Fly Fishing Catalina Island Part 2

My phone rings at 5:45 a.m. and I instantly thought, “no way, it can’t be the salty dog!” As sure as I love the fly game, it was Rodger! “Hello” I said in a bit of a late night haze. “You guys ready?” He replies with a stern and no nonsense let alone waiting kind of tone. “Yes sir, we will be right out!” I said with a heart pounding adrenaline stricken voice. It was almost like the feeling of waking up late for your first day of a job that you actually cared about, scramble time! We literally jumped up and started grabbing everything we would need for the day; my camera,  gear, rods, jackets, and barely even got coffee into our cups as we blew through the hotel lobby. There he was, in his “fished out” golf cart with knobby tires. I introduced Allison to our captain for the day and we were off, up the hill to the market. The moment they shook hands I could see a bit of a smile on his face as he realized he got to take a woman fishing.  Rodger enlightened us that buying some beer was a good idea, of course for him, while he took us out on his boat. We gladly did.

At this point of our trip with ol’ salty, I had a ton of questions for him about what our day was going to entail but I kept my mouth shut, as he was not the talkative type (unless it was from the opposite sex, he was quite friendly). Whatever he wanted to do that day, when it came to fishing of course, was fine with me as long as we were able to cast Clousers off of a craft of some sort.  We bombed back down the hill and south of downtown to the harbor. I knew Rodger had a big charter boat and I was scanning the harbor to maybe pick out his lady. We hopped into a small skiff, 14 foot hard bottom with inflatable tubes, and a captain’s wheel seat, outboard. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he pulled up to the lovely lady of his, 32 foot charter with all the bells! “Wow” I said, “beautiful boat man.” He then explained “We are not taking that out, too much fuel for Bonito.” No worries, it would have been rad but beggars can’t be choosers ya know. We had stopped because he wanted his bucket and a towel out of the boat for fish packing purposes.

Off we went south out of the harbor down the beach line. The sun was burning off the early morning fog and it was turning into an amazingly beautiful day, I was happy to say the least!

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As we arrived to the waters we were hunting, I put together the single hand 6wt 9’6’’ TFO BVK Fly Rod for Allison and my single hand Loop Multi 7wt 9’6’’(Steelhead nymphing rod). I rigged both with some heavy sink tips on both and 6’ of 15 lb. Fluoro leaders, no slip loop connection to the Clouser minnows. The great part about fishing with Rodger was he had never seen anybody chuck for Bonito on a fly rod, he had little faith of course… I had Allison cast out 90 degrees from the port side as far as she could and strip off a good 50 ft. of line,  let it sink for a count of 20 and had captain put it in gear just to idle. No exaggeration, as soon as that line went tight and gave the bug movement, bam! She was hooked up and the reel was instantly screaming!  Rogers’s eyes got a little bigger at this moment. These fish are so fast and strong, it’s a rod bending dive down as deep as you will allow them. I reached for her drag and cranked it all the way, with the rod tip slapping the water she waited for the reel to stop and started the long hard retrieve. As soon as that fish was in the boat I gave her a high five and said congratulations on your first salty battle and grabbed my rod and was casting to the other side. And there it was! I’ve been waiting to feel this tug for a long time, these fish just smash the Clouser and run with it, pound for pound 10 times stronger than any Steelhead!

All was fine and dandy until the nemesis of the bay was savvy to what we were up to. Sea lion… That jerk of a mammal was so lazy and crafty he would just wait till we had hooked up and go in for the kill. The Bonito are way too fast for him so in his fun little way he gorged on about 4 of our 12 we put in the boat. Outsmarting him was short lived when we’d motor as fast as we could away from him and quickly cast, hookup and haul ass getting the fish to the boat. Allison had the experience of reeling in just the head of our catch with the minnow still right in the corner of the mouth. After that her arm was worn out so bad she barely got her last one up, and that was number 7 for her!

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Now Bonito aren’t the best of fish for eating and Roger explained they make the best Lobster bait for his pots, so he was more than happy to witness the excitement of Bonito on the fly and of course a bucket of bait for himself. We then motored back and hopped on his big boat for a pic with our silver bullets out of the sea. To say the least, our trip turned out to be a total success!

If for some strange instance, Roger, you’re reading this, Thank You Sir. You have changed the lives of two fly anglers and made memories for both Allison and I that will never be forgotten.

Until next time my friends, Fish On!