200 miles South

 At midnight on October 10th I embarked upon a five day boat trip with some of the most adventurous guys I know. As we passed the Mexican border the moon rose and in that moment I realized that no matter what happened over the course of the next five days it would be an unforgettable trip. The Pacific had plenty in store for us, mostly good and some not so favorable. With a crew of seven ranging in age from 26-70+ , we encountered storms and paradise together as we made our way some 200 miles south of San Diego, California.

 As the first wheel watch began I was both excited and hesitant to be paired up with long time friend Vinny Maguire. I was certain there wouldn’t be a dull moment as we sailed through the darkness. I was only slightly worried that he might pull off some ridiculous stunt putting us in some odd precarious position. Fortunately our nightly wheel watches went without incident and we managed to avoid some would-be devastating tuna pens in the dark on our very first watch. 

(what issss this?)

(Our Steed through the night)

(sometimes old fashion maps are the way to go)

 (space men on the bow)

The first morning on the boat began abruptly. “DUUUUUDE, GET UP!” Steve yelled to me. Dazed and confused from only sleeping a couple hours it took me a while to gather myself, “huh? whats up?” “Dude, theres an epic sunrise, get your ass up!” Steve exclaimed from the galley. Before too long I made my way out, (wearing just pants) greeted by an amazing sunrise and rain! Cold and shivering I couldn’t help but smile to be in this unusual paradise amongst such good friends. We soon found out that these mystical sunrises and sunsets weren’t too uncommon out on the open sea, especially when being chased down by a storm.

(goooood morning!)

(Brad scours the sea for signs of fish)

(Rudy wouldnt let a rain shower stop him from catching fish)

Without fail the sun came up and fishing rods bent over. The soothing sound of the boat floating along the Pacific ocean disrupted by the only good alarm clock known to man, the sound of clickers (a setting on a fishing reel to alert fisherman that the line is going out) going off had the rest of the crew up in no time.Yellow fin and dorado were on the bite and we weren’t short on rods or a skilled crew. We slayed yellow fin tuna throughout the day. Each time we hooked up on the troll Rudy, the largest man on the boat who looks like the old man of the sea, yelled out with a blood curdling scream, “FISH ON!” ensuring everyones enthusiasm as they ran for the nearest rod.

(first morning blood)

That first day we caught so many yellow fin we had to steer away from them. We decided to head towards land in hopes of switching up the flavor a bit. Dinner was prepared along the way, and there is nothing better than eating the very fish you caught the same day while being entertained by tales of past fishing adventures. To everyones satisfaction these were on no short order. Although everyone had inhaled their food we continued to sit at the table for hours while the stories continued to improve with each glass of wine.

(all this before 9am)

Upon arriving at San Geronimo island we dropped anchor for the first time just a ways outside of the island. Usually there’s nothing to be said about dropping anchor; The problem in this case was, before the anchor got tossed over board we managed to overlook the fact that the hydraulic pump that winds the anchor line back in was burnt out. After some fussing around with wires and such it was clear that we would have to manually pull the anchor. To make matters worse, the wind had picked up and we were bobbing around in 10 foot seas. It took six of us with all our might to pull the son of a bitch from the bottom. Each time the bow would dip down in the swell we’d run down the rail line in hand, only to be pulled half way back as the bow lifted again. Good o’l Rudy had tied the end of the line around his waist to ensure that all wouldn’t be lost...except his torso. Fortunately no torsos were lost, and we got the anchor up with only some handfuls of blisters. It was a good thing we were able to pull the anchor, because we’d have to do this three more times throughout the trip :D

(the looks you get when you tell them its time to pull anchor)

(not again)

On our first afternoon at the island the boys decided to go for the first dive of the trip which to my surprise was quite trying on the experienced divers who remained topside. As the boys made their way to the bottom hoping for lobsters the “old timers” scoured the surface for their bubbles. Sitting anxiously on the boat the veteran divers found them selves in an unusual position awaiting the return of the young lads. While we fished, catching yellow tail and calico bass the guys under the sea weren’t coming up with much. By the time they made it back to the boat with a couple guppies we had nearly filled a trash can with our yellow tail and bass. Better luck next time, not so much. Not to be discouraged we went diving the following day at San Quintin island only to find similar conditions.

Although the diving was not the best, the fishing was. In order to keep catching the biggins we had to catch more bait. We got to work with our sabiki rigs (a set of small lures) and got the bait factory moving. Once the bait tanks were full everyone was able to get some sleep since we were anchored up on the lee side of the island. 

“Rise and shine boys, that anchor wont pull itself!” Steves dad Mark yelled to us in our bunks. Nothing like pulling anchor at dawn to get the blood flowing! Being as we were on the calm side of the island it made things a little easier and after a few heave-hoes we were on our way. The sun came up again, and what an unpleasant surprise it was to the fish who landed themselves on the end of our lines right on schedule. The fish kept biting as we made our way back home, but seeing as our freezers were nearly full and we still had a day or so left on our trip, we weren’t about to keep the 3 pound yellowtail that kept going for a ride on our lures.

(Arrr matey, Vinny practicing for his future life as a pirate)

(Me and my Jackpot fish)

Somewhere along the way someone caught a glimpse of what looked like jumping porpoise on the horizon. No, don’t worry we don’t have Japanese in our blood lucky for the dolphin. Its common knowledge to the experienced fisherman that dolphin and tuna hunt together on occasion, so we weren’t about to pass up an opportunity. Before long we found ourselves chasing down a giant pod of spinner dolphins. After a few minutes of dolphin jumping all around the boat the unmistakable death defying roar of “FISH ONNNN!” could’ve been heard for miles around. We hooked up to two good size fish. Jack and I were on the back of the boat battling the biggest fish of the trip so far. My line was screaming away while Jack seemed to have a handle on his. At first I thought I must have a much bigger fish, but then I realized I was just gonna get more of a work out seeing as I was on 30 pound line and he was on 50 pound. Once we got the fish to the boat we were stoked to have caught two 50 pound Yellowfin tuna.

As day turned to night we came across a large kelp patty. Without hesitation hook and line went flying into the water and within seconds dorado were hooked up all around the boat. Steve was about to get in the water with a spear gun, but decided against it at the last minute because it was getting too dark. “FISH ON!” was more of an echoing at this point although equally as welcome. Half way through the bite someone pulled aboard a dorado with its tail barely hanging on. “Shark!” Steve exclaimed while realizing he made the right decision a few moments ago. This was just what Vinny and I had been hoping for all trip. Quickly realizing we could be in store for a night full of entertainment we used two flying gaffs to tie up with the kelp patty insuring that the action would stay near by. Once darkness had settled and the Dorado finally stopped biting we got the fish factory back to work one last time. Only this time with a secondary purpose, chum.

Vinny and I, gung-ho as we were on catching sharks got to chumming right away. We hung some freshly filleted carcas’s overboard and chummed blood and guts for about an hour until it happened. The shark rig we setup, the “Frank Hall” edition went SUPER bendo! With the rod bent to its breaking point and the line screaming out, Vinny grasped a hold of the rod. We were staring in disbelief of how fast the line was going out when a 10 foot Mako shark jumped a dozen feet into the air, just a few yards off the boat. Excited and terrified beyond recognition I had to hold Vinny by his shoulders from falling backwards as the beast came tumbling back to the water narrowly missing the boat. As we yelled in excitement to have hooked such a monster it jumped a second time in-between the two hulls of the boat, front and center for everyone to see. It was clear the shark had everyones attention as “OH MY GOD!!!” was simultaneously yelled by all the lungs onboard. Still hooked the beast sped downwards taking more line towards the initial jump site. Breaking the surface for a third and final time he demonstrated some serious acrobatics as he jumped higher than ever before. He flipped end over end three times all while rolling up in the line to break free upon making one final splash of victory.

("that shit was craaaazzyyy")

Bummed as we were to have let the Beast get away, we knew there wasn’t much we could’ve done. We had a proper metal leader on which was simply missing where the shark had cut the line against his skin. Overcome with excitement we couldn’t help but yell out the details of the event as we continually replayed this 20-30 second span of time through our heads for the next 10 minutes. Once it just couldnt have been re-told anymore at least for the night we got back to fishing, for sharks that is. We hoped that the lunker would come back but he never did. We spent the last night of the trip toying with little blue sharks and replaying that moment that will never be forgotten by those on board. 

(the third and final splash from the beast. With the entire event only lasting seconds this was all the photographic evidence i have. If only for a fourth jump!)