SOCAL SALTWATER REPORT: APOLLO: A mixed bag on mixed gear

BY GARY GRAHAM/WON Staff WriterPublished: Aug 11, 2009

Flyfishing and convention gear on an offshore sportfisher? Cooperation and teamwork made it happen

SAN DIEGO - Michael Schweit, President of the Federation of Fly Fishers Southwest Council, hosts some unusual tuna charters combining fly fishing and conventional anglers.  My first reaction when I heard of a trip combining long rods with conventional tuna gear was that it would be like mixing oil and water. I decided to tag along on one of these charters and see for myself.

The Apollo’s owner-operator, Captain J. J. Gerritsen shares the belief that the two fishing styles can complement each other.  The mix of anglers fishing with their preferred tackle must find the right platform.  J.J.’s boat, a roomy, comfortable platform, large enough to accommodate both styles of fishing, provided the ideal solution. The trips are limited to 16 anglers and are annual affairs taking place in August and September.

    Watching the dock carts being wheeled down the dock on the first evening dispelled any doubts that this was an ordinary trip. Nine-foot rods poking out of one cart with shorter stouter tuna rods in another drew puzzled looks from passengers on other boats.

Once gear was stowed, everyone gathered in the galley for introductions, safety information and more importantly, information on how two incompatible styles of fishing could complement each other. After some good-natured locker room style banter, including references to the dark side and comments about whippy rods, Captain J.J settled everyone down.

 There would to be two conventional trolling rods with conventional anglers rotating. When the boat came out of gear, the fly guys would control the stern and cast their fly into the wake, allowing them to take advantage of the slide for the first few minutes. Then the bait fishermen could begin casting. As the boat settled into the drift the fly anglers would move forward on the upwind side of the boat, fishing their flies deeper in the water column. Essentially, the same routine would apply if they were fishing kelp. As the boat would slide up to the kelp, bait would be chummed; flyrod guys would get the first shot followed by the bait casters. 

    The first morning of the trip dawned with ten knots of wind and some swell as the Apollo began fishing nearly 90 miles south of San Diego. There were few jig strikes, but there was a steady stream of kelp that offered a steady pick of yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado ranging from dorito-size to respectable.

    The system seemed to work remarkably well as the bite continued right up to sunset. As everyone gathered for dinner, the comraderie between the different tackle groups was grounded in a common respect.

    I would not have missed this trip for the world.  It made a believer out of a skeptic.  It was a productive trip, but more importantly it was an educational, enjoyable trip for all of the anglers.

    Another trip is scheduled for  Sept.21-23   and there are several slots remaining. For more information contact Michael Schweit at (818) 757-3473 or Captain J.J. Gerritsen, (619) 306-5000.

Top: IT HELPS TO have a Captain who knows how to handle a flyrod.
Bottom:A SIGHT SELDOM seen on a sport boat…different styles of bent rods side-by-side at the rail.

The Longfin Tackle Shop