WON ON THE SPOT/STAFF FEATURE REPORT: Won/Legend Charter Goes Big On Yellowfin, Dorado And Yellowtail

BY BOB SEMERAU/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 21, 2009

SAN DIEGO —Expectations were high when Legend departed Seaforth Landing in Mission Bay Tuesday night, an hour ahead of schedule, with all 25 anglers aboard. Western Outdoor News had been featuring reports of an epic yellowfin bite for boats running out of San Diego and the 2-day WON-Legend charter was scheduled right in the middle of it all.

Capt. Matt Bui had already loaded 230 scoops of great looking sardines prior to boarding the fishermen for the exciting two-day WON offshore trip. Captain Bui usually acts as second skipper aboard Legend to owner/operator Captain Shawn Trowbridge, who was under the weather at departure time.

Sponsors such as Sufix, Williamson Lures and Laser Sharp Hooks provided plenty of swag for everyone and after a briefing by Captain Bui, the hardware and a couple pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses were given out.

Accurate rep Jason Fulton was along to give advice and assistance and also gave away an Accurate B-870 limited edition reel won by Darwyn Lien of Lancaster. Darwyn was especially happy to win the prize, valued at $440, because his lucky number was pulled in the raffle on his birthday weekend.

Overnight second skipper Nate Dotson took the Legend down 90 miles from San Diego to an area that had been holding most of the yellowfin schools over recent days and about 6:15 the first morning trolling rotations were begun.

Within 10 minutes two rods went off and the catching was under way. Captain Bui called out to the excited anglers “Wait to throw out your baits and only plastics should be used on the slide.” Once Legend came to rest, baits were tossed out and the bite was on.

Over the next 2 1/2 hours 130 yellowfin, 25 yellowtail and a dozen dorado would be dropped into the refrigerated hold. Once the bite slowed Legend headed west by south west and covered 25 miles before finding another bite.

Legend was cruising past a nice kelp paddy and burgers were coming off the grill when cook Vince de Palma quipped “This is usually when the bite starts,” just as the starboard trolling rig began to scream.

San Diego fishermen Sal Cocco and Wally Akimoto don’t often miss a chance to fish a bite like this. “This is probably the best bite the year aboard Legend,” remarked Wally during a lull in the action. CAPTAIN MATT BUI shows a nice tuna caught by Ralph 'Chick' FarrCAPTAIN MATT BUI shows a nice tuna caught by Ralph 'Chick' Farr

CAPTAIN MATT BUI shows a nice
tuna caught by Ralph 'Chick' Farr

The kelp would prove to hold small yellowfin and yellowtail which gave way to bigger fish after an hour of shaking off fish too small to keep. Bob DeRenard of Fontana landed a twenty-five pound yellowfin while fly-lining a sardine. More than one-hundred quality fish would be taken at this stop.
Captain Bui called out for everybody to stop fishing after a bit when the hold became filled with fish and a transfer was made, taking live bait from the holding tank to open up space for more fish.

Once the fishing was under way again both Don Endsley of Yucaipa and this reporter picked up massive yellowfin which would give Don the jackpot for the trip. Don’s fish weigh in at near 50 pounds.

The rest of the days trolling rotations picked up several more dorado and Mike Keller of Las Vegas pulled in a dodo approaching 30 pounds after a troll stop brought the school in to the boat.

Father and son team Don and Darrell Dalton picked this WON charter to fish together for Darrel’s first offshore trip. Dad Don had built a custom Calstar 270 casting stick for his son and Darrell spent much of the first day figuring out how to get the most of his new rod.

Throughout the day several opportunities for classic spider webs of crossed lines were avoided by Legend’s alert crew and the angler’s use of the tuna shuffle. For a while any bait tossed out or iron jigged for just a moment would get bit, and bit hard. Just as quick, the crew worked with anglers along the rail to keep things straight and resolve tangles.

After fishing all day some 110 miles out of San Diego the bite slowed and ship’s cook Vince de Palma served up a spaghetti dinner to cap off a perfect day on the water.

“We could find more dorado or yellowfin or go searching for albacore in the morning,” explained Captain Bui before retiring for the night. The decision was easy. We opted to hunt for longfin.

Overnight, half of the nearly 500 fish were filleted by the deck crew and night-driver, Nate Dotson moved Legend up the line about 30 miles looking for temperature breaks in the water.

The gentle rolling swell and light wind produced one of those nights when everyone got a good nights rest except for those opting to fish at night. The night crew consisted of Jason Fulton, the Accurate rep, and a few others wanting to catch a shark or two.

Just after midnight Fulton had set out a chunk of fish cut away from the fillets while the crew processed the day’s catch. Just moments later a nine-foot blue shark took the bait and made the reel’s clicker scream. Already busy with a dorado from a passing school, Fulton handed off the shark to deck hand Colton Moore who was quickly run up the side-rail to the bow. After 20 minutes the fish was subdued and released to fight another day.

The second morning brought pancakes and sausage and the same conditions as the previous night. Baits were already in the water when daylight broke and Gerry Baade of San Diego scored first blood with a quality tuna.

The morning would be spent trolling the area looking for albacore that would not be found. At 9:30 a.m. Captain Bui explained, “We need to get going to be back on time but we will have time to troll for the next couple of hours and we’ll stop on kelps along the way.”

Several troll stops later a few more tuna and dorado would be in the hold and the time had come for “rods up” just before lunch was served.

The final counts included limits for everyone on yellowfin tuna, more than 80 yellowtail and 58 dorado.

Experienced off shore fisherman Gailen Waggoner summed it up best: “I don’t know when we have ever had such a good trip. The quality of the fish, and the surprise, larger ones adding to it all, made for a really good time.”

With great sponsor prizes, tons of great fishing and a top-notch crew the WON-Legend Charter is one for the record books.

For more on the Legend’s operation and schedule, Contact Legend Sportfishing (619) 224-3383

Picture 1: HUGE YELLOWFIN taken by Don Endsley of Yucaipa, right, and WON reporter Bob Semerau, weighed in at over 70 pounds.

Picture 2: HOTSTICK PAUL WEBB OF FULLERTON seemed to be always pulling on tuna or dorado.

Picture 3: MIKE KELLER, left, with dorado gaffed by Legend deckhand Mike Yandell.

Picture 4: DARWYN LIEN, WINS ACCURATE REEL, presented by rep Jason Fulton, right.

Picture 5: LEGEND'S COOK, VINCE de PALMA, helped with the gaff on the second day.

Picture 6: ANDREAS JAKUBEC SCORED A HUGE DORADO on a 1/0 ringed fly-liner hook.

The Longfin Tackle Shop
The Longfin Tackle Shop