Just got back, it was one of the top few fishing trips of my life.
I personally caught 12 bluefin tuna in the first two days, which is legal thanks to boat limits. We only fished in CA waters. I gave away 6 of the bluefin to others who didn't catch their limit.
The deal was the Captain said we had to catch bluefin boat limits first, then we could go for other fish like mahi. I and a few other passengers took that as a challenge to catch bluefin limits ASAP.
The Captain is so hard core, during the speech he gave at the start of the trip he said we weren't allowed to sleep at night when the boat was stopped until we had limits of bluefin. He said he'd send a deckhand down to wake people up. He said if someone didn't want to hand over the rod during a tangle he'd rip it out of their hands.
One thing the Captain did I really liked is that during the intro meeting he stressed the importance of marking lines, and making sure to get the lures to the right depths at night. He said deckhands would mark passengers lines for free on the drive out to the grounds, if they did not already have them marked every 100 feet for the first four hundred feet, and he offered heavy loaner gear with pre-marked lines to anyone who wanted for only $20 for the whole trip.
He found the fish, and put us on top of school after school.
As is often the case, during the daytime the bluefin were very picky and it was a "scratch bite" meaning it was usually just a hook up or two here and there.
I managed to get two school sized ones in the daytime by flylining live sardines on 30lb mono, using my spinning gear to cast out the sardine away from the boat, and then reeling it back in to "fire" it if it didn't quickly start to swim good. Owner 2/0 live bait ringed hooks worked good for me, I went 2 for 2 on the daytime tuna.
At night we occasionally got above a school that went into a feeding frenzy, and chaos would ensure with lots of simultaneous hookups, people running all over, yelling for gaffs simultaneously, etc. Every kind of heavy knife or buffalo type jig worked during those times if you got it moving fast in the target zone.
I did not see anyone using torpedo sinkers with hooks on this trip. I thought about trying it, but decided to stick with the lures that were working during the rush to help the boat get limits.
I brought different 4 rod/reel combos with me, and decided to try to catch a bluefin one each one of them, and succeeded. I got two on the light 30lb spinner in the daytime flylining live bait, and a couple more on the heavier spinner spooled with 100lb braid using a short 100lb mono bite leader, one on my old school penn senator on a bass pro shop's house brand trolling rod(jigging not trolling, I trolled a lot during the daytime in between stops for nothing but seaweed) spooled with 100lb mono, and the rest on my Penn VISX 16 spooled with 100lb braid tried to a short bite leader of usually 200lb.
I had one real disappointment when I finally hooked a really big tuna on my heavy spinning gear, despite my Penn Carnage III jigging rod stating that it was rated for 80-200lb braid, I feel it bottomed out during the fight on 100lb braid on a Penn Slammer IV DX reel that was not tightened all the way to its max 50lb drag, and when the tuna did some violent head shakes the swivel in between the bite leader and the mainline snapped.
I have used the same swivel on my conventional gear to catch jumbo tuna before without any problem. I think, though do not know for sure, that I could have landed that big bluefin if the rod had not bottomed out and lost the ability to absorb the shock of the head shakes. Maybe mono instead of braid would also have helped with shock absorption.
Obviously heavy conventional gear is the better choice for vertically jigging for big fish on a sport boat, but I wanted to try to at least once to bring in a big one on a spinner.
We got boat limits of bluefin (6x19 since there were 19 passengers on this trip) the second night, and so the last day we got to go paddy hopping for mahi-mahi.
A lot of the kelps we stopped on were dry, but some were holding a few to several hungry mahi. The first few stops I tried a variety of lures for no bites. I then switched to the same 30lb mono spinning set up to use live bait with the same 2/0 Owner live bait ringed hook that had worked well for daytime tuna, and it also worked well for the mahi, I went 2 for 2 on them.
I was having too much fun fishing to remember to take hardly any pics, maybe someone else can post some more pics. I only have two pics.
The group on the George Henderson Celebration charter was great, mostly very seasoned anglers, and the few who were relatively green were eager to learn and seemed to quickly get the hang of things. I was wondering how it would be to join a previously private charter to fill in an opening, but it was cool, the group was friendly.
Of course a limited load on the Polaris Supreme is very, very nice. A few less people really makes the boat feel more spacious. And of course the food was great, prime rib dinner the last night, etc.
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