November 24, 2004
This report is dedicated to those who couldn't (Geoff, Daniel, Dennis) and to those who didn't ( David, Jim, Mike, Skeet, Tom) - go that is.
As the final refrains of the Fat Lady's tribute to the 2004 Marlin Season quietly faded away and local Albacore and Tuna fishing was winding down there came reports of late season catches from the likes of the Pacific Voyager out of Seaforth landing and the Relentless out of Fisherman's Landing. Magical places like "The Dumper," the "Worm Bank," and other such places worshiped by the local fuel docks would pop up on the various web site and sports pages (with the exception of the LA Times which no longer publishes the fishing reports). And, of course, the new golden rule for local fishing, the day and a half trips, became the only game in town. Often referred to as trips to the 1,000 gallon banks). The BigEye came for the Make-A-Wish Tuna Challenge and then disappeared. But the Yellowfin and Albacore have hung on and are slowly slipping away and now showing up off of Morro Bay, and further ports to the north. This year we saw exceptionally large Albacore throughout the summer and now, for reasons unknown, have seen the appearance of large numbers of midget (2-5 pound) longfins, probably looking around for their grand-parents.
Thus, for those following the local scene, we have seen in the past couple of weeks reports of 1 1/2 day trips of 110-120 miles - not quite suitable for the local private boaters considering 1 day trips. Twice a week you looked at the possibility of putting extra fuel on board (we only carry 300 gallons on the "Ken-Dan") tried to assembly a crew. But invariably the weather turned sour, the fishing reports were mixed, and getting 4 or 5 bodies together proved to be too difficult. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these are - it might have been."
But this week we heard reports of fish from 104 miles to as close as 95. And that will get your attention. It appeared that the fish were moving up and with reports from Saturday it was reasonable to believe that they would continue to keep moving - and looking at the Terrafin SSTs (no, not those retired supersonic jets, but the Sea Surface Temperatures) there appeared to be temp break curving around to the north-west with the fish hugging the warm water side. At the same time magical words appeared in the papers, on TV, radio, etc. Words like: "Barometric High." And words like: "Santa Ana Condition." And would you believe: "Tanner Bank Buoy 4 knots." And, finally, looking up in the sky, this was the week before the full moon (an arguable point to many, but gospel for others). This was too much to overlook. If you watch "The Longest Day" as often as I then you will recall Gen Eisenhower's words the niter before D-Day: "There it is! I don't like it, but I believe we have to go!" This was seconded by Gen. Montgomery who uttered: "I say go, go, go!" And go we decided.
"We" turned out to be the same cast of characters Dr. Ken Morris, Dr. Harry Okuda and (myself (Dr. Orthopedist 3/4 ret) so often seen on the "Ken-Dan's" roster - 3 eminently qualified as "hard core." On the Pete Gray-Marty Milner "Let's Talk Hook-up") radio show Ken and I are affectionately referred to as the (Make-A-Wish) Fishin Physicians. (And Harry, too, is one of the Make-Wish regulars.) But going 95 miles at 8 knots (to save on fuel) means an all night ride and, in order to get enough sleep, we tried to get a 4th and even a 5th. You know how that goes. 95 miles with frost warnings and who knows where the fish are interprets as "too much to do," "I'm tired," " we have a store sale coming up," "too many honey-dos," "getting ready for Thanksgiving," "I have to work," etc, etc, etc. (see the names in the above dedication). So when push came to shove (-off) it was just the three of us.
Cold? yup! I had on long undies, blue jeans, flannel shirt, sweat shirt, and jacket and we used a blanket to cover the legs. With only 3 of us it meant 3 hour shifts starting at 9 PM (running til 0600). The bait? Fantastic! With not too much fishing going on most of their bait sits and becomes equal to the more expensive "cured" variety. At the end of the trip there was one (1) dead "dine" at the bottom of the tank and only 3 or 4 in the bag. And we had one barrel of 55 gals of extra fuel which, as it turned out, was not needed.
The plan was to start at the 437-483/500 "bumps" (only about 80+ miles) and work to the south-east towards the 31-10/117-52 spot area (95 miles) - relating to information from 4 days earlier. We saw two commercial boats up there and that was that for the entire day. Never saw another boat (except for the Ensenada bound Love Boat. The weather? as advertised. What a pleasure. We followed the plan, but by 10 AM had only a double on skipjack tuna (aka "skippies"). Arriving at the 10/55 area we circled a bit and then I headed to the West. We then got bit on the "whiskey line" a small P/B Collector with chain gang running off the "bird." It sounded good and we started pulling lines. With that the boils popped up in the chum and we promptly hung 2 bait fish, followed by 2 more after the jig fish. All of these were "keepers" (i.e. 30 to 40+ pounds). That was 10:15. We "boxed" the area for naught and later managed 3 more skippies for the day. It was not til 1:45 at 13.7/57 that we got bit on a Zuker B/P with lime green head (of course) feather. This was followed by more boils and we got 5 of the larger Albies. Water temp was 65.3.
2:30 short bite on Cedar Plug - fish fell off - 15.6/56.1
2:54 - 2 midget albies - one on cedar plug and one on the Zuker feather 17.9/56.3
3:00 - 1 midget albie - cedar plug - 18.4/56.4
3:32 1 midget on Zuker feather 64.9 degrees 21.5/55.6
4:00 - Zuker feather - large albie - 4 bait fish 23/55
4:16 - Zuker feather - 1 large fish (turned out to be 45.64 pounds) and 4 bait fish. - 23.26/55.0
The sun was starting to go down and Harry was ready to call it quits. The final score was:
1 small yellow tail (on bait) released
5 skippies - released
4 midget albacore (2-4 pounds - the last one may have been closer to 1 pound)
17 Albacore - 30 to 45.64 pounds with at least over 40)
We were then about 81 miles from home and time to take off. Looking at the numbers we worked in a narrow band 117-55 to 56 from 31-10 straight up to 31-23. The temp was in the 64.9 to mostly 65.4 or so most of the way and only started to cool slightly as one followed that temperature break to the north-west. We trolled a P/B marauder - never got bit. We trolled one of Harry's "it worked well on tuna on the Ridge above Mag Bay" deep runners - never got bit. In addition to the small collector it was the Cedar plug and the two Zuker P/B line green head feathers. Kenneth accomplished three things: the largest albacore for our boat, the largest Albacore he had ever caught, and the smallest Albacore he had ever caught.