Sit right back and I’ll tell the tale, the tale of a fishing trip
Posted on July 9, 2014
Many of you may have noticed a distinct shortage of my typical selfies over the last day or two. That was for a very specific reason, and I assure you that I had your best interest in mind (more to come on that). I was fishing in San Diego!
This is something I had done twice before. I captured the exploits of my first trip in a previous blog that can be found here. Unfortunately, I came back empty-handed on my last trip 2 years ago. I was not happy about this. I went all of the way to San Diego, spent a day on the ocean (as well as some money) and I would have caught just as many keepers throwing my line off my balcony at home. Needless to say, I had to avenge this trip and so I decided to go again this year.
My least favorite part of fishing in San Diego is driving out there. If you’ve ever made the Tucson – San Diego drive, you know what I am talking about. The same scenery for hours upon hours. But at least it’s ridiculously hot. My goal was to make the trip (including lunch) in 6 hours so I set out at a brisk pace, perhaps exceeding the posted speed recommendation slightly on the long, flat stretches. I did have to slow down slightly as I passed through the Jacumba mountains in the interest of safety as I was carrying precious cargo: my buddy Dave Macalka!
Speaking of the Jacumba mountains: I had honestly thought there was no such thing as an ugly mountain. Obviously, I am wrong. These mountains, found between the cities of El Centro (Spanish for “The Center”) and El Cajon (slang for “The Testicle”), are nothing but boulders on top of each other. For some reason, they had looked familiar…
Then I placed it!
Dave and I had a good time on the ride up as we do share a lot in common. The only thing I regret was placing the trust he has in me in jeopardy. A few times during our ride I accidentally estimated some wrong information. For example, I guessed the height of Mount Lemmon as 7,500’ (it is actually 9,000’), the length of the boat we would fish on as 100’ (it is actually 80’) and the 3rd most populous city in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan as Moose Jaw (Moose Jaw is actually 4th). I just hope he chooses to remember the bulk of our 18-year friendship as opposed to these miscalculations (oh wait, 2 year friendship? Oops. There I go again!)
We safely arrived in San Diego and immediately began our bedtime preparations as we had to wake up at 4am in order to be ready to cast off at 5:30. This is perfect if our intent is to chum the water with eye crusties.
The dreaded hour came to soon and we were up and at the proverbial “’em”. Take it from me and my experience, there is only 1 way to start a grueling day of fishing: properly exfoliated!
I donned my specially selected apparel and accessories for the campaign. A junky shirt, sunglasses, hat, and seasick wristbands. The wristbands were important because I did not come all this way just to barf my brains out. If I wanted to do that, I could just get salmonella poisoning at a local Mexican food restaurant. (Amiright Jordan Nolan? Too soon?)
On the way to our designated meeting point, I scarfed down the first of my two breakfasts: pre-packaged coffee cakes and a Starbucks Double-Shot espresso. You can’t go in to one of these fishing trips hungry. The fish sense desperation. I don’t want them to think I am interested in their luscious muscles in the least!
The only advantage to waking up this early is one can truly experience the glory of the magnificent buttcrack of dawn.
At 5:30 we boarded our fishing vessel, the mighty Malihini.
We use the same boat every year so I have become fairly familiar with this boat. However, I did not know how old it was. My buddy Dave, helpful as always, investigated and found it was built in 1945! That is terrifying! I am entrusting my life to a vessel built before any of the following technologies:
* Composite Materials
* The Slap Chop
The nice thing is you really couldn’t tell the ship was old enough to be a ship great-grandfather.
But that is only the second most terrifying information Dave provided. He also informed me some people think that the Megalodon is still alive somewhere in the ocean. If you are not familiar with the Megalodon, it is an ENORMOUS shark for which I would merely be an amazing appetizer. Thanks for distracting me from the 70 year old ship by bringing up a monster beast Dave.
The ship also had this fancy jar for “Crew Tips”.
As opposed to this:
Alas, I had already paid so it was too late to turn back now. Our boat set off on the long journey to our fishing grounds. Out on the ocean, before the sun had a chance to warm up the air, I found myself chilly. I announced that I was open for cuddles but found no takers. So I huddled up and forced myself on. Pretty soon I noticed my cell phone was out of data range (Verizon has terrible middle-of-the-open-ocean coverage). I immediately panicked as I realized I would not be able to take the selfies you request…NAY, demand of me. So I took an Unable-to-post-selfies-selfie.
I prepared myself mentally for the experience ahead by making myself very familiar with the bait tanks.
We were using anchovies and mackerel (only the unholy – or secular – variety). The goal with bait is to attach it to the hook in a way that it still swims around and makes an attractive target to the fish we were going for. So I did my best to choose only the liveliest anchovies to use on my line. I looked for ones that had kids as they had the most to live for. Once I had chosen the perfect anchovy, I would fruitlessly attempt to grab him for a minute or two before giving up in exasperation and grabbing a limp fish who had already accepted his fate. ***If you are squeamish or a fish-rights supporter, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph*** We would then attach the hook by inserting it through it’s gill slit and then back through it’s body or by hooking the fish through it’s nostrils. This does seem like a needlessly graphic and cruel way to attach bait. However, it would be totally unnecessary if the anchovies would just hold the hooks themselves and swim to their mortal enemies.
Eventually we reached our fishing grounds in Mexican waters. Over the course of the day we generally stay between the Mexican coast and the Coronado Islands. STOP! I know what you are thinking when I say “islands”…a lush, tropical landscape. That is true for most islands, but not these. These are about as lush and tropical as a bunion…which they just happen to resemble.
As soon as the boat stops and the captain gives the order to bait up, there is a mad dash of everyone aboard to rush to the bait tanks, impale an anchovy, and get your hook in the water.
The fishing was pretty good most of the day, especially for me. While the others were rejoicing over a barracuda or tuna here and there, I was catching like 80 anchovies! Sure, they were bait, but a wise man once said (I think it was Eisenstein) “80 anchovies in the hand are better than a barracuda in the ocean.”
I jest of course. I did manage 4 keepers: 3 barracuda and a Calico Bass. This picture shows two of my catches (per Dan Farmer’s amazing wisdom, I used the power of perspective to subtly make the bass look larger than it actually was).
So accounting for gas, hotel, boat fees etc., I ended up spending about $62.50 per fish. I think from now on I will stick to my usual honey hole: the frozen food section at Walmart were I can catch 44 Stick Fish for about $8.