. Yellowfin. We did try for deep Bluefin at night, I had marked my braid on the 16VISX every 50 feet out to 500. No body on that trip got a fish on the jigs at night, but a few had success with the sinker rig during our last afternoon at Tanner Bank. I felt pretty good about the trip, and knew that I was getting bit and landing some fish. Most of my fish came on finesse gear, a Shikari 8025, with a Pro Gear 322 that I used to use regularly.

    The first trip that I went on this year was on the Pacific Queen. It was originally scheduled as a 3 day, but rough sea and wind conditions made it a 2 day. I hadn’t been on the Queen since the early 90’s, but this trip was pretty good. There were quite a few regulars on the boat, with a smattering of experienced long range anglers as well. Conditions weren’t the best, but I actually got one of the first fish on the trip by being on the troll. I hadn’t heard that Bluefin would take trolled lures, but the deckhands on the queen told me it was a regular occurrence with them. The fish was around 25 lbs or so. Later on in the trip, I watched an experienced guy hook up on a Bluefin during a bait stop on a 250 gm flatfall jig. A fellow angler on the boat had helped me adjust my drags with a scale, and I tied on a 260gm slo pitch jig and dropped down about 150 feet. I came tight on one of my first jig caught Bluefin. I was fishing my 40NLD 2 with 80 braid, 60 lb top shot, with a 5’ 60 lb fluorocarbon leader trace. Drag was set at 15 lbs at strike. Rod was a Phoenix Axxis 740xh. The jig caught fish was another one in the 25-30 lb class. Next bait stop, dropped down again, and got slammed. Drag was pretty tight and I may have been a bit heavy handed on the drag lever, the fish broke off with my slo pitch jig. Still on that stop, switched over to a 250 gm Shimano Flatfall and got broken off again. This time I had tied straight to the mono, but it looked like it failed at the knot. I think I got a bit hasty when I tied the jig on. So, tough trip on the Queen, still came home with some Bluefin.

    My buddy found us a spot on Alan Tani’s charter in June on the Spirit of Adventure. It was a 3 day trip. I had the pleasure of talking with Alan about fighting big fish on the rail, and had watched his You Tube video of a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta and techniques that worked to put the hurt on these big fish. The guys on his charter were super cool, a lot had significant long range experience and were just genuinely friendly folks. I felt a little outmatched by these guys, but was enthusiastic. Captain Evan looked hard for fish, and the food and crew were excellent. First fish came on the first morning, a beast of 150 lbs landed by a very experienced angler on 50 lb line. His deckhand style 6480 was worked, the cork tape on the fore grip was pretty shredded after the fight, and the reel clamp was starting to work it’s way loose. I was impressed with how calm he was during the battle, and he didn’t gas out but hung very tough on that fish . Later on in the day other guys were getting bit on the sinker rigs too. I watched a guy land one on 80 lb gear, and realized that my 80/60 rig would be very taxed by these larger grade fish. I had a wrapper from my old days build me a Rainshadow 76 rod rated for 80-120, I got another 16VISX, and had both loaded with 100lb braid, with a 50’ mono top shot. I cut one of the knife jigs off of that rig, and tied on a 3/0 Charlie Brown ringed circle hook. Using the old school rubber band method with a 10 oz sinker, I dropped down and let out another 50’ of scope hoping to put a bait in the bite zone called out by Captain Kraft. We had been up and fishing since about 2 am, and it was right around lunch time. My drag was set at 30 lbs. The first drop, and I was on! I was amazed what fishing with that heavy a drag setting was like on one of these big “Jurassic Park” Bluefin was like. A deckhand saw I was hooked up and followed me coaching me on what to do. No way I looked as calm as the guy in the morning… and out of shape…. This thing was hammering me to the rail and I couldn’t turn the handle even in low gear. I traded the rod to the deckhand as we headed for the bow, we carefully moved around another hooked fish and around the anchor mount at the bow. We traded back and forth with the rod, even the deckhand said that the drag was tight. We never moved the drag lever from strike on the whole fight. Did I say the big fish are strong? We stayed up on the starboard bow, the fish trying to rub the line on the boat. I kept seeing the 100 foot mark on the line and it was really crazy when we had stuck the rod down to get the line away from the hull. It felt like the fish would pull me in, or my tired arms wouldn’t be able to hang on. The deckhand, (Sir, please excuse me if I forgot your name) was a fairly big guy, built like a linebacker. Even he was moaning as we fought to get line and keep the line off the boat. A short time later, the fish was at color and 2 gaffs were stuck. The beast came over the rail just aft of the house and the two deckhands fell over trying to get the monster over the rail. That fish is my avatar now, it weighed 158 pounds gutted, gilled, and bled. We got 14 of the big fish that trip, but bites were few. I was very lucky. I have to say again, what a great group of guys on Alan’s Charter. And the Spirit of Adventure captain, crew, and cooks did a terrific job.

    My friend and I had looked at a trip on the Vagabond in July as the first trip. It was also a 3 day. The Vagabond also has a great reputation as a fish getting boat. In the line up before we boarded, there were several guys that were regulars on the boat, a lot of experienced long range guys there too, but a few guys that were brand new to our West Coast style of fishing. Talking with the folks that run the Operation, Captain Mike Lackey, and staff, I liked how laid back but responsive they were to questions. Captain Cameron was our skipper for the trip, and he was great, working into the late hours chasing Bluefin, making great decisions to go out and find patties on our last day. The counts had been discouraging in the week or two before the trip, but the day before we left, the PQ had 96 Bluefin, so we knew something good was going to happen. The first night, we got on a crazy good stop for jig fishing. I was in the rack when my pal came down and said there was a good bite going on, I said something like “no way” and rolled back over, kept hearing Capt. Cameron calling depths so in about 10 minutes I head up on deck to see guys hooked up, but can’t find my jig rod. I look in the crowd of hooked up guys and see the familiar light blue purple wraps bent with my roommate winding on a big fish! Glad he got one! After his fish gets landed, he tells me that that 30 lbs of drag is pretty strong….no doubt! My turn with the Rainshadow now and I drop a 320 gm Nomad Streaker down 250 feet. Wham! A nice hard pull and heading up to the bow….. I am excited, but a little tired and get to a place on the rail to put the fore grip down and wind. The fish dives and snap! There goes my 320 gram jig, 200 lb bite leader, sleeves, swivel, etc. The bite is still going, I look in my box and find another jig the same weight but different color that isn’t rigged with a bite leader. I don’t want to waste time getting out sleeves, crimper,swivel, etc., so I talk with my room mate and he says just tie it on. I decide to use a triple surgeon from mono top shot to 200lb bite leader, then single SD jam to the jig. Making sure my knots are clean and tight, I am back in the water pretty quickly. We also backed the drag down to 26lbs. at strike. I drop in on the port side, 250 ft. and wham! Fish on! Heading up to the bow where there is a deckhand stationed. He is relaxed, unfortunately I am a bit excited, but he very patiently coaches me until we get the fish to color. Gaff in and I get on the board with a 50 lb fish. I am tired but the bite is still going off, guys all over the boat are still getting them here and there. We are about to make a move when, on the drop, I get hooked up again, my war whoop sounding off as we head to the bow again to meet the same deckhand up there. Getting tired, I can barely turn the handle in low, but manage to get another one to the gaff. Now 2 50 pound fish for me. I go right back and drop in the same place, another hook up! This one goes to the bow again but seems easier, comes up to the boat quickly and is soon over the rail. It looks bigger than my other two. We tried the next night but they didn’t want to play as much, only like 3-4 for the night. Capt. Cameron makes the call to head south looking for kelps. Last day is patty fishing, nice Yellowtail from 8- 20 lbs. Our friends that were new to the game squared off on some Yellowtail and I was glad to see these guys getting fish. I was trying out my 850H Graphighter with a TranX 500 on it, I hooked a decent one, snapped off, tried again, broke off, finally got one, but ended up 1 for 6. I was upset, and my deckhand guy from the night before was a bit tired of me. I got kind of embarrassed and kind of hated to be around him for the rest of the trip. I didn’t want to be “ that guy”. I tried to redeem myself when we got back in by being one of the first guys to come down and get the dock carts full of fish up. I had a great trip and have to say that the Vagabond operation is top notch! My sincere thanks to Captain Cameron and the entire crew, my apologies for being enthusiastic.

    So a few things learned for me,
    how to adjust and set drags
    slo pitch and knife jigs work
    Bluefin hit trolled lures
    use the rail
    bring a little less stuff
    relax when you are on and listen to the deckhands
    work hard not to be “that guy”
    always try to learn and improve


    Thanks,

    I hope that someone may learn from my mistakes.
    All those that I had the honor of sharing a rail or ride with, thanks and it was a privilege!
     

    surfgoose

    active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    3,896
    7,417
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    Name
    Gary
    Boat Name
    whichever has the longest bunk
    Outstanding report! Welcome back to the game. You will do very well with this newer style of fishing. Being flexible, teachable, open to newer ideas is what makes for good trips. And your deckhand wasn't tired of YOU, he was just tired. Back to back trips like those really exhaust the crew. They earn every dime that you can afford to tip them.
     
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    CI_SeaWolf

    Member
  • Feb 13, 2006
    591
    798
    Camarillo, CA
    Name
    Tom Farrell
    Boat Name
    Wellcraft 22' W/A
    Outstanding report! Welcome back to the game. You will do very well with this newer style of fishing. Being flexible, teachable, open to newer ideas is what makes for good trips. And your deckhand wasn't tired of YOU, he was just tired. Back to back trips like those really exhaust the crew. They earn every dime that you can afford to tip them.
    I really appreciate your feedback! This has been the best fishing season for me in many years. The guys on deck on all of the trips were outstanding! I do try to show my appreciation to them with a gratuity, as well as being polite and listening to them. Those guys really work hard!
     

    CI_SeaWolf

    Member
  • Feb 13, 2006
    591
    798
    Camarillo, CA
    Name
    Tom Farrell
    Boat Name
    Wellcraft 22' W/A
    Where are the pic's?
    2A3409A2-BBBF-475A-914E-31DE4CB5354A.jpeg


    DFC3EF79-003A-4466-BD54-D5D5BF545FCB.jpeg
     
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    Amadeus

    I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Mar 17, 2011
    1,494
    990
    San Diego/CA/US
    Name
    Wai Jung
    Boat Name
    Seahawk II
    After a 10 year break caused by life and career, I decided to get back into the offshore fishing...

    Aside from "minor" upgrades here and there, most of my LR conventional lineup hasn't really change much since 2012 'cause they're all old school and adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle. So, dust off your old silver Daiwa Saltists (hint, hint) and put them back into LR service!!!

    IMHO, 50lb is a reasonable starting point to consider switching to 2-spds...and shifting that threshold lower based on one's physical condition and needs. You've already started "modernizing" with the Fathom and VISX's, so good for you.
     
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