Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Trio Unites in San Diego

Fishing Time - Sun up to sun down March 2-5
Weather - Scattered rain, cloudy, windy, T-60s
Moon Phase - Full moon
Locations: El Capitan, San Vicente, San Diego Bay, Mission Bay
Water Temps on Lakes:  58-64 degrees
Best Bait:  Live shiners and live grunion
Who Went: Bobber John, Rick Everson, Salim Sawaya, Dunc
The fishing Trio united in San Diego for a few days and man am I tired.  We fished from sun up until past midnight for four days straight.  We barely ate, and sleep was not a priority.   It began on a Friday.  Rick was due to arrive at 11 PM, but I had the day off and John and I hit El Capitan before Rick’s late arrival.
We found plenty of bass to play with and had fun being on El Cap with the boat.  No big fish were caught, but enough 2-3 pounders to keep us happy. 
While waiting on Rick to arrive, I just happened to see an article on the internet about the 2018 Grunion run beginning tonight and going for the next 5 days.  I told John about the Grunion and how they are a small bait fish that spawn on the beaches of Southern California.  It only happens at specific times of the year and we definitely needed to check it out.  I also remembered a coworker telling me about a good spot to fish during the grunion run.  The predatory fish come in and eat the grunion! 

We made it to Dog Beach, in Ocean Beach about a half hour before the grunion run was about to start.  We began fishing at the spot my coworker recommended and it didn’t take long before the halibut hunter (a.k.a. Bobber John) hooked up with another nice halibut that was almost keeper length.
We didn’t have a measuring tape, so we let it go.  Soon after John caught the halibut, he was hooked up again with a nice corvina.  He had the hot hand!  Look at the teeth on that thing!
Unfortunately, I didn't catch anything, and the grunion run was a total bust.  However, they said in the article that the first night of the grunion run is usually the worst, so we made plans of returning and hunting more grunion.  We picked up Rick from the airport and headed back to my apartment.

For the first day of trio fishing we explored a new lake.  San Vicente is the biggest reservoir in San Diego County and is known for producing some big bass.  It’s a very deep clear lake with steep drop offs, sunken trees, and moss everywhere.  None of us have ever fished there, but with the boat it sounded like a good option.  The weather was pretty poor in the morning and the forecast called for rain.  
On one of the first casts of the morning, Rick had a fish on and it was a 5-pound beauty!  What a way to start the day!  
Shortly after, the weather let loose and it was an absolute downpour for an hour.  By the time it was done, we may as well have jumped in a swimming pool we were so wet.  We toughed it out and continued fishing, but then the wind started pounding on us.  We landed a few bass here and there, but it never did turn on.  
Around noon we had a boat malfunction.  The front trolling motor would not turn right.  Without the trolling motor and dealing with high winds, our fishing was done.  We made our way into town and found an AutoZone where we tore the motor apart and began fixing it.  It took us until dark to get it functioning again.

We made our way back to Dog Beach for day two of the grunion run.  We tried fishing again right before the grunion were supposed to arrive but didn’t have any luck.  However, 15 minutes into the grunion run I looked over and saw something shiny on the beach… Grunion!!!  They started washing in like crazy and for the next two hours we acted like kids chasing them all over the beach.  
We followed them around and watched them do their spawn thing.  It’s so weird!  The female digs her tail into the sand where only her head is sticking out and lays her eggs.  Then the males come surround her and lay their sperm.  
Then they all flip off the beach back into the ocean.  It was 2 AM before we made it back home.

El Capitan was the chosen spot, and our local buddy Salim Sawaya joined us on the boat.  We caught a ton of fish working the shoreline reeds and points.  
Just before sunset we started fishing deep trying to locate some larger fish.  We began catching a few and then Salim made a long cast to the shoreline using a Ned Rig, and his rod went bendo!  I could immediately tell this was a nice fish and we all reeled in to help him land it.  It was a great way to end the day with a big 6-pound largemouth bass!  El Cap produces again!
We trailered the boat and went to dinner with Salim.  While eating we started getting ideas about the grunion.  We should catch a bunch and use them the next day on the San Diego Bay!  We said goodbye to Salim and made our way back to Dog Beach.  Right on cue the grunion came to shore and even thicker than the night before.
We filled our brand new grunion jugs and prepped the live bait for a nights stay in my apartment. 
We launched the boat out of Coronado after loading our two grunion jugs full of live grunion.  We made our way towards the mouth of the San Diego Bay after some research told us that there were big halibut near the submarine base.  
Research also said that you needed to be careful not to float into Navy territory because they didn’t like fishing boats interrupting their operations. 

On arrival we spotted a military police boat and decided to talk to them and find out where we could fish and where we couldn’t.  They were very polite, but after we were done talking with them we all looked at each other in disbelief.  Basically, it sounded like there was nowhere to fish in the entire bay!  Ugh.  

We motored out into the middle of the bay, which seemed like the only safe place to fish, but found ourselves dodging giant navy ships heading out to sea.  
Then the smaller yet still big navy boats started rushing by nearly swamping John’s bass boat.  Add in the gale force winds and it was probably the most stressful fishing I have ever experienced.  Luckily, on our first drift, using live grunions, we started catching some fish.  Eve’s was first with a halibut.
Bobber John followed it up with a nice sculpin that smiled for the camera.
Off in the distance we could see this monster navy ship heading right at us, but we kept our drift and knew that eventually we would need to move out of its way.  It started getting close and right when we decided to move, I had a bite.  I let it take line for a few seconds and then set the hook, except the line kept ripping off my spool even after the hook was set!  Meanwhile, the monster navy ship was starting to bear down on us!  We kept our cool and watched as the line started to disappear off my reel.  I soon realized that if we didn’t do something then I was going to run out of line!  The fish was running parallel to the navy ship and John started the motor.  I told him we needed to follow the fish, or I was going to get spooled.  He hesitated as if he didn’t believe me, but then I screamed at the top of my lungs GO NOW!!!  He literally took off with seconds to spare.  I was down to a few wraps of line on my spool.  Craziest fishing experience ever.  Rick took this epic photo of me fighting the fish at the bow just as the navy ship was approaching us, and I was almost out of fishing line.  
We were so close that the people on the ship were looking straight down on us.  Looking back, it was truly amazing!

We followed the fish with the boat and it kept running.  After the longest fight of my life, I finally started making some ground, but the fish was still running whenever he wanted and almost emptying my reel.  In total it was about a 30-minute fight before we finally saw it.  We all started screaming at the same time… Shark!  Swimming right below our boat was a 6-foot soupfin shark.  
I couldn’t believe it, and now it was time to figure out how to land it.  After walking him like a dog around the boat about 30 times, the shark finally tired out enough for me to pull him close to the surface and Rick was able to grab him by the tail and drag him aboard.  

It was a fish of a lifetime and catching it on bass gear made it quite an adventure.  I was able to hoist the monster up for a quick photo and then he was released and swam strongly back to the bottom of the bay.  Best fight of my life!
After the chaos was over we motored into the back of the bay where we launched the boat.  The wind was still whipping, but at least we weren’t fighting navy ships.  We were sitting there fishing and suddenly we heard that unmistakable  sound that a whale makes when they blow air… Phffffffft!  We all immediately turned around to see a giant gray whale surface about 200 ft from us.  What the hell!?  We all grabbed our phones to take a photo, but it never resurfaced.  I told my buddies that I didn’t think that was normal to see a whale that far back in the bay. Later that night I googled it and sure enough it was on the news.  A gray whale had gotten lost in his migration and accidentally went into the bay.  Apparently, this happens once in a while, but it’s rare.  What a crazy day on the ocean.  Sharks, whales, and monster navy ships trying to run us over.  It was the most stressful yet coolest day of fishing I have ever experienced!

We were exhausted, but of course we had to do something.  We took another recommendation from Salim and hit a spot on Mission Bay from shore.  We fished late into the night, but no fish were caught. 

This could have been the most exhausted I’ve ever been in my life.  I think I went to bed at 7 PM for the next 3 nights in a row trying to catch up on sleep and energy.  Work was miserable all week.  It’s never a dull moment when the Trio unites for four full days of fishing!

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