Suggestions/Advice for a newbie on his first long-range trip

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
Okay, so I've gotten some real good feedback to my few posts here. I'm doing my first long-range trip, a 7-day'er on the Royal Star mid-September. I'm happy to see it as a "learning" trip, but on the other hand, want to maximize my shot at plenty of catching. Nothing like being well-prepared, first trip or not.

So.... I'm open to any and all thoughts from all you long-rangers regarding fishing tips, what to bring, what NOT to bring, questions to ask onboard, etc, etc. Really, anything you have to toss out there about any aspect of a trip like this will be well-received.

Thanks in advance, though I'll be thanking and asking further questions I'm sure!

Nick
 

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
Oh, and I'll be using boat gear, though it was strongly advised I pick up some fluorocarbon leader line, so thoughts on boat gear and line would also be welcome.
 

1000clowns

Member
Dec 17, 2006
42
0
SF Bay Area
Name
Jay Orbon
Boat
none
I depends on the boat gear. Do you know what they will have? I realize this stuff is expensive but I would build 1 40# set up.

On my first trip my friend lent me 3 setups including a 20#. We got on the albacore and I caught 5 on the light line. I drove home and bought a 30#, a 40# and a 60#. Never looked back.
 

Abaco

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Aug 5, 2009
815
175
Sacramento
Name
Dave
Boat
The Organ
Okay, so I've gotten some real good feedback to my few posts here. I'm doing my first long-range trip, a 7-day'er on the Royal Star mid-September. I'm happy to see it as a "learning" trip, but on the other hand, want to maximize my shot at plenty of catching. Nothing like being well-prepared, first trip or not.

So.... I'm open to any and all thoughts from all you long-rangers regarding fishing tips, what to bring, what NOT to bring, questions to ask onboard, etc, etc. Really, anything you have to toss out there about any aspect of a trip like this will be well-received.

Thanks in advance, though I'll be thanking and asking further questions I'm sure!

Nick
Warning! This hobby is highly addictive. There's really nothing else like it. I'm going on my 3rd LR trip on the same boat right after you. I still feel like a noob in terms of the learning curve. There is a lot to learn. However, if you pay attention, learn how to stay out of people's way (learn the dance of "over-under" when people are fighting fish at the rail), you'll do just fine. Nothing wrong with starting with the boat's gear, either. That's how I got started and it's a good idea to learn before you start forking over dough for gear. On my first trip, it was very rough and so many people got sick that I'm sure many have decided to never go LR fishing again (I know two of them...sissies).
 

johndtuttle

Angler/Client
Mar 20, 2008
5,569
1,735
Carmel, CA
Name
john
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not crazy enough yet
The key to the trip is going to be a "40lb" set up which typically is actually 50lb solid braid to 40lb top shot/leader (mono/fluoro). This is what you will use for 90% of the fishing. The other is a dropper loop rig. Typically this is an 80lb setup for fishing near the bottom (actually the top of the pinnacles) of the structure the boats park over offshore.

Learning to cast the 40lb set up is pretty key. It's not uber hard but ideally you would get practice before you go if you are at all a newbie with this rig.

After that it's all about keeping your bait swimming.

What level of experience do you have with that?
 

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
Well, I don't get seasick, been on all types of boats in pretty hairy weather, so no worries there. And I've done the over/under thing with salmon and halibut and multiple people hooked up, so should be able to adapt to that fairly quickly.

As far as gear, I'm not sure I can swing my own gear yet. The charter boss/captain (not of the boat, but the guy sponsoring the trip) said he had a sweet setup he'd be happy to bring, so I'll definitely talk to him more and the folks with the boat to get a feel for the gear.

The bottom fishing I'm familiar with if it's at all similar to halibut and/or lingcod, using either bait or jigs...I love jig fishing myself.

As far as flylining sardines on 40-lb. gear, I'll certainly need some practice. I fished albacore years ago, but other than that.... And keeping the bait at its best and swimming, I'm sure, requires some degree of finesse. That'll also be a learning curve. Any tips in these areas that don't require simply experience?
 

johndtuttle

Angler/Client
Mar 20, 2008
5,569
1,735
Carmel, CA
Name
john
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not crazy enough yet
Hard to say much that the time on the boat won't help but a couple of things.

Somehow, some way you gotta practice conventional casting. Ideally with the same rig you would use on the trip you cast with a clothes pin to practice casting a sardine. You don't have to go far. If you make 10 yards you are in the game. The issue here is that your bait wants to hide, and the best place for it to hide is up tight to the hull under the boat. Tuna will be reluctant to hit it there for fear of injuring themselves. If you can't get your bait away from the boat you won't get bit much.

If you get it out 10 yards it will swim away from the pressure you are putting on it. The next part is pretty simple in practice but hard to explain. You have to "goose" your bait to get it to keep moving. You do this by "back pedaling" on the reel in free spool to gently snug up to the bait. When it feels the light tug it will again run away from the pressure, if it gets total slack it will swim more randomly or not much and either way can cause tangles with others and not attract fish. Back pedaling looks like this:





You can see Gary and Willie are using their fingers to kind of feather the spool to take up the slack to goose their bait to keep it moving. When done right that frisky sardine can get 50, 75, even 100 yards from the boat and into the zone where the fish will bite. You will see everyone doing it an pick it up quick but the real masters are the ones getting bit the most. When you do it right and the bait is fresh when you come tight the line will suddenly shoot away as the sardine runs again. This is exactly what you want to trigger a tuna to pick it up. Any time the bait is actively taking line off of your reel in free spool you are about to get bit. If it is just sitting there, barely alive, it has minimal attraction to the fish. Either goose it and get it moving or if it refuses, change baits.

Other than that well, quite a bit to talk about as to where and how you get in the water. The Jig stops offshore can be really hectic as everyone rushes to get a bait in the water. Don't stress as a newbie as this is a time to really get in a cluster if you rush. DON'T. When you finally get to Alijos or the Ridge the fishing will be way more relaxed and the vast majority of fall trips land so much tonnage you hardly know what to do with it all. Use the start of the trip to watch and learn. You actually will pick up more NOT fishing and more watching then, put what you have learned into practice.

Plenty more to talk about with live bait fishing (where to put a bait in the water ie stern, side or bow, how and where to hook a bait and why, how to avoid tangles, how to read how the boat is swinging, where the current is coming from), many important considerations to get in the best zone where the fish are actually feeding. Maybe others will chime in.


salute
 

Abaco

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Aug 5, 2009
815
175
Sacramento
Name
Dave
Boat
The Organ
Well, I don't get seasick, been on all types of boats in pretty hairy weather, so no worries there. And I've done the over/under thing with salmon and halibut and multiple people hooked up, so should be able to adapt to that fairly quickly.

As far as gear, I'm not sure I can swing my own gear yet. The charter boss/captain (not of the boat, but the guy sponsoring the trip) said he had a sweet setup he'd be happy to bring, so I'll definitely talk to him more and the folks with the boat to get a feel for the gear.

The bottom fishing I'm familiar with if it's at all similar to halibut and/or lingcod, using either bait or jigs...I love jig fishing myself.

As far as flylining sardines on 40-lb. gear, I'll certainly need some practice. I fished albacore years ago, but other than that.... And keeping the bait at its best and swimming, I'm sure, requires some degree of finesse. That'll also be a learning curve. Any tips in these areas that don't require simply experience?
Yeah, you're lining it all up well. Yer gonna be fine. I only got hit with seasickness once - in severe and foggy seas, and it was minor for me. But, it was enough to know that I didn't want to mess with it. From what I've seen, it's rarely an issue on these trips.

My own tradition...I take one or more bottles of wine with me. After we finish it after a dinner I have a prewritten note that I double ziplock, stuff in a bottle and toss over the transome. Haven't heard back yet (after two) but I understand such bottles have been found on the other side of the Pacific.

Oh, and get ready to eat like a king on the trip, if it's anything like my two trips on the RP.
 

peterc

Meg
Jun 14, 2006
227
120
42
capo beach
Name
peter
Boat
Grady 263 Chase
I've done my only two trips longer than 2 days on the Royal Star. The boat gear is all shimano stuff. I used some of it on both trips. It looks used but works perfectly.

My biggest advice is listen to the crew. They are awesome. They know what they are talking about, and want to help you catch fish. You will do fine. What trip are you on?
 

HermosaJoe

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jul 31, 2010
1,267
124
Hermosa CA
Read and reread what John wrote in post #7. You might even wanna print it out and read it again after your first fill day fishing. It will be 'theoretical' right now, but gospel later.

Gear: boat gear is usually pretty good. But I have some stories, even from one of the top boats, about marginal gear and losing a fish of a lifetime. So, although it's not absolutely necessary, take your friend up on borrowing that quality 40lb outfit he offered. Even the boat's gear is good, then you'll have two set-ups for 40lb, in case you backlash (you will) or bust off during a hot bite. [Oh, I just read the previous post...posted while I was writing mine. Shimano gear? You are gonna be in great shape. The last thing Shimano wants are stories of tackle failure on their loaner gear. The whole purpose is to get you to buy their product!] :rofl:

And don't worry. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've never heard of anyone coming back from a 7-day September trip on the Royal Star without plenty of fish.

If you drink, bringing a nice bottle of wine for each night is the bomb. Or hard liquor, if that's your thing. Some guys bring their own favorite brand of beer. Strikes me as a bit tacky, since they sell beer on the boat, but if ya leave a nice tip, whatever.

A Kindle or laptop to read or watch movies in your stateroom during travel time. Earplugs to help you sleep better.

Hmm...in addition to the fluorocarbon, bring some Salas 6x Jr jigs (one blue and white, one scrambled egg). You said you like jigs and you might have fun yo-yoing for yellows at the islands.

Oh, one last thing, especially as a newbie: bring a case of Red Bull on the boat, find a friendly deckhand, hand it to him and say, "This is my first time long-range fishing. You can have this, if you'll teach me how to fish." :)
 

Sactotuna

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Oct 20, 2005
1,768
140
sacramento
Name
jim
Boat
Royal Star
Oh, and I'll be using boat gear, though it was strongly advised I pick up some fluorocarbon leader line, so thoughts on boat gear and line would also be welcome.
Royal Star boat gear is well maintained. You will need fluoro leaders. Call the office and talk to Tim/Randy/or Brian directly. I ALWAYS recommend getting info straight from the horse's mouth. These are the guys who're on the water all the time. They're very happy to talk at length about what you'll really need (and not) as a first timer.

Best advice is to also talk with the capt and crew as soon as you're out of port and ask for pointers . . . it's not rocket science, you just have to ask. Everyone likes helping a newbie, you're the lifeblood of LR fishing!

Good luck, you'll have sooooo much fun.
 

malanx

Royal Star 200# Club
Sep 28, 2011
167
90
Mountain View
Name
Jonny
Boat
SD landings
I'll reiterate listen to the crew! My first long range trip was on the royal star and the deckhands will all go out of their way to help you. When you get on the boat, just let them know you are new.

Regardless of which captain is on that trip, brian, tim or randy, they all really know their stuff. I would also suggest calling up Tracy in the office and have her put you in touch with one of the captains, and ask they directly what gear/ supplied they recommend for that specific trip. I would talk to them once (or more now) and then call up again about a week before your trip and get an update on expected destinations, etc.


As far as questions to ask --- pretty much anything fishing related, regardless of how stupid it might sound. Long range fishing is about everyone doing well. almost all good anglers will gladly help you out, as this will keep you out of tangle, hooking fish, and keeping schools near the boat.

Suggestions of stuff to bring ---

Make sure your boots are comfortable!
wet wipes
mesh bag for laundry
beverages to enjoy with the world class dinners you will get

warnings - as mentioned above, once you go, you can't stop.... after my first ten day, im now booked on a 6 day in august and a 12 day in december, and eyeing a 15 day and or the cliperton adventure.... $$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Enjoy, and please feel free to ask me anything about the RS specifically.

~j
 

OFN

COB
Mar 18, 2007
1,404
29
Leona Valley
Name
Nat
Boat
Striper 2150, Indie
Lots of great advice above. A couple of things in addition to learning from the crew. Bring plenty of money for two important things that I have not seen mentioned. Tip the crew well, 20% of the cost of the trip is not unreasonable more if you can afford it. As you are a newbie these guys are going to spend extra time helping you. The second is make sure you have plenty of money to get your fish processed. Not unusual to spend $300 to $500 or more to get fish processed at the end of a trip. It is well worth the money to get the wonderful resource you will be catching vacuum packed and flash frozen. Cutting your own fish just gets crazy stupid, and discarding the carcases is problematic. If you do not have a lot of freezer room consider doing some catch and release (let the crew know) as it is easy to come home with hundreds of pounds of fillets after processing. You are going to have a great time, the boat you are going on is excellent with a great crew.
 

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
Thanks to everyone for the posts! Although it's only "theoretical" to read the style of working the bait, I can visualize it pretty good. I'll do as suggested and get in good with at least one deckhand and I'm never shy about asking questions or taking advice from those with the experience. And I'll return to John's post as suggested.

I'll see what I can come up with to practice the clothespin flip with. Anyone know anyone in the Albuquerque area that does these trips and has gear?

I'll also give the office a call and get in touch with one of the skippers to get their input.

And, I've already been in touch with the folks at Fisherman's Processing; I've filleted up my share of fish and packaged them, but I have plenty of respect and experience using a good processor - hard to beat.
 

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
I'll also talk with the office about jig types and bring along a few of those. Love, love, love jig fishing.
 

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
Oh, and as far as simply observing as a learning technique...I couldn't agree more. But damn if it won't be hard to stand back while fish are busting loose!
 

johndtuttle

Angler/Client
Mar 20, 2008
5,569
1,735
Carmel, CA
Name
john
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not crazy enough yet
Here's a photo of text book form for casting. This is Frank LoPreste, owner of the RP and Shogun and Fisherman's Landing and Fisherman's Processing etc. Total SD Long Range Legend. If this isn't good enough after 40-50 years on the water I don't know what is.

You want to use your whole shoulder with pretty much zero wrist or elbow. If you do the clothes pin thing to practice just use a bit of scotch tape to attach it. That way you get a sense of how gentle you have to be to not damage the sardine. Especially important if you are butt or back hooking rather than through the tougher nose cartilage:



This way you also are in control of your bait (and more importantly your hook) when casting around others. Take your time, and another reason to use circle hooks to maybe spare someone if you screw up.

ps. Not *really* saying don't fish on the way down just take a deep breath and maybe not be the first guy at the bait tank. At the start of the trip people will be all hyper cause they haven't pulled on a fish in awhile etc. but it is rarely worth it. Now, it is certainly true the old maxim that "the first bait in the water is often the one to get bit" on a jig stop but that is really for the 3-5 day trips that have a scratch bite the whole time to stress. On a 7-8 day you are gonna be dealing with tonnage at least in yellowtail, so there is no need to foam at the mouth like you'll see guys do the first/second day. Trust me, at the end of 7 days everyone will have a ton a fish in the RSW and people will be chillin'. That's when I will finally make an effort to be one of the first in the water quicker just for fun as it's less hectic.


salute
 

Steve K

Hey, I'm gettin' bit...
Jan 2, 2005
11,172
6,500
Bishop
Name
Steve
Boat
18' Bayrunner, but I like the American Angler and the Red Rooster III
Nick, welcome to the Asylum. This is going to be a wonderful adventure for you. Savor every bit of it.

Such great advice, especially from John. Glad to see you plan on speaking directly to the captains for advice, as they'll take care of you. What you'll be able to get onboard and what you want to buy ahead of time.

I will never forget my first trip longer than three days. Great fishing and remarkable is the relaxed attitudes displayed by the guys. Yeah, it's fishing and that's a lot of fun but it's a vacation, too, and don't lose sight of that. The people you meet and get to know may become acquaintances and lifelong friends.

And, even at the end of the last day of fishing, you don't need to be the first guy at the bait tank. It's a whole different ballgame compared to a shorter trip, characterized by that sense of urgency and combat fishing on overcrowded boats.
 

SemperFishing

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 26, 2007
589
100
Austin, TX
Name
Dave
Boat
Prefer Long Range or skiffs (great if combined!)
John Tuttle's posts on bait fishing NAIL it. The most challenging situation you can face on a 7-10 day is fishing 30-100lb tuna while anchored, little current, and fish feeding away from the boat. If the sardine after sardine you are casting wont swim, or swims under the boat, it can get real frusterating. Those who can flyline a bait far are the ones getting bit the most.

Practice casting dines, take a baitcaster of similar version of the one your usingon your trip, and cast something close to a sardine's wieght and shape (plastic swimbait is ppopular). I am a proponent of casting a half banana (pin a hook through the one side of the peel). This very accurately simulates a sardine. Cast too hard, it flies off, cast too soft, you dont get enough distance.

And know your knots. Be able to tie them with your eyes closed. This will pay off big.

And Im big on what the guys say on fishing jigs. It is WAY fun. Bring a few surface irons, if the yellowtails and/or yellowfin are up on the surface, it is an absolute blast to watch a 25lb fish slam your jig. Gawd....getting my blood pumping now!!!!
 

stairman

......
May 16, 2009
5,190
3,166
ramona /ca/usa
Name
doug
Boat
yak and lowe duck hunting skiff but they identify as sportfishing crusiers
Smile and be observant,emulate those that are catching all the fish.....and above all diet before the trip!!!
 

johndtuttle

Angler/Client
Mar 20, 2008
5,569
1,735
Carmel, CA
Name
john
Boat
not crazy enough yet
Ok, the last few things I will add to all of my other long winded advice is on bait selection and hooks.

This is kinda a no-brainer but with an important caveat.

Everyone knows that the 3/4 dead bait swimming sideways in the tank is not the one you want. Now, the boat may easily get into a WFO bite where they are chewing on cigarette butts or banana peels but often times it's kinda scratch fishing. The tuna are around and looking to eat, but really, the only game in town is the steady stream of bait in the chum line so they are not that fired up. Baits that don't swim well will generate suspicion and are slow to get bit.

So, you go to the tank and it's great looking bait. You find one in the wells that looks frisky and the lil' guy gives you a good battle before you grab him, so far so good, and you do your best to not squeeze the life out of him getting the hook in...you cast him out and he kinda goes and he kinda doesn't. You do your thing trying to get him to swim but well, it's not that great and he doesn't have much of a motor. What to do?

Change baits.

You will see countless guys, hope against hope, thinking they will get bit with a dud bait. Their lines are slackly bowed and the bait is drifting off in the current and they kinda think he is swimming but he's not. The boat is simply drifting away from him and he's just fining in place looking about the same and as appetizing as a floating cigar.

Most guys will tell you that a huge percentage of live baiting is getting that bait that is a little diesel who's got the little engine that could. Guaranteed Hookup if anything at all is around.

How do you find that bait? Process of elimination only through random trial and sticking with a good one when you find one.

So, let's say you make your mighty cast and the bait goes plop about 5 yards. Not your best effort but no stress, see if he runs. If he takes off like a rocket your stoked. if he heads under the boat and your line goes slack, no bueno, change baits. Not only is he smart enough to hide but he's lazy too.

If he heads under the boat and keeps going down taking line, LET HIM RUN you'll get bit. Let that little rockstar do his magic. Nothing attracts a fish like a bait streaking through the water. You can also try butt hooking baits to see if that motivates them to swim down and out more. No matter where your bait is if he is running give him a chance. Nothing will get bit faster than a good moving bait, be it straight under the boat, off the bow, up current, down current etc etc. Fish are typically all around the boat and as many of the chummed sardines swim straight back to the boat there is a little school down there up tight to the hull. Your bait swimming through that and down is perfect.

The point also being is that really you get one chance to cast a bait. If you don't get it out there the first time there is almost no sense in trying to bring it back and try again. The bait has just had the life beaten out of it and is oxygen starved and your done. Consequently even if it's not greatest cast ever give it a chance to swim and change the bait if it doesn't. Guys fishing 50W's for cows routinely cast only 5 yards (as Bruce Smith famously said "there is no overhead casting with a cow reel") the question is what the bait does after that and what you can do to help it.

Stay in contact with your bait, don't be deceived by current that is taking line (not the bait) and keep changing baits till you get a hot bait. This takes work. If you don't want to work (fine too, it's your vacation) just pull out the dropper loop an pin one on. The ultimate no brainer.

So bait "selection" is often done when it's in the water as there is no ultimately reliable way to pick that one with a good motor until he gets out there and swims or not. Then, it's up to you to decide if he's the one after giving your best shot to motivate him. That's what I call "selecting a bait".

Don't stick with a dud.

Hooks:

I highly recommend fishing circle hooks if you are a beginner. I really think it is easier to learn as it takes a lot of the guess work out of it. If you are swinging and missing and losing good baits unnecessarily from ripping the hook out of them because you are not sure you are getting bit etc it can get really frustrating.

Fishing circles goes like this.

"ok, run you little fucker....good boy (line is steadily moving off the reel with occasional jerks and twitches)...nice, finally got a good hot bait....Huh, am I bit (line moving off a bit faster)?...I think I'm bit...(line shoots off fast)...O yea, I'm bit (put reel in gear, wind up and firmly, but not rapidly, lift)...Fresh one!"

What I am trying to communicate is that when there is any question with a circle you have more time (about the same amount of time as it took to read that little dialogue) to be sure you are bit and you actually want to take that time so the fish really has the bait. With J's you have to swing right away as the exposed point will make the fish want to drop the bait. With circles not only do you have time enough to decide and be sure, but a simple reel up and firm but slow lift is how you get the hook to slide to the corner of the fish's mouth for an ideal hook set anyways.

AND that wind up and slow lift will not rip the hook through your bait if you aren't bit and your bait if he's a good one is still in the zone and you are still fishing instead of heading to the tank again. On top of that fish with circle hooks in them stay hooked far better. One less thing to worry about.

:)

None of this is written in stone, just intended to be a general guide for your use as you will. I'm no master, just willing to share what I know.



salute
 
Last edited:

nicodemus

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 10, 2012
351
481
ALBUQUERQUE
Name
Nicholas Bronson
Boat
themodcatfish
John, thanks again for the excellent and in depth info (and all the other guys, too). This is the sort of stuff I can read and re-read and have at hand to work with once I'm there. I'm familiar with circle hooks for halibut fishing, so will be happy to give them a go.

I haven't live bait fished in ages, but look forward to relearning it and learning all that's new.

Say, didn't Frank LoPreste fish the San Diego lakes for bass way back when? I grew up in SD bass fishing with my dad, and a few of the big boat operators were always out there catching the big ones while we were still learning. Frank's name rings a bell...