Feature Article: Gail Force/Triton Recap

Gail Force finds solid Island fishing in annual L.A. Harbor faceoff

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Aug 03, 2018


Special to Western Outdoor News

SAN PEDRO — Western Outdoor News Editor, Mike Stevens, was riding on the Triton when he threw down the gauntlet and stated the Triton would win all three jackpot places in this year’s Triton vs. Gail Force charter event. I scoffed at the notion since the Gail Force had taken two of the three places in 2017. But, they did in fact sweep the pots. However, we did have 25 beautiful yellowtail as well as barracuda, bonito, and very nice calico bass (no sculpin). More details appear below in Mike’s story on this event.

joannhoffmanscudaJOANNE HOFFMAN’S BARRACUDA is on display as this photo shows what a beautiful day it was at Catalina Island.

What a gorgeous day on the water as Captain Jared Malott picked us up at L.A. Waterfront Sportfishing dock in San Pedro after loading the bait tanks with sardines.

Captain Malott was styling in his new pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses that were presented by WON as he scanned the horizon for kelp paddies that might be holding some yellowtail or dorado. No luck on that front, but as we made several stops at his “secret” spots and caught many species, but went 0-for-5 on the larger jackpot-variety yellows that seemed to always find the right piece of structure to “saw off” the excited anglers or get discovered by the voracious sea lions.

The Gail Force traveled many miles to give her passengers the best chance of finding the pots of gold while bagging nice checkerboards along the way.

Finally, spots of boiling jacks were tearing it up, and I managed to hook one on the iron immediately at this honey hole. It seemed as if the entire boat hooked up as the fray continued. The Triton joined in on the fun, and the sister boats hopscotched their way to fine counts of the tasty critters including the 25 forkies on the Gail Force.

One final move to find the “kicker” fish to win the jackpot and Captain Malott found a nugget, but the only one to hook up to the larger variety was Steve Highwart who was conducting the cooking duties on this trip. After a grueling battle on 25-pound-test that saw the big forkie take him into water so shallow you could see the bottom, he muscled and cajoled the fish to Jared’s waiting gaff. Too bad it didn’t count for the jackpot or we might have won again! See y’all next year!

jackpotwinnerdonJACKPOT WINNER DON Myer of La Puente proudly shows off his new pair of Costas for winning the jackpot aboard the Gail Force.

COOK STEVE HIGHWART had to wrangle this bad boy out and away from a variety of structure at our last stop of the day. Captain Jared Malott provided the expert gaffing duties.

Triton finds wide-open forkies at Catalina

L.A. Harbor Sportfishing’s Triton sweeps annual Triton vs. Gail Force charter event. Captain calls it ‘the best fishing we’ve had all year.’


WON Staff Writer

SAN PEDRO — Fishing aboard the Triton in the annual WON Triton vs. Gail Force charter event set the new high mark as far as all the charters I’ve rode on are concerned.

The L.A. Harbor Sportfishing-based event is among the most popular on the WON schedule. On these boat-versus-boat combined-jackpot trips, cash goes to the top three fish caught between the two boats.

tritoncaptainTRITON CAPTAIN SHANE Kelly sticks the overall-biggest fish in the annual WON Triton vs. Gail Force charter event. PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

This year, the Triton would run into what turned out to be the best bite the vessel has had this season, and she would sweep the event with her passengers scoring all three jackpot slots.

The first fish of the day for the boat came in the form of some legal calico bass, good numbers of barely shorts and a quality bonito. I grabbed one of the Daiwa demo outfits (Proteus rods, Lexa reels loaded with J-Braid) present on most WON charters these days for anyone to use, snuck off to the side and dropped an MC Slug on a half-ounce head straight down and picked up two calicos on the sink on back-to-back drops. That bait would end up connecting me to a dozen or so solid calicos by trip’s end.

The Triton made a couple prospect stops for nada before arriving near Ship Rock where the party started. Long Beach angler Brady Garrett deployed a surface iron, and several of us saw a big yellowtail jump it full-speed from the side only to whiff on the jig. A short time later, Garrett had a sardine out that was inhaled within seconds of hitting the water. Captain Kelly Green closed the deal on the big forkie with some handy gaff work, and at 10:30 a.m., the jackpot bar had been set with a 20-plus pounder.

That fish was barely in the sack when another angler hooked another big yellow that would eventually saw him off in the rocks. Triton regular Steve Salcido of Rancho Cucamonga stepped into the ring next and hooked a quality mossback. Just 20 minutes after Garrett’s fish, Salcido’s was decked by Captain Kelly.

THE COMBINED-JACKPOT total of $450, plus a pair of Costa sunglasses and cash from the boat’s own jackpot went to Rancho Cucamonga angler Steve Salcido. Captain Shane Kelly sealed the deal with a fine gaff shot. PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

That flurry tapered off pretty quick, but Aliza Pore knuckled down on a very nice calico off the port corner. When the dust settled on this all-day Island trip, she’d also have “4 or 5” yellowtail in the sack.

The Triton headed further inside for some hot calico fishing. I grabbed another Daiwa demo rod, and even though that outfit was rigged with 40-pound TopKnot fluoro, the bass didn’t care and were chewing the pink off it on every cast.

At another inside spot near the tip of the Isthmus, anglers on the Triton absolutely teed off on a wide-open yellowtail bite that lasted at least (it’s all kind of a foggy blur now) the better part of an hour. Yellows were immediately all over the chum and stalking surface iron. I saw four tailing the Waxwing I retrieved on my first cast. Soon, every fly-lined sardine that hit the water was assaulted resulting in a hook-up frenzy that quickly had the deck of the Triton covered in Catalina mossbacks.

Crewman Jeff on the bait tank multi-tasked during the ensuing melee like I’ve never seen. Constantly firing off ’dines in all directions, calling out boilers, breezers and chasers. Without missing a beat there, he would also direct angler traffic across the stern, which several times hosted half-a-dozen bent rods, with quick instruction along the lines of, “black shirt, run to the corner! Tank top, step back and let ‘rasta shorts’ pass in front of you!” and yes, I got to hear my t-shirt in the mix, “Fresh one! Western Outdoor News is hooked up!”

Crewman Mikey and Captain Shane Kelly whipped around the deck on gaff patrol, which didn’t involve the whole “what’s your number?” element of that transaction. There was no time. Those two would orbit the Triton gaffing fish, flopping them on the deck at your feet and moving on to the next one while anglers unhooked and bagged their own, which was zero problem whatsoever under the circumstances.

THIS YELLOWTAIL ATE a sardine fished by Brady Garrett of Long Beach and fell just short of first-place in the combined jackpot. He took home $270 for second.

That went on for an hour. At one point, three minutes passed without a bite and guys were joking about it. When it was all said and done, 56 yellowtail were bagged, and the crew estimated there were 100 hookups to get there, and I’m going to assume 50 of those came on that stop.

Those first two big ’tails did take the top two jackpot spots. Salcido’s was biggest, and he took home $450 in combined jackpot money, and a pair of Costa sunglasses (a pair went to the biggest fish on each boat). Garrett took second and pocketed $270, and Josh Jackley locked up the sweep for the Triton and took third and $150.

Like all WON Charters, all passengers on both boats got hats from Daiwa and Costa and packs of VMC hooks, and there was Daiwa J-Braid and Sufix mono bulk spools on hand for those needing to fill up. Yo-Zuri Top Knot leader wheels that anyone needing a fluoro leader could cut a length off were also in good supply.

Personally, I don’t fish on all WON charters. I let the fishing dictate whether or not I get in the game, because if it’s slow, I don’t want to take rail space from a paying customer, and I still stay well out of the way.

Aboard the Triton that day, I fished.

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