Offshore I Suck Again - BFT Own Me


Aug 5, 2005
San Marcos
After much reflecting how bad I sucked last week at converting bites into fish on the Memorial 2.5 Day on the Pacific Voyager I figured the first stage of my ego recovering is admitting I sucked. Pretty much everything that could go wrong in catching them big blue bastards, did. Here is a bite by bite recap of the calamities occurred:

Bite 1- 330 am Talica 20 with an 80lb wind on UC GP80 Terminator
The boat had us in the zone around 1am and maybe 10-12 of the 17 anglers on board started the arduous process of flat falling. Weather was a little sporty and the fish weren't reacting so by 315am or so I was the only one left fishing. 2nd Captain Charlie had went up to the wheelhouse to inform them i was the only one at the rail as my bait gets a little scared and a bite occurs. Slowly engage it from free spool to about 1/4 of the drag (set at 26 pounds). Fish still running, I am confident the 2/0 circle hook is in the right spot, I move the drag to strike and it is game on.
This is a new rig to me (borrowed as I am in between reels and my new sticks are at Rob's house in Van Nuys awaiting me) that I was fairly happy with the performance. The fish never settled in and pretty much dictated where it wanted to go. The deck hands implored turning its head to get it stabilized and into a circle but I was unable to do so. Around the boat 7+ times with only one major tangle which was rectified in short order.
After 90+ minutes and maybe 40 feet from the gaff, the bastard of a fish made a run from the bow to the port stern and simultaneously rolled over. The line caught on what I imagine was his dorsal fin which stopped it from taking line, breaking the line. Game over not in the good way. I high five the deck hands to thank them as they went above and beyond with coaching. encouraging and coordinating the under/over dance. I rack my gear and head straight to the galley for a big swig of Woodford Reserve to gather my thoughts. The fish that was hooked 10 minutes after me comes aboard and it was a 190.

Bite 2 - 5am the next day Avet JX Raptor with 50lb test paired with a UC GP80 Mega
Flat falling with a 100gram in the chartreuse white color option, upgraded assist hooks. I hook a bluefin on the retrieve at about 130 feet and bring on a 50lb fish in 15 minutes or so. Skunk off the board, although 1/4th the size of the fish I lost the day before, feel somewhat better

Bite 3 - 830 am or so, same combo as #2
Flat falling with a 130G Katy Perry with a 8/0 Jobu hook and get short bit on the sink. Nothing to do or learn form here as the fish never gave me a shot

Bite 4 - 845 am Same rig
Bit on the retrieve, thirty second deep dive, drag at strike, I suck again. The fish drops the jig

Bite 5 - 848 am Same Rig
Bit on the sink, solidly on for a minute or so, gets weird. Fish un-buttoned. I check my set up and the 8/0 Jobu hook is gone. Split ring still attached, not bent, hook just went poof. Racking my brain trying to figure out what happened and I am in shock. Grab a beer or two and lament WTF could have happened and I cant come up with anything. Charter master comes over and tells me he had the same thing happen to him a few years back with a fish he caught. They gaffed his fish, the FF fell out of the fish's mouth without the hook. Split ring still attached and as strong as ever. I get over it and chalk it up to some times weird things happen

Bite 6 - 10am Same rig
I add 2 assist hooks to the top of the 130g Katy Perry and a 5/0 treble hook to the bottom. We are still on the same drift in a plunker bite with fish anywhere from 40 - 65 lbs coming aboard.
Fish are deep, I drop deep and get hammered on the retrieve at the same time my new buddy gets bit. I run up to the bow where the fish alternates from the surface to straight down, deep. 15 minutes through the fight I get chewed off. 2 hours or so later after multiple hand offs, my new buddy lands a 170 or so on 100lb test! Lesson to be learned here is i stood zero chance at landing my fish. Chalk it up to the price to pay for using 50lb gear where there are monsters around. The big ones had not shown in this new area but we all know they are out there.

Bite 7 - 6pm Talica 20 with an 80lb wind on UC GP80 Terminator
We motored further south about 18 miles with some intel that bigger fish are biting. Crew says nothing less than 80lb and we settle in for a plunker bite. I get bit on the slow retrieve and it makes a long run. plenty of line, no worries. Slowly gain 10 feet, lose 8, gain 15, loose 10, etc. Drag at strike as the fish is settling in nicely. 45 minutes in after a few trips around the boat, the line goes slack. FML. 3/0 hook attached was bent and opened up considerably.
Not feeling great about my abilities I chalk it up to the fish not being hooked in the corner of the mouth. Bad luck, back in the water I go

Bite 8 - 730 pm same set up
Deckhand Mitch set me up with a nice green back that gets inhaled as 5-6 of us hook up at the same time. I slowly engage the drag from frees pool to 1/4, then slack. The fish broke the line about 2/3 up the wind on. I feel stupid as I should have inspected. I made the same mistake 4 years ago and I guess that is how long it takes to forget about checking each connection, knot, line, etc. after each bite.

I am having an internal pity party as I have been humbled the last two days. Once I get my panties out of a wad and lick my wounds I do a little reflecting. Not sure on the numbers, but I got bit more than the average and had a nice 50lb fish in the RSW. Certainly my land ratio sucked and I hope that getting kicked in the teeth by these mean bastards makes me better.

The deckies were of the opinion that cold water bluefin this time of year are meaner now than fish in the summer or early winter. Certainly I would agree as all 5 of my 125lb - 150lb bft I had wrangled previously all succumbed to the gaff in under 20 minutes on similar gear. Maybe they were just massing my ego on my multiple failures but maybe not?

It is what it is, a little bad luck, a lot of sucking on my end and lots learned. A great crew and a great group of anglers would have had me enjoying myself with no bites. Made some new friends, caught up with old friends. Only real bad part now is I don't get to seek my revenge until early July as I have work trips scheduled out of town most of June. I will be ready with the rest of my new sticks and a few new reels!
Benny Mora
Benny Mora
In would rig your flat falls and jigs with 200# pound mono. I hooked and landed 4 fish on the same flat fall on Monday.
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Marble collector.
Sep 20, 2005
My Backyard
Great post. In the end, you have caught more big BFT than 90% of the people here on BD. 50 lbs is better then zero.

I am having an internal pity party as I have been humbled the last two days. Once I get my panties out of a wad and lick my wounds I do a little reflecting. Not sure on the numbers, but I got bit more than the average and had a nice 50lb fish in the RSW. Certainly my land ratio sucked and I hope that getting kicked in the teeth by these mean bastards makes me better.
Certainly I would agree as all 5 of my 125lb - 150lb bft I had wrangled previously all succumbed to the gaff in under 20 minutes on similar gear. Maybe they were just massing my ego on my multiple failures but maybe not?
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I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 11, 2007
    San Fernando Valley
    Anyone the fits my schedule
    Great read! Thanks for sharing. I sometimes forget to check my drag after catching a fish. Happened to me at Guadalupe about 5 years ago and a month ago on the Polarus Supreme. Zing pow!
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    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    Costa Mesa
    GREAT REPORT AND RECAP. Good info for all too.
    ONE be mo betta than NONE LOL
    I wouldn't whine about not fishing til July, I haven't fished since shoulder replacement surgery. Then torn deltoid surgery 2yrs back. Now looks like gone MetaCarpel Joint rt Thumb surgery in July. I might not fish full on again til next year. Get one for me!!! LOL
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    Live in Oregon/Love to Fish San Diego!
    Jan 10, 2010
    Junction City OR
    Rod Lathrop
    24' North River Seahawk Hardtop "Sun Dog"
    Doesn't sound to me like you suck... Lotta great hook-ups/tons of fun! I learned from reading your post Thanks! My thoughts follow; you're probably a much better angler at this fishery than me (I'm still learning/only 4 short trips from San Diego) but here goes my thoughts FWIW...

    #1. May fall into Rule #9 of my favorite BD Post ever:

    9. Taking too long to fight and land a fish

    "The longer you fight your fish the more things can happen to produce a negative result.... I remember a captain telling us, “after the fish swallows your bait, nothing good can happen in the water"."

    90 minute is a long time; could have been a Super Cow I don't know. I would have been tempted to go to more drag. With 32 - 35# of drag you might have been able to force the head to turn more. On my recent trip on Tomahawk I boated a 185# BFT in 20 minutes, fought at 33# of drag, up to 40# to finish the deal for the final 100'. Deck Hand Brad (excellent!) coached me on angles to keep the head in the right direction. I was using 100# fluoro leader with a C-hook.

    #3. Maybe try a bridled jig with a C-Hook. I went 4-for-4 with bridled jigs (AFraser style) on my trip on Tomahawk last week. 2 on the drop/2 on the retrieve. All were solid hook sets wrapped perfectly around the jaw bone.

    #4, #5 and #6. Maybe same answer as #3. With a big C-hook tied direct to your fluoro leader there is almost nothing that can go weird or wrong or produce a chew-off. I only had one tiny blemish in my leader, probably from where it rubbed the tail during the fight.

    #7. Sounds like you did everything right. What type of hook? I have seen several of the Mustad Ultrapoint Demon Circle hooks open up; a guy was using them on one of my trips on the New Lo-An. Captain Adam specifically warned us against this hook...

    #8. Yep. Thanks for the reminder/sorry you had to re-learn this lesson the hard way.

    Nice post Thanks for helping us all think theses things through. You sound like the kind of guy I would like to share a rail with! On my trip last week I was also the only person still fishing at 0330!
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    I'm not superstitious... cuz it's bad luck.
  • Aug 6, 2016
    SoCal - Corona
    I know a couple guys...
    Sometimes losing a fish is preventable and other times it's not. Some new lessons to learn from and at least one to re-learn (checking connections).

    I learn something new every trip and the best lessons come from the toughest days. I'd say you might of chosen to fish the heavier set up as the primary and drop down to the 50# gear only if not getting bit.

    Good news is that you have some good stuff to think about when you are enjoying some of that BFT.


  • Jul 18, 2008
    22 glasstron
    You’re learning, that’s fishing. Good job hooking them. Gotta balance that hook to the drag. I let circles run 2-3 secs, point rod at fish, engage reel, cranking on the fish until I feel the mono (lots of it) stretch. I then lift the rod to 60 degrees while still cranking, cranking, cranking. At this point I make sure that I’m pulling hard enough to drive that barb into the plate of the fish’s mouth if it didn’t run hard. Sometimes you turn their head and they swim toward you. If I feel this I crank and got for a couple quick hook sets. Circles can stick other places than the jaw corner.

    Sounds like you’re doing well in cow town. Only other advice is to have a deck hand check your drag. Drags can fade or bind more on a fish, in the rack, under heat; thermodynamics and shit. Check them often, consult with a deckhand. Making a 200 lb cow turn it’s head and settle in? Gotta be 100% on your A game and even then, it’s fishing.
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  • Jul 18, 2005
    Chula Vista
    18.5 Boston whaler
    Well, those big brutes can humble you. You got on the board quick. And being that I've only lost one Bluefin ever. I'd say you'll slay them next time. And I bet that 50lber tastes like Victory either way. Bluefins only exist in photos and on tv for me so far.
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    You'll never know, unless you go.
    Jun 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Grady-White Sailfish 274
    Great read. Any successful large game angler has gone through similar trials. My opinion, bigger gear. I was never successful until I ran 130 lb braid all the way to 300 lb leader, large 2 speed real, and muscle it in before it ever gains a second wind. Before that, when fights took more than 30 minutes, I always lost.
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  • May 27, 2015
    Shit ton of bites fuck it next time fish the 100lb as much as possible only drop lower when there no other options fish the flat with 150lb when you can 100lb when you cant use the 150lb and fish the 80lb leader when they wont bite the bigger leader I would never use the 50lb I rather have no bites then get my ass handled to me , run the supper heavy upgraded hooks and that's all you can do the fight is the fight you said these fish are meaner leave it at that great report! Still a sick ran at them!!!
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    Almost A Member
    Apr 28, 2017
    San Diego
    Joe Curly
    Takes some pretty big cohones to make such a humbling post when just about every other thread these days has pictures of amazing monsters that were slayed. For that, I commend you.

    My best words of advice here have already been echoed by others and yourself, and that's just to accept that you can improve by paying more attention to those things that you can control, and critically think about what could be done even better in the future.

    These are not "easy" fish to catch, and it does drive many (myself included) a bit insane sometimes, but if you can persevere through the hardship, heartaches, and the bad times, and stick with it, you'll have your share of successes as long as you constantly strive for improvement and DO NOT GIVE UP! EVER!
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