Day one, June 31:
El Nino has pushed the sardines up north, this means below average fishing
for the whole trip. Bummer....but thats fishing. Too windy today to cast, four
foot swells. Need to get creative and try Bill Nelson's skip fly technique.
Met our Panga skipper, named Victor. I could tell by the look on his face
he was thinking "God a non bait fisherman."
6:30 AM. Left the dock with Victor and Mike Hamlin headed south to Point
Arena. Nothing showing on the surface. Rigged leader to skip fly on my
12 weight. Going to have to troll. Hamlin rigging a popper.
7:30 AM. Water explodes on skipped fly. 200 yard run, 12 weight looks
like a three weight, worried it will break. Fish sounds for 20 minutes. Fight
lasts 30 minutes land yellow fin tuna. All the boats are owned by the hotel
so Mike and I agree to give the skipper one fish a day for his family if we can
release the others. Skipper wants the yellow fin for tuna gravy. Tuna gravy?
9:00 AM. Find school of skipjack 8 to 10 lbs. Damn they are strong.
Good thing I checked all my loops and knots. Lost count of hooked fish.
New flies working better than expected.
11:00 AM. Wind increasing. Two Marlin surface to sun beside the boat.
Downwind, I can cast but fish are 300 pounders....chicken out.
Lost school of skip jack...still hooking occasional bonita.
11:30 AM. Try and ambush a sailfish...we spook him, he is
gone...no hook up.
12:00 Fishing dead just a lumpy sea.
2:00 PM. Off load gear at dock, Mike says we landed 17 fish...wish
I could count past five. Mike and I talk over the day and Mike thinks
skip fly was hooking two to one, even over poppers. Mike is rigging
a skip fly for tomorrow in case there is more wind.
Day 2, May 1:
3:00 AM. Can't sleep decide to walk on beach to see what weather
is doing. I will take my 8 weight. No wind but still a small lump on
3:30 AM. See splash in the dark. Try casting small clouser and hook
croaker on first cast.
5:00 AM. Landed 20 fish. 15 croaker and five Ladyfish. Hooked two
that I couldn't stop....don't know what they are?????
6:00 AM. Breakfast. Guys interested in beach fishing in the dark. I
tease them about sleeping too much.
6:30 AM. Meet Victor and head south again. Water calm.
7:00 AM. Wind picking up but get into skip jack big time. 9 double
hook ups by 8:30. How can a ten pound fish put up such a fight?
10:00 AM. Lost skip jack...maybe they sounded???? Had time for a cigarette.
Propped foregrip on gunnel and stuck reel between legs to free up one hand to
get the lighter. Lone skipjack hit and did usual 100 yard run. Direct drive reel
handle hit the family jewels 500 times before I could get reel out from between
my legs. Never do that again.
11:00: AM. Wind bad. Fishing slow.
2:00: PM. Off load at ramp.
Day 3, May 2:
6:30 AM. Meet Victor, weather dead calm. Head to shark bouys to find Dorado.
Find fish at first bouy hit four between us all small. Like clousers. Saved one to
give to Victor.
7:30 AM. Another try at a sailfish....spooked him. Need to tease them to turn
8:00 AM. Radio says all the boats south of Point Arena are into Dorado big time.
Start run to Point Arena.
9:00 AM. Can see fleet, everyone fighting fish when we get there. Mike hooks large
fish on a popper. By the time he lands his fish the bite is over. Think fish sounded.
Damn we were too far away.
9:30 AM. Ocean is full of needlefish. Big ones fun. Teeth hard on flies and can't keep
them off the hook.
10:00 AM. Still looking for Dorado. Find what we think is free floating shark bouy.
Victor laughs says he thinks it is a bail of marijuana. 40 kilos. We pull up and cut it
open...he was right. Barnacles on outter bail indicate it is floating for about two months.
I was impressed by how well it was sealed. Left it drifting...no Dorado.
2:00 PM. Off load at dock.
5:00 PM. Weather is good for beach fishing. Tim Iverson has hot rod and hits
several Lady fish, pufferfish and trumpet fish. I lost all small clousers first day.
Bring more next time.
Day four, May 3:
6:30 AM. Leave dock with Victor. Buy Mullet to tease up rooster fish. Fish
shallow flats south of Point Arena for two hours. See one rooster break the
surface but can't tease within range.
8:30 AM. Radio says all the big cruisers are into Marlin....tell Victor they are too
big for our equipment. Suggest we look for Tuna instead.
10:30 AM. 3 acre school of tuna surface beside the boat. Moving fast cast and
hook two. Land mine first, mike lands his and we run to intercept. See a half
dozen big Dorado in front of school. Victor manuvers boat to intercept. I hook
skipjack, Mike hooks Dorado about 20 lbs.
11:30 AM. Lose school. Seems that fishing drops off mid day on a pretty
2:00 PM. Off load at dock.
Day five, May 4:
6:00 AM. Damn last day, skip breakfast and get Victor 1/2 hour early.
Remember that for next trip. Went north for first time...tuna canyon.
Flat, good casting water. Sun just up Mike Hooks something big but
hook pulls out.
7:00 AM. Testing new flies with number two stinger hook when two sails appear, we
are into the sun from them. Like a fool I have my eight weight. What the hell, no time
to change. One sail breaks away and hits my fly. Makes a 150 yard run and jumps
7 times. Makes a short 50 yard run and jumps 6 more times. No shock tippet, 20 lb
leader means no chance. Fish swims toward the boat, I'm in shock. I give him total
slack even though hook is barbless...in the fog think it is better that he pull the hook
than I pull him. Victor starts chewing me out thinking I lost the fish. Says we use
too light a line for these. Victor shuts up when he sees I still have the fish on.
Long time we have a tug-of-war. I finally get him to the boat. Victor grabs for
bill and misses, fish dives and jumps full length behind boat about 30 feet away......
another tug-of-war. Fish comes to side of boat and Victor tries again and gets
the bill. Fish is too big to pull aboard by himself and calls for help. I grab the bill
too with no gloves and we pull him onto my lap. Three or four quick photos and
we slip him back in the water. He swims off OK. #2 hook 1/3 straightened out.....
eight weight still not broken....lucky. Hand that grabbed the bill missing most of it's
skin and bleeding....what the hell..hope it never heals.
Sometime in the AM. Most of the day is a fog...still in glow from the sailfish.
Have a big bull Dorado hit both mikes and my flies at the same time. I have
had doubles but is this a 1/2...?
2:00 PM. Offloaded at the dock and we gave Victor $50 dollar tip. Don't
think he has as bad an impression of flies as he did last week.
Flies next week! Stay tuned!