|Albacore fishing in Northern California in small boats is less about planning and more about just looking out the window and watching conditions, when it looks good you just up and go. Our offshore weather is generally poor, and the forecast doesn't even become marginally reliable until the night before, or morning of, it seems like. And even then you get surprised more than not. |
When my good friend Jim Novak bought Frank Bertaina's boat, I knew that one day we would be ready when everything lined up.
With a plate glass forecastfor Saturday morning, and reports of fish VERY CLOSE...only 15-17 miles offshore (I think 30 miles is close for us) , I got up at 2am and met The Skipper. We were motoring out in the dark at 4:30am, with the nav lights of 100 other hopeful boats flickering as far as could see on the horizon.
As we motored out we noticed the inside temp break was only 10-11 miles out... but we pushed on to the numbers anyway as it was flat calm and still pitch black night. We put in at the first glow of grey light, and immediately hooked up on the troll. Jim started casting his fly and hooked up immediately on the venerable RPLXi 11 weight and Tibor Gulfstream. He was stoked!!! 5 minutes in the water and a double hookup.
Then the wind started blowing, Jim was testing a new Simms prototype Poncho I had with me that saved the day for him. It got real wet and nasty fast. With how fast the conditions were changing, we quit fishing and started running in.
There was a distinct windline and it mellowed out a little on the inside, so we decided to start trolling as we were still outside the break. Well it got real good! Triple hookup after triple hookup on the troll, then Jim would hookup casting the fly every stop. I was staying out the way throwing topwater plugs on light spinning gear after I cleared the troll fish.
We finally quit when we'd had enough, we left them biting with the 360* whale show going. We were miles inside the fleet, not a boat in sight. Just us with 100' clarity blue water, stinky whale breath, and humpback pectorals waving and slapping approvingly. The albacore were stuffed with various sizes of market squid, but as usual when they are on, they were biting everything as soon as it hit the water. And with no bait!!! Best albacore fishing I've ever had without bait. The hooked fish were throwing their stuffed squid bellies and I think that was all the chum we needed.
We got worked over pretty good, there is an element of blood lust to most tuna fishing, and for me, nothing feels lustier than a bucking rod with screaming drag in one hand and the gaff in the other, with Jim cackling like a deviant child as his reel just sang and sang.
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