Fishing Dave White's SplashDancer

Dave and RoyIntroduction: I 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.

SplashdancerThe 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.

Dave & LowmanThis 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 November)

CannonFishing: 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 mid-January:

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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CharkBait 1998/9



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