Searcher 3 Day - Local Offshore / SCI - Big BFT

Discussion in 'Southern California Offshore Fishing Reports' started by Tautog_17, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Tautog_17

    Tautog_17 Advertiser Advertiser

    Location:
    San Diego, CA USA
    Name:
    Matt
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    N/A
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    This report covers a 3 day trip on the Searcher. The boat left on Friday 9/1 at about 11 AM and returned at 7 AM Monday 9/4. We fished all 3 days. It’s a long range boat, but we fished locally (like the rest of the fleet) off La Jolla and San Clemente Island.

    This is going to be long, but the fishing was good so there’s a lot to write about….

    ********************
    *** Summary ***
    ********************

    Left at 11 AM Friday with a load of 27 people, many of the same folks from last year. Extremely hot and humid Friday - not a lot of wind when we left. Not exactly sure where we would fish (down south for small YFT and dorado or west of La Jolla / SCI area for the 40 – 150 lb BFT.

    Well, long story short, we got into BFT between 40 and 165 lbs. Just an unbelievable trip. Anyone else that was out at SCI last labor day weekend probably had a blast catching 70 – 100 lb BFT. This year, 125 to about 175 was the norm. A lot of people caught their personal best BFT. To get such a great grade of fish two years in a row is really, really, really lucky.

    Again, left Friday and topped of the wells with some medium sized sardines. Slammer also had bait that had been curing for the past 6 days. A-grade sardines, hardly any beat-up baits, and I think that made a big difference for our chum line. We spent Friday afternoon catching 40 lb BFT about 20 miles west of La Jolla. A few other boats around, but not too many. First couple of schools did not react to chum or hooked baits. Third school reacted and stayed by the boat a while. Went 2-for-2 on 40 lb BFT myself, but casualties increased as several fish started to get hooked at the same time.

    Friday night, had dinner and stayed in the same general area.

    Woke up Saturday to a school fish around the boat. Chummed them up and they stayed with us for a couple of hours before the fit fizzled out around noon. Again, fish were 40 lb grade BFT. Basically, it was a repeat of Friday with the exception of the 84 boats (at least when I counted) in a very small area. The picture below doesn’t do justice to just how close some of the boats were to each other, or to us.

    What was working for the 40 lb BFT on Friday and Saturday?

    Medium size sardine on a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook with 30 – 60 lb line. Once the BFT started biting, you could get them on 60 lb down to 30 lb. Line and hook size didn’t really make much of a difference in terms of getting bit. Once the BFT started biting, they weren’t sensitive to line or hook size. I caught 3 on 60 lb and 2 on 30 lb. I barely touched my 40 or 50 lb setups the entire trip. I used 30 lb. fluoro and 2/0 Owner ringed gorilla hooks, but those fish probably would have bit 40 – 60 lb line. I think we got away with using heaving line than necessary because out bait were cured and strong swimmers. If we had average or beat-up bait, I probably would have stuck with 30 lb. Also, never touched my 25 lb outfit – fish weren’t line shy and didn’t see a good reason to hook 40 – 50 lb (or larger) fish on 25.

    Most fish caught fly-lining a bait. A few others were caught on sinker rigs. None on flat falls, poppers, colt snipers or the like. Left the flotilla of 80+ boats behind at about noon. Motored around looking for another school. Didn’t find any that would bite.

    Word was that Sunday was going to have 20 kt winds. But, the weather forecast didn’t materialize and we got the calmest weather on Sunday we did all trip – overcast, a touch humid and winds < 5 kts, seas 1 – 2 feet and sometimes flat. Started Sunday out again approximately NW of La Jolla and S of SCI. Looked around but didn’t find any biting schools. Headed to an area S / SE of SCI and then moved towards where the rest of the fleet was and set anchor.

    So, here we were again – like last year anchored off SCI. We started fishing at about 12 – 1 PM with the rest of the rest of the 30 boat fleet. Main difference this time is there were no skiffs, probably scared off by what turned out to be a sort-of-inaccurate weather report about that tropical depression?

    Anyway, couple people got bit quickly on sinker rigs right below the boat. Then a couple others fly-lining off the stern. If you were at SCI last year Labor Day weekend, it was basically a repeat event. We almost always had at least one fish going and the BFT were simply breezing through the chum lines between all the boats. Watch the seagulls and you know where the fish were. I dropped a 300 gram flat fall for about 15 minutes for nothing. Gave it up and switched to bait. Caught my first one about 3:30 PM on a belly-hooked sardine about 200’ off the stern. Taped out at 63” and weighed in a 128 lbs – and that was one of the smaller BFT. I caught it on a 25 foot 60 lb fluoro wind-on looped to a 65 lb. spectra bimini on an Accurate DPX2-500 and a 2/0 Owner ringed Mutu circle hook. Fish was brought to gaff in about 20 minutes.

    Several other people hooked up before I did. One person fought their fish for 2 hours, another for somewhat more than an hour a I think. Biggest weighted in at 165 lbs. And, the other, best guess is around 130 – 140, but it was caught on 50 lb. We had a couple of lost fish, but actually had better success landing them than we had with the smaller 40 lb fish. Go figure…

    Crew did A+ job chumming and lots of heroics by the cap’t and deckhands hanging of the sides, the bow, etc.. undoing tangles, temporarily reeling fish in for people, etc…It was a total A+ effort on their part.

    Kite went up also. Two fish caught on it, but both were 85 – 95 lbs – the smallest BFT for Sunday. Stopped using the kite pretty much as people were hooking up here and there. Most people were using 50, 60 or 80 lb line.

    Had my limit of 6 BFT after catching the 128 lb fish on Sunday. Got rehydrated, watched other people fish and then baited up again. About 7:15 PM got bit again on a belly hooked sardine. By that time of the day, our bait wasn’t A-grade material. Still, I just got lucky…saw the seagulls hovering over where my bait was. Felt my bait running around, which it really shouldn’t have had the energy to do given it was 150’ of the side of the boat and had been soaking for 5 minutes. Then, it got picked up and this fish was pulling harder than my last one. Turned out to be a real tackle buster – literally!

    Fish swam towards the boat, got a good amount of line back. Then, the fish finally figured out that it was hooked and made a run. Then, heard my real make a horrendous sound and the reel handle ceased up – couldn’t move it. Not because I didn’t have enough force. Thing just ceased up. Not a reel expert…but I think one of the dogs got busted and was stuck in there or something. Pushed the reel forward as hard as I could and started reeling again. Then, I handed it off to someone else who hadn’t pulled on one of these larger fish and he did the rest of the work. 20 minutes later and some heroics by the crew around the anchor line in the dark, and another ceasing-up of the reel handle (had to put into free spool and back into gear to get it to turn) and it was finally landed – approximately 140 – 145 lbs.

    We never really had to drop down in line or hook size Sunday. If you fished 50 or 60 lb, you were going to be ok. If you fished 80 lb, you had an easier time. Or, if you fished 50 or 60 with an aggressive drag setting at strike, you could land the fish in 30 minutes using the rail and giving it all you have.

    Ended the trip with 7 BFT hooked, 6 landed, and 1 handed off, which was also landed.

    Last year I didn’t think it could get any better. But, this year it did. The grade of BFT locally on this 3 day trip was so good, makes me wonder if I did a true long range 5 day trip if it would be significantly better.

    A couple of things I learned or can point out…
    #1) 1/0 circle hook and 2/0 circle hooks preferred. Didn’t bend any 1/0 hooks on the 40 lb BFT and didn’t bend the 2/0 on the 128 or 140-145 lb BFT.

    #2) I used 60 lb fluoro for increased chafing resistance. I thought of using 80 lb fluoro wind-ons, but didn’t think I needed to and didn’t want the extra weight of 80 lb dragging on my baits. 60 lb worked well, 50 lb was ok also.

    #3) 50 – 60 lb line can take a lot more force than I thought. I set my drag tighter than I normally do (which is pretty tight anyway). Felt that if I made the fish work hard on its first run that I’d break its will, seemed to work. Got 1 – 2 good runs out of the larger BFT and then it quickly became an straight up-and-down battle and use of the rail.

    #4) Use the rail. Stuck the rod under my arm and pushed down on the rail. Like a lever, gained a foot here and there quickly, just pushing down and reeling in – like doing squats. Underarm is sore as hell today though…

    *** Bait ***
    6 - 7” sardines

    *** Weather ***
    Friday + Saturday:
    Sunny. Approx 85 degrees. Swell from the W. Seas 1 – 3 feet. Winds 5 kts from the W.
    Sunday: Overcast. Humid. Approx 80 degrees. Swell from the S / SW. Seas 2 – 3 feet subsiding to < 1 foot in the afternoon. Winds < 5 kts from the S and W..

    *** Grade of Fish ***
    35 - 45 lb BFT and 120 lb – 165 lb BFT. Average size of the larger ones was about 130 – 140 lbs.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ----- OTHER NOTES ------------------------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Crew, Captain and Passengers
    - Worked hard and worked together
    - Heroic efforts by the crew to undo tangles with good success. Most lost fish due to the size of the fish, broken knots and the like, just a couple to tangles. And, none of the fish landed were done without help from the crew.
    - Food was good, crew and deckhands were helpful and had good attitudes. Really liked that the boat did not have candy and chips on board. Will book the Searcher again for next year. Same crew as last year – nice to see the same group again.

    *******************
    *** My Gear ***
    *******************
    - 25 lb: Super Seeker 270H + Trinidad 14A (30 lb spectra, 25 lb Izor XXX + Seaguar fluoro - never used it)
    - 30 lb: Calstar GFGF800ML + Seagate 30H (40 lb spectra, 30 lb Izor XXX + Seaguar fluoro)
    - 40 lb: Super Seeker 6470 + Seagate 40H (50 lb spectra, 40 lb Izor XXX – never used it)
    - 50 lb: CalStar 765L + Penn Baja Spec. (65 lb spectra, 50 lb Izor XXX + Seaguar fluoro – barely used it))
    - 60 lb: Seeker Hercules SHS70H-7 + Accurate DPX2-500 (65 lb spectra + 60 lb x 25' fluoro wind on)
    - 100 lb: super seeker CTSF 63XXH, Penn Int. 20T 2 speed converted (100 lb JB hollow + 100 lb JAK Associates fluoro wind-on – used for 300 g flat falls)


    ***************
    *** Knots ***
    ***************
    - Bimini to worm knot for all spectra-to-mono connections.
    - 3 turn surgeons knot for all mono-to-fluoro connections.
    - Single loop-to-loop connection for all bimini / wind-on connections.
    - Spangler knot for all fluoro to hook connections.

    An epic trip, for sure. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    These BFT are getting a little bit bigger every year. If the average size of the larger grade increases to 140 – 190 lbs next year, guess I’ll be spending more money on gear. Not sure even my Accurate DPX2-500 can routinely handle 150 – 175 lb fish. I think the 2nd 140-145 lb fish proved to be a tackle buster, rod held up great though. Really like those Hercules blanks…

    >>> 40 lb. grade fish Friday / Saturday
    IMG_3614.JPG

    >>> 84 boats on Saturday
    IMG_3604.JPG

    >>> Saturday's Sunset
    IMG_3648.JPG

    >>> Sunday's SCI BFT
    IMG_3875.JPG
    IMG_3877.JPG
    IMG_3889.JPG
    IMG_3902.JPG
     
  2. Fishingguy

    Fishingguy I've posted enough I should edit this section

    Location:
    Orange County
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    Billy
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    Thanks for putting so much effort into your report! Great read and congrats on such an epic trip!
     
  3. seaquinn

    seaquinn Member

    Location:
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    Clif
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    Wow! Great report!
    I was there on saturday and saw those boats get really close to you guys.
     
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  4. terrace

    terrace Member

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    mike
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    Awesome report all the info is there
     
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  5. kbray001

    kbray001 Well-Known "Member"

    Location:
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    Kirk
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    Regal 24
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    One of the best reports I have read. Thank you for all the detailed information!

    Looks like you had an awesome trip.
     
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  6. Tautog_17

    Tautog_17 Advertiser Advertiser

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    Yes, and we actually hooked / crossed lines with another party in a skiff, and a squid from a yacht that was slow trolled. Forgot to mention...with everyone so close Saturday, made sense for everyone to button down drag some b/c if you hooked up and didn't stop your fish fast, good chance it would cross at least one other party's lines.
     
    FishAcquisition and rick rouland like this.
  7. tuna sniffer

    tuna sniffer SD '63

    Location:
    La Mesa
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    Mark
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    1 tin 1 glass
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    Your report certainly did the trip justice. Congrats on an awesome weekend of catching!
     
  8. soulwinner

    soulwinner jeremiah 9:23,24

    Location:
    sandiego,ca
    Name:
    john
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    5 star report "heroic deck hands toad bluefin broken reel sore armpits" I feel like I was there thank you sir that was delicious!
     
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  9. T.O.T.W.

    T.O.T.W. Time On The Water

    Location:
    San Diego
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    Chris L
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    Awesome, Matt! You're timing has been spot on the last couple years.
     
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  10. jollanes

    jollanes Farming Specialist

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    Great report Matt! Hope you are able to make it out again in a couple weeks
     
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  11. fv1500

    fv1500 Fishn' Frank

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    Frank
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    Sounds like a outstanding trip. Nice job on the hand off. Great detailed report.
     
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  12. RegIke

    RegIke Old steelheader

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    Great detailed report with all the important information
    Thanks
     
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  13. red_eyez

    red_eyez Broke but love to fish..

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    kevin
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    The one I paid at Landing
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    Wow, super report! which reel got damage while fighting the fish?
     
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  14. Tautog_17

    Tautog_17 Advertiser Advertiser

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    my 2 speed Accurate DPX2-500.
     
  15. dctalk523

    dctalk523 I've posted enough I should edit this section

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  16. Sciaenops

    Sciaenops Member

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    Keith
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    Nice report - Sounds pretty much like our 2.5d trip in the Islander that docked the morning you left, minus the triple digit fish. Crazy that quality is within spitting distance from the beach.
     
  17. hilltop

    hilltop lurking in the shallows

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    hilltop
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    sold, pangas, Intrepid, and diggin the RRIII
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    WOW!!!!!! Huge congrats, what a trip!!!
     
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  18. Kyle farmer

    Kyle farmer Fishing and Surfing!!

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    Kyle F
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    Wow great report!
     
  19. Hardcor

    Hardcor Hardcore

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    Thank you for the great report. Awesome trip. Beautiful fish.
     
  20. mhanson59hb

    mhanson59hb Fear No Fish

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    Man, trip of a life time - until next year!

    Great report, great fish. Congrats.

    I have that same accurate reel, DPX2-500. Love your suggestion about the wind on flouro. May just have to try that out. Thanks!
     
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