Tackle Recommendations

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
2,177
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JAM
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Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
So here is my dilemma. I am about to head out on my third 14 day trip and have always followed the recommendations of the captain and crew as to what line and hook size and strength to use when fishing for big tuna. 6/0 Super Mutu tied to 130 lb. Flouro. So far I have not had a single failure or chew off (in fact last year I landed every fish that picked up my bait) but I feel that I am not getting bit as well as I might. I am almost always getting bit because I am the only one fishing an area at that time or I am doing something no one else is. If I were to drop down to 100 or even 80 lb and use a slightly lighter hook (5/0 or 6/0 mutu)would I be giving up way to much just to get more bites.

I am sure that the crew would not be all that happy with this move. Even though 80 lb spectra seems to often test out somewhere near 120. Is the only reason to avoid fishing 80 lb spectra with 100 Flouro due to less abrasion resistance or safety factor associated with unnoticed nicks or damage to the line from tangles etc.? Seems like every day the captain tells us not to go in the water with anything less than 130 and recommends using a 6/0 Super Mutu or similar hook.
 
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Steve K

Hey, I'm gettin' bit...
Jan 2, 2005
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Steve
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18' Bayrunner, but I like the American Angler and the Red Rooster III
I think you'll find some anglers, myself included, using the quality 80 lb hollow spectras, like Jerry Brown and Cortland C-16, to insert 100 lb and 130 lb for making windon leaders. Can't break 80 lb or 100 lb spectra and for smaller capacity 30 and even 30W size reels, it makes sense to spool up with that. Larger size reels, like 50 and 50W size, not really cost effective to use it. That's 130 lb spectra territory.

Dropping down to 100 lb during the day, pick bite, Sardine fishing, is pretty common. But, there's 100 lb Seaguar, skinny at .91 mm, and Blackwater, fatter at 1.07 mm. And thicker line equals better abrasion resistance.

Your captain wants your bite to turn into a fish on the deck. Smart guy.
 
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Bill W

tunaholic
  • Jan 12, 2006
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    80 or 100 will buy you some time, and depending where the hook lands and how efficient you are fighting big fish will make the difference. 130 will buy you a lot more time.
    How aggressive I fight a fish is not the size of the line, but the size of the hook. Get a 10/0 hook on a big fish and put the petal to the metal. The sardine hooks I use are 6/0 and sometimes 5/0. Gotta be smooth with a small hook.

    Every trip is different, best advice would be never stick in one gear. Always look around and change up scale when the big fish show.
     
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    screamingreel

    Long Range Fanatic
    Jan 14, 2006
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    longrangesportfishingsandiegostyle.com
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    Jeff Burroughs
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    Long Range and Private
    Hello Jam,

    When big fish are around, my first recommendation would be listen to the crew. That being said, from a line diameter perspective, if you are using Seaguar Premier 130 your are already using 100 lbs. Fluoro. 100 lbs Premiere has a similar diameter to most other manufacturer's 80 lbs.

    If you are getting bit, go as heavy as possible. If not getting bit, go down in line size as needed (within reason). Nothing below 80 lbs (100 lbs Seaguar Premiere) and nothing smaller than a 5/0 Mutu or something similar depending on bait size.

    You can always fish what you want, but you may pay the price of a long battle and/or a lost fish. Listen to the crew and enjoy your trip!

    - Jeff Burroughs
     
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    FishRock

    Still trying to figure it all out
    Mar 27, 2013
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    JAM
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    Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
    Thanks guys. Kind of what I was thinking but I am constantly seeing posts by veteran anglers fishing lighter gear than is recommended by the crew. I guess that I should realize that folks with a dozen or more cows under their belt know way more about fighting fish with lighter gear than I will ever know since I only get on the water once a year. I think I will stick with what I am told to use and be happy that most all my hookups are ending up with fish on the deck. Last year’s trip was phenomenal in that I hooked and landed 5 wahoo and 15 tuna. (I released half the tuna)

    Lord knows I really need to improve on my bait selection and handling as those 6/0 super mutus are hard on the smaller bait.

    raw66,
    Good luck resolving the line issue with the vendor. Does not sound like much fun.
     
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    Bill W

    tunaholic
  • Jan 12, 2006
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    One more thing... One of my favorite big fisherman, Junkyard Bob always use 130# flouro but just 2 feet connected to mono via 3 turn surgeons knot. He pre ties the hooks on the flouro and hangs them on his tackle box. Never uses anything lighter.

    One misconception I believe many make is lighter line is needed because tuna can see the line. For live bait to be effective it has to look natural. A bait that can tow the line chosen should be your focus. Or the bait can be effictive standing still and in that case, chunking, you can go very heavy. Bobber balloon fishing is effective and the bait is nose hooked 10 feet from the balloon, but the line is positioned in line with the current. The bait is just pointing in to the current, perfect presentation to tuna that come from behind. 130# works great for that. The largest fish are usually caught on stationary bait, like kite, helium balloon, chunk or bobber balloon.
    So it's how you present the bait would be more important than lighter line. Your choice of bait, over lighter line.
     
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    JohnTFT

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    Feb 11, 2007
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    A big Steel One
    One misconception I believe many make is lighter line is needed because tuna can see the line.

    So it's how you present the bait would be more important than lighter line. Your choice of bait, over lighter line.

    Words to live by.

    If you ever wanted to understand how to catch fish more consistently practice these two simple points.
     
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    Rodless_Jim

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 3, 2008
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    I am really not one to talk, because I will sometimes drop down in line weight when the bite is really picky, and most times I fish 100lb Blue Label (or similar) in the bright daylight. Having said that, over my last two trips, I have learned that:

    1. Bait handling is the A #1 reason you get bit or not when the fish are around. I have worked VERY DAMNED HARD to get better at that, and it has really paid dividends.

    2. I feel like it's pretty common that tuna pay much less attention to the line than to the bait itself. Yes, line can be a factor, but it is my strong opinion that hook size and placement are much, much more important than line size (within reason). That has been my experience. If the tuna sees something sufficiently funky about the bait (i. e. the hook), it may quite possibly shy away. A bait that is shoulder hooked with a 5/0 stands the best chance (IMO) of getting bit by a tuna that sees it from below (as they almost always do).

    Of course, it still has to be a hot bait, handled and hooked with pure TLC, swimming in the right direction. But that's tuna fishing.
     
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    spinner

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    watch your hook placement relative to the current and the direction the fish is swimming realtive to you and the boat/you donot want your line running over or under the bait back to you
     
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    Rodless_Jim

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  • Apr 3, 2008
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    Just to add, these thoughts:

    1. I have been using regular mutus, and as far as I'm concerned, they ROCK.

    2. A butt hook seems to be almost as effective (for me) as a shoulder hook, but I am not sure why. Maybe the silhouette is less pronounced, especially with a smaller hook?

    3. How aggressive the fish are feeding and the clarity of the water probably make some difference too.
     
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    Cubeye

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
    Jan 26, 2007
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    Just to add, these thoughts:

    1. I have been using regular mutus, and as far as I'm concerned, they ROCK.

    2. A butt hook seems to be almost as effective (for me) as a shoulder hook, but I am not sure why. Maybe the silhouette is less pronounced, especially with a smaller hook?

    3. How aggressive the fish are feeding and the clarity of the water probably make some difference too.

    You use a regular Mutu hook for cow fishing? What size?
     
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    Rodless_Jim

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  • Apr 3, 2008
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    Yes. I have gone as small as 4/0, but most commonly 6/0, and 5/0 when the sardines are small or stealth is absolutely necessary.

    No failures so far. Perfect hook sets. Livelier baits.

    Based on tests that a guy did for me a couple of years ago, it takes almost 100lbs of drag to deform a mutu. I fish heavy drag, and I've never broken one. At least not yet.
     
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    Cubeye

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    Jan 26, 2007
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    Yes. I have gone as small as 4/0, but most commonly 6/0, and 5/0 when the sardines are small or stealth is absolutely necessary.

    No failures so far. Perfect hook sets. Livelier baits.

    Based on tests that a guy did for me a couple of years ago, it takes almost 100lbs of drag to deform a mutu. I fish heavy drag, and I've never broken one. At least not yet.

    Good to know. I've always wanted to try the Mutu, but didn't have the nerve. I guess it's as strong if not stronger than the Eagle Claw 2004/2005 circle hooks.
     
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    Tim Turis

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    "No failures so far. Perfect hook sets. Livelier baits.

    Based on tests that a guy did for me a couple of years ago, it takes almost 100lbs of drag to deform a mutu. I fish heavy drag, and I've never broken one. At least not yet."

    What is the biggest fish you've caught on a regular Mutu? Any cows?
     
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    Rodless_Jim

    I Post A Lot But I Can't Edit This
  • Apr 3, 2008
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    192lbs. I have only one cow on my list, and that wasn't caught on a long range boat. It was a 245 caught using a harness on a private boat off of PV.

    THAT hook was an Owner Tournament Circle, by all accounts a weaker hook than the mutu.
     
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    tunachris

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    Oct 16, 2005
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    The lighest line I will fish on long trips is 100 flouro with sardines. As mentioned bait selection is critical. If you put your time in at the rail, you will get your shots. The two things I always advise newbies about, do not go to lighter lines to get bit, and once you are bit, pace yourself and don't pull like a maniac right off the batt.
     
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    fishordie

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Aug 31, 2005
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    Jamie
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    2013 Ranger Z521 with 250 Merc.: Now deceased.. Thank goodness
    Yo FR,

    Great question from which you received a variety of responses. If you stay on these boards long enough you will hear all sorts of clever replies such as "Friends do not let friends fish 80 pound test" or "No angler has ever wished they had lighter line when battling a giant fish". And of course "Don't over think it" (Unfortunately, we are fishermen so over thinking is a natural response mechanism). Now, these are wonderful little nuggets I but prefer the following thoughts: "Know Thyself" and "To thine own self be true" and the most important one "Be prepared". In my opinion the answer to your question is neither simple nor all encompassing for every angler or every situation.

    Every angler I have ever met has the same basic goal. Catch the biggest fish that swims in the ocean (As long as it does not hurt us too much). However, Every angler I have ever met also goes through periods of rail time where they second guess how they are going to accomplish that task.... especially if they are not getting bit or not getting bit as well as they think they should. Every angler I have known also, at some point, is willing to sacrifice line gauge for more bites in certain situations. Every angler has a different idea of how much practice is required to learn how to cast or lob a bait from a long range platform..This is unfortunate as long term success is usually associated with experience (No, not always) but the idea is to give you the best chance of success before dropping down in line class. Without knowing your skill level or personality I will give a long generic answer that begins with the confidence that the angler has removed any and all possibilities of failures that are within the control of the angler.. Based on your skill and mind set you can skip some and jump on others. So here is the priority list you might want to think about. As usual, my response will be longer than most anyone's but the choice to fish lighter line is more about mind set and confidence than anything else.... I will explain more at the end of my rambling.

    As a note: I never drop down in line gauge when fishing drop jigs such as the Heavier JRI jigs or PL 68 glow jigs or bigger bait fishing. 130# or 150# are my go to line gauges for these applications so the question of lighter line, for me, is only in regards to fly-lining sardines or similar sized baits.

    BE PREPARED: (No doubt an angler can come aboard one of our great long range boats and by using the boat gear and boat supplied terminal tackle catch a big fish without any practice or experience but at the end of the day being properly prepared goes a long way towards deciding, with confidence, weather or not they should drop down in line gauge but for the rest of us....)

    Well before the trip practice your connections until you are fully confident they are not going to break and you can re-create these perfect connections even under some duress... The excitement of big fish boiling or the bite going off while the angler is making their connection can sometimes cause the angler to not be as careful as they should... Practicing will allow the angler to tie great connections even if they go brain dead or are not as focused as they should be.

    Inspect your previously used spectra to find signs of wear, boat bottom paint or to remove any sections of line that might have seen tangles or abrasions. In short, remove the potential for wondering to yourself if your line is free of nicks and abrasions.

    Make sure you have fresh top shots and that you store them, preferably, indoors not subject to heat or sunlight.. Know your pre-made top shots are in perfect condition and never allow a home-made top shot in your collection which you have any concern about... If you are using a tied on top shot, again, make sure you are using only spools of line you have complete confidence in.

    Make sure your gear is in tip top shape. Make sure your reels have been serviced by you or professionals to remove the doubt you might have in your mind as to their condition. Make sure your guides are crack free and are in smooth running shape.

    If you can find a place to practice, take your big fish gear to a lake or pier and trying lobbing or casting something which will duplicate a bait in order to land that bait softly and with reasonably distance. I suggest purchasing some thawed out frozen sardines to best replicate the actual situation. Few fishermen will ever do this but to be exceptional at any sport, practice, which creates confidence, is a key element..at least for most of us... Why not maximize your actual fishing time by reducing the amount of lousy lobs or casts once you get to the fishing grounds? Being able to get a bait away from the boat in the best possible manner, such as a longer length lob while getting the bait to swim rapidly in the right direction is better than dropping down in line class. Again, eliminate the factors which may be keeping your from getting bit before dropping down in line size.

    Make sure your hooks are sharp and that you have a nice assortment of wire gauges and sizes appropriate for 100# to unlimited size fish.

    Make sure you have a nice selection of sliding and torpedo sinkers so you may adapt to the situations as they present themselves.

    Be prepared to change your setups depending on the situation and conditions. Sliding sinker, torpedo and rubber band or ?? Make a commitment to asking questions or watching and learning what the hot sticks, who are getting bit, are doing or using if you are not getting bit.

    On the way to the fishing grounds practice hooking your baits, in the best possible manner and the least distress to the bait, using a variety of hook sizes, shapes and wire gauges. Practice gently grasping the desired and lively bait in a reasonably quick and efficient manner without knocking scales or rubbing slime of the bait. Practice hooking in various locations of the bait including nose hooking, shoulder hooking and butt hooking..If you are having any trouble or are unsure ask a deck hand, when they have spare time, to help you, judge your technique or help in any way they can. Practice first on dead baits and then on the wigglers that might fly out of the bait tanks on the ride out. Practice until your are confident you can hook baits properly even if you do it in multiple sessions. Practice getting your now hooked bait over the side even though the boat will be traveling at 10 or 11 knots.

    The point of the above Be Prepared scenarios is to eliminate the main reasons most anglers are not getting bit on 130 pound test. Additionally, by firmly believing the angler has all his bases covered as far as reducing the possibility of gear failures, the angler can feel more confident they can still pull hard, even on 80 pound string, without having to think or worry about failure points. Once these possibilities are mostly negated as the culprit the angler will have the ability to make an informed decision to drop down in line class simply because the fish are there but have a bad case of lockjaw for not only you but your fellow experienced anglers as well. Firmly knowing and believing your presentation is excellent, your bait is swimming properly, the bait is quickly getting into the zone yet you are not getting bit when fish are around is the main reason to drop down in line test when fishing for giants.

    TO THINE OWNSELF BE TRUE:

    In my opinion, each angler has a different criteria for determining success. Many of my experienced friends go on some trips with the express intent of either landing the 300#+ or catching nothing at all. They fish nothing less than big reels and heavy line and have committed to this format. Some of them will only fish big bait and big hooks, if those baits are available. Other's of my friends want to be bit as often as possible and are willing to lose that fish of a life time by dropping down in line class when the bite gets tough. The majority of the folks I know fall somewhere in-between. There is not right or wrong answer as long as the angler is fulfilling their own agenda and not impinging on the rights of their fellow passengers. If the boat is at anchor, dropping down in line gauge should not impact the other passengers if you are on the fish too long however if you are in a run and gun situation chasing schools of tuna or cannot pull in a big fish on lighter line in a reasonable time frame then you will want to re-think the equation.

    Since you have already been on a long range trip you have expressed and are undoubtedly familiar with your thought patterns as you spent hours at the rail second guessing what was happening. You are already confident your connections held on 130 and that you could land a big fish on 130. So, Before the next trip really consider what your objectives are and how your mind will cope with the possibility of being on a big fish with lighter than optimum line gauge. If you believe you should drop down in line class given similar circumstances as your previous trip then commit to the concept your brain is going to wish you were on heavier line and not let the lighter line impact the fun and focus you will have while pulling in the fish.. If you lose that fish.. for any reason, so be it.. No blame and no condemning yourself for trying something you were considering either while on the fish or after the fish is either landed or lost. If you do not believe you can handle this concept... Don't drop down in line class. Know thyself.

    Okay, so that was a ton of stuff to think about. My short answer for those I setup is to start out with 130# and a 6/0 Super Mutu or 4X Strong Mustad or other manufacturer's cow appropriate hooks until it becomes clear this setup is not working. I never, ever suggest using 60 pound, when giants are around, as 80 pound would be the lightest I would go. Some will fish 60 if they feel the under 150 pound fish are then norm but is a questionable practice unless you want to load up on smaller fish (I firmly believe any fish over 150 pounds on these ultra long trips are beautiful) will still fish the same drag setting as I would on 100 or even 130 as the 80 pound is going to wear through faster than heavier gauges even if the hook is perfectly set in the corner of the mouth as all too often line is rubbing at some point agains the gill plate, side of the fish or tail. A 3X strong, slightly smaller hook, can be effective in aiding the angler to get bit but to me is a last resort. Finally, I would fish a proper circle hook when fishing 80 or even 100 as I like the way the barb circles around the bone at the side of the mouth and I feel I can pull harder without pulling the hook but that is a very personal decision.

    There is little doubt that lighter line will get bit more often than heavier line, in most conditions when fishing bait. Smaller hooks will get bit better than bigger hooks, in most conditions as they are less intrusive on the bait. If you dropped down to 10 pound test and #4 hook you will get bit better than 200 pound test and big tuna hook due to the fact the bait swims better as the drag on the fish is dramatically reduced but that scenario is only for discussion and not for actual use. If you fish the big boats long enough you might even hear a skipper say it is okay to drop down to 80 or 100 pound when the fish have lockjaw... Yes it happens. Our decision is what is best for us given the situation that presents itself.

    So, for this angler, it comes down to my frame of mind. I never want to increase the stress on my mind when on any fish or at the rail and I commit to whatever technique, line gauge, hook size and type or artificial technique I choose and never beat myself up at the end of the day. If I firmly believe I have properly presented my fin bait enough times, in the right part of the water column and in the right locations I will consider dropping down in line test and then commit to it. I am always prepared to adjust my style, gear or technique based on what the hot sticks are doing or using...or be prepared to switch back if the big fish decide to bite heavier lines. If I find my mind is telling my I did some boneheaded stuff then I go grab a scotch, a cigar and take a moment or three on the upper deck and watch the action. Heck, I might do those things even if I am the hot stick. If that is my down side of a long range fishing trip then in truth.... There is no down side...

    Best of luck.

    Jamie
     
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    Mr GreenJeans

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    Jamie has put up a very thoughtful post and it calls to mind an issue which I think doesn't get enough consideration. Let me illustrate with a personal anecdote.

    Last spring I was on the RP for what turned out to be a pretty challenging trip. Towards the end, quite a few people only had a few fish and some had nothing over 100#. One very slow afternoon I was fishing with a big bait using 130# and a 20/0 hook. Some of the guys were getting bored, so they got out the 40# rigs and started hooking up to 40-50# tuna. With this action going on, the stern was getting a little crazy, so I started to reel up to get out of the impending cluster. About then Roy came by and asked why I was reeling up. When I told him, he said to get back out there, because I was fishing for the fish we wanted to catch. He then read the riot act and told the guys to quit f---ing around and put that light sh$t away. About ten minutes later, I hooked (and landed) a very nice 189# tuna. That night after dinner, Roy gave us a talk about not dropping down in line weight. The gist was that when the fish are going to bite, they will bite. Of course if you give them a choice between light line and heavy line, they will take the light line. So don't give them a choice. Make them take the heavy line so you can land the fish you hook. It does no one any good to hook a cow on 40# line.

    Now the example of hooking a cow on 40# line is an extreme one. But it did cause me to think about what would have happened if Roy hadn't told those guys to quit using the light line. There is a decent chance my 189# tuna would have taken their bait instead of mine, spooled them, and a nice fish would have been gone for good. So my point is this. When you decide to drop down to 60# line, or even 80# line, your chances of hooking a fish will very likely improve. But any fish you hook and lose is one that was hungry and feeding and for sure won't be biting the guy next to you that was fishing with 100# or 130#. So fish for the fish you want to catch. Don't drop down and eventually lose that fish. Because you not only lose it for yourself, it's also a feeding fish that no one else will catch either.
     
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    GClev

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    You're on vacation. Roy's body count and the attitude that passengers are employees to be bullied is bullshit.

    3am - Jolting almost everyone out of a sound, tired, delirious sleep. RP PA screams, "The mackerel are biting; we need everyone on deck." Did you ever notice that Frank's voice goes up a full octave when the fish don't bite?

    3am - Royal Star - Quietly, "Get the crew up, the mackerel are biting." Then Tim writes poetic prose in the fish reports.

    You choose.

    I can, at best, from long experience, eat about 25# of expertly processed fish fillets over the next six months. I prefer salmon.

    If I want to fish 30# mono the whole damned day, I will. If I ever define my own self-worth by a pile of fish, drop me overboard.
     
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    Olddog8

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    My wife and I use the local lake to practice casting techniques. The Rangers let use use the fishing peir on closed to fishing days as long as I let them know. They are very supportive. Of course there are no hooks, only small sinkers. Practice does help. I've been casting conventional reels for 40 years and it still helps. Casting light sardines with heavy lines is not something I'm accustom too and, even with lighter line, it seems I mess up the first cast of most trips if it has been over a month. I like Jamie's recommation of practicing your underhand lobs with a dead bait on the boat ride down.
     
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    johndtuttle

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  • Mar 20, 2008
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    not crazy enough yet
    You're on vacation. Roy's body count and the attitude that passengers are employees to be bullied is bullshit.

    3am - Jolting almost everyone out of a sound, tired, delirious sleep. RP PA screams, "The mackerel are biting; we need everyone on deck." Did you ever notice that Frank's voice goes up a full octave when the fish don't bite?

    3am - Royal Star - Quietly, "Get the crew up, the mackerel are biting." Then Tim writes poetic prose in the fish reports.

    You choose.

    I can, at best, from long experience, eat about 25# of expertly processed fish fillets over the next six months. I prefer salmon.

    If I want to fish 30# mono the whole damned day, I will. If I ever define my own self-worth by a pile of fish, drop me overboard.

    Honestly, it sounds like you should be fishing PV on your own charter.

    I will fish with Frank and Roy anytime, anywhere. Lemme guess, you used those macks the next day, didn't you?
     
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    GClev

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    I knew Roy when he was a deckhand at Seaforth selling barracuda out of his mother's garage.

    Why don't you ask him your stupid question.
     
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