On the second day we landed two fish of a lifetime, a 230 and a 250-pound yellowfin tuna, with an assortment of cooler-filling 70 -100-pounders. Little did we know the following days would decimate this accomplishment and make for a collection of memories and firsts for almost everyone on the boat.
On December 30, 2018 I received a call from a friend and Captain Rene Monteagudo from Shogun Sportfishing. The Shogun is a Ted Dunn built long range fishing vessel with every amenity and tool necessary to explore the furthest reaches of the ocean with the end goal of experiencing the road less traveled in pursuit of world-class game fishing, one of the prized vessels of the San Diego fishing mogul and legend Frank LoPreste. Knowing that I was in the mindset to get on a long-range trip, Rene served up the perfect concoction of verbal bait to get me to commit to this light load exploratory trip leaving in just two days.
Our trip began with immediate uncertainty, due to lack of coverage in the area we were looking to explore in the southern banks of Baja. Recent holidays (New Year’s & Christmas) put us in the precarious situation of being the first long range boat within our network to take an in depth look at the bank conditions in weeks.
No intel on water conditions, current, bait or predators residing.
With the questionable future of this trip, expectations of grandeur teetered in between failure and hero status. The internet and social media at times feel like they’ve altered reality or potential outcomes at least when it comes to fishing. The amount of imagery and knowledge in conjunction with expectation can lead to the highest of highs and lowest of lows, but the reality is normally somewhere in the middle. Once in a while dreams and expectations line up with the forces of nature and allow for once in a lifetime experience.
This trip surely began with incertitude, Captain Rene being quite honest with all on board. You see this would be his first time fishing these lower banks as the Captain of the Shogun. With a lack of intel from network boats due to the holiday hiatus and lack of local knowledge, there was a true sentiment of wonder of what the next few days would hold, a true test to this captain’s ability and the capabilities of his crew.
The Shogun itself is no stranger to fishing these waters and its fishing log having an array of waypoints and targets to focus on. What I noticed on this trip was the crew’s urge to override go-to locations and spots and forge a path of their own based on conditions and ability to tap into the use of their tools and their sixth sense. Rather than focus on highpoints and known spots which were vacant upon inspection, there was a continual emphasis and attention on water quality, temperature, contour, current, tide and bait. In the end this independent mentality would lead to success.
Over the following days we fished areas that have been confirmed to not be holding fish of any amount or size in many months. Areas better known as stops to fill up on groundfish and the likes. What the Captain and crew stumbled over whether from know-how or luck or both was just impressive.
Over 4 days we landed 8 cows ranging from 230 to 340-pounds, and all the 100 to 130-pounders one could dream of. The testament to the trip was the fact that all guests stopped fishing a half day early. To continue to collect for table fare or further testing the ability of one’s equipment would plainly be gluttony.
End of the day, the proof was in the know-how of taking all aspects of the environment and the ability to equate those aspects into a successful plan.
Thank you to the crew of the SHOGUN for a great trip. Until next time.