Offshore Socal Trifecta topped off with a Cow. 08/20-08/23 on the Islander


Almost A Member
Sep 20, 2017
San Diego
Erick Thacker
Boat Name
Took a 2.5 day trip on the Islander this weekend.

Here's the short:

Fished the NW point of San Clemente on Saturday, Tanner Bank Sunday morning then back to the original spot Sunday afternoon. Got nothing the first day, went 0/2 on 40-60 lb BFT, both bit the hook off. Shoulda set the hook a little earlier, lesson learned and applied next day. Second day woke up at Tanner Bank and fished for good grade yellows, got 1 yellow about 12 lbs and a dorado about the same. Moved back to original location and got a nice afternoon bite on 30-50 lb tuna, went 2/2 at 25 and 30lbs each. Way stoked, trifecta in one day!

Then as we're leaving, everyone's got their stuff put away and broken down, and the skipper stops on a "nice looking school." I jump up from dinner and grab my flat fall gear, make 3 drops and on the 3rd drop feel like I hit the bottom. Crank a couple times, and the "bottom" starts pulling and dumps half my spool. 30 minutes later my PB comes over the rail with 4 gaffs in it, tapes out to 200. Cherry on top of an amazing trip, I highly recommend the Islander for any length of trip. Crew, from the top down, were top notch.

The Long:

Left Friday night after a slight delay, the boat had been out the night before and was a little late getting in. Scheduled to leave at 8, left at like 8:15 so no biggie. Stopped for bait and rigged up while getting bait to fast forward to sleeping. Get the word we're going rockfishing lol JK bluefin the first day and maybe tanner the next for yellows and go from there. I'd been on a couple trips last year and 1 this year that zigged for kelps instead of BF or bust, so I'm stoked to get on a BF trip with some good weather in the forecast. It was basically a lake out there the entire weekend.

Wake up Saturday to a big crowd of boats, both sporties and private boats. All in all the traffic ended up not too bad and we didn't have any issues with PB'ers fishing the chum line etc. There was a lot of fish spread out so I think everyone was finding their own. We found our own little spot of fish and drifted a couple spots for several hours each for some good grade (40-60 lb with some +'s thrown in up to 70-80). A lot of us stepped down to 20, 25, and 30 lb to try to get a bite. I go 0/2 fishing 30 lb gold label on a TAC10ii/GFGR800L and a #2 hook, both hooks get bit off. Should've set my hooks a little earlier, lesson learned and applied. Boat ends up with about 25 bluefin for the day, with double that in casualties. The first day was definitely humbling, but my buddies got into some so I'm stoked for them. Food all day was crazy good, pancakes in the morning, pulled pork mac and cheese for lunch, and RACK OF FREAKING LAMB for dinner holy crap. The cook Mike put some amazing food in our faces the whole trip, I'm still full lol.

Wake up yesterday to flat calm weather at the tanner. Fishing's a little slow with less current than necessary, but we all pick away at nice grade yellows, 10-35 pounds. There were a couple serious toads caught, very awesome to see that grade of yellows after so many trips of the rats. Tons of other variety, some small bluefin, sheepshead, rockcod, sculpin, whitefish, and all the bonies you wanted. Dorado even made a showing with 3 caught, I end up with a yellow and a dodo on the same setup from the day before. Very stoked and ready to move back into the zone for the afternoon bite and a shot at redemption.

Get back to the area about 1pm and start looking. We looked around for a while, maybe 2 hours total and make a couple short stops. Would get maybe 1 or 2 but no major action. We finally find a good spot of fish and start pitching bait like crazy, the fish stick with us and boiled around the boat for several hours. For awhile it was just short of pandemonium, with fish coming over the rail at a steady rate. What worked was finding the quality bait that would swim down or out immediately and changing your bait right away if neither of those happened. I probably changed my bait 50 times in 2-3 hours.

I go 2/2, a 25 and 30 lber, with 4-5 other quick bites that result in my bait getting almost ripped in half. Fish were much easier to handle with the smaller grade (same setup as the day before), but still great to get 1 of my days of limits back after being humbled the day before. The bite finally dies down, and we get word we're going to hand off our bait to the Tribute who hadn't picked up great bait the night before. That out of the way, and the captain tells us we're gonna look around on our way back to SD and stop if we see anything. I think the unspoken consensus amongst the passengers was that the trip was over, and everyone broke down their gear and moved into the galley for dinner. I leave my stuff setup just in case, you never know!

Now for the good part...

Eating dinner (awesome asian style tri-tip) and the captain stops abruptly and comes over the loudspeaker. "Seeing a nice looking school if anyone wants to try to drop." Lotta groans as most stay put, with a few of us running out to the rail. I make 3 drops, and on the 3rd drop it feels like my jig hits the bottom. Hard. Having never caught a fish on flatfalls (saved all my luck I guess?) and spent a lot of time reading about what the bite is like, my heart races as I pop it into gear slowly and start winding carefully. It comes tight, as does my chest, and the reel starts dumping. He's off to the races, and takes half my spool on a TAC20ii/Phenix Axis HAX-C 760X3H (100lb J-braid, 80lb mono topshot and 80lb fluoro) within seconds. I keep my cool, let him do his thing, and chill out with him on the rail as I finally yell "BITER" once I'm sure he aint goin' nowhere.

He runs me up the rail, and I settle in on the bow. He finally quits and I get some back, then he basically charges the boat and I get most of my line back after an epic 5 minute grind that to me decided the whole thing. Back/shoulder/arms are screaming fire but I just kept goin, knowing I wouldn't get many chances to make that kind of progress. He stops at probably 100 feet and we go back and forth, trading blows, and going around the boat several times. Couple of tangles, one full on crapfest, but the crew got me through it all with handoffs to work over the bow, detangling, and coaching me the whole way. Get it to the stern on the last 50 feet of mono topshot, and he dives under the boat. Dammit. Crew gets the Y out and pushes him off a couple times, get the last few grinds in and they stick him. 1 gaff. Two. Three. FOUR. 1 big pull from all four deckhands and he comes over the rail with the best sound I've ever heard: THUD. Hands in the air, war cries, and high fives all around. They stick him in the head and it's over. The heart pumps in my hand, and feels like an under ripe peach upon eating. Worth every bite, thanks for your life and soul Mr. Bluefin. I'll carry it forever.

What an epic fight, even though it only took about 30 minutes. My PB tapes out right at 200, weighed 180 at the dock G&G'd. I'm still in shear disbelief as to how the trip went from being over to me staying up till 3 AM drinking with my buddies and my Dad talking story and replaying the whole thing over and over. Couldn't have had a better group to do it with, and it was a special moment for me with my Dad after he brought me up as a kid fishing for sharks at 4 years old (watching, of course) and introducing me to Baja. Cool moment to share with him, even though unfortunately he had a very tough trip and ended up with zero fish. Don't worry Dad, you're gonna get plenty of this one!

I wanna shout out the crew too, captains Peter & Cindy, Palmer, Trace, Matt, Jake & Mike in the galley. I'm missing someone I know it, but thanks to you too. Class crew with an amazing sled, you all put me on the fish of a lifetime and I couldn't be more grateful. I'll have this memory forever, and forever be able to know that I got in on the best fishing SoCal has seen in the modern era. The trifecta: Yellowtail, Dorado, and a Cow tuna to round out the best trip ever. What a time to be a fisherman!

Thanks for reading. Here's pics for proof, Cheers BD!





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  • Jul 24, 2017
    San Diego, Calif
    Joseph Gratteau
    Boat Name
    Valco Westcoaster 150'
    Hell yea! Nice read sitting here at Pt. Loma seafood! Congradts! It all started with your jumping up at the stop of a good school! Way to reap the benifits! Well deserved!
    Upvote 0
    Mar 18, 2011
    Boat Name
    Royal Polaris
    Congrats! Thanks for writing and sharing such a great story! The Islander Crew is young, top notch and outstanding and they certainly know how to put fish on the boat.
    • Like
    Reactions: slcbcsmx19
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