Chark'sFishing Report (06/18-20/99): Albacore Fishing - San Diego w/Dennis and Fred aboard the Painintheass (yep, and so the name stuck...)

Part One - Toast in the Morning

I got an invite to go albacore fishing with Dennis Debruyn and Fred Leinweber this past weekend.  I gave up fishing a bass tournament with some other great guys, to take advantage of the hot albie bite and spend time with a couple really great guys.  My stomach muscles are still sore from all the laughing.   But, aside from the all the joking around we did, there was the potential for a real desaster at sea.  Both guys have been fishing together for a long, long time.   Like we used to say in the 60's - they're Good People.  I truly appreciated the opportunity to hook a ride and search out the tasty long fins.  But, oh my gut's tired - laughed too darn much on this trip.

Fred has a Seaswirl 2600 w/Volvo Penta (Ford) 302, I've been fortunate enough to fish on before.  Great accomodations for fishing, lots of  room good get-up-and-go.  But, the boat's name was appropriate this time out.    Fred and Dennis both are service managers for car dealerships;  both guys are just the right folk to be with should you ever experience trouble on the water.   Their mechanical skill and penchant for buddy boating  probably saved our arses as things turned out.  


Both Dennis and Fred are pretty well dialed in to what's going on along the coast.  The guys have built some great friendships with other boaters, and maximized their networking in an attempt to focus their fishing attention to productive waters.  They fish out of Mission Bay in San Diego often enough to have established friendships with some other private boaters who also use the services provided by Campland on the Bay. It's a great place to pull up a boat or camper, launch facilities, showers (though only Fred had a cause to partake of the free bath...) and even live entertainment. It's really a dandy place to bring the wife and kids, as both Fred and Dennis do quite often.   Through their contacts we had a great plan for the weekend.  We'd take off with a couple other boaters at about 1AM, head out towards the 371 and start our troll pattern.  We made it to San Diego Friday evening, bought our bait, Mexican permits,  got a couple hours of sleep, and hit the water bright eyed and bushy tailed, right on schedule.

About 10 miles out, just as I was beginning to fall asleep in the cabin (didn't want to get in Fred's way driving the boat, or take Dennis' seat) I hear Fred yell out FIRE!  I looked out, and all I saw was smoke.  Thick white smoke was coming from everywhere it seemed - smoke was even pouring out of the rod holders.  Fred quickly turned off the frying motor, jumped on the radio, told the other boats we were traveling with our delima, then took the hatch off the motor. (Lesson One: buddy boating, is a life saver when you venture out, especially at night).

Things looked far worse than they actually were (if you don't count the possibility of needing a new power plant).   Once the engine was turned off,"Sum Bitch, she's toast" says Fred the smoke slowly died down.  Looked like one of the hoses to the intake manifold had totally fried.  Best guess was that we'd sucked up a plastic bag or possibly some kelp, overheating the engine to the terminal point.  (Lesson Two: a good heat exchanger and engine warning buzzer which you can manually set is something that's well worth the money).

Within just a couple minutes we were joined by one of the other boats, they really thought we were toast, seeing all the smoke, with the boat's illumination.  Soon a third boat arrived on scene.  Fred and Dennis kicked me off their boat, and were towed back to port by one of the "buddies."   They were hoping I'd still get my butt out there to catch some longfins, I had conflicting feelings about leaving them...but seeing as how I got blanked on the great albacore run last year I didn't look back...ah, until it was too late.  I hooked a ride on a quick Skipjack 28' w/ dual deisals, but inadequate freeboard and skippered by Capt. Bly himself.  Nope, it was worse than Capt. Bly, I was driven around by a controlling, unfriendly, humorless...(worst of all) sailboater. (Lesson Three: never go fishing with a sailboat guy who you don't know from Adam).


Part Two: Fishing with Capt. Bly

Ropes all over the place, dinky cockpit, grumpy skipper. Hey, I'm going to sound like a bloody ingrate on this one, because Capt. Bly didn't have to pick me up - then again, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Does this mean I get a discount?" To that I smiled and said, "No but I'll probably take your picture."  Well, I didn't take a pic, but here's my narative on the day....   Capt. Bly had his cabin boy (a nice guy looking to get off the party boats at any price - too high a price) "step-and-fetch-it" getting him anything and everything all day.  "What, no wasabi, rice, soysauce?" the Capt. grumbled.  No smoking on the boat, anywhere, not outside, anywhere.  It ain't do to the tobacco, it was just part of the control game.  (I think farting was okay, 'cause he never said anything - probably thought it was his own breath - and I did quite a bit of that just for "sport"). 

One thing for sure, the boat had all the electronics you could ask for, Lawrance fish finder, gps, radar, side scan sonar!  Only problem was, the only gear he really used to find fish was searching out party boats or scouring the radio to hear other folks talk of hook ups.  (Lesson Four: if you've got $10K worth of electronics learn to use 'em ).   

Long about 7:30 we had our first jig strike.  We had five lines out, two on outriggers, three off the stern short.  One of the short lines went off, then my blue/white Tuna Clone gets hit.  Capt. Bly yells at the "cabin boy" to clear all the lines, barks at me to stop the boat.  I comply, grumbling as I do so.   I get back to my line and it's slack, one of the outriggers goes off.  Sure enough while winding in my line I get tangled with the web of ropes the Capt. had strewn like spider webs all over the stern.  We got two fish in the boat, but never tossed bait to bring the school up to the boat!  We parked instead of maintaining our forward speed which would have likely brought a couple more jig strikes. We never put out any bait!!!  (Lesson Five: if you get picked up on the troll, keep moving, toss some bait, toss a couple bait rigs over and keep fishing.  Don't worry about clearing lines, you can always do that later, and you'll probably have more fish on the lines as well). 

If I'd been fishing with Fred and Dennis, there are a couple other  things we'd have done differently.  Just about all of the lures Capt.Bly had out were the same - all day long.  That's not too smart a way to prospect a bite.   Fred and Dennis did get back out on the friend Bob's boat that dragged them into harbor.  When they were fishing they had five lines out, with five different patterns on.  They also had their lines well staggered so they could tell where the fish were targeting, as well as what they were targeting.  They had a plan, once they were dialed in they could maximize their odds for success.  (Lesson Six: beginning your day on the water, troll different lures and color patterns, see what's the hot pattern, it changes...).

62099c.jpg (13751 bytes)Well, the Capt., "cabin boy" and myself, we just puttered around for hours.  We did get a pretty good gander at our tax dollars at work, watching an aircraft carrier with62099d.jpg (58151 bytes) planes practicing touch and go's. We also got a nice view of the Coronado Islands.  Bly would get a wild hair and without warning, jump on the trottle slamming the ever positive "cabin boy" and myself all over the place.  There were times I think the guy purposly turned sharply just to see if he could knock one of us off the boat, or drench us. (Lesson Seven: be nice to strangers and guest aboard your boat...who knows maybe one of them might publicize your rudness...or "accidently" urinate on your fishing reel in the holder at the rail or toilet seat when you punch the throttle).

At about 2:30 Fred and Dennis radio'd in their bite, they had caught a couple albies on the troll, didn't stop the boat, they tossed bait out, got bit on another trolled lure, got big on some bait.  They ended the day with seven 20 lb.+ albacore, we ended up with two.  Once Capt. Bly got word of the bite, he motored over to the area and began trolling. Then once he heard from Bob, Dennis and Fred  that they got some fish on the bait he commanded we bring in all the lines and just put out bait.  Now, I'm no wiz at electronics, but if the meter reads the fish are down seventy feet or greater, I'd be inclined to either rig up a downrigger or a deep diving lure or two. Maybe bait under some weight too.   Needless to say we didn't get bit.  This must have pissed off Capt. Bly, because after about 30 minutes he gunned the boat for home.  Sure enough, once we got back, he quickly got his boat on the trailer and got out of the area.   Seems he's known for getting pretty pissed-off when someone catches more or bigger fish than he does.  Strikes me that he's probably PO'd a lot of the time.  (Lesson Eight: if you are buddy boating, be sure and let the other boats know you are leaving - it's more than a courtesy, there is safety involved too).

[Hot Colors: green Sevenstrand Tuna Clones, both TC100 and 200 sizes, Zuker grass skirts, and bait was gobbled, small 4" cedar plugs worked too. ]

Part Three: Watch that first step...

62099f.jpg (121066 bytes)I was never so glad to see Fred and Dennis as I was once they came into the marina.  Heck, I almost forgot about the darn camera entirely.  Didn't get one pic of Dennis (showing off his summer stealth look - the pounds are shedding like my darg's coat on my carpet or my old girlfriend's black pants...).  But, I did capture a couple last minute pics to prove a couple points.  One: we (meaning Fred and Dennis) did catch some fish; two: bad luck travels in threes... I won't tell you about number two (ah, what the hell, it could be when Fred tossed a lure or two overboard, or it could be montezuma's revenge...see below).  62099h.jpg (36876 bytes)

So, what was the second and/or third unlucky thing to happen to poor Fred?  Well, getting the sputtering Painintheass back on the trailer was no easy matter.  Fred let me drive his new Ford 350 diesal up the ramp, with Dennis going for the hook-up.  While poor Fred was on the swimstep hopping up and down trying to help get the boat loaded properly...well you guessed it, he slips right off the step.   Well, that's mighty embarrasing, let me assure you, especially with friends as unmerciful as Fred's.  But, there's more to the tale.  Seems someone decided to dump their head in the marina.  Yep, bacteria problem, and Fred went into the slop up to the top of his head.  The danger signs were posted, and now Fred's wearing one.

Yep, the saga of Fred and the Painintheass continues... Who knows what's going to happen next time Fred and Dennis decide to go catch fish.  Hope I'm there to record the drama.  It's the best darn abdominal exercise a guy can get.   I haven't laughed so hard, for so long, in a long, long time.  Thanks guys, and thanks for sharing your catch.  And, you can be sure I won't tell the folks at work what really happened and how I got skunked, again.*

*I got the impression that Dennis usually is the type of   guy who leaves stories in his wake.  This time it was all Fred.  So, you missed Dennis' mug.  Next time I'll try to capture the essence of DeBruyn...and next time I'll finally try to land my own albie.