The best fishing trips are always last minute. This was no exception. Pete at Big Hammer sent me an email a week before the annual Big Hammer Skiff Trip on the Qualifier 105 was set to leave. Through some twist and turns of fate (I didn't take a planned vacation due to jury duty, and Nico had just quit his job to start a new job) we decided to pull the trigger and go. Phone calls went out to friends for advice and loaner gear, last minute orders went in to Tacklewarehouse.com and by Thursday evening after work we were on the road - stopping overnight in Santa Barbara - then heading on to San Diego at 4am Friday with Pete and several thousand Big Hammers in tow.
Loading the Q105 Friday morning we found a very light load of 6 kayakers and 9 skiff-anglers. Our captain was Joe, with Cal, Alan, Travis, and Tim driving skiffs and working deck along with Cappy, and Chris as our cooks. The weather forecast looked great and the seas were greasy calm as we loaded a couple hundred scoops of sardines at the bait dock. Half the guys tossed out Big Hammers and started fishing right then and there. Pencil barracuda and some 3lb sand bass were caught and released. By noon we were all set on bait and headed south to our day one destination - the Sacramento Reef.
At sunset the boat slowed and Joe said we were going to stop on a kelp paddy. Everyone scrambled for rods as the crew tossed bait. You could feel the adrenaline pumping as "fresh one" was called in the corner. It turned out to be 5lb yellows. Not what we were after but a good sign to start the trip. All of the fish were released and we continued south.
The weapons of saltwater war