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Old 07-05-2007, 09:52 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Diamond Bar, CA USA
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Default Rpt Weds 07-04-07 First String Chickens

Cory with 24 Lb. Albacore

Fishing Weds. on the 93? Sport Boat "First String". A rare opportunity to fish this boat on a one day open party trip, as it is so popular with charter groups, due to it?s size and comfort. Captain Brad Phillips acknowledged that they are already chartered every weekend until the end of October, and mainly fish multi day trips during the week, many of which are also chartered.

On this trip, we left the dock at 10pm, with 23 excited anglers. I was the last one on the boat, just making it at 9:50 pm, having had a last minute cancellation on a private boat due to boat & other problems.

Brad Phillips was the relief Captain on the Sport Boat Prowler in 1995, when I earned my handle ?Tunaslam? catching a Grand Slam of Tuna (Bluefin, Yellowfin, Albacore, & Bigeye Tuna) in late August, on a one day trip aboard the Prowler, the only time to my knowledge it is has ever been done on the Prowler. Brad made it possible when after we had limited out on yellowfin tuna, he chose to run a long way to catch a few big albacore, he had heard about. I caught the only Bluefin & Bigeye on the trip, as well as a Skipjack, a Yellowtail and a Dorado. Seven species of exotics in one day, making that day, one that you usually only find in your dreams.

Anyhow, back to this trip, we ran down to an area somewhere north of the 295, I didn?t get any numbers, and the fishing wasn?t that red hot anyhow in our first area, the fish were really spread out. The boat shutdown in the dark at 3:30am, about a five hour run, so I?m guessing 50 miles from the point. No night bite, and we began trolling at about 5:20 am. At 5:35am, those anxiously awaited sounds of a screaming reel, and a shout of hookup, threw everyone into high alert status, as our baits were cast into the water. Just a single jig strike, and we continued on.

Not 10 minutes later, another hookup, and this times shouts of boil, boil! I was fishing with my favorite 25 lb. test rig, a 7.5? Sabre Lamaglas Rod, with a Daiwa SL30, Flourcarbon leader, a #1 VMC J-hook, and a ? oz sliding sinker, rigged Carolina style, using an anchovy for bait. As I let the line out on the slide, I thumbed it several times, then a solid bump, and the line begins racing off the spool, wind down to take out any slack in the line, and then set the hook, fish on! After a brisk battle in the stern, and several close calls on tangles, the Albacore makes a run up to the bow, away from the other numerous hooks up, and mass pandemonium. The fish enters it?s death circle, as I short pump the fish ever closer to the surface, finally Brad makes a great headshot, and a my first Chicken of the season is a 24 lb. beauty.

The count for this stop was only four fish, 1 jig fish, 3 on bait, and probably twice that many lost? We obviously had a very inexperienced or rusty group on the boat. There must have been 20 boils at least, and unfortunately, when Albacore fishing, lost fish usually mean, lost school, and they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

It was now 6:05 am and the day was off to a quick start, and we were all expecting great fishing ahead. However, it was 2 hours later, with few further signs of fish on the meter, when we finally got our third troll fish. Once again shouts of boil, boil. My Anchovy was hit almost instantly this time, and I was happy to follow it up to the bow, where once again I could work the fish freely from the Malay occurring on the stern. I could hear the shouts of anguish, as lines went ping, ping, and shouts of help went up of ?were tangled?, go over, no under, hot rail, etc! We pulled just 5 bait fish out of this stop, with one jig fish. Once again the school left quickly following the lost fish! We now had 11 fish on the boat, and should have had 30 or 40.

Two more single jig strikes, and we reached the witching hours, 10 am to high noon, when all albacore seem to take a siesta, go deep and digest breakfast. For most of the season there has been a good late bite, so we were all very hopeful for the afternoon fishing possibilities. By this time we had reached an area south, where there were no less than 30 seiners, and three helicopters assisting them, some 72 miles from the point according to the Captain. Brad explained the Seiners were concentrating on finding Bluefin Tuna, but would attempt to wrap schools of Albacore, that swam with the bluefin, making the Albacore very skittish, as they escaped the net, by diving deep, and seldom returning to the surface anytime soon. This probably accounted for some of our slow fishing.

We watched with a sigh of despair, as seiner after seiner, made sets, wrapping huge schools of Bluefin. We could see the Bluefin in the distance, crashing the surface. At 1pm, and nothing to show for our efforts in 3 straight hours, Brad hollered to the crew, brail the bait! I have an enormous school coming up underneath us.

The ocean erupted around us with huge boils, yep they were Bluefin, I reeled in my anchovy rig, and grabbed my 30 lb. stick for fly lining sardines. One of the troller?s reeling in late, got bit, unfortunately with a locked down drag on 80 lb. the big tuna ripped the hook out of it?s mouth. 4 others were bit on bait, two were spooled, one broke off with the sound of a gun shot, obviously with too tight a drag, the last one unbuttoned.

My sardine had not gotten picked up, so I slowly pumped it back to the boat, bam!!!!!!! I was hit, and wound down tight to set the hook, as I was using a 2/0 Mutu circle hook, you do not swing using a circle hook. Fish on, I don?t think it knew it was hooked, as it merely sounded, and did not take much line in doing so. I fought the fish for five minutes straight up and down, never gaining an inch the whole time. Whenever I lifted the rod, line came off the reel, and yet my drag was set fairly tight. This Bluefin was big, Brad indicted most of these fish seemed be in the 60 to 80 lb. range. Well another lift of the rod, and poof, the line goes slack, darn, the hook pulled. Unusual for a circle hook, perhaps being hit on the pump in, the fish didn?t swallow the bait enough to get a good hook set in the corner of the mouth, perhaps somewhere in the roof of the mouth, which is usually fatal on a big fish, ripping through the loose skin in the upper mouth.

Oh well, opportunity lost, six hookups, no fish, and no school. Brad just shook his head, he said that kind of school usually turns into a plunker bite, often having albacore join the party, as the big tuna stay with the hooked fish, and probably a long fight. Bummer!!!!!!!!

At 2 pm our sprits lifted as we had multiple jigs strikes, back to back, but no bait fish. One time the angler with the troll fish, somehow put the reel in free spool, and pop, as the line breaks in the backlash! Obviously once again losing any potential school. Then another time, the angler gets bit on the troll, and reels in a hook less feather, a bad knot? Then we get a double jig strike, I?m bit almost instantly. Put the fish on the boat in a few minutes, only a 20 lb. fish. My first bait back in the water, and I?m bit again. Make short work of him. I always consider two fish boated on a short stop, a special treat. More fish lost, and no more school. Kind of tells the story of the day. 23 anglers, 27 Albacore, 15 troll fish , 12 on bait.

It?s 3pm, a 6 hour run ahead of us, and the Captain calls it a day. We also picked up three yellowtail off a kelp paddy, I should of switched to dines, they didn?t want the anchovy? I was extremely pleased with four fish, all on bait, I did not troll. A slow day for Brad, very rare, but the angling skills on this trip were a little lacking.

Cory with a pair of nice Albacore

Mike with his two troll fish, Mike recognized me from the fishing websites, and introduced himself.

Randal was my shadow most of the day, anxious to learn what I was doing to catch fish. This is his lone Jig Fish. He was unable to hook a bait fish.

Cory with his four bait fish Albacore

A pile of Albies, there were more on the other side of the boat.

A very grind it out day, where the fish weren?t on the chew very often, lots of single jig fish. Overall I had a great time, and caught my first chickens of the year. Enjoyed fishing immensely on the 1st String, with a stand up crew.

Hope I?ll get another chance to ride the 1st String in the not too distant future, thanks Brad & crew, for a job well done.

Hook up! Cory
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