The most exciting moment I have had in the outdoors

The dorado strike was more intense than the tuna’s.
  • The dorado strike was more intense than the tuna’s.

Post Title: Deep Sea Fishing in San Diego

Post Date: Sept 11, 2014

It was 5:45 a.m., and nine men stood in a group at the counter of H&M Landing. We were there to celebrate the bachelor party of our good friend by chartering a boat to take us out in search of fish.

On the dock, deckhands were pushing up carts loaded with yellowfin tuna and other fish. Our hopes began to rise. I had read of higher than normal yields of fish due to an influx of warmer water that made larger fish come closer to San Diego.

Two hours, breakfast, and a bit of seasickness for some of the group came and went. Then the captain’s voice blared over the intercom. “We have a kelp paddy on the right side of the boat; grab your poles and get a line in the water.” I slung my fishing pole over the side and flipped open the bail, releasing line down into the sea. Ten minutes passed and we accumulated ten or so fish on the deck. Unfortunately, none of them mine.

Then a deckhand yelled at me to take the pole in his hands. I grabbed the pole and braced myself. The fish hit the bait. The line went screeching out. He yelled, “Set the hook!” I flipped the lever and jerked the tip of the fishing pole upward. I had it! He yelled, “Keep the tip up and reel like hell!” So I began to reel.

It took some effort. My forearms burned as I gripped the pole with my left hand and zealously cranked the reel with my right. This fight went on for several minutes. The captain saw that I had the fish and yelled at the deckhands, “Let’s get a gaff on that tuna!” The deckhand yelled wildly, “Tuna here, big tuna here!!” He extended the gaff over the side of the boat and hooked the fish. Fresh meat! What an adrenaline rush! I took a few seconds to let my arms rest and then I grabbed another pole, re-baited, and cast it out into the water.

We landed yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, skipjack tuna, and a couple of dorado (aka mahi mahi). I caught every type but the dorado, which I desperately wanted, because they are so beautiful. I would see them swimming in the water: a flash of metallic bluish green, topped off with yellow. The captain said that they are pretty territorial and most of the time there is only one male and one female in a given kelp paddy.

We all cracked a beer in celebration as we headed toward shore. I was proud of the fish that I had caught. I was also a little disappointed; that elusive dorado lingered in the back of my mind.

I was standing at the bow talking to the bachelor when suddenly he reached past me and pointed out a passing kelp paddy. In that same instant, I felt the boat’s engine slow and heard the captain’s voice on the intercom, “Grab your poles, boys.” We all scrambled to find rigged fishing poles. There was an almost giddy feeling on the boat.

It was like looking down into the top of an aquarium at feeding time, with fish darting in all directions. The fish were literally fighting one another for my baitfish. Several times, I watched the bright colors of a dorado strike at my bait only to lose out to a quicker striking tuna. The tuna would then occupy a minute or two of my time with an exhausting fight.

After several attempts at drawing my bait away from other fish, I saw the strike. The dorado hit it! The strike wasn’t like that of the tuna; it was more intense. The struggle to get him aboard was more difficult and more trying. After fighting a dozen fish, I was exhausted. I reeled him close to the boat several times, but he sped back down to the depths. This went on a few times before I was able to draw the fish close enough to gaff and get aboard.

My body was completely drained. That intense ten minutes was probably the most exciting moment I have had in the outdoors since I shot my first deer as a child.

Title: Harvesting Nature | Address: harvestingnature.com

Author: Justin Townsend | From: Oceanside | Blogging since: 2011

[Post edited for length]

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