- Mar 18, 2014
i think i already read this story in penthouse august 1983., or was it a james bond movie i cant remember,early morning alcohol,fast boats,laying the wood on your early morning man crush and getting crabs from tony,ya this story pretty much has it all and drama to spare.congrats on the dig on the guys who posted bf reports,pricelessWent to Dana Pt. with my good buddies Mark, Tony and Seppo. It was an auspicious beginning as the car thermometer read 46 degrees when we pulled up to Mark's boat slip at 5:15 AM. After loading Mark's 32 footer with as much gear and beer as we could, we were off in our never ending quest to kill big fish. No babies for this group-just the big boys!
With grey light showing the way through the harbor, we head for the bait receiver. No one waiting in line and two boats are loading up with Dines while we wait for our spot to open. 3 minutes later we are buying a scoop of what were the best looking sardines that I have seen since 2013. Green and mean were the Dines! Perfect size too at about 5 1/2". We had only one bad actor at the bait barge who decided to try to crash the loading process with a 35' flybridge. He was coming straight at the barge and only missed us by a few inches as the bait guys frantically flailed their arms and shouted warnings to the knot head. As veterans of many, many bait barge battles in Pt. Loma this summer, our alarm of just missing a harpooning by the flybridge monkeys turned to humor and shouts to the flybridge of "is that the best you've got"? Seriously, the San Diego bait barges were the scene of long lines, scores of collisions and fisticuffs this summer all in the name of getting bad bait that would quickly roll.
Mark says that we need more than a splash of fuel to complete our mission, so we head over to the gas dock who is still charging more than $3.40 per gallon of 87 octane. Mark had just brought the boat up from San Diego to Dana Pt., and did not know that the fuel dock did not open until 8 AM. And it's a holiday. Way to go, Mark.
As it is futile to dwell on problems and better to find solutions to problems, we came up with the executive decision to start drinking heavily.If you ever find yourself in such a situation I highly recommend drinking. While drinking has been the cause of much trouble in my life it has also been a wonderful solution. Mark is not drinking as he is the consummate responsible captain.
We are elated and slightly buzzed at 8:10 when the gas dock is opened and we get our go juice. The girl who runs the gas dock was late because she had to feed her horse. If you want to score points with her and maybe get a better fuel price, ask her about her Arabian horse named Shenaya...
Late, 8:15 start.
My buddy's boat hauls ass. No other way to put it. I will forego the disclosure of the exact speed of the boat after seeing the crucifixion of Oishi here last week, when he told the crowd here about the speed of his trips to and from Catalina. I will suffice to say that we go even faster. The 3/4 day boat Helena got bait while we got bait at 6 AM and left the harbor. It is about 15 miles to Box Canyon. While we did not leave the harbor until 8:15, we blew by the Helena, who was going to the same place, about 2 miles before our destination and it looked like they were standing still.
No wind and greasy flat calm water made for optimum hauling ass conditions, but it was not doing anything for the fish. They weren't biting. We have the ability to do a doughnut in only about 15 minutes, around the 100 boats that are spread out over a 3 mile area that is Box Canyon. NOBODY has a bent rod. Hmmmmmm. Gonna have to make this happen all by ourselves.
Fortunately Mark has the best fish finder that I have ever seen. We know what to do to find the fish, but after an hour and a half and multiple stops on good marks there is no love for us except a big Vermillion and a nasty Boccaccio. Yuck. The Boccaccio was given another chance at life, but while slowly swimming home was inhaled by a furbag. I quickly grabbed my jig stick and watched the pinniped circle the boat waiting for another free meal. So as to not encourage the eating machine to harass humans, I waited patiently for him to surface, took dead aim and zipped a Salas 6X Jr. at his head from about 40 yards. Sorry folks...missed him by about 4 inches. Definitely would have left a mark on him if he didn't drown, but I'll have to get him next time. While I was winding in, he came to the surface again and stared at me. I got my jig back and took aim again only to watch him high tail it in the direction of the Sum Fun for easier pickings. He took a good look at me and I doubt that I will ever have another shot at him. He's gonna stay away from me forever.
10:30 and a little bit of depression is setting in. NOBODY is bent anywhere. Suddenly there is a big red and yellow cloud coming into the right side of the fish finder. 240' of water and the mass is at 180'. My jig hits the bottom, I start winding and about 5 cranks from the bottom my Penn Baja Special will not wind any more. Nothing wrong with the reel. The malfunction is that a PIG Yellowtail has inhaled my jig and has me bent HARD!!!
My 40 pound line is tearing off my reel despite the 20 pounds of drag that I have cinched down. After a summer workout with more fish caught on it than any year that I have fished in my life, my drag is showing the wounds of war. The drag is letting line go in bursts-not smoothly. The beast on the line has me bent staight down from my position on the transom. I start short-stroking him while my buddies get into cluster fuck with 2 hooked fish that somehow wrapped a YT that was caught by a neighboring boat. We've got 3 going and I am making slow progress with my short-stroking. This is a VERY big YT. I know that the bite needs to be taken advantage of, and I want to land this guy so that I can hopefully get another while the school is under us. I've been on for about 5 minutes and have him half way to the boat when my brand new, 40# Ande line goes "pop". How in the Hell can I break 40# line???!!!???
My buddies are having no luck either. The dude on the other boat had hooked his fish from the bow. He let his fish swim all the way to the stern and was letting the fish run amok. I'm yelling at him to turn the handle and get to the stern, but he just stands on the bow with a fully bent stick watching line peel off and wrap my buddies fish.
Triple casualty. All 3 of our fish are dumped and the googan next to us gets his. He must have been fishing spectra with very little drag to saw through 2 other lines.
When the going gets tough, the tough start drinking heavily. Seemed like the prudent thing to do.
2 hours later we have covered a lot of ground in search of those fish. The cattle boats and the private boats are not having any luck either. Those 3/4 day boats out of Dana Pt. work HARD for their customers but nothing is happening. Suddenly, I see the school that we are looking for coming across the screen. I had taken a lot of the drag off my reel and was determined to land a big one after my previous disaster. My jig hits the bottom and I wind, wind wind until 2/3 of the line is back on the reel. Shit. Drop it back to the bottom again and speed retrieve 2/3 of the line again. Shit. Drop back again and after 4 cranks BENDO!!! Drag is peeling off easily but there is no structure for my prey to rock me on. He's at 180 ft. and I'm going to get him if I have to swim down there and do the job. Fortunately for me I am dry on the deck when a 28# YT is stuck in the neck with Mark's gaff. He comes over the side and hits the deck with a resounding WHUMP. We're on the board!!!
At this point I would like to give thanks to God, my Mother and all the members of the Academy. Oh, and Beer. I could not have possibly landed this pig without Beer (is there anything it can't do?).
Now we have new life and positive reinforcement. The school left us while I was landing mine but we are encouraged and resume our search for sonar marks. Not long after, we're on them again! Mark and Tony are the one's who hook up first this time. Not wanting to lose their fish, I reeled in, grabbed the gaff and helped direct traffic. Seppo was fishing hard but he couldn't get bit if he went to a pit bull convention.
Tony is the best fisherman that I have ever known. We have fished together for 20 years and he can really put the wood to a fish. His is the first of the 2 fish to go into a death spiral. after about 7 minutes the beast comes into view. It is getting bigger and bigger as it nears the surface and we have avoided a couple traffic jams with Marks fish. I have gaffed 100's of fish for Tony and our orchestration of fishing and gaffing skills ends with a big brute laid out perfectly for me to stick him right where his Adam's Apple would be if he had one. Wham on the deck as we hoot and holler at the size of this 32 pounder and the physique of the great fish. Awesome!
Now it's time to take care of Mark's fish and he has done a perfect job to get it to deep color. It's another big one and he does a great job of circling the fish right to the kill zone of my gaff. Bingo again as the 30 pounder hits the deck. Cosmic.
We're not stopping now. The school had left during the battle but we were hunting them again. No prisoners. After another hour of metering and the mysterious disappearance of most of the private boaters who had had enough of the stink of the skunk they had on them, the dubious red and yellow marks appear again into the right side of the finder. As we get our jigs in the water we look over our shoulders to see the biggest marks that we have seen all day. As we get our iron to the the bottom and getting 2 bait sticks in the water for maximum effect, we start our Yo-Yo-ing. I look at the eloctronics to see the huge school has been followed by another equally giant school. We call in our buddy boat on the top secret radio channel to share in what is sure to be a bonanza.
The sonar is now filled with a third, giant school. The whole screen from 140-180 ft. is filled with red and yellow, save for the 2 gaps separating the three schools. This is going to be epic!!!
After dropping and dropping and winding and winding the sonar screen appears to be showing hundreds of big fish laughing at us from below. Our buddy boat and the four of us on our boat threw everything but dynamite at the schools. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Three fish for us had to be a better day than anyone else had out there. I could confidently guess that 98 out of the 100 boats out there got none. The counts from the Dana Point fleet confirm that they had a very scratchy and dry day despite their hard work in trying to find the schools.
It looked like we only had about 40 minutes of sunlight left so we decided to head for the barn. Light speed home as we past boat after boat who were motoring but looked like they were standing still. We got back to the slip with about 10 minutes of light left and went into boat cleanup mode. In filleting the fish, we found them to be chugged with red crabs. That probably explains the lack of appetite by the late afternoon schools that wouldn't turn-on.
Great day with great friends on a flat calm ocean. Thank you God for the bounty that you gave us, but to the schools that wouldn't bite: "I will be back". Same to the fur bag that I will not miss next time!
My buddy's phone has all the pictures, so I will post them later when he emails them to me. Rock on, and get out there. This is a great start for what will hopefully be a great year again!
Final score: 3 PIGS for 4 guys. Zero babies were killed the the process of our killing adventure.