AUGUST STARTS WITH A BANG
On August 1, 2015 Tommy and David joined their older set of
twins, Isaac and Lizzy, for a crack at bending the new rods I just built for
them on some local pelagics. The rods
were mated to Torium 16s, spooled with 65 spectra and 100 yard top shots of 25#
P-line. The fish have been cooperating,
so we did not bother with fluorocarbon.
We decided to skip the Saturday morning predawn line up at
Everinghams and took a nice late start, arriving at the bait barge in the
daylight at 7:30 am. There were only a
couple of boats ahead of us. Jeff the
baitmaster hooked us up with trout sized sardines and a few mackerel.
We headed south and put out the trollers. We occasionally stopped on some marks to chop
and chum the casualties from the bait tanks while drifting live baits, which
has been the primary technique this year. The marks were mostly below 100 feet
and they would not rise to our offerings or hit the iron we dropped down on
whatever was down there. We kept
going. The seas were light, temps ranged
between 72 and 74 and we mostly stayed between 8 to 12 miles from shore.
We dragged in with some dolphin pods, but got no action. We stopped on a few pieces of hard to find kelp
and mostly stayed away from the big crowds of boats down by the domes and off
Oceanside. The boys consumed snacks and
took several lengthy naps on top of the jumble of equipment and lifejackets
The radio was filled with particularly hate-filled epithets,
even for a weekend, as vulgarities were exchanged among the rude, lines were
crossed and worlds collided in the areas of heavy boat traffic where fish had
been reported. We stayed away from the
big crowds, but still encountered day boater dirt bikers that raced up on us
when we were drifting and chumming above sonar marks, as they must have thought
we were on fish that they were entitled to intercept at close range.
In the mid afternoon we got a blind strike on a yellowfin
that hit a purple catchee behind a daisy chain of black and green hootchies. We cleared the trollers and threw baits as
Isaac dragged the fish to the gaff. We
stopped, chummed and drifted without
follow up from any of his friends, but the ocean was getting livelier. Water temps were closer to 74 and the wind
We started heading out from Carlsbad where there was not
much traffic. We turned toward Dana at 4
pm, still confident that we could take advantage of a bite that has mostly been
late in the day for our crew, no matter how early we seem to get out there. We had the trollers out when we saw a
driveway sized paddy down swell. As we
pointed toward it, we got a jig strike on a purple halco trolled on the short
David endeavours to persevere
David was elected to turn the handle as we finally got on
the board with the smallest yellowfin we have boated this year, but it was
perfect for David’s first tuna.
still muscled David around a bit, so that by the time we had cleared the
trollers and boated his fish, we were drifting down directly on that massive
kelp hotel. We started chopping and chumming
with the abundant dead bait that the afternoon generally provides. When we got even with the paddy we could see action
on the surface and Tommy got lit up on his new bait stick ( it was actually
David’s, but he graciously allowed Tommy to take on the fish, since he had just
boated the first one on the troller).
Tommy endeavours to persevere.
Tommy’s fish took him around the boat several times, but he
gamely hung in there and did all of the climbing around he needed to do to get
the fish within gaff range. During the
fight, we saw free-swimming dorado flashing in the clear blue water below the
Tommy got his fish to gaff and was
so exhausted that he had to go below and eat virtually an entire box of powdered donuts
before rejoining us.
We kept up a
regular cadence of chopped sardine and fresh baits in the water. Surprisingly, we had the paddy all to ourselves. A couple of sport boats came
closer from the distance, including a couple of long range boats out of San
Diego. They kept at binocular distance
and seemed to have their own action further outside.
Lizzy hung a tuna and leaned back to stroke it to the surface as Dad and David watched with concern.
David got lit up again and enjoyed the same multiple orbits
around the boat as these 20 pound plus yellowfin screamed line off of his rig.
Dad clears lines as David comes up the rail
Lizzy got lit up by a dorado and it dragged her around the
boat a few times and got into the air before she subdued it.
Proud Daddio hoists Lizzy's first dorado
The boys each hooked up on dorado as heart-pounding mayhem
overtook our immediate environment. Everyone concentrated and nobody came
unbuttoned during long bouts of rod bending excitement. The bite just kept getting better and free
swimmers began crashing around us.
With everyone else a bit tuckered from these strong fish on
light gear, Isaac put the wood to a quality yellowfin as we watched the sun
Happy to be here
Dad gaffs the final fish of the day before we fled for home
We had gone eight for eight on hooked fish and it was time to leave
Dontcha wish it could always be like this?
There was no way we were going
to be able to cut up all of these fish and be back before dark. We were planning on taking the kids’ high
school teacher, MR. BAKER, out the next morning, so there would be no rest for
the weary. Thankfully, Wendy was not waiting for us to bring her little boys
back home, as she was spending the night in Long Beach. The boys and Lizzy hit the rack below; as
Isaac took the wheel and I started to cut fish on our crappy fish board in a
sideways swell. I got the five tuna
butchered first and the dorado were all cut in the cloudy darkness at 8 miles
The fish box is a great place to cool off on a day like this
By the time the fish were cut and we could start going
faster, we were still 18 miles out. We
came home on the radar at a speed that was a little uncomfortable for nocturnal
maritime travel, but we just wanted to get in.
The blue moon rose above the coastal clouds right as we got to Dana
Harbor after 10 pm. Folks were still
partying on their boats in the marina as we pulled in and gave some of our
bagged fish to our friend JT, who helped us offload our gear and drag our stuff
up to the truck.
Sarah, who was going with us the next day, was stoked about
our news. The little boys, though they
probably got eight hours sleep out there, were destined for their swim award
BBQ and got to sleep in.
Wendy arrived home at 7 am the next day (Sunday), shortly
before Connor Devaney and Baker, the youngest looking high school teacher in
America, joined Isaac, Lizzy, Sarah and I for an even later start. When we got to the boat around 8:30 am, our
main bait tank had failed and we were stocked with plenty of dead for chum,
with one big mackerel that survived the die-off. We filled our two remaining auxiliary bait
tanks with a nice scoop of bait (a bit smaller than yesterday’s) from Jeff at
We engaged in much the same pattern and trolled toward our
numbers from the previous bonanza. There
was no way we were going to be first on that huge paddy and we stopped on a few
marks and applied our chum liberally for nothing.
When we were about five miles short of “the spot”, we saw a
mako finning and quickly hooked up the mackerel to a shark rig. The shark sunk out and we scanned the horizon. The kids spotted a fin, but it was moving
much faster. This time, it was a
hammerhead, harbinger of pelagic game fish.
We headed it off and began to fling our chopped bait to start a chum
line. We got marks at a little over a
hundred feet as our fly-lined baits trailed up swell. We dropped a sinkered bait just to keep the
fish honest. We yo-yoed the flat fall
jig. Then we got a solid mark 35 feet
directly below the boat.
“I’m on!” Lizzy said
from the bow, as the line began screaming off her spinner, which was loaded
with 250 yards of 30#. She handed off
the fish to Connor, who watched his first tuna strip his line dangerously close
to the spool.
Connor endeavours to persevere
I put the boat in gear as
we chased it about twenty yards as Connor made back some of the line. The fish took him to the stern, where I tightened
up the drag a few notches. For the next half
hour, Connor was taken in a continuous orbit around the boat and we all had to
clear a path for him. The fish finally
came awkwardly to gaff under the bow of the boat, as we were just glad to get
in on the boat. We had a solid 35
pounder over the rail and were on a 14 for 14 streak of no fish lost.
Connor takes jackpot honors on Day 2
Connor got a take and handed off to Baker, their beloved
teacher, who is also a very experienced angler with cool equipment.
Baker comin' down the rail
Baker went round in much the same fashion
with a hybrid bait/jig stick that is a little stiff and less forgiving than
most of the noodlier rods we were employing on these fish. Dorado began jumping in our chum slick. A tin
boat with two desperados noticed our hookup and shot over from seemingly out of nowhere (we
had been miles from any other boat) to park on our slick and the fish that had
previously been boiling up swell. We
shook our heads at them, but they stayed barnacled to our efforts. Baker’s fish came unbuttoned to howls of disappointment.
Shortly after that, I got picked up on my
Truline “Excalibur” and I handed off to Sarah, who started another exhausting
exhibition in rod arcing and grunt-emitting action at the rail.
Sarah's tuna comes up to sample the gaff
She was as spent as that fish when we finally
got the steel into it and hoisted it over the rail.
One for the Fatherland
We worked the spot for a while longer, but it seemed our
promising window at that location had dissipated.
We pushed on toward our magic paddy.
When we got to the area, it was later in the afternoon and the spot was crowded
with angry and manner-less anglers, some of whom could be heard expressing their
frustration on the radio. We turned away
and headed out. We found a small paddy
and stayed about 40 yards off as we started chumming. We got no marks but decided to fish it before
heading back north. I was yo-yoing a jig
and must have looked like I was hooked up.
A 50 foot plus yacht turned toward us and squatted down as its skipper
hit the throttle for flank speed and began bearing down on us. He drove right up over the top of the paddy
we were fishing as his crew began to cast lines like they were in a calf roping
contest. They dragged Isaac’s fly-lined
bait in and made no effort to back off or apologize. They were clearly rich, but honor-less
retards of the sea, so we just kept the .45 below and left without saying a
On the way back up, with the sun getting low, we approached a
small paddy with the trollers out. There were no other boats visible. We got a jig
strike before we got there and pulled in a yellowfin on a dorado-pattern
cedar plug behind a yellow and orange pattern hootchie daisy-chain.
Sarah muscles up final fish of the day
We slid toward the paddy and started chumming cut bait with
our fly lines in good position. From
what I am convinced was a wormhole from Arkansas, a speeding day boater
occupied by cartoonishly obese shirtless dorks, came roaring out of nowhere to
pull a sliding brodie right on top of the kelp we were drifting from 30 yards away. “Having any luck around here?” one of them
yelled at us in a voice loud enough to make his big fat tits bounce in rhythm to
his stupid salutation. We just stared at
them and said “Apparently, this is not our day” as they dropped their baits on
the bits of the paddy they had just blended up with their prop. They bounced around for a few minutes before
putting the throttle down to virtually pop a wheelie as they roared away toward
another episode of “Whale Wars”
We turned in disgust for Dana and put out the trollers. We stopped on some marks below San Mateo, but
got no love as the sun began settling.
We hit cruising speed and were about a mile from the harbor entrance
after sunset, when we encountered an extraordinary performance by a juvenile
humpback whale that put on the greatest breaching show I have ever seen in
these waters. We cut the motor and
drifted next to it as it seemed to be showing off for us. We could hear it breathing and slapping the
water with its huge pectoral fins. We
were transfixed by this display for about 40 minutes and left in wonder, as we
once again made landfall in the darkness.
It was a fantastic end to a great weekend spent almost entirely on the
Hammerheads, tuna, dorado, jumping whales, and a big fat El
Nino that still has a lot of gas in the piscatorial tank.
This may go on for a
long time, but get out there while you can, because
These are the days.