The Transition Game!

by Baja Dreamer

Standard size albie!

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Yes, we're deep into the NBA playoffs now, and if we're fans we are each rooting for our favorite team(s). But this is about fishing, not basketball. The transition I'm talking about is the one that takes place between the long trip/big fish season, and the shorter trip season which constitutes the bulk of long range fishing for most folks due to the affordability and the shorter length of the trips. Oh this isn't to say that big fish aren't still being caught, no sir! The recent catches by several boats have shown that. The Royal Polaris came back to the dock not long ago with 9 fish over 300 lbs., one of the best catches of big tuna ever. Other highlights during the long trip part of the year included some outstanding bites on the skinnies for several trips, and the mythical 400 lb. mark for yellowfin tuna finally being broken by the 405.2 pounder caught by angler Mike Livingston onboard the Vagabond!

There are still a few long trips left to go yet, including the Red Rooster III's fabled June Heat trip. But most of the focus has now changed to shorter trips and the thought that albacore and bluefin may not be far away. For many anglers the shorter trip season started earlier still with the "freezer filler" type rockfish trips that happen very early on boats like the SHOGUN. Other people will opt for a 7 or 8 day trip such as the upcoming Allcoast 8 dayer onboard the Intrepid. Trips that go to fish places like Alijos Rocks and The Ridge in search of big spring yellowtail, an honest shot at century mark yellowfin, and perhaps even a wahoo or two depending on water temps. These are great trips and a lot of fun!

For many folks though, most of their anticipation centers around the recent reports of some boats metering albacore as close as 180 miles from San Diego, and the possibility of some bluefin to go with them. Fishermen all up and down the coast wait on pins and needles for the first confirmed catch reports of the late spring/early summer part of the season. One never knows when the fish will show, early in the season or later. The thing is to be ready when they do show. When the albacore arrive, the parking lot at the big three landings becomes an absolute madhouse! Thoughts of WFO foamers of albacore chewing the paint off the boat, and spotting jumping bluefin to slide in on are on everyone's mind. The favorite trip length for this is usually from 3 to 5 days. These trips afford the angler more time and a better shot at getting into the fish.

Preperation for these trips is no less important than was the prep work for longer trips and bigger fish! The rods that have been sitting unused in the garage all winter need to be taken out and checked. Are the guides in good shape? Are any of the rings chipped, cracked, corroded, or just plain missing? How about the reels? Have they been serviced recently? Are the drags good to go? Don't forget to look at a taking along a lighter outfit or two for fishing the anchovies if they are available on your trip. While you are looking at a lighter outfit, don't forget about a heavier 50 to 60 lb. outfit on these trips, and not fore trolling. (For trolling I don't recomend anything lighter than 80 lb. gear.) Many of us have seen good albacore stops become bluefin bites in a matter of minutes. When this happens that fish can go from 15 lb. albies to 60 lb. class bluefin in a heartbeat! I've also seen 5 day trips where bluefin have been boated up to 157. lbs.! And let's not forget that there is always the possibility of the ever elusive bigeye tuna showing up as well!  

WFO BFT's!!!

Perhaps the most important, and often the most overlooked item, is your line. How old is it? How many trips has it been used on? Has it been covered with that greasy looking "garage dirt" after sitting all winter? The only thing between you and that fish is your line. Why try and squeeze one more trip out of it to save a couple of bucks, and risk not putting fish in the boat? I do have to admit that I'm partial to a particular brand of line, and the brand I like the most is called "NEW"! This is important whether you're fishing a private boat, an overnight boat, or a 5 day trip. I can't stress this enough. If you like fluorocarbon leader do you have enough in the lighter sizes?

How about terminal tackle? Do you have plenty of your favorite hooks? Are they all rusty from sitting in your tackle box/bag? If so, dump them and get new ones, particularly if you're using plain old bronze "live bait hooks". These are the cheapest sort of hooks there are, but they work just fine so long as they're sharp and in good shape. While on the subject of hooks, do you have enough smaller sized hooks in case there are some, (Or only!), 'chovies in the tank? Make sure you've got a good assortment of sliding egg sinkers in case the fish are down intead of up top on the surface. Take along some new rubber bands and a few different torpedo sinkers too if you like that method. Your trolling gear should be inspected as well. If you leader up your favorite trolling feathers, clones, cedar plugs, etc., make sure to check the leaders to see if they need replaced. Look for nicks, worn spots, severely twited leaders, and "cloudy" looking lijne that is no longer clear. Take a look at all the hooks you use on your trolling gear and sharpen them if needed.

This time of year many of the big boats are either coming out or are already out of the water and doing all of their annual maintenance in preparation for the summer. Take that as a hint and make sure to do yours too, and you'll be more successful when the bite goes off! :)


Schoolie BFT on the rubber!

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