BY MIKE STEVENS
DANA POINT – The 65-foot Fury out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing hauled 19 anglers on an overnight Western Outdoor News charter heading into the weekend that tapped San Clemente Island for big yellowtail and swarms of bonito. Rods were bent from greylight to the final “wind ‘em up” which comes as no surprise to those familiar with the fleet’s premier operation when it comes to everything SCI has to offer.
Each angler was handed a Frogg Toggs waterproof backpack containing a spool of HI-SEAS Bluewater fluorocarbon and a Gamakatsu G3200 tackle box prior to boarding at which point several took advantage of the bulk spools of Berkley ProSpec monofilament on hand for last-minute fill ups. That stuff was provided by WON charter sponsors and is part of the deal on most WON trips in 2021. With such a light load, passengers were able to spread throughout the Fury’s 40-rack bunkroom, and some took advantage and grabbed a pair of bunks: one for their rear and one of their gear.
Dock talk that evening was dominated by chatter of bluefin tuna that have been popping up just off the beaches of Orange County, but Captain Marcus Bailey had his sights set on San Clemente Island where the Fury has a well-documented home field advantage. Both the fish count at the end of the fishing day on the Fury as well as the fact that local bluefin bite left a lot to be desired that day proved Bailey made the right call.
After making the overnight run to SCI, Bailey dropped anchor in Pyramid Cove until the crack of dawn when he pushed around the point to a spot that had produced on trips prior. George Girgis broke the ice when the log barracuda he hooked hit the deck, then it was steady chumming and the occasional hook-and-miss for a good half hour. Bailey came out of the wheelhouse and said we were there a little earlier than when the yellowtail started to chew on the previous trip, and within the next 30 minutes WON charter regular Javier Cortez hooked and landed a nice yellow on the iron. He would finish with five forkies, most of which he stuck on jigs.
That kicked off a steady pick with a couple more hookups and break offs, but Brady Garrett got his on a butt-hooked sardine in this area just offshore of a kelp-choked beach. Fury regular Mike Hulse then got in the game with a respectable mossback of his own that picked up a ‘dine as the bite continued to materialized right along the timeline mentioned by Captain Bailey.
The yellowtail remained active enough to work this spot for most of the early morning. Bailey did pull the hook once following a lull and reset the Fury a matter of yards away in 120 feet of water over rocks and bull kelp, and the fish responded like clockwork. Among those boated were second yellows for both Garrett and Cortez, and a bit later Garrett (who also ended up with five) would get a third from the bow on the iron. James Brisco also got in on this action with a yellow of his own.
Eventually, Bailey ran the Fury back around Pyramid Head to the front side of SCI where anglers enjoyed tamer conditions and solid fishing that included an almost-constant bonito presence that would last – along with the steady pick on yellowtail – for the rest of the trip. Still tight to shore and still in morning hours, anglers on the Fury hammered the boneheads so consistently that some were reaching limits and the crew would even intermittently stop chumming in hopes they’d move on and the scale would be tilted back toward the yellowtail. The bones never really left, but the yellows still came over the rail at a good clip, and this is where a 25-plus-pound came over the rail for Mike Hulse. That fish earned him the boat jackpot as well as another sweet prize from a WON charter sponsor, a $100 gift card for Huk Performance Fishing apparel.
The final tally for the 19 anglers on the Fury that day was 24 yellowtail, 46 bonito (tons released) a trio of rockfish and that lone ice-breaking barracuda.