Posted by: socalsalty | August 12, 2012

SoCal Dodo Hunt – Part II: Mission Belle

Karen glassing for signs of life

After getting back from the trip on the Sum Fun, I immediately headed south to San Diego.  Remember last week when I forgot my wallet and couldn’t go out?  When I boarded the boat and checked in, Karen laughed…”Got it this time.  Good.”  I shot back that maybe it was meant to be since their count wasn’t that great last week anyway 😉  “Maybe you’re right Joe.  I hope so!”  Little did we know…

The boat had a really light load, only 14 anglers (and a few “rides”).  It was like our own private charter.  As I mentioned in the latest Mexican Visa post, these trips have been really hit and miss.  I remembered seeing a count of 18 anglers, 1 bluefin tuna.  High risk, high reward…not what the typical 3/4 day angler looks for in a trip.

Brendan waits for a jig strike

In his trip briefing, Capt. Tony Sotelo said that we’d be heading S/SW toward the 302 and 371 spots.  The water was warm…low 70’s with that beautiful purplish/blue quality.  Definitely fishy.  It was just a matter of finding some biting fish within the short time window allotted for a 3/4 day trip.

The boat has a 6am departure time.  Four hours later, we were still looking around.  I noticed 10 yr. old Brendan wearing a Guy Harvey dorado cap.  John said he was going to bring luck to us today.  Finally, just after 10:30, Capt. Tony said to be ready, we were about to slide in on some kelp.  I got up and out of the galley and was excited to see the largest piece of kelp that I’ve ever seen offshore.  There were some private boats in the spot already, but plenty of room for us.

I kept the same 3 rigs from the Sum Fun trip…15# fluoro, 25# mono, and the “40# just in case it gets stupid” rig.  I chose to start off with the 25# rig.  I cast my bait and immediately I get tagged, and just that fast the pole went limp.  Short bite.  I re-baited and cast out again.  Same result.  Dang it!  Lines were tight all around me.  Take a breath.  Just fish.  Another cast and I was bit again.  This time it stuck.  Blue lighting flashes darted to my left and right just below the surface.  After a brief struggle, I saw color.  Oh yeah, nice fish!  Called for the gaff and Karen stuck it.  Calls for gaff echoed all over the deck.  As soon as my fish was on the deck, Karen needed to run and assist another angler.  Rather than screw around trying to retrieve my hook, I just cut the line and sacked the fish.  I put the 25# rig away.  “This definitely qualifies as things are getting stupid” I thought to myself.  I grabbed the 40# setup.  Baited, cast, and BANG.  Hooked up again.  Using the 40# rig, I made short work of my second fish.  Limit for dodos below the border is 2.  I was done.  It had only been 15 minutes!

Thanks Brendan!

Oh well.  I grabbed my GoPro and shot video.  After about 5 minutes, Capt. Tony noticed I wasn’t fishing.  “Did you already limit Joe?”  Yeah.  “Keep fishing, we still have plenty to go before the boat limits out.”  Twist my arm.  In the next 10 minutes I put 2 more on the boat.  Tony then came on the intercom to say we had reached our limit as a boat.  Total elapsed time…32 minutes!  John had 6 on that first stop.  Little Brendan had even gotten his limit.  He was our lucky charm!

It was kind of funny…an hour ago I was wondering if we’d get anything.  It wasn’t even lunch time yet and we were done on dorado.  Tony called in the San Diego to enjoy the spot, and we moved on to find another kelp.  The next one was almost as good as the first, but only dodos and no yellowtail.  Next stop, more of the same.  Zeke, who works on the Grande and at Charkbait brought a buddy, Sergio.  Sergio complained, “Dang, can we catch something other than dorado?”  Seriously?

No sooner does Sergio say that, but we get a jig strike.  Guess what?  Yellowtail.  They were smaller schoolie size yellows, but so what.  The boat got 8 in a snap.  I was happy to see that it was Brendan’s grandpa who was the one bit on the jig strike.  Sorry Gramps, let the kid get the trophy shot 😉  Friggin’ Sergio got 2!  Lol, what a day.

Way to go Brendan

Will there be anything else Sergio?

Thursday was the perfect illustration of why you can’t just follow the counts.  My intel prior to the trip was that conditions were good, and there were a lot of fish around.  Sooner or later they had to bite.  I bet there were a lot of people that saw the counts and didn’t come out when they could have.  Bummer for you.  It’s good right now people.  Get out and fish.  Tight lines!

EDITORIAL NOTE –  still working on it, but the video is pretty sick.  I’ll get it out as soon as I can.

Dodo on a 3/4

John with 1 of 9

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