"Working at the bank" / Excel’s Ultra-Limited Load 2/2/22 – 2/18/22 16 day report.


Thats my son, not me.
Feb 8, 2011
Westchester NY
Boat Name
miss ion/fish on, "Wish on"
I believe we were at Guadalupe and the fishing had slowed down, when the conversation first started. It was a 10 day trip, back in the days before Covid. TWO anglers were discussing the pros and cons of “big fish trips”, relative to the 20-70 pound grade tuna, we had encountered at the Lupe. We talked our way through the relative virtues of vessels, equipment expenses, date determinations, restricted regions and cost considerations. In the end, it was wind over the rail and little actually came of that conversation, yet the seed germinated… Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was reported to say: "from little acorns to mighty oaks grow".

Approximately 2+ years later & we were on our way south for a 16 day, big fish trip with XL’s Ultra-Limited Load. That “acorn” had been challenged by differences of opinion, a lack of big fish experience, gear deficits, a global pandemic, calendar preferences and family circumstances. Complicating matters were the physical abilities of aging anglers and area closures that would impact opportunities for high quality fishing.

Traveling from the East Coast to the West for fishing always involves logistical nightmares. Friends advised to consider Southwest airlines or Alaska Air, as having beneficial policies for shipping equipment. This was an excellent piece of advice. Alaska Airlines has a ‘sports luggage” policy whereby a tackle box AND a rod tube count together as a “single” luggage fee! Another opportunity is utilizing the USPS flat rate quick ship boxes. Their policy of "if it fits it ships" allows for heavier objects up to a certain weight, to be shipped at a reasonable cost. (This works great for Wahoo bombs, deep dropped jigs, trolling lures, ‘iron” and lead!) Alternatively logistical nightmares can be balanced by friends in San Diego. This can be a tremendous advantage, as the generosity of SDLR anglers is legendary. For that, I am unreservedly grateful!

My “cluster event” of arriving in San Diego begins with collecting all of my equipment boxes from Fishermen Landing and unpacking, and then repacking it all for the trip. (This cluster process is reversed for the return home…)

ROD List for Ultra Limited 16 day 2 2 2022

RODRecommendedReel Line Spooled / YDSTSUsage
1)Salty Custom Raildog SD 70xxh OR Boat set up XXXXH 4X /3X?130 unlimitedMakaira 50 SAE II130? lbs JB HC700130 BHPwind onKite / Skippy / Big Bait
2)Calstar GFGR 770 XXH OR Boat set up XXXXH
4X /3X?
80 -130Makaira 30II130 lbs JB HC600130 BHPwind onChunk / Bait, Mackerel / salami
3)UC Viper 7680 - 130Avet HX M Raptor 3 gear100 Toro TT HC
400130Fly Line Sardine / Mack
4)Boat Set Up 3X or 4X80 - 130BOAT Makaira 30 II130?SINKER RIG / JRI 8 / PL9
5)Boat Set Up 3X or 4X80 - 130BOAT Makaira 20 II130 / 100?WaHoo-Trolling
6)Boat Set Up 3X or 4X80 - 130Makaira 20 II100 lbs TL HC625Fly Line Sardine / Mack
7)UC-7503 Atlantic Rods Custom Popper60-175Penn TRQS -7 SPIN 5.1-1100 JB HCPopper, Wahoo
8)Shimano Trevala F TFS58XXH80 - 200Saltiga 8000 HDF SPIN
5.7-1 #30 KL drag
80 lbs HC Toro Tamer44060Yo-Yo / Flat-fall
Jigging / bait?
9)Seeker SS 6465 XH 6.530 - 80Makaira 16 II80 TL HCBait sardine / JRI Glow
Dropper loop?
10Calstar GFGR800 XH50 - 80Avet JX Raptor80 JB HC300-80Wahoo Bomb
11Web Spinner PHD 809 XH30 - 80Avet JX Raptor80 JB HC300-80Wahoo Jig
12UC CA 70 H-F Web -Spinner30 - 50Makaira 10 II60 lbs JB solid55060Wahoo Bait
13Web Spinner? Calstar GFGR 700ML ???20 - 50Avet SX RaptorTT 40 # solid300-30?Sebiki Bait / Fishing Bait ??? Megabait
Makaira 30 SEA II

Excel Equipment: 3 Rods from the Boat 4X or 3X, Makaira 30,
Makaira 20, Bucket harness?

Next is dashing about to secure last-minute supplies of essential equipment with visits to; Joey at SquidCo and Anglers Choice, general pharmacy & other supplies, stops for adult beverages, snacks and gifts for the crew. Lastly was an after work visit with a good friend, Mr. Jerry Guzzman and a fantastic top shelf dinner at OTA Sushi. He was as always, incredibly helpful, supplying info and a stash of Hooicide Bombs and JRI 8 glow jigs to give away anglers on our trip.

Covid regulations governed our lineup at 4:45 AM in front of fisherman's landing to have rapid test prior to departure, hear masking policy, sign waivers, enter the jackpot and lineup for boarding. I was very pleased to have two anglers on board, who I had fished with prior. The crew lineup was as follows. Our skipper for the trip would be Mike Ramirez, extraordinary deckhands were René, Vance, Will, John and Kyle. In the kitchen would be a new chef Rey who was standing in and his able-bodied assistant would be Chase, who usually works on deck.

"Laughing, all the way to the bank"

Of course throughout the line-up and then during loading of gear by the redshirts the usual discussions were rampant. The rumors at lineup were thick as a school of sardines… "There are already two boats at Hurricane Bank." "We're going to get the worse spot." "These areas are ALL closed." "Even the buffer zones are closed." We would definitely "not be fishing Alijos” at all. "Sardines are all gruesomely small." "We will only be fishing at Hurricane Bank!" Eventually all the gear was loaded and 18 anglers dispersed, deploying equipment into the rod racks, on deck and into cabins.

Four days down…

2/2, 3, 4, 5 & 6:
Loading of sardines resulted in a mix batch, but ultimately were fairly good. Each day a deckhand presented a tackle seminar. One day it was a classic presentation on Wahoo fishing. Subsequent presentations were on big fish fishing with 80, 100, 130 and 150. J hooks, circle, hooks, double trouble’s, stinger setups, flyers, sinker rigs, fly line, as well as chandelier rigs, fishing the big bait -Skip jack & small tuna and fishing the chunk. Some began setting up equipment on 2/3 and others waited until 2/4 or 5. The skipper determined we would stop at Alijos bank on the way south for a try at a tank of bait, securing mackerel & green back “salamis” on the evening of 2/4.

The Ultra-Limited Load is a unique trip because most often, the vast majority of anglers have a state room to themselves. This provides relatively generous space for anglers to utilize an entire bunk, for supplemental gear storage & future deployment. (On occasion you would pass by a room resembling a tackle shop the day before / after Christmas, with all of its disarray and wide spectrum of equipment on view.)


The trip was populated by some remarkable anglers. Bob B. for example has caught at least 7 over 200 pounds! Many others had years of big fish experience. At least half were long-term “aficionados” of the XL Ultra Limited Load 16 Day. We had the father and son James and BJ B. who were celebrating the swansong of James’s vocation as a big fish, angler. (BJ who is an incredible angler and phenomenal rod wrapper, was reported to have been beta testing several new UC blanks, in a “highly specified manner” on behalf of Randy Penny.) Also riding on the trip was John N. the well known owner of a Long Island NY Tackle shop. He was riding on his 2’ed 16 day in a row, so that he could be there to honor James's finale. John N. most often fished as a dedicated chunk angler and was extremely generous with his vast knowledge, for those of us not as blessed with big fish time on the water! Also aboard was Pat Gallagher, the charter master of the XL Gallagher 10 day trip and his huge protégé Andy Kelly.

On 2/5 most of the rigging was finished and I received 2 "boat setups". One was a Makaira 30 SEA II and a Makaira 20 SEA II, in addition to a Super Seeker that I would use as a troller with my own Makaira 20 SEA II for Wahoo. A great debate was reignited, concerning the relative merits of a big fish “bucket harness” as both friends, were so equipped. I managed to secure the last one on the XL. As we had been discussing for a long time based on recommendations from experienced SDLR anglers, a good friend and I agreed that we would mark our lines to give us some idea as to depth. We will well aware that current would affect the ultimate veracity of the markings, but anything was better than nothing at all. We each marked four of our setups with black magic marker, at 125 and 250 foot intervals.

It is a tradition on the Ultra-Limited 16 Day for charter master Gallagher to conduct a Super Bowl pool and on 2/5 he announced that squares were available. Several anglers purchased 10 squares. I started with five but eventually ended up with seven squares.

TBC Look at the Bank...
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Steve K

Hey, I'm gettin' bit...
Jan 2, 2005
Boat Name
18' Bayrunner, but I like the American Angler and the Red Rooster III
Swan song… didn’t realize this was to be his last trip. I had the experience of fishing with both Mr. Beck and B.J. many years ago on a November 10 day.
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