Bottomfish Bonanza Aboard The Golden Eye 2000!
Written By: Cal Kellogg, October 29, 2012
Location: Golden Gate,
A gentle flip of the 8’ Seeker Stealth jig stick shot the 8 ounce “Baby Red” Ahi Assault Jig off the Golden Eye 2000’s port corner in an artillery shell like trajectory. After splash down I feathered the spool of the Penn Baja Special with my thumb as the jig plunged to the bottom.
Tick, then slack line…The jig was on the bottom. Cranking line, sweeping the rod upward and then let the jig fall on a controlled drop, I started fluttering the piece of metal across the bottom.
I’d been at it for several seconds when I swept the rod tip up and felt solid weight and a beat of life at the end of the braid. Frantically reeling down I jabbed the hook home hard and worked to pump the fish off the bottom.
For a few moments the tactic worked and the fish came up, but just as quickly it came to life, surged down and removed several yards of line from the Baja Special’s nearly locked down drag. This was going to be the kind of slugging match I live for!
When the fish reached the bottom it stopped. Resisting the urge to pump on the rod, thereby enlarge the hole around the hook, I cranked the reel and let the power of the loaded rod do its work.
“I’m going to need the gaff back here, I’ve got a good lingcod,” I yelled when the fish started coming my way. Ian, our deckhand was at my side with the gaff seconds later, but the fish wasn’t on the same page and it took off for the bottom again, but this time I could tell it was losing strength.
More cranking, more pressure…I was looking into the water expecting to see a brown mass transform into an angry lingcod when I caught sight of something red…no orange. It was a massive yelloweye rockfish, the largest I’d jigged up in more than 20 years. Since the yelloweye is protected in California waters we released the fish without weighing it right after Captain Vo relieved the pressure in the fish’s swim bladder.
How much the fish weighed I have no idea, 12 to 14 pounds maybe more? Regardless it was a real beauty and a privilege to catch!
So where and when did this action take place. It was back on October 5 when the Cal Kellogg School of Fishing rolled into the Berkeley Marina to take a trip aboard the Goldeneye 2000 with Captain Quan Vo.
Some skippers are known for halibut fishing. Some make their mark as salmon guys. Quan is a rockfish and lingcod man of the highest degree. Bottomfish are his target of choice and the Farallon Islands is his favorite spot.
I was joined on the trip by Fish Sniffer staffers Ernie Marlan, Mike McNeilly and Danny Lloyd, along with 27 Fish Sniffer readers that turned out to get in on the action.
I had my usual selection of prizes with me in the form of Berkeley rods, Abu Garcia reels and Trilene line, but for this trip I had couple of special surprises. I had several cases of shrimp flies in various colors, which I passed out for everyone to use as well as dozens of jigs courtesy of the folks at Ahi USA.
Anyone that jigs for bottom fish knows that jigs are pricy and you lose them quickly. It was quite a commitment for Ahi to sponsor our trip, so a special thanks goes out to them!
Did the jigs and flies work? I already mentioned one fish that I got on an Ahi Jig and I can assure you there were many many others caught on them all around the boat.
From the start I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the fish we saw. Yellow rockfish were averaging 3 pounds and ranging up to 5. Big quillbacks hit the deck along with some terrific vermilions and of course there were lings, lots of lings. We didn’t get any really large lingcod, but we put over 30 of them to 9 pounds in the box.
The conditions were awesome. The ocean was glassy and lake like. Truth be told it was so calm that a slight breeze might have actually made the action better because it would have stepped up our drift a notch.
On the day I saw a lot of notable catches. Danny Lloyd, fishing right next to me hadn’t done much jigging but he caught on quickly, landing the first keeper lingcod of the trip and several others while dropping a mackerel pattern Assault Jig.
Fishing next to Danny was Ernie. Ernie caught the largest and second largest lingcod of the trip on a single drop. His jackpot winner inhaled a white jig and the other fish took a swipe at the shrimp fly Ernie had rigged as a teaser above his jig.
To my right was Mike McNeilly. You’ve seen Mike’s outstanding articles in the pages of the Fish Sniffer. I’ve wanted to fish with Mike for a long time and I’m glad he was able to join us. Mike’s one of those guys that fishes for everything so I wasn’t surprised when he started pulling up a parade of big rockfish, first on shrimp flies and then on jigs.
We called it a day in the early afternoon, by that time, our bags were stuffed, most of our jigs were lost to snags and everyone was pretty exhausted from battling fish after fish!
The trip was my first on the Golden Eye 2000, but it won’t be the last. We’ll be running some Cal Kellogg School of Fishing Events on the boat in 2013. Captain Quan is a great skipper and hardcore bottomfish specialist. I can’t wait to get out with him again. Those Farallon Island rockfish grow large, pull hard and the snow-white fillets they provide are yummy!
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