15 day Excel/JigNpop recap AS the world Spins
Posted 14 February 2013 - 09:11 PM
Good afternoon all,
Here I am, sitting on an airplane on my way back to San Diego. Tomorrow, I will meet the boat at the landing and help in the off loading. There will only be a few of us at the landing to push the carts as most of the folks flew back to their respective homes back East or in Asia. I do not doubt I will continue to write this post over the next many days as I took home so much from this trip. As usual, my report comes with a warning, this will not be a short reading so continue at your own risk.
This report is going to be rather interesting to create due to the extreme unusual nature of this trip. To my knowledge, this is and was a first of it’s kind. I must commend all the parties who put this trip together.
Kilsong, who first and foremost Is a true ambassador and cutting edge participant in all aspects of sport fishing: Forget the stories you may have heard about this man and just know his intentions and heart have always been and will continue to be in the best interests of pushing sport fishing to new heights and boundaries. Most of us have trouble getting a group of 4 or 5 adults to commit to going out to dinner in our local neighborhood let alone gathering 26 fishing enthusiasts, from multiple continents, to participate in a very high end and to many a high dollar and time cost trip but that is what Kil did. Yes, I had a small hand in the matter but the credit must go to Kil for this wonderful adventure. Kilsong, and his company, JigNpop, are really showing where state of the art Artificial lure fishing is now, can go and is going in the future. The man does not just talk about it rather Kil is artificial fishing over 200 days a year. Though many of us wish we could go to far and exotic destinations to fish, Kil goes out and does it. More importantly Kil finds ways for those of us at home to vicariously participate in these amazing adventures through his writing and more importantly his pictures. I know Kil has already spent 48 hours of his time just down loading the vast array of pictures he took from this trip.
The owners of the Queen of the fleet “The Excel”: Let me make this clear. For the new ownership of the Excel to commit, 16 months or so in advance, to this crazy trip was a gamble at best. After all, chasing giant tuna, West Coast style, is clearly for Bait fishermen… Isn’t it??? Who in their right mind would advance a trip where a bunch of East Coast and Asian fishermen are going to combine with some regular West Coast Bait fishermen and actually expect it to work out? That would be nuts if you ask me but that is what Big Al, Little Al, David and Justin did. Throw in some great help from Big Al’s son Jason and we really came up with one heck of a nutty idea. I believe Vegas had the odds at 12 – 1 against. I, for one, am glad Jimmy the Greek was on our boat and not making odds in Vegas…. Oh wait; our Jimmy the Greek is still alive and was catching Yellowfin tuna on the Excel. Good thing if you ask me. Thank you to the entire staff and crew of the Excel.
Major Contributors to this trip: JigNpop, Black Hole Rods, Ron Z lures, Tady Lures,Ringedhooks.com along with Spanyid USA, Fishbones plastic tails and lures and of course Bob Sands tackle in Van Nuys California who outfits me with goodies which I am able to provide to others for test drives. Please remember, there was no guarantee these things would work for Long Range but these contributors took a chance to advance the sport. Thank you all.
This will not be a play-by-play report rather it will be a general overview and thoughts about our wonderful JigNpop trip aboard the Excel. Please refer to Kil’s regularly updated posts, pictures and reports on all of these boards. Please continue to refer to these posts as I expect we will see some additional pictures and video as the days go past.
Okay, here we go.
Looking back on this trip the catching portion was tough. One of the toughest I can remember. Captain Justin, based on strong Intel, chose to travel to the waters north of Puerto Vallarta, specifically outside the Mexican Mandated buffer zone of the Tres Marias. I know Justin had been monitoring the situations at all the potential end destinations for some time. Our best chance of success and more days of fishing lay in the rather close to Cabo, 24 hour run, to the area noted. It certainly appeared to be the right thing to do and clearly the best choice as though the other destinations were putting out some fish the conditions there were not ideal for what this trip was attempting to do. I was all for the Captain’s choice.
Fortunately the area was loaded and I mean loaded with big and medium sized fish. The fish finders were lit up with indications of all sizes of fish most every day and night. We had cows coming to the boat or staying with the boat almost continuously. The bad new is much of the time those little beggars had lockjaw at least as it applied to what we tried to feed them. These fish appeared to be feeding on small food fish such as red crabs, infant squid and possibly a few infant fliers. Though we had some fish hitting the poppers, sticks baits and drop jigs it was clear these guys were feeding on much smaller stuff. At least the Tuna were on smaller baits. We did get a small hit of big Pargo and a large hit of Jacks on Asian style drop jigs when night fishing. The overwhelming winner of that competition was Kil whose Super Sardine in Pink and glow (It may have been pink and another color) was good for a fish pretty much every drop. As you will see in Kil’s pictures we also had some great hits on those wonderful 60 – 120 pound tuna which we sometimes forget are magnificent creatures as well and fantastic fun to catch.
Though we got a hit of smaller fish the first day our folks continued to plug away. The regulars on the Excel fished bait (About 12 or so folks) and 14 folks continued to fish artificials. We all got along amazingly well as the bait guys were on the windward side and the artificial folks were on the leeward side of the boat. When you have a boat as big as the Excel this was a treat until the current and wind picked up considerably. At that point huge amounts of lead, more than I had ever seen used before, and squid were the way to go. 2.5 pounds was not enough lead. Nonetheless, we still had a fair amount of folks keeping with the Asian style jigs and poppers. Only at night, for the first many days, did I stop throwing poppers and stick baits…..Admittedly I was not a big contributor using those artificial baits to the total catch on the boat. I got a few smallers with nothing worth putting a tag onto but certainly I contributed to the Wonderful sushi spread put out by Jason and Jake.
This trip set was set up not to show which techniques or gear was superior rather it was to see if other techniques from other coasts could be used in a worthwhile manner aboard a West Coast Long Range boat and to transfer some West Coast technique to those not familiar with what we do on this coast.. In this regard, I believe, we showed an angler has several viable alternatives to simply fishing live sardines, squid or the other variety of large and small live baits afforded to the west coast. There is no doubt in my mind a willing angler can use a piece of formed or molded plastic, wood, metal, etc. and have a great time as well as a great chance of catching a giant using methods rarely used on these trips as long as that angler learns to properly use the tools. Does it take more work to use an Asian Style Drop jig or make a thousand casts using a popper??… Absolutely. Are the results of successfully using these techniques, where so many others say it cannot or should not be done, extremely satisfying??... Absolutely. As a note, a great buddy of mine used poppers on the Maximus a few months ago out of P.V. when everyone else was roping the fish on bait and he told me again what a blast it was. He was bored using bait and was delighted to successfully use those poppers.
There is no question regarding the extreme success of this trip in bridging the seeming divide between East and West Coast hard-core anglers. As the trip progressed it was clear, even the best anglers aboard, would be taking home some valuable new knowledge based on techniques and gear used on the other coasts.
By the middle of the trip no one was discussing who was the best or who had the better gear, rather everyone was asking questions to increase their already sizeable amount of skill and knowledge. Egos were placed on hold replaced by the shear desire to simply learn more about this great sport of ours. This is a sport shared by millions of folks, male and female, around the world. Our West Coast Long Range is simply one of the many pinnacles of the sport yet one which so many aspire to participate in.
As a side note regarding the Fly Down – Fly Back options. No question for this angler the ride – ride option is my favorite and provides the most amount of fishing time. However, this trip, so many anglers coming from so many coasts, we decided on the Fly – fly option. I was one of 7 who rode the boat down while only 5 returned on the big boat. I love the time just lounging and bonding with old and new friends but I really wanted to spend the extra time with my rarely seen friends from other coasts who did not have the time to ride the boat back. I have to say Cabo was a blast and my feet were very, very happy with my daily visits to the masseuses located in the hotel complex. For just a few Bucks a day I could simply close my eyes while the girls pressed and oil my somewhat sore tootsies and fingers. No you perverts, not that kind of ending to my massage.
Another note was the pleasure I receive from Happy hour and cigar time with friends on the upper deck of the big Excel. Smokers and non-smokers alike would meet up above just to chat and relax. If fishing slowed down I knew exactly where to find certain friends to share that down time with. I rarely smoke except on the golf course (I rarely golf any more as it takes away from my fishing time) and of course on fishing boats. This was a 2 cigar a day trip. In my book that is one successful trip regardless of the catching conditions.
Please refer to Kilsongs post for pictures and video for views of the various types of noodle rods used for Jigging and Popping. Though perhaps not completely appropriate for the west coast rail rodding technique these fine series of rods were responsible for all 3 Jackpot fish between 230 and 250 pounds.
Brian staying with artificials and scott putting some serious pain to the fish yet giving the respect our west coast fish deserve. All parties trying to figure out better ways to not touch the rail yet get the benefit of the rail for leverage.
Me working the upside down spinner when I needed to turn the head of the fish and my backbone/spline being opposite and it worked regardless how goofy it looked. Folks made fun but the fish are landed much faster than without the technique. Playing with better ways to use these Spinners as true tools of the Long Range trade is just part of what I enjoy doing.
Notice how the guys on spinners do not use the rail. Though this certainly puts additional strain on the angler these light and bendy rods drive much of the pressure down into the butt of the rod. Please watch the video to see many of the anglers are not very big yet could put large amounts of pressure on the fish without having giant biceps and back muscles. Watch Jen using here Black hole rod and Avet reels to land some beautiful fish simply by using good technique. Jen’s husband Scott also used a short Blackhole (Either 350 or 450 G) plus the Avet HX Raptor to subdue the biggest fish of the trip.
David putting some serious hurt on the fishing population along with his sit in the chair cow fishing style. David, at night, would drop down a ton of weight with a squid about Amidships, pull up a chair and would be hooked up within a half an hour. David got 2 cows I believe plus numerous other great grade of fish. Now that is what I call fishing with Style. That said, I believe David is going to make a bit heavier piece of equipment, with more lift, as he seemed to enjoy the benefit of fishing the rail. Heck, David was using the rail to hold up his pole when he was sitting in the chair and not on a fish. Now that is using the tools of the trade for personal benefit.
Captain Jimmy on trying different stuff: How about a 3 sardine rig?? How about fishing East Coast style by putting on weight and a sardine, pulling out line by hand t measure the depth, then tying on a small balloon to pull the whole thing away from the boat. Captain Jimmy is truly about figuring out new and possible better ways to do things. One has to break a few eggs before one makes the perfect omelet. Fishing with Captain Jimmy is just a blast and I recommend anyone going back east to Cape Cod or that area call for his charter service.
I am not a big enjoyer of weighted line fishing but when the current and wind are ripping and you are fishing from a drifting long-range boat the choices are not that extensive. I have always enjoyed the use of the big West Coast Style drop jigs at night or early morning but have always guessed what depth I was dropping to. Since I really did not know and more often than not my black ink marker on the line at 150 feet was gone quickly, I tended to create more work for myself by going well past the bite zone and then winding up through it. I was probably winding at least an extra 30 – 50 yds of line with each drop. Not a big deal on one drop but as I get older the jigs seem to get heavier after 10 drops you can begin to feel the extra work and after 100 drops….. well lets just say a cocktail and cigar start looking better than they ever did. This age thing sucks. My point being any East Coast Jigger worth his or her salt would have metered line. I really need to get me some of that stuff as it sure is easy to figure out exactly how much line you have out regardless what depth the fish are holding.
East Coast Meets West Coast: One of the great discoveries made by the East Coast guys were how well their lighter weight gear could be converted to fish live bait. By converting I simply mean putting on a circle hook rather than an artificial lure. I have long been touting the joys of using a spinner to get bait into the zone easier, quicker and livelier and these guys certainly took that to heart. When the conventional underhanded lob guys were having a tougher time getting a bait away from the boat due to the weird combination of heavy current and heavy cross wind the spinner folks could get the bait out ever time. This translated into more hookups. Though this was certainly designed to be an artificial lure trip having the ability to fish bait was just a pleasure. The big Excel’s bait holding capacity is enormous and the bait lasted in fantastic condition until it was time to leave.
I have to give enormous kudos to one of our East Coast lads by the name of Bryan. This guy is built for jigging and that is what he does. Day and night the man was a machine and though the first few days were tough he kept with it and was rewarded for his efforts. Bryan used his head when he had a tough time getting bit on his “Go To” butterfly jigs he soon realized the fish were feeding on the noted smaller baits. When he dropped down in size of his bait his bite ratio increased dramatically. Once on a fish Bryan is a beast and made fairly short work of those West Coast Yellow fin Tuna without touching the rail.
The entire East coast group of guys, and 1 girl, and of course our Canadian Rocco, who chose to spend their hard earned dollars and harder to find time for this adventure were just fantastic. Something about long-range fishing brings anglers together in ways simple charter boats or short term trips cannot. When you get to lounge around with folks as well as get down and dirty at the rail you form a bond, which cannot be ignored. I met folks who honestly offered up their homes, boats, etc. when I come out to the East. These are now folks I can honestly call friends. Folks I would be honored to share a rail with any time any place. A special thank you to Rob from Boston. Rob and I absolutely enjoyed our last day and night together in Cabo sucking down some drinks at Desparados and I smoking a cigar. Just a great time. Thank you Rob
The Korean and Japanese fishermen, though I could not converse properly with them were absolute delights. Always polite, never pushy and generally at the bow throwing artificial baits day and night. Our guys ranged from the Pro from Carpenter rods and lures to average guys like the rest of us who just love to go fishing. None the less, when a few of those anglers decided to throw some hooks with live bait on them it was game on and man was that fun to watch. Carpenter rods and lures was well represented.
Size of popper/Stick bait: I have been a firm believer in size and color of poppers matter. In the case of this trip I believe we needed to have a tiny popper if we were to be successful. By Tiny I mean a bass sized popper. Since I do not know of any in this size capable of landing a big tuna we continued throwing what we had. Though this trip was not to be a great test of what and how different poppers worked we still learned a but about the feeding habits of these particular schools of fish. They wanted small baits during the day and rarely our medium to large stick baits and poppers….. period. None the less many of us continued to throw these things with a few successes here and there. Does this particular experience mean top water artificial fishing is a waste of time…. ABSOLUTLEY NOT. When the angler believes the next cast will yield and incredible display of a giant tuna crashing on the top water bait an angler can live on that adrenalin for days and days. The Asian guys on the bow were having a blast but they are experts in top water fishing and realize on any given day the top water fishing can be great or can be a day of nothing but exercise. Either way they realize if you are not throwing you probably will not be catching and maan did these guys throw a ton. All were rewarded with nice fish throughout the days and nights.
IMPORTANT:I have decided on my next trip to really push the use of spinners and popping rods for live bait applications. I have been extolling the virtues of proper quality spinning reels for years but pairing them with a light weight Popping rod for bait is really a natural. I cannot tell you how many anglers were having trouble getting baits away from the boat in the very confused situations we found ourselves in. Those who could cast a Sardine, like the deck hands, were getting bit pretty good but the playing field was evened out when the less experienced regular Joe’s threw out a bait using spinners. I have been enjoying this for years but rarely used my popping rods for the application. Just for yucks I took one of my popping rigs and threw out bait on a130 pound test, 30 foot long, blue smoke Momoi mono. Most of the folks had dropped down to 60 pound or even 50 pound as the fish were just plain line shy. I was bit within seconds of getting in the water. With 25 - 30 pounds of drag and 130 top shot it was short work to get a nice sized tuna to the boat ahead of the same folks using conventional gear. Granted the fish was not a cow but a nice fish nonetheless. Technique is mandatory in these situations. The point is I did it again at the next spot of fish with a similar result.
Though I love throwing artificial lures my newest favorite piece of equipment for bait is the Stella 18000 spinner and Black hole 8 foot graphite popping rod. The rod is amazingly light but has backbone for days. For the standard non-cow 10 day or less trips this combination is an absolute winner for anything from 150 pound tuna, Wahoo, yellowtail, Dorado, etc. on bait or lures. If I were to have one all around rig for all applications this would be the one. Bait, midwater lures such as Raiders, Tady’s and 6X jr.s, top water poppers and stick baits along with Light surface iron such as Tady’s and Salas are all pieces of cake for this one rig. Once the angler discovers proper technique the size of the fish you can catch with this rig certainly falls into the cow range though not to be used for giants by the average angler. The great thing about the rig, and I cannot repeat this enough, ANYONE can use it effectively for getting hooked up.
Rail rodding a spinner without the use of the Thunder Down Under: So I decided to take one of my conventionally wrapped Calstar rods, a 700XH, and place spinning guides on the opposite sided. I left the reel seat where it was thus the spline of the rod was 180 degrees opposite from where one would normally wrap it. I placed a 20 size Accurate Reel on it and got hook up. Since these fish were in that 60 – 120 pound range and I had a nice 80 Pound top shot I figured I could easily crank down the drag somewhere during the first run. No way was I going to allow a fish that size to spool me even on this smaller reel. That extra drag certainly stopped that fish and caused him to turn towards the boat at which point I was grateful for the great retrieve rates these spinners are known for. It did not take long to get the fish to within about 40 or 50 yards of the boat at which point he decided to dog me. About that same time I decided to simply turn the reel upside down or right side up if it was a conventional and rail rod the damn thing. We all got a great laugh at me looking like a bad commercial for Oakie Fishing but the laughing gave way to oh my’s when I put the wood to that fish. At that point the fight was over and the fish was done as that kind of pressure really does the trip. I did the same thing one more time later on with a 50 pound top shot. Unfortunately on that one I did not know my own strength as upon putting the wood to the next fish my line properly snapped simply due to too much pressure. Well I wanted to know so now I now and I will absolutely be employing that rail rod technique in the future.
Skinny sticks: Okay, well this one is a bit tougher. Most all of the fish in the Jackpot were caught on skinny sticks. The biggest was Scott’s roughly 250 caught on a Blackhole short Cape Cod special (It might have been a 350 G) and an Avet HX Raptor. Scott used his Raptor series of reels by Avet, including the MXL, HX and HXW and put some serious hurt on some very big fish. Even the tiny MXL was catching 100+ pound fish. One thing important to note is these guys really do not use the rail or at least did not until they discovered it is not a bad idea after all. Watching a true fishing Professional, Konishi San, from Carpenter Rods/Lures but the wood to a dandy fish on his 8’6 inch Carpenter skinny popping rod was fantastic.
I believe he was using Carpenter Stick bait on the fish Kil put on his post. Kilsong was a machine both on Tuna and Bottom critters with his 350 G Black Hole Cape Code special and drop jigs (Super Sardine was his favorite). Bryan, Well Bryan is a beast and can really use that short, skinny rod… Once again you perverts I am referring to his fishing rod. I remember Max showing his Technique along with David but these guys are used to fishing giants in Cape Cod and North Carolina.
It was Jennifer who really showed what can be done on these skinny rods. Again, she used a black hole rod and Avet Reel. You can watch one of Kil’s videos showing here putting the wood to the fish. One does not have to be a beast to use these rods as Jenn is relatively Tiny as you will see in the pics.
As I noted before these skinny rods, when combined with bait, were deadly for getting hooked up. I am not saying the fight was easy cuz it was not but these things did get hooked up. You will see myself and several others using a white Magic Eye Inshore rod by Black Hole Paired with the Newest Penn 9500S Spinfisher spinning reel on several of Kils pics and videos. This is absolutely NOT designed for big Tuna but we were out to test and man did that rig get a workout. I cannot tell you how many fish were hooked on that rig but there were a bunch and most all were landed. Granted, this angler took much longer than usual but we showed that a properly built skinny rod can handle the tortures of on the water big fish angling. I am not sure I can say the same thing about the anglers.
Now, would I recommend these skinny sticks as the first line of defense or offense on a ultra long range expedition. NO. Some of the guys even used the beautiful Boat gear made up of high end Accurate Reels, including ATD’s and Custom Super Seeker rods. The new anglers discovered the joys of rail rodding and used that technique to its maximum potential. However, these skinny sticks have a real place on a long range boat but it will be up to the individual to make that decision. My opinion is as long as Kil is around these skinny sticks will continue to develop until we get rods light as a feather yet can be used for rail rodding as well.
FISH PROCESSING:Fisherman’s processing has stepped up their already considerable game. Besides incredible customer service, Fantastic filet services including the placing into separate bags with Identification the Uber Sushi Grade Shoulder loin, and of course fantastic smoked fish and jerky. The red and black shirts really were on the spot as Sean had them pushing carts, using the gas powered pusher to get up the ramp as the tide had gone out and helped load and unload the boat. I watched as one angler offered one of the red shirts a tip yet that generous offer was refused. This is what I call teaching customer service. I cannot tell you how amazed and delighted that angler was with the response but I know the angler really felt the red shirt deserved the tip. Customer service starts at the top and these guys have been taught by the best…
During the off load those fish destined for Fisherman’s processing were placed in the sea side slush bins rather than stacking into a truck, Sean sent the red and black shirts down to do the unloading of fish from the Excel. Believe me when I tell you the tide was low and the ramp was steep yet the gas powered and human powered cart pushers were everywhere. Of course the boys in the red shirts always handle the loading of the boat beautifully. From what I understand the fresh filets were on their way to the East Coast the same day. Fantastic service with a smile. Of course a hug from Rosie is always nice too.
Sean, as always, I cannot thank you enough. By the way, Sean arranged for so many filets to the East Coast and since I have only heard fantastic things I can assume everyone was tickled with the service.
Just because you come from far away does not mean you cannot get this amazing quality of the highest Sushi Grade tuna delivered to your area.
Okay, so clearly I wrote this over many days. Since my brain cells may be different on any given day I realize my post is rather disjointed so forgive me if I repeated myself or used too many run on sentences.
Obviously I am delighted we were able to put this trip together to unite East and West Coast. Along with Asia and America. I for one learned a bunch on this trip as did most every angler who participated. The proof of success was the 100% agreement of all the anglers noting West Coast Long Range is simply a one of a kind experience which should be on every anglers to-do list. Even anglers who were a bit distressed at the beginning of the trip where the fish were hard to find found they could not wait to do this all again soon. It is not hard to realize the extreme potential of this sport for every single angler. Some trips have better fishing but none may ever have such wide variety of angler types, techniques or a better testing venue. Thank you to all who participated. Undoubtedly, my brain will again kick in and I will add some items to this already long post but for now Good night and hope to see you at the rail. Maaan I am tired.
Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:01 PM
Bluefin USA Fishing Apparel. Great and good looking fish wear.
JigSkinz an amazing new way to both bring back your old lures of all types, sizes and shapes as well as change the color schemes on lures you feel may not be getting bit as well you might like.
Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:31 PM
I wish I can write as good as you do.
It was a pleasure to fish with you on the Excel. I had a lunch with Scott today and talked about the trip. Even though we didn't kill tuna because of full moon, it was a very successful trip by any means.
I don't think I could find better group like we had on the Excel.
I am planning a similar charter in 2015. The Excel is definitely one of the best long range boats out of San Diego. But I like to fish on other boats too just because I haven't fished on them.
I am going to discuss with you to find a right boat for 2015 charter.
Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:21 AM
Some guys may have been disappointed with the amount of fish caught on the EXCEL during the jig and pop trip. Some may have seen the good fishing results from a few boats fishing nearby while we wernt doing much! There was a very good reason, the Excel chose to obey the buffer zone laws, while some local boats fished within the zone and had the fish to themselves. The capt of Excel was aware of the fish being caught, he was in contact with the other boats. The capt made the right decision to obey the laws, for this I commend them!!
I would love to do another trip in the future. Another boat to compare and maybe a little more open minded to trying new things? Perhaps make sure we end up at HB &/or Clarion!!
Posted 23 February 2013 - 09:26 PM
WOW, thanks for sharing your extensive insight into the trip and look forward to reading more.
I just got back from a tripp on the RR3 and had an amazing time in tough fishing conditions.
Would you guys consider the RR3 as a possiblitiy? If so, capt. Andy Gates had mention maybe doing some marketing here on the east coast and could set up meeting if Kil and a few are intrested. I know I would. FYI, they will have wi-fi this summer.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 09:06 AM
The Excel was great, but I am always open for other options. There are not many long range boats which can go to Cabo San Lucas to pick up customers.
The Excel, The Royal Star, The Polaris Supreme and the Red Rooster.
If we sail out of San Diego, I am seriously considering the Intrepid as all say good things about the Intrepid.
Posted 01 May 2013 - 02:46 AM
After these long 15 days, what can you say about the Penn Spinfisher V? I bought the reel Penn Spinfisher V 10500 coupled to the rod Penn Bluewater Carnage Jigging/ Spinning 80-130lb catch for tuna about 100-120lb ... Waiting for your opinions on this reel
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users