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I went on a 10.5 day trip aboard the long range vessel the American Angler out of San Diego in mid January. This was my second trip on this boat and I can assure you it will become an annual event for me as there is nothing more thrilling than catching these large yellowfin tuna.

We left San Diego Harbor around 5pm on the evening of the 5th and after loading bait proceeded to travel south for the next three days. We arrived at the lower banks off Magdelana Bay on the 8th and immediately spotted signs of tuna. The early morning of that day we got into several batches of fish but they were all of the smaller variety fish of 30 to 80lbs. That was a fun warm up though as guys were able to pump on some fish with our lighter gear.

The agreed upon rule was that when we slid into a stop that unless otherwise noted by Brian (the captain) we would all go in with our big gear until we determined if the fish were of the large or small variety. Big gear is your 6463XXXH Seeker or 6465XXh Calstar type rods with at least 50 size reels loaded with 130 lb Spectra and 135 to 150LB mono topshots. Some stops Brian would tell us right out the gate that we could go with smaller gear as he could tell by the sonar marks that all the fish were smaller and other times he would say that there was a mix of big and small and that meant "heavy gear."

After a couple of stops on smaller fish Brian told us that we were now looking for the larger variety. Around 4:00pm that first afternoon Brian came up on a good looking school of black porpoise and told us that he was marking large fish. We slid into the stop and the mayhem didn't take long to start. One of the guys hooked up fairly quickly and we were seeing boils all around the boat. God it was exciting to be looking around and see a sickle that was about a foot long come out of the water on a boil. We drifted with that spot of fish until dark and the end result was 10 yft between 126 and 268 lbs. We had several more on that were lost some fairly quickly (I was one of those) and some after hour long battles with the fish at color. I will note that several of the fish lost at color were determined afterwards to have been lost because the fisherman were using too small of hooks that straightened out or their connection between spectra and mono failed. With these big fish they will exploit any mistake you make with your gear. My rule of thumb was to triple check all my connections and listen to what the crew told you to do. One of the guys that lost a big fish at color had been told not to make this short splice of flouro to his leader and he did it anyway. Well that's what broke was his knot that had attached the flouro to his regular mono. So I didn't get a fish that day but had the taste of one and watched many nice fish come over the rail.

The next few days we continued with a pattern of finding lots of smaller grade fish in the 40 to 80 lb class but not too many of the larger variety. We picked up a few more over 200 on our 3rd day and a couple more over 200 on our 4th day. But it seemed that every day we fished the number of showings of the larger variety became scarcer and scarcer even though the weather conditions got better and better.

By our 5th day the weather had became downright gorgeous. There was little to no breeze and a flat ocean. I guess you could say that the 5th day was "meant to be for me." About 10am that morning Brian stopped us on some porpoise and birds and immediately told us that he was metering large fish. Everybody went flying to the rail to get their baits out and nail a big fish. I immediately became frustrated as my first three baits wouldn't swim away from the boat but rather went right under the boat (guess they didn't want to swim out to meet their fate). The fourth bait came flying off when I casted out. So on the 5th one I said to heck with the sardines and grabbed the biggest mackarel that was in the trough and proceeded to cast him out. The mack hit the water and immediately started to swim down and away from the boat at a fairly good clip. Taro (one of the crew) was right next to me and told me that my bait was a good one as you want them to swim down and away at a good clip. Taro had barely uttered these words when the Mack picked up speed and then really picked up speed. About then I told Taro " this mack is hauling ass" and my light bulb went off. Fish on, I pushed the lever forward and my rod was slammed to the rail and the fight was on. I remember Taro telling me early on to take deep breaths and to save my energy for the end as I was going to need it. For the next hour I proceeded to battle the fish knowing that it was the biggest yft I had ever hooked and hoping to god it was my turn for good karma. Taro was a great coach and really helped me through the battle by telling me when to let the fish do it's thing and when to put the wood to him. At one point my line went completely limp and did it so fast that I was sure the fish had been lost. Taro told me to reel as fast as I could and for what seemed like forever I cranked that 50 reel as fast as I could and then all of a sudden there was the tension again and boy was I relieved. Taro kept telling me when to crank and when not to adding that we were "putting money in the bank and that it was important not to let the fish take any withdrawls." By the latter part of the fight we had just about max drag for the Penn 50 I was using applied which was around 40 or 42lbs of drag would be my guess. When the fish reached color Taro had me take the pole out of my crotch where I had been sitting on it and put it under my arm so that I would be ready for any last minute squirrel tactics the fish may throw at us. On one of his circles he started to jump around and throw his head and Taro immediately pulled the lever drag back to avoid a break off. The fish then settled back down and after a few more circles Taro told me to lift with all I had. Needless to say I had enough left to lift and three gaffs were plunged into my first bona fide "cow yellowfin tuna." The fish weighed in at 212 lbs and god was I on cloud 9. My arm felt like mush and I was covered in sweat but boy did it feel good. Here's the pic from right after he was boated:


That wasn't the end of my day as I caught another one about an hour later that weighed just under a 100. I felt pretty lucky that day as I was the only guy to hook a cow and the only one to hook two large tuna that day. Later that evening at dinner I learned that the Accuarate give away for the largest fish of the day was an Accurate 665HXC Boss reel. That's a $500 reel. Considering that the previous give away's had been items like hats, calendars and lures, I picked the right day to catch my big one. Oh, and the topper for the day was we had formed a football pool where you buy squares at $5 a piece and your simply getting a final score for the square. Well as luck would have it I won both the NFC pool and AFC pool for the day. Several of my fellow anglers made comments such as "let's throw him over board" or "you should've went to vegas instead of fishing."

The fishing part of our trip ended the following day on a slow note. We did manage to make a stop right at dark that allowed several anglers who had essentially been skunked up to that time to catch some 100lb fish which was a great boost for them. This is where I would put in a plug for the American Angler. We had fished the whole day with little sign of life whatsover. At about 3:30pm Brian was talking to Roy of the Royal Polaris and was told they had spotted some good fish sign as they were passing the south end of Thetis Bank. At the time Brian was moving north which is the direction we needed to head for home come darkness. Brian turned the boat around and went back south at max speed for the Angler and got us into the area at around 5:30 or right at dark. He came on the loud speaker and told us this was it and we either nailed them or we didn't. The crew started to throw massive amounts of bait out and the frenzy began. In the first few minutes there was probably 15 hookups and fish going every which a direction. I ended up with a 40lber out of the stop but most important was that three guys who had been experiencing horrible luck all nailed fish at around 110lbs and were very happy. The real neat thing about this final stop was that Brian turned the boat around and ran south for two hours or about 25 miles just to get us all one final shot at fish. He didn't need to do that.

So for me it was a great trip. I got to bag my first "cow tuna" and achieve my new personal best of 212lbs. I'm already signed up for next year and wish it was next week. The gear used for my big fish was a Seeker 6463XXXH (which I built myself), Penn 50VSX loaded with 130lb Line one spectra and an 80' Izorline 135lb topshot with an Eagle Claw 2004 8/0 circle hook. Here's a final pic of some of my smaller fish from the trip, they weigh between 20 and 100lbs:
 

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Wow! Great report. I have go to do that! clap:
 

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I think I found the new cover page photo. :mrgreen:
 

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Excellent, simply excellent report. I enjoyed the read, and great pics. What's a trip like that cost? Looks like the fishing trip of a lifetime.
 

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WOW! Great read, thanks! Do you have contact info for the American Angler? I'm sure there are more than a few envious readers sitting here in the cold, wet, windy NW.
 

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Holy Cow Tup: what a blast. I wonder if I can tow my seasport down there :D Thats a trip I have to make soon.
 

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Dr Hook said:
I think I found the new cover page photo. :mrgreen:
That would make a killer front page, that tuna is huge clap:
 

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Wow, awesome report/trip/pictures Tup:
 

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WOW. Congrats. How did they take care of the fish caught on the trip? Did they just keep them whole and wait to fillet until you were back at port or what? Amazing trip and great read.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'll try to answer most of the questions:

Trip cost: Base trip was $2500, by the time I factored in crew tips, fish processing and airfare it cost me around $3500. But when you look at the length of the trip it's really not bad.

Fish Care: All the fish are brain spiked, bled and gutted immediately following their hitting the deck. The fish are then immersed in the ships "RSW hold." This is a hold that has recirculated salt walter that's cooled to 28 degree's that the fish are immediately placed in. These fish come off the boat as "sashimi grade tuna", which means they could sell for buko bucks anywhere. Not all the boats do the RSW and I've been told by lots of folks that I've encountered the last two years that the American Angler is one of the best when it comes to fish care and customer service. From what I've seen that rings true.

Fish Processing: Once back in port I had the fish processed the same day by a reputable company. It cost me about $300 and left me with 300 plus pounds of beautiful yellowfin tuna. Some was cut into steaks, some were left as whole or partially cutup loins and then some was just cut into odd chunks (that will be canned). It's all vac packed and preserves very well.

This was the second year I've went on one of these trips and I plan to make it an annual event. It's an absolute ass kicker of a trip. You board the boat in San Diego and don't get off until it returns 10 or 14 days later, depending on the length of the trip you book. There's a fleet of about 10 boats that make these trips out of San Diego. Spring, summer and early fall are shorter trips from 3 days to about 8 days. Then in November they start making the 10 to 14/15 day trips. These longer trips are the one's where you get legitimate shots at catching the larger yellowfin like I was able to snag.

My trip was 10.5 days. We spent 2.5 days going and coming. During this time going down, you work on preparing your gear, they run seminars to teach you the basics of what to do and not d, watch movies, play cards, read or whatever else suits you. On the return trip most guys catch up on their sleep, watch movies, play cards and read. Once we arrived at the fishing grounds we had six full days of fishing and I was soaking a bait every time the boat stopped.

There's tons of information on the web about all the boats that fish from San Diego. Just do a search for long range tuna and you'll find tons of information. Here's a link for the boat I went out on: http://www.americananglersportfishing.c ... x1024.html

I'm already signed up for the same trip next year and hope to best the 300 lb mark next. Once you've caught one of these brutes you will be hooked trust me. It's unbelievable how hard they pull. I've made both trips by myself and would love to have some other northwesterner's join me. It's a helluva lot of fun.
 

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Dang, I've always wanted to do that, but never had a story telling how it all works.

Tup: Awesome. Tup:

A trip like this is definately moving up the to-do-list.
 
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