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Thread: S.W.A.T. Goes Long

  1. #1

    Default S.W.A.T. Goes Long

    So, fortunately I completed my S.W.A.T. challenge shortly before I left on this trip or it woulda been titled “Wannabe S.W.A.T. Guy Goes Long”. I left on Sat., September 8th for an 8 day adventure on the Royal Polaris.

    We got off a little later than expected because of some problems with the AC but the captain, Roy Rose, had the repairman come aboard and fix it while they went to get bait. So, in the long run, we ended up getting out of the harbor sooner and with a first crack at bait over the other 3 boats that left that same day.

    While we were all waiting I ran into a guy with this shirt on that reminded me of Mike (Bones).


    Our jump granted us first hit at the Rocks, and, since no one had been there in a week, a good shot at some wahoo. If you’ve never seen or heard of Alijos Rocks, it’s pretty amazing...and an INCREDIBLE fish magnet. Three pinnacles that shoot up from the water in the middle of nowhere 440 or so miles from San Diego...two days travel to get there.

    The day we boarded, the usual prep and speeches. Mostly sleep for me.

    Day 2
    - More prep. Hit a few kelps and a had a couple jig strikes. I only tied up a 50lb. jig stick and a 30lb. bait stick cuz I figured we weren’t seriously hunting yet. I managed 3 rat tunas and a chicken dorado for the day...all donated to the galley. Most my time was spent making topshots. Yes, I’m one of those nuts who “serve” with the clamps and bowstringer.


    If you’ve never seen it, go check out the Blackwater booth at the Fred Hall show. They usually have a demonstator. It’s an incredibly low-profile and secure way to connect mono or flouro to hollow spectra...but it takes a lot of time and pateince.

    Day 3
    - The Rocks. We weren’t scheduled to arrive till 10am so I had a few hours to finalize my gear and put all of my reels on my rods. No sooner did Roy yell to put the marauders in the water did the reels start screaming and the first wahoo hit the deck. On the words “hook-up”, jigs went flying and strikes were immediate. I say strikes and not hook-ups cuz, if you’ve ever fished wahoo before, you know the success rate isn’t high. I don’t use wire on jigs, and paid the price for it...literally. But even the people using wire were getting bit off. These things were hungry and hit with reckless abandon, having not seen a boat in a week. Wahoo are notorious for getting boat-shy if fished heavily. The week’s rest gave us better chances at a score. We got a quick score, but it didn’t last.


    We landed 29 fish and I only got this one. I lost 3 jigs, which actually wasn’t that bad considering I had about a dozen takes...I just couldn’t get the damned things to stick.




    After a lap around the rocks, it seemed that we had worn out our welcome so we headed out to a bank to try for some olive grouper. We all had some shots but only a handful made it to the boat.


    I got rocked once and only ended up with this little guy.


    Once we had given it a rest, Roy decided to give the Rocks another go, but the wahoo weren’t having any of it. We finally dropped the pick and tried for tuna. I got things started with the first bait fish...a meager 20ish lber. Unfortunately, that was the only tuna that made it to the boat. We hooked three good fish on the kite and all were eaten by the sharks in a matter of seconds. Even a 40lb. wahoo was creamed by a shark right at gaff. As Roy put it...“that [damned] thing was so big, it sucked down that wahoo like a piece of licorice.” He thought it looked to be about a 10 ft. bronze whaler, but we also saw a whitetip prowling the area. Well, Roy wasn’t having any of it and he said, “we didn’t come out here to feed those [bleepin] things....let’s the [bleep] outta here.” But before departing, we had one more order of business. A fellow angler, John Komaru, had past away last year. He had a heart attack when getting off a five day trip and was only in his late 40’s...not much older than me. Very sad moment.




    His friends had brought his ashes to be scattered at the Rocks. They said a few words and after a moment of silence, Roy said, “alright, John wants us to go kill some fish!” So, we took off for better hunting grounds...and boy did we find ‘em!


    Day 4
    - We arrived at a location closer to the mainland, trolled a bit for a pick here and there, then dropped the pick on the mother lode. The yellowfin tuna fishing went nuts.

    Just the beginning...


    Our chartermaster with one of the nicer fish for the day.


    Everyone got their fair share...and that doesn’t even count the hundreds (and there were at least 500) of the 2-5lb. yellowtail and skipjack that we threw back just to get to the yellowfin. We did scrape up a few better grade yt but it was all about the yft that day. That is until this stray bluefin decided to join the party.


    It ended up being the only one caught on our entire trip...and it was prowling around in 83 water. I’d say he was a little out of his element...but I’ll take it. Most the fish were in the 15-20lb. class, with some smaller and a handful in the 25-35lb. class. I even spent a couple of hours throwing a surface plug at ‘em. A few guys were throwing surface iron and the deckhands asked if I had a plug to throw. It was SO much fun watching these fish blow up on it. It funny how much they miss the hook though. I only hooked one tuna which came unbuttoned, but I didn’t care...it was just fun to watch. I did manage a few skipjack. I had already landed enough fish for the day. When the surface bite slowed, I switched back to bait and one of the deckhands, Mike, asked if he could fling the plug. He landed a skippy on each of his first two casts and stuck a tuna on his third. My mistake was not retying after that fish, cuz about an hour later when I was throwing it...POP...bye bye plug. Last time I ever go out with just one of those in the box.

    One thing I did notice throughout the day...if you didn’t cast out more than 30 feet and have your bait swim away from the boat, you ended up with a rat yt or skippy. Even the plug and surface iron would only yield tuna strikes at the extent of your cast. As it got closer to the boat....only skippy love. AND, not that I needed any more tuna that day, but my success got limited by a new experience in equipment failure. Not rod, reel or line....but freakin’ FlexxRap tape! This is VERY important if you use this stuff...and NO fault of the manufacturer. I keep rolls of this stuff in my garage, and although I’ve used old FlexxRap before with no problems other than it being maybe a little dry and less sticky, I found a new problem...HEAT. My garage gets a little hot and I’m guessing the heat caused a reverse effect. This stuff got sticky/gummy and was adhering to the spectra...to the point where it would stop a cast in mid-flight. It also would prevent the reel from free-spooling when a bait was running. I ended up having to strip off about 50-100 yards of spectra on four of my reels and throwing it away. No big deal cuz we never dealt with fish big enough to spool me, but it’s probably gonna cost me a couple of hundred to replace that line to top off my spools. Hard lesson to learn. I had to switch to gloves for a little while since my hands were already cut up from spectra burns. That didn’t last long cuz the damned gloves started to make my hands numb...circulatory problem I have even when I wear mountain biking gloves. Fortunately, the charter master had a couple rolls to lend me for the duration of the trip.


    Day 5
    - So, starting back where we left off, we went back to picking at the tuna. I got a few more and after a couple of hours, Roy decided to move on for a change of pace. We hit the throttles for a few hours and moved up to an area to try for some grouper but came up short. We then hit an area for some yt drifts that yielded a couple per rod for everyone. Then it was off to replenish our bait supply. We made some macks and squid that night, in what was probably the worst weather we had for the whole trip...and even that wasn’t THAT bad.

    my best fish of the day...for the boyz!



    Day 6
    - We made another move and found ourselves sitting in a yt honeyhole. It was an INSANE yo-yo bite. There were a handful of fish caught on bait in the beginning but it died and it became apparent that these fish wanted to kill anything that was moving fast and trying to flee. If you reeled slow because you got a little tired, which happened a lot, you probably weren’t gonna get bit, but as soon as you put that jig in after-burner speed it got NAILED. These were nice 18-25lb. grade and all you could want. I was fried by 4pm and ready for drinks. They bit well into dark and we ended up leaving them biting.




    Day 7 - After leaving those yellows, we moved on to an island about fifty miles up the coast. Roy and said that we’d be in position at about 3:30am and anyone who wanted to wake up and try for a WSB could give it a go with a squid on a dropper loop. I had full intentions of waking up, but my body had other ideas. I slept in till about 5:30 and woke with the sky still dark. No one who woke ended up catching anything, but shortly after we got the sleep out of our eyes and dropping jigs and bait, the yt started going off again. We were told that we needed about 70 more to make boat limits, so I pitched in and dusted a handful more...just cuz I wanted out of there to go do something else. We finished up and went calico hunting, but the current wasn’t working with us and we only managed a handful. I got three little ones on swimbaits in the couple of drifts that we made but Roy decided it was on to more fruitful grounds. We motored offshore for a few hours and found ourselves pulling jigstops for a 5 or 10 spot here and there...then...BINGO! WFO tuna again. We did a drift that most people kill for, but again, it was all schoolies. We left those biting and moved on to try to find some bigger quarry.




    Day 8 - We worked our way up for our last day to try and find some better grade or BFT to fill the slots in the hold. We had a couple of small hits on jig strikes but later found a kelp with a trashbag marker. It had fish all over the meter, but this thing had been hit by a couple other boats and they didn’t want to play much. You could tell it had seen other boats cuz the first dorado I boated had another line trailing out if its mouth and no one on our boat had broken off. The next fish I got, another small yft, was really a key sign of earlier boat traffic cuz it already had gaff hole in its head...not deep but I guess he didn’t learn the first time. We managed a decent hit on the dodos. I got 3 and a couple more small tuna.










    The three biggest tuna came out of that spot, 39, 42 and 49lbs., and we felt like it probably had some nice fish around but it never really got going for us so we started off to make our way up the line. On what turned out to be our last stop of the trip, we got a single jig strike. I only had one rig still tied up (30lb.) cuz we were all starting to breakdown our gear. As I was dropping back a bait, was thinking to myself “What the hell am I doing? Do I really want another tuna?” I guess the hope for something a little bigger was still brewing and, sure enough, I get bit. It was the only bait hookup and I could tell it was just another little guy. I horsed him to the boat and as the deckhand was reaching out with the gaff, we started cracking up cuz the little cuz was going nuts doing zig-zags next to the boat to get free. He was belly-hooked and after going ballistic for a few seconds, pulled the hook. A VERY fitting end to the trip. I bid him fairwell and figured I’ll wait for him to put on about 60lbs. for our next bout.

    Full fish holds...



    Throughout the whole trip we ended up having quite a few other boats pull up to us, but although they had a day here and there, most weren't able to put together as successful a trip as ours. Roy and the crew had put us on fish at every spot we went. Other than the lack of any real big-uns, we couldn’t have asked for better fishing...solid boat limits for a great group of guys...and one gal.






    Hope you enjoyed the read...
    Don
    Last edited by bachiboy; 09-18-2012 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #2
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    Unreal trip, only read half.
    Gotta go to work, thanks.
    DR

  3. #3

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    WOW Don!!!
    You have to be a real hard core fisherman to stay on a boat for eight straight days...
    Seems like everyone had a great time and limits for all is always a welcomed site.
    Sorry to read about the tape but at least you managed to get some from other people.
    I'm glad you got your target fish and look forward to some tuna at the HG4 event.
    Again, I am sorry i didn't come down to the docks on Sunday but I just didn't want to be greedy when I had already caught some albies on Friday.
    Now that you got your long range fix, it's time to get back in the surf and try to get a 30" hali with me...
    I look forward to seeing you at HG4, if not sooner.
    Robert
    <><

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    Wow Don... what an epic S.W.A.T. report, you guys killed it!
    The longest trip I've ever been on is a 3-day trip years ago on the Big Game Trilene. Eight days! That's hardcore bro.
    Thanks for the text, I would have drove to your house to pick up the fish but had a flight to catch. Put those fillets in the freezer for me.
    Between you, Robert and Mikey... we have plenty of smoked Tuna for the HG4 event.

    This is a great pic.



    So is this one...
    Last edited by Wingnut; 09-18-2012 at 12:05 PM.
    Arthur (Wingnut)

    "All know the Way, but few actually walk it..."


  5. #5
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    Welcome back Don.

    very nice long trip. congrat to your catch. I wish I could just have 1.5 day trip LOL...

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    WOW, that second half of the post was epic.
    What island is in the pic 15 or is that the mainland ?
    Congrats on the trip of a lifetime.
    XLNT pics too, thanks.
    DR
    Last edited by DockRat; 09-18-2012 at 07:31 PM.

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    Man that trip must of been sick! The read and pictures was amazing, especially the last one.

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    Nothing like a Long Range trip for variety, very early in the year for the bigger YFT, a school of brute BFT would of added spice. Great report.

    Cory

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by murrieta angler View Post
    WOW Don!!!
    You have to be a real hard core fisherman to stay on a boat for eight straight days...
    Seems like everyone had a great time and limits for all is always a welcomed site.
    Sorry to read about the tape but at least you managed to get some from other people.
    I'm glad you got your target fish and look forward to some tuna at the HG4 event.
    Again, I am sorry i didn't come down to the docks on Sunday but I just didn't want to be greedy when I had already caught some albies on Friday.
    Now that you got your long range fix, it's time to get back in the surf and try to get a 30" hali with me...
    I look forward to seeing you at HG4, if not sooner.
    Robert
    <><

    No worries about not being able to make it down to the docks that morning man. Just glad you were able to get some albies...which is more than most people can say this season. I wish I coulda figured out that tape problem before I ruined four of my setups, but oh well, didn't stop me from slayin' em that day. Probably kept me from going overkill...literally. Hope we get a chance to get out there to find that 30" flattie, but if not, we'll get it at HG4.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingnut View Post
    Wow Don... what an epic S.W.A.T. report, you guys killed it!
    The longest trip I've ever been on is a 3-day trip years ago on the Big Game Trilene. Eight days! That's hardcore bro.
    Thanks for the text, I would have drove to your house to pick up the fish but had a flight to catch. Put those fillets in the freezer for me.
    Between you, Robert and Mikey... we have plenty of smoked Tuna for the HG4 event.
    That actually wasn't the longest trip I've ever been on, but damn I must be gettin old cuz it felt like a LONG time out there. Maybe cuz it was so bleepin' hot out there. On one day, me and two other guys stayed on the shady side of the boat pullin on the YT. It didn't take long for others to catch on to what we were doin and started poachin our rail spots. I've been in touch with Mikey about getting some of this fish over to HG4 for everyone to enjoy. I thought you'd enjoy those photos. I just wish we had got into some bigger models (fish that is). I took five of those "Property" signs to stick to fish but I guess it just wasn't in the cards this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by koifish View Post
    Welcome back Don.

    very nice long trip. congrat to your catch. I wish I could just have 1.5 day trip LOL...
    Thanks Mr. C! I was wishin I was on one of those 1.5 day trips too, at one point. A couple of those guys got into those 60-100lb. bluefin. The grass is always greener...as they say.


    Quote Originally Posted by DockRat View Post
    WOW, that second half of the post was epic.
    What island is in the pic 15 or is that the mainland ?
    Congrats on the trip of a lifetime.
    XLNT pics too, thanks.
    DR
    Thanks DR! That picture is actually the mainland. I wish I could say that we made it to Cedros, but the Mexican govt. has put a stop to that, which is a real shame cuz I love fishing that island.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ifishtoolittle View Post
    Man that trip must of been sick! The read and pictures was amazing, especially the last one.
    That was pretty close to as wide open as it gets. You know you've put the hurt on em, when everyone is just sitting around and saying they've had enough...everyday.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tunaslam View Post
    Nothing like a Long Range trip for variety, very early in the year for the bigger YFT, a school of brute BFT would of added spice. Great report.

    Cory
    Wish we coulda got the bigger models we saw, and hooked, at the Rocks. The three fish we hooked on the kite looked like they were 60-70 lbers. We saw a couple of nicer fish go airborne in the chum, but the sharks weren't gonna let us have any of em, so we got the heck outta there. We tried on the last day two days to find those bluefin but they ran up closer to home, as a couple of 1.5 day boats found out. I was in the wheelhouse when the skipper of the Excel was talking about the 192lb. bluefin they got. The guy was night fishing with a whole squid for escolar. When Roy gave us an update after dinner that night and was going over what our plans were, I raised my hand and said that I wanted to go escolar fishing. He just busted up laughing and said we'd get our chance in a couple of days. Just not meant to be, but god knows we did enough slayage.
    Last edited by bachiboy; 09-20-2012 at 03:14 PM.

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