Feature Article: Daiwa/Pacific Queen

What dreams are made of

BY FRANK MURATA/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Aug 10, 2017

SAN DIEGO — The summer tuna season has taken shape. Sportboats are gearing up for the multitudes of anglers coming out to fill their freezers with filets.

The trip was a Daiwa-sponsored 3-day on the Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing. I was on deck greeting all our passengers when I met with Captain Gavin Harbour to discuss the plans for the trip. He says, “Bluefin tomorrow?”

Of course, there is no argument on my part.

A 115-POUND bluefin on 60-pound for the author.

The safety meeting takes place and Gavin announces our plans for the next day: Use the heaviest rig you brought, preferably 80- to 100-pound setups.

We depart the landing, grab bait, and we’re off for the bluefin grounds. We arrive just about dark and Gavin announces to drop some lines, but to no avail. Oh well.

We settle in and are served an awesome meal by Heather Bodnar and assistant Ryan San Jose. Gavin announces we are going to the island to make bait and should be back on the fishing grounds at 4 a.m. Everyone settled in with stomachs full, anticipating the morning.

By 4 a.m., lines are going over the rail and around 5 a.m., the magic started to happen.

One hookup, two, then three are going. Everyone was using some kind of Flat-Fall jig. In that first group of bites, I get my chance at one of the big boys, and 25 minutes later, a 115 pounder came over the rail.

The bite started to get consistent, and at one point, we had about 10 rods going at once. Our casualty rate is about 50 percent. All pulled hooks.

Around 6 a.m., Round 2 starts up. The kite was sent up with live flyers caught the night before. The kite got bit, and now the real big boys are in the game. About 100 yards away we saw a huge splash, and the kite starts to drop, and the light got tight. Paige Helvig was given the rod and tag teams this fish with her father, Alan Helvig.

anglergarytsunodaANGLER GARY TSUNODA with a chunky 32-pound yellow.

The next kite went up and again, another bite. By 9 a.m. it’s quiet and the remaining fish on hooks are still being fought. Some anglers have been on their fish for 2 or 3 hours at this point.

We added things up when the dust settled and knew at that point 13 bluefin had come over the rail. We estimated 10 are over 100 and two more are over 200 pounds!

Looking to fill the boat, we headed out to the Cortez for some yellowtail and bonito. Again, we get our share. Bonito ranging from 4 to 7 pounds and yellowtail in the 10- to 20-pound class. We finished off our day with one side of the fish holds completely full.

Gavin and I met again and we decided to head south where we found kelp-paddy fishing at its finest. We got into the small ones on a few and then on one stop, the larger models started biting. It was non-stop action the entire day. In the afternoon and Gavin announced to only keep dorado because both fish holds are full. What a great problem to have! I walk by one of our anglers and I hear, “This trip is what dreams are made of.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

Our final count: 14 bluefin tuna, two over 200 pounds — the largest scaled out at 270, with 10 more over 100. Three bluefin came on the kite, the rest on a Flat-Fall or sinker/live bait rig. We also had 1 yellowfin tuna, 26 dorado, numerous bonito and limits of yellowtail. The top 3 fish went to Paige and Alan Helvig (270 pounds), Nishan Berksanlar (220) and Kenji Oda (177). Yours truly had a pair of fish at 105 and 115.

Special thanks go out to the Pacific Queen, Captain Gavin Harbour and Second Capt. Billy Santiago, along with deckhands Bobby Medland, Jarred Templeton and Andrew Castaneda. A big thanks for our awesome meals prepared by Heather Bodnar and assistant Ryan San Jose, too.

THE BIG FISH of the trip, a 270-pound bluefin for Page and Alan Helvig, caught on a kite and a live flying fish.

anotherkitebluefinANOTHER KITE BLUEFIN,  this one a 220 for Nishan Berksanlar.

EASY E — Eric Wright with a nice 25-pound dorado.

anglersfromtheANGLERS FROM THE Daiwa-sponsored Pacific Queen 3-day trip with their healthy tuna catch.

The Longfin Tackle Shop
The Longfin Tackle Shop