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CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Southern CA Saltwater

Excalibur rides the waves

BY MERIT McCREA/WON Staff WriterPublished: Aug 08, 2018

SAN DIEGO — As the San Diego summer season moved into primetime mode, with limit-style kelp paddy yellow bites, a surge of yellowfin tuna and lots of dorado on tap plus bluefin, Captain Chuck Taft's latest addition to the fleet, the 85-foot Excalibur set sail and decked it's first day's catch.

That first 1.5-day set out with 19 anglers and sailed back with a catch of 43 tails, 4 yellowfin tuna 25 dorado and 16 skipjack tuna.


johnathanevanfillaJOHNATHAN EVANILLA'S MOONFISH — A 62.6-pound opah he hammered on 15-pound. It ate a live mack fished under a kelp paddy.


When this writer caught up with Taft he said it all went great, "This boat is really, really super," he said. With a little prompting he rattled off an impressive list of the upgrades, from 160 grand in new all Furuno electronics including a 3d meter, side-scan sonar, redundant radar, all new navigation to all new galley, full air conditioning throughout, RSW and spray-brine redundant chiller fish holds doubling as slammers if needed, new bait tank system, tackle box rack, whole new bunkroom — state rooms and double-wide traditional bunking.


"It's just super," he said. "I mean, we put 347 sheets of plywood in the boat, 8 drums of resin, several rolls of matt and 3 rolls of cloth, 46 thousand screws... two 6.5-ton fish holds, completely new RSW and spray brine – each fish hold has its own compressor/refrigeration system – dual everything there is."


He noted there is 50 inches of space between the rail and cabin, rod racks for over 300 sticks, 5 bait tanks with a total on deck 300-scoop capacity. She's a beauty and her trip schedule is posted online already at hmlanding.com – mostly 1.5- to 3.5-day limited load trips, a maximum of just 27 anglers on the beamy 85 footer.


Soon to ride the waves at Point Loma Sportfishing is Vicky and son Capt. Ryan Stahl's new luxury 70-foot 6-pack sportfishing yacht Game Changer. Ryan is well known with Capt. Art Taylor and Celia Condit's Searcher Sportfishing for many years.


A beauty, she also will be making her debut in the coming weeks and we'll have more on this rig next issue for sure.


grandegalleyGRANDE GALLEY GUY Oscar with the gaff! Kelp paddy fishing means dodos, too.


Capt. James McDaniels of boat Grande provided the latest update on the island and offshore bite in 1-day range.


”This week we had a mix of Coronado Island and offshore fishing trips. We liked what we saw at both locations. The offshore scene saw good yellowtail counts with a sprinkling of dorado and yellowfin tuna. The Coronado Islands yellowtail bite has been gradually improving all week with single digit scores gradually working their way into the teens, twenties and eventually 30-fish-per-boat scores by week's end. Things popped on Friday and Saturday with 100+ yellowtail scores for a couple of the boats, with 85 hitting the deck of the Grande on Friday and 58 on Saturday. As of Sunday morning... Captain Alec checked in with 10 yellowtail landed on his first stop of the day, before 9 a.m."


Exceptional island catches included a 200+ pound black released and a 35-pound halibut.


By the numbers, highlights included the Constitution with 176 yellowtail, 86 dorado, 15 yellowfin and 28 skippies, the Sea Adventure 80 with 124 yellows.


The Pacific Queen reported limits of yellowtail, 20 dorado, 14 yellowfin, 11 bluefin from 130 to 225 pounds on day 3 of a 3-day Sunday. The Pegasus hit the dock, in from a 2.5-day with 220 yellow, 45 mahi and 7 yellowfin tuna in the hold for 22 anglers. The Pacific Dawn limited on yellows for 17 on an overnighter Saturday, adding 12 dorado, too.


The Pacific Voyager was on the board with 16 anglers catching 102 yellowfin, 78 skipjack, a yellow and 3 dorado on a 2 dayer Wednesday.


Angler Marc Ingram was aboard the Prowler with Capt. Andre Viola on a 1.5 dayer. He reported paddy hopping, picking away at kelp yellows – these are not hamachi grade, but 8 to 25 pounders mostly.


outerlimitsbluefinOUTER LIMITS BLUEFIN, David Dunham 188, Dan Clause 214 and Ingo Coch 201. Dunham and Clause got theirs on the flyer and kite, while Coch was on the board first on the Flat-Fall. Dusk and dawn were bite time.


It was early afternoon when crewman and captain's brother Sandro spotted the dream paddy, good for several passes and nearly finished off limits on the yellows. Along the way they picked off 7 yellowfin and trio of bluefin plus a pair of flatheads.


He noted many bigger yellows managed to win the battle by digging for the heavy weeds. Both the Endeavor and Voyager limited on yellows on 1.5 dayers, the Voyager substantially boosting their 16-angler, 80-yellow catch with 18 bluefin, 12 dorado and 2 bonito.


The local 1/2-day bass bite was on fire too, hot water and hot fishing, bass released by hundreds and keeper numbers averaging 3 or 4 per on many 1/2-day outings.


Up and coming fisheries biologist Johnathan Evanilla, who works with Owyn Snodgrass at NOAA Fisheries, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, was out angling with Owyn and co-worker Matthew Craig, both published opah people when he hooked and landed a 62.6 pound moonfish himself – on 15-pound!


"I hooked it while fishing a kelp paddy on a fly-lined mackerel with a size 1 hook. Rod was a Seeker Pinhead 1268 and reel was Daiwa Saltist 20 with 15-pound P-Line to 15-pound Seaguar (flourocarbon)," said Evanilla.


Late breaking: Santa Barbara local Dave Dunham reported in on the bluefin grounds. On a 2 dayer aboard Capt. Paul Fischer's Outer Limits, they started south with great yellowtail fishing the first day, all nice grade on the kelps, then heard the big blues were showing at SCI and arrived there about 4 a.m. the following morning.


Immediately, angler Ingo Coch hooked up on the Flat-Fall, eventually landing a 201 cow. Next big bites didn't come until right at sunset when two successive biters fell for the kite and balloon flying fish on the drift trick.


Earlier in the day the Pacific Queen, which had 11 big fish that morning starting at 0200, passed off 5 frozen flyers.


Dunham landed a 188 and Dan Clause, a 214. Dunham said his fish charged the boat right after it sucked down the flyer, leaving him to grind slack line like mad at first. All three big blues were shared among the group ultimately, so everyone was a winner.


shankedbyexcaliburSHANKED BY EXCALIBUR! This dorado was a first-day catch aboard Capt. Chuck Taft's new boat Excalibur.


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