The web was abuzz this week with thresher shark sightings, wide open barracuda bites, and warming water, so I was a tad eager to get my gear wet. I’m the kind of guy who let’s himself get caught up in the preamble. You could say I like foreplay as much as the main event. At times the lead up to a fishing trip (or a lot of things) can create so much anticipation that it actually turns into apprehension. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s a strange side effect of a very vivid imagination and hyper-actively creative mind. It may also be a sign of other ailments and disorders, but you didn’t sit down to read my self-psychoanalysis.

Matt holds his fat spotted bay bass

Fat Newport Harbor Spotted Bay Bass

Put it this way:  Saturday was one of THOSE days. I had envisioned every last detail of the trip before I went to bed Friday night. Like a choreographed dance, I moved from garage, to bedroom closet, and back to garage, piecing together the bits that would facilitate my big day. I planned for every contingency, except the one that I faced. My own mind. By the time we hit the water, my head was swimming like an 8-year old on Christmas morning. You know the feeling that you get when something terrific and long anticipated is about to happen? Think of a well-trained Labrador retriever watching the noisy ducks fly down toward his master’s blind. There is a glint of blue steel as the gun swings up and… That was me. Virtually drooling, tail wagging, and ready to come out of my skin.

Matt's fiesty Barracuda on the troll

We had planned to hit a couple of our favorite holes for some quality spotted bay bass, which we did with success (top photo), then fill the bait tank with mackerel, and hit the blue to troll for threshers. As you might know, live macks make great T-shark bait, and we’ve been lucky in the past using the same recipe, so my confidence was higher than Lindsay Lohan’s Tuesday morning blood alcohol content. A simple plan with a simple goal. Two guys with a dependable boat, good coordinates, lots of lively bait, and fine tuned gear sporting freshly crimped leaders and super sharp circle hooks ready to do what hooks do. The only thing missing turned out to be Mr. T. Our boat is small, so the unexpected wind chop and a double sea from the NW and SW mixing things up got our attention. After an hour of getting flogged by Mother Nature, we decided to play it safe and retreat to the safety of the jetties. My gut felt like someone had died. I was bummed, to say the least. As in, Noon on Christmas Day and the pony is nowhere to be seen bummed. I turned between the jetties and quietly sulked as we motored back to comfort and wisely chosen safety.

Despite my melancholy mood, we caught close to 100 fish between the two of us over the course of the 10 hour day (yes, 10 hours). We even got into a nice barracuda bite that occupied my mind for a couple of hours. I am a self-professed “numbers guy” who would typically be happy to catch mackerel all day, but this day all I really wanted was to pull on ONE great big fish. When added up, the many hours and many dozens of smaller fish just didn’t fill the bill. I guess it’s like wanting a really good steak dinner, and instead getting a bucket full of hamburger flavored tic-tacs. OK, so maybe the tic-tacs were prime rib flavored… Still, you get my point. I’m not big on fishing being a metaphor for life, but I do realize that I am a cry-baby and I need to sack up, more than a little bit.

On the upside, I immensely enjoyed the company of Matt, one of a handful of “Fishing Wive’s” I keep in tow. This is a term that I’ll explain and explore in another post. For now, I’ll leave you hanging with the provocative Proposition 8 reference. I guess I’m just not sure how to reconcile my feelings of “bleh” over this trip, other than to say, I need to get out more, and more often and connect with something large. This bug (my untreated fishing addiction) needs to be addressed with time spent on the water. I wonder how many alcoholics tell themselves that their world would be better if they spent more time in a bar? Stay tuned in the months to come. I promise less self-absorbed blithering and more interesting topical posts. This will surely get interesting.

  1. socalsalty says:

    That’s funny man. I have to self talk when I get too wrapped up pre-trip like that.

    Jake and I got in a little pier fishing on Sat at Redondo. I won our little timed derby bagging 2 mackerels with my sabiki rig. We used them to try and catch a halibut. Dude next to us had gotten 1 legal flattie, which fired us up. No halibut, but still good to hook up even if it was just mackie from the pier.

    • Hook Ideas says:

      Hey Salty,

      I need to keep a jar of chill pills nearby when prepping for a trip like that one. It’s the days when I get ready 10 minutes before walking out the door that turn out to be epic. Go figure. We’ll get ’em next time. Glad to hear you got out this weekend. Gotta go Google “self talk strategies” now…

  2. ADOutdoors says:

    Great write up Hook. Sounds like you slayed the SB Bass. I hear you staying safe when the swells kick up. I took a 14 footer out of Newport and cracked the motor mount then busted the cotter pin on the prop and had to reverse from the jettie to the back bay ramp. Better luck next time! What did you use for lures or bait in the harbor? Fishing huntington harbour soon and would appreciate the tips

    • Hook Ideas says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for the comments. The fishing was a lot better than the tone of my post, but I REALLY wanted a shark. As for the Bass, they were fairly tight lipped, but we got them on small curly tailed plastics (AA lures – Hotbelly Bass) and short shank 3/8 oz. Owner darter jig heads. For the barracuda we were dragging small silver or blue (6″) Yozuri trolling lures. They don’t make them any more (you can pick up the new models at Sports Chalet), but they’re much like a fresh water Rapala size 7 or 9, only prismatic and shinier. We even tried casting silver Krocodile spoons when things heated up, but got nada. I think the blue model trolling lure worked best as it was a bit larger, and I think more visible in the murky water. We found the barries near the extreme end of the NPH North Jetty, in 25-40 feet of water, right along the kelp line. It was particularly fun as the jetty fishermen couldn’t cast to the spot we fished (too much kelp on the rocks), so they just had to watch us reel up fish after fish all within short casting distance of their rocky perches. Good times.

      I’d love to hear how your trip to HB goes. I’ve never fished there, but have always heard good things. I’d like to get up that way sometime this summer.

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