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BASC 1st Ever Club Tuna Trip- 1.5 Day on the Horizon out of H&M Landing

With great excitement the time came in the blink of an eye. Our gear was packed, some boarded flights, the majority had long road trips of 9 hours to San Diego. With Hurricane Hillary heading north in our path timing was questionable, but the trip doable. On Friday Aug. 18th I left at 4am to arrive at my brother's house in Orange County at 10:30 am. We left his house around 1pm and made it to H&M in San Diego at 3 PM hitting some traffic. On arrival as well warned traffic was impossible to find. Thanks to Richard's suggestion, right across the street at a hotel they offered parking for $20/night. This was $8 more per night than the landing, but beat the headache of waiting for a spot for hours! In the grand picture of trip costs and the convenience of access to getting your car when you return right across the street, $8/night is not a big price difference and you could park right away with plenty of parking avail. There was plenty of space plus the hotel had security cameras, which I liked. Any trips going forward I am going straight for this option not even messing with the crammed little parking lot full of huge trucks.

Our official load time was supposed to be at 5 pm, but ours was delayed and we didn't actually start loading until about 6:45 pm, so we had a lot of time to wind down from the long travel and get to socialize with our group, which was nice. From 1-5 pm everyone assembled in front of H&M Landing where we loaded our gear and luggage into big carts to push down to the boat. Once the carts were loaded it was a sit and wait for the captain to give us the green light for heading to the boat. We lined up our carts single file along the rail as other folks shared the main pathway to other charters and then we all hung around tables of an outside patio restaurant right by our carts where we socialized, got some food from several local places to eat. There was a great sandwich place, fish and chips, pizza place, ect. Once the captain arrived to tell us the boat was ready to board, we went one cart at a time, (2-3 people). Two people man the cart full of gear, and headed down the steep ramp to control it using the rail as a brake.

Once you get the loaded cart to the boat, the crew is quick to grab the items you hand up to them. You board the boat to then grab your tackle bag, place it on a shelf, grab your rods and place them in holders along the side of the boat and then grab your bag with clothes and go find your bunk down on the lower deck of the boat. Once settled in, you can start setting up your rods, relaxing, ect. The first night the boat doesn't provide food, so everyone brought their own. The boat had free fountain drinks including filtered water, tea and coffee. Beer was avail for purchase. The boat had cups set up for us to use with numbers matching our assigned number that identified us and the fish we would catch to be matched to us. Bunks are not numbered, so that is something that is arranged by the person who oversees the trip called the "Charter Master". That was my role or designation.

The boat before heading out loads up with bait and then takes off. While under way, you get a speech by the staff on where they plan to go, what the target fish is and what gear and tackle is to be used to start with. On the way out, our deckhands (we had 3 plus a 2nd captain that was active in helping us) all went to every persons rod and inspected each one to ensure they were set up correctly. Anyone who needed help and or asked for any help they took care of, so that once we arrived at the fishing grounds everyone was ready to fish immediately.

This journey out was 100 miles and we were not expected to arrive until 5 am the next morning to Tanner Bank. We departed at 8 pm Friday. The weather was absolutely stunning as we left. Everyone enjoyed the warm weather outside, the boat was well lit all the way around with very spacious walk way around, huge bow in front with sitting area, tons of sitting inside with the galley and it was so comfortable, spacious and enjoyable to roam around and not feel crammed up tight. Everyone mingled and got to know one another as we had about 5 groups between So Cal and Nor Cal members (friends and family of members that had never met before).

It was hard to want to go to bed with the excitement of being on this adventure knowing in hours what we'd be experiencing, but at the same time knowing any rest would be a big advantage to make it through the long day of fishing. The beds were nothing short of comfort with all of the bedding provided. I heard of no complaints from anyone and I had the worst bed of the boat at the very bow of the boat and I even slept well.

Once you wake up, breakfast is either made or being made, your in the middle of this ocean with crystal blue water and there is a fleet of other boats around. The weather was amazing for us shorts and tee shirt the whole time. Waters were calm like a lake. No signs of any hurricane were noticeable. Once the captain gets on the speaker and lets everyone know we will be anchoring and fishing soon the rush of adrenaline and anxiety hits. It's almost like an earthquake hits and everyone's running to get outside for safety. Everyone grabs their rod and stands ready like soldiers armed for battle by the bait tank waiting for orders to grab their ammunition (poor little bait fish).

The first side of the boat to be fished was the back (Aft) of the boat. Everyone is expected to fish the direction where the water current flows away from the boat. The boat takes a bit to anchor and set up for this to happen prior to fishing. The first initial drop of bait and lines was miserable (to be expected I assume with every trip). Everyone's 1st time to learn as a team and group what will happen and what needs to happen to avoid catastrophic failure. The technique of "Live Lining Bait", using only a live bait to fish, is challenging. Add 27 people on the end of a boat with 27 live baits swimming in all different directions and you have the perfect example of chaos. Next trip I do, I am grabbing my bait and heading to the opposite side for the first drop or simply waiting for that first complete tangle jungle to happen then drop after all the lines are pulled out. That's just me...

So how did this get resolved? After this first Insane mess, I didn't see that repeat to that extent. Yes, tangles would happen because you can't avoid it, but there was never a cataclysmic event like that after the first drop that I recall.

Very quickly, everybody realized there is a technique to this Live Bait Lining. You MUST keep your line TAUT (tension on your line), while also in free spool to allow the bait to freely swim away from the boat. You do this by using 1-2 of your fingers and just applying slight pressure against the spool and watching the line to make sure there is no slack. Very simple and easy to do. From this point, people spread out around the boat verse just herding around the back and that helped people practice and gave everyone the ability to adjust. As the bait starts to move, you follow the bait around the boat. If your bait gets eaten by a fish, same concept applies you follow the fish, but it's at a much faster pace with more vocal communications with everyone around. You end up going over and under rods very frequently. I call it the symphony of fishing because it really is like an orchestra. Once fish started hitting the deck reality hits that this was happening and anyone could catch a dream fish right then and there. The deckhands are actively helping everyone with either maneuvering rods with fish on lines, gaffing the fish at the boat, getting tangled lines undone, redoing lines that were cut, or chumming the water (throwing bait over the sides) to attract fish to the boat.

After about an hour of aggressive fishing, the bite died down. The captain told us that most the boats also reported a slow bite and he made a risky call to head to a distant area hours away that had not been fished in a week to try to hit a home run for us. We picked up anchor and headed out of the Tanner Bank heading to Cortez Bank. While underway the captain ordered the deckhands to put out 5 trolling rods to be fishing as we traveled. During this travel, we caught at least 7 fish on the troll. Every time a fish would hook up, a member would get a chance to reel in the fish. At the same time everyone would grab their rod, put a bait on and drop their lines. We would almost every time get 2-4 fish at every stop along the way.

As these stops continued to happen we collected fish for the boat. In my opinion, the excitement of trolling and having a fish hit and then stopping to fish a school was extremely exciting more-so than what we originally did with anchoring up. Somewhere in these stops, we had an awesome lunch. When we stopped to fish you just never knew what fish you'd be encountering, how big the fish would be, how big the school might be ect. To me it's the unknown that makes fishing exciting. I loved every single time this happened. The captain who was a great guy and full of excitement would get all hyped up and in turn get us all hyped up, so everyone was running outside every time the boat stopped to get lines in as fast as possible for that big fish. We ended the trip With everyone catching a fish. We had a mix of mostly blue fin and bonito with a yellow tail, yellow fin and a dorado in the mix as solos. Our boat staff worked tirelessly to find and put us on the fish and it showed in the end.

By 6 PM we were notified that our fishing window was closed and the 100 mile journey back home was upon us. We all put our gear up, removed the tackle, the boat crew finalized who wanted fish processed on the boat and pulled the fish out for that, everyone got to see their fish and take pics at that time. We had a big fish competition for a prize which took place with a 32# BF by Marc E. just edging out a beautiful huge 30# YT caught by Art G. Afterwards everyone ate dinner, enjoyed an amazing sunset on the last evening which came way too fast, took showers, some played cards, others sat around and shared stories from the day others enjoyed the awesome comfortable beds and slept. By the way I took showers both nights. Hot water, boat had pump soap, shampoo, conditioner ect. It was AWESOME. Facilities were fantastic and clean.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the storm had caught up to us. There was a light rain, so I was glad I brought the rain jacket. We did the revers of the arrival. I had my fish processed on the boat, so I grabbed the bag of fish and I was gone after saying goodbye to those who were awake. We returned at 3 AM, so some people were still sleeping or getting up. I had a party of 4 in my car to drive home so we packed and left to try and beat the storm. We ran by a local store to get ice for the cooler, filled up with gas, grabbed drive through breakfast and headed for our long journey home.

Our trip had many people who have fished tuna trips for 10+ years and everyone on the trip complimented this trip saying how enjoyable and how much fun they had. Everyone I spoke with said they would do this same trip next year it was that good and that was pleasing to hear given this was our first year doing this. Next year we will at a very minimum do a 2.5 to 3 day trip. 1.5 days was really a 1 full day of fishing and the rest was travel and it was far too short for the amount of enjoyment we had and wanted to continue to have as well as the fishing we wished we could have continued to have. Anticipate a trip next year (already being planned) and it topping this trip for sure... It will be the hot ticket so don't wait an miss out on it.

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