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I fished Catalina with my friend Brian Rusaw, his son Sam (Sam's 15th birthday) and my daughter Sarah. We left a 6:30 am and thinkgs were so flat that we decided to head to Catalina. We knew there had been threshers out front, but we had kids that generally don't sit too still for that kind of droning and might not be able to match up with such tractors of the sea.
While we were out there catching bass, bonito and five pound mackerel (isn't that what you always get when you want live bait?) on both sides of the island, we heard much squawk from the fleet fishing the threshers off south coast medical center. We kept a few of the smallest mackerel and headed back toward the mainland with the intention of drifitng for makos at the 14, where I hoped the crowd would be thinner.
After heading in from catching Sam his first blue shark at the 14 (no makos after what time we had left was used up), we saw the armada off the hospital, but it was too late in the day to get in on what appeared to us to be a red hot bite. Many boats, including some real small ones, were hooked up to big fish. The water to the inside was filthy with bait and dolphin. The weather was perfect, but we were out of time and rolled past the fleet, slowing only to put out the trollers for a token pass with the 20 minutes we had to spare before a previously scheduled evening party took priority. All I could think about at that event was getting back out there in those beautiful conditions.
The following morning, Larry Marks and I went back out in my 24 foot Robalo. There was more life out there than I have ever seen at about 4 miles offshore - Square miles of sardines. We were surrounded by thousands of dolphins and enough birds to make me think of Tippy Hedren trying to get across Bodega Bay in that rowboat.
We went outside to the primary spot six to nine miles out fairly early as more boats showed up and began to hook up and talk about how great it was, while we seemed snake bit and were whining to each other about it like babies. By noon there were over 50 boats striping the water and chasing encroaching trollers away from hooked fish. The fish were biting throughout the water column up to the surface and it seemed like they were eating a wide variety of baits.
Finally, after trolling bait-o-matics, rapalas, predators, yo- zuris and various dead mackerel configurations, we got a knockdown on a purple and black Yo-zuri swimbait as we trolled east away from the pack at 2.5 miles per hour. We started to get a little stoked and within five minutes (about 1:30 pm) got a solid hookset on a 12 inch mackerel-pattern Predator swimbait (looks like a big Marauder) equipped with two large single hooks. The fish was tail-hooked and peeled off about 350 yards of line and went straight down. We got him up to the mono and then he burned all of it back down again. After about an hour of very hard pulling and manuevering we got him up and secure, so were able to join the rather numerous group of successful weekend thresher fisherman celebrating being alive out at that hot spot.
That is as hot a thresher bite as I have seen. Our fish weighed 192 pounds and was probably a relatively average fish for the action over the weekend. We had a neighborhood BBQ and had plenty of great food to give away and vacuum stockpile for later consupmtion.
I was everywhere on the local water this weekend - backside, front side, 267, 14, off the beach along the south coast, and in threshervile outside the hospital. The water temp was up to almost 69 dgrees in many spots and seldom below 67 anywhere I bothered to look at the gauge. Conditions have totally turned on out there. I know this because even I got in on the action.
I don't have my pictures today, but it pretty much looks like everyone else's - two dudes at the fuel dock, with one guy holding the tail of a big dead shark like a hoopah over the lucky anglers.
These are the days.
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