The Best Laid Plans of Fishermen and Hurricanes

nicodemus

Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
Apr 10, 2012
1,261
2,291
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Nick B
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African Queen
It was to have been a 5-day trip. It was to have been a fishing report titled "Five Days in September," replete with regales of bluefin large and plentiful, muscles sore and feeling great, freezers overflowing with abundance. It was to have been... well, something other than what Hurricane Kay ultimately made of it...

In line early for the Vagabond trip leaving Wednesday. Mike had sent an email regarding potential for a shortened trip, but we all remained hopeful. Hopes soon dashed when he came down around 8ish to tell us the trip was being reduced to a 2-day, as we'd have to come in early. Three or four people opted out with full refunds or funds pushed forward to other trips. The rest of us grinned and beared it, consoling ourselves that fishing had been great and we now had a nice limited load.

Blazed south around noon after baiting up, as the zone down there had been red hot for a while with the schoolie bluefin and yellowfin. Alas, that zone dried up in heartbreaking fashion almost overnight. Started looking and fishing around 4 p.m., with very little love. One stop produced a quick 4 yellowfin 15-20 lbs or so, and that was it. As the fog dimmed and night descended, Mike began the hunt for schools to drop jigs on. To quote Hemingway, it was "nada y pues nada, y nada pues nada." So, Hem fans one and all onboard (or maybe just me, who knows?) we did what he would have likely been happy to join us in - put away "algunos y algunos mas cervezas," then hit the rack awaiting a hoped for stop to jump up and jig.

A requisite pee break at midnight found an empty cabin and I determined we were heading north at a steady clip. Conclusion: we were done with the southerly zone and off to seek our fame and fortune (in all of a single day, no less) in the waters west of SCI.

Predawn proved me right, as the galley filled, coffee was drunk, and soon Mike announced we were nearing Desperation Reef (talk about apt irony). Long story short (could have been the title for this report, more irony for you), we never hit that one good school that would stick. We picked away... slooowww picked away... for about 8 hours, with a couple fish coming in on snipers, a few more on sinker rigs - the ones with a sardine attached, not a treble! - and flyline baits. When the dust settled, or more aptly, the fog, which actually stayed settled pretty much the whole day, we had 11 bluefin for our hard work. One guy got his 2-day limit somehow, a couple had 2 fish apiece, and the majority of anglers got the big skunk. To top it all off, Mike made the decision, based on the latest and greatest from the weather forecasts, to cut the trip even a little shorter out of an abundance of caution... though I know his decision only came at the 49% determination to get everyone a fish vs. the 51% determination to keep all aboard out of harms way.

I got lucky with I think the next last bluefin hooked and landed (one for one for me, so can't complain about my ratio) - whew! A 60 lb. fish on a sinker rig. My newbie buddy from AK hooked up on a 40 lb. flyline rig... and promptly had his ass handed to him for well over an hour. Every time around the boat he looked more beat up, and each time I thought "Damn, c'mon man, you gotta land your first bluefin!" Well, damned if he didn't, and in minorly epic fashion, that damn thing weighed in at a cool 120 lbs. Three times the line weight for his first bluefin.

The fishermen were a good and fun group of guys, we all made the most of what Poseidon had in store this trip. Mike and crew were more than their usual top notch professionals, the new(er) cook brought over from another boat - and deckie Jake from same boat - were great, as well as Fluffy, Tommy and the other new deckhand (whose name my old memory needs more than a 1.5 day trip to recall...).

Mike even kicked back an additional 1/2 day of credit to everyone due to the last minute call to come in a few hours early than first planned. I was yet again reminded why it's such a pleasure to fish with him and his crew.

And a final note: as ill-prepared as the Vagabond is to fillet on board, due to the compounding chaos of every boat in the fleet offloading on Friday to the already overwhelmed processors, Mike said if anyone wanted their fish done... the guys would get them cut. A couple people opted for this. And those of us that wanted to just get out of there a 1 a.m. when we docked, but had fish and processing reservations, Mike personally took care of that for us with our chosen processor a few hours later. And those who wanted to sleep onboard were of course accommodated. Customer service just doesn't get better than that...
 

Kman

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Apr 7, 2003
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Kurt
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Robalo R180 Trailer Trash
Wow, great report. Way to salvage a crappy situation. It’s blowing like a mofo and starting to rain as I type this.

Just read the forecast for around SCI. Up to 10’ wind waves! No thank you.
 
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ripped

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  • Dec 5, 2007
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    Gary
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    Thanks for the report and good for you and your buddy for bringing home some quality meat. Mike is in a league of his own and has the loyal customer base to prove it. Cameron has a great teacher in Mike that will serve him well through his career. Glad no one got hurt and the reminder that we are in good hands.
     
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    NoLDR

    OG BD member
  • Mar 26, 2003
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    BRAD
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    Feel for you, we came in early as well and it was very scratch fishing. Think we had 17 fish for 37 anglers. Almost every boat in the fleet was in the harbor when we got in. We arrive in SD at 1:15 AM this morning I opted to drive home instead of a few hours rest on the boat. Trip was a 1.5 on the Condor. Man I can't wait to get my boat out of the yard.
     
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    nicodemus

    Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
    Apr 10, 2012
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    Nick B
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    African Queen
    Feel for you, we came in early as well and it was very scratch fishing. Think we had 17 fish for 37 anglers. Almost every boat in the fleet was in the harbor when we got in. We arrive in SD at 1:15 AM this morning I opted to drive home instead of a few hours rest on the boat. Trip was a 1.5 on the Condor. Man I can't wait to get my boat out of the yard.
    Yeah, we were in maybe 45 minutes before you, one of the last. Group of guys on the back of the Indy in folding chairs, getting the most out of the last night of their trip. :D Every boat as you said tied up early.
     
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    Roadrunner

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    Oct 3, 2004
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    John Gleaves
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    20 foot, Westcoaster, Roadrunner
    I was on this Vagabond trip also. Safety first in cutting the trip short.

    Mike did his best trying to put us on fish but they were hard to find at times. Given the situation, the trip went well on the early return, trying to sort out the processors,unloading the gear, and treated all very fairtly on the refunds (TWICE). We went from 5 days to 2 days, then to a day and a half as the storm was moving up th line quicker than expected

    Our first day, Wednesday, and Wed night down south was not productive, especially the nite as Mike said he "did not see a "scale "as in a fish on the meter all night. I was up and down till about 4am hoping for a stop but we never did. finally slept some when we drove north to San Clemente Island area.

    We slow picked Thursday day but by the afternoon the schools took off somewhere and we could not locate any thing the last hour or 2. I was hoping for the last minute killer bite. Was very happy to get one 60 lb bft on board.

    There was a variety of methods working. Colt sniper, sinker rig, fly line. Most were doing 40 lb fly line. One guy got 4 BFT using sinker rig the entire trip. Some fish came up high and some boils around but fishing mostly stayed down. No knife jig at nite as no schools found.
     
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    nicodemus

    Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
    Apr 10, 2012
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    Nick B
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    Much respect for Mike and his Vagabond crew!! True professionals!! Sorry, the fishing didn't pan out. There's always a "next time"

    Safety first!
    Mel - Kahuna bass
    Indeed. My reimbursement went towards my Vagabond 8-day next year late June. First time on a June trip, can't wait!
     
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    Phishy Phil

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    Jun 15, 2019
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    Phil
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    Vagbond
    Indeed. My reimbursement went towards my Vagabond 8-day next year late June. First time on a June trip, can't wait!
    You're going to have a great time on that trip. Chris Cruger always brings a gigantic assortment of Calstar rods to try, all equipped with the appropriate reel. Lot's of giveaways - one of the neatest is a tuna rig with a piece of pink tape on it. Whoever catches the biggest fish on that rig gets to keep the rod. Many other rod raffles and other nice swag.
     
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    nicodemus

    Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
    Apr 10, 2012
    1,261
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    The 505
    Name
    Nick B
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    African Queen
    You're going to have a great time on that trip. Chris Cruger always brings a gigantic assortment of Calstar rods to try, all equipped with the appropriate reel. Lot's of giveaways - one of the neatest is a tuna rig with a piece of pink tape on it. Whoever catches the biggest fish on that rig gets to keep the rod. Many other rod raffles and other nice swag.
    The best "giveaway" is that wee bit of wisdom or experience that helps a fellow angler do better on their next fish or trip. But, yeah, I wouldn't turn up my nose at a free Calstar rod, that's for sure. LOL Look forward to fishing with you again, Phil.
     
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    Rubberhook2

    Local Bluefin
    Jan 19, 2007
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    I was thinking about you and your trip as all of this was going down. I was looking forward to meeting you Monday morning as I waited to board for my 3 day.

    There will be more trips.....there is no fish out there worth risking your life for.

    Will try to make you proud next week...
     
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    nicodemus

    Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
    Apr 10, 2012
    1,261
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    The 505
    Name
    Nick B
    Boat Name
    African Queen
    I was thinking about you and your trip as all of this was going down. I was looking forward to meeting you Monday morning as I waited to board for my 3 day.

    There will be more trips.....there is no fish out there worth risking your life for.

    Will try to make you proud next week...
    Was looking forward to meeting you, too!

    Mostly you'll just make me jealous when you guys kill it in a few days. LOL Have a great trip!
     
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    Rubberhook2

    Local Bluefin
    Jan 19, 2007
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    Tim
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    Was looking forward to meeting you, too!

    Mostly you'll just make me jealous when you guys kill it in a few days. LOL Have a great trip!
    Thank you brother.

    We fisherman are a small community, and a good one at that.

    Our paths will cross at some point, I promise you that...
     
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    SSUfish

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    Sep 14, 2006
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    Reports like this make me want to book a trip on the Vagabond. It's so refreshing to hear constant positive experiences on a trip that could have gone south real fast. Glad you caught, thank you for your report.
     
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    Sailing La Reina

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    Apr 10, 2019
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    I have never yet fished on the Vagabond. Thanks for sharing your story as I will now put it on my list of future trips. I hope your next trip comes with multiple surprises also. Only the kind that make you smile from ear to ear. 😀
     
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    nicodemus

    Fish, he said softly, aloud. I’ll stay with you...
    Apr 10, 2012
    1,261
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    The 505
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    Nick B
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    African Queen
    I can make room next week for you if you want to slum… 😉
    No better way to go slumming than with a bunch of LEO's. LOL Maybe next year the dates will line up better with my work schedule. Trust you guys will plug the holds with cows!
     
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