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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017
The largest and the smallest…
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Dorado Dilemma


The Fundamentals
As I wandered through the crowd of anglers who were registering for the Bisbee East Cape Offshore tournament recently, eavesdropping on some of their discussions about conditions, techniques, bait, etc, I was reminded of some of my tournament days in the 80s.

theteamanglers
THE TEAM (anglers alternated occasionally) on my boat, the “WaterCloset” spent most of our summers and falls chasing striped marlin off the Southern California coast.


The team (anglers alternated occasionally) on my boat, the “WaterCloset” spent most of our summers and falls chasing striped marlin off the Southern California coast. Usually every spring before the offshore season heated up, some of the fishing clubs would host “Marlin Seminars” with a panel of Professional Captains mixed with those very knowledgeable few who ran their personal boats: Captains, Gene Grimes, Peter Groesbeck, Mike “The Beak” Hurt, Steve Lassley, along with private boaters, Mark Josepho, John Tanner and others, including myself.


There was usually standing room only, as eager ‘newbies’ were joined by seasoned veterans in search of ways to improve their catch. Most expected secret tips that would transform them into instant high-liners, although the reality was that the information was mostly about fundamentals … the basics.


This season, as a photographer on a number of boats, I’ve noticed that many of the fundamentals that were almost always automatically applied back then have been lost.


I have had the privilege of riding with many of the world’s top fishing Captains and without giving any secrets away, the most important lesson to learn from them is their attention to detail. Captains and crews alike do sweat the small stuff.


Every fishing day begins as a blank slate. Sure, the web or friends may have provided some possible intel based on prior trips, which can be important, but even more important, most days, the blank slate should be filled with the following:


• Temperature changes and current breaks,


• Kelp paddies, Sargasso, floating objects and bait,


• Feeding fish, sleepers, porpoise, birds,


• Bites,


• And anything else that you might want to return to later, no matter how trivial it may seem.


ALL of the above should be marked on your GPS, even it is just the MOB button, and then it should be labeled after everything settles down. Also, turn on the tracking which will simplify knowing where you have been. These items are a piece of the day’s puzzle that may be important later that day or even on the next trip.


IF you are trolling and that sometimes long-awaited strike finally comes, don’t touch the throttle until you have assessed what is happening. If the fish is hooked, slow the boat gradually; do not pull the throttles back abruptly. Either way — hooked or not -- mark a waypoint on your GPS. If the fish falls off, continue trolling in a gradual circle back over the area of the bite.


Another tip: mark the area where the event took place with a paper plate; this will give you a visual reference to work from.


During the course of the day, as your number of waypoints grow use them to create the parameters of the area you are working. Be aware of not only the directions you tack but also which ones you have the most bites on. Up swell, down swell or cross swell … all have an effect on how the lures swim.


Lure placement in the pattern can also be a factor. Count from the corner of the stern when setting up the pattern and remember placement can vary with sea conditions.


A very essential key to success is your crew and how you communicate with them. In the midst of an event there is a fine line between speaking loudly enough to be heard over the engine noise, and yelling. When an event happens, everyone’s adrenalin is coursing through their veins … no need in adding to it!


Avoiding chaos in the cockpit is a huge advantage. I’ve seen operations that seem to thrive on just that and do very well. However, the operations that avoid that distraction seem to be flying more flags at the end of the day.


If your crew alternates, it is critical to fill them in on the way out to the fishing grounds on what is expected of each member. The worse time to have a conversation about who will do what is after the clicker sounds. Be sure that each member understands their role prior to the beginning of the fishing day. Who is the angler, who clears the tackle, who does the drop back, etc. Knowing this in advance will add to your ability to achieve your goal.


Last, tackle and equipment storage: In the midst of a hookup, having crew members floundering around trying to locate a butt plate, gaff or other necessary items can be annoying; they should be stored in their proper place and team members should be told in advance where they are located.


Put the same effort in planning your fishing day as you did in planning your fishing trip. Apply these fundamentals and it won’t be long before you and your crew will earn the title of “high-liner”.


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