Accurate Fishing Products


Feature Article_ WON/Sea Adventure 80 Charter

WON-Sea Adventure 80 2-1/2-day charter

BY BOB SEMERAU/WON Staff WriterPublished: Sep 21, 2018

Big blues add to the punch

SAN DIEGO — The pounding drum beat of news stories about the big bluefin up at San Clemente Island resonated in the ears of all the charter members boarding Sea Adventure 80 for this year’s Western Outdoor News annual charter. Most everyone had come prepared this time with heavy gear for the big boys, just in case. True, there were plenty of standard rigs for the schoolie-and-better-sized yellowfin recently in the mix, and for the tons of skipjack tuna loading up the counts out of San Diego landings.

BIG BLUEFIN, A real handful at 164-pounds for deckhand Jacob Hull, left, Capt. Mike McDaniels, center, and angler Manny Lozano, right.

Captain Mike McDaniels was in charge this year after having worked the night shift as second Captain for last year’s WON charter. Capt. McDaniels took SA80 out for bait and fuel earlier in the day for a quick departure at the appointed 7 p.m. “go time.”

Before leaving H&M Landing, loads of swag were handed out including reel spool-ups of J-Braid in 50- and 65-pound, and Sufix mono line in 20- and 30-pound test. Costa sunglasses, Rapala and Williamson lures, VMC hook packs, Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon, J-Braid, and more were also doled out in a raffle for the excited anglers. A pair of Costa Sunglasses valued at $250 went to a very grateful Captain McDaniels and another would be awarded to the big fish for the trip along with a $25 gift certificate from Angler’s Choice tackle shop.

Captain McDaniels came by the stern deck to discuss the options before heading out.

“We have been getting yellowfin and dorado on kelps at the 390, along the border, but the big bluefin are still hanging near San Clemente Island,” explained the young skipper as he checked the Navy’s on-line listing for possible island closures at SCI.

The island would remain open through the weekend and on Monday as well.

The decision to run south once out of San Diego Harbor and then transition up to San Clemente Island would give everyone a shot at the yellowfin, dorado and skippies on the first day. Then, those wanting to hunt for trophy tuna could fish through the night at SCI once night driver, Captain “Barefoot” Dan Colston brought SA80 into the zone up north.

A brief safety and fishing seminar by Capt. McDaniels, as the boat eased out of the harbor, gave everyone the news and let them know just how to rig up.

inshoreforkietakenINSHORE FORKIE TAKEN by John Beck, left, displayed by SA80 Captain Mike McDaniels, was the largest yellowtail of the trip.

After getting a good night’s rest, anglers came on deck to find SA80 idling along at the 390 in search of marks in the pre-dawn hour. Not long after, baits were tossed out and jigs run down into the deep water far offshore and near the border with Mexico, but no biters would take the offerings.

“Let’s look around,” came the call from the wheelhouse and a long day of hunting was under way.

Crewmember Paul Panello, helping wherever needed, handled galley duties for the trip and the breakfast orders began to roll out. Dinners this trip included roast chicken and tri-tip, for some hearty meals each night.

The deck crew, especially eagle eye Jacob Hull, took turns up top, watching for paddies that might hold fish, and plenty came along the path of the big 80-foot sportfisher.

Trip sponsor Daiwa sent along five of their latest rod and reel combos for anglers to try and the rigs were put to the test throughout the charter. Angler John Beck nailed a bigger model dorado on an early kelp while using the Daiwa gear. It would prove to be the biggest dodo of the trip.

John Brown landed his first-ever dorado, brought on board by ever present deckhand Larry Wright at the gaff.

Though there were plenty of kelp paddies to be found, not many held fish. After a while the trolling lines were run out and the trolling rotation began. A brisk bite by a school of skipjack tuna broke up the monotony and added to the day’s numbers.

Captain McDaniels relied on the often-used tactic of fishing amongst the dolphins as they ran nearby. The run-and-gun process has the boat get up ahead of the moving pod of dolphin and then as the big mammals approach, baits and jigs are tossed out to tuna, hopefully swimming below the surface.

Several tries brought no takers and SA80 continued the hunt.

Mid-afternoon found the boat heading northward, looking for paddies and trolling the long course up to San Clemente Island.

“As you probably noticed we’ve begun heading up, but we will keep fishing along the way,” came the call from Captain McDaniels. “Once we get to the island we will set up a drift and you can fish the night for the big bluefin.”

The jig of choice for the blues at SCI has been the 250g Flat-Fall by Shimano or similar knock-off product, in glow-in-the-dark finish. For these brutes many anglers brought along the 500g version to get big fish down deep.

biggermodelBIGGER-MODEL LINGCOD caught off San Clemente Island, shown here by SA80 deckhand Larry Wright and boated by charter angler, Bart Williams, right.

With darkness now full in the night, the trolling gear was brought in and the dinner bell rung. Night driver Captain “Barefoot” set up a drift on marks as SA80 neared the zone off San Clemente Island. In the distance dozens of boats could be seen already working a tight spot closer-in to the island.

The boat made several moves and at one point ran west along the island for an hour or more in search of the big fish. Several anglers remained on deck and continued the effort throughout the night. By 4:30 a.m. the numbers on deck had dwindled to but a handful and for them it was time to throw in the towel.

But 6 a.m. brought the start to a new day and Captain McDaniels decided to move inside and work the shore for yellowtail and calico for a while. Lake Isabella angler and Bakersfield firefighter, Kevin Hinkle, found the right combination to bag a larger-sized calico amongst the shoreline kelps.

Hinkle had come out on the charter with other firefighters from the Bakersfield FD including Benji Snyder, Chad Burton, Chris Bordon, and Craig Crawford. Also running with this crew was Bakersfield outdoorsman, Mike Hatcher, who, in a previous life owned and operated the Central Valley Sportsmen’s Boat and RV Show before selling it to the Fred Hall group.

For everyone aboard the resulting inshore action added to the fun and helped to get fish on board and into the refrigerated seawater (RSW) hold.

Some yellowtail took fly-lined baits and once again it was angler John Beck who landed the largest of the forkies.

By late morning another move took SA80 out to a high spot offshore and the anchor was set. In nearly 300-feet of water, rockfish began to stream over the rails. Bart Williams managed to land a beast of a lingcod as did Manny Lozano. Scott Taylor sent a huge sheephead down into the RSW. Some anglers picked up limits of a mix of reds, starry eye, bank perch, bocaccio, chili pepper, and other rockfish as well.

Sunset brought up the anchor and Sea Adventure 80 was moved up to where the boats remained congregated from the night before.

“Paul has dinner ready, but we will set up a drift and if you want to fish the big bluefin get out your heavy gear, because we do have lots of marks” called Capt. McDaniels over the P.A.

The bulk of the anglers moved into the spacious galley salon for a delicious dinner of tri-tip and all the trimmings. Just as dinner was finishing up the call of “We’ve got one hanging,” came loud and clear through the night.

JOHN BROWN, LEFT, from Gardnerville, Nevada, bagged his first-ever dorado, gaffed by SA80 deckhand Larry Wright.

Rushing on deck anglers found only a few of their number had remained on deck to fish and one, Manny Lozano, was fast onto a beast of a fish. But for whatever reason the fish did not take long to get to the boat, a little over 15-minutes, according to Lozano. It might have been Lozano’s skill at the rail that made short work of the fish. The crew put several gaffs into the fish, hauling it through the gate and onto the deck of SA80.

Amid cheers and shouts from all aboard the tape showed the bluefin to be 164-pounds, after taking a Daiwa SK night glow jig, eaten on the fall at just 30 feet below the surface.

With Lozano’s success the rail filled with anglers despite the 9:00 p.m. hour. Heavy jigs were run down to the meter marks at 180-feet and deeper. Glow jigs were charged in the boat lights or using small hand-held UV flashlights.

A 45-minute bit of quiet fishing led to angler Chris Bordon hooking into a good sized bluefin while retrieving a 300g glow Flat-Fall. The stubborn fish gave Bordon a battle but after some time the 50-pound class fish was gaffed and brought aboard.

Craig Crawford fished a 500g glow flat fall for a 100-pound class bluefin of his own.

Just a few minutes later, big fish killer of the trip, John Beck, tied-in to a massive fish that worked him for a solid hour before coming to the boat still green and full of energy. Being wise to green fish, the crew decided not to sink a gaff into the monster, which looked to be over 250-pounds.

Just then the fish ran down along the starboard rail and away into the night taking many other angler’s lines along with it. Capt. McDaniels deftly threaded the hot rod through the macramé and settled the rod at the stern for angler Beck to continue the fight.

But now there was no stopping this express train from its run. Seeing the line spin away and realizing there was very little left on the reel, again Captain McDaniels took charge and turned the fish with a scant 50-feet left on the spool.

“Making money now,” shouted one of the anglers watching the battle, as the skipper cranked in line at an amazing rate.

But then it became clear this fish was not meant to be taken.

A squid-boat fishing several hundred yards behind had suddenly become quite a bit closer as SA80 drifted back towards the workboat. Seeing the difficulty, the light-boat pulled its gear and moved off to safer waters, directly across the stern of Sea Adventure 80, cutting off the hard-fought fish.

After all the shouts to get the workboat to turn away, the silence following the loss of the big fish was deafening.

The hour had grown late, and the fishing continued with a lackluster effort, each angler feeling Beck’s pain at the loss. After a short while most drifted off to their bunks and only a very few anglers remained on deck at midnight when Capt. Colston called for lines up to begin the trip back to the docks at H&M Landing.

The WON 2018 Sea Adventure 80 charter was challenging yet rewarding, with action spread out over two days and nights. Lessons can be learned from each trip we make, and this charter taught volumes about persistence and perseverance to all aboard.

Contact info:

Sea Adventure 80

2803 Emerson Street
San Diego, CA 92106

Open Party 619 222 1144

Charter Line 619-247 8971

Angler's Choice:

1910 Rosecrans St, San Diego.

(619) 223-2324.

scotttaylorisSCOTT TAYLOR IS overjoyed at the idea of caching a huge sheephead at SCI. Taylor, a new member of the WON charter family, fished with charter regular and long-time pal, Ken Wood.

BIG FISH PRIZE goes to Manny Lozano, right. A pair of Costa Sunglasses, valued at $250, a $25 gift certificate to Angler’s Choice tackle shop, and more, are awarded by WON staffer, Bob Semerau, left for Lozano’s big bluefin.

plentyofswagawaitsPLENTY-O-SWAG awaits anglers on board Sea Adventure 80 for the annual WON 2½-day charter.

bluefinkillerBLUEFIN KILLER, DAIWA SK glow jig, used by Manny Lozano to trick his 164-pound prizewinning bluefin.

alwayshappyALWAYS HAPPY COOK aboard SA80, Paul Panello serves up a plate of delicious tri-tip with fresh salad and all the trimmings.

* * *

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Advertise with Western Outdoor News