Every once in a while I get a call from someone that has put together a trip sounding so fun, I just can’t pass it up. A lot of it has to do with who will be on the trip, and this trip included a cast of Captains, watermen and really fun guys. Taylor is an old friend and his boat partner Richard used to be a Captain for Bongos back when I ran the RailTime. Richard’s guest Bryan turned out to be one hell of a hot stick on this trip, and Taylor’s guest Tommy did a tour in the Coast Guard. Finally we had Ryan Simmons, another old friend from Seal Beach that has this super high energy for fishing that is truly contagious. All six of us “good on a boat”, you just can’t beat that.
Making a decision proved difficult, and comical. We were all so willing to concede any responsibility that no one would actually take command of the trip. “You want to stop and get some fin bait?” “Whatever you guys want to do.” It went like that the whole trip. We actually woke up Nacho and then decided not to even buy bait. I had brought along one of my COB underwater lights and there is squid right out from of the harbor, so we opted to catch a quick tank of squish. As always, catching squid is a real crowd pleaser, and everyone on the boat got involved. With tanks full of squid and buckets of fresh dead we headed for Catalina, still not able to come up with a game plan. With everyone on board still so excited after making bait, we were going fishing, not sleeping.
First stop was the middle of the front. The wind was blowing and it wasn’t until we were tight to the island did we feel a little of the effects of the lee. I metered along the rocks to find a spot of bass, and be close enough so the guys could get in the water for a lobster dive. Finally the anchor went over the side, and Tommy, Richard and Taylor suited up while Ryan and I got to work trying to get the bass to bite. The bass did not bite wide open, but we did pick away at straight legals. For the boys diving lobsters they had the opposite luck, lots of shorts and just a handfull of legals.
From there we headed up to Eagle Reef to get some sleep. There were 5 squid lights boats there and one of them was sitting right where I was thinking we would anchor for the morning bite. I picked a second choice spot and we all got a little sleep. By now it was after 3am, and sunrise was coming fast.
In the morning we headed west for something big to pull on. What we found were some promising conditions, with not a single exotic hooked. Around the West End we went and headed down the back. It wasn’t until we reached Pedestal Rock that we found some really fantastic calico bass action. The bass quickly responded to our chum and stacked up behind the boat, every bait was a bite but still no exotics. Taylor suited up and jumped in with a spear gun to confirm my suspicions, the exotics just weren’t there. So we pulled the hook and continued east.
It was a long move down to Freddy’s Kelp, and the conditions were ideal. Ripping uphill current and the kelp was laid down completely. The 10kts of wind out of the west could not overpower the current, and we sat perfectly in position. Again, the bass responded but the exotics just were not there. This time both Richard and Taylor jumped in, but saw nothing but a large school of barracuda in the kelp. The bass fishing was off the hook, and nobody complained.
Still wanting a shot at a yellow or seabass we continued east, looking hard the whole way. A quick stop at Orange Rocks produced nothing in good conditions. We poured the chum here and caught nothing. The last stop was the East Quarry where the guys got the bass biting, Taylor jumped in and finally saw a single yellowtail and I took a short nap. When I woke up Richard was almost done filleting calicos and sheepshead, and the boys were cleaning the boat like a well trained crew. I felt bad that I had slept through the cleanup process and offered to relieve someone, anyone. “We got it” was the response I got so I took the helm for the ride home. Everyone caught up on a little sleep, then came up to the bridge for more great conversation and laughs.
We’d found some perfect conditions but never hooked an exotic all day. What we did catch was a lot of fun and it seemed everyone on board was looking for just that. Back at the dock Taylor commented to me how great it was to have so many guys that know what they are doing on a boat, and I agreed wholeheartedly. Six guys all together for a good time and not once did I hear a single complaint or disagreement. Next time I get the call to go with Taylor and Richard on their 37′ sportfisher “Four Day” (they are firemen, and “Four Day” is a reference to a fireman’s days off) I will not hesitate to grab my gear and go.