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SA80 bags YFT at SCI for WON charter


Western Outdoor News Staff Writer

Point Loma—The annual 2.5-day Western Outdoor News charter aboard the 80-foot sportfisher Sea Adventure 80 ran long and hard to explore the waters around San Clemente Island. Known for its great yellowtail and calico bass action, SCI had recently shown signs of schoolie-sized yellowfin offshore and bigger model YFT close-in.

The 30-anglers, all guys, scheduled for this trip loaded up early and began stowing gear and getting settled. As of the 8:00 p.m. departure fall weather had yet to come to Southern California with tuna and warm water still coming across the border from Mexico in a never ending flood.

The usual deck-talk began with concerns as to where night driver and second Captain, Paul Panello, might run overnight. A call from Captain Harbour over the p.a. outlined the plan.

“We’ll go out and get bait and while we are there at the receiver I’ll fill you guys in on where we are headed,” came the announcement as SA80 pulled away from the H&M docks. While the grey light of morning was still hours away anglers considered where the charter was headed when reports of limit-style tuna bites south of the border had been all the news in recent weeks.

The answer came shortly as everyone gathered into the roomy galley salon for the briefing by the skipper and deckhand, Roman Rodriquez.

The two crewmen explained the intel, the plan for the next couple of days, and why it was the right way to fish.

“Today the tuna have moved up around San Clemente Island,” began the skipper. “Some of the better grade yellowfin are right up against the island but they are hard to find and spotty so we will start off in the morning at an area below the island a few miles and see if we can find the bigger schools of fish there.”

“Once we have loaded up offshore we can move up into the waters near the island and hunt for the larger fish around that area,” concluded Capt. Harbour.

Young SA80 Captain, Gavin Harbour, set his sights on the waters between Point Loma and San Clemente Island and pointed the boat northward after loading some huge ‘dines at the bait receiver and the bumpy ride to the island got underway.

The 74-mile run out around Pt Loma to SCI began with several great sponsor supplied gifts for everyone aboard and a few great raffle prizes as well. Trokar ponied up a pack of their great, surgically sharpened hooks for everybody aboard and Sufix sent out two spools of monofilament for guys to load reels while on this exciting fishing adventure.

Williamson lures had supplied a set of fillet knives for the crew and several jigs including their “Tuna Catcher Rig”, raffled off and run out the next morning at the start of troll rotations.

Costa Sunglasses provided a pair of the sweet shades for the skipper and another for the lucky angler taking the big fish of the trip. Okuma sent a new Okuma Cortez reel for the same lucky angler for boating the biggest fish.

Gathered on the bow, everyone listened to deckhand Roman explain all the nuance of fishing aboard Sea Adventure 80 with big ‘dines. The tuna shuffle was emphasized but another bit of wisdom came from Roman.

“If we all work together and show some heart, these fish are gonna feel it and we are really going to get on top of them. I think they know when we show heart, then they respond, and that’s when we will load up!” exclaimed the seasoned, yet young, deckhand.

Engines eased around 4:30 a.m. and a waiting game began. Arriving into the zone Capt. Harbour did not want to run in the dark past any kelp paddies that might be holding fish. A few anglers tossed out jigs during the hours wait till dawn.

Under grey skies and decreasing seas the wind laid down to show grease smooth waters and SA80 got under way once again.

Trolling rotations were set out and several kelps appeared on the waters nearby. Each kelp paddy gave up a few rat yellowtail and a spot of yellowfin. The skipper allowed that we would not be keeping any yellowtail under 10-pounds and these fish were released unharmed.

After the rock star cook, Johnny Arrowsmith, set out breakfast of Eggs Benedict (“Just like we eat at home!” exclaimed angler and WON associate, Ted Reed) an excited call came from the crow’s nest.

“180, 180, behind us, a big paddy!” called deckhand Rodriguez from high up in the bucket. Eagle-eye crew member, Billy Santiago, had seen the kelp earlier but somehow it had gotten behind SA80. Responding quickly Capt. Harbour swung the boat around and steamed for the floating mass of weed.

As the boat approached the kelp sonar marks went off the chart, troll rigs were wound-in, and the call to toss out baits led to controlled chaos. Immediately the anglers at the back of the boat had their rods go bendo while those up the side rails had to wait almost 20-seconds to get bit.

Tangles started right off and working over, under, and around, rods were flipped by junior deckhand Timathy Mansker like a pro. A few fish broke away in the turmoil but most hooked tuna came to the gaff and over the rail.

Staying calm and working the right bait were key to the success of the “hot-stick” for the trip, angler Don Dalton, of Banning. Don often fishes the WON charters and usually has his son along for the trip. Fishing solo this trip meant Don could concentrate on the fishing first, and that’s just what he did.

“I use 30-pound fluorocarbon and a smaller sized hook and then twist on a ½-ounce weight about 18-inches above the hook,” confided Don between fish. “I always look for the bait that is hardest to catch in the hand well, and that’s the one I use.”

When the bite goes ballistic, and this stop was all of that, Sea Adventure 80 owner/operator, Scott McDaniels, has a unique set of rules for his crew. First, get out the tangles; second get fish on the gaff; third help guys to get bit; and fourth, tag fish for the kill box.

For that reason, early-on, everyone is shown how to use the gill-plate staple guns and tags so they can mark their own fish when it’s “on.” Gaffing your own fish is frowned upon, but some guys can’t wait.

Angler Cary Lemas, who had traveled down from Roseville for the WON Charter, took matters into his own hands, gaffing and landing a yellowfin tuna for another angler while passing along the rail. Cary had never gaffed a fish before but his deft moves and quick stroke with the hook looked like a pro in action. Lemas fishes hard with his favorite Tady jig hanging from his long-stick.

Angler Ted Reed fishes to feed the homeless. His entire catch, usually a limit of whatever fish he is after, goes to a shelter he works with that feeds hundreds of homeless men, women, and families each day. Hot-stick angler, Don Dalton helped by donating some of his catch to the cause.

After 1-1/2-hours of steady action more than 80 YFT were tucked into the newly reworked refrigerated seawater fish-holds, or RSW systems aboard SA80. McDaniels has added a third, backup system so the boat has three systems for its two RSW holds. No chance of their being any spoilage here. It was time to move on.

Shortly before 3:00 p.m. the p.a. rang out with “We are marking fish,” as Capt. Harbour saw a dome of better grade fish on the meter. Just a few short miles offshore from San Clemente Island it was an odd spot to be fishing tuna.

The bite hit strong for the next ½-hour and then the fish simply vanished, but not before another 35-yellowfin were resting comfortably in the icy sea water below deck.

The El Nino Summer keeps rolling along and brings with it excitement and an increase in sea life activity. An unusual sighting of a huge blue marlin cruising just below the surface and a few feet away from SA80’s stern gave everyone seeing the beautiful and rare fish a deep thrill. And the tax man made a showing in the form of a tuna-eating hammerhead that would not quit.

With the sun lowering over SCI Sea Adventure 80 moved in-shore to a spot along Pyramid Cove along with 50 other boats, both personal craft and sportboats from far and wide. The word had gotten around that the fish were here.

While on the hook, safely tucked into the cove, the crew cleaned fish and the anglers gorged on “Mountain Roasted Chicken” by SA80 cook, Johnny. The poker tourney that followed did not keep most anglers for their much needed rest.

Still in early morning darkness the skipper moved the boat back offshore to a spot 2-miles off Pyramid Rock, before the rest of the fleet even rubbed the sleep from their eyes.

But the morning rolled by without much action until just around lunchtime (Loaded-Up Meatloaf!) when a spot of fish showed on the sonar. The few stragglers turned into a screen covering swirl of color as the sonar marks bled together into a block of red.

“This is it,” shouted the 19-year-old captain of Sea Adventure 80. “Get out the big gear this is a better grade of tuna and lots of ‘em!”

Unprepared for the big fish, a few anglers broke off right away, but those that heeded the skipper’s call and switched to heavy gear began to boat fish of 25-to-30-pounds. The bite would continue for the next hour and then another school would be found. And then another.

During the frenzied bite father-and-son team, Bruce and Ryan Albert managed a pair of bookend 25-pounders leading to high-fives and big smiles for the duo. Throughout the trip the group of firefighters and paramedics that had come out together also were usually tied in fish at the rail.

Firefighter and WON charter regular, Mark Shultz, Moorpark, had a particularly good stop on day-two when he picked up a 33-pound yellowfin for the jackpot winning fish of the trip. For his victory not only did Schultz get the substantial jackpot money but he also took home the Costa Sunglasses and a new Okuma Cortez reel.

With so much action it was bound to happen.

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. the bait ran out. No more sardines were left alive in the tanks and none could be bargained for from other boats. Anglers rigged up their best mega-baits, plastics and jigs and waited for the troll rods to sing.

After two hours with no sign of fish and silence coming from the troll, the decision to head for home came almost as a relief to most anglers aboard. The gear was packed and the fish were cleaned and a delicious meal of Dry-rubbed Rib-Eye Roast was served.

Then it was off to the staterooms for a rest on the run back to H&M where SA80 would unload at 5:30 a.m., a few hours earlier than anticipated.

With big numbers of yellowfin still biting into the fall, and spots of bluefin showing every now and then, Sea Adventure 80 will be doing its usual great job of getting on top of the fish while showing a huge amount of heart.



Contact info:

H&M Landing
2803 Emerson Street
San Diego, CA , 92106

Open Party 619 222 1144

Charter Line 619-247 8971


Ted Reed, Fishing to Feed the Homeless

909-591-5938 on

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  • Last modified on Sunday, 14 June 2015 01:50
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