Trip notes from Excel June 6-10

Dexter Outdoors

pooahl

Paul
Jun 9, 2009
65
121
Sacramento
Name
Paul
Boat
usually long range
Not really a narrative report, but rather notes from my recent Excel trip this past week, June 6-10: I am not old or wise, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ll try to share what I learned this week as it pertains to the current tuna bite. This forum has been a tremendous resource for me, so I would like to pass along recent experiences to help others who have trips coming up.

Location? We fished from well below Ensenada to within 30 miles of Point Loma.

On success rates: To give you some perspective on whatever numbers you’ve seen, we had 33 on the trip and only 19 of us caught tuna. (I counted 14 on the board who were tuna-less.) The guys who paid attention to what was going on and busted their asses were the ones with multiple fish. There were very few rent-rods - almost everyone had quality, appropriate gear and seemed to know how to use it.

On persistence: I was reminded that this bluefin fishing is tough. You must persist and put in time at the rail. Those who were lazy or gave up didn’t do very well. Even some people who really tried hard didn’t come up with fish. We fished late into the night, doing best between 10 and 2. Coffee is good. So is ibuprofen.

About the wind: Bring HEAVY lures and sinkers if there’s wind in the forecast. Forget about your 250g flat falls. Bring 500g if you can find them. Color and design are less important than weight. Get down to the zone and you’ll get bit. Flutter around above the zone and you won’t. I made it happen with 320g, but that took some up-drift casting and/or walking the rail on the slide. (Guys around me were super cool about working together.)

About the jigs: I did my best on a pink Nomad Buffalo 320g. I added one very large, quality assist hook up top. Most guys were using glowing flat fall jigs, but mine caught fish without the glow. I tried my glowing 250g model but it was just too light. I did notice that the striped glowing designs did pretty well for other guys. Again, you had to get down 250-300 feet with the jig in order to even be in the game. Bring heavy ones.

As for assist hook rigging, it’s all over the place. I studied the array of jigs being used and I noticed a lot of models using split rings in the load path - probably no big deal, but you might want to make sure you have super heavy rings for this. Upgraded assist hooks are a good idea too. This stuff is well documented here on this forum.

Colt Sniper type jigs? Yes. A few fish fell to Colt snipers. I think roughly 100g was the norm. I tried them with no luck. The captain did recommend trying them from time to time, so they have been working. Maybe best on the slide… seemed like once we settled into a drift, colt snipers were too light.

Bite leaders - I didn’t see anyone get bit off on heavy mono. Could happen, but I think you’re safe with 200lb mono. I used 250lb on my heavier rig.

What about sinker rigs? A bunch of us ended up doubling our sinker rigs, running two 8oz or even two 10 oz torpedoes. If I were going out tomorrow, I’d have a handful of 12-20 oz sinkers. Seems extreme, but when the boat is drifting and there’s strong current, you may need a pound of lead to get down there. Helpful hint: I learned that if you hook your sardine up through the jaw and nose like an anchovy, it won’t spin as badly on the drop. Seems that if your bait opens its mouth, the drag causes spin/twist that fouls your rig. I had always just nose-hooked them, but this was causing problems on the freespool drop.

On knowing your depth: I used both a metered hollow braid and a white line that I marked up with a fabric marker. Both worked fine. You have to know your depth to know if you’re sinking fast enough to reach the fish. This was really critical. Sharpie can work (I used one last year and it bled a little), but I had better results with a set of fabric markers that I picked up at Walmart. Seriously, don’t go out there and try to guess how deep you’re fishing.

About drag settings: We watched a couple of guys get their asses handed to them on 50 or 60-lb line. If you’re going to fish light, you really should be active and aggressive with your drag settings and know your reel. Both guys seemed squeamish about pushing the lever; both ended up handing off to deckhands who finished the fish by bumping up the drag.

On bait quality: The sardines seemed average size but very healthy - hardly any had red spots. I only saw a couple of mackerel in the mix.

Which rod did I use most? 80lb during the day and 100+ at night. There were big fish mixed in with the smaller ones. Sure, I caught a couple smaller fish on my 100lb outfit, but at least I was ready for the real deal when it happened.

How did I do? I ended up with four tuna - three sub-50 and one better fish at 108. I was lucky to get bit, but I did put myself in position for that luck to happen by grinding it out at the rail and paying attention to what was working for others.

My thoughts about the Excel: Wow, that sucker is big. I’ve now ridden 6 of the big long range boats and I like the Excel. Really great crew, very competent captain, very comfy ride. Every boat has pros and cons, but nothing would keep me from booking this one again.


I hope something in this rambling post helps you on your next bluefin trip. We’re so lucky to have these quality fish so close by. Years from now we’ll be talking about the “bluefin years” that were so awesome. What a great time to fish San Diego. Go get ‘em!
 
J
Jerry m
Very nicely done Paul, sound like you had a great trip. Very detailed report it will definitely help.
Thank you
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T
Texlee
Thanks for the info. Very much appreciated. Tex
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bdubs73

Member
Feb 7, 2008
586
890
San Diego
Name
Brian
Boat
none
Not really a narrative report, but rather notes from my recent Excel trip this past week, June 6-10: I am not old or wise, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ll try to share what I learned this week as it pertains to the current tuna bite. This forum has been a tremendous resource for me, so I would like to pass along recent experiences to help others who have trips coming up.

Location? We fished from well below Ensenada to within 30 miles of Point Loma.

On success rates: To give you some perspective on whatever numbers you’ve seen, we had 33 on the trip and only 19 of us caught tuna. (I counted 14 on the board who were tuna-less.) The guys who paid attention to what was going on and busted their asses were the ones with multiple fish. There were very few rent-rods - almost everyone had quality, appropriate gear and seemed to know how to use it.

On persistence: I was reminded that this bluefin fishing is tough. You must persist and put in time at the rail. Those who were lazy or gave up didn’t do very well. Even some people who really tried hard didn’t come up with fish. We fished late into the night, doing best between 10 and 2. Coffee is good. So is ibuprofen.

About the wind: Bring HEAVY lures and sinkers if there’s wind in the forecast. Forget about your 250g flat falls. Bring 500g if you can find them. Color and design are less important than weight. Get down to the zone and you’ll get bit. Flutter around above the zone and you won’t. I made it happen with 320g, but that took some up-drift casting and/or walking the rail on the slide. (Guys around me were super cool about working together.)

About the jigs: I did my best on a pink Nomad Buffalo 320g. I added one very large, quality assist hook up top. Most guys were using glowing flat fall jigs, but mine caught fish without the glow. I tried my glowing 250g model but it was just too light. I did notice that the striped glowing designs did pretty well for other guys. Again, you had to get down 250-300 feet with the jig in order to even be in the game. Bring heavy ones.

As for assist hook rigging, it’s all over the place. I studied the array of jigs being used and I noticed a lot of models using split rings in the load path - probably no big deal, but you might want to make sure you have super heavy rings for this. Upgraded assist hooks are a good idea too. This stuff is well documented here on this forum.

Colt Sniper type jigs? Yes. A few fish fell to Colt snipers. I think roughly 100g was the norm. I tried them with no luck. The captain did recommend trying them from time to time, so they have been working. Maybe best on the slide… seemed like once we settled into a drift, colt snipers were too light.

Bite leaders - I didn’t see anyone get bit off on heavy mono. Could happen, but I think you’re safe with 200lb mono. I used 250lb on my heavier rig.

What about sinker rigs? A bunch of us ended up doubling our sinker rigs, running two 8oz or even two 10 oz torpedoes. If I were going out tomorrow, I’d have a handful of 12-20 oz sinkers. Seems extreme, but when the boat is drifting and there’s strong current, you may need a pound of lead to get down there. Helpful hint: I learned that if you hook your sardine up through the jaw and nose like an anchovy, it won’t spin as badly on the drop. Seems that if your bait opens its mouth, the drag causes spin/twist that fouls your rig. I had always just nose-hooked them, but this was causing problems on the freespool drop.

On knowing your depth: I used both a metered hollow braid and a white line that I marked up with a fabric marker. Both worked fine. You have to know your depth to know if you’re sinking fast enough to reach the fish. This was really critical. Sharpie can work (I used one last year and it bled a little), but I had better results with a set of fabric markers that I picked up at Walmart. Seriously, don’t go out there and try to guess how deep you’re fishing.

About drag settings: We watched a couple of guys get their asses handed to them on 50 or 60-lb line. If you’re going to fish light, you really should be active and aggressive with your drag settings and know your reel. Both guys seemed squeamish about pushing the lever; both ended up handing off to deckhands who finished the fish by bumping up the drag.

On bait quality: The sardines seemed average size but very healthy - hardly any had red spots. I only saw a couple of mackerel in the mix.

Which rod did I use most? 80lb during the day and 100+ at night. There were big fish mixed in with the smaller ones. Sure, I caught a couple smaller fish on my 100lb outfit, but at least I was ready for the real deal when it happened.

How did I do? I ended up with four tuna - three sub-50 and one better fish at 108. I was lucky to get bit, but I did put myself in position for that luck to happen by grinding it out at the rail and paying attention to what was working for others.

My thoughts about the Excel: Wow, that sucker is big. I’ve now ridden 6 of the big long range boats and I like the Excel. Really great crew, very competent captain, very comfy ride. Every boat has pros and cons, but nothing would keep me from booking this one again.


I hope something in this rambling post helps you on your next bluefin trip. We’re so lucky to have these quality fish so close by. Years from now we’ll be talking about the “bluefin years” that were so awesome. What a great time to fish San Diego. Go get ‘em!
Great stuff here, I am always curious, what method do you use to accurately mark 100 ft on your braid?
 
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fyermn

Member
Sep 2, 2005
743
328
73
Utah
Name
Dan
Boat
LONG RANGE fishing
Not really a narrative report, but rather notes from my recent Excel trip this past week, June 6-10: I am not old or wise, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ll try to share what I learned this week as it pertains to the current tuna bite. This forum has been a tremendous resource for me, so I would like to pass along recent experiences to help others who have trips coming up.

Location? We fished from well below Ensenada to within 30 miles of Point Loma.

On success rates: To give you some perspective on whatever numbers you’ve seen, we had 33 on the trip and only 19 of us caught tuna. (I counted 14 on the board who were tuna-less.) The guys who paid attention to what was going on and busted their asses were the ones with multiple fish. There were very few rent-rods - almost everyone had quality, appropriate gear and seemed to know how to use it.

On persistence: I was reminded that this bluefin fishing is tough. You must persist and put in time at the rail. Those who were lazy or gave up didn’t do very well. Even some people who really tried hard didn’t come up with fish. We fished late into the night, doing best between 10 and 2. Coffee is good. So is ibuprofen.

About the wind: Bring HEAVY lures and sinkers if there’s wind in the forecast. Forget about your 250g flat falls. Bring 500g if you can find them. Color and design are less important than weight. Get down to the zone and you’ll get bit. Flutter around above the zone and you won’t. I made it happen with 320g, but that took some up-drift casting and/or walking the rail on the slide. (Guys around me were super cool about working together.)

About the jigs: I did my best on a pink Nomad Buffalo 320g. I added one very large, quality assist hook up top. Most guys were using glowing flat fall jigs, but mine caught fish without the glow. I tried my glowing 250g model but it was just too light. I did notice that the striped glowing designs did pretty well for other guys. Again, you had to get down 250-300 feet with the jig in order to even be in the game. Bring heavy ones.

As for assist hook rigging, it’s all over the place. I studied the array of jigs being used and I noticed a lot of models using split rings in the load path - probably no big deal, but you might want to make sure you have super heavy rings for this. Upgraded assist hooks are a good idea too. This stuff is well documented here on this forum.

Colt Sniper type jigs? Yes. A few fish fell to Colt snipers. I think roughly 100g was the norm. I tried them with no luck. The captain did recommend trying them from time to time, so they have been working. Maybe best on the slide… seemed like once we settled into a drift, colt snipers were too light.

Bite leaders - I didn’t see anyone get bit off on heavy mono. Could happen, but I think you’re safe with 200lb mono. I used 250lb on my heavier rig.

What about sinker rigs? A bunch of us ended up doubling our sinker rigs, running two 8oz or even two 10 oz torpedoes. If I were going out tomorrow, I’d have a handful of 12-20 oz sinkers. Seems extreme, but when the boat is drifting and there’s strong current, you may need a pound of lead to get down there. Helpful hint: I learned that if you hook your sardine up through the jaw and nose like an anchovy, it won’t spin as badly on the drop. Seems that if your bait opens its mouth, the drag causes spin/twist that fouls your rig. I had always just nose-hooked them, but this was causing problems on the freespool drop.

On knowing your depth: I used both a metered hollow braid and a white line that I marked up with a fabric marker. Both worked fine. You have to know your depth to know if you’re sinking fast enough to reach the fish. This was really critical. Sharpie can work (I used one last year and it bled a little), but I had better results with a set of fabric markers that I picked up at Walmart. Seriously, don’t go out there and try to guess how deep you’re fishing.

About drag settings: We watched a couple of guys get their asses handed to them on 50 or 60-lb line. If you’re going to fish light, you really should be active and aggressive with your drag settings and know your reel. Both guys seemed squeamish about pushing the lever; both ended up handing off to deckhands who finished the fish by bumping up the drag.

On bait quality: The sardines seemed average size but very healthy - hardly any had red spots. I only saw a couple of mackerel in the mix.

Which rod did I use most? 80lb during the day and 100+ at night. There were big fish mixed in with the smaller ones. Sure, I caught a couple smaller fish on my 100lb outfit, but at least I was ready for the real deal when it happened.

How did I do? I ended up with four tuna - three sub-50 and one better fish at 108. I was lucky to get bit, but I did put myself in position for that luck to happen by grinding it out at the rail and paying attention to what was working for others.

My thoughts about the Excel: Wow, that sucker is big. I’ve now ridden 6 of the big long range boats and I like the Excel. Really great crew, very competent captain, very comfy ride. Every boat has pros and cons, but nothing would keep me from booking this one again.


I hope something in this rambling post helps you on your next bluefin trip. We’re so lucky to have these quality fish so close by. Years from now we’ll be talking about the “bluefin years” that were so awesome. What a great time to fish San Diego. Go get ‘em!
pooahi; Thank you for the information. I need to find some heavier flat falls.
 
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Fishingangler

Newbie
Jan 18, 2007
49
60
La Verne, CA
Name
Refugio Garcia
Boat
None
One of the best fishing reports I've read on this forum! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. It's people like you that make us all better fisherman.
 
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pooahl

Paul
Jun 9, 2009
65
121
Sacramento
Name
Paul
Boat
usually long range
Great stuff here, I am always curious, what method do you use to accurately mark 100 ft on your braid?
I measured out two stakes along the sidewalk in front of my house, 50ft apart. Took the rod out and ran the line between the stakes to measure. Made 4-ft marks at 50-ft intervals. Ended up alternating colors between black for 100, 200,300 and green for 150, 250. Easy enough to see the green. Also, I had a 100 ft mono topshot for shock.
 

2Rotten

Live in Oregon/Love to Fish San Diego!
Jan 10, 2010
476
1,067
Junction City OR
Name
Rod Lathrop
Boat
24' North River Seahawk Hardtop "Sun Dog"
Nice report OP! Love all the details. Yes! You were a great combination of Lucky, Good and Determined to catch that many Tuna. Well Done!
 
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pooahl

Paul
Jun 9, 2009
65
121
Sacramento
Name
Paul
Boat
usually long range
Where the HELL does one find 500 gram flat fall jigs??
Amazon. Surfaceiron.com. Fishwow.com. I found "Fall Flat" jigs at Turner's Outdoorsman in 250, 400, and 500. Unfortunately, I didn't buy them in 500 when I should have. I got by with lighter. We all wish we had the whole tackle shop with us when we go, but that's not always practical. Tight lines!
 
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Bob Sands

BOB SANDS TACKLE
Advertiser
Feb 26, 2011
785
1,431
Van Nuys, Ca USA
bobsandsfishingtackle.com
Name
Jamie
Boat
#1 Tackle Shop
Great report Paul,

We normally maintain a huge stock the 400 and 500 gram flat falls and Lead Master glow jigs along with most other sizes. Both custom rigged and factory rigged.. Check out our variety of the newest fast and slow pitch jigs that look like they will be awesome for getting down quick on the B.F as well.

I have been gone for a bit fly fishing in Belize but if you need them or want to check inventory call the store.. You can pay for them in advance and pick them up at your leisure or we can ship.. Please be patient on shipped items as we have been slammed..

If you can afford it, Pick up as many as you can get for the next year or two as they tend to sell out, often in a day once folks announce what is working that trip.. they do not go bad. Use them Especially in high wind or current and you need to get that jig down fast so the line does not scope out so far..

Have a great season.

Respectfully,

Jamie
 
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IronMikeAC

Member
Aug 2, 2013
916
1,037
torrance, ca
Name
Mike
Boat
Vagabond
Not really a narrative report, but rather notes from my recent Excel trip this past week, June 6-10: I am not old or wise, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ll try to share what I learned this week as it pertains to the current tuna bite. This forum has been a tremendous resource for me, so I would like to pass along recent experiences to help others who have trips coming up.

Location? We fished from well below Ensenada to within 30 miles of Point Loma.

On success rates: To give you some perspective on whatever numbers you’ve seen, we had 33 on the trip and only 19 of us caught tuna. (I counted 14 on the board who were tuna-less.) The guys who paid attention to what was going on and busted their asses were the ones with multiple fish. There were very few rent-rods - almost everyone had quality, appropriate gear and seemed to know how to use it.

On persistence: I was reminded that this bluefin fishing is tough. You must persist and put in time at the rail. Those who were lazy or gave up didn’t do very well. Even some people who really tried hard didn’t come up with fish. We fished late into the night, doing best between 10 and 2. Coffee is good. So is ibuprofen.

About the wind: Bring HEAVY lures and sinkers if there’s wind in the forecast. Forget about your 250g flat falls. Bring 500g if you can find them. Color and design are less important than weight. Get down to the zone and you’ll get bit. Flutter around above the zone and you won’t. I made it happen with 320g, but that took some up-drift casting and/or walking the rail on the slide. (Guys around me were super cool about working together.)

About the jigs: I did my best on a pink Nomad Buffalo 320g. I added one very large, quality assist hook up top. Most guys were using glowing flat fall jigs, but mine caught fish without the glow. I tried my glowing 250g model but it was just too light. I did notice that the striped glowing designs did pretty well for other guys. Again, you had to get down 250-300 feet with the jig in order to even be in the game. Bring heavy ones.

As for assist hook rigging, it’s all over the place. I studied the array of jigs being used and I noticed a lot of models using split rings in the load path - probably no big deal, but you might want to make sure you have super heavy rings for this. Upgraded assist hooks are a good idea too. This stuff is well documented here on this forum.

Colt Sniper type jigs? Yes. A few fish fell to Colt snipers. I think roughly 100g was the norm. I tried them with no luck. The captain did recommend trying them from time to time, so they have been working. Maybe best on the slide… seemed like once we settled into a drift, colt snipers were too light.

Bite leaders - I didn’t see anyone get bit off on heavy mono. Could happen, but I think you’re safe with 200lb mono. I used 250lb on my heavier rig.

What about sinker rigs? A bunch of us ended up doubling our sinker rigs, running two 8oz or even two 10 oz torpedoes. If I were going out tomorrow, I’d have a handful of 12-20 oz sinkers. Seems extreme, but when the boat is drifting and there’s strong current, you may need a pound of lead to get down there. Helpful hint: I learned that if you hook your sardine up through the jaw and nose like an anchovy, it won’t spin as badly on the drop. Seems that if your bait opens its mouth, the drag causes spin/twist that fouls your rig. I had always just nose-hooked them, but this was causing problems on the freespool drop.

On knowing your depth: I used both a metered hollow braid and a white line that I marked up with a fabric marker. Both worked fine. You have to know your depth to know if you’re sinking fast enough to reach the fish. This was really critical. Sharpie can work (I used one last year and it bled a little), but I had better results with a set of fabric markers that I picked up at Walmart. Seriously, don’t go out there and try to guess how deep you’re fishing.

About drag settings: We watched a couple of guys get their asses handed to them on 50 or 60-lb line. If you’re going to fish light, you really should be active and aggressive with your drag settings and know your reel. Both guys seemed squeamish about pushing the lever; both ended up handing off to deckhands who finished the fish by bumping up the drag.

On bait quality: The sardines seemed average size but very healthy - hardly any had red spots. I only saw a couple of mackerel in the mix.

Which rod did I use most? 80lb during the day and 100+ at night. There were big fish mixed in with the smaller ones. Sure, I caught a couple smaller fish on my 100lb outfit, but at least I was ready for the real deal when it happened.

How did I do? I ended up with four tuna - three sub-50 and one better fish at 108. I was lucky to get bit, but I did put myself in position for that luck to happen by grinding it out at the rail and paying attention to what was working for others.

My thoughts about the Excel: Wow, that sucker is big. I’ve now ridden 6 of the big long range boats and I like the Excel. Really great crew, very competent captain, very comfy ride. Every boat has pros and cons, but nothing would keep me from booking this one again.


I hope something in this rambling post helps you on your next bluefin trip. We’re so lucky to have these quality fish so close by. Years from now we’ll be talking about the “bluefin years” that were so awesome. What a great time to fish San Diego. Go get ‘em!
Kudos for great info report
 
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Tunahead

Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    9,274
    3,229
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
    Boat
    several
    GREAT REPORT and INFO. Nailing 4 Bluefin a good score.
    No gimmes in fishing these touchy bluefin, for damn sure.
    Glad you had a decent trip. Bummer some went straight to
    the parking lot. TC
     
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    matt fe2o3

    Newbie
    Dec 23, 2020
    54
    83
    San Leandro
    Name
    Matt
    Boat
    BT 101
    Thanks @pooahl - My son and I are out on the Excel this coming weekend. and super excited. Plenty of torpedo weights from 8 to 20 (have a guy that casts them). Have a collection of flatfalls, no 500's... so may pick them up on the way down. A a couple 200's and four 300.... So probably will swing by Bob Sands as I have to stop in LA on the way down.

    We will be tuna noobs - only Salmon up here is what we do in the ocean. I really appreciate your concise report. We do have the AFTCO plate/belts and harnesses, if we fail thence it will should easily be chocked up to lack of skill, not gear. No rods heavy enough for this so we will use boat rods.
     
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    matt fe2o3

    Newbie
    Dec 23, 2020
    54
    83
    San Leandro
    Name
    Matt
    Boat
    BT 101
    Back from an epic trip out on the Excel. We caught 6 BFT, two over 100# and stopped as there is only so much we can eat and give away. Pics of fish on the Excel Father's Day thread.

    My kid's biggest was 118# on a 300gr Shimano flatfall (pic below) at midnight.

    My biggest was was 108# daytime with live sardine nose hooked on an 8oz sinker at about 300'.

    1624392165365.png


    1624392195006.png


    I'm not sure of the total for the boat, Saturday night we.were around 70 and many more Sunday including 198#. Must have had at least 100 fish.
     
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