This season a warm and choppy ocean again produced primarily Yellowtail and Yellowfin and hours of searching an empty ocean for kelp paddies. Our first trip in early May set the stage for Paddy Hunting. We explored an area below the 295 bank 65 to 80 nm from Point Loma, and discovered patchy areas of clean 64 degree water holding rare Kelp Paddies with small (5 to 6 lb) Yellowtail. Clean water was Interlaced with dirty green water holding acres of breaking and hungry Bonita. Tired of exploring empty Paddies and fighting off Bonita we headed for the Banda Bank and filled up on Reds and a small thresher shark.
Our next trip was nearly a month later and produced the only Albacore of the season. Typical of the past two seasons this was mostly meter mark fishing and and working schools of breaking bluefin. In the early morning we plunked away at a mixed bunch of Albacore and Bluefin until that bite died around 9AM . We then moved up to an area with breaking bluefin but were unable to entice any to the hook. After a long dry spell we returned to both areas and finished the day with a 3 fish stop on meter marks in an area where we had seen breaking fish earlier in the day. 20 Tuna 6 were Bluefin.
During July and August we made 5 trips. We lost one to a leak in the steering hydraulics. Similar to last year the 'catching' depended on finding the right paddy and spotting that rare breaking Bluefin. Some trips produced only half a dozen smaller yellowtail. The more successful trips were on July 14 (25 nice Yellowtail and one Yellowfin) and August 25th (20 Dorado).
On the July trip we went Down again to an area 20nm west of the 500 spot 90 nm from Point Loma. This time many Paddies were holding some Yellowtail hookedup and by noon we had close to limits of nice 10 to 20 lb Yellowtail. Best Yellowtail About this time when everyone had dropped down to light line to entice the last few line shy Yellowtail into the boat we were attacked by what turned out to be a school of 40lb Yellowfin. An hour and a half later Gregg and Jeff combined to bring in the only fish that didn't excape the light line. Big Yellowfin During all this time the wind continued to build to over 25 knots and we began a long grind home. full coolersThankful that 'The Bear' is essentially a tank with a sharp pointy nose, we clawed our way thru head winds and a murderous cross chop for nearly 7 hours. Finally things settled down enough to clean fish and we were still at it when we approached the harbor. cleaning fish
On the last trip in August We were in a similar area when About mid morning Bruce found a spot of breaking fish and we caught 3 nice Dorado, but it was 12:30 before we found our first Kelp Paddy and caught the first of 20 Dorado and 2 small Yellowtail. About half the Dorado were in the 10lb range a few were bigger.
In mid september we took the first of two planned multiday trips. We gathered at the boat Tuesday night to do the final storage and preparation and left at first light on Wednesday morning to fish the 182 -- 43 mile bank area. By mid morning we had our first triple jig strike in several weeks and boated 5 modest Yellowfin before we left for our voyage north to San Clemente. After several phone calls and trying unsuccessfully to reach San Clemente Control on the VHF we determined that everything was closed for the night and headed off to Avalon for our first night. We survived hooking up to the Avalon Harbor bouy system and enjoyed a quiet night in the harbor. We spent the next morning fishing for Marlin just below Avalon and managed to find a nice Dorado, and contact San Clemente to get permission to stay at Northwest Harbor. We then returned to Avalon to refuel and weaved and dodged our way though anchored boats to the fuel dock. After purchasing some very expensive diesel we took of for San Clemente checking out a few more Marlin spots on the way. We spent a fairly rocky night on two hooks at Northwest Harbor. While supplementing our bait supply with small Mackeral We listened to Navy jets practicing takeoffs and landings and ate another outstanding meal. In the morning we ate a full breakfast (pancakes, bacon, eggs) and got ready for the last day of fishing. As we pulled anchor the port motor died. After a bit of panicked diagnosis It turned out that the secondary fuel filter was clogged. After changing the fuel filter we fished a bit off San Clemente and headed back to the 182 / 302 area. A long day produced two Dorado off a a kelp Hotel that Tom and Pete found. We were back at Harbor Island West by 9PM.
This years Make a Wish was uneventful. After an hour at the bait dock We slowly made our way to an area above and inside the 390 spot. The morning started off with a bang. We had a triple jig strike on small Yellowfin and we brought the school to the boat. For the first time since July we had fish under the boat and everyone hooked up. We continued to work the same area and a few stops later an 8 to 10 ft Mako shark decided to chomp on Dennis's Yellowfin. It was a serious mistake. We enticed the shark back with the remains (head) of the Yellowfin and Gaffed the free swimming fish. After dragging it around by the tail for a while We converted the Mako to shark steaks. We spent the rest of the day looking for bigger Yellowfin that might give us a chance in the Make A Wish but couldn't find anything but a small Dorado and lots of Bonita and a Skipjack worked from under a huge school of porpose. We returned to the slip after dark to enjoy Sushi and Grilled Dorado and Yellowfin . At the weigh in the next mornig it was apparent that none of our 20 Yellowfin were large enough to get us in the running for this years tournement.
Although we had planned for a trip to San Martin in early November, The hurricane season caught up with us and we cancelled the plans.
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