Talent

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When I was 15 I was really into motocross.  I had the newest bike with all the aftermarket accessories and matching helmet and gear.  I looked factory, I really did.  Rode every weekend I could, and got the places we visited wired.  Then one trip in particular I got a serious dose of humble pie.  My older sister had a boyfriend that had raced motocross in the past, and he challenged me to a race.  Well, I knew this little track like the back of my hand, and had the latest and greatest everything, so “bring it on!!”.  The boyfriend proceeded to get on my Dads 1970 Kawasaki 90.  A bike with springs in the back for suspension and a metal gas tank.  “NO WAY could this guy even keep up with me”, or so I thought.  He literally dusted me, blew me away.  As we got off our bikes he looked at me and said one word……..”Talent”.  Lesson learned.

These days the fishing industry in my little world has gotten quite competitive.  FaceBook is a daily reminder of just how bad it is, with posts of guys holding fish and comments that can include a solid trashing and photos of one-upmanship.  Simple conversations easily turn into a contest of who has done what and who did it better, probably where the term “fish story” came from.  Embellishments and adjectives abound.  Funny how when fellow chest pounders end up side by side fishing together there is always someone that is having their worst day ever, or so they say.

I escaped competitive team sports, surfing and motocross simply because fishing was more “fun.”  Now I too find myself feeling a bit competitive more than I like.  To really be able to chill out and relax, I’ll need a chair and some Power Bait for some trout action.  Running boats as a hired operator has big expectations, none set higher than the one I set for myself, but do I have the talent?  I have the time on the water, and the been-there-done-that, yet I still fall short of my visions of glory most of the time.  I know as an angler I can’t hold a candle to some of the company I keep, but as an operator I seem to do just enough to not want to throw in the towel just yet.

The big question here is, why is fishing so competitive to me these days?  I was told when I got my Captains License that fishing would become work and not play, but this is over the top.  Have I been sucked into the internet and FaceBook as an alternate reality?  Very possible.  What I do know is this, I stack the odds in my favor as much as possible to offset whatever I lack in actual talent.

You’ve read it all here before.  Leave early, stay late, avoid crowds and so-on.  I take those things very seriously, it makes all the difference.  Having anglers with talent on the boat helps a bunch too.  If I’m going to run the “Fresh One” and Bob Elliott is going to be on the boat, I already have one foot in the winners circle, that guys just plain makes me look good.  I prefer to fish when the weather is less than ideal, simply because its thins the crowd.  Hearing about a bite somewhere is a huge advantage, because that means somewhere else is untouched and can be scouted completely without hassle.

Last few years there has been one thing above all that has helped me to accomplish the goals I set for myself enough to keep me coming back, and that is learning and adapting.  I’d never have picked out a mint colored Tady 45 in a million years, but thanks to the internet I saw time and time again it was a killer color.  For years I put all my effort into the slack high tide for seabass, only to watch the pattern change to the slack low is as at least as good as the high.  Drifting for squid instead of anchoring?  Who knew?  I might not anchor while making squid again until it changes, and change it will.

So I admit I’m not the gifted one, born with enough talent to make it easy.  I still want to catch more and bigger fish than the other guy, but I’m happy to see my buddies do well.  I stick to what works for me until it doesn’t work anymore, then I adapt to what does work, best I can.  Maybe one day we can all line up and figure out who’s the most talented, if thats even possible.  I’ll just sit back and see who wins, unless its in a chair fishing for trout with Power bait.  Oh, I got that wired.  “Bring it ON!”

Light Line Old School?

Abu Garcia Revo Toro with matching Volatile Rod.

Abu Garcia Revo Toro with matching Volatile Rod.

Some serious advances have occurred with the tackle today, leaps and bounds really.  Reels have butter smooth drags that last and last, fluorocarbon leaders and Spectra have changed the way we fish completely, yet some things remain the same.  All this wonderful technology means nothing if you never hook a fish.  To get that fish you are targeting to bite you need to pick that perfect bait, make a long cast and use all your senses to make that opportunity into a reality.  The question is, when you do everything right and don’t get the bite, then what?

You drop down in line class, that’s what.

Yellowtail on light line.  Braid cut the kelp to get this fish.

Yellowtail on light line. Braid cut the kelp to get this fish.

There is a whole new generation of anglers now that read that last sentence and cringed.  What with all the fancy reels with smooth drags and teflon/boron composite super rods that make fishing almost unfair, why not?  Did the reel manufacturers make these state of the art drag systems for fishing 80#?  Yes, the new gear is capable of fishing heavy line but it really shines when you fish the lighter stuff.  With heavy line you don’t even need drag, so why the dirty looks when someone breaks out the 20#?

Whether you are on your own boat or a charter, everyone wants to catch lots of big fish.  When the moon and the stars align perfectly and that once in a lifetime wide open ripper happens you can break out the broomstick with 100# and put the wood to them.

 Break out the 80# when they are chewing!!!

Break out the 80# when they are chewing!!!

How often does that happen, really?  Most of the time we are just trying to get picked up, and land that one big fish for a snapshot and bragging rights.  Finding that perfect leader that is neither too heavy to get a bite, or too light to land the fish is what you are looking for, and it may change from spot to spot, minute to minute.  That is why we have so many different outfits and not just the one with 80#.

Spectra brings light line fishing to a whole new level.  65# braid is like fishing 20# mono in both feel and line capacity.  Its not uncommon to see calico bass guys with high tech gear that looks much like the freshwater largemouth arsenal on steroids with 65# or even 80# braid.  Then add in the abrasion resistance and low visibility of fluorocarbon leader and “presto”, its a whole new ballgame.  That does not automatically mean you will get the same amount of bites on 40# as you would on 20#.  The whole package with 20# fluoro is still miles ahead of an old school outfit with the same line in mono.  You have less stretch, more pulling power, kelp cutting capabilities and abrasion resistance far beyond what was available only a few years ago.

What is missing today is anglers that actually know how to fight a fish from bite to gaff, therefore we get guys that insist on fishing the heavy lines.  More than ever I see guys take that $400 rod with all the technology and point the tip at the fish and grind away, wondering why the fish spit the hook halfway to the boat.  Lift your tip!  The fish did not get away, you lost it.  I can see why charter boat Captains are screaming at passengers to “fish nothing less than 50!!!”  They are sick and tired of putting the boat on the fish only to see most of what is hooked, lost.  It all comes down to a lack of talent, period.

When you hook that big seabass or yellow on a kelpline and it gets its head down and swims right into the kelp, loosen the drag.  Let the tackle do its job.  The braid will only cut the kelp if its moving, you’ll need to let the fish run and tire before you begin the tug of war.  Even then its more of a seesaw battle, with you pulling for a while, then the fish pulling for a while.  Its the back and forth of the braid on the kelp that does the cutting, while straight pulling hard causes heartaches.

Light line seabass.  This one went right into the kelp, and came out after a long seesaw battle.  Heavier line never got bit at all.

Light line seabass. This one went right into the kelp, and came out after a long seesaw battle. Heavier line never got bit at all.

 My grandfather used to call this, “playing the fish.”  He’d say it while fighting a 120# bigeye on 25#, then my Uncle would gaff it.  We’re talking Penn Jigmasters with plastic spools.  I can still hear the “THUD” of the fish hitting the deck, time and time again.

Its become a common conversation for me, some guy saying “why would you even use 15# when fishing for seabass?”  I find myself in defense mode when its the guy pointing the finger that needs angling lessons.  I’ve driven the boat for a lady angler that got a striped marlin to the boat on 6# for a tag and release.  (We got that fish in 27 minutes)  Most angling clubs don’t even recognize anything caught with line over 30#, and the Tuna Club of Avalon encourages its members to fish with linen line in 3 and 6 thread sizes (like 6# and 15# respectively).  At last years Avalon Tuna Club Seabass tourney I caught a 22 pound seabass on 6 thread linen, and didn’t even place in the top 10!

22lbs on the Avalon Pier.  Fish was caught on 6 thread linen.

22lbs on the Avalon Pier. Fish was caught on 6 thread linen.

 

 

Not much ever changes back to where it was, but light line fishing is being seriously overlooked these days.  With the hotbed of young kids today out making a name for themselves through websites, videos and social networking it sure would be nice to see one take on the challenges of light line angling skills.  I can hook and hand seabass and yellows on 30# all day and most get gaffed, but when I hook one on 12 or 15#, its mine.  I tie good knots, test them all and lift my tip.  In the end, its me getting the typical “grip-n-grin” photo taken with a fish heavier that the line it was hooked on.  The guy taking the picture probably never got a bite, and was fishing 40#.  Fishing seabass on 50# is like fishing trout with 20#.  Tie good knots and learn how to actually fight a fish and use the tackle to its full potential.  You’ll not only hook (and land) more fish, but have way more fun doing it.

36# seabass on 15# fluoro in shallow water.  No problem.

36# seabass on 15# fluoro in shallow water. No problem.

 

2012 Southern Cal Tuna Club “Stag” Tourney

Mike called me months ago and told me to block out some dates so I could run his 38′ Uniflite “Mundy Mooring” in the fall “Stag” tournament this year.  Its an annual tourney in the Southern California Tuna Club (SCTC) and we have fished it together for the last 4 or 5 years.  Mike is the perfect guy to run a boat for.  He is fun and easy going, yet likes to catch fish and is will to go the extra mile.  For the week leading up to the trip I worked on the boat, doing routine engine and generator service, and getting the tackle and gear ready.  At the same time I was watching the tuna deal very closely, and the weather.  Last minute the weather forecast turned for the worse, but Mike said “go for it” anyways, and boy am I glad we did.

An old friend of Mikes passed away very recently, Gordy Bateman.  Gordy was (I think) 99 years old, and one of the saltiest guys ever the walk the earth.  A member of SCTC, Gordy had a reputation for taking his boat, the “Fighting Lady” to the ends of the earth in these tournaments.  He’d show up for the weigh-ins at the last possible minute, and pull some big, tournament winning tuna out of the hold.  I mentioned to Mike that the tuna were on the edge of our range for the time alloted, he was hesitant.  Then I said we could do it in memory of Gordy, and the idea became set in stone.

Rigged and ready to go.

On thursday, October 4th I loaded up my gear and got things ready.  Mike came down along with his guest Ron and we went to the fuel dock to top off the tanks, then out to see Nacho at the bait barge for our ammo.  Nacho asked me “whacha want?”  I said “Some live squid would be great about now buddy.”  (Not knowing he HAD live squid).  “Okay, its in that well on the other end.”  I was stoked beyond words.  The sardines have been hard to keep alive on long trips this whole year, but I knew the squid would make the trip no problem.  There is a lot of squid offshore right now, and I knew the tunas were keyed in on the squirts anyways.  The tanks full of live squid lifted my spirits, considering the deteriorating weather reports on the outside.

We ran back in to the slip to pick up Tom, Mikes son and one of my good friends from all the way back to grade school.  Tommy jumped on with his gear and we were off in minutes flat.  I checked my voicemail and e-mail for last minute intel, and even got an on the water call from Josh who was just in from the tuna grounds.  With that intel I plugged in the #’s and set our course, only 117 miles to go.  “Its gonna be a LONG night boys”, I said as we rolled our guts out going across the flats in a beam sea.

I took my turn at the wheel, but refrained from overdoing my time like I typically do.  I knew I had to have my game face on when we reached the grounds, so I took my place on one of the bridge bunks and rested as hard as I could.  No way to sleep when you can hardly keep from falling out of your bunk.  It wasn’t rough, but the angle could not have been worse.  I was actually waiting for the axe to fall, but it never did.  Sometimes the weather forecast is wrong, but instead of being worse than they said, it was better.  At 4am I took the helm and looked at the plotter.  We were outside the 1010 Trench, just 5 miles from a 213 spot.  The water was 69.8, and had been for the last 30 miles.  I knew we needed to find the break before we would be in the tuna.  I turned up the gain on the machine and set the depth to 10 fathoms, then set the fish alarm so the first meter marks could be heard as well as seen.

At grey light we were almost right on top of the high spot, and the jigs were out.  From the 213 to the 1010 Trench would be straight downhill, just like I had planned.  Mikes guest Ron is 80 years young, and I wanted him be be safe and comfortable.  I heard the Furuno fish finder alarm go off and looked down to see a nice jag of tuna, then looked over at the Furuno RD30 Sea Temp meter and it read 70.5.  The next thing I heard was the sound of reels screaming.  “Perfect!  I love it when a plan comes together.”  I ran down the ladder and helped clear the jig rods, and at the same time brailed a 1/2 scoop of live squid into our wake as the boat slid to a stop.  Tommy was winding in a hoochie daisey chain right through the chum and got bit on the grind.  The tuna ate the thing not 15′ off the transom, and he came tight on a nicer grade fish.

At deep color I called it out “big albacore guys!”  Mike was stoked.  I gaffed Tommy’s fish and placed it in the kill bag, then went to work on Mikes fish, which was a little bigger model.  The head gaff ended up in the mouth, and the lift into the boat was a little sketchy.   Glad the fish made it in the bag, because it ended up being the tournament winning fish.  As is typical with early morning first bites, we were slow getting baits in the water, and never did get a bait bite on that stop.  No doubt we would have if we had been better prepared.  We transferred the ice from the freezer on the bridge and put in on the fish, then set the jigs and I went back to work.

The jig stops were steady and we began to pick off bait fish here and there.  The albacore turned into yellowfin, and our numbers were getting up there.  The kill bag was getting hard to close.  We found a kelp on the 1010 proper and hooked a dorado, then another.  It sure is fun when the kill bag has several different species in it, especially in a tournament that has different categories for different fish.  With the job basically done and now being 130 miles from Catalina, I made the turn to start heading uphill.  It was still early, and we were still in the fish.  I set a course for the Hidden Bank and expected a break in the jig stops, but it never materialized.  No late morning lull or crew falling asleep.  You gotta love fall fishing.

Ron on a tuna with Tommy handling the deckhand duties.

We came up on another kelp and I got out the first bait.  A very slight backlash when I cast a flylined live squid up wind turned into an instant tuna bite.  The result was a knot on my spool and the tuna getting the best of me with a loud “SNAP!”  The whole thing took all of 3 seconds.  Thats how good it was.  We added some yellowtail to our score on the way up the line, then crossed the break and back into dead waters we went.  It was time to head for the barn.

We ran through the night at 8.5 kts, straight uphill.  Not one drop of water came over the gunnels the whole trip, but it was still bumpy.  You could tell it was blowing hard on the outside, and the weather updates on the VHF spoke of 40kts of wind at San Nicolas Island.  At midnight the weather really laid down, and we bumped it up to 10kts.  After more than 30 hours at 8kts, 10 felt like we were hauling ass.  At 4am I pulled back the throttles as we came up under the East End light at Catalina.  I metered around for some conditions and marks, but found nothing I liked.  So I continued up the front, looking for signs of life.  By now my legs were weak with exhaustion, and I could feel my eyes burning.

Mike with his tournament winning 29lb albacore.

I set us up at Yellowtail Point, and we cast out a few baits.  Then we weighed our catch and began the process of filleting and packaging our beautiful fish.  It was flat grease, and in this club you can weigh your fish at anchor with a certified scale if the seas are calm.   We fished through half the day, knowing it was not going to be anywhere as good as the day before.  I did catch a big calico that I thought might win that division.  It was bested by just ounces, but didn’t take away from our tournament victory in any way.  In every other tournament that Mike and I have ever fished, we stayed out and fished hard til the very last possible second.  Not this trip, we were in 4th Of July Cove and on the mooring at 3pm, with the dinghy in the water and ready to go.  Lines out was scheduled for 4pm, but we wanted to head into the Isthmus for Buccaneer Days, and witness the mayhem first hand.  We ate ice cream and tried hard not to fall asleep standing, then headed for the awards banquet.

At the clubhouse in 4th of July Cove we met up with all 60+ of the other tournament participants.  We all shared stories of our travels, and nobody could believe we had done what we did.  Basically was stayed up for 3 straight days to get down to the tuna grounds and back, but it was worth it.  The traditional swordfish and steak dinner only made me more tired, and as they announce that Mike and I had each won a category (tuna for Mike, and yellowtail for me) we felt the real pay off of doing the trip in memory of Gordy Bateman and the “Fighting Lady”.  I was now so tired I could hardly put together a sentence.  Tommy headed back into the Isthmus for more of Buccaneer Days, and Mike, Ron and I sat in the cockpit of the “Mundy Mooring” sharing some fish stories.

I called my wife and my son Scott to tell them I was safe and missed them tremendously, then laid down.  I fell asleep faster than I could ever remember, and woke up with both a victory and the memory of Gordy fresh in my mind.

Marlin fishing on the way home from Catalina.

 

 

 

“Good On a Boat”: How To Get Invited Back as a Guest.

I get guys all the time asking me if they could “come along on the next trip.”  So many, that I  just can’t take them all to find out if they are good on a boat.  When I do get an open spot, I usually ask around about somebody, to see how they were on someone else’s rig.  I let the person describe how it went when that particular guest was on board, and listen for red flags.  Some guys/girls get the simple nod;  “good on a boat.”  That is the sentence that says it all.

I am not looking for an expert in any particular field.  Not a Captain or cook, fish filleting expert or hotshot at the rail.  I want someone that just plain gets it, and knows how to roll with whatever comes along.  For me I prefer a total novice, with no skills whatsoever.  That type tends to be easily trained on simplest of tasks, as long as they don’t complain.  I’m no tyrant, or slave driver.  I do it all and am accustomed to doing it all by myself, so if a guest wants to help out, it kinda has to be my way.  The person with the flexibility to do what is asked with a positive attitude gets invited back, again and again.

First, if you are asked to fish on someone’s boat, get there early.  If they are not going to be there, ask if there is a key you can access to get on the boat (if they know you well enough).  Load your stuff if you know where it goes, otherwise leave it on the dock and await instructions.  Take your shoes off if the deck is spotlessly clean, and look to see if the captain does the same.  Of course you brought exactly what the captain told you you’d need, and nothing more.  Do not bring your 130W INT and the bent butt rod “just in case a giant mako shows up”.

Checking the fluids is just one of the things that needs to be done before every trip. Arrive early and help with pre-departure duties.

Upon departure, ask which dock lines come off first, and where the captain wants you.  Find out where the fenders go, and never leave them out while the boat is underway (even for the shortest of moves).  When all the dock lines are on the boat, say “CLEAR!”, not “GO”.  Go sounds too much like “NO”.  When things are not ready say “STAND BY”.  The word “WAIT” over the sound of the engines sounds like”OKAY!”    When it’s time to stow the fenders, announce the opening of a hatch (ANY hatch) by saying “OPEN HATCH!”  You would not want the owner or captain to step into the hatch YOU just opened.  Wait until the captain gets near the bait barge and ask “which side do you want the fenders on?”  Then place them in the spots where they were at the dock, or where the captain tells you to put them.  Make sure you have established a line of communication with whoever is running the boat, in case anything should go wrong (like a loose dock line falling in the water near the props).

Once at sea, be diligent about keeping things “ship shape”, but don’t guess where things go.  Always ask.  If you were invited on a boat with special guests, cater to their needs.  Coffee, blankets, or a comforting if they feel poorly.  Ask the captain if there is any rods that need to be rigged, and how he wants it done.  If you are not a knot expert, say so.  Don’t fake that or any other qualifications.  All duties are easily and quickly taught how to be done right.  Honesty is much better than “fake it til you make it.”

Refrain from drinking alcohol, unless the captain lets you know it’s okay.  For me, that’s never.  Obviously, drugs are not okay on any boat.  If you smoke, make sure the captain knew that before you got on the boat, and ask him where the smoking area is.  I smoke cigars, often at the helm, but that does not mean that cigarettes are acceptable by the owners standards.  Always best to ask first.  Find out where all the safety gear is, and go over in your mind what you would do in case of an emergency so you are prepared.

The best guys I’ve seen watch me like a hawk, and soon begin to offer to do the tasks they’ve seen me do.  I’ll say, “time for an engine room check” and the guest will offer to do it if he has watched me several times.  I once had a guest come up to the bridge and tell me “I just fixed the head, it was plugged.”  I never knew it had an issue, and as a captain, that was just what I wanted to hear.  The simplest things like how a gaffed fish is dispatched, and where it is put after the hook is removed, are easily copied.  It does not take long for a watchful guest to learn what to do, when to do it, and where things go.  Of course you can take a nice long nap and enjoy all the food in the ice chest if you never want to be invited back.

There is a time to relax, and that is after all the work is done. Never sit down and relax while someone else is working.

If the weather is bad you are are not comfortable, keep it to yourself.  Rest assured that nobody else is comfortable either.  If the fish are not biting, that’s fishing.  Don’t complain or question the game plan of the captain or owner unless that is what you were invited to do.  To do so without any predetermined skills is a sure fire way to be erased from the contacts list of whoever got you on the boat in the first place.  If you find that the operation is not up to yours standards, you are free to not accept any future invitations.

Occasionally I run boats for guys that are not that hardcore of fishermen, but expect to catch fish.  I ask people to come with me to fish, and fish hard.  If a wad of seabass swims under he boat and I see them on the meter, only to look into the pit and see just rods in rod holders, I know an opportunity has been missed.  Make sure you DO what you were invited to do.   If the owner comes out and you have a fish hanging, be sure to offer a “hand off” to the big boss.

This fish was hooked on my rod, but landed by the special guest of the boats owner. It turned out to be a team effort, and made the “big Boss” really happy. It was the guests first ever seabass.

This will most likely be denied, but still go a long way to getting you invited back.  If you are not adept at filleting the days catch, say so, but be ready to help package the steaks.

Most of all be upbeat, positive and obviously grateful to be there.  Clean the boat after the trip with a smile, and never leave before the captain, unless instructed to do so.  Help the owner carry his gear to the car, and shake his hand with a “thank you”.  This goes a long way towards not only being invited back, but opens the door to possibly being considered as part of the “team.”

Here my guest David poses with his 1st ever dorado. All day long David worked his tail off, and by the end of the day he was exchanging phone numbers and e-mails with the boats owner. Obviously he made a good impression.

After all, you asked to be invited on one of these trips, probably because the boat is known for catching fish on a regular basis.  There is nothing hard about being either the captain, or the deckhand.  It’s just a little bit of work.  Even if you did not like the captain, owner (or his wife), being good on a boat will get you a good recommendation for other rides.  Just imagine if you were the owner or captain and what you’d expect of a guest that asked to come along.  That should give you an idea of how to act.

 

Avalon Tuna Club Trip: Part 1

Had the honor of fishing the annual Avalon Tuna Club White Seabass and yellowtail tournament.  I ran the 38′ Uniflite “Mundy Mooring” with owner Mike Mundy.  Joe Davis and Frank Pratto rounded out our team for this light line tournament and view into a rich fishing history at the worlds oldest and most distinguished fishing club.

I had a game plan that kept us out of the crowd and away from the 20 other boats and over 80 anglers fishing this well organized event.  We left the dock late wednesday night and met the “Marie Claire” to fill the tanks with live squid.  Unfortunately he was done making bait early and I had to detour all the way down to Avalon, after almost making it to our target area up west.  We slept a few hours near Hen Rock, then made the move up to the bait grounds in the Isthmus, where some seabass over 50lbs had been caught just the day before.  There we had some nice calico bass, sheepshead and sugar bass, but no seabass or yellowtail showed.

 

We looked hard and moved around quite a bit, since we were pre-fishing and the actual tournament did not start until 8pm, thursday night.  We looked up the backside, west end and as far as Whale Rock, for nothing.  Even the famed West Cove was void of any life.

Later that day Mike and I spotted a school of “free swimming” seabass inside the kelp and for the rest of that day and the next morning we hammered that kelp hoping they’d bite.  Thursday night we made bait in the Isthmus, just inside Eagle Reef and then made a move to the outside of the reef to fish seabass all night but never got a bite from the right kind.  The next morning we went back to where we saw the seabass and after working tirelessly (actually we were exhausted) we finally got the current and wind to hold the boat in the perfect position to be able to chum the fish out with cut squid.

Joe got a bite first while I was on the bridge watching the meter and conditions.  Both he and I knew immediately it was a seabass, with the tell tale headshakes.  Joe followed the fish up the starboard side on his way up to the bow and I followed, making sure the fish was not going to get him into the kelp that surrounded the spot.  Under the anchor line and pulpit he went and then back down the port side.  “Bigger model” Joe said and I agreed.  Mike and Frank cleared the rods and Joe settled down to fight the fish from the cockpit.  Tough task in 12′ of water in an area full of kelp stringers and boiler rocks.  The fish earned it’s freedom by wrapping something stronger than the 12# dacron that met the rules of this tourney.  “We expected some of that” I told him.  Joe had done everything perfect, but some just get away.

I pinned on a live squid with my new Phoenix rod and Daiwa SL20 filled with 6 thread linen and cast it as far as possible into the bite zone.  Unfortunately “as far as possible” is about 20 feet with linen line, as it is very hard to cast.  I got a bite and hooked another seabass for the team!  Same tough fight and mine got wrapped in the exact same place as Joe’s fish, with a team effort we managed to get it off the obstruction before the fragile line parted.  I pulled carefully for too long on 15# flouro leader, and was a combination of surprised and elated when the fish hit the deck.

There wasn’t much in the way of high fives and cheers because we went right back to work, hoping for a wide open bite, which never materialized at this spot.  Basically it was too much time and effort for two bites and just one fish.  To win this tournament against some of the top anglers around, we’d have to alter the game plan and hope the fish and conditions cooperate.

We moved into the area where the bait was yet again, inside Eagle Reef.  I set us up on a spot where some yellowtail had been caught recently.  The wind and current fought each other and kept us from sitting right, but we did manage a few barracuda and calico bass.  Right around that time I got a phone call from my old deckhand Taylor, and he told be there had been a bite that morning he’d heard about that was good enough to have a team meeting and discuss a big move.

Check back to captainonboard soon for part two of this trip.