Late Report: CLUBFISH Pacific Voyager charter Nov '18

Discussion in 'Southern California Offshore Fishing Reports' started by NorCalSoCalIDC, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. NorCalSoCalIDC

    NorCalSoCalIDC Member

    Location:
    Oceanside
    Name:
    Ernie Gorham
    Boat:
    11' SportCat Truline
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    Edit: Some of these photos were taken by Robert and Rachel, so I do not have ownership of all photographs included.

    After a little bit of a long-term weather forecast scare, the trip was set to depart as scheduled on Thursday, November 15th, at 10 am. This trip last year was, well, epic, (https://www.bdoutdoors.com/forums/threads/tl-dr-3-5-days-of-epic-on-the-pac-voy.672183/) so I was happy to see a number of familiar faces. It was all smiles as we sat outside at Seaforth Landing catching up; the air full of that unbridled optimism that only the start of an exciting journey can bring.


    Once on board I met the crew for this trip. We had Mitch and Cody on deck, Charlie running 2nd, Geoff in the galley, and Mark driving the boat of course.


    crew pic.JPG


    Mark gathered us in the galley to talk about the fishing. He informed us that the bluefin that had been sitting on the Cortez for the last 3+ weeks seemed to bug out the day before, but he’s happy to go look for them. He also had some really good YFT and dorado fishing down off Colonet recently so we had that in the back pocket just incase. In the end, we all had dreams of our trip last year, not to mention lots of shiny new rail rods and 2 speeds, so we rigged up gear from 30#-100# as the boat pointed it to the Cortez.

    reflection rods.JPG


    We arrived around 10 pm but the first night was fairly uneventful. Charlie said he metered a few fish as we were heading up the bank but wasn’t seeing much. At some point some squid showed up, so a few of us tied on squid jigs and were able to make 40 pieces or so, but that was all we caught that night.


    I had a couple cups of coffee in the morning and began to buzz with caffeine and anticipation. As the sky began to go from black to gray Mark said good morning on the PA and we started looking around. The morning was pretty slow. We had one stop around 8am for a few hookups but a few bonito came aboard first. Ed “I fish one line class lower than everyone else” Sun had what seemed like a better one on and soon landed a 25 lb BFT.


    Not long after, we stopped again on some marks but again it was mainly bonito. Chuck was fishing a sliding sinker and squid and started to burn it back to the boat when he was bit. This one was obviously a good one, and soon a 45ish lb bluefin hit the deck.


    Then we drove right over the high spot on the bank. Mark said it was full of life and he saw a few bluefin boils and some yellows on the sonar. We dropped the hook to give it a half hour to see what happened. I fished four baits for four bites and four bonito! Meanwhile the smarter anglers were fishing a yoyo and landed a couple 10-15 lb yellows. I tied on my own, dropped it to the bottom, and starting winding. About six cranks up I get stopped! It was exciting for a moment, but really wasn't pulling very hard and I had suspicions that was another bonito. A few more cranks confirmed it so I shook it off at the surface to live another day. By then Mark had seen enough so he got back on the PA and told us "wind em up let’s go find em."


    Mark talked to the fleet and gave us the report. Basically no one was seeing anything on the bank. The Thunderbird and The Freedom had been fishing some 20-50 pound yellowfin east on the Condom Bank and had 20+ so that seemed like our best bet. It was a two hour run so I grabbed a Cola and went up to the bow to enjoy the ride. Robert and I spent the time trying to decide if the weird looking water spots we were seeing were schools of fish or just isolated wind pockets. As we passed one I saw one splash confirming they were fish but a slight turn of the boat told me Mark had something else in his sights.


    Moments later we arrived in the area and immediately saw a huge pod of dolphin. We stopped and threw some chum once then twice, but weren’t getting much of a reaction. Luckily the third time was the charm and the fish started boiling on the chum a little. I dropped a bait over on the slide and hooked up! Several other anglers started to hang some fish as well and soon a 40+ lb yellowfin came aboard. There were some casualties and a lot of short bites happening where they would run with the bait for two seconds then drop it. I took a minute, dropped in another nose hooked sardine, and felt it get nervous, nervous, bit!!!! I landed another beautiful YFT but the bite died after that. I only realized how lucky I was to land two when the smoke cleared and I saw they only dropped fifteen off this stop.


    I was using a tiny number 2 J hook which I think helped me not get short bit, but who knows.


    Seems like a good time to mention the gear I was using. All of my tuna (except for two) came on a Shimano Terramar 9’ 15-40 lb paired with a Avet JX spooled with 65 pound braid tied directly to a ~12’ 30# Seaguar blue label fluorocarbon topshot. I started with the #2 J hooks until I misplaced that pack then switched to small 2/0 circle hook. I have fished these J hooks on a number of trips where the tuna were picky and have had good results getting bit. I fish them just like a circle hook and more often than not get a good hookset in the corner of the mouth.


    The other two I landed on a Avet LX with a 50# blackwater topshot and 2/0 circle hook paired with a 7’ 30-60lb.


    As we got underway again Mark came over the PA. He told us the Sea Adventure 80 had a stop for 100+ mixed bluefin and yellowfin from 30-70 lbs that day (longboard85’s November report!) so we were headed in that direction. Just as it was starting to get really dark we hooked up on the troll! Almost everyone was in the galley eating dinner so the few of us on the deck slid a bait back. We pretty much all hooked up, but it was a mess in the dark as we couldn’t see the lines well and these school sized yellowfin were darting every which way. Luckily Cody and Mitch were on it and we landed a half dozen 20 lbers to end the first day.


    P1015333.JPG


    Dinner was great, and with a few fish on board I was happy to relax drink a few beers. I set the alarm and nodded off.


    As usual I was up way too early, and again the night time hours were largely unproductive. Ying put out a giant squid on a balloon to no avail and we made a few more pieces of squid but that was about it. Right around 4:30 Mark turned the engines back on and we started looking. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before we stopped. Most of us were fishing Flat falls in the dark but Ronnie was fishing one of the new Tady Slow Pitch jigs and was the first to get bit. It was a good one, but not a jumbo, and it didn’t take him long to land a ~50 lb bluefin. I know Justin hooked one as well but these fish will rock you if you’re not ready and his won its freedom.

    Jstin battle.jpg


    The entire fleet was here and shortly Mark came crackling on the PA.

    “Wind em up guys lets get on another, I see a few boats are hanging fish this stuff is biting we just gotta get on a good one!”

    We were driving no more than 10 minutes when he came back on the PA, making no effort to hide the excitement in his voice.

    “Throw some bait here Cody, it’s coming underneath us real good right now!! Oh yeah, this stuff is starting to fluff up now we’re gonna see some boils! Get some baits in the water guys this is it!!!”


    I drop one in on the slide, we started seeing a few boils in the chum, and zzzzzzz “FRESH ONE”. We get a handful going right away and we start the “over, under, hot rail, taking the corner” routine. I was careful with this fish and didn't pull super hard so this fish took me over 30 minutes, but eventually they sink a gaff in it and a beautiful ~50 lb bluefin comes over the rail.


    Now the plunker bite started. The weather was so good that there was effectively no wind and no current. It made it difficult to get a bait to swim away from the boat nicely, but there was almost always one or two going and someone would hang a new one every 10 minutes or so. It felt good to have the skunk off for the day but I was seemingly in a slump and couldn’t get bit for the next hour and a half. I knew it was all about time at the rail though, so I nose hooked another sardine and walked up to the bow to cast. Good thing I did.


    As I got to the bow Ronnie looks at my bait and says something to the effect of “you’re setting yourself up to fail there, you should butt hook it.” I will not lie, my first reaction was my fisherman’s ego thinking I’ve got four fish already, certainly more than most on the boat, and all have been on nose hooked dines. Yet as proficient as I’ve become at this offshore fishing thing, I know I am relatively new to this. I’m also not an idiot, and most of my success so far has come from copying what the best fisherman were doing. This guy is a commercial fisherman that landed more cows this season on his private boat than most will see in their entire life. When I asked the deckhands for a crimped leader for my flatfall they told me Ronnie would probably do it better. It was obvious this guy is a slayer, so I quieted my ego and thought about what he said.


    While I did have four fish so far, three were the day prior and the one this morning was on the slide when your bait doesn’t really have to swim away from the boat at all since the boat is still moving. I used to almost exclusively butt hook baits but recently switched to nose hooking for bluefin after hearing about how bluefin often pick up the bait when you wind in.


    Ronnie spoke back up pointing to our two lines in the water, “see how my bait is way out there compared to your bait? Normally how you hook it wouldn’t matter as much but with no wind and no current butt hooking gets it to swim away from the boat the best by far.”


    I swam my bait back to the boat with no takers and figured screw it let’s give it a try. I butt hooked a big sardine and pitched it off the bow.


    The bites were sporadic with a mix of quick bites and long soakers. Jon Cook had just hooked up on a very long soak, so I kept giving my bait more and more line. I thought about reeling in this bait several times, but each time I’d feel it kick again and think just a few more minutes. Eventually Ronnie next to me reels in to start over and I think okay, five more minutes then it’s time for a new bait.


    Almost on cue I see a boil way out around where my bait should be and get picked up. It had been quiet the last hour so I woke everyone up with a very loud and excited “BITERRRRRRRRR!!!!”. Ronnie gave me that look that almost said I told you so in the nicest way possible and I just grinned. I had almost 100 yards of line out when this fish bit but eventually I got him a little closer to the boat when two other anglers follow fish up to the bow. We’re doing our best but one is circling while the other is out far and soon enough me and Chuck were wrapped. I backed my drag way way off and handed the rod to Mitch who started figuring out which way to unwrap. I somehow had a good six wraps around Chuck’s line and I figured 50+ lb fish, 30# test, tangled, yeah I’m losing this one for sure.


    Luckily Mitch is a boss, unwrapped them, handed me back my rod and said get this thing. Now it was 100+ yards out again from me backing the drag off so I started over. I figured time was my enemy now so I bumped up the drag a smidge and got it up and down. Bumped up the drag again, put it in low gear, set the rod on the rail, and cranked the fish up the last 40 feet. Somehow Chuck and I both landed those fish!


    There was something cool happening. Most of the boat was butt hooking at this point and every time someone popped their bait off to reel in it would get boiled on immediately. You could fish it for 30 minutes for nothing and within a minute of reeling in BOOM. It got to the point where it was predictable, so we’d watch for it as we wound in. It was pretty fun.


    Shortly after eating breakfast, I got bit, but suffered my first loss of the trip - a quick pulled hook. I baited up again and walked to the port corner. Whoever was working the tank excellently tossed some chum just as I was casting and immediately I saw a big ole yellowfin tuna boil on the baits! He took the chum first as my bait darted six feet to the left. Not fast enough though, and a moment later I watched this 40+ lb yellowfin eat my bait five feet from the boat! I got a little too eager though, and I think I put it in gear a little early due to seeing the bite instead of really feeling it, and two minutes later pulled my hook again! A little disappointing but it was exciting as hell anyway.


    By now pretty much everyone was in on the action. Bob had some trouble getting bit at first but Jon Cook was a real gentlemen and helped him with bait selection. Soon enough every time you looked up there was Bob hooked up on his Tranx.


    IMG_20181117_133936.jpg

    bob bent.JPG


    Rachel needed no help getting bit. Oh and did I mention there was no wind? Look at that glass.


    rachel bent.JPG

    IMG_20181117_131938.jpg


    Jon Cook hooked up himself and looked at his phone saying “let’s time this fish.” He was fishing 40# and put the wood to it, decking his fish with a <5 minute battle.


    jon cook bent.JPG


    Charter master Steve Young was smashing it, not looking a day over 60.


    steve bent.JPG


    Bill got involved in a couple epic battles on his spinning rod. At one point I wasn’t sure who would give in first.


    P1015375.JPG


    Luckily Bill ended victorious!


    bill gaff.JPG


    All the fish we’re being caught on sardines, but at some point Mark put down a squid on a sliding sinker and hung one himself!


    IMG_20181118_090839.jpg


    Robert was doing work all day as well, and at one point put a beautiful yft and bft on deck back to back before they had time to drop them.


    image2.jpeg

    image5.jpeg


    Ed Sun, to no one’s surprise, was whacking them all day. He likes to challenge himself and move down line classes. I’m pretty sure he got one on 20# when I joked about having 15# in my box. He laughed and said "if you try it I will too!" We never ended up going for it but in retrospect I wish we would have, just to see if we could have landed one of these on it.


    IMG_20181117_153457.jpg


    I got bit again and by this time had developed a sort of system I used for landing these fish on 30# in a timely manner. Essentially when bit put it in gear just below strike. After the first couple of runs when it settles in I bump it up to strike. When it gets up and down I bump it up a little more, and the last 30 ft I’d bump it just a tad more and put it in low gear. When this one hit the deck I took the time for a photo!


    my fish pic.JPG


    It was an amazing mix of beautiful grade yellowfin and bluefin. At some point a few 20 pounders swam through which looked just tiny compared to the others. I’m pretty sure we even got a couple skipjack. I got one of the ‘little’ 20 lbers and another cookie-cutter 50 lber and by 3:30 I was 5 for 7 for the day.


    I felt a little chill from my wet shirt but I have a really hard time taking a break to do anything when the fishing is good. I definitely wanted to fish sunset but was really started to get pretty cold. I made a quick decision to take a fast shower now while there was no line, put on dry clothes and a jacket, and was back fishing by 4pm.


    At this point Ronnie had hooked one on 60# and the sun was beginning to set so I grabbed my 50# set up. I launched a bait off the port corner and stepped into the starboard corner as we saw a boil right around where our baits were. Line started racing off my reel and I realized I was the lucky one. Turns out you can pull pretty hard on 30#, and much harder on 50#, and soon I boated another.


    Now I probably had 400 pounds of whole tuna on board, so I did what every self respecting tuna angler would do. Cut off my hook, trimmed my chafed leader, and got back in the effing water. I lobbed this sardine off the corner again and instantly lines starts racing. Already? I think to myself, put it in gear, “FRESH ONE!!!!”.


    I hear one of the anglers next to me say something like “OH COME ON” when I hooked up again so quickly. I know the feeling of not getting bit when others are so I understood. While it was a very good day of fishing and some of us were having banner days a few anglers were struggling a little. However, it's all relative, and I think the coldest stick had three 50 lbers which on almost any other trip would be an awesome day.


    I put that fish on the boat as well and couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.


    The sun was setting and I rigged up a sliding sinker to fish squid into the dark (What can I say, I’m an addict, I can’t stop) but Mark called us in the galley. He congratulated us on an awesome day of fishing and told us they had dropped 120 fish today bringing our total to over 140 mixed bluefin and yellowfin! The average was probably 50 pounds and we didn't have room for many more. I know it sounds crazy to leave tuna fishing like this but this group has a special thing for rockfish so we decided to head back to SCI for the night and spend the final day fishing rockfish and the island for whatever was around.


    I passed out early and was rolling around sometime in the middle of the night when I heard Charlie come down and wake up Mitch and Cody saying “squid came up in the light good get up and get the crowder.” I was awake anyways so I slipped on my boots and jacket and went up to see how I could help and or, more likely, get in the way to satisfy my own curiosity.


    Now again, I’m relatively new at this, but I’ve seen squid float before. I even thought I had seen a lot of squid floating before. I was wrong. I had never seen anything like what I saw when I came up to the deck. It was so thick it looked like you could walk on it. I could have made SCOOPS with just a bait net. The photographs don't do it justice.


    IMG_20181118_035217.jpg

    The squid was so thick it was clogging one of the generator’s intake flows. The next 30 minutes was a fire drill for the crew. The boys crowded thousands of squid while Mark had to keep popping in and out of the engine room to start and stop stuff so the generator didn’t overheat. Tensions were high for a few minutes but eventually they got it done and the boys bagged squid for their freezer for the next year.


    The rockfishing was slow compared to our trip the year before, but it was still probably the 2nd best rockfishing day of my life. It was fun rockfishing with live squid! My arms were sore and everytime I reeled up I’d tell myself that’s enough punishment, no more, then someone would bring up a lingcod and I’d say f*ck it one more drop. At one point I felt a really good bite then seemed to get stuck. But I wasn’t quite stuck because it would give just the tiniest bit if I pulled really hard. I was confused and gave Charlie my rod to feel what was going on. He shared my confusion but kept hammering on the thing and eventually pulled up what would have been my PB red (I’m not counting it since he did the work) and some old shrimp gear. Eventually we all had enough cod and we went to look for yellows closer to the island.


    IMG_20181118_062806 (1).jpg


    We metered a few and tried a couple spots but never got a bite so Mark moved us into a cove by some kelp and dropped the anchor. I grabbed my bass rod I had brought and put a little glow in the dark slider on before the hook and started fishing live squid. It was really fun kelp fishing on the light gear and I caught a nice 3ish pound calico I released and a couple 16 inch sheepshead I kept to make a crab (fish) cakes recipe I hadn’t had the opportunity to make in a few years.


    I hooked something else that felt really strong on my light gear. I battled it for a while then it wrapped itself in some kelp. Everyone was watching as there wasn’t a ton happening at the time and Ronnie saw and told me to free spool it so it might free itself. I listened and sure enough it freed itself and I resumed the fight. I get it up to color and see a nice little ~5 lb yellow! I was about to tell Charlie we can release this thing but he gaffed it before I got the words out. I wasn’t bummed though, it made a fine addition to the sashimi sampling platter I put together for the family after the trip!


    As the sun set most of the anglers retired while Robert, Mitch, Cody, and I enjoyed a pretty nice short calico bite on live squid that would have made Bill Dance proud.


    Mario’s fish processing met us at the dock the next morning. Taking out every tuna, wheeling them up, and sorting them was a ton of work but everyone pitched in to expedite it. I ended up taking a few fish whole, gave away a few to other anglers, and gave five to Mario’s to process. The five tuna I had processed went 255 pounds, a testament to the quality of these fish.


    Overall it was just an amazing trip. The charter vibe is so much friendlier and welcoming than open party trips and the group was a blast to fish with. I learned a ton, got a lot more experience fighting these beasts, and just can’t wait for next time.

    IMG_20181117_160720.jpg

    Edit: Some of these photos were taken by Robert and Rachel, so I do not have ownership of all photographs included.
     
    grahams98, wils, jbarto and 15 others like this.
  2. SpearFear01

    SpearFear01 Newbie

    Name:
    Brian
    Boat:
    26ft Grady White
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    One of the best write ups I've read in a long time! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the successful trip!
     
    NorCalSoCalIDC likes this.
  3. SouthBayKiller

    SouthBayKiller I've posted enough I should edit this section

    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Name:
    Robert
    Boat:
    none
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    Nice job Ernie, hope to keep this an annual thing moving forward. Best trips and best group of guys to fish with. Bill Dance would be proud :D
     
    NorCalSoCalIDC likes this.
  4. ReelWhite

    ReelWhite Local Hooker

    Location:
    Dana Point
    Name:
    Kevin
    Boat:
    260 Sea Ray
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    Sounds like an awesome trip! Job well done, thanks for sharing
     
    Tunahead and NorCalSoCalIDC like this.
  5. hucklongfin

    hucklongfin Deep release specialist

    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Name:
    MarkT
    Boat:
    Blazer Bay 1860
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    Great report. Looks and sounds like a Pac Voyager trip. No comments on Jeff's cooking or taste in music video's?
     
  6. SouthBayKiller

    SouthBayKiller I've posted enough I should edit this section

    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Name:
    Robert
    Boat:
    none
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    I'm still treadmilling off Jeff's food, so good and healthy portions. I had to skip a couple just to avoid food comas.

    The galley was rocking as expected and the movies were well attended both at night and during some of the slower portions of the trip.
     
    Tunahead likes this.
  7. mtb_prodigy

    mtb_prodigy Newbie

    Location:
    Glendale
    Name:
    Nick
    Boat:
    Defiance 250EX
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    Easily one of the best reports I’ve read. Looks like you had a blast. Good stuff
     
    Tunahead likes this.
  8. watersdeep

    watersdeep I've posted enough I should edit this section

    Location:
    LB
    Name:
    Jed Venture
    Boat:
    the twisted ducker
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    Thanks we needed that.
     
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  9. Sacto John

    Sacto John Newbie

    Location:
    United States
    Name:
    John Humphreys
    Boat:
    Duct Tape Queen
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    Great report, good to read when this fishing slow. Mark and crew are what makes the PV my favorite boat in the fleet. It's always a good time on that boat, even when the fishing is slow.
     
    Tunahead likes this.
  10. Tunahead

    Tunahead Long Time Tuna Abused Member

    Location:
    Costa Mesa
    Name:
    Ron
    Boat:
    several
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    Great report and pics and NICE FISH everyone! Glad you had a fun trip! LOL
     
  11. SaltH20Angler

    SaltH20Angler Well-Known "Member"

    Location:
    SoCal - Corona
    Name:
    Christopher
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    Not Yet
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