I just returned from the Searcher 7-Day trip to Guadalupe Island. We had a great time catching a good number of quality Yellowfin Tuna and Yellowtail.
I am always apprehensive when going to Guadalupe, knowing how difficult it can be to fish at this beautiful Island. It has a challenging environment, which usually includes good-sized fish and a lot of ways to lose them (pulled hooks, Great White Sharks, tangles, structure, etc.). In addition, a lot of people say that the fish at the Island fight harder than similar fish in other environments. I don’t know if this is true, but it sure seemed to be.
After loading the boat, getting bait and completing the check-in in Ensenada six hours later, we headed to the Island and arrived on the second day at 1:30 p.m. The first three and a half days of fishing were spent at the northeastern portion of the Island and Captain Mike put us on the Tuna. It was usually a pick bite, with one or two hooked at a time. The Yellowfin were mostly 50-80 pounds and occasionally a Yellowtail would swim through with the Tuna. My first day’s catch included a 50 pound Yellowfin, 36 pound Yellowtail and a Shark bit Yellowtail that weighed 31 pounds without the bottom third.
We were using 60 and 80 pound line with 2/0 or 3/0 circle hooks. My favorite is a ringed Owner Mutu and my go to rod/reel combination is a Graftech GOF78XH rod and Penn Fathom 40 reel with 65# spectra and a short 60# fluorocarbon leader.
As far as paying the proverbial Tax Man, we often had Great White Sharks under the boat and at one point we had four of them, which made landing fish nearly impossible. This also resulted in a lot of pulled hooks as anglers tried desperately to get their fish in quickly past the Sharks. I would add that there are few feelings like fighting a large Tuna for 40 minutes, only to see it devoured by a 15 foot Great White just below the surface.
The fishing on the second day was similar to the first and I landed two fish, a 30 pound Yellowfin and a 91 pounder. The larger Tuna was second in the jackpot, with first being 94 pounds and third 87 pounds. We also experienced some amazing things, like a Great White missing a gaffed Tuna and ramming the side of the boat. We saw one leap completely out of the water two times while chasing a Sea Lion. I didn’t know a 2,000 pound fish could do this!
Days 3 and 4 were a little less productive and although I hooked fish, I didn’t managed to land any. Our final day was spent on the outside of the Island, trying various spots from north to south while looking for Yellowtail. Some Tuna were also caught swimming through the chum line and I landed two, a 30 and a 50 pounder. The final spot at the south end of the Island provided good fishing for quality Yellowtail, with fish mostly above 25 pounds. The two biggest were 48 and 50 pounds. A majority were caught on dropper loops and yo-yo jigs, and a few came on flylined Mackerel. The most popular jig color was mint and I caught one of my three Yellowtail with a Tady 4/0 in blue/white. The others were caught flylining. The day ended nicely with good fishing and a beautiful sunset, followed by a delicious panko encrusted Yellowtail dinner. After this we headed to Ensenada and then back to the landing, a 21 hour trip.
Overall I was pleased with my 10 fish, knowing that Guadalupe is more about quality than quantity or variety. My 91 pound Yellowfin Tuna was a personal best and I have much appreciation for Captain Ryan coaching me through a number of complications during a long fight (going over/under the anchor cord numerous times, tangles, fish swimming under the boat, etc.).
Of course no fish report would be complete without a shout out to the owners and crew of the Searcher. Owners Celia Condit and Art Taylor run an outstanding operation, which I have enjoyed annually for 19 years. Erin in the office is nice and very helpful. Captain Mike is talented, determined, friendly and successful in consistently finding fish. The crew on deck, Captains Armando, Ryan, Sean and Deckhand Shane, provide a fun atmosphere and I owe them a BIG thanks for all of the great advice and guidance on hooking and landing fish. Finally, Chefs Dan and Mike provide great meals, snacks and appetizers and their seared Ahi dinner was fantastic! I’ve signed up for the same trip next year and look forward to another great time onboard the Searcher.