Polaris Supreme 9 Day / Part 2


Sunday was here and what I had been waiting for the Rocks and wahoo fishing. I had been there three years earlier but the timing was off. Another vessel had been fishing the Rocks before we arrive. And they hooked just about all the fish that were in the area at that time. But today would be different. The Rocks had not been fished for weeks due to Hurricanes and great tuna fishing in off of San Diego. Drew’s game plan was put into play this morning. We had taken our time to get there, the weather was great, now let’s find out if anyone is home. It didn’t take long to find out. Maybe 10 minutes had passed when one of our four trollers got hooked. I tossed out a chrome candy bar jig and got a slight tap on my first cast. Second cast got a solid hit and just kept grinding on the reel trying to set the hook. The wahoo finally made a short run up the port side of the Supreme and showed itself. It was a small wahoo or skin as some call them. I followed the fish up the portside and then the skin did a head shake and released itself. All I could think was three years and I blew it. Most fall trips you may get one shot at landing a wahoo. Now I just missed mine.

Trollers went back out again. As the crew cleared the deck and put the wahoo in the Raw Sea fish hold, I noticed that all the skins on the first stop were small. They were 20-25 pounds just like the one that I lost. But that is a good sign. Small fish are more aggressive and maybe the larger ones would show up soon. The crew didn’t have much time as a trolling rod was hit again. Again more of the same, a troll fish landed and a couple of fish on casting jigs. No action for me on that stop. I was up on the next troll rotation so I quickly got my trolling outfit and found a corner to fish. I like to troll in close and with a very tight drag. Maybe 5 minutes had passed and my troll rod jumped to attention and the reel was slowing giving line out. I un-hooked the rod from the trolling straps in the stern port corner, followed the fish across the stern and up the starboard side of the boat. Grinding as I walked, the boat slowed and the skin came in with a little muscle on my part. The fish was gaffed and I had ended my drought. It wasn’t a big skin maybe 25 pounds but it was a skin!

Out again went the trollers and again the same thing, one maybe two fish on the troll and a couple of jig fish. I wasn’t getting any more bites on my chrome candy bar jig so I switched to a chrome and red sinker bomb. It’s a little smaller and easier for the small wahoo to hang on to. The change of lures worked to perfection on the next stop not only did I hook another wahoo, but this one had some size to it.

When it was weighed at the landing it went 40 pounds. Nice size for the Rocks. The stops continued until late afternoon. Most stops had 3 to 6 wahoo each and there were a couple of stops where more than 10 fish were landed. As the day progressed I had 3 wahoo in the fish hold, missed two strikes and had three taken by sharks, aka the taxman. This was the first time I experienced sharks eating wahoo at the Rocks. I’ve seen them eat tuna but not wahoo. I was not happy paying the taxman but I did have two fish on the sinker bomb and one on the troll an excellent day by most fall trips. There were a couple of anglers who were “hot”. They fished their butts off but it paid off very well. I wish I could still cast and crank all day long like those guys but I was totally out of wahoo fishing shape.

As the day was ending I was trolling on the starboard stern corner. The angler on the port stern corner had a trolling plug that just would not run straight and second skipper Jed asked me if I would trade places with him. So I reached down to grab the rod and crank in my plug. I had just gotten the safety straps off when a wahoo decided it wanted my plug. All I could do was yell “FRESH ONE”. Jed looked over and said “really”. This wahoo was ripped off line so I knew it was a good one. A few minutes passed and the fish neared the boat. Jed was ready with the gaff and was raking me over the coals for not getting the fish in quickly. I told him this one got some size to it. Jed said “you’re just getting too old”. When we saw the fish at deep color the joking stopped. After a couple of quick dives to try to free itself, the wahoo was gaffed and introduced to the deck of the Polaris Supreme. Finally got a decent wahoo from the Rocks today, it just missed the 50 lb. mark by a few ounces great way to end an amazing day of wahoo fishing. Time for a quick photo with crew member Mark with the Rocks as a backdrop.10665753_853077494717261_496399606263566008_n

This was the best day of wahoo fishing I have seen on a fall trip. Everyone on board had many chances of landing wahoo. If you were not good at casting lures you still had plenty of chances getting them trolling or live bait fishing. Everyone was talking about how they missed a few but no one was upset about it. We all had more than enough chances to get some wahoo today. We would stay the night at the Rocks and give it a try in the morning to see if we had missed any wahoo. Second day at the Rocks could be tough. We had hooked most of the “stupid” ones today.

Monday morning at the Rocks was flat calm just a little ripple on the water. You wouldn’t know that you were 160 miles offshore. I knew today was not going to be an amazing as yesterday. You do not get two days back to back of even good wahoo fishing at one spot. This morning the troll stops were farther apart. Yesterday maybe 20 minutes was the longest time between stops. Today 20 minutes was the shortest time. Most anglers were still fishing the trolling plugs they used the day before. By the time my trolling team was up I had switched lures to a chrome jethead with black, clear and purple skirts. I dropped the lure in one of the center positions and placed it far enough back that it was smoking (trailing bubbles) pretty well. I was out numbered 3 to 1 but I knew this lure had proven itself many times when fishing for wahoo was tough. After 20 minutes no strikes but I had to take a “break”. I called over Byran to watch my rod while I disappeared to the head. Well you know what happened. The rod goes off while I’m in the head. When I finally return to the deck there’s my jethead and a 45 lb. wahoo coming over the rail. I joked with Byran that he did a great job landing my wahoo. I took the trolling rod from him and gave him one of my tags for the fish. Byran had a look on his face that was priceless. Eventually we placed his tag on the fish.

Fishing continued to be slow compared by the previous day. I was able to hook one 40 lb. wahoo on a sinker bomb. I think we landed 25 fish by noon. It was time to pull the plug, the Rocks had been good to us and it was time to north.

Stay tuned for part 3

Polaris Supreme 9 Day / Part 1

It had been 3 years since my last long range trip. Personal events have kept me away from going fishing. But finally everything worked out and I was able to make this trip on the Polaris Supreme. Having fished with Tommy Rothery and the crew of the Supreme I knew the only worries I would have would be the weather and if the fish were hungry.

The weeks prior I kept track of the fishing. Where each long range boat had fished and what they landed. With two weeks remaining until my trip departed things were looking good but there was still two weeks left. Knowing that it would only take one boat to fish the “Rocks” and my chances for catching wahoo could disappear, I could use a little luck. Then the weather worked in my favor. A hurricane came up from the tropics and kept any boat from fishing the “Rocks”.

Thursday morning I arrived in San Diego and was ready to start my long range trip. It was three years since my last long trip. That was also on the Polaris Supreme and with this same charter. That year I was the new guy”. By the end of that trip I was invited back for the next year’s trip. I told the charter master that this might be my last trip ever. Who knows if I would have caught a few wahoo on that it might have been my last.

I invited Terry Kitahara and his two sons, Byran and Eddie. We were Team ONO. Terry and I really just wanted to catch Wahoo or Ono. Byran had been on several of my trips before and this was Eddie’s first long trip. Terry’s sons are great young men. The four of us fitted in great with the rest of the charter.IMG_4165

By mid-day we were underway to the bait barge. As we left the bait barge we hadn’t been told where were we would fish first, offshore in US waters or head south. When we cleared Pt. Loma and didn’t turn right I knew the game plan. Skipper Drew had mentioned one of our options was to take our time to get to the Rocks while the winds died down. Well the Rocks are south of the point and we were heading to the south and not west. The rest of the day was spent rigging up tackle, eating the fine cuisine prepare by Chef Mike and catching up on the sleep that I had missed the two previous nights. I did more eating and sleeping than rigging of tackle. The crew and rest of the anglers gave me grief for it. But that’s part of fishing with people you know.

Friday we continued down the coast. Drew gave us an update on the weather at the Rocks, the winds were dying down and his plan was to get there Sunday morning. So its yellowtail fishing today and tomorrow we fished all around Benitos Island on Friday. Most fish were in the 10 to 15 pound size, nice eating size but not much on fight. Toss in a bonito or barracuda here and there and that was our first day. As the sun set we were traveling down the coast.

Saturday we fished the high spots as we continued south more yellowtails and the stray yellowfin tuna. I was at the right place at the right time and hooked one of the yellowfin tuna or YFT for short. Most of fishing is being at the right place at the right time. By the afternoon the winds at the Rocks had dropped down to fishable speeds and Drew pointed the Polaris Supreme to the Rocks. We would be there around 7 or 8 in the morning. Just about the time wahoo are looking for their first meal of the day. As long as no one had fished the Rocks on Saturday the Rocks would be ready for us to enjoy their bounty

Stay tuned for part 2

Vessel improvements

When I first started fishing long range the vessel had your basic “flasher” depth finder. It would show you how deep the water was below the hull. The improvements in “fish finders” are amazing. Now vessels have color side scanning sonar. You can see what is around the vessel, 360 degrees around the vessel. And not just on the surface but to whatever depth you select. Now it does take a little skill to read what is showing on the video screen but long range skippers all know what they are looking at and what they are looking for.

The next upgrade from old school is GPS location. I will not mention how some skippers found their hotspots before GPS but they all had their secret ways. Each vessel have their notebook on how to locate their hotspots. Now with GPS just punch in the location and drive to it. Its not that easy but you get the idea.

Most fish that were caught were tagged and place on ice in coolers, then the vessels changed to salt brine to keep the fish “fresh frozen” and now days it’s RSW or Raw Salt Water is how the fish are keep on board until you return home. RSW keep the fish just above freezing. The table fare of RSW is great, shades better the “frozen”.

There have improvements in creature comfort as well. Days of sleeping out on the deck are long gone. Air-conditioned stateroom, hot/cold showers and three wonderful meals a day are fleet standards. More recent changes include satellite TV and WiFi. Most anglers enjoy these latest improvement and I’m a big fan of them too but for different reasons. I love spending time on deck even if it’s running from spot to spot. I don’t get to see the ocean as much as I used to, so I miss the salt air. If we are fishing and anglers are in the galley watch a football game or on the internet that’s great for me too, more rail space and less competition for the fish.

So things have changed on long range vessels and they are for the better.

Old School/New School

I started fishing long range in 1983 and back then it was mostly about getting all the gear you could afford and go fishing.  Since then many things have changed. In 1989 I opened Ono Custom Rods and we specialized in long range fishing tackle. We wanted to change the way anglers were treated at tackle stores.  From being your “buddy” who buys tackle to a valued customer who we helped become a better angler. Many hours were spent helping customers improve their fishing skills. Knot tying, casting lessons, and have a fishing game plan were just a few of the skills we taught customers.  The better prepared they were the better they would be for a fishing trip.

There have been many improvements to fishing tackle, to fishing vessels as well as transfer of fishing information. Many of these changes have help the angler but they may have also hurt the long range fishermen.

One of the first changes was “Spectra” fishing line.  It can be wonderful and it can be a hellish monster.  When used proper it is the best thing since sliced bread.  I load almost all my reel to the top with it. It has a smaller diameter than mono the same test.  So line capacity is no longer an issue even with a small reel. So using a short topshot of mono and small diameter spectra allows your live bait to swim better and stay alive longer. Which should improve your hook-ups.

My trolling reel and my jig tossing reel I still load with mono for safety reason.  Spectra has no give and can cut like a knife. If you jig pulls free near the surface that lure can come flying back towards very fast and that’s very dangerous. Spectra is a great improvement from old school mono lines.

Another improvement has been the two speed reels. I was not lucky enough to have a 2 speed when I went on my first 16 day trip for big tuna. All it took was one trip and I was completely in favor of a 2 speed. Thank you Cal Sheets for converting all my old Penn and Shimano reels to 2 speeds. Now days you can find 2 speed reel in just about every size you could want.

The final improvement in fishing tackle that has helped is fluorocarbon mono lines. Nearly invisible in the water so what the fish can’t see won’t hurt them. LOL Fluro is well worth the next expense. It does improve you chances of getting bit.

With the arrival of the internet how information is passed along has changed.  In the past you would have to learn about fishing from someone you actually knew.   Sometimes tackle stores would have seminars or charter boats to help you improve your fishing skills.  Now days everyone learns their fishing skills from the internet.  There is lots of information out there and most of it is good.  The problem is scrolling though all of it and finding what works for you.

Just remember that just because its on the internet it isn’t always true.

Next time the changes in Long range fishing vessels.

Smoke, will return?

Most of you know what happened and most of you have your opinion of the accident. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind. Here to discuss what will Tony Steward do next. Disclaimer here: I do not know Tony personally.

As of writing this blog, Tony has removed himself from the # 14 SHR car for the past 3 races. With the only 2 races left to make the Chase I really do not think Tony will race in those 2 races. He may not even return to the # 14 this season. Tony when he returns will have to deal with the media. The questions will be endless and Tony is not the best will dealing with the media even under good circumstances. So waiting for next season to make his return to me seem the best option for him.

Tony and SHR have other things besides racing to deal with right now. Even if there are no criminal charges there maybe a wrongful death civil suit against Tony and SHR. If you are wondering why Tony has been quiet about the accident this is why. With all the hurtful attacks on Tony it is best just to keep a low profile and keep quiet. Don’t give anyone a chance to draw more attention on Tony. If Tony has lawyer up its the safe thing to do.

My final thought is that maybe this accident may have taken all of Tony’s passion for racing away. I hope that is not the case. Love him or hate him, Tony is a great race driver and NASCAR will miss him if he doesn’t return.

Jr. Sweeps Pocono

It Aug. 3rd, Sunday evening and all is right again in Jr. Nation. NASCAR’s most popular driver wins his third race of the season by completing the Pocono Sweep.  This win at Pocono was not caused by another driver’s misfortune (trash on the grille). Steve Letrate, Dale Jr’s crew chief played all the cards right and Jr. took the lead in the final 15 laps.  When the caution flag waved there would be one more chance for another driver to steal the win from Dale Jr.  Dale Jr. took the outside starting position with kevin Harvick on the inside.

With 3 laps to go Dale jr. took the lead on the restart and held off Harvick to the checkered flag.  In those 3 laps Dale Jr. may have shown the NASCAR world that he maybe finally to win a championship. With Steve Letrate in his final season as Dale Jr’s Crew Chief and the swagger the Jr. has it may well happen this year.

What would a Dale Jr. Championship mean?  Well for NASCAR it might stop the annual decline in attendance.  Its a simple that when Dale Jr. wins more people show up at the race track. For Dale Jr. it might end all the talk about how he just got his job because of his last name.  Championships are not won by the name over the door.  They are won by a talented team that includes a driver, crew chief, pit crew and team owner.  Right now the 88 team has all of those.

And I am sure that Dale Sr. is looking down right now and thinking they screwed up NASCAR but my son is driving his heart out.

Mr. Ono Returns


I’ve been away for a bit.  For those who do not know my personality, let’s just say I call it as I see it.  And sometimes I see things differently.  Not always politically correct and I don’t care.

The reason for this blog is two fold: a place for me to express my ideas and keep my mind active.

Topics up for discussion in my blog: Long Range Fishing and NASCAR. I may add more later.

If you want to leave an actual reply please go ahead.   But don’t waste my web storage or my time leaving a spammy post.

Thank you………..