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Fishing Diary  

2003

November 11-18

Originally Jeff and I were supposed to be in Baja at the end of September. But Hurricane Marty forced us to postpone when it slammed right into the East Cape the weekend before our scheduled trip, laying waste to the local highways and power grid.

Jumping into our rental car at the airport, I noted the bright orange art deco appearance of the radiator grille, which could only mean one thing… Monarch migration. We saw thousands of these butterflies flitting about en masse. While the north wind did not derail our diving plans at Cabo Pulmo the first few days, it did make it a bit more challenging. Of course by the second night in this rustic setting, I was ready to grab a flashlight and search the neighborhood for satellite dishes.

On our last day in Cabo Pulmo, for the sake of efficiency, we had checked out early and loaded the car for a quicker post-dive retreat. After rinsing and changing at the dive shop, we raced up to Los Barriles, stashed our bags in our room at Palmas de Cortez, and were sipping piña coladas at the pool bar in record time. Before dinner I toured the hotel to see the recent changes.

Friday the 14th aboard “Rude Girl”, Jeff and I attempted to go offshore for tuna. The wind was fierce but we gave it our best shot. Battling 6'-8' seas took most of the fun out of fishing. After another boat radioed that they found the local dolphin school and the tuna weren't biting, we decided to throw in the towel. We endured a pounding saltwater shower for the long run back in.

We took a break Saturday and drove to La Paz and Todos Santos for a look around. Lunch at the Hotel California in Todos Santos was to die for!

By Sunday the wind had dropped and once again team Rude Girl headed out to look for the Spinner dolphins and the yellowfin below them. We scored! Trolled cedar plugs and ¾ oz. squid colored hootchies helped us get 7 yellowfin and 1 odd skipjack. The tuna ranged from a couple of “sashimi” size to 35 pounds.

Winds from the west greeted us on Monday so we tucked in around the backside of Isla Cerralvo. Jeff briefly fought a sailfish before it spit the hook, but he went on to produce a nice 5 pound threadfin pompano, which we enjoyed later for dinner at Tio Pablo’s. I wound up with a triggerfish and a whitefish that I gave our crew.

It was hard to leave on Tuesday, but we did so with plenty of tuna, including about twenty pounds that we had put through the East Cape Smokehouse. They did a wonderful job with our fish as usual.


October 19

United Angler's annual "Feed the Hungry" trip on the Queen of Hearts was held today and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. With Bob and Sherry Ingles both aboard donating their vessel for the day, UA was able to benefit from the $60 fare each angler ponied up to fish the occasion.

From the moment lines first hit the water we enjoyed free goody bags, free raffles, and free food and beverages. Let me tell you, this was NOT the day to be on a diet! We had a blast fishing for rockfish all day, and then donated all the fish to the Salvation Army. I also accomplished a personal best on vermilion rockfish by scoring four of these beauties.

At the end of it all, no muss, no fuss, dump your gear in the car and head for the bar. For my husband Jeff, this was a dream come true; the trip was tax deductible and I wouldn't be bringing home any fish that would just wind up as overstock in the freezer.


October 8 — So I'm dropping off a salmon at Harry Boos' home for him to smoke and he mentions that Wednesday is the last day to score any cabezon, so I figured I'd better go. I hopped aboard the Queen of Hearts and chatted with a few of the regulars on the way out. Heading south from Pillar Point, it turned into a nice sunny day with a bit of a large swell that tapered off as the morning progressed.

Some extra coaxing was needed to start the fish biting, but soon we were hooking up greenling, as well as blue, gopher, vermilion, and China rockfish.

Later that afternoon, the cabezon woke up and a few lingcod got hungry as well. Although I failed to entice a cab up, I did finally whip out the pearl colored scampi tail to score a nice Ling — nice enough to take the jackpot and be awarded one of Captain Bob's "lucky lures" for biggest fish.


October 4 — About to be sidelined for awhile, Ken wanted to get in one last salmon trip this year. So at 5:30am, Ken, Matt and I launched out of Berkeley and ran north of the Golden Gate.

Ken and Matt both hooked up soon after we started to troll, but one was a shaker and the other spit the hook. After grinding away for another couple of hours, we noticed how flat the ocean was becoming and decided to hoof it for Point Reyes, where the water temperature was significantly lower.

Again we tried for salmon, but soon gave up to fish rockfish. Ken landed a bomber blue rockfish. I had something for a short time, but with hardly any swell, the fish weren’t on the bite. It was so nice at Reyes that I planted myself on the bow of Ken ’s Skipjack and got in some serious casting practice. Around 3pm, the vessel sprinted back to the buoy outside the Gate, and at 4 we had salmon action again. Every time we’d start to think about running in, someone would hook a fish at the last possible moment. And they were nice fish too; just one short of limits, and the top three weighing in at 22, 26 and 30 pounds.

As darkness descended upon three weary fishermen heading for the barn, we enjoyed one last treat. Passing Pier 39 we caught the fireworks show all the way back to the dock.


September 14 — As a recent member of Outdoor Writers Association of California, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Tom and Lisa Mattusch are OWAC supporting members. Having known Tom for a few years from around the harbor and as a fellow Coastside Fishing Club member, I finally got a chance to take him up on an offer to fish his boat, Huli Cat. The vessel is a 53' Hoquiam design, which helps to give it a smooth ride. I talked Gene Coombs into coming along too. Deciding to chronicle the trip more than fish it, I brought along a camera, voice recorder and only a smattering of tackle and a light rod.

We left the dock around 4:15 am and headed for the tuna grounds. Anglers hooked up some nice albacore averaging 18-22 pounds. While on one stop, we were treated to two large blue whales that hung around the boat for awhile. A good day was had by all with a final tally of 38 fish.


August 28-29

I have been attending the United Anglers benefit dinners for quite some time now, and I usually wind up whipping out my Visa card to bid on something during the auction. Last year I came away with two trips donated by Richard Oba aboard the Sydney Mae II. This 38’ Bertram twin screw berths in Salmon Harbor, Winchester Bay, Oregon, and is chartered by Pacific Pioneer Sport Fishing. The vessel is set up to six pack, but I decided to limit the fun to four: Robin, Ray, Gene and me.

We drove up from the Bay Area the day before, a 10 hour trip filled with banter, beautiful scenery and lunch near Shasta Mountain. After checking into our rooms at the Harbor View Motel, we walked across the street to find the Sydney Mae II. Captain Oba and his deckhand Joe Baima were busy cleaning up a nice load of albacore. We agreed to depart the next morning at 6am, opting to sleep in a bit longer than usual.

Thursday morning came and the harbor was shrouded in fog. The weather report wasn’t pretty, but it might be our only shot as it called for stronger winds the next day. Our hearty group of four refused to wimp out. The captain and crew obliged us the opportunity to brutalize ourselves in sea conditions that would have turned back the timid at the bar. Conditions were rough enough that we were the only sport boat on the grounds among 4 or 5 commercial tuna trollers.

We set out four rods and dropped green zucchini lures into the clear blue wake behind the stern. Within a few short minutes we were shouting the chorus “FISH ON!” It was albacore. On the first assault, my first fish got cut off, so I quickly rerigged. I tied on a green/black plastic lure with a chrome head that I hadn’t used in years. The albies wouldn’t leave it alone; it came up with a fish just about every time we had a strike. We often hooked up doubles… sometimes triples. Gene and I also made attempts to raise a fish with swim baits and dead baits, but to no avail.

Later that day when the sun came out, we swapped darker colors for the zucchinis and the hook-ups continued. After about 5 hours of this kind of action, we tallied 18 nice albacore to 30 pounds, with our average running about 23#. The sea was actually starting to lie down by the time we decided we’ve had enough and headed for the barn around 2pm.

Back at the dock, we started to process our catch. Our deckhand Joe filleted and I cut out the bloodlines at the cleaning table. From there, the fillets went up to the small kitchenette in our room where Robin bagged them using the vacuum packer we brought from home. After a couple hours of this, Robin hit the shower, and we still had about 80# of fillets left in 2 huge plastic bags. Our room had a full sized refrigerator and we plugged it! We had also sent some of our smaller cuttings to the Thai restaurant directly behind us, where we planned to have dinner that night. Gene and Ray returned from their tequila run just in time to tote all the carcasses over to the designated dump site.

Off we went to the Pah Tong Thai Café. We towed Joe along with us, promising to drop him off at Captain Oba’s place later. When Joe isn’t decking for Richard, he’s a California Fish and Game warden. He kept us entertained with lots of amazing stories while we enjoyed some great Thai cuisine.

On Friday, we once again opted to forgo salmon fishing and instead headed out to Richard's halibut “honey hole.” I grabbed a bunk while Rich and Joe fueled and iced the boat. Even though the ocean was still quite rough, the ride out was smoother than the previous day, and slightly shorter. Rich and Joe broke out the boat rods, which were loaded with Spectra, and started to rig our gear. We fished rather deep and used the bounce-ball method (but I won’t give away too many of Rich’s secrets). When bounce-balling in rough weather, the boat occasionally needs to back up to keep the line straight. For those of you who have ever got drenched backing down on a marlin… well this wasn’t that bad, but still enough to douse Gene and Ray, who weren’t wearing raingear.

Gene started the morning by kicking a short lingcod off his line. After a few missed strikes, I set into something decent. Carefully, using the action of the boat, I reeled in my largest Pacific halibut to date, 45 pounds. Ray had some bad luck as a couple of nice fish came un-pinned on the way up. Richard pointed out a huge mola mola (about 400#) that paused to check us out. Gene started to fight a fish that we were surprised to discover, as Joe went to net it, was not a halibut, but a black cod. Gene went on to catch another, each weighing around 15#.

Then Robin hooked up and began to crank for all she was worth… and crank… and crank! When I saw the fish coming to the surface, I flashed on the line from the movie Jaws and yelled up to Richard in the fly bridge, “We’re going to need a bigger boat!” I grabbed the harpoon and offered it to Joe, who was eager to trade me for the notably undersized net. “Don’t wait for me!” I shouted at Joe, continuing from my Jaws repertoire, as I slid along the stern looking to lash the harpoon line to a cleat. With a precision shot just behind its massive head, we soon had the beast up to the boat and subdued it with numerous blows to its tail. Robin’s halibut weighed in just over 75 pounds, making mine look like a sand dab in comparison!

Gene hooked a blue shark and brought it into the boat tied in a knot like a pretzel, to be untangled and released. Some more of the blue dogs attacked Ray’s fish just below the vessel and shredded it. There were huge chunks of halibut churning up everywhere. That must have kept the sharks busy, allowing us to finally limit out (including Richard and Joe). The normal-sized butts fell in the 30# class.

Once tethered to the dock again, everyone wanted to see the huge halibut. Richard’s wife Sydney brought her camera, as she had the day before, to take a series of trophy shots. We then carted all our fish to the local cannery for cleaning. People were still arriving wanting to see what turned out to be one of the largest halibut brought into that harbor for the season. It became evident by all the comments that we had fished with the best boat and captain in the area (as if they needed to tell us). I mentioned that we’d better get moving before the local news team shows up… “lady angler has big butt, film at 11.”

After sleeping in Saturday morning, we ambled over to the Sportsmen’s Cannery & Smokehouse to watch as James Caven expertly finished filleting our halibut. He saved Robin the “pearls” (ear bones) from her fish to make into earrings. Bill & Mikayle Karcher, the cannery owners, supplied us with ample ice for our coolers and gave us a sample of their tasty smoked salmon for the return road trip. I like the slogan on their business card, “Catch what you can, we can what you catch.” As tired as we were, none of us wanted to finish vacuum packing our albacore, so we traded half of it (about 40#) for canned tuna. The remaining bag of fillets went to Ray and Robin to can them at home later.

Robin and I caught up with Joe for one last round of drinks (coffee) at Kitty’s Kitchen. Reluctantly I had the group “kennel up” in the van, where we relived our trip in stories on the way home.

Thanks Richard and Joe for a great two days!


August 24 — Wild Wave albacore trip. Mike Baxter and the crew of the Wild Wave chalked up the second best trip of the season with a final count of 176 albacore between 24 anglers. It was one of the best charters I’ve had the pleasure to fish, and I’ve seen numerous responses today that feel the same way.

Although the chickens never went completely “stupid,” the action was fast and furious at times. I managed to land 10 fish and lost another three. (If I hadn’t taken a short and well deserved break to enjoy one of Salty’s great cheeseburgers, I’d have probably nailed one or two more.) I know I owe at least a couple of hook-ups to Bait-Tank-Bobby’s excellent service. Mike and the rest of the crew stuck a noodle rod in my hands a couple of times just to keep me working hard.

Beth Smith and her brother Don had fished with me the day before. But despite severe sleep deprivation, they managed to be hotsticks as well! One small mako shark was hooked and released. As the day progressed, the blue sharks showed up, including one that was around 7'. I only saw one shark-bit tuna; for the most part they left us alone.

Thanks to Alan Matsuno for sharing a couple of Sierra Nevadas with me. He remembered from a previous charter that I like good bottled beer.

Jeff Liu took the jackpot with a nice albacore (approx. 34 lb).

See my Photo Album page for images.


August 23 — The first annual Lady and the Lingcod shallow-water, light-tackle rockfish tournament. A nice, calm, slightly overcast morning turned into a beautiful sunny day of tournament action. Tom Southern was a last minute substitution for angler Chris Kenny. Other than that, the original entrants remained the same.

Ken Stone came along for the day to catch all the action on video tape. Send an email to kstone6779@comcast.net to request your copy. I’m glad he was there to record a truly great day of fishing.

Nick Dennis scored the first halibut of the day and went on to take 1st and 3rd place with two halibut weighing 26 and 24 pounds, respectively. Scott Breidenbach won 2nd place with a 25 pounder. Don Smith (Beth’s brother) came close to being in-the-money with a nice halibut. A total of 18 butts hit the deck of the Queen of Hearts by the end of the day! Some very nice lingcod were boated, but none were big enough to give the halibut any real competition.

We also had nice rockfish assortment, consisting of vermilions, blues, blacks, Chinas and gophers. Other species included rock sole, starry flounder, cabezon and greenling. Fun was had by all. We're looking forward to next year’s trip, which is now scheduled for August 21, 2004, back aboard the Queen of Hearts. Ken has once again agreed to video our action.

See my Photo Album page for images.


August 8 — Ken Bertelsen invited me along for a day on his 38' Bertram, the Lisa Anne. Fellow coastsiders George, Barry and Darhyl were already at the boat catching sardines (and a mackerel) while waiting in the slip. We left the harbor of Half Moon Bay at 5:30am and ran to just behind the Farallon Islands.

The humpback whales were everywhere as we came up on the area that we had decided to start trolling from. In the morning, we picked up eight albacore while enjoying the sunny weather and calm ocean. We hit water temps as high as 64°.

The bite died and we decided to run south to reports of a few more fish, where we picked up another seven to finish the afternoon.


July 31 — Ray, Robin and I went fishing with Ken on the Tide Runner out of Half Moon Bay. We ran southwest for a couple of hours and started to troll for Albacore. The action started off with one here and a couple there, and progressed to triple and quadruple hook-ups. Only one fish was taken on a swimbait; the majority of albies preferred zucchinis. Only two fish would be considered peanuts; one weighed in at 31 pounds.

We had to quit early in the afternoon as there was no place left to put any fish! The weather was overcast and calm when we started the day, but we rode home on the heels of a southerly.


July 20 — After a proper Allcoast pre-boarding party at Coaster's the night before, twelve of us descended upon Islandia Sportfishing in San Diego and loaded our gear onto the Blue Horizon. We ran all night on a flat ocean, rigging gear, sipping port and getting a little shuteye.

When dawn approached, the trolling rods adorned the stern. Let the Pro Gear Tuna Challenge begin! Although there were many eligible species, this contest would be decided by Albacore alone. Since the competition was predominately Allcoast members (and six of those were Darksiders), I could not have asked for a better group to fish with. We all tried our best that day, but try as we may, our final tally was ten fish. Most of those were troll caught, and therefore did not count. There were four fish that qualified towards deciding the top three tournament winners. Alas, I was not among them. I did wind up with two nice troll fish and the memories of another great time with friends who share my passion for the sport.


July 8 & 9 — I went out with Ed Miller again on a 2-day rockfish tagging trip (see May 20). We fished on the Princess from Virg's Landing out of Morro Bay. Six of us fished (including the crew) while Ed measured, recorded and tagged vermilions, gophers, blues, coppers, lings and other species. The overall size and quality of the fish were amazing. I've never seen coppers that were 16-18 inches before, and we tagged at least three that size!

Weather conditions on Tuesday cut our fishing time short, so we proceeded to the anchorage earlier than we had hoped. The next day was fishable, and we enjoyed a full day before returning to the dock at 5pm. This was my second central coast trip this year. I can't wait to round up a couple of friends and go fish there again (and bring home some huge fillets).


July 1 — Today was the rockfish opener and I fished from the deck of the Queen of Hearts. We had nice weather for our boatload of diehard shallow-water, light-tackle rockfish fans. Purple jigs seemed to work the best, but a variety of fish were landed on all kinds of combos. Among the critters in my sack, I managed to get my bag limit of cabezon and a jackpot contender green lingcod. There were a lot of gopher rockfish (quite a few were released) and some whopper China cod, vermilions, and golden greenling. A halibut was also caught! I brought my camera and let captain Bob take some shots. Look for new pictures on the Queen of Hearts web site.


June 28 — I got to crew with Marc Gorelnik on the Tunapalooza. Thinh Nguyen, a fellow Coastside hitchhiker, also joined us. In search of albacore, we left Santa Cruz harbor early and pushed through the fog bank on the outside.

Five rods were set out, and we commenced trolling. First to hit the deck was a nice surprise, a 20 pound bluefin tuna, landed by Thinh. We proceeded to pluck chickens throughout the day — one here, a pair there. The sun never really made it out, but enough got through the overcast sky to redden my cheeks by the end of the afternoon.

We packed it in around 2pm and hit the ramp by 5. Final score was 1 bluefin and 9 albacore. I'd say we had about an 18-20 pound average on the albies, which is plenty for me to start my smoker up!


June 26 — Hitchhiking again, same boat, same harbor (see June 13). Engines were still finicky, so we kept it close. We headed to Capitola, where boats were already landing halibut. I managed to hook a nice 10-12 pounder. But as soon as it saw the net it said, "Adios". Due to mechanical failure, we returned to the harbor around 10:30am. I did manage to put a smile on my face when I discovered that my new Pro Gear 540 Albacore Special reel had arrived while I was out fishing. They even threw a shirt in for me too. Thanks guys!


June 13 — Got a call to hitchhike on a boat out of Santa Cruz for halibut. We ran up to San Gregorio and trolled around. No butts picked up our baits. However, on the edges where the sandy bottom changed to rock, we did pick up the occasional lingcod, which were promptly released. We began having trouble re-starting the engines, and the weather got a little snotty around Davenport on the way back, so we packed it in early.


June 3 — Yet another day aboard the Queen of Hearts fishing for salmon. We had a southerly kicking it up. The fish were feeding on krill, which made them pretty squirrelly. We also had a lot of drive-by-maulings on our bait. I came away with one nice one; the high-liner was a 30-pounder.


June 1 — I just spent 3 hours in the garage assembling my new rockfish arsenal... just one more month 'til the season opener.


May 20 — I tagged along with about a dozen others on the vessel Mallard out of Port San Luis, CA, for a Department of Fish & Game rockfish tagging trip. It started off with a little breeze and wound up blowing 25-30 knots, but due to the persistence of both the fishermen and the biologists we had a great day.

When the rockfish season opens later this year, I want to return to fish with Patriot Sportfishing, home of the Mallard. While the quality of rockfish and lingcod are comparable to what I find in my local waters, I enjoy a chance to visit some less traveled coastal towns like Morro Bay.


May 5 — While at Clear Lake, CA, for the Outdoor Writer's Association of CA annual conference, I took the (rare for me) opportunity to accompany a talented bass fishing guide, Steve Seals, on a day that was not yet quite warm enough to find a lot of them spawning. We scratched up 3 bass — strictly catch-and-release for this event. It was fun and gave me a chance to pick up some pointers on a totally different fishing style than what I'm accustomed to.


April 24 — My new Demon jigs arrived and they sent me a hat too! One of these days I'm going to have to fish with them "down under".


April 23 — Today I fished with Ken Stone on his private boat Tiderunner. We had limits on salmon in less than an hour with the largest fish weighing 22#. We used sardines on red RSKs and got one fish on a pearl Apex. I used the Shimano/Seeker outfit from April 20.


April 20 — In a "washing machine" ocean on the vessel Queen of Hearts out of Pillar Point Harbor, CA, I broke in a new Seeker Black Steel rod. I used a TLD10 with 20# Izorline. We trolled anchovies for salmon and the new rod performed beautifully! My largest fish was around 15#.

Link to my 2015 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2014 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2013 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2012 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2011 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2010 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2009 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2008 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2007 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2006 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2005 Fishing Diary

Link to my 2004 Fishing Diary

 
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