Offshore Game Changer 5/14-17


Jul 27, 2009
los angeles
Boat Name
17 Boston Whaler

Left L.A. @ noon on a drizzly and grey Friday.
Landed at the landings @ 3 and found a spot.

(Somewhere in Orange County, I noticed a small pickup truck with rods sticking out the back end. The next 50 miles or so, I'd pass him, and then he'd pass me.
I lost him when I got off the freeway at Rosecrans,
but when I pulled into the parking lot, there he was, just ahead of me.
His passenger hopped out to block traffic,
and help his buddy back in.
I rolled up to the passenger, and he says,
"There's a spot right there."
A guy was just pulling out.
I pulled in and said thanks to the passenger,
and hi to the driver.
I wished 'em good luck.
They were riding the Red Rooster.
"Oh, that's a nice boat," I said.
They asked what boat I was on,
and when I mentioned the Game Changer,
they looked at each other,
and looked at me and said,
"Now THAT is a nice boat.")

I took the long walk to the end of the Pt. Loma pier,
looking for my ride.
As I approached,
I could see people on board already,
and a young man was coiling a water hose at the boat's starboard stern corner.
"Work here?" I asked.
"Uh, yeah, I do," he replied.
I told the young man I was here for my two day vacation/cruise,
which was supposed to include fishing both days.
I handed him my suitcase.

He looked at me like I was from a foreign planet,
or a tourist from Texas.
"OK, follow me."

I followed him up the stairs and stepped aboard my home for the weekend.
I followed him into and thru the galley.
He stopped at the second door on the left,
opened it,
and placed my suitcase inside.
"We'll leave it here for right now."

As I stuck out my hand, I asked the young man his name.
When he said, "Ryan",
I said oops.
I've just gotten off on the wrong foot with the one who matters the most.
I realized I've just met the Captain,
and I treated him like a hotel bellhop.
I'm sure I made a great first impression.

I apologized for my error, and told him this being my first time on the boat,
this trip I wanted to be low profile, listen more, talk less, and maybe learn something.
Ryan laughed and said, "Well, we'll either teach you what TO do...or what NOT to do."
We shook hands on it.

I heard a woman's voice say, "Hi Joe!"
I turned and spotted Vicky.
She's one of the owners,
and runs the day to day operations.

Vicky got me situated in my stateroom,
and suggested I take a tour of the boat.
It's a beauty, I think to myself, as I wander around it.
Upstairs, on the rear sun deck,
I run into four good old boys from Bakersfield,
who are prepping their tackle.
Eric the young and Randy the elder on my left.
St. Louis Jason and Big Man Lance on my right.

We chit chat, and then I head inside to check out the lounge/
Back downstairs I wander thru the galley/dining room and introduce myself to Chef Richard.
I provide Richard with a list of my special dietary needs/restrictions.
Richard looks at the list,
looks at me,
back at the list,
and said he would do his best.
And that's what he gave me.
All trip long.

Vicky introduced me to the second ticket, Captain Bryce.
She told him I would be using boat tackle all weekend.
Bryce looked at her, and then looked at me.
"OK", he says.
I'm sure he was asking himself, what kind of reel angler doesn't bring his own equipment?.
I told him not to worry, I did have some experience tuna fishing.
"OK", he says.
Bryce asks where my tackle box is.
I tell him I didn't bring one.
"OK", he says.
He tells me he's gonna rig 3 outfits for me.
A 30# for fly lining, a 60# sinker rig to fish deep, and a heavy rig for the "flat-fall" style lures.
He says he'll go over everything with me in the morning when we start fishing.
"OK", I says.

There was another crew man on the deck.
The young man was prepping for the bait loading we'd be doing before leaving the harbors.
I introduced myself to Brandon, and told him to "watch out" for me.
He gave me "the look".

Another gentleman on the deck, rigging tackle.
He's telling someone about fishing earlier this week,
and catching bluefin on board the Legend.
He's Craig from Ventura.
He's one of those salty, fishy, So Cal guys who looks like he grew up on the boat.
His mugshot is on the bottom of page 44 of the May 17th Western Outdoor News.
(I saw it when I got home.)

Five thirty p.m., we took off, right on schedule.
Cocktails were served while we loaded the bait.
Richard served dinner while we slowly motored offshore.


Tough night.
After months and months of covid isolation,
my brain was not prepared to rest with so much engine noise in the background.

I tried to down a cup of coffee while I learned
the early risers had hooked one fish,
and let it get away.
Looking out the galley windows,
thru the gray and the misty morning,
easy to see the entire fleet has come out here to play,
along with a flotilla of private boats.

Richard hands me a breakfast,
and I go for another cup of Joe.


I'm at the rail, soaking my sardine,
when Vicky hooks one on her sniper lure.
She hands it to Lance,
who put in some work,
before landing a beauty,
fifty, sixty pounds easy.

While Lance was on,
I asked Vicky if she's on all the trips.
She said no, she's in the office all week,
but decided to come out this weekend and have some fun.
She's brought her two dogs along with her.
First time I've fished with dogs,
of the canine variety.
Reminded me of that fat guy on the Wicked Tuna TV show.
The dogs were more fun,
and better behaved,
than a lot of the humans I've fished with.

We kept at it.
St. Louis Jason got on the scoreboard.
Flyline, I think.

Lunch was sliders and bloody marys.

Eric the younger got a fish,
and the Central Cal boys were feeling pretty good.
Ventura and I struggled.


First call for dinner coincides with the Skipper's request to "start a chum line please."
As we leave the table and file back outside,
I look at Richard.
"Always happens that way", he says.

The Chum Line didn't produce...
so back inside for dinner Italian style.

Beat down by the fish today,
and tired from lack of sleep,
I contemplate hitting the rack.


I had just fallen asleep,
now I'm awake again,
and Brandon is telling me to get up "PRONTO!"

When I get up on the deck,
I learn the Excel is on fish,
and has called us in to "get some".
We're hauling a** to get to their location.

The ocean's surface looks like a washing machine.
It's cold, it's wet, it's windy.
Captain Ryan backs our stern up to the Excel's.
Tuna leaping under the big boats lights.
The lads, and lady, tossed their offerings into the melee.
Brandon and Bryce both tried to coax me to the rail,
but I wouldn't bite.
In those rough seas,
it was difficult to stand,
let alone fish.

Thirty minutes later, the lads had 2 thirty pounders to show for their efforts,
before the bite died,
and the Captain motored away from the Excel's stern.
I went back to bed.


Been up since 5,
having an apple pancake for breakfast,
looking out the galley window again.
The fleet has ghosted us.
Nobody here today but a couple of long range boats,
and a couple of Parkers.

Eric the Younger gets one on a sinker rig,
and makes the mistake of asking me to take a photo for him.
I had him pose it this way and that.
Artsy, and fartsy.
Right side up, upside down, sideways until his fish got too heavy to lift anymore,
and he snatched his phone back out of my hands.

St. Louis Jason gets bit again,
and immediately hands it to Randy the Elder.
Classy move,
and the Central Cal boys get the grand slam.
A fish for everyone.

Chicken pot pie soup for lunch.
Just like it sounds.
Perfect day for it.
Thanks Richard.

A long, slow afternoon ensues.
We'd stop and soak baits for nothing,
and then go look for them again.

A couple of us are waiting for dinner,
when Bryce strolls in and tells us to "Get ready."
"For what?" I ask.
"We've got a big school up ahead, boiling on the surface."

I got on deck and saw the few boats in the vicinity speeding towards us.
And we were speeding to those boiling bluefin.
It was a HUGE school and the best sign of fish we'd seen all weekend.

The excitement was palpable on the deck.
All eyes eying the spectacle ahead.

The Skipper slid the boat into position.
We tossed in our baits and hoped.
The school boiled our way,
right where our baits are waiting,
and waiting.
The school split in two.
Half went south, half went north, leaving us in the middle....
but not before Ventura hooked and landed a nice one.

Richard served dinner,
and we continued to look for them.

We stopped to try again.

We stopped to try again.
The Skipper is on the PA,
telling us there is a massive school under the boat right NOW!
Brandon is scooping as much bait into the water as fast as he can.

The Skipper runs down and tells Brandon to toss a lure in the water.
The Skipper climbs up on the tank and digs deep.
He's tossing scoops of beautiful healthy sardines as fast as he can,
and pleading for someone to get bit.

It's a pure human drama unfolding before my eyes,
and a bit of a heart break,
when it doesn't happen.
How many times have we played that tune?
Sang that song?
Seen that picture too?


Five a.m.
Up early.
Back in San Diego.
I said good-bye to my new friends and drove home.
I was recharged, and refreshed.
The weekend had been just the prescription the Doctor had ordered.
It was just about as good, as good can be.



Jan 31, 2020
Boat Name
Awesome report! Read like a Dr Seuss story at times.

Loved the suitcase and hopping on without any gear part.

Oh, and "Get ready!!!" For what?

Glad you had fun on the trip... Talk about Game Changer. Now you're re-energized and ready to take on the world!
Upvote 0


  • May 27, 2015
    Boat Name
    Great write up thanks for it!
    Upvote 0


    I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Jul 24, 2017
    San Diego, Calif
    Joseph Gratteau
    Boat Name
    Valco Westcoaster 150'
    Pics never hurt! Thanks for the story, I could feel the chill of the wind at the rail! I would have said fish thru the s#!€, but it is easy to be brave from afar! What was your kill total?


    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    Costa Mesa
    Boat Name
    LORD HAVE MERCY that's a NOVEL. Great read none the less.
    Trying to eat dinner, had to stop at a suitcase, but no tackle box or rigs. Then after "Special Dietary Needs" (not unusual) but you had me going with "Lunch was sliders and Bloody Marys' LOL LOL
    "Cocktails served while bait was loading"? LOL

    Good you got recharged at least . Ever heard the line=
    "Some fish their entire lives , finding it's not the fish they're after". Faith comes with time on the ocean.
    Wished you'd caught a tuna or 2 and posted some pics. The gang here likes pics of fish and bloody decks. Good luck next trip.

    Upvote 0


    Jul 25, 2005
    Tijuana, Mex.
    That is some good writing! Thanks for the report.... I was on a 1.5 day trip about a week ago and I got 3 hrs of sleep in two nights...thankfully, got 2 BFT (46#,25#) and a small YT after we'd been motoring around for 21 hours with almost nothing to show for it. But yeah, any trip out in the water, fish or no fish, is the best!
    Upvote 0


    Aug 4, 2005
    Irvine, Ca
    Boat Name
    1986 Cabo 216 Cuddy-Con
    Good reports, bad reports and some where in between a report. They all have something of value especially when someone takes the time to detail the experience. I love reading fictional stories as I tend to get all of the senses the author had experienced ones self.

    I like how you identified other anglers on your trip by where they were from.
    Upvote 0

    Tuna Dreamer

    Jul 14, 2019
    San Diego
    Jim Berghauser
    Boat Name
    Long trip when you’re running and gunning without any big stops. Scratching out a couple here and there all weekend makes you appreciate the trips where they are practically jumping into the boat.
    Way to make time for cocktails and commeradery :cheers::beerbang:

    Also, screw the critics, everyone has their own writing style. It’s called ”personality”. And A+ for spelling and proper punctuation.
    Upvote 0


  • Jan 19, 2016
    Jed Venture
    Boat Name
    the twisted ducker
    Great story.
    Last edited:
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