Every June we round up the troops to head out to San Clemente Island for 2 long days of kayak fishing. The offshore island offers anglers the opportunity to seek quality bass, sheephead, halibut, whitefish, bonito and yellowtail all from their very own kayak. The journey is met with laughter, big fish tales and perhaps a few cold ones as we load up our gear, kayaks and coolers aboard the 88 ft. M/V Islander mothership a proven multi-use fishing and expedition vessel.
San Clemente Island is a popular fishing destination for the SoCal fishing fleet, but not all the boats are suited to maximize what the island has to offer. The advantage that kayakers have over ALL other boats is that we can go wherever we want. There is no cove too tight and shallow, there is no boiler too gnarly and there is no kelp forest too big for us kayakers. This advantage becomes quite evident when you see the big boats sitting well off the island’s shoreline and we are fishing within 10 ft. of the shore.
As we slowly make our way out of Point Loma we make a quick stop to grab some fresh live sardines and anchovies for the journey ahead. While the deckhands are processing live bait for us we sit down with Captain Jason to discuss the fishing format for the next 2 days. The boat starts to get excited about the prospects of targeting yellowtail and halibut. Our trips always have some die-hard saltwater bass’n anglers that seek the elusive double digit bass.
When you have serious bass anglers onboard you better believe there will be pounds of lead heads and plastics onboard as well. With that in mine the guys over at Fish Village partnered up with Mike Ryba of Reebs Lures and supplied our guests with Reebs Kelp Assassin swim jigs and Reebs Persuaders a beautifully molded plastic weedless swimbait. Mike’s oldest son Dawson came along for the ride to show us old guys a thing or two about how to fish Reebs Lures and land your toad. Not only was he a fine fisherman, but a fine young man as well.
Day one started out with a bang as Dawson snagged up a 2-3 lb calico bass right out of a boiler rock using what else… a Reebs lure. The VHF radios started blowing up with “I need a fish pickup” as the bite got hot. Yellowtail, bonito and bass for days. The majority of bass caught were in the 2-5 lb range making bass fishing a fun way to spend your first day kayak fishing at San Clemente Island. I hooked up to a decent halibut while sight fishing the bottom with a Pink Reebs Kelp Assassin, I actually watched it hover over my jig and inhale it. I had a great hookset and brought the flatfish up about three times before my reel seized due to an un-timely braid knot in my little baitcaster. For about an hour the halibut mocked me from the bottom with that damn pink Reebs lure still in its mouth. Redemption was around the corner though when I was lucky enough to be in the midst of a hot yellowtail bite and landed my first yellowtail off a kayak. I let out a huge roar and a few adult adjectives that expressed my happiness for landing my first yellowtail on a kayak. WOO-HOO!!! Yellows were being caught, but more rats than slugs, nevertheless they are still fun and delicious. Shelby Rothman’s yellowtail (her first on a kayak) was not only her own personal prize, but the day one jackpot as well.
With everyone worn out from the abnormally warm spring conditions and hard fishing, we all gather in the galley to enjoy a fine meal prepared by the chef Rick aka “Geezer”. The guys, Shelby and young man Dawson all shared stories, bragged, teased and bonded while stuffing their face with amazing culinary creations by our good pal Rick. This comradery makes these trips that much more fun and so does the wine, beer and booze… but you already knew that.
With rising winds and seas the captain decides to start day two tucked away near Pyramid Cove. This gave us the opportunity to target halibut, yellowtail and those grumpy ol’ bass. With my first cast of the day into a boiler rock, I snagged a 3-4 lb grass rockfish, my first one. I had to ask the deckhand what type of fish it was. Even though the weather wasn’t quite cooperating, the fish were biting. Within an hour of everyone getting on the water, Wayne Johnson hooked up to a nice halibut and landed it successfully. The yellowtail bite was slow and steady, if you put your time in trolling the waters you got a few nice yellows. The big yellow of the trip was landed right next to the mothership by Pete Wilk which just happened to be the biggest fish caught on the trip and jackpot for day 2. As the sun began to set the bass bite got really, really, really good. If you placed your kayak in the danger zone near the boilers, you were rewarded with high catch counts and BIG bass… I mean a 4-7 lb average with hookups about every 7-8 casts. You had to work to position yourself right, you had to cast into the foam… but if you did, you got a whopper on the other line. At that time you could throw any color plastic with any color head tied directly to white braid if you wanted and still get bit. My buddy Charlie and I laughed and screamed each time we hooked up another whopper, our thumbs were bloody and our voice was just about gone… what a way to end the trip.
The fishing might be over, but the fun and games continues until everyone is fed and asleep. That means Geezer has one more trick up his sleeve and knocks it out of the park with some amazing tri-tip followed up by vanilla ice cream over fresh baked brownies… what is not to love? To those that earned it… some fresh fish buttholes were served up before their main entrée. Let’s just call it a badge of honor and a little stupidity… nevertheless hilarious! To understand one would have to be a kayak angler!
This trip was a huge success because of multiple people, companies, conditions, gear, cooperating fish and a bit of luck. Fish Village (http://www.fishvillage.com/) is a company that serves the fishing industry both the angler and the trip provider. We helped anglers book and prepare for this trip so that they can get the most out of their adventure. Dana Point Jet Ski & Kayak Center (http://www.danapointjetski.com/) connects kayak anglers of all ages and offers up their place as a meeting point for Hobie kayak sales, kayak fishing tournaments, outings and trips. Reebs Lures (http://www.reebslures.com/) stepped up and supplied our guests with some of their amazing product custom to their fishing style, target species, location and let’s not forget that Dawson Ryba was there to lead the way for Team Reebs. And last but certainly not least Islander Charters (http://www.islander-charters.com/) for being the professionals you are, for your fine crew, fine boat and fine food!