Offshore CONDOR on Lake Pacific

surfgoose

active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    3,313
    5,610
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    Name
    Gary
    Boat
    whichever has the longest bunk
    I just got back this morning (Wed) from a 1.5-day on the CONDOR out of Fisherman’s Landing. It was fun as always, but very strange conditions. I never knew that sometimes the mighty Pacific becomes a LAKE!

    As almost always in the summer, the parking was completely taken when I arrived at 5pm on Monday. I ended up in the motel lot a half-mile away. OK, maybe it isn’t a half-mile, but carrying everything made it feel like it. We are in the middle of another yo-yo Bluefin tuna run. A couple of days of pretty decent counts for most of the fleet, plus a dark moon, had everyone scrambling to get onto a boat. This trip was very light until just a few days before, and we left the dock just one less than a full count of 37. The good news was that the majority of the men were pretty experienced, and even the handful of newbies tried hard to be cooperative. There were very few tangles, and a pretty mellow attitude prevailed.

    Capt. Jimmy, night captain Trevor, George and Kyler and Aiden on deck, and chef Greg in the galley, told us to take a nap because we were rolling at 9:30 and would be night fishing about 1:30 in the dark morning. We all stumbled out onto the deck then and started dropping various lures, flat-fall and several different styles and sizes of knife jigs, and it was DARK out there. A current was running, you dropped at the bow and kept shuffling along to keep your line in front of you as best you could. Every now and then someone would get bit, and it was encouraging that even with all those guys, the CONDOR is so big that we were able to stay out of any serious tangles. I know at least one fish was lost, a drag was too tight and when the tuna took off the line snapped with a sound like a rifle shot. Uh. . . Try again. Two to three fish per hour I would estimate were going into the bleed box, and they were all really nice schoolie Bluefin of around thirty pounds, some a little bigger, a few smaller by a bit. Capt. Jimmy told us that he didn’t want anyone dropping below 80 pound line as long as it was dark, and as far as I could see everyone was fishing the right gear. But it is always tempting to go lighter when you are working hard for hours and not getting bit! Finally about 4am I had had enough and went back to my bunk and set the alarm for 7am and went to sleep.

    I got up at 7, had a cup of coffee and ordered breakfast from Greg. I looked at the count board, and a dozen Bluefin had been tagged during the night fishing. Now the sun was coming up and the boat was motoring around looking for schools, and somehow while I was sleeping we had traveled to a strange destination, Lake Pacific! It was really weird, there was absolutely no wind, no waves, just a flat wake behind the boat. We stopped on sonar schools about every half-hour and chummed and dropped sinker rigs or fly-lined the excellent sardines we had as bait and sometimes the fish would come up and pounce upon a bait and cause some excitement but mostly it was very frustrating. Most of us were fly-lining with 40# and a smaller hook, mostly #1 and 1/0 circles, and trying to get the sardine out far enough away from the hull to be attractive. But it is not at all easy to cast a sardine with NO WIND to help you and the boat just bobbing in the water like a buoy, not drifting at all.

    I tried various lures, including a couple of new designs that I used to try to imitate a small bait-ball of baby anchovies, thinking that maybe the tuna were concentrating on tiny critters and our sardines were just not on the menu at the moment. Nothing happened for me or the several other guys tossing lures. So about 8am I grabbed my heavy spinner rig and added a 30# fluoro leader with a 1/0 mutu circle and started tossing sardines, because I could loft the sardine out far enough so that it did not immediately see the boat shadow and scoot back under. I would change the sardine every few minutes, handling it gently with the little net that I always bring and leave by the bait well for anyone to use. And on my eighth sardine I feel him speed up, then the line starts going out quickly. I give it two-Mississippi and raise the tip and close the bail and let the line come tight . . .Fresh One!

    So much fun to feel that surge, that adrenaline rush of combat with a strong fish! Everyone was very cooperative, a couple of over or under-wraps that Kyler quickly cleared, and then a nice gaff shot and it was aboard! Deep sigh by me, I was on the board, the trip was going to be OK even if nothing else went right for me. As I was tying on a new hook (one fish, one hook is my rule) a young fellow named Hunter that had been fishing near me asked if I would help him with getting his sardine to go out from the boat. So we talked for a moment and I was surprised to learn that this was his very first ocean fishing trip! He had a nice 2-speed rig that he had rented from the landing, and they had sold him a lure and some hooks, but it is a big step from light spinning gear in fresh water to a lever-drag rig in the ocean. Hmmm . . .

    So I rigged up my spinning gear that I had just whipped the tuna with by adding a new hook, showing him how to tie a Trilene knot (I know lots of knots, but the Trilene seems to be very easy for newbies to understand and tie, and it is very strong) and use the net to easily get the sardine that is wanted, and of course he knew how to cast a spinning rig, he just had to remember to manually close the bail. And let him use it the rest of the day. I would love to say that he caught a tuna, but like half of the boat he never did. But he wasn’t skunked! He caught a pelagic stingray, which I never have! It was released so I didn’t get a definite identification, but how cool is that!

    Anyway, the day continued much the same. Very calm, no breezers seen, no thrashing surface fish, a couple of small, empty kelps, and a long boat ride. Not enough wind to keep a kite up. After sundown we dropped lures and sinker rigs down on various schools, to mostly no avail. Everyone tried hard, half the boat never got a bite, a couple of people tagged more than one, one hot hand got three and of course gave one away. The trip ended with 21 Bluefin and 3 yellowfin, all decent fish but nothing over 40#, and one ray released that of course will never be reported. A pretty typical Bluefin hunt! Several boats find schools that want to play and score big, the majority of the fleet scratches away.

    I foolishly left my camera in my car and didn’t notice until 30 miles offshore, so no pictures this time of the trip.
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    11,852
    5,492
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
    Boat
    several
    Great report Goose, God I miss fishing the Big Bird this year. Still in a cast with 2 pins in joint fused/cast, maybe into September. Had hoped to fish soon.
    Been a crazy hit and miss year offshore, and
    bound to continue. Maybe next time you'll get a couple LOL GL then and to Condor crew this year.
     
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    Omarkayak

    I've posted enough I should know better...
    Jul 26, 2007
    1,358
    732
    Northridge, CA
    Name
    Donald W. Clarke III
    Boat
    11+ ft, Ocean Kayak Scrambler, P 'N' Queue Pod
    What a guy! Not only lends his spinner setup to a young angler in need, but leaves his bait net at the tank for others to use (arguably best way to capture a hot bait out of the well w/o effing it up--but who remembers to bring their bait net?) Glad you were able to corral one even though the weather was just too darn nice!

    Good fishin'!
    BDC OK
     
    surfgoose
    surfgoose
    Thanks. I guess very few know that the nets are at every Turners and only cost a buck. Like on most trips, it had disappeared by the end of the trip. 5% flake factor at work.
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    surfgoose

    active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    3,313
    5,610
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    Name
    Gary
    Boat
    whichever has the longest bunk
    I was asked to show a picture of the “bait-ball” lures that I made up. They swam really well, looked great in the water, but didn’t get bit on this trip.

    930FDCC8-6357-4515-8DD9-487EF65D8B0D.jpeg


    FD71A05F-1104-441D-92CB-70453BB3C8A4.jpeg
     
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    Ahkhuang

    Member
  • Mar 11, 2021
    598
    471
    Los Angeles, California
    www.bdoutdoors.com
    Name
    Albert Huang
    Boat
    1975 Hatteras 36C
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    surfgoose

    active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    3,313
    5,610
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    Name
    Gary
    Boat
    whichever has the longest bunk
    Maybe someone who is a lot better caster than I am (and there are many) could loft a spreader bar out far enough without tangles to be effective. The whole reason that I tore apart the Live Target bait-ball spreaders to re-use their non-hook plastic fish was that I found that I couldn't get any real distance or be sure that it wasn't tangled. Those offshore foamers really only give you one chance.
     
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    IBGoose

    Newbie
    Sep 15, 2017
    10
    9
    69
    Imperial Beach
    Name
    Jon Strebler
    Boat
    None
    Thanks for the report. I fished the Condor once, about 4 years ago and it was the only time I've encountered a disinterested, unfriendly crew in 40 years of fishing PL, FL, H&M & Seaforth. Thinking of giving them another try, and I guess you'd say that's a good idea?
    The ORIGINAL surf Goose (since 1969, anyway) :)
     
    surfgoose
    surfgoose
    Well, I'm seven years older, but I'm glad to share the name with you. I got it by having an obsession about hunting brant geese from the mid-60s until we harassed them so much that they stopped migrating down the California coastline. They began flying non-stop from Oregon down to Mexico.
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    surfgoose

    active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    3,313
    5,610
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    Name
    Gary
    Boat
    whichever has the longest bunk
    mike82 -- I have used spreader bars and splasher birds to raise yellowfin tuna on many occasions. But these Bluefin don't seem to take any notice unless you are WAY back behind the boat. And how can you troll at a real distance nowadays when skiffs are cutting your wake all of the time? I don't even bother trolling (and I love to troll, I make lots of different custom configurations to play with) when we are on a Bluefin hunt. But in another two months when we are playing with yellowfin . . .
     
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    Ahkhuang

    Member
  • Mar 11, 2021
    598
    471
    Los Angeles, California
    www.bdoutdoors.com
    Name
    Albert Huang
    Boat
    1975 Hatteras 36C
    mike82 -- I have used spreader bars and splasher birds to raise yellowfin tuna on many occasions. But these Bluefin don't seem to take any notice unless you are WAY back behind the boat. And how can you troll at a real distance nowadays when skiffs are cutting your wake all of the time? I don't even bother trolling (and I love to troll, I make lots of different custom configurations to play with) when we are on a Bluefin hunt. But in another two months when we are playing with yellowfin . . .
    Maybe only on week days...
     
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    mike82

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Aug 19, 2013
    1,065
    762
    west coast
    Name
    mike
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    a fish killing center console
    mike82 -- I have used spreader bars and splasher birds to raise yellowfin tuna on many occasions. But these Bluefin don't seem to take any notice unless you are WAY back behind the boat. And how can you troll at a real distance nowadays when skiffs are cutting your wake all of the time? I don't even bother trolling (and I love to troll, I make lots of different custom configurations to play with) when we are on a Bluefin hunt. But in another two months when we are playing with yellowfin . . .
    i've noticed cedar plugs are taking some BFT lately.
     
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