Friday, February 14, 2020

Quick work at the Emerald Isle

On February 7th I got another invite from Secret Skipper, who has been totally on fire this year at the Island of Romance. We had to go on a Friday, which meant playing some hooky, but that would hopefully beat the crowds and Skipper has been running the table on  rapid limits every time this year. I tried to recruit Tommy, David or Sarah to go with us, as they are licensed up, but Sarah had to work and the boys could not miss an afternoon of high school.  
     Your narrator got into work early, made some lawyer-like noises and then escaped the office to arrive at San Pedro by 12:45.  There was a deep low tide that was just short of bottoming out, which made for a steep ramp from the parking lot down to the docks.We loaded up the boat in short order and headed over to San Pedro bait to buy sixty bucks worth of live bait to add to the salmon carcasses Skipper had bought at the fish market.  The concept of live bait for cutting up and cramming into lobster bait cages might seem bit odd, but fresh is generally better than frozen and that is how they sell it.  There is no discount for the dead stuff and the bait always seems to stay lively in the winter.
The Wizard at his station .   
 The weather had been very cold all week and we packed warm clothes to wear beneath our "deadliest catch" slickers. Conditions were brisk as we headed across the channel.  We were set for a big full moon on Saturday and it would be up before the sun went down Friday night.  This meant a lot of light and the likelihood of the lobster being more active in deeper water during a night of fishing  that would barely supply darkness.  
It was nearly the opposite of the lunar conditions from my last report, which documented quick limits.
     When we arrived at our point of attack, we anchored up in pretty deep water to go through the important and disgusting task of taking a meat cleaver to the now moribund sardines and frozen salmon carcasses and cramming them into the upgraded bait cages that Skipper introduced as part of his technological warfare against these delicious insects of the sea. 
 We then put out each hoop and paid out all the line to make sure it was not tangled before we hauled everything back aboard and decided we were ready to start scouting for structure.  
     We were patient in finding some big stones and kelp, even in the water that was over 200 feet deep.  We began a careful deployment of our deepest rigs (300 feet) in a ripping current that rushed underneath a sea surface that was rapidly calming down from its afternoon tantrum. We scoured the boat clean from all of the bait gore as soon as we made our set.  This made the final cleanup at the dock a much quicker and less crust-infested task. We had all of our gear deployed by 5:15 and then it was time to mow down a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and wait for darkness, or at least less sunlight.
     We began hauling gear in our two 300 foot hoops in very calm conditions.  Each one had two big keepers and we were off to the races.
     The mid-range sets also produced, including one which contained five legals and another three-plus pounder.  

When we got to the shallows (under 100 feet) we continued to collect and had 11 legals,  mostly pretty big ones, at the end of eight-pulls,  Given that we were three away from our limit, we decided to start recovering gear and not send it back down while we were still on the first set, which is something I have never done.  We had a few that only held shorts and one which held nothing but a very angry angel shark that somehow managed to get its entire self into the hoop, but the remaining hoops kept producing to the point where we got our 14 bug quota and again threw back a full limit in the next eight pulls.  All legals were females.
     We had all of the gear cleaned up and stowed away for the ride back by 7:15.  The ride home was smooth and we were tied up and cleaning the boat by 8:35 pm. Clean up was swift and easy, in part because we pre-cleaned and also because we were back so soon that we did not experience the cranky fatigue that usually accompanies cleaning up and hauling the gear back up to the parking lot at 3 am.  Even the tide cooperated with us by supplying a major high that leveled out the ramp for our off-load. This was the quickest and easiest lobster trip I have ever experienced.
      I would have been home by 10:30 if the 405 was not reduced to one lane at several points on my path. As it was, my road time was forty minutes longer than it should have been, but I was home just a little after 11 pm. instead of staggering in at sunrise.  I stashed a limit in the garage.
     I had the boys stand in for the mandatory "Lobster Life" photo by which I have charted their development since they were toddlers.

     We invited my kid-brother Charlie and his wife Shelby, along with their pointer Milo, who is brother to our Tashtego, to come over Saturday afternoon to plunder our catch.  

These lobster invites are always a short notice event and we were lucky to catch them without plans, although their kids lost out on mass consumption by making plans for a Saturday night that did not involve wasting their time with the elderly. 
     This has been one of the most consistent seasons in more than a decade and we have been bringing home a nice grade of roaches.  We are heading off to a Drug Lord vacation in Mexico, so this story will have to do for now. This lobster season still has legs and these creatures have been crawling. Eat them while you can can catch them, because
These are the Days


  1. Absolutely marvelous! Woo hoo! Fabulous write-up as always! Miss the monkeys 😜

  2. Oh how delicious that looks! And good for you for, what sounds like, a relatively easy catch! Makes me wanna run to Costco since a trip to neither the west, or east coast, is in our near future! Great job Ed!