Ever wonder what six days offshore on a premier sportfishing vessel would be like? Okuma and the FV Big Game 90 recently partnered with Western Outdoor News to shed light on the topic… and the incredible excitement, comraderie and unadulterated fun that can accompany these trips.
Should you have interest in a trip like this for yourself, look no further than the Big Game 90. One of the many proving grounds for Okuma product like Makaira, Cedros, Andros and Cortez reels, Capt. Mike Jewett and his crew were chosen for thier ability to locate and connect with bigh fish, while taking tackle to its limits.
SAN DIEGO — The late Sunday afternoon start for this year’s WON charter aboard the legendary sport fisher Big Game 90 meant it would be tough getting to Cedros in time for a decent bite the next day. But patience and trust in the crew would be the watchwords for this trip that paid off in the end.
With everyone aboard, BG 90 departed H & M Landing. Captain Mike Jewitt held his safety briefing and on-board fishing seminar with a wry sense of humor and wit while bait was being loaded. The plan to run south would include paddy hopping our way and a stop first thing in the morning past Isla San Geronimo at the Sacramento Reef to fish rockfish and possible yellowtail in the area.
Okuma Pro Staffer Robert Mansfield was on hand with Okuma Catalina Rods and Reel bags for all participants in the Won-Big Game 90 2010 Charter as well as the Okuma Soltera reel for a top raffle prize. Other trip sponsors Turner’s Outdoorsman and Sufix provided line spool ups and gift cards, while Lazer Sharp sent along dozens of hook packs. Williamson trolling jigs and jig packs and spools of Seaguar fluorocarbon rounded out the swag for charter participants.
• CHICK FARR WORKED THE IRON for a nice forkie gaffed by BG90 Chef Jacob Hensley.
• STEVE TOMIYAMA SOAKED SQUID to trick this bluefin displayed by deckhand Bryan Holtan.
• RUSS CARMONA WITH LING taken while fishing near the Sacramento Reef. The reef was named after the side wheel steamship that wrecked here in 1872.
BG 90 second-captain Justin Brands moved the boat down the line overnight in calm seas and light winds and at grey-light trolling rotation was begun. Just past 8:00 a.m. the first kelp paddy of the day showed off the starboard bow. Sliding up alongside, baits were tossed out and jigs thrown beyond the kelp.
“I’m metering plenty of fish down to 10 fathoms” called Captain Jewitt over the loud speaker.
Immediately, small 15-pound-plus yellowtail began to be pulled over the rails with 12 fish at this first stop. Definitely a good sign this early in a 6-day trip.
While working the paddy angler Steve Tomiyama of Poway fished a fly-lined ‘dine on one of his own custom rods for a lone 25-pound bluefin, gaffed and hauled over by deckhand Bryan Holtan.
After working each paddy for a short while and the bite having tapered off, Captain Jewitt would sing melodiously over the P.A., “ Up, up, up…let’s get back to work, looking around,” meaning it was time to reset the troll rotation.
The day continued without much distance covered when plenty of paddies holding fish fell along BG 90’s path to Cedros. As evening approached the captain announced we’d be fishing the “Reef” in the morning, then early the next day we’d be arriving at the island.
Anchoring in the darkness of the early morning hours Captains Jewitt and Brands along with the deck crew made squid using the crowder and hand nets for 30 scoops of bait. The current ran steadily southward forcing the crew to sweep the heavily-laden crowder net along from bow to stern as they loaded it with lively squid.
True to his word Captain Jewitt moved Big Game 90 to waters off the point, east of Cedros, at the salt works and the early morning hours were spent wrangling in bottom fish along with big yellowtail to 35-pounds while fishing dropper loop sardines and squid.
Okuma Rep Mansfield soaked a dropper loop squid from his Catalina rod and Makaira reel loaded with 30-pound Sufix line when his reel began screaming as line paid out on a big fish. Once the drag had done its job and the fish turned, Mansfield was joined by Captain Jewitt at the rail saying, “That’s gotta be a black sea bass! Go easy, and wind!”
• OKUMA PRO STAFFER ROBERT MANSFIELD worked a Makaira reel loaded with 30-pound Sufix to land and release this black sea bass estimated at 145-pounds. Deckhand Bryan Holtan, left, and Captain Mike Jewitt, right, brought the fish aboard for photos momentarily then carefully returned the fish to the water.
• RICK ROSANO WITH SHEEPHEAD pulled from cove near Punto Morro Redondo at Cedros Island is shown off by deckhand Brad Morgan.
• GORDON GOULD WINS OKUMA REEL presented by Okuma Pro Staffer Robert Mansfield.
After several runs by the fish, and a lengthy workout for Mansfield, the huge black surfaced near the boat amid cat calls and shouts from anglers at the rail. Mansfield decided to release the fish after a few quick pictures and the fish, estimated by the captain at 145-pounds, was carefully deflated and let go.
Twenty huge, almost cookie-cutter, 30-pound-plus yellowtail took crocodiles, jigs, and dropper
looped sardines before lunch.
The highlight of any long trip has to be the fishing but when the food is as good as the meals served-up by Big Game 90’s long-time chef, Jake Hensley there is always something to look forward. Hot spaghetti and meat balls for lunch and a filling pork loin dinner were typical of the delicious and tempting meals for the charter group.
Throughout the day stops around the area produced good numbers of yellowtail with a short wide open bite around 3:00 p.m. netting dozens of fish to 25-pounds. Ralph “Chick” Farr of Laguna Niguel pulled in several nice forkies using the Tady 77 scrambled egg surface iron for great success while saying, “Man there’s nothing like cranking the iron for yellowtail!”
Another open bite followed as Big Game 90 found the schools of mossbacks again and again.
Rick Rosano of Carson, and pal, Jacinto “Jack” Quisquirin of Murrieta, took their share of forkies at nearly every stop throughout the trip and usually could be found fighting fish side-by-side. “This trip has been outstanding!” exclaimed Rosano after the day’s catch was safely stashed in the refrigerated hold.
Okuma had sent along several rod and reel combos with their Cedros and Makaira reels rigged and ready for action. Testing out the equipment gave those aboard an opportunity to get acquainted with the gear in a real-time fishing environment.
More than half of the boat’s legal limit of yellowtail had been taken through the day and by sunset most everyone was ready for a rest. A final raffle drawing gave lucky angler Gordon Gould of Winnetka the new Okuma Solterra reel ready to be loaded with Sufix line.
Tucked in close to Cedros the anglers shared other feast, an hour or so making mackerel with Sabiki rigs and it was time to hit the rack.
The bright morning dawn found Big Game 90 working inshore at the cove near Punto Morro Redondo. Several stops produced plenty of whitefish, reds and a few sizable yellowtail throughout the morning hours when the captain announced, “We’re going to run back down and see if we can’t find the schooling yellowtail off shore.”
A little more than an hour’s run along the inside channel and a feeding school came up in front of the boat just as the engines were eased. The bite on 20-pound forkies would be a wide open frenzy that caught some anglers napping in their bunks.
Plenty more of the feeding fish filled the afternoon and around 4:00 p.m. Captain Jewitt announced that the boat limit had been reached and it was time to shut off the yellowtail action.
Plenty of discussion and argument about where to go next took place until the captain held an impromptu meeting in the galley to announce his plan. “You guys all did a great job,” said the skipper. “We are heading offshore to possibly find some tuna and work our way back up the line toward home. That way we can possibly hit a school of yellowfin and see what we can do,” he concluded.
The assembled anglers actually applauded the skipper for his success at finding so many quality fish and for going the extra mile by taking the boat out chasing tuna.
Overnight the boat moved offshore to a point twenty miles west of Islas San Benito and at dawn a small paddy produced a few football yellowfin and another shortly after that.
Heading northward trolling rotations kept up throughout the day and through the next until at last the final hours of the thirty hour return trip were winding down.
• MIKE NIXON WON CAPTAIN’S CHOICE award, taking home a valuable prize package and plenty of yellowtail.
• OKUMA PROVIDED COMBO GEAR like this Cedros reel and Catalina rod for ‘tail busting action.
• MANNY FREY OF SAN DIMAS limited on yellowtail and also took his share of big whitefish.
• JACKPOT WINNER KEVIN MARTIN with huge yellowtail taken while fishing a dropper loop squid near Cedros Island.
Longtime Big Game 90 deckhand Brad Morgan matched up the biggest fish of the trip to determine the jackpot winner and Kevin Martin of Lakewood proved to have the biggest catch with a yellowtail that looked to be close to 40-pounds.
Off-loading at H & M landing everybody enjoyed the fruits of their trip when bag after bag of fillets and plenty of whole fish hit the docks. There’d be lots of great stories and shared experiences to tide these anglers over until next year’s WON-Big Game 90 Charter.
Contact Info: H & M Landing www.hmlanding.com 1-619-222-1144 2803 Emerson Street, San Diego, 92106; Big Game 90 www.biggame90.com 1-858-270-7525 1-858-270-7525