Merritt "Bent Rods" 10-Day EXCEL Charter Journal

usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> Day 1
A lot of anxious familiar faces along with several newbie’s gathered at Fisherman’s Landing early on Halloween morning for the 17<sup>th</sup> annual Merritt “Bent Rods” 10-day EXCEL charter. Unfortunately, several of our regulars were not able to make this year’s trip for health and/or other reasons. Also, one had to make an emergency trip home to Oregon after finding out his home had been burglarized while he was en-route to San Diego. We wish him luck on a safe trip home and recovering his stolen items. We’ll be thinking about all of you when we’re pulling on COWs on the lower banks. :-)
As Long Range regulars know, boarding day can best be described as “hurry up and wait.” After waiting to sign in we then waited to board while they cleaned, gassed and prepped the Big X. We boarded about 10:30AM and headed to the bait docks about 11AM where Justin and crew loaded us up with several hundred scoops of premium sardines. Justin was happy to report that the sardines were much improved from the quality that was available in late summer. Anglers took this time to organize their rooms and gear and start assembling rods and reels.
After a full load of bait was loaded we exited San Diego harbor and headed south. Justin then assembled everybody in the Galley and gave us the requisite safety seminar and informed us that he would wait for reports from several LR boats before deciding where we were going to fish first.
Chartermaster Brad Merritt then welcomed everybody and explained tackle rack etiquette for the trip. A special presentation was than made to Chris Voge and John Leszicka, two of the three people on the trip who were on our maiden charter in Oct. 1995. This was Chris’ 12<sup>th</sup> trip and John’s 11th trip. Each was presented with a custom wrapped Cal Star Grafigher 765M rod. Trip T-shirts were then passed out to the passengers and the crew.
Ron Walker and Joshua Rytz then informed everybody of the “Species Contest” rules. This is a fun contest when the angler who catches the most species of fish during the trip wins the "species" jackpot. This contest always results in a lot of friendly fun and ribbing and get ingenious during the last few days of the trip.

Finally, Cliff Hayden presented everybody on board with a custom tie-die T-shirt he had made. Being Halloween everybody wore their tie-dies and gathered for a group picture on the EXCEL’s stern as we left Point Loma.

I'll try and post pics later. I'm having trouble accessing my photo sharing site right now.

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JGROSS

Almost A Member
Sep 14, 2006
145
14
San Diego
Name
Jason
Boat Name
Baby = sold boat
254285_476653485708361_124389573_n.jpg
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> Day2
Day two started with “first call” for “Eggs Benedict” for breakfast. Skipper Justin Fleck later announced that we were headed to Alijos Rocks to try for Wahoo. Our ETA is around noon tomorrow. After breakfast Justin gave us a tackle seminar on Wahoo fishing; trolling, bait and jig fishing. Charter-master Brad Merritt then gave his infamous “Fishing Etiquette” speech in which he emphasized the need to work as a team and be aware of your surroundings to lesson the number of tangles and improve our collective chance of landing more fish. Drawings were then held for a custom wrapped Cal Star Grafighter 765M which was won by Alan Steckler. John Leiszcka won the soft tackle box and five pair of custom tuna cord wrapped side cutters, two raider jigs, six scrambled egg Salas 6x Jrs, a Fisherman’s landing T-Shirt, two custom wrapped fish draggers/gaffs and an EXCEL hat and T-shirt were also given away.
The rest of the day was spent rigging gear, napping, reading and visiting. Sorry for the lack of pictures. For some reason I’m not able to access my photo sharing account to post pics. However, if you “LIKE” the EXCEL web-site they are posting numerous pics of the trip including the Chef’s and dinner servers Halloween costumes last night.
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 3 can be summed up in one word, "Wahoo!" After arriving at the "Rocks" at 1PM we put the troll jigs out. 14 minutes later Ron Walker hooked the first Hoo of the trip. The next troll team lasted less than a minute before they hooked up. Several were also hooked on bombs, jigs and bait. Unfortunately the hook to landing ratio was not very good. The next troll team was up for almost 2 hours and on the verge of getting "fired" when they hooked up. Skipper Justin Fleck then put us on a drift over a high spot and numerous more Hoo were hooked and we fished the high spot until dark. When the dust settled, we ended up with approx 30 Wahoo on board and tagged. Rick Raskin was top angler with 4 skinnies. A handful of anglers had two and another handful had one each. Several of us were "0" for .... Terminal equipment failure, sharks, seals and operator error contributed to a landing ration of approx 1 to 10 as most hooked hoo never made it on board. Hopefully today's ratio will improve!
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 4 mid-day report. Today can best be described by the expression "Bloody Decks!" Justin took us into the beach and we fished around the "tuna pins" and hit pay-dirt. WOF on school size tuna and dorado. Everybody got at least 5 of the tuna and maybe more. Also, most got their 6 fish limit or close to it on Dorado. At one point Justin actually told us to stop fishing so the crew had a chance to properly care for the fish that we had caught. Josh Rytz started the day with a wahoo on a Raider jig. The tuna bit was so wide open that several were using surface poppers. A short video was made of the tuna attacking the poppers one after another and charging the boat which was posted on FB. Overall, an outstanding day of fishing and it's only 4 PM!
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 5- COW TOWN mid-morning report. I started the day off with an approx 100lb tuna caught on the kite. Paul Viale hooked up shortly after and after a two hour battle landed his personal best, 255 lbs. Doc Lyons is currently hooked up to a monster. His Penn 50W is down to it's last two or three wraps and the backup rod and reel is on standby!
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 5 wrap up. What an interesting day. When the afternoon tuna bite slowed down, several anglers dropped to the bottom and began hooking grouper. When the dust settled, 24 nice 25-50lb grouper were on board. Tuna fishing was tough, but at the end of the day we had 10 nice size tuna, all over 100 lbs, 4 of which were cows, including Ron Moy's 210lber that he caught on a fly-lined sardine. All the other cows were caught on the kite. After dinner several of us started fishing the bottom and despite a deep (300ft) muddy bottom, large, 25 -37 lb yellow-tail began slamming every bait. These were some mean yellow-tail with very large shoulders and they pulled really hard. Despite an announcement over the PA system, only a few anglers choose to come out and take advantage of the YT bite. A few were lost to tangles but most were landed and when the bite shut off at mid-night we had 20 of these very quality grade yellow-tail.
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Stephen, we caught both the grouper and yellowtail on dropper loops with sardines.
Day 6 was pretty much a repeat of Day 5. We spent the day fishing for cows. A half dozen or so 100#+ fish were caught, both on bait, sardine and chunk and on the kite. Fishing was very slow in the AM and surprisingly picked up for about 2 hours in the early afternoon. Then it slowed down again with a fish here and a fish there. After a long three hours in kite prison, and only moments away from being fired, Bill Siddall connected on the kite and eventually landed a 250 lb cow. Brook Bowman also landed a fish that taped out near 200 lbs. See the EXCEL's daily fishing reports or like their Facebook page for pics.
 
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CDN_eh

Newbie
Jun 30, 2005
17
0
67
Toronto, Canada
Name
Stephen Ruiter
Boat Name
Not applicable
Brad, thanks for the fast response, I am on the Team Hoo Trip right behind yours and thank you for the information, it may give me a leg up on the rest of the guys.

Thanks

Stephen
 
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Eastcapedon

Almost A Member
Jul 1, 2008
169
34
San Jose California
Name
Donald
Boat Name
Independence
Brad,

I'm not going out until December but would be interested to know how the guys on your trip are chunking if you have the time. I've done it at Alios a couple times. I'd like to know if the guys on your trip are using a swivel and then 6-8 feet of flouro or flouro direct to a swivel/hook? J hook or circle and what size hook.

Don
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 7,
Today we started out on the lower end of the ridge where we found ourselves in a slow plunker bite on mixed yellowfin to 60 pounds, yellowtail, dorado, and good grade wahoo. Even though the tuna were nice ones, the bites were few and far between. We moved to the top of the ridge where we found good fishing on school sized tuna just before dark. After dinner a few yellows were caught on the dropper loop along with a nice white seabass.
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Don, as usual there are as many ways to fish a chunk as their are anglers. First, most everybody ties their hook to a 3 feet length of floro if you are fishing a mono/floro combination. Several were also fishing short floro top shots and tied the hook directly to the floro top shot. I didn't see anybody using a swivel with the hook itself. Those using a 3 foot length of floro used a swivel to connect the floro to the mono. Past practice has been to use a large circle hook, size 10 or so, depending on brand. However, the boat is finding that smaller fly line circle hooks with a smaller chucks are working just as well, if not better than the larger chunks. Also, you definitely want to use a circle hook with the chunk, not a J hook. When you get bite, you only push the lever up slightly to only give 10-15 lbs drag for 5-10 seconds. This allows the hook to pull tight in the corner of the fish's mouth without pulling free as sometimes happens if you immediately go to the strike position. After 10 seconds or so you then put you lever drag in strike position and hold on!
 
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Mark Scott

Newbie
Jan 21, 2007
76
0
Topock,Az.
Name
Mark Scott
Boat Name
28'' Parker Scottfree
HAY BRAD,IT'S HARD TO LOOK AT THE REPORT'S THIS IS THE 3RD
YEAR I'VE MISSED!! LOOK'S LIKE ANOTHER GREAT TRIP.MAYBE SEE
YA AT THE DOCK,TELL CLIFF GOOD JOB ON THE SHIRTS!!!:rofl:
HAVE A GOOD ONE,MARK SCOTT
BY THE WAY GREAT JOB ON KEEPING US UP DATED!!!!!
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Hi Mark,
We miss you on the trips. Several people ask about you each year. It's hard to get a room mate that will put up with John and his snoring. :rofl:Every year we have to try somebody new. Paul Viale volunteered this year and so far looks like he's getting one to two hours of sleep every night.
Cliff said thanks, and asked if you're going to be at the docks when we get in.
John said you and your sons/friends may come on the August 6-Day trip. That would be great. Hope the neck's doing better.

Brad
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 8- We continued to work our way north along the Ridge today. It was pretty uneventful for the most part. The morning was slow with little to no current anywhere. The afternoon was better and we found action on mostly small tuna and yellowtail with a couple pargo and a wahoo mixed in. The weather is still excellent as we travel north looking for a little more action before we call it a trip.
 
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usraptr

I Should Upgrade My Account
Aug 13, 2012
1,017
410
Woodland Hills, Utah
Name
Brad Merritt
Boat Name
Cheap Thrills
Day 9 - We continued to work our way up the line today looking for bird schools, kelps and also stopping at the usual yellow tail haunts along the way. Unfortunately, the YT gods were not on our side today. We managed to pick up a few wahoo and dorado on the troll and a few more smaller yellowtail, but we didn't get into the grade or quantity of yellowtail we were hoping for.
Brad
 
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