Pulled some hooks on big Yellowtail at San Clemente

Marc S

Captain
Mar 2, 2012
79
45
Calabasas, Calif. USA
Name
Marc
Boat
Inflatable
Hi all:

I fished a charter with some friends on The Outrider a couple of weeks ago (a good boat and nice, hard working crew). The weather was great and we fished the lee side of San Clemente Island. For bait we had big sardines and small live squid. All of the bait fish were taken on sardines, with just a few on tube baits. After starting in deeper water and not finding the quality fish we wanted, we moved in closer to the island and got a pretty good, all day long pick bite going on some strong, good sized yellowtail, 25-30 lbs. We repeated a drift along an underwater rocky ridge with a floating kelp line above it that ran from from about 60’-120’ deep. The water was fairly clear and the captain recommended we use 3/0 to 4/0 J-hooks, and 30-40 lb. fluorocarbon leaders (approx. 5’) which we all fished over straight braid. We had to fish pretty tight drags to try to keep these fish out of the rocks and the kelp. While we did lose some fish to break offs in the rocks, I think we lost more than half of them to pulled hooks (taking home about 15 big yellows out of about 35 solid hookups). I have a couple of questions for those more knowledgeable... Would going to a mono leader for more line stretch have eliminated some of the hook pulls (and if so, how long a leader), and would circle hooks have made any difference in this type of fishing? There was another, larger cattle boat fishing the same area by us, and per their captain, they landed just 11 fish out of about 40 hookups, so we weren’t alone. As we are going back to San Clemente next week to try for these big yellows again, I would love some input.
 
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mike carson

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 18, 2007
220
103
glendale
Name
mike
Boat
17ft bayrunner
Hi all:

I fished a charter with some friends on The Outrigger a couple of weeks ago (a good boat and nice, hard working crew). The weather was great and we fished the lee side of San Clemente Island. For bait we had big sardines and small live squid. All of the bait fish were taken on sardines, with just a few on tube baits. After starting in deeper water and not finding the quality fish we wanted, we moved in closer to the island and got a pretty good, all day long pick bite going of some strong, good sized yellowtail, 25-30 lbs. We repeated a drift along an underwater rocky ridge with a floating kelp line above it, that ran from from about 60’-120’ deep. The water was fairly clear and the captain recommended we use 3/0 to 4/0 J-hooks, and 30-40 lb. fluorocarbon leaders (approx. 5’) which we all fished over straight braid. We had to fish pretty tight drags to try to keep these fish out of the rocks and the kelp. While we did lose some fish to break offs in the rocks, I think we lost more than half of them to pulled hooks (taking home about 15 big yellows out of about 35 solid hookups). I have a couple of questions for those more knowledgeable... Would going to a mono leader for more line stretch have eliminated some of the hook pulls (and if so, how long a leader), and would circle hooks have made any difference in this type of fishing? There was another, larger cattle boat fishing the same area by us, and per their captain, they landed just 11 fish out of about 40 hookups, so we weren’t alone. As we are going back to San Clemente next week to try for these big yellows again, I would love some input.
 
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mike carson

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 18, 2007
220
103
glendale
Name
mike
Boat
17ft bayrunner
I have found that hooks dont easily pull out of a yellowtail,unless the hook rehooked itself in the bait,hiding the barb,or the fish just never swallowed it far enough. never a bad idea to set the hook hard on yellows,
 

Cubeye

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 26, 2007
3,413
2,417
Los Angeles
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Kub
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17' Gregor
hookups). I have a couple of questions for those more knowledgeable... Would going to a mono leader for more line stretch have eliminated some of the hook pulls (and if so, how long a leader), and would circle hooks have made any difference in this type of fishing?
No, in my opinion, to both questions. Fluorocarbon does stretch. In some cases, just as much as mono. If you have too long a top shot, you will allow those yellows a better chance to get into the rocks. I think the recommended outfit was correct.
 
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simmo13

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Nov 12, 2010
1,402
565
Pacific ocean
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Simmo
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Looking
WOw sounds unbelievable. Getting a hook back gets chalked up as a oh well must not have had a good hook set. Those fish sound like bruisers. Nothing u can do.
 
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plj46

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Jan 7, 2008
8,114
9,066
Socal
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john
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24 ft grady white
I would think a little more stretch from mono would help but i use braid for rockfishing so what do i know.I'd rather take my chances without the braid then pull hooks.
 
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Reefer

I've posted enough I should edit this section
May 21, 2006
124
150
San Diego
Name
Bob
Boat
Pez Vela
If I was having a high ratio of pulled hooks, I'd try something different: perhaps a softer rod with braid, or mono + flouro, or letting 'em eat a little longer. If you fish the same way again, don't expect different results.
 

Ratshirt

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 25, 2007
192
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Oregon
Name
Ratshirt
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none
Back in the bad old days we used to use 7/0 treble hooks for yellowtail as it gave us more pointy stuff in the lips. This was on straight mono long before fancy braids. They are gonna eat it if they are hungry enough.
 

the_tunaman

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Jun 28, 2017
561
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Norco
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Roger Nelson
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Ranger Z20
May have fished them like circle hooks? You need to set the hooks solidly with J hooks, in order to penetrate the jawbone.
 
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Marc S

Captain
Mar 2, 2012
79
45
Calabasas, Calif. USA
Name
Marc
Boat
Inflatable
Thanks for the responses. I was fishing a new Phenix 809H with a Lexa 400HD, filled with 50lb. braid, and alternating between 30lb. and 40lb. top shots depending on how they were biting. One fish nearly spooled me on the 30 lb., and when I thumbed the drag to try to slow down the fish, I pulled the hook. I also pulled a hook on 40lb. flouro with a solid fish that made it into the kelp line. It was lots of fun, but maybe with the close by kelp and structure, that’s just fishing. I think I’ll try to let them eat it a bit longer, and set the hook harder if we have the same conditions again. Those were great quality fish for local fishing.
 
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mullet

Metal Fabricator
Jan 10, 2006
4,261
3,987
San Fernando Valley
Name
Mike
Boat
19"Gregor
If your going to fish j hooks don't be afraid of setting the hook 3 or 4 times .When I used to fish j hooks I would set another 2 or 3 times after they started taking drag .

I mostly fish circle hooks now .Seldom pull any hooks anymore.
 

Heartoak

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Jun 13, 2018
276
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Coto
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Jeff
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none
You know that sometimes you are just going to have days like that. You may have been doing everything right......after all at least you were getting bit! Sometimes the fish.....especially YT have the deck stacked in their favor. If there is good kelp and rocks nearby they are masters of using those two items to escape. So you have to supply a lot of pressure to stop them or they are gone in a flash.

And we know what can happen with just a little too much juice. Hook pulls or line breaks. I have had days where I have broken off 3-5 fish and had the same amount pull the hook. The breaks and some of the hook pulls often happen once they make it into the cover they are looking for. I have had it occur close enough to watch it happen.

YT can make for a very cagey light tackle adversary. Once it a while one will come to the boat easily. More often than not though they put up a pretty decent account of themselves. And they can and will make things happen. As long as you are hooking them you are doing it right.
Jeff
 

stuman

Brawndo the thirst mutilator
Sep 18, 2004
1,514
1,258
Oside
Name
stu
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skiff
Thanks guys, I like all the suggestions. I’ll re-post after my next trip and let you know how it goes if we get into these fish again.
Were the anglers with better success using glass rods. A glass rod is more forgiving when fishing straight spectra.
 

FishAcquisition

Pithy Statement to make me appear 😎
Sep 19, 2005
1,223
1,057
La Quinta
Name
Dan
Boat
Only Aspirations-not the name of my boat-just have aspirations
If the captain told you to use 3/0 to 4/0 hooks Surely you had big deans for bait. I seriously doubt the captain was wrong on the 5ft of Floro and he probably has a better understanding of Spectra than the quantitative brain trust here in this board:-). He does this everyday.

I was fishing the shogun about 15 years ago I think at Colonet. I was the only guy on the boat actually landing big YT. I had 6 big ones early. And they were the only ones on the boat. A young kid from Phoenix that was about 10 and had a new custom rod his shop in Phoenix had built him for the trip, asked me how I did it. He was the only one to come over and ask what I was doing to land these fish. A few years prior a big NFL Linebacker looking deck hand out of Oceanside had yelled at us all on a half day to let the YT eat the big bait. This bait was big also. I told the boy to let them eat the bait before he set the hook he and I were the only ones to land YT on that boat that day. We actually tied for the JP and gladly they gave it to him. That is my guess as to the low hook to land ratio you experienced.
 
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Marc S

Captain
Mar 2, 2012
79
45
Calabasas, Calif. USA
Name
Marc
Boat
Inflatable
Hi Dan (Fishacquisition):

In hindsight, I think you have the answer. We had great, large racehorse sardines for bait. I do think I was setting the hook too fast, and not letting these Yellows enough time to really swallow the big baits. We were all concerned about turning the fish and putting pressure on them to keep them out of the nearby kelp, so I think I rushed the hook-set a bit. I know I got a few mangled sardines back with crushed heads, that missed the hook-up so that may be a big part of it. Lots of good suggestions here and I can’t wait to get back out and try it again. I love the information shared on this board. Thanks everyone.
 
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FishAcquisition

Pithy Statement to make me appear 😎
Sep 19, 2005
1,223
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La Quinta
Name
Dan
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Only Aspirations-not the name of my boat-just have aspirations
25-30 YT are Brutes!!!! Makes me want to hoop on a boat next week to take a shot at those. Where did you fish out of what boat?
 

Marc S

Captain
Mar 2, 2012
79
45
Calabasas, Calif. USA
Name
Marc
Boat
Inflatable
We fished the Outrider out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro. I think they take Charter’s up to 12 people, but we went with 10. Good boat, good, hardworking captain and crew, and very comfortable bunks. We also like The Options (6 pack) out of the same landing. I got a 40 lb. Yellow on her a few years ago while fishing off Seal Rock at the backside of Catalina. Both good boats and captains. But, I love fishing San Clemente Island.
 

FishAcquisition

Pithy Statement to make me appear 😎
Sep 19, 2005
1,223
1,057
La Quinta
Name
Dan
Boat
Only Aspirations-not the name of my boat-just have aspirations
We fished the Outrider out of 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro. I think they take Charter’s up to 12 people, but we went with 10. Good boat, good, hardworking captain and crew, and very comfortable bunks. We also like The Options (6 pack) out of the same landing. I got a 40 lb. Yellow on her a few years ago while fishing off Seal Rock at the backside of Catalina. Both good boats and captains. But, I love fishing San Clemente Island.
I most always fish out of SD. Our boats go south to the Coronados. Smaller grade YTs (yellow trout)last few years. 40 lb is a scary Beast. Parking safe at 22nd Landing??
 

sickcat

Silverback
Aug 5, 2003
3,411
1,427
63
LA
Name
Kerry
Boat
Yellow spot
Pulling too many hooks says fish bigger hooks to me. Ditto Wildbunch on a softer rod - GULP even a fiberglass one. :D
 
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TanstaaflSD

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Dec 3, 2013
468
293
San Diego, CA, USA
Name
Tanstaafl
Boat
n/a
Hi all:

I fished a charter with some friends on The Outrider a couple of weeks ago (a good boat and nice, hard working crew). The weather was great and we fished the lee side of San Clemente Island. For bait we had big sardines and small live squid. All of the bait fish were taken on sardines, with just a few on tube baits. After starting in deeper water and not finding the quality fish we wanted, we moved in closer to the island and got a pretty good, all day long pick bite going on some strong, good sized yellowtail, 25-30 lbs. We repeated a drift along an underwater rocky ridge with a floating kelp line above it that ran from from about 60’-120’ deep. The water was fairly clear and the captain recommended we use 3/0 to 4/0 J-hooks, and 30-40 lb. fluorocarbon leaders (approx. 5’) which we all fished over straight braid. We had to fish pretty tight drags to try to keep these fish out of the rocks and the kelp. While we did lose some fish to break offs in the rocks, I think we lost more than half of them to pulled hooks (taking home about 15 big yellows out of about 35 solid hookups). I have a couple of questions for those more knowledgeable... Would going to a mono leader for more line stretch have eliminated some of the hook pulls (and if so, how long a leader), and would circle hooks have made any difference in this type of fishing? There was another, larger cattle boat fishing the same area by us, and per their captain, they landed just 11 fish out of about 40 hookups, so we weren’t alone. As we are going back to San Clemente next week to try for these big yellows again, I would love some input.

Great report and very good question......I have a few suggestions
1) if the bait is large perhaps add a further 1 or 2 count before engaging the reel (as others have already suggested),
(2) When you do this simply let the hook place it self as the set drag tightens the line while you reel in any slack......
(3) only after hook lodging should you assert a strong steady pull to fix the hook. >> Please, NO b-ass pro hero/tv hook-up displays. <<<
(4) When / once you have the fish enough yards off the bottom consider backing off a very little bit on the higher rocky-bottom drag -- don't force them in -- UNLESS chased by a sea lion.....[[[ I tried to force a big boy in once and got a partially straightened gourmet hook that had apparently been in his jaw-bone...]]]] Example: If a lever drag reel, set your strike to rock-denial level (50 pound line, maybe up to 18~20 pounds), but then back off to 10 or 12 pounds for the fight or for surface hook up.
(5) For yellowtail I generally use and trust the standard 94150 round-wire bronze live bait hooks (probably what the boat has), because TOO MANY gourmet hooks have MINI-barbs that drop bait or fish if there is any slack.
Tight lines.....Enjoy!
 
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