WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS/SEA ADVENTURE 80 CHARTER
PADDY PLUCKING — With no real shape to the offshore season, WON’s Sea Adventure 80 charter hunted kelp yellows and newly arrived dorado. Even on a tough trip, it gets hot and heavy at the rail.
SAN DIEGO — “We’ve had tough days even in the best years. As long as you control the controllables, you’ve done everything you can,” Scott McDaniels, captain of the Sea Adventure 80 said the evening of July 28 as the sun sank into the sea, bringing a near-end to WON’s 2.5-day charter aboard the comfortable sportfisher. An hour after dark, the trolling lines were still chugging along in the wake, a final never-say-die effort that would pay off big for a particular young man.
14-year old Kevin Crowell of Oceanside had tirelessly prowled the deck. With every stop, he’d baited up and cast out, a look of determination on his face. The effort hadn’t paid off. Two days in and hundreds of miles under the keel – Capt. McDaniels pushed south as far as 182 miles from Pt. Loma in a dogged effort to make a catch — like several other anglers, young Crowell was still looking to connect.
EXTRA INNINGS HOME RUN — Kevin Crowell, 14, admires the bluefin he battled an hour after the sun set on WON’s Sea Adventure 80 charter. Can-do crew member Jimmy Merrill lends a hand.
Zzzzz. Hook-up! A heavy strike crushed Crowell’s Rapala X-Rap Magnum Divebait, one of the many raffle prizes enjoyed by WON’s charter anglers. A weighty fish nailed Crowell to the corner. This wasn’t one of the kelp paddy dorado, clouds of which were newly arrived in the 80-100 mile zone, shaping up in beautiful water but so far reluctant to chew. It wasn’t one of the schoolie yellows plucked in scattered ones, twos and threes, or even one of the jackpot mossbacks that railed a few lucky anglers earlier in the day. This, at last, was a tuna. Crowell was in for a fight.
The Sea Adventure 80 had set out on Thursday with tempered hopes. Kelps were small and scarce, there was no defined mass of fish, and the water was “generic” in McDaniel’s terminology – no defined edges. Having skipped San Diego waters, the albacore were already vacationing in far northern waters. And the wind was up.
“I know you’re hungry for tuna. We’ll give it all we’ve got. We’ll go long if that’s what it takes,” Capt. McDaniels had vowed. And although he refused to heap too much praise on his operation — “We aim to be in the high percentages, of fish caught and good service,” he said — he couldn’t resist mentioning that the Sea Adventure 80 had caught the first bluefin of the season two years running. “We’re at the top of the season counts. I’m an old school guy. I love to mess ’em up. We ain’t saving nothing for next week,” he added.
Given the tough going, McDaniels had urged WON’s anglers to seize every advantage. “Break out those designer hooks, spool up with new mono and tie on fluorocarbon leaders,” he said. No problem; WON loaded everyone up with packs of wicked Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp hooks and leader spools of Yo Zuri Power Carbon, and set out bulk spools of silky Sufix Superior string for everyone’s use.
HOOKED UP — None of WON’s Sea Adventure 80 anglers went empty handed. Everyone was given piles of Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp hooks and spools of Yo Zori Power Carbon leader. Many won Turner’s Outdoorsman gift cards, Williamson Baits Tuna Catcher Kits, and Rapala X-Rap Magnun Divebaits – one accounted for the extra innings tuna.
Aaron Gordon of Bend, Oregon got things going with the first nice yellowtail to hit the deck. The achievement came with a $50 gift card from Turner’s Outdoorsman, one of four awarded on the trip. A stop or two later, dorado jumped wildly as they crashed the chum line. Rich Bozner of Corona hooked the first of the liquid gold and green fish. A rare troll fish bit a Williamson Lures Tuna Catcher Kit jig, another of the many WON raffle prizes.
Between paddy hops, cook Frank Chapman kept anglers chewing on eggs Benedict, hearty brisket and potatoes, and other savory snacks worthy of the long-range fleet. “The food was excellent,” agreed Michael McLernon of Oceanside.
“I just got a call that the boat just down the line landed a 93-pound albacore on octopus. Unfortunately we’re fresh out of octopus,” McDaniels joked to lighten the mood. That prompted tales of other mystical creatures: 115-pound sheephead and 40-pound calico bass.
At the end of day one the score stood at 18 yellowtail, one dorado and 182 long miles. Day two would be better, if not in numbers then in quality. As the boat headed back up the line on a new, untried track farther offshore, Dale Harris of Riverside picked up a solid yellow as the boat trolled by a small kelp. The Sea Adventure 80 slid to a stop, rods bent up and down the rails, and Jerry Hobart of Oceanside and Keith Haag of Valencia hit it big. The two battled bruiser yellowtail side-by-side — solid fish in the mid 30s. Harris had the bigger one by a hair, good for the $600 jackpot. And that was it until the sun had set for the final time of the trip. Back to young Kevin Crowell, still pinned in the corner a solid hour after dark.
THAT’S NO SCHOOLIE — Jerry Hobart of Oceanside found this quality forkie, good for the $600 jackpot.
Crowell gritted his teeth and pulled hard as his father Bob looked on proudly. “He’s a baseball player at Mission Vista High School. He’s hardcore. He loves to fish,” the elder Crowell said. Meanwhile, crew members Jimmy Merrill and Terry “MD” Summerville flanked the young man, calmly offering encouragement and watchfully keeping him out of trouble.
“It’s tough to mix baseball and fishing,” Bob had said earlier, but that hasn’t slowed down a kid who started so young he can’t remember his first fish. His largest is another story, a 40-pound albacore caught in an earlier season.
“Keep your rod tip up.” “Come on, give it to ‘em!” “You’re good, you’re good – keep it going!”
At last the late-biting bluefin hit the deck. Crowell collected high fives from the crew as he stood tired and smiling, like he’d just crossed the plate after a tenth inning walk-off blast.
“Dragging lines an hour after dark shows you how long we fished. Comparatively speaking, we were one of the high boats this particular weekend. We love to fish and we know you love to fish,” McDaniels said, summing up the trip. The skipper expects the fishing to improve (it had as of press time). “We saw a lot more dorado than bit. They’re going to shape up. It should lead into three weeks of really good yellowtail fishing like last year,” he said.
DORADO MAKE A SHOWING — The mahi are moving up. Rich Bozner of Corona cashed in on this one 100 miles south of Pt. Loma. Crew member Terry “MD” Summerville, a skilled long-ranger, with the assist. The Sea Adventure 80 charter found dorado as close as 80 miles out, in bigger numbers than wanted to bite.
In The Wheelhouse With Captain Scott McDaniels
SAN DIEGO — Scott McDaniel’s sportfishing career started as a pinhead for Art’s Landing in Newport. He earned his master’s license nearly forty years ago, in 1973. Old school? You bet.
“You’ve got to have a go for it attitude,” he says.
This is a prankster, a joker. “We like to have fun, and get down on the deck,” he says. He’s also a gambler who is deadly serious about fishing. “I like to take a chance. We go where the fish are,” he adds.
He’s skippered a veritable fleet of sportfishers in his long career: the Cortez, the Pronto, the Pegasus, and the Grande, which lives up to its name. “I went from a 45-foot boat to 85 feet.” Fishing runs in the family blood. These days his son James McDaniels owns it.
“I’m proud of my son. He’d run the Dominator all season long then get on the Excel for 100 days. He was the youngest at 21 to buy an 85-foot boat.
The Grande is big. It was nothing compared to McDaniels’ mid-2000s stint out of the fishing business. He ran a powerful tug towing drilling rigs out of Egypt. That was high stakes. “Crash into a pumper and you’re never getting another job.”
But it didn’t fire him up as much as making a catch. “I’m a good enough tow operator I don’t have to do this. I do it because I love it,” he says.
That passion brought him back home. He’s owned the Sea Adventure 80 since 2008.
CAPTAIN ON DECK — McDaniels getting dirty on the tank. This man loves to catch fish.
The Sea Adventure 80: A darn good two and a half day boat
In San Diego’s powerhouse sportfishing fleet, Capt. Scott McDaniels and his crew have carved out a niche for themselves. The Sea Adventure 80 specializes in 2.5-day trips, rounded out with 1.5- to 3-day outings.
“By ending a trip on a half day, we can fish until dark (or after). There’s time to shake off any rust,” McDaniels said. The typical 2.5-day angler has seen a few battles. “This is for a serious fisherman, a guy on his game, a great introduction to long range fishing” McDaniels added.
The boat, built in 1988, offers angling amenities reminiscent of the 7- and 8-day sportfishing cruisers. It’s a wide platform with plenty of space between the house and the rail. There’s room to move around even in a ripper bite with the boat’s typical maximum load of 32 anglers.
“We have very good fuel and bait capacities. Did you see the bait tank? It’s eight feet deep,” McDaniels said. Fish are kept in top shape refrigerated fish holds.
Creature comforts include a mix of air-conditioned staterooms and bunks, satellite flat panel TVs in the galley, free fountain soda, and hot water showers. Food is included in many charters. For more, visit www.fishseaadventure80.com
— Paul Lebowitz