Christmas is an especially hectic time to be packing for an LR trip, but as im sure most of you know, there is little or nothing that can stop those with the LR fever. This trip was no exception. Tracy called me and booked me on this trip with only a few days to prepare, so getting all of my bases covered before leaving was a chore, But by christmas everything was taken care of, and i was ready to go. Driving down to SD on Christmas night was particularly nice. It was a beautifull night, and almost nobody was on the road, just the right songs managed to get played on the radio, and the Christmas dinner was sitting well in the ol' gut. I managed to get down to SD around 8:30, and the roomates were already throwing the obligatory party. (its always nice to come home to a house party) So by 3:00 AM the party wound down, and we sat around shooting the shit. I had one or two things to take care of still, so Ron (Calico) agreed to wait untill 5:00 to pick me up. Well the roomates and i cleaned up the house, polished off the consumables, and they went to bed. I saw the haggard looking tailgate of a beige F150, illuminated by the brake lights, through my window as Ron backed the beast into my driveway. I opened the front door, thanked him for the ride again, and carefully pilled all of my gear into his truck, locked the eniebriated people in the house, and hopped in, ready to go. I asked Ron to do me a favor and stop by the Save-on so i could get some hygiene products. I had a nasty wound all the way across the tip of my left index finger, so i had to stock up on all the gauze and what not so that i wouldnt get a nasty fish infection and have to leave the Star via coast gaurd cutter. I picked up everything i needed, and some cigarettes and what not for the crew, hopped back in the truck, and we made our way down to Fishermans landing. Upon arrival, i was suprised to see not one, not two but 5 seperate line ups for trips leaving that morning. after grabbing a cart and figuring out which processional i was supposed to be a part of, Ron and i unloaded and started the waiting game. Well it was only a few minutes untill the waiting was too much and Ron started back home. He said goodbye and gave me the BD salute along with a horn stand on his way out, prompting most of the geriatric crowd that was present to scowl at me menacingly. I figured i had to introduce myself at that point, and set about trying not to screw up first impressions for the next 30 or so minutes. I got to meet and socialize with a couple of Royal Star regulars, as well as see some familiar faces amongst the other line ups. Len Cunningham and Tim Marshall were both present, and it was nice to finally meet those guys, as Tracy had told me to look for them when i got there. After picking up a couple pairs of Fishworks shorts at fishermans tackle, i shortly realized i had left my Camera at home, and Began furiously calling my roomates and leaving message after message on not one, not two, but 5 different cell phones without and answer. Realizing the condition they were in, it wasnt a suprise. Out of sheer help for a fellow fisherman, the other Ron (Cuda Killer) suggested i take HIS car and drive back to my place so i could get my camera. being a little hesitant, i decided to wait untill i knew i had enough time to go home and make it back. I thanked him for the offer and said i would take him up on it if i could. Right about then, Tracy came down and signed everyone in, and we began the march down to the Boat to fight over tackle box placement. I managed to get the same corner spot as every other trip, and put all of my stuff away. i puttered around the boat for a little bit, said hello to some old friends, and realized it was only 7:30, we werent leaving untill 9:00, so after asking Tim and Randy if it was ok, i trotted back up the dock to see if Rons offer was still good. Well Ron spotted me before i saw him, and by the time i got to the top of the dock he was already holding the keys out. As i straifed past him and snagged the keys, he told me where his Durango was and i made my way over. As soon as i got in the car, i moved the seat foward from Rons position of completely reclined and moved all the way back, to a more reasonable distance to the controls. then after turning over the ignition and almost having my ears blown out by the Matisyahu bootleg blasting through the speakers at a window shattering level, i managed to back out, pay the parking attendant, and head for the house. I managed to open the door and get in the house around 7:45, and proceeded to tear it apart looking for my camera. I finally found it under a pile of Detritus in the corner of Brett's room, and saying goodbye once again, locked the hangover gang in the house and made my way down to the landing once again. Although i think i may have just missed that one yellow light on the corner of Rosecrans and Sports Arena Blvd. Big Ron, let me know if you get a traffic light picture of a big goofy white guy in your car. My bad. I made it back down to the boat and managed to thank Ron and get back on board with time to spare. after saying goodbye to those who werent coming with, we all did the obligatory "size em' up" gaze across the others on board. This is more or less just taking a mental picture of everyone your gonna be stuck with for the next 10 days, seeing who you recognize, and seeing who you dont. Really its kind of an animalistic behavior, sizing up the herd and scanning to the Alpha's. the crew is close on the star Being on board again so quickly really wasnt a hard transition, The crew on this trip was one that i was good friends with, and often associated with on dry land. Goner, Cookie, Drew, Brett and Randy were all old friends, but The Star had a new addition on its crew this trip, With Moses Milton coming over from the Apollo. Nobody on board was the least bit aprehensive about Moses coming over, and he proved himself to be an important asset to the crew over the next 10 days. Moses After lunch of Andoullie sausage Maranara over penne pasta, i stepped out on deck, said goodbye to San Diego as its highrises shrunk off and disapeared into the distance, and partook in my very favorite part of the LR trip : shutting off the cell phone. There is nothing more satisfying to me than knowing that for the next 10 days i dont have to deal with anyone elses issues, i dont have to take care of any business, and i dont have to listen to anymore babbling about nothing. Cell phone goes off, and its truly a vacation. I didnt do too much more than go to sleep at this point. I had already been up for about 28 hours. so i slept for another 24. Day two I woke up somewhere around 2:00 in the afternoon, not because i wasnt tired anymore, but because i was too sore from sleeping for so long. So i trudged up the stair to the galley just in time for one of eddie's famous snacks. I shook off the sleep as i slid into the port forward table, and wiped the sleep out of my eyes enough to focus on the movie playing on the galley TV. everyone, seemed to notice i got up, right at the same time, and i managed to endure a BD style shit talking session long enough to enjoy a couple more hours of laughing and getting to know everyone again before we had a wonderfull Tri-tip dinner and desert of home made rice pudding. Cookie came down and let us know how to rig for the ridge the following day, and give the full seminar. Cookie giving the talk I took a brief reprise on the fantail to watch Cedros and Benitos sink off into oblivion a couple hours before one of the most amazing sunsets i have ever seen. I went to bed (again) ready for the next day, energized for fishing. sunset, south of cedros Day three I awoke for my favorite meal of the trip (Eggs Benedict) right around 6:00 AM. Scrambling up the stairs i mananged to pick out an empty seat and settle down enough to get my whits about me. It was a gorgeous morning, Fingers of god sweeping down out of the holes in the clouds and an eddie of sea gulls trailing the boat as it punched a hole in the head wind, steaming towards the high spot on the ridge (13 fathom spot). We arrived and dropped anchor sometime around 12:00. immediately we were swarmed by schools of firecracker yellowtail and all other types of odd fish. I was first in, with my 15. lb rig and got picked up, cast after cast, by random types of schwag fish: boatjacks, triggerfish, starry rock fish, cabrilla, scad mackeral, and about 300 fire cracker yellow's. Needless to say all those fish made their way back to the water, and the only fish anyone kept were a couple of yellowtail between 20 and 30 lbs. We all settled into the galley for dinner, smiling away, enjoying a day of shaking off the dust and getting back into the swing of things. Drew and Eddie made an amazing chipotle chicken dinner. and we all stayed up past dinner, drinking and laughing. Its amazing to see a boat load full of people, who havent associated up to this point, become best of friends over the joy of fishing. It seems to be a common bond amongst us that ties us all together. Ive seen two guys at each others throats become best of friends after a hot bite. If we could just take the whole world fishing, it might solve some of those bullshit problems we have right now. Day four We headed down to the big fish zone, in search of the giants that had been previously located and engaged in battle. The weather was not cooperating though, rough sea's and high winds made for no big fish. The larger Tuna seemed to be non existant, so we made due with what we had, which was an abundance of tuna in the 25-50 lb. range. everyone broke out the light tackle, and i dusted off the 100J for a long day of skip jigging and bullshitting. We slid into school after school of voracious school tuna, watching them charge the boat while runing up the chumline was enough to make anyone happy. A small crowd of passengers gathered up on the upper deck by the mid afternoon, watching a dedicated group of us go to work on the schoolies with the skip jigs. Randy would slid into a school and the second a Salas 7x light or a Tady 45 hit the water it was immediately the attention piece of what seemed to be the entire school of fish. On more than one occasion a fish would knock the jig clear out of the water and almost 15 feet in the air before it slapped back down and was swallowed whole by another before i could even get a crank in. one particular stop, Brett watched as a single fish knocked my Salas 7X (sardine green) clear out of the water 3 seperate times, and followed it in the air before missing and knocking it clear out of the water again. The fourth attempt was his last, as the treble hooks sank in and the fish was brought on board via a well placed gaff shot from Moses. I looked up at Brett, who managed to shout over the engines and other passengers "He WANTED that thing!" We finished the day with about 250 smaller tuna, and headed south in search of giants. Day five We headed clear down to Jaime bank but turned west after finding it to be full of green, cold water. we headed out to the Morgan bank and managed to see some decent meter marks. i spent the morning in the wheel house with Randy and Cookie, looking through the Glasses, scanning endless miles of ocean for any sign of life. The weather laid down, and we all knew it was just a matter of time before we were into them again. If the fish were there, Randy would put them in the boat. end of story. I picked up on a couple of finning swordfish and what looked like a small marlin dancing around on the surface, but soon enough the radio crackled to life and Crazy Cuz (Sam Patella) called Randy in to tell us that they had picked up on a decent school of fish in the 100 lb range off of a school of Blackfish. Moments later, the intercom buzzed a warning as brett called down from the bucket "Ahhhh, uh, about 4 miles, 3:00, looks like something, i cant tell though.........no.........wait.....porpoise" randy swung the wheel to starboard and the boat made a seemless turn directly towards the porpoise, with 4 miles to go, i ran down the ladder and rigged pulled my gear off the side of the house. the rest of the boat came to life with the sight of me frantically sliding down the ladder and running up the port side of the house. The Galley empty'd immediately and before i could get aft of the house with my gear, a crowd of eager passengers stared me down for some sort of information. i managed to blurt out something to the effect of "uh, fish" before i went back to checking my gear. I sat on the rail and eagerly anticipated the slowing of those Cummins deisels that would signal the appropriate time to make your way to the tank and start cornering one of those "King Kong" sardines that we had somewhere near 300 swings of. Randy told Moses to "slow and steady" (slow chum) and i baited up and dropped back as the engines slowed to and idle and we all sat, waiting. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into an eternity as we all waited for something, anything that would tell us the big fish were back. After flicking off my 5th Sardine, i realized this wasnt the spot, but decided to give it ONE more try as Randy was seeing some real good meter marks. I baited up with what looked like the perfect Sardine and ran up the Port side of the house to start out off the Bow spline. I finagled my way into the starboard side of the house, right in the bow where most people were either on the long soak, or just winding in, and gave one of the most horrendous lob casts i could muster, the Sardine SCREAMED away from the boat, right on the surface. Half paying attention to the bait, and half paying attention to everyone else, i almost didnt notice as the pressure on my line slowly increased and a more steady, powerfull force pulled the 200 lb. spectra off of my Avet SDS. Gaining my whits, positioned myself to throw the reel in gear and set the hook, when the line went slack. My heart sank and i thought i had thrown away what might be my only chance when the line jerked taught again. I threw it in gear and wound in the slack, expecting that first frantic run a big tuna makes, but instead i was greeted with barely enough tension to pull any drag. i looked up from the reel and followed the spectra across the surface with my eyes untill i saw a Giant purple brow, coupled with a big panicked eyeball, attached to a long blue bill. My 6/0 super mutu planted firmly in the corner of its mouth. "Damnit, now i have to run back up the ladder and throw on another fucking crimp." i thought to myself upon realizing it was a marlin. 2 minutes worth of cranks, and an estimated 250 lb. striper was at boatside in the bow, spitting up its stomach, thrashing about and causing all kinds of Havoc with all the lines in the water. Goner hopped up on the cats head, and managed to get back about half of the flouro top shot before parting the line and sending the panicked marlin back into the deep blue depths. I examined the topshot as randy fired up the Deisels and we were searching again. We didnt run into another school of fish before lunch, so we all were a little disheartened with the situation. I shared lunch (philly steak sandwhiches) with Bill sr. Bill jr. and John. They were from Long island, and accomplished canyon anglers, but brand new to our fishery, and were a little impetous at first (to say the least). Bill filled us all in on how it was going to be : " Ten fuckin' minutes, I'm telling you, Me or one of my boys will hook into one of those cows, let them take that first run and then never let it turn its head. It will be on the deck, dead in 10 minutes" I looked at a couple of the regulars and they were all laughing, "OK Bill, whatever you say". we finished lunch with some good laughs, and settled in for the wait. John, Bill sr., Bill Jr. all great guys By about 2:00 Randy saw some good meter marks, and we stopped for another try. 5 minutes after we stopped, we heard a ruckus in the bow, it was Bill: "YEAH BABY EAST COAST, EAST COAST BABY" we realized he was hooked into a legit fish, and all rolled out eyes. We like BIll, dont get me wrong, he is great, but there would be no living with him now. Bill was tied into this fish via a 4 foot broomstick of a trolling rod, with a 70VS clamped onto the reel seat, above the aluminum butt. Bill sat in on the fish for about another 90 minutes before it chewed through the 80 lb. flouro carbon, and destroyed his hopes of ever catching a big tuna in our waters. everyone started calling him "10 minute Bill" but patting him on the back and telling him we would get into some more. the one that got away Well on the very next stop, Bill hooked up again. This time with what ended up being the largest fish of the trip. after a 2 1/2 hour fight the deckhands pulled a 275 lb. yellowfin on board, and instantly everyones moral was lifted. Bills cow Randy fired up the engines and we went off in search of one last school of fish for the day. Right at Sunset we got onto a school of mixed fish. I baited up and was one of the first ones in the water on the slide. I watched anxously as the fish boiled closer and closer to the stern and could hear nothing but my heartbeat and breath in my ears as i felt the spool snap to life when my sardine was turned into a hungry Tuna's dinner. i set the hook and threw a strong arm block as i mae my way to the corner, but shortly realized it was only about a 50 lb. fish. i cranked it in shortly, and baited up again. this time going in off the Starboard side, right next to the bait tank. I got picked up again instantly, and AGAIN was met with the all too familiar pull of a 30 lb tuna. i cranked it in again, and went about helping out with the tangles and what not everyone was getting into. after coaching Chet for a couple minutes, i decided to give it one last try. I grabbed my EX50W set up with 130 lb topshot, and threw back in again. again i got picked up, but again i thought it was only a small fish because it was just sitting there shaking its head. i put some pressure on the fish, and it came alive, screaming away from the boat. i wa stoked in knowing i finally tied into a good one not having time to harness in, i decided to give the rail method and honest try again, and after a couple minutes, it felt natural. This particular fish was acting really strange, never diving more than 100 feet, but taking me back and forth up and down the rail. after about 15 minutes, i buttoned the drag and decided to just pull on the damn thing as hard as i could. 5 minutes later, we had the fish at color, and a couple minutes after that, it was dead. not much of a fish, but 160 isnt really anything to shake a stick at. some of the evenings big ones my fish looks smaller on the scale end of part 1, part 2 to follow.