Posted by: socalsalty | September 7, 2011

Labor Day Weekend: A Fishing Odyssey (Part 1)

Back in June I had updated the Top 10 and revealed that I had set a goal for myself to catch all 10 this year.  At that point, I had 5 of the 10 species and felt good about where I was toward achieving my goal.  Fast forward to this weekend, and I was still 5 of 10.  Time to make something happen, and so I planned a weekend to have an opportunity to make a serious dent on the list.

Thursday I called my fishing buddy LeRoy from the New Del Mar.  “Down for an overnight to Clemente tomorrow?  Calico bass….”  LeRoy is a saltwater bass fanatic, so I knew how to push his buttons.  “I’m in Salty!”  See?  Friday after work, the car is packed.  I grab a bite and hit the 110 South all the way to Pedro to meet LeRoy at 22nd St Landing to board the Freedom, with Capt. Tommy Lee.  LeRoy also dragged along Hanibal, another regular from NDM.  On the fishing menu was yellowtail, calico and bonito.  In other words, an opportunity for me to get numbers 1 and 9 on my list.

We headed out around 10pm, picked up bait, and Capt. Tommy gave us the safety rundown and what to expect fishing-wise for Saturday.  The plan was to head out to Catalina tonight, try to make squid, and then power on to Clemente in time for a gray hour bite.  We were going to work the kelpy areas around the island where the bass and bonito were biting, and then hopefully a forkie (yellowtail) or 2 would be around mixed in with them.  This is a part of each trip that to me sets the tone for how the trip is going to go.  I appreciate when skippers give you a full rundown as it helps you set the proper rigs up and be ready to fish once you get into the zone.  Capt. Tommy did a good job of doing this for the anglers on his boat.

Dawn at San Clemente Island

I rigged my lines and went to bed.  I brought 4 poles: bass rod for bait with straight mono (20#), kelp cutter setup (30# spectra, short 20# fluoro topshot), general purpose rig (30# mono, 40# spectra backing), and a jig stick to throw iron if the opportunity presented itself (40# mono).  Next morning come to find we didn’t make squid, so it’s live sardines and dead squid.  We followed the plan and the first bites of the day were bonito attacking the ‘dines mercilessly.  Nobody really cares much for eating bonito.  I hear it’s good smoked.  But it’s fun to catch bonito on a light rig because they put up a great fight for their size (Nerf football size mostly).  Fairly early on, I hooked into one, but lost him at the rail.  He managed to bite through my line.  At the time I didn’t think much of it, but since they aren’t really the target fish, we’d move on in favor of the next stop where it would hopefully be more bassy.  So that hookup ended up being my last shot to get one for the trip and cross it off my list 😦

We saw a few yellows, but the story of the day was definitely the calico…BIG ONES.  I saw one go over the rail that was an estimated 13lbs.  Biggest one I’ve ever seen.  It’s head was as thick as my thigh. I felt badly that they gaffed it, but the guy that caught it wanted to take it.  I’m guessing that fish was at least 25 years old…probably older (takes them 6 years to reach minimum size of 12 inches).  Saw some stray yellows, but no hookups.  Pretty much sums up the fishing day.  We headed out late afternoon for the long trek back.  I found the Freedom to be a very clean and well run boat.  Capt. Tommy fishes hard, and his crew was helpful and attentive.  I’ll definitely try to ride again…maybe hit an overnight with them to Catalina before too long for another shot at yellowtail and bonito.  Tight lines!

Leroy "Ca-LEE-co !!!"

Shoulda seen the one that got away

1st 10+ calico I've ever seen in person



  1. That was a huge Calico!!! It looks like you had fun!
    Hope you get those forkies next time.

    • The Pac Islander saw some YT action last week. I may give it a try up there. I’ll call you if I make plans. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow now that’s a Bass! Sucks it met the gaff but I guess someone had to eat it.

    • If you check out my Calico 101 post, you’ll notice the jackpot fish was saved in the bait tank, weighed for jackpot and released. Classy move by Joey and the Double crew. But hey, this guy caught it and made his choice. Who knows…maybe he needed it for food.

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