RRIII – 11/2/05
all arrived at San Diego with great anticipation of our ten day
fishing trip aboard the Red Rooster III. The previous 14 day trip to
the Hurricane Bank offered up 40 fish over 200 pounds! Our trip would
not make it down the coast that far, but the boats fishing in 10 day
range had caught some good fish over the past two weeks. It was with
this hope of good fishing that we all boarded the superb long range
fishing vessil RRIII. Again this year our group had some experienced
anglers and several guys for whom this was their first real long range
trip. We had guys from Ohio, Iowa, New Jersey, Texas, Washington,
Oregon... and California (from all over the state). This was a diverse
group of fishermen! There were guys from many occupations, doctors,
businessmen, post office employees, Marines, machinists, small
business owners… We all had one common passion: fishing. This was a
great group to fish with, very cooperative, great team spirit, not an arse in the bunch.
The previous year’s 8 day
CharkBait charter met some tough conditions, but we still managed to
scratch out a decent fish count (thanks to the last day’s, last hour’s
bite). That’s fishing, some trips hit it, some don’t, but the
experience is always educational and well worth the time. This year
several of the guys who suffered through tough conditions came along
again. We decided last year to extend the trip to 10 days time since
it allows you to work a spot longer, move further down the coast to
find the fish, and increase opportunities hit the bite.
We motored down the coast
for two days time, moving onto the “Ridge” to see if any wahoo had
come up the coast. Earlier there had been some great wahoo fishing,
but the bite had dropped off to almost nothing. The bigger excitement
centered on the large tuna that were a bit further down the coast off
Our first day’s fishing was
a good warm up on school size yellowfin to about 50 pounds and some
yellowtail. Our first fish this day was a trolled up wahoo, a good
size wahoo! It took a LARGE black Marauder/Bonita. After that we
caught no more wahoo, but lots of tuna and a few tail.
The second day Andy Cates
(our skipper) suggested rigging HEAVY for the large tuna that had been
further down the coast. These were the fish we had been reading about
on the RRIII website. All the reports suggested fishing heavy line,
over 100# or risk break-offs. These were some tough fish, in prime
condition. These were fish to test the gear and fishermen to the
limits of endurance. Punishing critters, all muscle, hungry and
willing to bite the heavy line!
Conditions on the fishing
grounds were excellent, a nice breeze, calm seas, small swell. After
lunch we put out lines, with most of the guys heading Andy’s words.
Smart guys. I of course wanted to try out one of the new reels I
bought, my second Tiburon SST. This time a 30 to go along with my 16.
Of course I also had a couple Avet SDS’s, a Penn International 50SW,
Accurate 665, 870, Newell 540 in 3.2:1….. Rods were Calstar and
Seeker, XXH-AR’s or
heavier. Many of the guys brought their Avet’s
SDS, a perfect reel for what had been reported.
Some even brought
along some shimano gear (naturally not my favorite given their
anti-competitive marketing practices and failure to upgrade gear which
a company more honestly dealing with competitive pressures would have
been forced to improve). [Sorry for the rant, but I think you’ll
understand my feelings about Shimano, and if you check the picture of
the blown up reel you’ll further understand my sentiments.]
To cut to the chase late in
the afternoon of our second day’s fishing we began hooking up. I
fished my 30, while most other guys wisely listened to Andy. I thought
we’d find more 100# fish, not so, not here. These were ALL BIG fish!
We had a enough wind to push the boat, and move hooked fish to the
bow. Never have I seen deckhands work so well at clearing lines,
un-tangling macramé spectra and mono. This second day’s fish was a
spectacular beginning to what lay ahead. The big 50 size gear on 6’
rods was indeed the way to go. Any of us that got hooked up quickly
realized the necessity of a great harness and belt system (Smitty’s
was the preferred rig, for good reason). We all got acquainted with
rail techniques, which allowed us to leverage the fish to take up line
and keep a hurt on the fish with a bent rod. Seeker’s Rail Rod, the
6’3” 6463XXXH AR Rail Rod proved it’s worth in this type of fishing.
So, how did the new Tib do for me? Well, I landed my yellowfin, about
170-180#, in a bit over an hour’s time. I had the rod on a Calstar
765M, short fluorocarbon leader with 135# Izorline Spectra backing it
up. In all honesty, I was undergunnned. The Tib got the fish, but the
rod was soft for this application. This is a far better 60-80# rig,
better for tuna under 150#. I got my butt handed to me, but with the
help of the deckhands I got the fish. The M version of the 765 really
didn’t offer the needed leverage. The H would have been a much better
choice, much better!
The next three days
featured more of the same, except we were better experienced than the
first day of fishing these hogs. I switched to Avet 50 SDS’s. I’m sure
glad I bought a second one! I had one rigged for macks, one for
sardines. On the first couple days the sardines definitely got bit
best. We stayed in the same area fishing the cows for four days, and
enjoyed every minute of the spectacular bite. We were landing many
fish well over 200 pounds and ended our stay in cow country with some
fish that were in the 300# range, our last two fish each came out to
On this trip we did it all,
everything you’d expect from a long range trip. We flew the kite,
used balloons to get the bait away from the boat and reduce tangles
since the balloons and kite rigs ended up on the opposite side of the
boat from the bait most often. We also had to use the skiff to chase
down one fish that would not be pulled using conventional rod/reel.
Regarding the kite, Accurate donated a couple 80’s for use on the
kite. They were machines! But, the drag was set heavy. Two anglers
came close to being pulled into the water when they weren’t tuned into
their heavy drag! The Accurates were set for 40#’s of drag at strike.
If you were on the kite and not paying attention to your balance and
you pushed the lever all the way to strike you were in for a big
We had two more days
fishing before heading up the Baja coast to San Diego. We’d done the
big tuna, now most of the guys wanted a shot at wahoo. We didn’t get
into a wide open wahoo bite, but we did land a few more as well as
some yellowtail and a few bottom scratchers.
Howard Konishi @ 306, John Tompson @ 255, Paul Heggstad @ 253
When the skipper says rig heavy, do it!
Good things come to those who wait, show persistence, or simply
take a break and have a shower to get the skunk off ‘em. You see this
one often. A guy just can’t buy a bite. If they keep doing what
they’ve been doing they probably won’t get bit. Sometimes all you need
to do to change your luck is to take a break and make a fresh start.
Some days the sardines seemed to get bit better, other days the
mackerel. Our largest fish did come from fishing mackerel. Naturally,
the heavy line was easier for the macks to swim. Keep your options
open and try to check what other guys are having success using.
Shorter topshots definitely do help a bait swim better, but the
angler has an obligation to keep a a tight feel to the bait and not
have line looping out all over the place (which will tangle everyone
along the rail…) It’s a technique that’s not at all appropriate for
inexperienced anglers or on boats filled with fishermen.*
Wind-on leaders do flow through the guides more effortlessly,
but we also had six or more come undone! My personal preference still
is a loop to loop connection and the Bimini/Albright. They’re fast to
rig and reliable. Spectra used for wind-ons isn’t like Dacron. It’s
much more slippery, so mono can slide through even if you do “serve”
the transition point. The guys that know the most about this style of
rigging are the East Coast bluefin anglers targeting the giants.
They’ll stuff the mono 10-16 feet up into the spectra and then also
whip every 18-24 inches. It’s a personal bias others won’t necessary
agree with, but there were some fish lost due to the served
connections and Chinese finger trap leaders failing. For fishing mono
at 100# on spectra of 135# there is no need from a knot diameter
standpoint to do anything other than a Bimini/Albright connection.
Check your drags! Not only should you use a spring scale to set
your own reel’s drag each day it’s also important to double check the
gear you may be borrowing, such as the boat’s kite rig.
For wahoo fishing, definitely sharpen your hooks to dangerous
degree. Once hooked up keep the pressure on the fish. Once you slack
off chances are very good that the fish will come unbuttoned. I lost
two shots at wahoo at our last stop, got picked up on a Catchy Sea
Strike 33 and dumped both opportunities. Wind, wind wind!!!
Buy a Quality belt and harness rig for fishing these big fish. The
Smitty system is the brand of choice - for good reason.