Sportboats in San Diego: Some Guidance for the Local Boats

Discussion in 'Sport Boats' started by Fat Spottie, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. Fat Spottie

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    Sportfishing in San Diego has a bunch of different takes, here is mine. This is mainly meant for people that are new to the sport boat fleet in San Diego, there is a million different perspectives on how to fish and why people fish how they do, but I've found that there is a method to the madness that makes the approach a bit easier.

    This more of a focus on the approach to fishing and how gear plays a large part in terms of how you will end up fighting your fish. There is a million different takes on it, mine has definitely changed over the years. For those of you who have actually been around me or know me, that's my credibility. My brain is not doing so well. I will get better at some point. I don't really care to explain myself or flex out on what I'm posting, this is just a neutral guideline from my experience.

    Lets start with the zone being fished. There is two styles of fishing for the most part on a Sportie, on the anchor, which is pretty simple and then there is the drift. So an anchor job is straight forward, you can fish 360 degrees around the boat, the boat typically lays with the wind and current, but sometimes they cross which can makes things funny. Then there is the drift, which is basically where you drift with the current and wind over a spot. Best advice for this style of fishing is just fish so that your line is going to lay out straight on the windy side of the boat. The windy side of the boat is the windward side of the boat, so the side that is being pushed by the wind. At some point from the bait tank to rails, make sure you're going to end up fishing the windy side. That alone will help get your bait out away from the boat and into the strike zone. Every boat drifts and has their deck organized differently, so I'll leave the full explanation to them.

    The meat and potatoes of this is really bait presentation and gear. So bait presentation is 75% your bait, and the second is line diameter. Fish actively hunting bait are key in on their prey in two ways. One is by their lateral line, they sense the electric impulses of the nerves of their prey firing off. The second is by sight, which anglers honestly take for granted in my opinion. When it comes to bait selection, you're looking for Michael Phelps. ONLY FISH MICHEAL PHELPS. If your bait is bloody, missing scales, has a red nose, is blue and red, looks funny in any matter, throw it over the side so the Deckhand on the bait tank knows to find you Michael Phelps. It can sometimes take a while to find him in the bait tank, but is totally worth it. When a bait hits the water, it needs to be able to act like a scared baitfish. Think of the bait tank like a military recruitment process where literally only the strong survive. You don't want the guy who is gassed and can barely move, you want the guy who is ready for the next round. Fish get spooked by bait that doesn't behave right. The bait looks out of place. Fish are actually very deliberate regarding the baitfish they want to eat, especially the offshore species. Tuna, even in the gnarliest of foamers, are still only eating one bait a time. Mimicking bait is pretty hard as well, fishing irons and stickbaits, you learn that a stickbait can produce the sound and action of a scared baitfish, but its up to you to make that action. A really good surface iron just mimics baitfish moving in a scared erratic actions, and the kick is kinda like a baitfish wandering out from the school for a second, it's out of it's normal swimming motion and now has to change its body position to get back into it. When any lure kicks out of its normal pattern, it just looks confused and probably is. It's an easy target now. A good swimming bait is just that. it's the ideal baitfish.

    Alright lets talk line. So typically you have either braid to a short topshot or mono. I fish both in different circumstances, but as an introduction mono is differently my first pick. Braid and poor line management is the way you get labeled as "that guy" for the rest of the trip. The advantage of braid is really being able to hold a bunch of line and cutting through the water once tension is applied to the line. Just because the reel that you own stores 300 yards of 50lb braid, that does not make it a 50lb reel. The pinion strength and quality of the drags are typically pretty overestimated when it comes to smaller reels as well. Any reel that holds 300 yards of 50ln is about a 25lb or 30lb reel at most as well. What overestimating a reels capabilities, is getting your reel destroyed and loosing all your braid. There is a certain chain of stores in San Diego that love selling you a certain brand of reel and line because the employees get a bonus. I recommend just avoiding getting a set up there, go down to LANDINGs and ask what would be a good set up for a line class. Then buy it from where ever. The reels that I mentioned are fine, but not how people expect the braid to save their butt. Typically most reels fish two line classes well, one the reel can handle all day and then one you may consider for heavier line but for light duty work. So braid is great for storing line. When i fill a reel with braid, I typically go the braid strength that matches the heaviest leader or topshot that I'll fish on that reel or keep it one line class heavier, the only exception to that is lure fishing. Surface Iron reels, I feel good with 65lb or 50lb backing depending on the size. I will always fish almost 100 yards of mono as well and that's the only instance that I will fish that much mono. With hardbaits and poppers, I like braid. I like fishing the line diameter of 25lb mono the best, so I typically use a line which is about equal. I don't like fishing braid for a flyline. It does not come off the spool well, it ACTUALLY GETS BOGGED DOWN IN THE WATER, and I pull VERY hard so the lack of stretch kills me. I'll rip out hooks all day in the same situation where I fished a good length of mono or flouro. The only time braid really cuts through the water better is when its under tension.

    With braid out of the way lets talk about mono and flouro. FIRST. I do not agree with you putting on 100 yards of mono for flylining or dropper loop fishing. At that point you're wasting how much line your can put on your reel with each crank, and you dig rapidly into the spool's capacity, which increases the drag output from what you originally set your drags at. Not to mention that it's stretchy and you cant feel a bite in 300ft to well. It's thick too, on a deep water drift, you have to use more lead to counteract the drag resistance from the line. Mono can be pretty awful in right scenario. So the big difference between mono and flouro is abrasion resistance and memory. I change out my mono every trip, but flouro stays until it is either chewed up or it finally decays from the salt. That last part, well you can go a season without changing it. The best thing to know is that mono will prioritize stretch and forgiveness, that's why cow fishing the boats literally ask you to fish a stretch of mono. You're not going to get beaten up by the fish shaking its head and its tail beats. You can fish heavier, the heavier you fish the faster the fish can come in, and the less of a chance something will go wrong. Also the meat doesn't get toasted from the fish producing so much internal body heat. The only time I 100% make sure I have flouro ready is for bluefin. Every other species mono is great. As far as abrasion resistance goes between mono and flouro.. well there is a reason why you're going to get laughed at fishing wahoo without flouro or wire. Wire can be to heavy as well :). Personal experience fishing mono and flouro around structure.. the flouro wins every time.

    Now here is the kicker to all this. Fish are visual hunters as well. You routinely hear about fisherman saying they have to drop down in line class. But is it line class? Or line diameter? I'm a full supporter of the latter. The visual here is that once your bait is in the water and the fish are shy, they are not so fired up that they're oblivious to the line hanging from the bait. So the goal is to get your line to just the point they don't notice it. Here's the best part of this. Not all line is made equal. It's not all the same. I realized the other day, I had less bites then someone else who is the best bait fisherman I know, but I'm not to shabby myself. Both of us fishing 20lb line and a size 1 hook. So it sent me for a loop. Then I compared the diameter of line I was fishing to him. The line he was fishing, was a full 70 yard topshot of flouro that was the equivalent to 12lb mono of the same line I was fishing. I told myself that I would not drop the names of any brand, and it will remain so. Flouro has stretch too, and the right line has great strength and stretch to it, and the inherent abrasion resistance as well. Copolymer mono does not come close either with abrasion resistance. Mono retains its strength linear to it's thickness unlike flouro. You're only going to fray flouro, and sometimes it can be a while to it's squishy core, doing something pretty dumb. Fishing the current brand of flouro I use, I have yet to loose a fish to biting through the line. So up to 30lb, I will from now on fish 50 to 70 yards of flouro. I just make sure I have good casting distance and maybe another 30 yards or so on the spool.
     
    #1 Fat Spottie, Sep 12, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
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  2. Fat Spottie

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    Continued...

    Alright lets talk gear. First off a full day trip is over $200 and yeah it's a customer service industry. The industry standard is a double digit number with a 5 or 8 at the end... if you have trouble affording that, either rent out gear or buy some bulk chicken from the supermarket. You should be able to get at least 60lb of chicken breast for the same price as a ticket, and you're guaranteed that protein. Maybe gas money too. Sportfishing is no longer a "meat catching" industry. Unless you limit out everytime, which doesn't happen and post El Nino it will be shown more and more. Obviously tips are not mandatory... but ask yourself if you want to do their job all day. They're going to scrub the entire boat at the end of the day and bleach it, how much help can you really provide during the day which isn't trivial in hind sight. Fishing is not cheap, and good gear makes a world of difference. I personally see good reels starting at around $150 retail price. Rods are the same way as well.

    When you start a set up, look to fish a particular line class. 40, 50, 60lb, etc. Where this gets weird, is IMHO 30lb. If I was going to start all over again, I wish someone told me that if I bought one reel, and one rod, that I had two options. A light 30lb rig or a heavier 30lb rig. That light rig is going to be a on a lighter rod, maybe rated 20-30 or 15-40 for an example. Fishing 15-30lb is the strike zone of the light rig, The heavier rod is going to be rated 20-40 or 20-50. The strike zone is really 30 to 40 for this rod. The heavier reel is going to be a full sized reel with a diameter similar to a Newell 332 (they're out of business and its' a glorified jigmaster, jigmasters do not make the good reel cut. for the prices that are asked for Newells you can find reels NEW around $120 that are much, MUCH better). The lighter reel is going to be the diameter of a Newell 220. Both rods are going to be 8ft in length. Both reels are going to have 200 yards of braid backing as a minimum.


    That's just some key starter information to people that are new. We all develop different tastes with time and that's okay as long as you get bit and understand how to quickly land fish on your gear. I've got my own style that is a little bit unconventional from a few perspectives, but it blends well into how I believe fish act and produces phenomenally for me, I don't know if I can just teach it to someone. These are my core beliefs right here.
     
    #2 Fat Spottie, Sep 12, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
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  3. Fat Spottie

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    One last thing to add, you can find good used gear and put together set ups for $200 and sometimes even less. If youre going out on multiple trips, TRUST ME ON THE INVESTMENT.
     
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  4. B8DHOOK

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    Good stuff Fat Spottie. I would like to know what brand of mono is thinner than normal for its line class. 20-30 lb mono specifically. Years ago, I used a 17lb mono that was the diameter of 10-12lb for Striper fishing at Powell. I believe it was made by Trilene and called “Magna-Thin”. If I remember right. I’ve been using Big Game, Ande and P-Line lately with good results, but I’m not up on the latest and greatest mono’s that are out today.
     
  5. Fat Spottie

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    It’s a stretchy flouro… it’s bass line.
     
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  6. K-Bo Smack

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    Good read...thanks for taking the time and effort to post!!
     
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