Excerpts From A Fish Tale
By Bill Roecker
Editor’s Note: Intrepid is the newest sportfisher in San Diego’s fleet. Bill Roecker of Oceanic Productions kindly shared his story of 10 days aboard Intrepid this past fall. Excerpts — that only touch on the thrill of the experience — from his report follow, and if you would like to read more, contact Roecker at (760) 941-2029 or Bill@FishingVideos.com.
We loaded bait at Everingham Brothers receivers, before heading into moderate seas on our way south. The swell and chop increased over the next few days, but going downhill on the new 110-foot stabilized sportfisher Intrepid, we were totally comfortable. We felt a little yaw but no roll as we surfed along.
After we had our orientation and tackle talks from skipper Dan Nichols and second skipper Kevin Cleary, chartermaster Wayne Martin of Catchy Tackle handed out packages of Catchy 33 jigs, Spinnerhead wahoo bombs, hats and coffee cups. Martin also donated numerous 26-ounce Spinnerhead wahoo trolling jigs; one of those bagged the only wahoo of the trip for Milo Rivera next day.
Eating Like Kings
We ate like kings during this 10-day October trip, with Chef Javier Quintanar and his brother Hector preparing five-star meals and snacks. Quintanar wowed us with his trademark seafood mountain one afternoon for our snack. We also enjoyed a platter of smoked fish from processor Mario Ghio of Sportsmen’s Seafoods. Ghio and Five-Star Fish Processing met us at the dock at the end of the trip to cut and wrap, smoke or jerk the catch.
Accurate, Mustad, AFTCO and other sponsors for FishingVideos.com made the trip memorable for our 17 anglers with gift packages that included the 2008 Sportfishing Calendar and assorted hooks and free spoolings of 40, 50 and 60-pound Mustad Ultra Pro Plus line for all aboard. There was also a drawing for some valuable prizes.
Let The Fishing Begin
Our first fishing began at the 13 Spot, shortly after Milo bagged that wahoo. Nichols anchored Intrepid, and small tuna and yellowtail showed the eagerness characteristic of the place, known as very productive among long rangers. The 13 is the first of a series of high spots along a 60-mile rise called The Ridge.
Big sheephead were biting on the bottom, but at 72 degrees it was a bit too cool for pargo or grouper. A year ago it was 80 there ....
We came across a pod of sperm whales, more of them than anyone on the boat had ever seen together, maybe 30 or 40. A few were large adults, 50 or more feet long; most of the whales were smaller. They moved very slowly on the surface, spouting forward with low plumes.
We were awed by the sight of their black, barrel-shaped heads, but not so much that the anglers didn’t try to fish while they watched. The whales seemed unconcerned by our nearby presence. They looked like they were watching us. Maybe they were resting after a dive, since the species is known to favor squid, and to dive to extreme depths to catch their prey …
Yellowfin are the staple of the long-range fleet, but after an unprecedented year for big fish (almost 10 times the normal catch) two seasons ago, tuna fishing has been tougher, and not just for yellowfin. Fishing for cool-water tuna (albacore and bluefin) this past summer was also difficult.
There were plenty of marlin around. Everybody seemed to hook two or three stripers, but we weren’t after marlin. The stripers were very good at releasing themselves, although we had to handle at least one fish that ate a trolled Spinnerhead. It swam away as though it was feeling all right …
We rolled up on the Potato Bank about dark one night. No life showed on the bottom, according to the down-scanning sonar. No life came to the lights, either. Often olive grouper bite at the spot …
On Board Intrepid
We cruised along in quiet style. Intrepid rolls so little while underway it’s surprising, especially when the boat’s in the trough. Long bunks and fine sheets and blankets make for a good rest while motoring.
The galley is a pleasure, with comfy booth seating, three big flat screen displays, superior coffee makers and soft drinks from a fountain. You can enjoy the expected San Diego long range-style meal service at your table. Showers are large and easy to clean.
Again: Biting Fish
Late [one] morning a bird school got us excited and we got on biting fish again. They were dorado, and they were eager and plentiful. Everyone was bit all at once again. Hooked fish were jumping everywhere around the rear half of Intrepid.
The bite continued to lunchtime, when we were limited out with six each. Twice during the bite I looked down swell to see the main body of fish, which didn’t come close to the boat.
A single tuna bit during the first part of the dorado melee. It was a 52-pounder that beat up Ben Cambron of San Jose for about an hour. Cambron fought his fish back and forth across the stern, and somehow avoided disaster with gyrating dorado time after time. He won out in the end, and posed with his tuna, which later won third place …
[One day] … Skipper Nichols cranked up Intrepid’s quiet engines and we motored north while enjoying a rack of lamb dinner prepared by the Quintanar brothers …
Blue Whales Broach, Fluke
Big ling cod were biting [one] day, south of San Martin Island and at a couple of sports just to the north of the volcanic island. Blue whales broached and fluked in the distance. We had time for a couple of hours of rock fishing and headed for the barn.
That last dinner was another great one made by Quintanar, a tasty lobster-steak combination that sent us to our bunks full to the gills. We docked at Point Loma Sportfishing the next morning at six, sorted the fish, and went home tanned and well-fed.
Thanks To Intrepid
Thanks to Intrepid for a great ride, superb food, some fishing moments that were hard to get, and some that won’t be forgotten.
Specifically, thanks to Accurate, Mustad, AFTCO, Catchy Tackle and other sponsors for numerous prizes and gifts; and thanks to Skipper Dan Nichols, Second Skipper Kevin Cleary and Engineer John Hartwell, Crewmen Rick Kelly and Chad Smith.
Javier and Hector Quintanar deserve a special mention for incredible cuisine.