So there you are, out on the first trip of the year — tuna on the brain — when the captain starts shouting: “Get ready guys, there’s a huge school ahead of the boat!”
Are you ready?
Don’t wait till the last second to prepare your gear, get yourself primed and ready well before you leave the dock for the first trip of the season.
It’s never too early to start getting ready for the upcoming fishing season. There are several different areas of preparation, including tackle, gear, boat maintenance, research and even personal health and conditioning. Get up to speed on all fronts.
On the El Gato Dos, when preparing for a trip we treat every situation the same way — eliminate any problem you have control over.
We look at fishing as a game of putting things in our favor, or weighing the odds to benefit the angler. Unfortunately, some things are out of our control. We can’t do anything about the weather, wind and current, so those are out. But you will have control over just about everything else.
Never wait until the last minute to check out your tackle. As spring arrives, tackle shops become busier and they often get backlogged with repairs and servicing. So make a plan and give yourself a deadline to have all of fishing tackle in prime working condition.
Your fishing rods should be checked periodically for cracked guides, and jammed reel seats. I like to use a Q-tip to rub the inside of each guide. This way, if there are any cracks in the ceramic, they will grab pieces of the Q-tip, and show you where imperfections are and if repairs need to be made. Make sure all of your roller guides are in top shape and rolling effortlessly. You may need to clean and lubricate them. Scales can often get jammed in your reel seat. Make sure to clean them out so they can be tightened and loosened easily.
Reels should be serviced once a year. My best advice is to buy Spectra or braided line. It will be the best investment for your reels that you can make. All the reels on the El Gato Dos are rigged with different sizes of Spectra with monofiliment or fluorocarbon top-shots. In the long run, you will spend less money on mono if you are only replacing the top length of line. It’s better for the environment as well, if you are not tossing old line in the trash. Most tackle shops recycle line. Please make sure your line ends up there and not in the trash.
Go through and test each and every reel you plan on using on the boat. Make notes of any issues you find and bring them in for servicing or learn how to do it yourself. If you do go to a tackle shop, keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to get your reels repaired and serviced.
Health and Conditioning
Every year I see guys come out, reel in a single tuna, and they are completely wiped out. The off season is a great time to make some life changes and start getting in shape. If that’s asking too much, then a few weeks before your fishing trip, start considering the effects your eating/drinking habits will have on your performance at the rail.
If you’re looking for a cut-and-dry simple way to lose weight, replace half of your plate with fruits or vegetables at each meal.
The better shape you are in, the longer you are going to be able to fish. Drink more water before your trip and don’t go out partying when you have to be at the dock at 5 a.m. It always seems like a waste to spend a few grand on a private charter and show up with a hangover.
Practice casting and practice tying knots. Take your favorite jigging rod and head down to a local lake or bay and practice casting that Tady 45. Aim at a certain spot in the water and see how many times in a row you can hit that same spot. Take your bait rod and practice casting plastics that are approximately the same size and weight as a live sardine or anchovy.
This will make you more proficient in casting and ready when the time comes.
Learn what knots work for you. There is no “best” knot, so use the one you can tie the easiest. We use a single San Diego for 95 percent of our connections and have seen next to no failure. For Specta-to-mono connections we use the Albright knot.
Do your homework. With money being tight these days, it’s more important than ever to pick the right boat to go out on. Read the fishing reports on Bloodydecks to see which boats guys like and the one’s to stay away from.
In Southern California, we can usually bank on August and September as being the best bets for offshore fishing in the one- to three-day trip range. It’s not a bad idea to book at least one trip now, or soon, so you have one on the books to look forward to. Nothing is more painful than learning of a hot bite with no way to get on it.
At the end of the day, a prepared angler who is in good shape, fishing with a clear head, fresh line, sharp hooks and good tackle will catch more fish.