BY MIKE STEVENS
DANA POINT – Dana Wharf Sportfishing’s presence on the Western Outdoor News charter schedule has increased in each of the last three years, and the final installment in 2022 was a full day aboard the Sum Fun that was able to tap into the dorado that have been swarming offshore.
Captain Brian Woolley had an offshore zone in mind, but his first stop fell a couple miles short of that area and it ended up being the top producer of the day. There were about a dozen private boats working in the general area, but Woolley kept his distance and made a point to locate breezing schools dorado a good distance away from that cluster of boats.
A big school of puddling dorado crept within casting range of the Sum Fun, and the first shot at them resulted in as many as five hookups right off the bat. As big as the school was and how willing the fish were to hang around the Sum Fun before moving on, these fish were still picky, and those using 20- or even 15-pound line were getting the best of it, and that would be the story all day. In some cases, you could see the schools of micro-bait with the dorado that were keyed in on them. About 12 dorado out of that first school were decked including a first dorado for Dylan Depres of WON who landed it on 15-pound.
As that and each subsequent school moved on, Woolley would reignite the hunt for the next batch, always making a point to find is own fish, respect kelp paddies already being worked and staying well off on the fringe of any other boats in the area. The Sum Fun was the only sportboat working the area, and that also factored in to the crew’s ability to draw in fish from relatively far away with live-sardine chum.
Up in the wheelhouse, Woolley was working the electronics and predicting with downright surgical accuracy not only which side of the boat the dorado would appear on, but when, and which schools were most likely to bite. He’d also use that intel to determine the level of chumming to deploy, regularly calling out “1 and 2” up to “throw a brail!” to his crewman on the bait tank.
The Sum Fun would run into these schools all day, but only that first stop really blew up. The rest were quick hitters for 1 or 2 fish before getting back on the hunt, and between schooling fish, small chunks of kelp and dodos under birds, the passengers were constantly engaged and fired up each time the Sum Fun would throttle down. Woolley and the crew also stayed after it right up to the buzzer…beyond it, really, as the Sum Fun would end up tying back up at Dana Wharf Sportfishing about a half hour late.
Apparently when Woolley said, “I hope none of you have a date with the wife tonight,” on the way out, he meant it.