The Hardest Job I’ll Ever Love

Life doesn't get much better.

Life doesn’t get much better.

Not every job puts you in the position to look at sunsets, watch the sea lions and whales play, enjoy a drink, listen to your favorite tunes and have the occasional heart pounding excitement of a double or triple hookup; but fishing really is hard work.  There’s a not so pretty side of fishing is that isn’t shown in memes.

You have to get bait.  Even when it’s cold and they aren’t biting well.  Sometimes we leave in the  evening and when we finally arrived at our fishing location, it was really late.  We still needed to get bait for first bite in the morning.  So there you are; it’s cold, sometimes windy, and you jig and jig with little to no luck.  🙁

Then there’s the gutting fish and processing fish.   If you’re going to keep the fish for yourself, you need to fillet them and then put into meal sized packaging. If you’re going to sell the fish, they need to be bleed and gutted.  They also need to be kept cold, which means if the buyer isn’t showing up right away, you need to get more ice.  Which brings us to ice; getting ice is a workout.  We get up in the morning and workout on the treadmill or stationary bike, but when we’re going to get ice,  no need to lift weights.  You’ll be plenty tired by the time all the ice has been loaded onto the boat.  We have 6 ice chests as well as soft sided insulated fish bags.  We have one Yeti that is easily big enough to put the bodies into.

Painting the bottom of the boat is something that doesn’t have to be done every year, but it’s a major chore when it does have to be done.  Lucky us, we have the Joy Sea, and The Lil Joy Sea (our electric boat), so we get to paint boat bottoms fairy often.  The boat has to be taken to the boat yard, and then hauled out on a sling.  Then they block the boat up on stands and then the next few days are sanding, painting and doing all the repairs that can’t be done when the boat is in the water.  Makes me feel like the Karate Kid with all of the sanding and painting.

Boats need constant maintenance.  Salt water is a harsh environment.  There’s oil changes, coolant flushes, etc.  Because we have side by side twin diesel motors, Gary will show me what he wants done on the engine that faces the middle of the boat (lots more room to maneuver), and then I (because I’m smaller) get to crawl around the side of the engine and do whatever maintenance needs to be done.  The good thing is that Gary knows the engines pretty well, and it saves money on repairs.  I’m really lucky that Gary does the varnishing, but he doesn’t like to put the tape on.  I have to tape off the boat to keep the varnish where it should be.  Last year we didn’t get our varnishing done like it should have been.  Between my broken foot, and Gary’s messed up shoulder we spent the fall and winter sitting in the house recouping from our injuries.  This year we will have to work double hard to catch up on the varnish that has to be done.  The boat needs at least 12 coats of varnish on the rails and around the window trim, and then you just keep up on it with a few coats every year, but because of the injuries, we will be working hard this winter.

Taking apart and repairing toilets.  Shit happens what can I say.  Sadly toilets always seem to have a problem after you take a dump in them.  Sometimes that means bailing the toilet before you can work on it.  Nothing better than trying to work on a toilet in rough seas.  “Focus, do not drop the screw; relax, you can do this.”  Toilet for a house – $150, toilet for a boat, $500; but it’s not every toilet where the plankton

Loading the boat, unloading the boat.  I must say we’ve gotten pretty good at this part.  We have a bunch of meals that we know work well on the boat.   I grab my laundry basket and fill it with food, take it to the boat, unload it and repeat.  It goes pretty quick now.  I have my “standard pantry items,” that don’t go bad.  I keep a list of items that need to be replaced or repaired, and I can load the boat with 4 to 5 loads.

So with all of this moaning and groaning, it’s still the hardest job I’ll ever love.  It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard… is what makes it great. – – A League Of Their Own.   

Gary with 40 lb. White Sea Bass

Gary with 40 lb. White Sea Bass

Fish report:  Gary caught three halibut and one white sea bass.  I lost three (probably sea bass).  We had a lot of missing hooks.  The big sea bass just bite them off.  We’re going to be getting some different hooks.  We had a lot of sharks and a few bat rays.

Dropping the fish off at the local restaurant

Dropping the fish off at the local restaurant


This squid was riding this mackerel like a real cowboy (1:39 min)


Fishing With Billionaires

My Fifty Shades Of Grey

My Fifty Shades Of Grey

I went fishing billionaires this last weekend, well not literally, I took along two books about billionaires.  The first was Sam Walton Made In America, a book I bought, and the other was Fifty Shades Of Grey, which was given to me by a friend.  So beyond the two books being about billionaires….

Sam Walton seemed to be a real down to earth hard working guy.  He got where he did by putting in long hours, being frugal, taking risks and taking care of the customer.  His thriftiness reminds me a lot of my dad and the way that I grew up.  He liked hunting birds, fishing and flying airplanes.  Flying was something he did mostly to help him manage his business.  He wrote the book at the end of his life when he had bone cancer.  He spends a small amount of time reflecting on his life and what he would do different if he could do it over again.  Would he spend less time working?  Turns out that he’d do it all pretty much the same.  He had a great time building Walmart, and he was happy with his life and what he created.

So then there’s 50 Shades Of Grey which is fictional and I haven’t quite finished the book.  I think we all dream of being able to have whatever we want, whenever we want.  Christian Grey the main character is a little strange to say the least.  At 27 he’s a self made man after having come from an abusive childhood with a crackhead mother.  The story seems a little unlikely, the first few years of life are so important for helping develop social skills and brain connections necessary for the success of a billion dollar business.  Let’s be real now, no one is reading this book for business tips.

We went out looking to catch halibut, and had plans to put traps out for lobsters.  Gary and Derrick had a good fishing trip the last time that they were out with 7 halibut caught between them.  This trip was just Gary and I, and we couldn’t find the halibut.  Derrick took his own boat out and didn’t have luck with the halibut either, but he did get one yellowtail.

After not catching halibut for a few days we went and caught some ling cod, which we limited out on, with three each.  We also caught some other rock fish.  We put out the lobster traps on two different nights.  The first night we were mostly near kelp.  There were a lot of other traps out in the near area.  Gary picked Derrick up from his boat and they went out and set the traps.  They let them soak for two hours in the dark and then picked them up.  No lobsters, but we got  a couple of crabs.  The dingy had water leaking into it, so Gary took Derrick back to his boat.  I had to pump the water out of the dingy, but it was still so heavy when we pulled it up on the swim step, it started pulling the mounts out of the swim step and cracked part of the teak.

Gary had made plans to see another yacht club member while we were out (Dan), and then an additional club member brought his boat out (Marty), so we ended up with 4 boats out there, which for us means – – Party!!!

Marty has a big beautiful yacht (formerly owned by movie stars) and we ate dinner there a couple of nights.  Everyone tends to bring food and we always have a good time.  We used our friends dingy and set the traps again, this time in more rocky areas; still no lobsters.  One of the traps was set too close to the rocks and then the surge moved it in even closer to the rocky shore.  They were unable to safely pick it up and after two attempts decided to leave it.

So another fishing trip is over.  In terms of fishing we weren’t all that successful.  We certainly aren’t making a living at this.  I’m reminded of another yacht club outing a few years ago, where someone suddenly asked “I wonder what the rich are doing today?”  She said it was a question her dad liked to ask.  He said you always knew what the poor were doing, because they had to get up and go to work, but the rich could be doing anything.  I’ve known people who didn’t make a lot of money who found a way to do what they wanted.  I once met a guy who worked at a ski lodge as a dishwasher because he and his wife were ski bums all day and then worked in the restaurant at night.  There’s lots of ways to live an extraordinary life, but at the end hopefully you look back and say you’d be willing to do it all again.

Love What You Do


Magic 8 Ball


Fishing Memes_01


Yes, Mylar Balloons Do End Up In The Ocean!

Ten mylar balloons.

Ten mylar balloons.

August 30th

We went out with an old childhood friend of Gary’s and his daughter.  They only had two days to go fishing, so we were limited to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands.

Started at Anacapa and fished the front side.  Ed caught a yellowtail on the front of Anacapa.    We started seeing a lot of mylar baloons.  We’ve seen a few mylar baloons here and there before, and we snagged them if they come near us and taken them in with our garbage.  I must have counted about five on the front side of the island, and then we went to the back of Anacapa and there were another five.  Later Gary saw something he couldn’t identify so we went closer to look.  We’re always joking that someday we’ll find a bag of money, a bale full of marijuana or ambergris (whale vomit).  It was a clump of ten mylar baloons in a tangled mess.  We had to pick it up.  I hate leaving a mess that big in the water.  We also found a 5 foot wooden dowel in the water which we retrieved, and the prior trip we pulled in a 30 foot antena that was floating on the water.  Hitting something like that with your boat could really do some damage.  It always makes us feel better to get remove a hazard from the water.

We went to  the gap (between Anacapa and Santa Cruz) and went after rock fish.  Didn’t have much luck.  What we did catch was too small to even be tacos.  In the past, rock fish have alway been a sure thing, so it was kind of disappointing to only get a few 6” rockfish.  Later we headed to Santa Cruz.  Anchored near Smugglers.

August 31st

Back to Anacapa for the morning bite.  The bait from Ciscos wasn’t cured and most of it was dead.  We only had a few pieces.  We were going after yellowtail, on the front of Anacapa when we caught a nice sheepshead.  Sheepshead are good eating fish, they sometimes have a bit of a lobster taste to them.  The front of Anacapa isn’t a legal area to catch sheepshead, so we released it.   The seals were all around us, scaring the fish away.   We went back to Santa Cruz looking for yellowtail and more bait.  Eventually we heard reports of marlin jumping in the area.  Tried marlin fishing for an hour or so and then trolled most of the way home.  The water got really rough with white caps all the way from Anacapa to Channel Island Harbor.

Post trip

Gary wanted to go out againg on Friday, but the weather doesn’t look good.  A one day turn around is prety tough to do.  It’s hard to come in, restock the boat and go right back out.  I’m glad to have a few days to be at home and take care of things on shore.

We sometimes use latex baloons for fishing.  They can be used to float a baited hook away from the boat, and it’s a technique we sometimes use.  Ususally we get the baloon back when we fish this way.  The sun and weather will make rubber bands break after a really short time.  If you really want to let baloons go as part of a wedding or life celebration, consider getting latex.  I’ve seen a lot of mylar baloons on beaches and in the water.


Scouting For Marlin

Gary with my pretty pink pole.

Gary with my pretty pink pole.

August 24

Santa Barbara Island and we’re looking for marlin.  We see a few jumpers on our way here.  The waves side to side as we go south are making me seasick, so I nap for a while.

Because it’s rough we anchor early.  I caught 2 bat rays.  First bat ray did a great leap into the air.  I’ve never seen a bat rat leap before.  He goes into the kelp and wraps the line around the kelp.  With a good fish we would try to wait it out or might even go so far as to pull up anchor and try to move the boat around to get the fish in.  Because this is a bat ray, we just break the line.  An hour later when the next bat ray hit, it didn’t immediately swim off shallow or circle which tends to be a bat ray tactic.  I was really excited, thinking there had to be something big and good to keep on the line.  When it went into the kelp Gary took over.   Below is the video of Gary pulling in my bat ray.

August 25

We started out to troll again for marlin.  The water was rough, so we went back in toward Santa Barbara and went after yellowtail and halibut.  By 10:00 and no luck with that we decided to go back out.  The water wasn’t as bad as earlier, but it still wasn’t great.  We didn’t have any hookups.  We heard on the radio that there had been 4 hookups.

Windy, rough and seasick.  Gary doesn’t get seasick.  I use dramamine the first day out and usually after that I’m pretty good.  I also have sea bands which are little wrist bands that have a bump on them.  They work by pressing on a pressure point on your wrists.  I use them anytime I feel seasick and they seem to help.  They can also be used by pregnant women to help with nausea.  Mine are purple ones, but men seem to like them too, and I’ll share if I don’t need them myself.

Went back to the island around 5 pm.  Radio chatter said that they were getting tuna about 20 miles farther south (3 hours for us).  We decided that we would go there tomorrow.

We barbequed hamburgers for dinner.  It’s the first time that we’ve used the barbequer, even though we’ve had it for several years.  Last time out, we tried to use it, but our Coleman tanks were empty.  It worked well and the hamburgers were good.

Caught some bait for tomorrow.

August 26

Went down south, but we didn’t see any tuna action like we had hoped for.    We trolled on the way there and then again on the way back.  We had one hit.  Tried a lot of different lures.

The ocean was much smoother and warmer.  The sun came out; something that didn’t happen yesterday.

We’re going to BBQ again tonight.  Gary said to marinate the chicken, so I put orange marmelade and the juice from the jalapeno jar on the chicken.  We’ll see how that turns out.

At anchor at Santa Barbara.   Lots of boats in the anchorage tonight, because there’s a tournement going on.  They are with the Tuna Club from New Port.  We’ve been at this anchorage several times before and only saw a few other boats.  Tonight there’s 16 boats.

I put out my Barbie fishing pole with an almost dead mackerlel on it.  When I finally pulled it up several hours later it was still alive.  I decided to let it go.  A second after I freed it, a seal emerged out of the water and ate it.  I didn’t see the seal until it broke the water surface so I was suprised by it.  When I swish the net in the baitwell looking for live bait for my hook I always ask “who wants to go fishing?”  It seems like when you want a live fish you can’t get one, and when you go after a dead one, you can’t keep them out of the net.  Some fish seem to find a way to escape.  I’ve had bait fish that I’ve put in the bait well and they jumped right out within a second.  I’ve had fish flip as I try to put them on the hook and go into the water.  Lots of hooks through the nose, but the fish fell off as soon as I try to put my line down.  Put the hook too deep and you kill them, too shallow and it falls off.  Fate favors those who believe good things will happen to them.   All may seem doomed, but there is a way out.

August 27

Last day for this trip.  We’re going to do some trolling for marlin before we head home.  I’m sure that we will troll most of the way home.  Chatter on the radio has people from the tournament with four tag and releases for the day.  Hopefully this is the day we pull one in.  Derick pulled in the marlin last trip out, so the plan is that I will get to bring this one in.  Feeling excited and hopefull.

Post trip

Well I didn’t get my marlin this trip out.  It’s a little disappointing but I’m feeling more comfortable with the rods and reels which are bigger than the rods and reels we use for halibut and yellowtail.  Scouting where the fish are.  We still have several weeks until the tournament.  We’re getting better at the team work required to win.

Fish Netters

Fish Netters


August 17

Beautiful morning to be back out on the water, we’re up early, leaving our house by 5:30 am.  We stop at Ciscos for bait.  It’s not cured.  Cured bait is bait that they’ve had for a while.  The weaker ones die off and they tend to stay alive a lot longer in the bait tank.

As soon as we leave the harbor, I go back to sleep.

We get to Santa Cruz and the sun is already out.

The crossing between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa is pretty rough.  Not the roughest water I’ve been on, but I do tend to get seasick, so I go take a nap in the stern.

Rosa is windy, with white caps.  We go near the pier and anchor.

By 4:00 1/2 of the bait is dead.  Uncured bait doesn’t last long.  We did do some trolling on the way here.  We had to bring in our lines as we went through MPA (Marine Preserve Area).  Some lines were put out when we anchored, but so far all they’ve done is catch bottom.  Sun is out, but the wind makes it feel cold.

August 18

This morning is much calmer.  We go out and do a drift for halibut.  Around noon Derek gets one.   It’s probably around 30 to 35 lbs.

Another sunny day, it’s warm, but not warm enough to wear shorts.

In the evening we go and anchor by the pier again.  Gary gets a thresher shark, and Derek catches a bat ray.  We generally don’t keep bat rays, but we have a friend out here that uses them for crab bait, so we save it for him.  We’ll give it to him tomorrow.  The threshers are rumored to be good to eat.  I’ve never seen one before.  It has a really long tail.  Gary will check to see if the buyer wants it.  If he doesn’t want it, I’ll be looking for some good recipes to cook thresher.

We had plans to barbecue chicken for dinner.  We’ve had this barbecuer for a long time, but we’ve never used it.  I told Gary that we should do a trial run at the house.  He said, “it works just fine,” but when we went to use it the Colman propane tank was empty and we don’t have another on the boat.  I ended up cooking chicken veronique.

It’s almost 7pm, and I just pulled in a bat ray.  They fight really hard, but after a while you can tell the difference between how a halibut behaves and a bat ray.  I was about a half a minute into the fight, when I knew it was a bat ray.

Gary and Derek talk to a boat that uses nets.  He tells them that he catches 15 to 20 halibut in his net each day.

August 19

We do a few drifts for halibut but don’t catch any.  We’re running out of bait.  Another netter is in the area.  He’s actually sitting on a mark where we have caught halibut in the past.  There are laws against netting right next to the main land.  You have to be at least three miles out to use nets.  Problem is that they are with in three miles of the island, but they are more than three miles out from the main land.  Net catching isn’t sport fishing.  We’ve had people complain about us because we’ve caught three halibut with four people and spent four days doing it.  People like us really aren’t the problem.

We meet up with our friend that wants the bat rays and give them to him.  He’ll use them as crab bait.

We decide to go back to Santa Cruz Island.

August 20

We tried for yellowtail for a short period, but we didn’t have much live bait.  We see several boats around us, and listen for buzz on the radio, but no one is really catching.  After a few hours, we’re out of bait and call it quits.  Another fishing trip in the bag.

Post trip

Gary calls around and checks online to check on the netters.  He finds that they only have to be one mile off of the islands.

We cook the thresher shark with teriyaki.  It didn’t turn out very well.  Gary will try to smoke it.

Next outing we will be looking for marlin.

Marlin Fishing On The Joy Sea

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We decided to go to Santa Barbara Island to fish. Islands up north are going to be too windy. Did some trolling along the way. No luck at that. Gary saw a marlin that did some nice jumps in front of the boat. No fish today, just a few bat rays. We came in to anchor for the night and found friends of ours already anchored. Gary has tried to radio them to come on over for a drink, but they aren’t answering.

Santa Barbara Island

Santa Barbara Island

Aug 9

Spent the day going after marlin. We had 4 hookups and got one which was a catch and release (a marlin is counted as a catch once you have your hand on the leader line).  It’s really exciting when you see a marlin appear behind your boat and check out your lures.

We went back near the island to anchor for the night. A dive boat came in and divers were diving in the area. The current took one of them away from their boat and over by ours. He surfaced next to our boat. Derek asked him if he saw any yellowtail down there. He said no, but he saw several large halibut. Tomorrow we will try to catch them.

Derrick with lines out trolling

Derek with lines out trolling

Aug 10

Fishing for halibut didn’t last very long. I didn’t even get up out of bed before it was over. Gary decided that there was too much kelp.

Fishing for marlin turned into a long boat ride. We saw one come and check out the lure, but it didn’t bite. Back to Santa Barbara Island for the night. Tomorrow we will try an area where Gary saw marlin jumping that is on our way back home. Winds are forecasted to pick up so tomorrow is our go home day.

Flying our marlin and release flags.

Flying our marlin and release flags.

Aug 11
Day for going home. Trolled for marlin along the way.

Have to say I learned a lot. After seeing Derek battle a 250 lb marlin I see the difference between what I caught and this one. Trolling vs bait fishing makes the game a lot different.
I caught my first marlin last October when we were in Mexico. The marlin I caught was only about 125 lbs, and it was on a charter boat. We had four of us fishing, and two boat crew. They were set up with the fighting chair and it was something they did all the time. That marlin was caught from live bait. At that time, I had my foot in a cast and only a few weeks post-surgery. The crew in Mexico did help me pull the marlin in, even though I really wanted to do it myself. I wasn’t in the best of cardiovascular shape at the time because with the broken foot I had been laying in bed all day for almost a month.

With Derek’s marlin, it was trolling with lures.  Gary was up at the helm on the flybridge and Derek and I were below. While Derek battled the fish, and went around poles still out, Gary and I got the other lines in so that they didn’t get tangled up. Then Gary had to move the boat to help Derek to be able to bring the marlin in.  It really takes a lot of team work  to make it all happen.  Getting a big marlin in by yourself would be a feat.

After Derek caught his marlin Gary was saying that I could have the next one. Derek is a big guy, in his early 30’s with a lot more strength than I have. I’m really feeling the need to increase my endurance and my upper arm body strength. Gary said if I can’t pull the marlin in, I won’t be able to bring in the yellow fin tuna in March.

Then there’s the mental game. After seeing some of the marlin mishaps on-line (the guy with a bill through his leg and the other guy jumping out of the boat to avoid the fish) is a little spooky. You always have to respect mother nature. This was my first time seeing a marlin caught on the Joy Sea. With other types of fishing, Gary and I have gotten really good at being a team, and doing whatever it takes to get the fish on the boat.

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We’ll have five on our team for the Channel Islands Bill Fish tournament in September. Last year was my “first year”, but due to breaking my foot when I jumped off the boat at the bait dock, I didn’t make it out of the harbor. So really, this will be my first year. Looking forward to it, and glad to get a preview of what it will take to win.

Watch and like the catch video  (2 minutes) on my face book page (August 11th)


Fishing With Family

Mitch's Halibut at Santa Rosa

Mitch’s Halibut at Santa Rosa

August 1

Fishing with family. Our step son and his wife (Mitch and Brook) have come out to visit us. We started at Santa Cruz Island. Yesterday there was a report of a charter boat that got limits of yellow tail. Today wasn’t a repeat of that. We saw them, and they weren’t doing as well today. We got a few barracuda, which we tossed; a sculpin, which we tossed. Sculpin are beautiful fish and good to eat, but their barbs are poisonous, and we just didn’t want to deal with it. I finally caught a nice sized yellowtail about 10 lbs. It fought a good fight.

We moved on to Santa Rosa, Mitch caught a shark, and we lost a few big ones. The current was strong and we had wind. We had to anchor early. Current was too strong to try and find squid.

It’s after dinner now and we’re seeing the squid boats show up. That’s nice, because in the morning we’ll know where to go to find squid.

August 2

It was a rough night, we rocked and rolled. The wind is actually better for us it keeps us straight into the surf. Without at least a little wind we rock back and forth as the surf comes in. Gary got up at 5 am, as always. That’s my time to move to the middle of a double bed. I didn’t get up until I heard the pole go off. Gary came in a grabbed the “fish educator.” The ‘fish educator” is really only needed for the halibut. They come up from the bottom like a barn door, and they don’t fight until they see the boat. They go crazy when you put them on the deck and the thrashing can be dangerous.

I put my pants, hoodie and socks on, and grabbed my shoes. First thing in the morning my foot is still really stiff, and I hobbled to the door and looked out. A few seconds later, Mitch says, “look how close we are to the crab traps!” The traps were literally about 20 feet away from the boat. Mitch and Gary had landed the halibut that Mitch caught, but Brook was fighting another one. When I saw how close we were to the traps, I forgot about putting my shoes on and went out to reel up lines. I reeled as fast as I could but it was just a minute until the line was stuck in the crab trap, then the next. In all about 5 lines ended up stuck. Brook lost the halibut she was fighting as it got around the trap and was able to break the line.

We fished for several more hours with no luck. The wind came up and the current was strong. We anchored and fished, moved several times, but still no luck.

Gary's Fish Educator

Gary’s Fish Educator

August 3

I got up near 7 am because I hear Gary had a fish on. He brought in a nice halibut. We really want Brook to catch a halibut, so we start giving her the pole overtime there’s something on. Around 9 am, we get too close to the crab trap again. We start pulling up all of the lines so that we can move. I get to my last pole (pink pole) and it feels like it’s snagged the bottom. It doesn’t take me long to realize that there’s something nice at the end of the pole. I pulled up a halibut. We’ve had something else on the line since then, but it pulled the hook when Brook tried to pull it in.

DSCF0692Forecast was for heavier winds this afternoon. After lunch we decide to move to another part of the island.

We left Santa Rosa and spent the night at Santa Cruz.

August 4
Brook caught a nice yellow tail at Anacapa and it was back home. We had a great trip; lots of fun hanging with family.