Made it back from another wonderful trip aboard the Red Rooster. Great boat, excellent skipper and crew, and the food...well I'd better start hitting the gym again. Very interesting trip, we spent the whole time in CA waters. Fished the Cortez area and the Mackerel Bank between San Clemente and Catalina. Felt kind of strange to drive 90 miles down to San Diego to get on a boat and travel back near home. But, that's where the best fishing was and best conditions given the hurricane off the coast of Mexico.
I posted a video from the trip and will do a page update with images as soon as I get caught up with the things I wasn't able to get done while fishing. Also, I'll be back out on the water 9/20 aboard the Royal Polaris for a 6 day charter.
Now, about the trip... Probably 60% or more of the folks on the boat were on the same charter last year. The level of cooperation was great to watch, some great anglers. Two gals were on this trip, both really showed off a lot of skills and could frankly school many guys quite easily on technique. We got into some better grade bluefin up to about 110 lbs and plenty of yellowfin ranging from about 25 to 40 lbs. Conditions were a bit challenging given the storm down south for the first couple days fishing, but it was quite workable as our fish count showed. The last day of fishing was simnply off the hook on the yellowfin tuna, probably 200 fish came over the rail that day.
Last year on this charter I was spanked by a big bluefin, fought the fish for over 4 hours before finally pulling the hook. This time I left the reel home, the one that didn't have the gearing to turn the fish's head and keep it pointed my way. As much as I like my Avet reels, the MXL Raptor while having plenty of drag, left much to be desired in terms of gears and gear ratio. The drag is there, and it's dandy for most fishing one would do with 40# line, but it ain't for the big fish of 140 or greater weight in my opinion. So, this time I fished more appropriate gear. I fished my little Okuma Andros for the schoolie tuna, but bumped up to a Tiburon SST 7540, JX 6/3 MC Avet both for 40# use and bought a Makaira 10 for 50 to complement an Avet HXJ for 50 and 60. The SST did the trick for a marlin which went about 140 lbs and the JX brought home the bacon on a 108 lb bluefin that also took jackpot (and the crew got the $...except for a few tee shirts for my boys back home). Both the marlin and the bluefin kept me pinned to the rail for about 1.5 hours of fight time, and both were caught on 40 lb line. The bluefin was caught on iron, an OLD Brass Tady #9 (they don't make 'em like that any more) and an 8 foot Ahi Assassin popping rod - the combo did great, and the JX had plenty of capability to deal with the fish - in my estimation a better reel than the MXL Raptor. I like to try out different things on these trips, and this time out I was messing with some wind-ons, some nail knot connections, Toro Tamer's new 12 strand hollow core and of course the 16 strand. That stuff all worked great, and use of multiple nails did wonderfully for the in-line rigging at the tests I was running. I did not experiment with some new lure prototype this trip, that will be done next week when I take off again on our 6 day charter.
The 4/5 day September trip on the Rooster has always been my favorite trip of the year, this year was no different. It's a great time to be on the water, and the Rooster always feels like home for me. Fishing with the folks who ride this trip was also a real high point - just wonderful people and I had fun watching 'em fish as much as I enjoyed fishing myself! Impressive group. We did have one newbie aboard, a fellow who really showed just how much he enjoyed fishing - he was at the rail the whole time - but also demonstrated a deficiency of preparation before heading out. He was a newbie, and in my estimation he made two big errors on this trip. First he bought a whole bunch of crap prior to going out. It was obvious that he bought what the tackle shop pushed, he spent a lot of time fighting the gear... And, he did not spend time learning basic stuff like tying hooks, connecting FL line to leader. The deckhands took care of him as did other folks who were on the trip. However, he'd have benefited much if he'd have stopped by our shop and listened to and learned from the guys and invested a bit of time in preparation prior to getting on a boat. That's the second error, if you're new to this stuff, take a breather and spend some time watching others. Learn from other folks experience and observe. The enthusiastic newbie fished hard, but missed an opportunity to learn by not simply sitting down and watching other folks and benefit from their experience. Watching and learning from the hot sticks would have been hugely beneficial. I've been at this a few years and I still spend some time observing and learning. Spending a few hours the first day or so would have improved his skill set quite a bit I think. And, taking some time talking to the right folks would have probably saved him some money on the gear too. I think he brought along no less than 15 rods and reels for the trip, most of which he'll probably sell off and replace as time goes by. The gentleman was eager as all get out, and caught his share of fish with the help of the deckhands. No doubt he did learn a lot, though he could have learned more if he'd have spent a couple hours simply watching Melissa (the gal's a hot stick) or one of the other experienced fishermen on the boat. Nonetheless, I think he had a blast and was seriously hooked by a new hobbie. But, I think he'll end up replacing most all of the gear he bought prior to the trip... I made the same errors I guess. Bought 3 Ugly Sticks before learning better when I was starting out on saltwater - and my old gear did get some use as my "rental" rigs when I took out a newbie on my old private boat. But, wasted money and wrong gear does no one much good. A little time spent learning prior to heading out on a 5 day trip is a good investment.
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