November 25, 2005

It looks like Wednesdays are now relegated to the list of Honey-Dos, golf, paying fuel bills, trying to straighten out the mess on the boats after a summer of fishing (only at times catching), paying the fuel bills, going down to the landings and watch the off-loading of the continued incredible long range 200(+) pd. 'cow' tunas, paying the fuel bills, and looking forward to the San Diego Boat and Fred Hall Tackle shows. This leaves us the other days of the week and with the Thanksgiving long week-end  (not too much football or B-ball, but time to digest Thursday's over-indulgence) it would seem that  Friday might be the time to sneak out there (i.e. an opportunity to create more fuel bills). J.D.'s recent reports indicated swordfish activity by the stick boats (5-10 miles off Delmar). With that bit of information and prediction of flat seas the three of us (Father and 2 sons) decided to slip out there and take a look.
    Unfortunately, 'someone' (I have strong suspicions) liberated  some great juicy looking mackeral that I had been curing over the past 3 weeks. But at least we had some large (not quite the behemoths of this summer) fresh squid. Stopping at #5 we picked up half a dozen perfect Marlin-sized greenies and then ran down to the hotel - for naught. So out we headed in the directions of the 'top-o-the 9' planning to look off La Jolla and heading north towards Delmar.
    The first positive sign was to find three net boats drifting along waiting for the 3 PM set-up time. The second positive sign was to find two plank boats working in the area. One of these appeared to be 'Big John' with his plank folded back against the mini-tower. Third positive sign was lots of bait in the area. But high tide had been at 0530, low slack tide at 1130 and the next high not til 1700 (as in 5 PM). But since it is getting dark by 5 we anticipated working our way back around 1400.
    There was morning fog that burned away. And true to the prediction by the weather man (not Nicholas Cage) the winds were less than 'light and variable' with flat, mostly glassy seas all day long. It sure made for good spotting: lots of varied colored balloons, birds sitting here and there, occasional garbage, and huge kelp patties (one of which yielded  a few more mackies - one of which was borderline larger than the others). Lots of low clouds in the morning and noon hours and didn't expect to see a spotter plane.
    We had worked up the line past Del Mar and turned around heading back south. In mid-afternoon the blue skie started to poke through. AT 1500 (3 PM) Daniel pointed out the sight of a spotter plane heading in our direction and towards the plank boat up above. He questioned why they were coming out so late. My reply was a suggestion that with the incoming tide and a late 'high' the fish might be showing a little later than normal. About two minutes later Daniel slammed on the brakes and uttered those magic words: 'Xiphias gladius' (actually he used the translation: SWORD FISH). And there they were - those two classic fins (Picture above) - sitting high and dry. We were just outside of the 178 and within minutes the plane found us and the plank boat, off in the distance, put it into the 'smokehole.'
    One of the beautiful squids had been rigged, went into the water and for the next 30 minutes it was the slow troll on one engine trying to keep up with the constantly turning prey - usually away from us. On at least two occasions Kenneth got the squid close to the creature and once it almost looked like it 'kicked' and headed towards the bait. But, not hungry. Perhaps a little too much turkey the day before. Slowly, the fins dropped deeper into the water with bare tipping. At times you could follow the swirl in the water. Finally, Ken threw the largest mackeral we had in the direction of the creature, but no go. This time it sank out and disappeared from sight. Of course, by this time the plank boat was on scene and as we ventured south we looked back and could see someone 'taking a walk,' but don't know the results.
    Well, it wasn't Wednesday, but still a little excitement. It was the only one we have seen this summer and to see one on Nov. 25 is a little special. Big weather front due this week-end, but prediction for the mid-week looks good. Maybe it's time to join the net boats for a little night trolling (see Saltwater Sportsman, Dec. issue). This may be it for the season, but who knows what the coming days might hold. After all, what's another fuel bill or two?