WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS/MALIHINI
The deep water outside Point Loma gives up some good shows and a couple opportunities on the first yellowtail of the year for WON’s Surface Iron Seminar on the Malihini
THIS SEASON’S FIRST LOCAL YELLOWTAIL popped from Point Loma to La Jolla.
POINT LOMA — There are certain trips that somehow, some way, they always work out; the fishing can be horrible leading up to these magic horseshoe trips planned a year in advance, but, sometimes almost miraculously, the fishing part works out in one way or another. WON’s Surface Iron Seminar on the Malihini is one of them.
In the days leading up to the trip, it looked as though the fourth annual trip was going to be a rockfishing trip. After all, the water was cold and there had yet to be any sign of surface fish to throw a jig at. No barracuda with a few yellowtail thrown in like the first year of the trip, no wide-open yellowtail fishing on the ’Pile like 2010, no shots at yellowtail to go with the rockfish like last year. Nope, the writing was on the wall: pack the sinkers; it’s going to be all rockfish this year.
The 32 anglers lined up to get a spiel on fishing surface irons and the giveaways that make the trips special were certainly thinking rockfish. None of them thought they would see a yellowtail or have a chance at throwing a jig at something. They were in for a surprise.
“So here’s the deal, guys (and gal),” I said in the pre-trip briefing before heading down the dock. “There were some yellowtail caught from Point Loma to La Jolla before all this weather came through. But that was before it blew 40 knots on Saturday.”
“The only chance we have at yellowtail — or anything to throw a jig at — is to stick it out local. We might go up there and catch a few, or it might be cold and rolled over, but either way this is a surface iron trip so at least we’ll get to throw the jigs at something,” I finished.
All of a sudden the jigs were getting tied on with a purpose while Mikey Schmidt slid the yet-to-catch-a-yellowtail-this-season Malihini out of H&M Landing.
At the end of a day, what makes the charters that WON does special is the giveaways, and this trip is always one of the juiciest in the giveaway department. Gary Quon from Tady Lures was on hand to give everyone a pack with two jigs, while I handed out a pack of Yo-Zuri Power Carbon to go with Lazer Sharp hooks, shirts and hats from the hook company. A pre-fishing briefing combined a raffle with the seminar on jig selection, casting and retrieving and when to fish the surface iron versus the yo-yo iron.
It was different making a right turn out of San Diego Bay and heading up instead of down on the coast’s longest standing ¾-day boat, but it didn’t take long to get on the first spot of yellowtail and get the jigs in the air.
A big area of terns and shearwaters were obviously on bait in the deepwater outside Point Loma proper, but were there any yellows in it? Schmidt confirmed there were with the sonar, as a silver dollar-sized ball of yellows showed on the sonar and after getting over the top of it, he told everyone to get the yo-yo jig down. Most were in surface iron mode — it was a surface iron trip, after all — so it was mostly surface irons getting thrown. No fish bit, but the sonar fish brought up one of those classic adjusting to the situation moments that happens on sportboats. “Okay guys, so let’s be ready with two outfits. We’ll use our yo-yo jigs when it’s sonar fish and we do not see any fish or birds picking on the surface, and we’ll use our surface irons IF we get on a school that is up high and dry pushing bait around,” went the nugget of instruction after stop one of the day.
Stop two was again on a sonar school, and everyone could tell that it was a good one based on how Schmidt’s voice has that excited sound coming across the PA. The chum went flying and a fish even boiled up right before Robert Groeber got bit on a chrome Tady 9 that he had just been given back in San Diego Bay with the goodie bag. The fish put up a nice fight and eventually the forkie hit the deck, showing everyone what they came for in the process. Dateline: April 15, Point Loma, deep-water sonar mark: Malihini gets it first yellowtail of the year.
Schmidt didn’t get back on the sonar school; instead, a spot of terns to the northwest drew his attention, and upon getting closer the first spot of puddlers (definition: yellowtail up slurping tiny bait off the surface) showed themselves. It was time to switch back over to the surface irons.
The fish were really, really picky, as they were keyed in to the small squid they were slurping up off the surface and most just ignored the jig. My Tady A1 had a yellowtail turn broadside on it and miss the hooks (strike one), while the other jigs just swam right through the school of 20 plus yellowtail. After getting back on it for one more shot the school just dissipated.
The life looked to be best to the northeast, and after getting a mile closer towards La Jolla, another tern bird school gave up the location of a spot of yellowtail that wanted to get up. Green backs and pushes of water popped up right as the boat got close and everyone let fly with the surface irons. The yellows were in a real tight ball pushing the squid around and Arnold Kubo of Mahi Tackle got stopped on a heavy yo-yo iron tossed past and wound through the fish. Everything came tight, but before line started coming off the reel, the jig fell out. Then I got double bumped — once as the A1 kicked into the spot, once again when the same fish doubled back to try and eat it again as it kicked out of the school — for the second missed opportunity.
The school of yellows just stayed up on the surface milling around, occasionally puddling up. The crowd wasn’t too bad so far as skiff pressure went, and the only skiff near us was that of American Angler skipper Brian Kiyohara’s. A long cast into the puddlers ended with a blow-up on Kiyohara’s jig; it was a pretty cool sight from the deck of the big boat.
The spot really came together good the next time around, with the whole school of yellowtail milling around just a half jig cast from the Malihini. Jig after jig flew into the school, but the fish looked to be keyed in on the squid and only the occasional yellowtail would even turn to look at a jig. Then the fish sank out only to pop up a long cast away off the starboard bow. It was right on the edge of where I thought I could put the small surface iron after six months without throwing a jig, but mid-cast with the Newell 332 on the new Calstar GG 90J MAG I realized that I was going to get the distance right as what started as three green backs turned into the whole school puddling up on the squid. The jig landed about 10 feet behind the school, allowing for the jig to get swam right into the spot of puddlers.
Schmidt had said that if someone could land one of the yellows he’d buy them a beer, and all of a sudden I was in a spot to both drink on the job and have a beer before noon.
After my fish stuck, the whole school charged the starboard side, darting around and putting on a pretty good show. Most were mid-cast and couldn’t throw on the spot, and the few that did ended in backlashes.
And then they were gone, but one school member short thanks to my 22 pounder that made it easy to justify spending the rest of the day chasing yellowtail.
The fish would be the last yellowtail to hit the deck, but there were some good shows, as the small schools of roughly 5 to 25 yellowtail would get up and puddle around before sinking out or swimming out of casting range.
Two yellowtail for the day wasn’t much, but it was a lot more than any of us expected...
GARY QUON of Tady Lures picked off a rockfish on the smallest of the Tady surface irons, the A1.
GIVEAWAYS AND GOODIES — The model that makes WON Charters winners thanks to Yo Zuri fluorocarbon, Lazer Sharp hooks and Tady Lures.
IT PAID to be named Matt, as the two Matts were two of the anglers scoring the $50 Tuner’s Gift Cards.
A CHROME TADY 9 did the trick for Robert Groeber.
CAN YOU PICK OUT which was the grand prize for Robert Grober? Hint: it’s the Global fish mount.