Boat fishing and ensuing fish tacos

I think I’ll actually start with the tacos and end with the boat fishing.  Kind of a backwards progression.

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Ryan made these beauties.  

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These are some of the pretty fish fillets from our fishing trip Saturday.  More on that towards the end.

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The spice blend on the fish is basically a homemade blackening mix, and the fish is pan cooked, not fried.

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The salsa is tomato, red bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, lime, and a bit of olive oil.

The sauce is sour cream with a dash of lime, salt, and sriracha.  The tortillas are Trader Joe’s Truly Handmade flour tortillas, which are my favorites, as I am a tortilla snob (blame my Texas roots).  And they’re finished off with some lettuce and avocado.  Mmmm.

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And now here’s Ryan’s post from his fishing blog.  My comments/rebuttal are at the end.  For those who are interested:

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Christina and I decided to take advantage of the groupon offered by CISCO’s landing and hit up the 3/4 day trip on the Gentleman out of Oxnard on Saturday. We drove up the night before, deciding that paying $60 for a hotel was better than having to wake up at 2:00. My goals for the trip included loading up on tacos, breaking in my new Calstar 870, catching a ling on the diamond jig, and not getting seasick.

We woke up early, and got to the landing and aboard the boat at 5:45, for a schedules 6:00 departure, which turned out to be more like 6:20. Fortunately, of the 60 anglers who booked the trip, only 47 showed up. The boat was pretty crowded, which is what I get for booking on a Saturday when a groupon has been available for months, I suppose. Anyways, we headed out and I rigged up the rods.

I had one rod for Christina: my ugly stick (BWS 2201-2 70)/Baitrunner 8000 combo, rigged up with 50lb braid backing, 25lb mono topshot, and 50lb leader, with 4/0 hooks on a double dropper loop. For myself I rigged up the free/included rental rod (At this landing these are Jigmasters, spooled with ~25lb mono on an ugly stick [Probably BWCA/O 2201 70]) as a bait only rig, no leader, double droppers, and a 10oz torpedo. Last I had my second rod, which was my Calstar 870 and Sealine 40 combo. For this trip I took off the mono I usually have on there and fished a short topshot (~5yd) of 30lb mono to a swivel and then 50lb single dropper with a 1/0 hook and an 8oz Pline diamond jig on the bottom. I planned to fish the jig most of the time, with the rental/bait rod as a backup in case I lost the jig to a snag, or jigging was slow. The provided bait was cut/frozen squid.

Following a nap in the galley, after which I felt quite a bit more awake and less sickly, I headed outside to discover that rather than heading out to the islands, as I had expected, we had run south to an area off of Malibu. I was a bit miffed, as we had spent the night before driving north, only to spend 1.5 hrs the next day running south. But, I did hear later that conditions out at the islands were pretty bad, so maybe its for the best.

I don’t know exactly where this is; I’m not too familiar with that end of Malibu, but we spent most of the day hopping between rockpiles within 1/2 mile of this spot, as did the rest of the Channel Islands fleet; I saw the Speed Twin and the Erna B out there as well.

Anyways, we set up on a rockpile, and dropped down.

Christina struck first, with this fellow (flag rockfish, I think.)

I was getting nowhere with the jig, while people around me were getting bit on bait, so I switched over and struck second, with this guy.

The first several stops were pretty slow, and I was always starting off on the jig. Eventually I stuck one with the jig, literally.

At the next spot, I noticed that the people fishing the bow were doing really well, while the stern was dead. I headed up to the front with my jig rig, and hooked/landed a small red on the first drop and got the target species to hit the jig on the second. The ling hit as I was dropping down from the surface. By the time I had quit fooling with the spool tension and flipped the drag on, he was on the hook.

He was called short and went back to grow up, but I was pretty stoked to have had a plan actually work out as intended (ie. fishing diamond jigs to target lingcod). My good mood made the next couple of stops, which were pretty slow OK. Finally, for the the last stop of the day, the fishing, which had been somewhat slow all day finally picked up and there were fish coming up pretty steadily, a mix of rockfish and whitefish. I was informed at this point that, by the way, it had been an afternoon bite all week. Rolling Eyes Not buying that one.

Christina got into a few at this spot, and I got a couple of Coppers and a whitefish. Finally, it was time to head in. Calls of “One more stop!” were ignored, and we headed for the harbor.

The haul.

Total of 12 rockfish and one whitefish, so not limits, plus one short ling and one short sculpin betwen the two of us. The reported boat count was 65 Ocean Whitefish, 3 California Sheephead, 300 Rockfish, 1 Cabezon, which seems pretty plausible.

Other miscellaneous thoughts on the boat and operation: Not my favorite, on the whole. The atmosphere was pretty lousy and negative all day, even when the fishing was good. This is compared to the New Del Mar, which generally is a lot of fun and has a lot of camaraderie. I liked the layout of the rod racks outside, but the galley was small and there wasn’t enough room for everyone’s tackle near the bait tank. In addition, there’s no way you could reasonably fish 60 people on that boat; we had 47 and there were just a ton of tangles. I was lucky enough to stay mostly clear, but some other people were not. Some of that may have been due to the Saturday influx of Grouponers (myself included, admittedly), but it was pretty bad. I just saw that they listed 62 anglers for today, and that must have just been a trainwreck.

One of the deckhands, Denny, was friendly, helpful and positive, while the other one, Jeff, preferred to offer some snide, dismissive, or otherwise unhelpful comment before helping (though he did save my jig from the bottom at least twice, so I can’t be too mean). In addition, and I don’t know how much of this is the Captain’s fault, there were some serious issues, especially on the first few spots, with getting the boat to settle correctly on the anchor/above the target spot. Plus the slow fishing for most of the day.

On the plus side, all missions were accomplished, including the ling on the iron, so hooray for me. I was really happy with my 870 for this application, it handled the 8oz easily, and 12 would have been fine. I’m still looking to break it in on something that fights back, though. Tacos were collected, and with the help of some Bonine and a nap, I felt fine all day. The 4/0 hooks on Christina’s rod were too big. Size 2 to 2/0 would have been better, but all I had were perch hooks (size 8 ), bat ray hooks (4/0, 5/0, and 10/0), and nice ringed hooks. So that was a bit regrettable, and she missed some bites because of it. My bad.

Christina will chime in with some other thoughts later, probably, but that’s all for me.

I just ate some rockfish Po’ Boys, so that was pretty swell. Tacos on the menu tomorrow.

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My final thoughts on the trip:

Ryan likes to get seasick, but managed not to this time. Good job.

My hooks were indeed too big, especially for the white fish at the last couple stops. I kept getting bites/nibbles but couldn’t haul anything up.

Disagreement on the bringing of the Ugly Stick for me (and what a terrible name!). Ryan definitely brought both his poles/setups for him. I always planned on getting mine from the rental stash, but ended up trading him for his Ugly Stick because it had a spinning reel attached. The rentals were the same Ugly Stick, but with a conventional reel, which I have no experience with yet.

Agreement with the general boat/crew comments. I feel like the captain of the New Del Mar does a better job of setting the boat generally and the whole crew/atmosphere is much more pleasant and positive. There were tangles galore, and when half the deck hands (1 of 2) is a grump, especially with some of the people who had never fished, the mood of the whole boat gradually shifts negatively, especially when no one’s catching. I also think the NDM crew/captain are more helpful about giving advice (like switch to smaller hooks, reel up 3 turns from the bottom, etc). A lot of newcomers were on their own, mostly. If this had been my first boat experience, I don’t know if I’d look forward to another.

Fortunately, it wasn’t, and I had Ryan to help instead of the inundated deck hands (they really needed another for that many people), and we had a mostly good time. It also would have been nicer if the sun had ever come out. It looked about like it did in that first foggy picture all day.

I feel like I’m getting better at rockfishing, though. I know that’s not saying much, since you basically drop down, wait, and haul in, but I feel like I’m improving at acting on the bites I get and getting a better sense of where to be positioned, etc. My shoulders hurt today from all the reeling, but that’s not a bad thing.

Side note, but worthy of noting, I think: I had an awesome, long conversation with a 9 year old most of the boat ride back about all the different kinds of rock fish (they had a picture/ID chart thing on the boat) and fishing and kind of everything. We talked about octopuses and squids and his aquarium at home and what he wanted to fish for. He was talkative and really smart. It was really cool to see someone so young and so excited who was interested to learn and really motivated about fishing. His family didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm and left us to talk for about an hour. I talked to him about things I’d learned in Oceanography and he told me about ocean documentaries he’d seen in school and why he liked to fish. We talked about how awesome the Mythbusters are, too.  Hooray for cool little kids.  There was a spoiled kid about the same age fishing next to us all day and all he did was complain and get coddled by his grandmother/step-mom/woman companion.  She kept yelling at people to help her kid, and her kid was embarassed and whiny, and I’m so used to encountering crappy, spoiled kids at my job, so it was especially reassuring to encounter a smart, non-needy kid.  I felt bad, because he was totally the kind of kid who gets picked on in school, but he seemed pretty self assured, and held his own in the conversation, but totally had a bunch of crazy fun kid ideas (we talked about school pranks, which took us to the topic of the Mythbusters).  Good stuff.

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2 thoughts on “Boat fishing and ensuing fish tacos

  1. Awesomely good read! And I read this entire post aloud to an old dynosaur who enjoyed it immensely. I am in full agreement that the New Del Mar is a terrific vehicle & venue for the best day one can have. All this tech detail rocks!

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