BY BOB SEMERAU
Point Loma — Working boats along the Southern and Central California coast for nearly 30 years had recently led Captain Ulysses “Ricky” Perez to take the helm as skipper of Sea Adventure 80 while Capt. Mike McDaniels was on a short leave.
“We’ll head down to the 371 to look for kelps holding dorado tonight, then move up to the north for more dorado and bluefin later tomorrow,” said Capt. Ricky during the departure briefing. “Fish the 30- and 40-pound gear for the flats, fly-lining ‘dines when we arrive.”
SA80 owner Captain Scott McDaniels had already loaded the tanks with 300 scoops of great looking sardines so when the 6:00 p.m. departure time came, the boat got away from the docks at H&M Landing ahead of the rest of the fleet. Flat, calm seas made for a pleasant ride, and after rigging up for the coming day’s action, anglers hit the staterooms and bunks for a great night’s rest.
Night driver, Capt. Conner, set up station awaiting grey light as SA80 lolled in the flat seas. While the sun tinged the horizon, Capt. Ricky took the helm and began the search for kelps below the border.
“We have a nice kelp coming up along starboard so get ready,” came the call just after 6:00 a.m. Baits were run out and jigs were tossed from the bow, but no biters were under the barren floating mass of green. “Let’s get rolling, bring in your lines,” called the skipper.
Several more kelps held few fish with Calabasas angler Andrew Ratzky landing the first dorado of the trip on a fly-lined ‘dine.
The pick bite, with a few fish taken on every stop, remained slow through the morning hours and Captain Ricky began to roll SA80 northward in search of kelps holding biomass.
“Back into U.S. waters now, we have some helps ahead,” explained deckhand, Anthony, while searching the nearby waters from the deck. The uber-experienced deckhand had world-wise stories and knots to cover just about anything, with his nail knot being the perfect solution for bigger lines and leaders.
Sliding up on a bigger spot of kelp, baits were dropped in and the chaos of a wide-open bite had anglers scrambling to keep up. Dorado swarmed the boat and kept on coming. Fish came over the rail as fast as deckhands Bobbie, Anthony and Chad (with the help of Capt. Conner and SA80 Chef Tommy Rynski), could get in the gaff. After 20 minutes the boat had drifted off and the skipper called out for another swing by the kelp holding fish.
So many dorado came to play that this reporter felt it was time to break out the 10-wt. fly-rod tipped with 40-pound fluorocarbon and a personally hand-tied sardinia pattern as taught by saltwater fly guru, Vaughn Podmore.
In seconds and with just a single strip of the line, a golden streak flashed just below the surface as a bigger model dorado grabbed the fly and ran, tearing line from the screaming one-to-one fly reel, fast as lightning. Getting back all that line took patience and time, but the fruits were clear when up in the bow Capt. Conner drove home the gaff on a dodo approaching 20 pounds.
Bill Fontana from Aspen, Colorado and Joe Bekeris from Lafayette, Louisiana, along with Joe’s wife, Mary, this reporters’ cousins, all managed to bag dorado on these two stops. Traveling a great distance as well, Kim Herbert and daughter Lindsay, came out from Missouri to help load up the count. Kim even held an arts and crafts class showing the proper way to rig up a torpedo sinker rig for bluefin tuna jig fishing.
Mauro Medina fished with his son, Daniel, bagging a limit of dorado on day one of the trip. But the hot stick battle was between angler Andrew Ratzky, seemingly always on a fish, and Jose Rios, loading up on mahi mahi and then scoring even bigger game later in the trip.
As the numbers neared the limit for dorado, captain Ricky announced he’d be taking the boat farther north, to the bluefin grounds above San Clemente Island, a very long haul indeed.
“While we are running, set up your heavy gear with jigs and weighted 3/0 and 4/0 sardine hooks,” called the affable skipper as SA80 got underway.
Several hours later darkness began to engulf the waters surrounding the boat and off in the distance the lights of several sport boats could be seen drifting for tuna.
“We’ve got some fish coming under us now,” called Cpt. Ricky, cutting the engines after setting up a drift.
Jigs of all types were run out and down to 300-feet for a quick retrieve, while others set up rubber band or egg sinker live bait rigs, then let soak at a desired depth to match the sonar readings called out from the bridge.
Chef Tommy Rynski, who goes by Tommy Z, served up a delicious prime rib dinner with perfectly prepared veggies and new potatoes to help anglers get through the long night ahead.
Several moves yielded little action but as morning hours rolled by in the darkness, Jose Rios dropped down and connected with a bluefin that took the angler around the boat and back again. Showing excellent skill Rios landed his big fish, which taped out at 125 pounds.
Several others managed to bag fish overnight and into the next day as the pick-bite continued over several hours. Averaging 60 to 100 pounds, the fish ate jigs at 100 feet to 300 feet below waterline. With daylight, fly-lined baits began to see action and a few more bluefin came over the rail with the sun overhead. Angler Jose Rios showed two larger model bluefin and schoolie yellowfin to go with his limit of dorado, to make him hot stick for the trip.
The bite slowed around noon of day two and Captain Ricky announced that he would move back down towards San Clemente Island and a spot that yielded bluefin in days prior. Several passes over the grounds showed nothing to stop on and with a long ride home ahead, the skipper began the overnight run back to H&M Landing.
Final counts showed the 25 anglers had bagged 221 dorado, 15 bluefin tuna, and 2 yellowfin tuna. The great food, excellent boat and superb weather, along with decent numbers of fish made this one a trip to be remembered.
Sea Adventure 80: https://seaadventure80boat.com
2803 Emerson Street
San Diego, CA , 92106
Open Party 619 222 1144