07.07.09 Albacore Report from Ed Tschernoscha at BFG, Lomita
Last Monday night, three of us, left San Pedro aboard our sport fisher, TALOHA, to try our luck finding the elusive Albacore. We traveled down the line into Mexican waters and finally reached great looking blue water down around 31.52.000. Water temp ranged from 65.5 to 67 degrees.
We found a paddy around 3:30 in the afternoon and immediately got lit up on a 20 plus pound yellowtail. We got another 16 pounder. We then headed south through the 238 and headed towards the 1140 where about half way there we turned back north as it was getting late. At 6:40 pm we got into a quadruple around 31.33/117.15 just west of the 238. One came unbuttoned, one popped at gaff, and we picked up another bait fish. A few minutes later, we got another double and another bait fish. By 7:40 pm it was all over.
There were 2 sport boats working and stopped in the same area just west of us. That afternoon we saw several sport boats both working back from the south (probably somewhere the 1140) and several boats up from the west (probably around the 295). For the lures, we used old school Jap heads in red/white and purple/black. We also used some Baja Fish Gear SB Wahoo bombs in pink/white, red/white and purple/black along with some small Catchy Tackle spinner in pink/blue/silver and orange/green/yellow. The bombs worked well and we never lost a fish, the Jap heads literally got inhaled, and the one fish that came unbuttoned was on a double hook. We heard the bite has been at gray light and just before dark. We did spot several blue fins that were chasing bait on the surface, but sounded as we got even within 100 yards of coasting up to them.
Side note, the Albacore was full of krill. Total count, 6 Albacore 14-20 lbs, 2 Yellowtail 16-20. Water conditions were perfect. The only issue we had was our water reservoir decided to rust out, but with miracles of Splash zone and duct tape, we made home safely.
BBQ Dorado on the Menu
We left the dock and headed straight out from Palmas--Tena and I, with Neco skippering Splash II. We got about 5 miles out, straight out from La Ribera (my town) and set the lines--two marlin jigs, two dorado jigs, and the "Bruja" (a weighted and rigged dead ballyhoo). No live mackeral for bait--only dead ballyhoo and a scoop of sardines. We'd only been in the water for maybe half an hour when the Bruja went off on the 30 Shimano. I was standing next to the rod, so grabbed it, let him run, then set the hook. The fish took off and just about spooled me before Tena and Neco could get the other lines in, and turn the boat around for the chase. The fish pulled hard and I thought I had a small marlin on, although it didn't jump. After I got most of my line back, Neco throttled back, and turned the stern towards the fish. Then the fish gave up, and started coming to the boat easy, and I knew it wasn't a marlin. Turned out to be about a 30 lb. skipjack--cat food!
Back in the water again with me on the 4/0, Neco with the 3/0, and Tena running the boat--he was a little tired. Chumming brought the fish in again, and of course Neco got bit, and hooked up again, and passed the 3/0 off to me, screaming like a banshee. That 3/0 wasn't built for 50 lb. fish; I could tell the drag was shot anyway, and it got so hot you couldn't hold your hand on the star drag. I had the fish on for about 30 minutes and had to baby the drag the whole time. If I tightened it up enough to hold the fish, it would seize on me; I finally wound up tightening it up just to the point where it wouldn't seize, then thumbing the spool to hold the fish, which is a pain--literally--without gloves.
By this time we'd attracted the attention of the other boats, and they began to move in on us. This got to be a little tricky as my fish was ranging over 100 feet from the boat, and I couldn't control it or get it closer to the boat. Fortunately, the other skippers were courteous and maintained their distance until I got the fish closer. After about 30 minutes, I got the fish in, and Neco gaffed it. I told Neco enough of that reel, and that I was gonna cut off the heavy marlin leader from my Shimano 25, and direct tie on a sardine hook. But Neco took a pull on the 3/0 line and said "No! See, it still moves," and holstered the 4/0 instead. I went back in the water with the Shimano, and Neco with the 3/0. And guess who gets bit again--Neco!
Neco passed the rod off to Tena, and this fish is all over the place, jumping up between other boats, crossing lines, etc. Again the other skippers were all very courteous and did their best to stay out of the fish's way. Tena was cussing the reel as he couldn't stop or control the fish, and kept cranking on the drag. Neco would run over and loosen the drag and tell him he couldn't do that. Tena told him he couldn't control the fish and cranked up the drag again, and Neco backed it off again. And then I think I learned some new Mexican cus words. Tena had to have been on that fish for at least 40 minutes before getting it to the boat, cussing the reel the whole time. He wore a blister on his finger, probably from the hot drag and/or the reel handle. Finally when he got the fish to the boat, and almost to gaff--for those of you not familiar with big fish, this is the critical part where you have to gently-with-force pull the fish to gaffing range, letting up on the drag a little so if the fish does a head snap it doesn't break the line--the drag seized and Tena didn't back it off, and the line snapped--more new mexican words for me! After that, the bite went cold, and we never got another strike. We could look in to the water and see a hundred dorado under and around us, but they wouldn't bite. All this time, there were marlin jumping around us, so we decided to go back to trolling, and maybe we could hook up with one. I told Neco to take off the Jigmaster and the 3/0 and put them in my bag, and I'd fix them tomorrow for free, and bring them back the same day so he'd be ready for his May charters. He said no. And I quote from an old friend of mine Jimmy Smith, "Oh, the Mexican mind is a thing to behold."
Back in the water again, we pointed the bow towards Palmas hoping for a marlin. They were jumping at a rate of about one every five minutes, but we couldn't buy a strike, and nothing came in to the wake. There was a cluster of boats off the Buenas Aires arroyo, and when we got close could see that one was hooked up, and marlin were jumping everywhere. We worked the area for 45 minutes or so but again never got a sniff, nor saw a tailer to throw a bait to. We finally said to hell with it, pulled the lines and headed for the beach. As we pulled the lines, removed the jigs, and coiled the leaders, Neco hollered and held up my old Sevenstrand Haloween jig--sans hooks! There was a clean cut in the 300 lb. leader loop that held the forward 10/0 hook. Also, several of the skirt ribbons were sliced off--a wahoo, and none of us saw the strike! It had cut the leader so fast, that it didn't even trip the outrigger. The only thing that held and saved my jig was the knot in the hook loop.
My fish is going on the BBQ for my birthday tomorrow, and Tena has promised to do the honors in my new BBQ pit--it's first real test other than hot dogs.
Tight Lines, Good Friends, and Cold Beer!, Ken