Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Corvallis & Newport
Late LR report
I should have gone in Nov or early Dec.
Drove down with Howard, aka "good times". Drive wasn't bad, perfect conditions, clear skies and dry roads all the way. Under 17 hrs to SD, stayed at the motel across from Fisherman's Landing. Had a day there before we left, that day was our buffer just in case we had problems on the road, which we fortunately didn't have. Went to a couple of tackle shops, got a few last minute items.
Boat left early with a full load of anglers. Stopped and got live bait, sardines, almost 300 scoops. Didn't take long to get to Ensenada and to go thru customs. Then off to Guadaliupe. Had the cabin right next to the engines, earplugs helped that night. Arrived at the island and started fishing about noon. A few yft came on board that afternoon, none for me or Howard. That was our half day, had 4 more days of fishing. I had a couple break off when the deckhands had my rod, they didn't do anything wrong, but I think they pulled harder than I did. Howard got a yft, something around 50 lbs, I think on the 3rd full day, I was still fishless. Not for lack of trying, it's the random thing that happens with fishing. I spend all day every day at the rail except for stopping for lunch and to drink water and get rid of it an hour or two later. The weather was great except for about half of one day when the wind was blowing fairly hard. Sustained winds of 25 knots or so and gusts over 35 knots. But we were in the lee of the island and very little fetch, so the wind waves weren't bad, esp on a 96 ft boat! One good thing about the wind and rain we had then, there was more room at the rail, warm light rain for an Oregon guy! I was still fishless, stayed that way thru 3 and a half days. Late the last full day there were 3 or 4 guys on the boat trying to hook a fish to hand off to me, I'd have gladly taken it too, I was very frustrated. then just before dark on the last day, a fish picked up my bait! Finally! Then while I'm fighting it, a shark is around the boat. Ah jeez, just my luck. Turned out I was lucky, somebody else hooked a fish and the shark got his instead and mine was landed. Nice fish, 142 lbs. No anywhere near the largest for the trip, 2 over 180 lbs were landed, but my largest tuna to date, only larger fish I've landed was a bull shark in Fla years ago, it was about 230 lbs. I landed the last fish of the trip, sure wish I'd have caught one earlier and had caught more, but I was happy to have at least one.
Not sure how many fish were lost to GW sharks, think it was about 12 to 15, could have been a few more. Only 70 yft and 8 yt were caught this trip, not nearly as many fish around as on my last trip. That was very easy to tell, never saw a big school crashing bait, more like seeing individual fish come partly out of the water instead of a school crashing bait at the surface. Two years ago there was almost always at least one school visible crashing bait somewhere and we had at least one fish hooked up most of the time. Not this year, we had stretches of hours without a single fish being hooked and hours when we wouldn't see visual sign of fish. However Tim (the cat) would be telling us he saw some fish on the finder, not necessarily a lot of fish, but some. We moved several times trying to find more fish, but even when we found some, not a big number of fish were caught. Occasionally 3 or 4 on at the same time, but not often.
I learned that there's a reason not many trips are scheduled really late in the year, the density of yft goes down, way down. If or when I go again, it'll be in Nov after elk hunting or in early Dec, not mid to late Dec. This trip was Dec 13 to 20.
I bought two low quality full totes before this trip and had them in my truck. Our two fish only took one tote and didn't come close to filling it. However, my 142 lb fish was too big for one of my half totes, so I was glad to have the full totes. The fish came out of the Royal Star's RSW cold and went right into one of the totes, still had to cut the tail off to get it in the tote diagonally, the 50 or so lb fish fit in next to it nicely. I bought 180 lbs of ice to cover the fish and that kept them very well for the trip home, they arrived in Newport Thurs afternoon in excellent shape. Boat docked on Wed morning, Dec 20. The drive home wasn't nearly as easy as the drive down, went thru LA starting about 9:30, glad we could use the HOV lane with 2 of us in the truck, that helped keep us moving. Then encountered high wind north of La and some rain, but it got cooler and I was glad for that, helped keep the fish in good shape. Dropped Howard off in Eugene just before midnight and drove on home in heavy fog.
What did I learn?
First, as I already said, go earlier in the year. Since I've taken up hunting as well as fishing, late Nov and early Dec are about the only times a LR trip wis a good idea for me unless I do one of the quick trips to get bluefin tuna a la Baitboy style. I can do the drive, did all the driving on this trip, just seemed easier for me to go ahead and drive.
Second, fill the spool on my big reels with braid and put on about 15 ft of fluorocarbon leader of the heaviest lb test that seems to be working. The deck hands that helped me with that said they have seen the RP knot slip, that's the knot I had been using and I haven't had any trouble with it on albacore, but then those are in the same class as big yft. They used a Bob Sands knot and i am going to learn how to tie it. Not as easy as the RP knot and not quite as small, but not big either.
Hooking live baits: belly hooked baits went away from the boat faster and more reliably than nose hooked baits. but once they stop running, they don't fish very well, so ya gotta bring them in and start again. that's fine when there are lots of fish around, but I like nose hooked baits better as they keep fishing one they stop pulling line. Shoulder hooked is what a few people prefer, but that didn't work as well for me, they didn't run as fast or as reliably from the boat as the belly hooked and once they stopped pulling line, they weren't fishing well either. Not as much current this time as two years ago, this time we fished at the N end of the island, two years ago we fished at the south end. Cant said the fish weren't at the south end and the other 2 LR boats we saw were also at the N end.
I was in better shape for this trip, at least I think I was. But this trip was harder on me even with the good conditions. I think it was the frustration getting to me and all the time standing at the rail with a bit in the water trying to get bit. My legs were sore at the end of each day, didn't do any night fishing this trip, but like last trip I was at the rail all day from first light till last light. Also 4 and a half days at the island this time, last time it was just 2 really full days.
I don't feel any need to go on a "cow" trip, too many days traveling and fighting a fish over 200 lbs would be just plain tough. Of course if I hooked one, I'd be happy to fight it, but I'm happy with 100 lb class fish, they are plenty big enough for me.
I asked several times about strategies for reducing the number of fish the GWs take, Tim was patient with me and sid they had tried all of them. Giving they sharks the remainer of the fish they've bitten doesn't work, he says they like the live ones. I asked about reducing the drag and letting a tuna run when a shark is sighted going after the tuna, he said they'd tried that and the sharks got 100% of the tuna they had tried that with. He told me the only thing they had found that helped was to have guys take turns on the fish, pull as hard as possible for 30 sec to a minute, then had off to someone else. that way they get the fish to the boat ASAP and that gives them a better chance of getting the fish in the boat. That technique would probably work better than one guy fighting the fish, but wouldn't be as much fun or as satisfying unless ya just want the fish to bring home. I want SOME fish to bring home, but I go for the adventure and the enjoyment.
Lots of people have asked me if I had fun on the trip. When I hesitate on my answer and think of how I want to express my thoughts, they say "Ah, you didn't have fun." No, I wouldn't classify it as fun, I was too frustrated fro too long to call it fun, but it was an experience, an adventure and i don't regret going. But it wasn't like two years ago when in 2 days at Guadalupe I caught 9 yft and 9 yt! I didn't expect the fishing to be that good this trip, I knew that had been phenonomal fishing that I wouldn't likely experience again. But I expected better fishing than we had this trip. We may have hit the lull in the fishing, it had been better before we got there and when I was talking to Tim on the return to Ensenada, I think he talked to a cat that was at the island and was doing fairly well.
The Royal Star is the only LR boat I've been on and I have no complaints about it. The captains have been good and know what they are doing, the deckhands also know what they're doing. The food was better this time, much better. Different chef and he knew he was cooking for guys, not in some fancy San Frisco restaurant. Good food, well presented, and enough of it.
Another difference was in the charter-master and what they add, or don't add, to the trip. Last time the charter-master was Sam of Island Tackle and he added a lot to the trip. He'd help if you asked him questions or for help and esp on my first LR trip that was very helpful. This was a Rice Bowl trip and IMO the charter master didn't add anything to the trip. The swag was better on the trip with Sam, but the real difference is in the level of knowledge and helpfulness of the charter-master. After the trip in '15 I appreciated Sam, now I appreciate him even more as a charter-master. I'm sure there are other good charter-masters. They aren't really a big part, but if they are helpful, that's a plus.
If/when I go again, I want a trip to Guadalupe, preferably a 7 day trip to maximize fishing time compared to the investment and the travel time. And it'll be in Nov or early Dec. Driving my truck down with totes in the back is still the way I'd go. for younger guys that are still working, maybe flying and paying for fish processing and shipping is better, but not for me. Only had two guys come help me clean fish, but had about 7 lined up if I got lots of fish. Most of this fish got shared and eaten fresh, only a little went in my freezer. I like being able to share fresh fish, esp fish we can't catch in OR. Still fun cleaning those big fish, the loins that come off them are amazing! Just beautiful! Delicious too! This time bring the fish back in the round only saved me about $60, last time it saved me over $1000. About $140 of ice both times, but a big difference in the amount of fish.
No pictures, I'm not a photo guy.
Beautiful water and the island is picturesque. At times we were anchored 2 or 3 hundred yards from the island. Seeing it so far from the mainland gets one to thinking about geology and how islands like that form.