Continued from the last post...
The drone of the engine and the rhythm of the waves kept me asleep until there was a sudden change in the engine noise. The engine was just idling and the boat began to pitch as we were no longer pushing through the waves. I sat up and noticed that everyone was rushing out to get their poles. Dad had already rigged our poles up with the necessary tackle on the way out and so I joined him at the rail. It was a gray morning and the sun was barely up. Dad explained that the Skipper had stopped because he had seen the gulls circling over a spot on the ocean and that usually meant baitfish near the surface and that meant that there were bigger fish below them. The Skipper yelled down to us that he was intending to drift down and over the baitfish and that we should keep our bait about twenty feet down. I grabbed a sardine from the bait tank and hooked it up. I estimated the twenty feet and then waited, expecting to feel that first tug as a fish swallowed my hook. I waited some more. There was a yell from someone up front and it was soon obvious that he had a large fish on. The pole was bent and he was struggling to wind the reel. Then, just like that, the fish was gone. He reeled in and it looked like his line was cut. Then there was another fish hooked up on the other side. Again the fish got away and it looked like that line was cut. There was another hookup just then and this time, after about ten minutes, the fisherman brought in a large Barracuda. That was when the Skipper told everyone to reel in. "We're going to have to leave. There's a lot of Barracuda in here and if you don't have wire leaders you will end up losing your leaders and the fish."
With all of the lines in, the Skipper turned the boat and and we continued on to Catalina. Dad told me that one time he had been out fishing (without me?) and the Skipper had found a school of sardines just like the one we had left. They had just got their lines in the water when, without warning, almost everyone on the boat had a hookup. With big fish! With everyone fighting a fish, he said it was bedlam. That was when the deckhand came running down the length of the boat and cut everyones lines. Then the Skipper put the boat in gear and ran about a hundred yards away from the sardines before shutting it back down.
The Skipper told the passengers that he was sorry about the losses but it turned out that the boat had been sitting over a feeding school of Blue Fin Tuna and he had already used the radio to call a Tuna Clipper and let them know where the school was.
Dad said that once they were safely away from the main body of the school of tuna they were able to fish without the pressure of having everyone hooked up at once. He said that everyone did end up with tuna...but one at a time.
With the sun up, I could see Catalina clearly now and we stopped about a mile away from the Isthmus. We baited up and dropped our lines. The Skipper said that they had caught Albacore in this spot yesterday and we should keep our bait down around fifty or sixty feet. Now we waited.
During the next few hours the Skipper moved us from one 'good' spot to another and there was never a single bite. All during this time, the deckhand stood above the live bait tank scooping up sardines and throwing them over the side. 'Chumming' in the hopes of drawing in some big fish. We never saw one. At this time, the lone Barracuda was the winner of the Jackpot...but we weren't through fishing yet.
The Skipper then told us that he was going to move us in closer to the island and we should be able to get a limit of rockfish...
I'll add some more to this story next time.