Posted by: socalsalty | August 11, 2012

SoCal Dodo Hunt – Part I: Sum Fun

4am and hoppin’

Sunday, as I was driving the kids home from our morning halfer on the Clemente, I got a DM on twitter from Dana Wharf inviting me out on their first offshore trip of the year.  I called the landing the next day to get more information.  They explained to me that the water was clean and over 70 degrees within 20 miles of the beach and they wanted to go paddy hopping.  The trip would be limited to 20 anglers.  There would be no rockfish or bass Plan B.  It was exotics or nothing.  Hmmm…intriguing.  I’ve heard of dorado being caught out of some of the OC landings before, but the last 2 years have been cold water years, and I haven’t had a sniff other than when I’ve gone abroad…most recently to the East Cape in May.  OK, I’m in.

Wednesday morning, I arrived at the landing at 4am for a 5am departure.  The place was already hopping and I wasn’t the first one there.  I checked in and boarded the boat.  I’ve ridden the Sum Fun several times, but you could immediately tell that there was something different about this trip.  Maybe it was the marlin lures in the galley or the squid daisy chain I saw Danny from Fish Dope rig up on a trolling rod?

Marlin lures on a local boat!

Danny’s daisy chain

Capt. Brian Woolley came out to give us a trip briefing.  First he introduced the crew…Robbie and Jake on deck, and Brian in the galley.  Then he explained that they had gotten various reports of dorado and yellowtail holding on kelps, and visuals of marlin!  Once we got in the zone, we’d start a trolling rotation and then we’d stop on a jig strike or when visual signs (kelp, free jumpers etc.), and/or confirmation on the sonar dictated a stop.  Familiar stuff if you’ve gone on overnight or multiple day trips offshore in San Diego, but it seemed weird on an OC based boat…weird in a spine-tingling, exciting sort of way 😉  I had gotten a tip before I got on the boat.  It was confirmed by Capt. Brian…with the dodos this far north, light line was the ticket…as low as 10 or 12 lb test!  I rigged my bass rod as my stealth setup…40 lb spectra to a 15lb fluoro leader.  I also rigged a 25 lb rig (main setup), and a 40 lb rig…just in case things got stupid.

Temperature chart

Once we were out of the harbor, and I got a breakfast burrito in me, I went up top to chat with Capt. Brian.  Brian was very gracious and shared more info on the day.  He showed me his charts…one for the water temperature, and the other for chlorophyll levels.  He explained that he overlayed the information and where clean water met warmer water, those points would guide the general direction of the day.  Once we were in an area, then the visual signals would determine whether or not we’d make a stop.  He pointed out where the previous day’s reports had yielded fish, and where he was guessing based on the current info where there might be fish today.  He also let me know that Fish Dope had a bird in the sky.  He had the plane’s flight plan and showed me where we should intersect with it.  He’d be getting periodic reports from them over the course of the day.  Ok, the skipper is dialed in and we have our own private spotter plane.  This could be good!

We drove around and eventually we happened on a paddy that Capt. Brian said was holding fish.  I later learned we were about 18 miles offshore from Carlsbad.  Immediately, we saw jumping dodos as we rolled up.  I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat seeing that sort of action.  Once I got a bait in the water, I could see blue and yellow figures darting below the surface.  Immediately, some poles went bendo and I could see trailers on the hooked fish.  Long story short, we boated 2 fish on 5 hookups.  The fish weren’t huge.  I’m guessing Bob’s fish was 12-15 lbs, and Alex’s was just under 10.  Doesn’t matter though…Dodo’s off OC (well northern SD county).  Unfortunately, that first paddy was the best of the day.  Capt. Brian later told me it was holding at least 50 fish!  We ran into another paddy where we had a visual on at least one yellow, but no bites.  Final count, 2 dorado for 17 anglers.

These kinds of trips aren’t for everyone.  If you aren’t on the water regularly and would feel shorted if you didn’t come home with fish, this isn’t the kind of trip for you.  If however, you’ve paid your dues…you still get excited catching a limit of rockfish or sculpin, but you long for something different…a trophy, a story to tell your regular fishing buddies…then you should get online and book it.  Next rides are Wed the 15th and Sunday the 19th.  I’ll be out Wednesday.  Tight lines!

Cook/deckhand Brian and lucky Bob with the JP dodo

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