The storm went from a category 5 to a fizzle in thee or four days, however, and did nothing worse than to chase the boats already fishing at Alijos Rocks to inshore positions. The Indy kept her nose pointed at The Ridge, and the decision was made to fish there rather than take a chance on murky conditions at the outer destination. It paid off with near-limits of yellowtail and dorado, some bottom fish and 16 yellowfin tuna pulled off a herd of porpoise spread over a square mile or so.
Fishing commenced in the area of the 13 spot, near several other high points at the top end of The Ridge. The bite was only fair on yellowtail of 12 to 18 pounds in greenish water, the size of schoolie yellows often found there. An overnight run south to the Petrel Bank was next, because conditions there indicated a possible shot at the larger yellowfin that had been caught there a couple of weeks ago, before the water rolled over into a cold green no self-respecting tuna would frequent. Now it was clean again, near the 70-degree mark and might be holding fish, so the effort and the fuel needed to commit was made.
All anglers aboard got a plump bag of goodies put up by Bill Roecker’s sponsors and selected especially for this trip: the latest colors in light and heavy jigs from Salas and Catchy Tackle, plastic Double Diamond swimbaits and heads from AA’s Tony Paino, trolling lures from Zucker’s, 30, 40 and 50-pound packets of Seaguar fluorocarbon, the latest 3/0 and 4/0 Demon and Hoodlum ringed hooks from Mustad, the same sizes in bait hooks from Hayabusa, Mustad baitmakers, calendars from Fishingvideos.com and Seeker hats. These were given in exchange for permission signatures for Oceanic Productions.
Next there was a raffle in which everyone won a prize,starting with a new Accurate BX 400 reel, Seeker Black Steel 7460 and Calstar 700 M rods, a belt and gloves from AFTCO, mounted line drawings of the Indy by Peter J, hard and soft cover versions of Bill Roecker’s new long range book At The Rail, striped “Mamba” surface jigs from Salas, hats from Mustad and Seaguar and many other prizes. The crew and a few raffle winners received AFTCO shirts. Some anglers got long and short-sleeved shirts from Sportsmen’s Seafoods. All were invited to change top shots with blue Izorline in 30, 40 and 50-pound strength. It was a good trip for swag.
Those tackle items played a major role in the landing of yellowtail limits, and also were reflected in the jackpots. The goodies were given out the first night, so they could be used right off, and Izorline provided free topshots of blue Izorline for all aboard. The giveaways were followed by the first night’s dinner, a tender flatiron steak with trimmings.
Chef Ed and assistant Michele put up three fine meals and two snacks daily: prime rib, rack of lamb, chicken and fresh yellowtail. Breakfasts included Eggs Benedict, Denver Omelette, fresh fruits, waffles, etc., and snacks featured chili, ribs, tacquitos and soups. One memorable lunch presented hungry fishermen with man-sized cheeseburgers decked with lettuce, onion, tomato, dressing and French fries. On the last night we ate well indeed: Prawns over steak over spinach over scalloped spuds with sauce. It was a nice mix of fancy and plain American-style food.
We spent the morning searching the area around the Petrel for three small yellowfin. They were shakers of five pounds, caught on the troll and released. We moved up to Thetis Bank under a low foggy bank of clouds left over from the now-dissipated Dora, and found a few fish there, in green, 75-degree water. We moved north again, finding some yellowtail on the way, along with thousand-bird flocks of petrels and quite a conglomeration of albatrosses marking kelp paddies.
At the 23 Spot things took a big change for the better. Yellowtail of 12 to 30 pounds were biting there all day long, after we were stopped rolling in to the spot by hungry yellows that went off on all the trolled Zuckers and cedar plugs. Biting wasn’t really the word for it, since they bit everything we thought to show them: sardines, iron jigs yo-yoed and on the surface, plastic swimbaits and dropper loop rigs. When I started throwing a mint-colored 7X, they fought over which fish would get the honor of chewing on it. I could see a half-dozen shoving one another to get to the iron.
We didn’t lose many fish, thanks to some savvy anglers and the fine help provided to them by deckhands Paul Medina, Jesus Companioni, Doug Brink and Oscar Marroquin. We did release dozens of small yellowtail, and Oscar hung by his heels on the rail to unhook a few without letting them dry out. Jesus and Paul got anglers out of the terrible tangles that occur when six or eight anglers suddenly find themselves pulled into the stern corner by fast-running fish.
We were nearly limited out when we left The 23, and chartermaster Sherman Lim entertained us and provided some outstanding video footage by repeatedly casting a hookless jig. A crowd watched, shouting at each explosion on the jig, which disappeared briefly into yellowtail gullets or was knocked up into the air by eager contenders. Tim Esposito counted up to nine or ten explosions per retrieve.
Later we found a kelp holding dorado. It was a big one, half the size of the boat maybe, and the dorado must have been crowded beneath it, because they came out like happy puppies as we slid up, their backs knifing out of the water, or greyhounding right up to the Indy. They weren’t large, six to 12 pounds or so, but they made up in intensity what they may have lacked in bulk. We had to leave ‘em biting.
Tuna? We did catch a few, 16 to be exact. They were traveling with their porpoise hosts some 200 miles south of Pt. Loma. They stopped us while we were trolling twice, and bit hard and fast, but very momentarily. I got one of them on a sardine, and asked Mario Ghio of Sportsmen’s Seafoods to filet it for me fresh, which he did, the next day, after we arrived back at Point Loma Sportfishing.
At the dock, the fish were weighed and jackpots awarded. Tim Esposito, former North Carolina Stat quarterback and now a chiropractor with a sports specialty from Rancho Palos Verdes, won first place for his 31.2-pound yellowtail. He got his winner with a sardine on a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook on 40-pound Izorline XXX and 60-pound Power Pro spectra on an Avet JX reel and a Super Seeker 800 rod.
Michael Giardino of Palos Verdes won second place for his 28.6-pounder, and Mike Olson of Rancho Palos Verdes got third place for a 27.2-pound 23 Spot yellowtail.
It was a fine trip, and we thank Mark Pisano, Paul Strasser, skipper Jeff DeBuys and the Independence organization for the fun and memorable fishing.
Captains Mark Pisano, Paul Strasser, Jeff DeBuys
(619) 226-6006 - Point Loma Sportfishing