Feature Article: WON/Pacific Star Charter

WON-Pacific Star 2 1⁄2-day charter runs to SCI and SBI for loads of rockfish and a love-letter WSB

BY BOB SEMERAU/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 13, 2017

LONG BEACH — The annual Western Outdoor News/Pacific Star charter is one that anglers watch out for every year.

“I’ve been out on this WON charter several times and it always seems to be a blast!” said charter regular, Fred Roberts.

With the Pacific Star out on a single-day trip the day of departure, anglers waited for the crew to turn the boat around, cleaning and reloading for the WON 2½-day. Their quick work led to a call to “come on down” and the assembled party made the short walk along the docks at Pierpoint Landing.

LOVE-LETTER WSB for Travis Barrow. The story is a very touching ending with a huge biscuit at San Clemente Island.

Pacific Star owner/operator, Mike Bullard, was on hand to greet the anglers, despite a pressing family medical issue that would keep the seasoned skipper from running this charter. All aboard wished Bullard and family the best of outcomes, as do all of us here at Western Outdoor News.

Stowing gear became a bit of a problem when it was realized that several anglers brought along their entire fishing arsenal, with 7 and 8 rods in their quivers. The crew managed to sort it out by having the least likely to be needed rods stowed on the upper sun-deck.

“We’ll top off the tanks with more squid and some sardines before heading out,” announced relief Captain Rick Podolak, now in charge of the 75-foot sportfisher. The arrival at the bait receiver allowed the skipper to gather all aboard in to the spacious galley salon for a safety briefing and rundown of the fishing action plan.

“San Clemente Island has shown a few spots of yellowtail but will be pretty crowded on Saturday, so I suggest we go there and give it a try on our first day out. After that we can scoot over to Santa Barbara Island or San Nicolas if everything looks right,” offered Capt. Podolak.

The assembled anglers agreed to that plan and attention shifted to the fun and profitable business at hand. With everyone paying rapt attention, free swag and raffle prizes sent along by trip sponsors Costa, Turner’s Outdoorsman, Yo-Zuri, Sufix, J-Braid and VMC Hooks was doled out.

Hook packs went to all, Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon and Turner’s $50 gift cards were raffled off, as was a pair of Costa sunglasses worth about $200, won by angler Bob Tyndall, of Rancho Palos Verdes.

“Use a small egg sinker, about 1⁄4- to 3⁄8-ounce and a 2/0 hook; or start out with a dropper loop and about a 10-ounce torpedo sinker and a 2/0 hook,” explained the skipper during his address to the troops.

OLD SALTS, Ed Bath, left, and Herbert Bornhoff, right, worked the bow for limits of lingcod and rockfish.

After Pacific Star moved out of the harbor and night driver and all around good-guy, Captain Matt Stober, took the helm for the night, the process of rigging up for the morning’s action got underway in earnest. The crew helped anglers load up reels with the J-Braid X-4, in blue 50- and 65-pound-test from huge spools brought along by WON. Some anglers opted to use the supple and strong, either blue or clear monofilament in 20- and 30-pound-test from Sufix. By the return run, heading for home, both spools of the J-braid, totaling 6,000 yards of it, was loaded up. The spools of Sufix were waning as well.

Hitting their racks and enjoying a sound night’s sleep for the overnight ride out to SCI across smooth waters, anglers were ready for the 5 a.m. arrival at the island. A drift was set up down China Ridge, along the backside of San Clemente Island, and the hunt was on for the day. Dropper loops, yo-yo jigs, egg sinkers and 2/0 hooks, all were tried.

Captain Podolak worked the area for a few hours then began moving Pacific Star up coast and the SCI World Tour was under way. Several more stops and drifts gave up a few rockfish, but none were worth a mention.

Traveling further along SCI’s outside shoreline, the skipper came to a pinnacle he said usually gave up a good assortment of fish. His call was on the mark as fish began to come over the rail.

Costa winner, Bob Tyndall, and frequent charter angler, Fred Roberts, got on the scoreboard early with a flurry of larger model reds and chucklehead.

Young, 13-year-old angler, Andrew Legg, came out with his dad, Don Legg, for one of their multi-day fishing trips together. Andrew, who will attend 8th grade at Bertlyn Middle School this fall, lives in Torrance and has some experience at the rail.

Showing his moves, Andrew pulled in a big lingcod that looked to be 18 pounds or more, along with several other rockfish throughout the day at SCI.

rockfishlimitsforROCKFISH LIMITS FOR all on WON-Pacific Star charter 2017.

David Rochan joins the WON Charters when he can, and this was no exception. For the Pacific Star experience, David brought along the talented lady angler, Jasmin Franklin, who, after a little training and assistance form deckhand Alex Perez, managed a few good-sized rockfish of her own.

Rudy Scott enjoys fishing but also likes to snap a photo or two. Rudy decided early-on in the charter he would help out with recording images of the charter and many of the pictures were taken by Rudy, thank you very much.

Mid-day and during a big move around the island, Pacific Star cook, Myron Clark served up a filling lunch of chicken breast with gravy and fixings.

Capt. Podolak moved Pacific Star to the west end of SCI and some deep-water rockfish. After an hour in the deep 30-fathom action, the boat was moved inside once again to the “original” West Cove to finish out the day before running to our next target.

Drifts were tried with little action.

“We’re gonna set the pick and stand-by here for the evening,” called the captain over the PA.

Plenty of time remained for some serious fishing before sunset and angler Travis Barrow pulled out a secret weapon.

“My girlfriend gave this jig to me just before we left,” said the local angler. The iron was a non-descript, blade yo-yo jig in turquoise and white. After working the iron for just a few minutes he felt the pull and pulse of a big fish on the end of the line.

As the fish ran out, speculation was that it might be a white seabass, or just another ray. Crew member Alex Perez stood by with the gaff and said it was indeed a “pretty big sea-biscuit” and not a ray.

TWO REDS FOR Fred Roberts. Fred got a limit of rockfish, including reds, chucklehead, and much prized, sheephead.

While battling the fish, Travis explained that this jig meant a lot to him because his girlfriend had written a note to him. The hand-written missive said that she hoped the jig would bring him happiness because after all these years, at last they were together again and she had her true love. The note went on to say that 20 years ago they had fallen away from each other, and only this year, found one another once again. Touchingly, Travis’ lost love had written that note on the back of this very jig.

A cheer rang out aboard Pacific Star when deckhands Sam and Alex gaffed the big croaker and brought it over the rail as the Love Letter White Seabass of San Clemente Island became part of a beautiful love story.

The plan was to sit out the evening in the cove and make the run to San Nicolas around midnight, giving hardcore fishermen a chance at some night fishing, here in the cove.

With the sun set the crew began cutting fillets from the day’s catch while the cook set out pork loin with potatoes au gratin and veggies. Once dinner was cleared away and the poker game begun, most anglers hit the bunks and rested up for the day to come.

During a break in the friendly game, the skipper appeared with some important news.

“The weather report is not good for San Nic,” explained Captain Podolak. “We are seeing 25- to 35-knot winds and 8-foot seas in the morning. If we go, it could be pretty tough fishing.”

With a short discussion among the gathered late-night anglers and the poker crew, the decision was an easy one to make. With that, while most of the charter anglers slept, night driver and second captain, Matt Stober, took Pacific Star the 30 miles over to Santa Barbara Island near the west end, at Arch Point. The engines once again eased and the anchor was set inside the cove. In the calm dark of the warm pre-dawn hour, a few hard-core guys got up to test their luck.

Immediately, a dropper loop rig went off, and then a set-up using an egg sinker baited with a live squid, began to peel line.

This reporter invested 20 minutes pulling on a black seabass nearing 80 pounds, that was immediately released. Other anglers took in a pair of rays that also were sent back, but Chris Booker, from Corona, seemed to be on the right track.

BIG FISH HONORS went to Herbert Bornhoff for his 20-plus-pound halibut. The 82-year-old angler fishes the WON-Pacific Star charter each year.

When Chris’ rod took a deep bend at just past 6 a.m., still fishing the cove at Arch Point, the fight and the run made it clear, this was a sizable yellowtail on the line.

The line sped off the reel while Chris sidestepped up one rail and down the other as the mossback took the angler ’round the boat. Inch by inch, the line came back on the reel and Chris gained ground. With deckhand Pat Ferguson at his side, Chris pulled and lifted to bring the fish to gaff. The larger-model forkie hit the deck to be the sole yellowtail of this trip.

Another rod quickly went bendo there in the cove, and this time it was 82-year-old angler Herbert Bonhoff that was in for a fight. This fight took place in the spot at the rail where Herbert had hooked the fish, and he stood his ground firmly. After a short battle, the seasoned angler saw color, and a gaff slipped into the 20-plus-pound halibut, and the largest fish of the trip was soon on ice.

Herbert paired up with fellow octogenarian, Ed Bath, investing most of their trip working from the bow of Pacific Star where the duo loaded up on lingcod and rockfish throughout the trip.

With a slowing bite, the skipper called for lines up, and the boat moved offshore for deeper rockfish.

Several drifts gave up lots of fish and then, back inside for a shot at more forkies and WSB. Circumnavigating SBI does not take very long as the island comprises a land mass of just one square mile. Once around the island, the Captain opted to finish the day with a few more offshore drifts, and plenty of huge rockfish filled sacks for all aboard.

With the appointed hour drawing near, Pacific Star began a smooth ride home before following seas allowing weary anglers to get some rest during the 5-hour ride back to the docks at Pierpoint Landing.

Contacts: Pacific Star, (951) 302-6383.

ANDREW LEGG, 13 years old, bagged a limit of rockfish along with one huge lingcod. Andrew fishes with his dad, Don Legg, on overnight and multi-day charters whenever he can.

craigbigredCRAIG “BIG RED” KOJINA, right, gets an assist from deckhand Alex Perez with one of his many rockfish taken at SCI and SBI islands.

SBI FORKIE TAKEN by angler, Chris Booker, center, gaffed by deckhand Pat Ferguson, left, with Captain Rick Podolak, right, at Santa Barbara Island.

PORK LOIN DINNER brings a smile to angler Herbert Bonhoff while seated in the galley salon of Pacific Star.

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