As we left Dana Harbor
you could see signs of ‘life’ all around.
Birds turning and diving, bait on the surface, seadogs cutting in
and out. It just felt like it
would be a much better day than the last four trips.
I was with my old Britt bud Roy on his 25-foot ‘Expatriot’ and
we had not had very good luck the past four trips.
That may be putting it somewhat optimistically as we had not boated
a legal fish in over a month and were a little on the ‘antsy’ side.
You know the feeling.
On advice from the bait
dock we fished about 3 miles off San Clemente pier for most of the day in
water ranging from 50 to 75 feet picking up the occasional ‘Pop Tart’
(very small halibut) and a short or two.
This trip really looked like the last one and the one before that,
you get the picture. Roy
decided it would be best to start trolling the few Sardines we had in the
tank to see if we could salvage something for the table.
Roy had been ‘grousing’ about my light lines advising the fish
would bite through the 8lb. Ande I was using or the one pound ball would
wear the line at the swivel on my double trap rig.
Being the adventurous
soul I am I still put the light line out and sat back in the folding chair
to wait for a hit. Nothing.
No, worse than nothing. We
were in 62 feet of water about halfway between San Clemente pier and Dana
Point Harbor (we did this for about two hours trolling from the pier and
Roy advised lets pull ‘em in and go home).
As I reached for the rod it bent over double, but no drag went out.
At least we had a ‘fish’ of some kind on and I looked at my
buddy and said something to the effect, ‘there she goes!’ ‘There she
goes!’ trying to pump us up and make the most out of the fish no matter
the size. Not thinking the
fish was of any weight, I stilled handled it with the care of someone
using light line and a one-pound ball of weight.
About two minutes into
the fight I advised Roy it would probably go maybe 10 to 12 pounds at the
most when the fish decided to ‘swap ends’ and headed for the horizon!
I lightened the drag further on my Penn International 975 hoping to
take some of the pressure off my light line.
What was I thinking!
I fought this fish for
15 minutes before getting it to color and oh she looked big coming in!
I put a real bend in my Turner California Calico Special C576H and
got her to the boat. A while
ago I caught a 44 lb. plus fish on 10 lb. test and this fish looked just
as long! I started to get
‘déjà vu’ when Roy reached down with the gaff and I said to him,
‘don’t miss, you remember what happened last time’, to which he
replied something to the effect of, ‘bugger off’.
Well, you can almost predict what happened next.
Roy reaches down with the gaff, slams it into the head (great spot
to save damage to filets) and starts to bring it over the side…….wham,
wham, wham! The fish goes
nuts and literally jumps off the gaff.
Time stood still as
the fish glistened in the sun and crashed into the water taking me under
the boat. I jammed the rod into the water and
it around. Did I mention Roy
had left his baits in the water (two rods) and all of a sudden we were in
a party boat scenario with ‘overs and unders’ and ‘pass the rod this
way’ and ‘no the other way’. I
was ready for this to happen (my experience with my partners track record
on big fish) and finally got the big Butt to the boat one more time. Roy reaches down and ‘sticks’ it real good this time and
gets it over the side. High
fives all around!
at the dock the fish weighed 30 lbs 8 ounces and when we cut her open
found she had nothing in her stomach. One hungry halibut! We
used a double trap rig and a green Sardine, trolling at 1.5 miles an hour
using a one pound ball in about 62 feet of water.
I took only two small filets for dinner that night and gave the
rest to the boat.
Great to get back in
the ‘win’ column!