The usual, Late trip report.

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
1,841
2,467
Alaska
Name
JAM
Boat
Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
Here comes the usual late report from me, January 25th, 2016 trip on the AA.

Had been 11 months and a few days since I had last hooked a tuna. Managed to avoid the urge to buy gear again this year. Though it is getting harder every year since there are so many nice options out there. Who would not want a Makira 20SEA and a 7.6 Viper to fondle all year?

This is my fourth trip out of SD and my third LR trip on the AA. I have no gear so I use loaner equipment from the AA. Makes travel less stressful and packing much simpler. As usual I arrived in SD a day early so I could get settled in and pick up a few last-minute tackle items. Got off the plane, grabbed my bag and walked from the airport to Point Loma. Beautiful day as usual and worked up a sweat. Ran into a couple of regulars from the trip (Gordo and Planet) as soon as I got to the marina. Stood around talking in the sun for a while and then checked in with Lori at the office and got caught up with some of the other trip regulars who were around too. Turned out that we had a couple folks miss out on this year’s trip due to accidents and other health issues. Sorry they could not make it but it made room for other veterans that had been on the wait list. Ran into Ben, Avet rep. turned out that he was turning the CM reins over to a new guy, Stan. This was Stan’s first LR trip and he had the misfortune to be bunking with me. His wife and two very rambunctious young sons were there to see him off. Those boys are obviously going to be taking up rail space in the near future. After getting checked in at the Vagabond I hit a couple of the local tackle shops to pick up some hooks, weights and a couple wahoo bombs. Grabbed dinner and got some shuteye.

Up early the next morning and headed over to the landing. Loading by the numbers went well and I with my one bag drew the usual comments as everyone else was trying to fit all their gear into a cart or two. Since I don’t have any real gear I help others get settled onboard. We left the dock and got out to the bait receiver quickly. Ray spent some time finding the livelier/larger baits and the crew took their time loading to minimize stress on the bait. (Must have helped as this bait did well on the trip down and was in good shape most of the trip despite the snotty conditions.)

Loaded up, fueled up, baited up and filling up on food we headed out of port and turned south with a beautiful mid-winter day and the usual ~4’ swell coming out of the northeast. At this point there was a weather system headed across the pacific that was expected to hit California in a few days and blow itself out in northern Baja. Reports from Clarion and HB were just OK with spotty fishing but good sign. Brian was on a midline course and waiting to hear how things developed on our way down before he committed to going left or right.

Day two of travel and not much going on. Sometime around mid-morning (I think) we see what we assume to be a patrol boat of some sort in shore of us, moving south. They stay in sight and eventually drop in behind us. Turns out that it was a US Coast Guard cutter. After talking with Brian for a while they decide to board us and check our passports. Takes them a while to get their launch ready and sent out from the main ship. They let us maintain course and speed so it does not slow us down much. As the launch gets close there is a bunch of grousing from our group about being hassled and better ways to spend tax dollars (the usual). Launch pulls alongside and half a dozen young seamen and women board us. They are armed (side arms) with body armor, lifejackets and helmets. The launch backs off behind us and takes up a following position well within shooting range. They spend most of their time surfing their launch in our wake. The crew members who have boarded spread out to the bridge and back deck. And we begin the long standoff. This lasts about 5 minutes at which point the more adventurous passengers approach the young Coasties on the back deck and start chatting them up. Once it is known that there is an attractive young lady willing to speak to these crusty fishermen and listen to fish stories and look at pictures the mood among the passengers flips quickly. The next hour or so passes pleasantly and it is generally agreed that if any one of us were on that Coast Guard boat we would be making up any excuse we could think of to get off the boat, even for a few minutes. Turns out that their home port is in Washington State and they had been out to sea for several months. The US Coast Guard apparently has some sort of agreement with Mexico and other Central American countries and patrols the coast as far south as Cota Rica (give or take a few hundred/thousand miles). While we were chatting up the sailors on the back deck the party leader was busy radioing all of our info back to the main ship one passenger at a time and waiting for them to run our names through a national database. As far as the US government was concerned no one on board presented a national security risk. (Kind of surprising if you know some of the folks on the trip. Planet J)

Once we were cleared of all suspicion and the Coast Guard launch was pulling away with their crew I was shocked to hear one of my companions shout “Good bye and thank you!!!”. Remember that these same guys were grumbling when we were first boarded and now they are thankful. Sheesh! We all had a good laugh.

That night at dinner we discussed the game plane and Brian laid out what he was hearing from the grounds. Not much was the general sense with spotty current and the expectation that the weather may get a bit snotty at the Bank within a day of our arrival. We decide to hold a middle course to leave our options open but trend towards the bank. Day three is just a long day of running with the customary huddle at dinner. Brian is still thinking we may head out to the Bank and we maintain course in that direction. Sometime that night he changes his mind and we hear at breakfast that we are headed into the buffer zone.

1/29

Day 1, we arrive at Clarion mid-morning and start looking around. I cannot remember which boats are already there. I think it was the RP and Intrepid and we hear that the RRIII is headed in from the Bank and the RS is right behind us as well. The check in will be the next day so we get setup and start fishing. Ray advises that there is not much current and that a little weight might help get the baits to the fish. I start out with a couple ounces of weight and find some current to pull my sardine back behind the boat. Nothing on the outward journey but as I slowly retrieve my nose hooked bait it gets bit and I manage to drop the fish tuna of the trip on deck. It was a small (~30 lb.) fish but I tagged it just to get the ball rolling. Nothing much happening, I get another bait or two out and manage to repeat my success on the retrieve. For about 20 minutes I am the most popular angler on deck since I have managed to boat the first 2 fish of the trip. (Spoiler alert, these two fish end up being 1/3 of my total catch.) I tell anyone who asks how I hooked them, slow retrieve with a sinker. A couple of the veteran anglers snarl in disgust at the thought of using a “sinker rig” to fish for the noble yellow fin. Later in the trip these guys swallow their fishing pride and give in to using sinkers as it was producing fish when fly lining was not.

At this point in time my memory will certainly diverge from reality (if it has not already) as over the course of the next few days I spent more than my fair share of time in my bunk with a sinus infection of some ilk, surfacing now and then to soak a bait or two when not feeling chilled or otherwise under the weather. I am sure that Brian is now convinced that I am simply a fair weather angler as I was not putting in the rail time I should have been. Honestly I did not feel good. I know that is a poor excuse but it is the only one I have. During this same time frame we got reports that the weather system we assumed would be blowing itself out in southern California and Northern Baja was indeed beating that area up but not blowing out. It hit land and slid south to pick on us for a while. The cumulative effect of the weather and lack of current left us with some very challenging conditions. 5’-8’ swells, high winds and limited current. When someone did manage to hook into a good fish it was a team effort to land it. Several anglers were dropping to 100 lb. gear to get bit and then regretting it after losing a nice fish or spending a much longer time fighting it. If it had not been for Ray I am sure that we would have lost half the fish we did land. Day one ended with a bang as we got a hit on 100+ pounders right at sundown. The fish seemed to come boiling up on us and only hung around for a few minutes before they headed on down the line. After my initial success I went 2 days without a bite. While that was a bit hard to take I had to be happy with the fish I had boated since there was more than one very experienced angler on board that went for a couple of days without a single fish.

IMG_3209.JPG
 

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
1,841
2,467
Alaska
Name
JAM
Boat
Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
1/30

Day 2 was a carbon copy of day one with scratch fishing throughout the day and a hit on better grade fish right at sundown. We stop fishing long enough to go through check in with the Marines before lunch. Those poor guys are still living without a desalinator so we fill up their water jugs after they have made one trip in with water from the RR III. Check in is smooth and we get back out fishing. Fishing is slow for most of the day. Then Eric manages to hook into a very nice fish during the sundown hit and he gets plenty of sport for his trouble as this fish worked him around the boat for a long time. We were all cleaned up and eating dinner while he and Ray were still lapping the deck trying to get that fish to gaff. It was a pretty good floor show while it lasted. A very nice 277 lb. tuna finally landed on deck and Eric did not bother washing up before he landed in the galley with us to eat. I go fishless for the day after putting in a spotty show at the rail between naps, trying to shake the sinus infection I have.

1/31

Day 3 was another day of scratch fishing. Late afternoon Jake managed to boat a nice fish (279 lbs.) and the fact that it beat Eric’s by 2 lbs. made it just right by Jake. We get another sundown hit and then it is over for the day. Another skunk for me.

2/1

Day 4 and I am still on and off the deck a lot. Pretty sure I boated a kite fish sometime during the day, another good eater (code for smaller fish). Cannot remember much else from the day as I must have been putting in a fair amount of rack time. Late in the day we get setup for the evening bight (If it is going to happen) Brian comes on the speaker and lets us know Pat just hooked up to a nice fish and he is seeing fish deep under the boat and that they should be moving up as the sun sets. I am lying in my bunk still not feeling well and trying to decide if I should drag myself back out there or not. Brian is offering frequent bits of advice over the PA and at the point that he says “If I were fishing right now I would put on 4 oz of weight, nose hook a bait and get it down to 95’!” I have not learned much on my previous 2 trips but I have learned that when Brian doles out that sort of specific advice you better take it and run. So I did. I fell out of bed, scrambled up the stairs and through the galley, grabbed my rod from the rack, nose hooked a sardine and dropped it down to what I estimated to be near 95’. About that time Pat squeezes past with his rod in one hand and a shredded line in the other. Apparently that nice fish he hung earlier beat the heck out of him and managed to come off right at the gaff. Pat is not happy. At this point a couple other folks hook up around the boat. Pat gets re-tied and puts another bait in the water. I drop my rig a little deeper and after it has settled in for a few seconds, wham, I get slammed! This fish starts shaking in place and then takes off for the bow. About the time I am getting bit, Pat hooks up and off he goes. Now we have half a dozen fish working around the boat and on my next trip toward the stern there is Pat with his rod in hand tying on another hook. I offer my condolences on another lost fish and he lights up as he tells me how it was a twin to the one he lost earlier but that this one had Kamikazed right to the boat and it was now lying safely on the deck! Oh ya!

It is now full on dark and Ray has his hands full with the usual traffic jam in the corner with a hand full of uncooperative fish and partially cooperative anglers. One by one each fish is extracted from the scrum and brought successfully to gaff, mine included. This one weighed in just shy of 180. This has been my glass ceiling so far as I have boated a 180 on each of my trips. Just cannot seem to crack 200. (I know, I just have to stay out of my bunk and put in the rail time.)

IMG_3216.JPG
 

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
1,841
2,467
Alaska
Name
JAM
Boat
Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
2/2

Day 5, the bad weather hits in full force. Somewhere during this day I manage to land a bait fish. Not much on size but a fish. I also get bit off half a dozen times by wahoo. There were plenty of them around at times and some folks managed to boat their share.

2/3

Day 6, we wrap up fishing in challenging weather. Rough seas, high wind and no current. Jan manages to finish with a bang as her last few days have been productive. She put on a clinic earlier on maintaining a good/positive attitude as she went 2 or 3 days before she hooked her first tuna. Now she is showing us how to kill fish. Late afternoon Brian says he thinks we should call it a trip at the end of the day so we can get an early start home and run a bit slower than usual to avoid falling off the back of the big swells we will be pushing into.

There was not much pushback as everyone could see what we would be fighting on the way home. The trip home is uneventful aside from the crappy cards I and my partner were constantly being dealt during the cribbage tournament. On the upside I finally shook that sinus infection. And someone won the Super Bowl.

2/8

We arrived back in San Diego to enjoy another beautiful SoCal day. Off-loading went well and I got my exercise shoving carts and helping others with their fish. Five Star whisked my 6 tune off to get them ready to fly home with me the next day. I gave Gordo a hand loading fish into his newly upgraded truck bed fish box. Jake was the high liner for the trip and had quite a pile of fish to deal with. I sucked it up and helped him load his cart full and push it over to his truck. We then proceeded to hump that 279 pounder and his friends into the bed of Jake’s truck. Jake was happy. I said my goodbyes and limped over to the Vagabond sporting a layer of slime and a sore back.

The next morning I take my time packing and checking out of the Vagabond. I meet up with Brian and Lori for lunch. What nice folks they are! We stop by Five Star on the way and grab my fish. Great service as usual. Brian drives south for much longer than I expected and then we work our way to his favorite Mexican restaurant. Cannot say how much I enjoyed sharing a meal and chatting with these two. Still not sure who paid them off to spend that much time with me. But I am most thankful for the time they shared.

After a great meal we head back to the airport. I load my gear and fish onto a cart and off I go back home. Turns out that Five Star slipped some of their jerky in with my fish and after my wife got a bite of it I am now sure that some of next year’s catch will become jerky. What a great winter vacation!

Have I learned anything?

This was my third LR trip and it was the most challenging of them. I learned a lot about keeping a positive attitude. Jan and Charlie were excellent examples of how it pays off to stay positive and keep fishing. Remember they call it fishing, not catching.

To anyone who has wanted to fish LR and has not, simply because they think they need a bunch of expensive gear, I can still say after 3 LR trips that it is a viable option to just jump on a boat with a good attitude, a hand full of hooks, a pair of side cutters and a change or two of clothing. You will do fine as long as you listen to the crew and avoid being a total A-hole to your fellow passengers.

Never expect anything but be prepared to accept/adapt to anything.

No two trips are ever the same. For better or worse they are always different.

Bait fishing has also been different on each of the trips. Salami mackerel, caballito (bigeye scad), skip jack, tube mackerel, squid. You never know what will be available. I always help make bait. It is fun!

Everyone on board has a lot to offer. Listen.

And finally, the crew on the AA gets it done! Thanks again for another great trip! Yes, I am signed up for next year.
 

lee337

ahuntnfisherman
Apr 19, 2014
318
148
Name
larry lee
Boat
bass boat
Love these reports!!! Thanks for taking the time to right this!!!:appl::appl::appl:
 

cow man

Tuna addict
Aug 29, 2012
2,920
2,332
Glide Or. 97443
Name
Jake Waardenburg
Boat
N/A
Thanks Jeff, always great to relive those moments, I was waiting for your report and once again you delivered, great job, see you in January!
 

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
1,841
2,467
Alaska
Name
JAM
Boat
Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
Kub and Jake,

Cannot wait to get back out there. I need to pay more attention to what you two are doing as it is apparent that I still have a lot more to learn (no surprise there). Though I know I will never be able to keep up with either of you. Just trying to keep track of all the stuff Kub brings gives me a headache let alone deciding how and when to fish it. Glad you liked the write up. Have a great summer. I am pretty sure Kub will be killing a few BF.

I have a 3-gun match to embarrass myself at this weekend and then the boat hits the water!
 
Last edited:

Cubeye

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 26, 2007
3,366
2,355
Los Angeles
Name
Kub
Boat
17' Gregor
Kub and Jake,

Cannot wait to get back out there. I need to pay more attention to what you two are doing as it is apparent that I still have a lot more to learn (no surprise there). Though I know I will never be able to keep up with either of you. Just trying to keep track of all the stuff Kub brings gives me a headache let alone deciding how and when to fish it. Glad you liked the write up. Have a great summer. I am pretty sure Kub will be killing a few BF.

I have a 3-gun match to embarrass myself at this weekend and then the boat hits the water!
Yep. 8 day next week on the AA
 

cow man

Tuna addict
Aug 29, 2012
2,920
2,332
Glide Or. 97443
Name
Jake Waardenburg
Boat
N/A
Jeff you did pretty darn good out there, you kicked all our asses for a while. Pleasure to share the rail with you...
 

Steve K

Hey, I'm gettin' bit...
Jan 2, 2005
11,189
6,565
Bishop
Name
Steve
Boat
18' Bayrunner, but I like the American Angler and the Red Rooster III
Yep. 8 day next week on the AA
So, Kub. See you Monday. We have limits of Yellows and pretty fair fishing on Yellowfin on the 13. We'll finish up Sunday, hoping for a few Bluefin.
 

Cubeye

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 26, 2007
3,366
2,355
Los Angeles
Name
Kub
Boat
17' Gregor
So, Kub. See you Monday. We have limits of Yellows and pretty fair fishing on Yellowfin on the 13. We'll finish up Sunday, hoping for a few Bluefin.
I will be there to watch you guys unload.
 

FishRock

Still trying to figure it all out
Mar 27, 2013
1,841
2,467
Alaska
Name
JAM
Boat
Thunnus - 22' Koffler BayBee (1990)
Looks like you guys are getting into some very nice YT!