It’s been kind of a slow week. I’m still bullish on the fishing opportunities overall. The fact that it’s almost impossible to find a weekend ride right now tells me that you all think so too.
Definitely some highlights though…
The water is warm. Exotic pelagic species are making their way north. The first sportboat marlin of the year got caught this week aboard the Western Pride out of Davey’s Locker (above).
A couple dodos (aka mahi mahi) got caught this week in Santa Monica Bay! That’s Jackson Maltz (right), son of owner/operator Jeremy Maltz, aboard his dad’s boat the Spitfire earlier this week.
And the big bluefin are still around too. My buddy, Santiago Jimenez (below) caught this beautiful 251 lb. bluefin aboard the Thunderbird (also out of Davey’s) with Capt. Andrew Viola this week.
Opportunities abound for end-of-summer offshore excitement. I’m planning on heading out Sunday night fishing on an overnighter aboard the Eclipse (under new management) out of Seaforth Landing. Come join me for some paddy hopping fun on our Eclipse on the Eclipse trip.
The Inflated Counts part…
I was saying in Part I of IC and IA about how some captains, crews and the saltier of us were complaining about Internet Anglers…
“Unless the count is 100 yellowtail a trip, it’s not worth your time to go fishing.”
I countered that maybe the people who aren’t regularly salty (and a lot of us who are too) are just kind of tapped out at this point. The count following mentality may just be trying to maximize a thin fishing budget. I encouraged all of us (myself included) to be more accepting, to try to help them out, so that hopefully they would become regulars and keep the party going for all of us.
That covered the Internet Angler part of the equation. What about the Inflated Counts part? One reader commented that I “missed the mark” in telling the whole story. I only get 500-1000 words per article, so here’s the other half of my take.
My buddy Randy Villanueva (left) rode 3/4 yesterday. It doesn’t matter what boat, nor what landing. I don’t want to indict this particular boat, captain or crew. I think they do a great job. I’m just trying to illustrate a point. The final tally for the day included 265 yellowtail for 53 anglers! That number represents boat limits in Mexico. That’s great, right?
In pre-El Nino times, 20 yellows for a ride was plenty to get me excited to go. In this current climate though, when the fishing is mostly great, there are still boats struggling to get off the dock. As a response, some captains have resorted to the “baby smash” to pad their counts. In an age where we often find out about the action on the water before the boat even comes back to port, the baby smash trips are characterized by high counts and no pictures. BREAKING NEWS, we know.
I completely understand that you can only catch what wants to bite. I get that sometimes you have to tailor your trip to the customers on the boat. And I’m not going to stand on my soapbox and pretend I’ve never taken rats. I have. But I don’t make a regular practice of it. If I find myself on a trip like this, I might take a couple so I have fresh fish to eat. A slabbed out rat yellow is a fast, tasty meal on the grill. They’re also the perfect size to smoke. After that though, I’ll typically change things up, mindless of catching more fish. I’ll try a new jig, a different presentation, try for another species. Essentially, try to learn something new that might help me next time out.
Not every trip is going to be a dream trip, but each time on the water can yield new knowledge if you let it. Randy told me he tried to dial in his small jig game and experimented with different hook placements while fishing live bait.
I’m not going to grudge anyone doing what is legal to do. If you want to take 5, take 5. Maybe your freezer isn’t full. Fine. Have at.
I’m asking though that for the rest of us who are regulars, who do work on the boats, please practice some restraint. Try to take a long view. You can’t do a daily baby smash and sustain it over time. Look what happened to the sculpin fishery. I understand it’s a completely different fishery, but you know where I’m coming from. Let’s police ourselves before the DFW does it for us.
Good luck if you get out there.