Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Hubbys' a Fisherman

Remember how my hubby did a post on his garden?

Well, not only is he an awesome gardener, he's also a Fisherman. And a fine one at that! He's a member on this fishing website and they go on trips together, as well as share their "fish tales" on it. Steve always sends out an email with his story when he gets back from his trips, along with pictures. Like I said before, trying to make this a family blog so I want to share some of Steve, too!

His fishing story in his words:

My long awaited September fishing trip arrived one fine Friday afternoon, in September, and found me scrambling to get ready to leave the house with time to get food, gas, park, unload, eat, and load on the boat before it left that evening at 9 pm. I hadn't even started packing my bags until Friday after school so I knew it was gonna be a little tight. Every task at home is a little harder these days when two little beautiful girls are waiting for me to come home and play with them, but I managed to get home in time to give Izzy a bath, talk with Jessica for a few minutes, throw everything I needed in the car and speed off down the road hoping to avoid the worst Friday traffic.

Fishing trips are one of the only times that the stresses of work and the go go go pace of life melt away for a few days, and I felt it all drift away as soon as I pulled up in the landing parking lot to see the Senor Tuna fishing club tailgate party was already well under way. I found many fishing friends and familiar faces already knee deep in tamales, fried chicken, sushi, pizza, tri tip, beer, cookies, and even carne asada right off the grill in the parking lot. I wasted no time and sampled at least six of the different dishes available no matter how spicy or how obviously they would conflict in my stomach, but I made sure not to completely overeat in preparation for the open ocean. The Pacific Voyager, the official Senor Tuna charter vessel, was late coming in from their previous trip so we had lots of time to eat and talk, but we only ended up leaving a few minutes after our scheduled 9 pm departure.

The loading routine on a 2 day charter is a study in organized chaos, with cart fulls of fishing rods, tackle bags, luggage, boots, jackets, and whatever food was leftover from the tailgate. We kinda just moved the party down to the docks and up on the boat in about 15 minutes flat, this was only possible because most of the passengers worked together to load and store all the gear in one big team effort. I was very excited to see the Senor Tuna guys working well together so early in the trip, as tuna fishing requires a team mentality to have the most success. The boat pulled away from the dock once everyone was on board and we motored out in the darkness to find our fishing destiny.

Captain Mark called us all in the galley after a short while and gave us the run down for the weekend's game plan. Fishing had been very good in the past weeks, but with increased pressure on a weekend Mark wanted to get away from the fleet a bit and do his own fishing on his own terms. Captain Mark is one of the main reasons why the Pacific Voyager is consistently one of the top boats in the fleet and why we have so much fun on our trips. He does not want to follow other boats around, and he does not want to be followed while fishing, he truly wants to find his own fish and stay away from the other boat traffic while we rack up the highest fish counts.Captain Mark told us we would head down the coast 90 miles and we would expect to be in the right zone after dawn, so we could sleep in a little. Normally overnight trips like this require early action before dawn, but Mark let us know we could relax this time. I took the opportunity and slept better down in my bunk than I had all week at home. Without crying baby interruptions I slept solid and before I knew it, dawn had broken and most everyone was awake but me. No matter, we had just put out the trolling rods and started looking for fish.

The weather was great, very little wind, medium swells spaced out enough to make for easy going, and lots of hope on the horizon.I started looking for coffee and thought about breakfast, but then all hell broke loose. We rolled up on a giant school of yellowfin tuna right away and it was game on! Everyone who put out a bait was instantly hooked up on crazy fish swarming the boat on all sides. It was like a predator aquarium, you could literally see dozens of fish slamming baits all around the boat and shooting through the water in every direction. I was still in a daze and didn't have my game face on, let alone any coffee yet, but I pinned a bait on my hook and started fishing. I hooked up a small tuna and brought it on the boat, and switched to heavier gear to start really pulling in fish quick. When the bite is wide open its easy to catch fish on heavy tackle and rack up counts quickly. I grabbed my 40 pound set-up, which was total overkill for mostly 8-12 pound tuna, and hooked up another fish instantly. It was just too easy...but one problem, the boat was now being swarmed by skip jack, a pest in the tuna fishing world that is just not worth keeping when tuna are all over. I hooked and landed two or three skip jack in a row, all 3-5 pound pesky little turds, and kept trying. The problem is every time you land a fish you have to check the line for nicks or cuts, make sure the knots are still solid, and then try again. I had to re-tie a few knots and cut the line a few times, so I really missed out on some prime tuna time on that bite. If I had been totally awake and aware I bet I would have done better, but I just put my head down and kept trying.

I ditched the 40 pound gear and went down to 30 pound line as the bite slowed down a bit and finally, I landed a quality fish. When a big tuna hits the line they make a run straight down and start stripping line off the reel for 5-10 seconds at a time. After the initial run its a finesse game to make sure you don't pull the hook, stretch the line, or tangle with other lines, while trying to wear the fish down and get them up to the boat. I could feel the line as taught as I wanted it, so I kept consistent pressure on the fish and fought for about 10 minutes gaining line little by little. I brought the fish up and saw one of the better tuna of the day hit the deck as I smiled and felt relief. I have lost big fish before, its really no fun, so this lunker made my morning.

The bite died down shortly after I landed the big tuna, and we all paused to eat, re-tie hooks, and prepare for battle again. Within a half hour we stopped again for another great bite, this time the tuna were mixed in with yellowtail too. I hooked a few skip jack again and two yellowtail on that stop, but they yellowtail were smaller and were a little disappointing. I am not one to be picky, but a 3 pound yellowtail doesn't look like much next to a 20 pound tuna. After a few more skip jack I finally got some tuna on the hook and ended up landing two more nice 8-10 pounders on that stop. It was barely 10 am and I already had four tuna and two yellowtail on the boat, and everyone around me was doing great too.

Things ended up slowing down after that, most of the rest of our stops were for a handful of fish, and a lot of pesky skip jack, but I did get one more tuna and two more yellowtail through the day. At the end of the day the crew pulled the day’s catch back out on deck and filled the stern with a layer of fish. It was beautiful and even surprising to us, we didn't realize how much we had accumulated as a group. I weighed my big tuna in at 20 pounds, and it ended up being one of the top five fish that day. We ate a delicious pot roast and mashed potato dinner, and most went to sleep fairly early after a good hard day.

I normally don't get taken off guard in the mornings on fishing trips, but it happened again. I woke up in the night around 4:30 am to use the bathroom and considered staying awake to get prepared and start fishing before dawn. But once again the bunk called my name and I crashed for another hour and half. I woke up to a crew member yelling down to the sleepers, "The tuna are boiling all around the boat! Get up here and catch some fish!"

I barely got my boots on and raced upstairs, grabbed my closest pole and got a bait in the water while it was still dark out. Other people were hanging fish all around, and I got bit within 15 seconds and was fighting my tuna before any coffee.....again. It was hard to see the line in the dark, but I followed my fish up the side of the boat and quickly landed a smaller grade tuna within 3 minutes. After that I dropped another bait and hooked a real quality tuna that gave me a run for my money as the sun started to warm up the horizon a bit more. I happily landed the second tuna just as the bite was dying down, and had the captain snap a picture of me just out of bed with my glasses still on holding a great fish.

The second day of the trip was slower, more waiting in between stops, and more scattered fish though the morning. I did catch another tuna, another skip jack, lost a yellowtail, and landed a beautiful dorado. It doesn't get much more exciting than watching dorado race across the surface at top speed, and jump out of the water flashing their beautiful colors all around. After lunch we had to point the boat towards home because we were still almost 90 miles away and we were already behind schedule. I spent the afternoon watching the charger game, eating cookies and drinking soda, sleeping, eating more candy and junk food, and enjoying the rest of the relaxing evening.

When we got back on land I loaded up my coolers with fish and ice, zoomed back up the freeway and was home a little after 10 pm. After washing down my gear and unloading the car I had the daunting task of cleaning and packing the fish for the fridge and freezer. Kat was still awake and helped me a lot as we filled bag after bag of fish for friends, family, and ourselves. Some was marked for sushi, some for the grill this week, some for the future, and some for who knows. I took a much needed shower around midnight and got a few hours sleep before 5 am came and the work week started again. What a great weekend, what a great catch, and what great memories. I know I will be retelling this story over many meals to come, and you can call me out if the fish grow bigger and bigger over time, but the proof is in the pictures.


Bigger Tuna from Saturday

20 pounds of pleasure

Who needs coffee when you have hot tuna!

Sunday's Tuna and Dorado

You get it

Representing Mission Vista High School

I've been putting Steve's fishing stories and pictures into a scrapbook for him. Which reminds me, I'm totally behind on that.........
And just an fyi- we enjoyed some AH-MAAAA-ZING fresh sushi on Monday night, and mouth watering seared ahi tuesday night. Fish tacos will be Friday, plus a freezer full!
This is one hobby I fully endorse ;)

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Look at all those fish!!! Looks like you had alot of fun Steve. Don't eat too much fish! then you won't like it anymore.. lol I can do the fish tacos but i don't know about the sushi...:0! don't worry Kat your not the only one behind on scrapbooking!;)