Sport Fishing off the CA coast

I found out a few months ago I’d be headed to Colorado Springs for some work training. It’s been ten years since I visited my friends in California so, I figured I’d fly down there for a few days pre-training and hang out. I used some airline miles to go MSO>PDX>LAX and my Boss was cool enough to fly me SNA(John Wayne Airport)>DEN>COS>DEN>MSO instead of MSO>DEN>COS>DEN>MSO. While in California, we headed out on the ocean for some sport fishing.

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We hit the docks bright and early. Loaded up and stopped at the bait barge to get filled up. Tons of sardines swimming along side the boat. Couple guys in kayaks and a few other huge boats at the bait barge.

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Absurdly beautiful morning. I can see why people are attracted to the ocean.

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Morning faces.


We motored along for somewhere around four hours. A few guys got sea sick. We ate some breakfast burritos and had some terrible coffee from the galley.

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The Captain was 22 years old. Dustin made the joke that he had to skip school to be there that day. People on board were a pretty wide mix. The crew seemed chill. A couple clear cut d-bags out of the anglers. Three women that seemed a bit out of place. Early in the trip I claimed that they would win the jackpot (biggest fish). Sure enough… to be fair, one of the deck hands hooked it and handed the rod over to her.


Captain Kid was on the hunt for skipjack tuna. The whole crew was looking for these kelp pads. Apparently, there is a lot going on below the surface when you see these things. This one popped up and all the anglers sprang to action.


It was intense. Near the first pad, we all rigged up. We were “fly lining”, which is apparently when you skewer some live bait through the nose, drop it over the side and let it run your line out. The whole time there are three rods off the back of the boat trolling. Finally, a fish hooked up on a troller and this was the signal for the Captain to kill the motor and get the anglers to throw line in the water.

At the first stop, I ran down, found a spot on the rail and dropped bait. Rapid fire, people were hooking and pulling in these HUGE (to me) tuna. Rods bent in half, people running back and forth along the boat, it was insane. I didn’t hook into anything and rapidly realized I was perfectly ok with that.


A gaffe is a long stick with a hook on the end. This is the preferred method for getting the fish in the boat. I’m so used to catch and release it didn’t even cross my mind that we’d be keeping fish. After seeing so many fish get pulled in the boat and left to bleed out on the deck, I just couldn’t bring myself to keep on fishing. I’m not judging the folks who did in the least. It’s just really not my jam. On the day, something like 110+ skipjack tuna came on board. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people had line in the water. They could all take the meat home and eat it while I couldn’t. I decided I’d tried the fishing so, it was time to just get up out of everyone else’s way and watch the madness.

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While the fishing wasn’t my thing, the trip was still pretty damn cool. Dustin clearly had a great time and it was fun to watch him work his ass off for his fish. Plus, I got to see some awesome scenery and wildlife I don’t normally get to see. I dug the flying fish, pretty much impossible to get a pic of those things though. And the giant pod of dolphins was unreal.

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A fine haul of fish for Dustin. Me doing my best to hide from the sun. A bit of wind burn on my face and some color on my calves. I can deal with that.

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So, that’s my sport fishing adventure. While the fishing wasn’t my bag, I was happy to give Dustin an excuse to get out and do something he really enjoys. Hanging out with my buddies was one of the primary reasons I got into fishing in the first place so, that’s a win.

Happy angling all.

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