Fishing Dave White's SplashDancer
met Dave (pictured on the left with Roy Patterson) via the Internet and through mutual
association with other folks who fish. We've had the opportunity to fish together now a
couple of times, and I've picked up a few things from the trips worth passing along
(hopefully, he won't mind a bit).
Dave took an early retirement from the aircraft industry, so he's now got a little more
time to pursue his passion. He's been into boating for a long time, has owned several
boats over the years, and done a lot of fishing both locally, up in Alaska, and points
south. He's also hoping to nail down an Australia trip within the next year. Dave lives in
South Orange County and usually fishes out of Newport, his docking location. However, he
also makes good use of the guest facilities of Dana Point Harbor.
If you haven't launched out of Dana, or used the guest slips, this is something you
should consider. Dana has a couple good points. It's a short trip getting out of the
harbor, close to some deep water and some good offshore high spots like the 267, 269 and
the 14 mile bank. As well, it's a closer hop to some of more distant banks. A further
advantage would be the prevailing current, chop and swell on your typical return from
Catalina in the afternoon. The guest slips are pretty extensive, and very reasonably
priced. Worth considering if you plan on trying some different spots to fish.
The Boat: Dave has
fished his boat hard since he got it about four years ago. The SplashDancer is a 30 foot
SeaRay, with twin 350's. She weighs a lot - we're talking tonage - and rides like a
Lincoln on the highway. Heck, she holds 200 gallons of fuel, about 100 of water. That
alone is more than my whole boat weighs and we haven't even talked about the hull,
motors...! Dave picked up his boat used, she was built in the mid 80's. The original owner
jumped on another boat, needing restoration. He was motivated to sell the SplashDancer,
and turn some dollars towards the restoration project. Dave, already had a boat...but
bigger is better, right? In this case it sure is, the motors have the nicest vibration and
exhaust note you've felt or heard. With her combination of weight and power, she really
punches a good hole in the water and smooths out a ride. She's very dry, extremely roomy,
with a lot of fishing room. Dave commented that the newer versions of his boat have far
smaller deck area for fishing, a trend that runs counter to our needs, for sure.
This SeaRay also features a
nice cabin area, V-birth, fold down "camper" style kitchen table arrangement
that can sleep another, two more on the double fold down seats on the deck. She can sleep
five or six very comfortably. She's also got a shower, fridge, all the ameneties to make
an extended stay out at the islands a real treat. Dave feels the boat's been very
reliable, is super easy to clean up after a trip, and service friendly in terms of room in
the engine area. (pictured: Dave left, Larry Lowman right from a mako trip we made back in
Fishing: Dave likes to fish, fish
for lots of stuff. He's been very successful over the years, with yearly trips up to
Alaska for big halibut. Locally, he's been targeting sharks for big game lately, as well
as tuna, yellowtail and our other seasonal visitors. He's noticed a decline in our shark
population over the years. This is especially noticable with the Blues, he feels. He's
grown very confident about the benefits of using downriggers, confidence based on success.
Dave uses a Cannon Uni-Trol, a manual downrigger with good ergonomics and performance. It
suits Dave fishing style well, it's simple, reliable and productive. When targeting sharks
he often trolls a Bait-O-Matic when searching for threshers, often with a Rapala Magnum
CD22 or 26 off the downrigger.
For gear Dave uses primarily Shimano and Penn equipment. His newest reel is a Penn 535, a
purchase he's been quite pleased with so far.
||Big Catch: Both trips we've taken together focused on sharking.
Each time we trolled a pattern off the Hospital at Laguna Beach, fishing the slope from
100-300 feet of water. Our first trip provided some mako activity, small fish. Our second
trip together in February found 49 degree water, limited bait, and no biters. Maybe that's
the luck of the Chark. But, Dave's had some great luck, and a great tale from a trip in
1/18/99 - I was so beat yesterday that when I dropped my buddy off , I decided to leave
the Splash Dancer at Dana for the night. Plan was to come back in the morning and
motor back to Newport. I tried to get three or four people to join so we could fish
on the way up but no takers. I planned to just write it off and go balls to the wall
and get back to the slip so I could do a good cleaning on it. I left Dana in the fog but
it was not too bad and using my radar, I felt quite comfortable. I got to the
location that I hooked the thresher yesterday (hooked and lost) and thought, well
maybe I will troll just a short while. I got a knockdown on a small mako, about 60-70
pounds and released it. Just as I was about to pull the lines in, I got a major
knockdown. Damn my two speed was almost spooled. I had the drag set rather
heavy and it was still taking line, big time. No, I didn't try to set the hook. LOL.
I had my release stick and gaff at the ready and was hoping to release it no matter what
it might be.
That thing almost beat me to death being alone on the
boat. I sat the rod in the holder ran to the engines, moved the boat, run back to
the rod and it would still be taking line. I knew this was not the bottom this time.
An hour and a half later, I saw it break surface about 100 yards away from the boat.
I knew it was done. I finally got it to the boat and it was a tail hooked
thresher. I damn near died trying to get it on my dive step. The Splash Dancer
has a 12 foot beam, it hung off on both ends. Nearly 14 feet nose to end of tail and 36 in
at the thickest part. The scales were closed so I did not get to weight it.
Any one want to guess? I just know I have it in the cooler on ice tonight and my
arms are too tired to type. I am going to bed. Dave
||There aren't too many of us who can claim a 200 pound
thresher, taken single handed. Dave's pulled that one off. A fight for over an our, a
tough end-game, motoring back to the dock, loading the big fish and butchering a lot of
meat - all single handed. I don't know, but it's starting to sound like retirement is
pretty darn hard work! Just so no one has to ask, Dave doesn't keep many sharks. He's
released far more than he's ever taken. In fact, he's just come up with his own simple
release stick, based in part on our use of the Accurate Predator Release Stick. Dave's
release is simple to make, and inexpensive. If you'd like more information about his
device please send an e-mail. - Mark
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