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10 Day Trips - Alijos Rocks & The Ridge - By: David Rosenthal

HOOKUP!!! The screams almost drowned out the sound of the screaming Penn International in the port corner as a Wahoo tries to get away with the red & black MegaBait SeaBoz being trolled behind the luxury sportfisher Red Rooster III on our first morning of fishing at the Ridge. HOOKUP! came the the shout of the angler trolling the silver & black MegaBait SeaBoz from the starboard corner. As the 105' sportfisher slides to a stop anxious anglers start letting the bombs fly trying to hook one of these toothy torpedoes that are around the boat. Hookup! Fresh One! Yeah! as 3 more anglers get hooked up. Whether you were using iron or live bait, these Wahoo were willing to chew.

"Watch the Wahoo" called Captain Andy Cates as the first Wahoo comes over the rail and onto the deck. Not only were there several Wahoo hooked and landed but these fish were quality. The first of these fish were between 55 - 60#! Once all the hooked fish were landed it was time for trolling team #2 to take their positions. This was a good beginning to another spectacular 10 day trip on the Red Rooster III.

A 10 day trip in the fall is one of the best trips to get on. The advantage of a trip of this type is the wide variety of fishing that you will experience as well as the many species you may encounter. In the morning you may be trolling for Wahoo or getting worked in a Yellowfin bite or watching big Yellowfin crash under the kites. You may be throwing iron for Yellowtail or dropping a bait to the bottom for Yellowtail, Black Seabass, Pargo or Grouper. You may even come across a kelp paddy or some other floating debris that may be holding 1000+ Dorado. You just never know what each day will have in store for you in the area of Baja called the Ridge or Alijos Rocks. You may even have the shot at a Yellowfin over 200# and over the last several years these "Cows" have been the primary target of the late season 10 day trips.

Alijos Rocks The area you will fish on these trips is vast and 10 days gives you plenty of time to explore your options. The Ridge, Alijos Rocks, Uncle Sam Bank, Magdalena Bay, Potato Bank and an assortment of other spots along the Baja coast are places where you may end up. Bluefin, Bigeye and Albacore offshore are also possibilities on these trips.

Due to all the possibilities that exist on these trips you should be prepared for anything. These trips require you to bring more gear than any other trip. If you are not sure what you will need for one of these 10 day excursions we will cover it in this article. Since you will need a wide assortment of rods & reels you can always rent them from the boat. All the landings have quality gear that can handle the tough job of fighting some of the target species and are available for rent at reasonable cost. In theory you could walk on the boat with just your clothes and the boat can take care of the rest. Some good advice is to talk with the boat's office when planning any trip since they are out there day after day, trip after trip and will not be trying to sell you tackle you just don't need. If you walk into a tackle shop and say "I am going on a 10 day trip what do I need to bring?" you will notice the $$$ signs in their eyes, especially at some of the larger chain type stores where the sales guys may make a commission. Get the advice of the people that are looking out for your best interest. The crews and boat owners want you to have a great trip with everything you need without breaking the bank so you will come back year after year.

We will cover some of the different types of fishing you will encounter on a 10 day Ridge / Rocks trip to help you get a better idea of what to expect and to be ready for it.

Catching a Wahoo is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. You can catch Wahoo on either live bait or lures. In my personal opinion there is nothing more fun than catching a Wahoo on the iron. The Wahoo is known for it's aggressive strikes, lightning speed and their ability to empty your reel while taking you around the boat in the blink of an eye. The most popular method of catching Wahoo is the Wahoo Bomb. These casting lures consist of a shiny lead torpedo style head with a colored mylar or plastic skirt coupled with a single forged steel hook. When fishing for Wahoo using lures you always want to use a single hook since they will destroy most treble hooks and trebles most likely will not penetrate the hard bone of a Wahoo's mouth. Other popular casting lures are the Salas 6xjr., Salas 7x, Catchy Tackle 33's, Raider and Hopkins in chrome, blue & chrome, red & chrome, hot pink, black and orange. Some anglers will religiously wire their jigs with either 7x7 wire or single strand to help prevent loss but other anglers will swear to the straight tie to the mono. My preference is to tie straight to the mono. Wahoo bombs should always be wired since the line slides through the head of the bomb in most cases. Wahoo Iron

One of the key factors to catching Wahoo on a lure is the ability to retrieve the lure as fast as possible so you will want a reel with a high gear ratio of 5:1 or higher. When you are retrieving your lure and a Wahoo hits it DO NOT SWING! Keep your rod pointed at the fish and keep turning the handle until the Wahoo starts ripping line off the reel. Wahoo have a tendency to hit a lure or bait from the side so you need to make sure that the lure slides to get the hook set. I have seen too many Wahoo come up to gaff and just open their mouths and the lure falls away. With fishing the iron for Wahoo you should use 40# minimum but 50# is preferred since the stretch is significantly less than 40#.

Wahoo Reels to look into for this are the Accurate 665H Magnum, Newell 540 or 533 or the Avet JX 6/3 or Avet HX. The faster the retrieve the better when it comes to Wahoo fishing. For your selection of rods a Calstar 700H, 6480 or my favorite a Seeker Ulua. You want a rod that shut's off fast so you can stop & turn the fish while making sure the hook sets.

Sometimes Wahoo will prefer live bait over iron or bombs so you should be ready to make the switch. The best option would be to take advantage of the travel time to the fishing grounds and make up some wire leaders. You should have 40#,60# or 90# 7 strand or single strand wire, welded black rings, crimp sleeves and some very sharp hooks like VMC, Owner, Hayabusa or Eagle Claw live bait models in sizes that fit the bait you will be using. You should have a good selection of 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0 hooks. If you do not want to spend the money on all of these hooks you can buy what you need from the boat at a reasonable cost.

When bait fishing for Wahoo you should keep in mind that Wahoo will often strike a bait from the side thus cleanly cutting it in half then come back for the second half. So if you get bit but don't hook up, give the Wahoo a minute to come back for the rest.

When thinking of long range fishing the first thing that comes to most of our minds is Tuna. Tuna fishing will probably dominate the fishing time when you go on one of these trips. Yellowfin over 150# can be encountered in these waters so you should be prepared for them. A good Yellowfin bite can occur at most of the spots along the ridge and the surrounding banks as well as Alijos Rocks. The majority of the Tuna taken on a 10 day are in the 25# - 80# range so you MAY not need to use the heavy gear (50# & up) unless there are larger fish mixed in. Alijos Rocks has turned out numerous Yellowfin over 100# so if you can fish with 50# or 60# you may be wise to do it. The past couple of seasons I have witnessed a high casualty rate due to an angler fishing with 40# at Alijos. Sometimes the fish can be line shy and 40# or even 30# may be all that will work to get a bite. A 40# Yellowfin is a great fight on 25#, 30# or even 40# line but here is the warning, you should always assume that your next fish will be the one that surpasses the century mark & be prepared. When fishing at Alijos Rocks you may not get bit more on the heavier line but when you hook that big fish you will be glad you stuck with the heavier line. Also you may want to try a 3' florocarbon leader to up your odds. Match the size of the fluorocarbon to the rating of your main line & connect them with a Seguar knot. Many anglers have switched to the smaller Avet 2-speed reels like the JX 2-speed or LX 2-speed loaded with spectra and tied to a 25 yard topshot of fluorocarbon such as the Blackwater Shock Leader or the Seaguar 100% fluorocarbon.

Yellowfin Tuna For 30# test a Calstar 660L, 870 or GF765XL with an Accurate 870, Penn GS 545, Newell 338 or Shimano Trinidad or Torium 20 will do the job. For 40# test a Calstar GF700H or 660H matched with an Accurate 665H, Avet LX 6/3, Avet JX 6/3, Newell 540 or Shimano Trinidad or Torium 30 are good choices. As with most everything else, rods and reels are a personal preference and these are just some suggestions. For those of you that like to use smaller reels with Spectra backing you may want to look into getting a GS Bracket for your reel. The GS Bracket makes it so smaller reels can be used with a harness.

When Tuna fishing good hooks are just as important as your rods & reels. Circle hooks like the VMC Ringed Nemesis, Owner Mutu, Hayabusa, Eagle Claw, and Mustad are the names to go with. These manufacturers all make high quality hooks with the VMC, Owner & Hayabusa being the more expensive but not necessarily the best for your application. also in recent years we have seen an abundance of ringed hooks on the market & some anglers swear by them. Ringed hooks allow for your bait to move a bit more freely therefore it makes for a better presentation.

When fishing with live bait for Tuna I prefer to "heart-hook" Sardines so they will swim away and down from the boat. Take a lot of care when handling a bait and be very selective when choosing one. You want the bait with all it's scales intact, the one that is swimming into the sides of the well with the red nose is not a good choice. If you hook your bait and are left with a handful of scales you should think about changing it and being a bit more gentle with the next one. The key to getting bit is a good bait. After you hook the bait hold the line a few inches above the hook to avoid the bait swinging on your way back to the rail. Once you are at the rail take some care when casting to go easy on the bait. Underhand casting is a very effective method of getting a bait away from the boat with minimal trauma.

Once the cast is made and the bait is starting to swim, let it run but always know where your bait is, follow your bait. Sometimes your bait will just stop taking line and when this happens take up any slack in the line giving your bait a little tug to wake him up a bit. If your bait stops swimming altogether then wind in and get a new bait.When a Tuna hits your bait you will know, give it a few seconds to run then throw the reel in gear and let the line come tight. Remember that if you are fishing with circle hooks let the fish set the hook, do not swing.

If you are fishing Alijos Rocks the captain may want to try to catch some squid for bait in the evening. They will use these as kite bait or for ballon rigs. Another very effective method of fishing at Alijos is to fly-line a live squid. You want to use heave gear preferably 80# line and a 2-speed reel such as an Avet Pro EXW, Accurate 12 or 30 or a Penn International 30 or 50 attached to a Calstar 760M or 760H. Use a 7/0 - 10/0 hook depending on the size of the bait. Sometimes it may be a long soak but more often than not it pays off. Fishing with a harness on is really handy for this type of fishing since you do not have to hold the full weight of the rod & reel. Keep in mind that when you get bit you will need to let the fish eat the bait for a 5 count then throw your reel in gear. BE CAREFUL since you will be in your harness and will be pulled towards the rail. You do not want to go over it.

Other effective ways of coaxing Tuna to bite is by skipping jigs across the surface. If you see a lot of Yellowfin boiling arounds the boat skip-jigging may be a great way to get them to bite. This is where a long rod and high speed reel really helps. Rods like the Calstar 100 or the Seeker Ulua are perfect for this. Match one of these rods with a Newell 533 with the 5.5:1 gears and you are in business. The techniques for jig skipping is like this:

Cast your jig as far as possible and as soon as it hits the water throw the reel in gear and wind like mad while keeping the rod tip in the air. One of the most amazing things is to see a Tuna explode on your jig as it skips on the surface. This is my preferred way to catch Tuna. Both the Calstar 100' and the Seeker Ulua are both long rods, 10' & 9'3" respectively and can really do a number on some anglers when hooked to big fish. Remember that when using a long rod the rail can be your friend when that fish is straight up-and-down. You can get away with a Calstar 6480 or a Truline D-8 which are both 8' rods but you will have to crank even faster. The jigs I would recommend is the Salas Super 6x or the 7x.

Alot of the time the bigger Yellowfin will come on the kite rig using either a large squid, flying fish or live mackerel. Most of the boats will have a kite rod set up consisting of a Penn International 50 or 80 wide loaded with 130# spectra and a 100# mono top-shot. If you are going to hook a big Tuna, this is the gear to do it on. Not much can compare to the explosion caused by a big Yellowfin crashing on a bait suspended on the surface by the kite rig. The crew will guide you through the process of getting set up.

Another species that you will target is the Yellowtail. Yellowtail can be caught using many different methods from flyline to iron to dropper loop rigs. Usually when you fish the Ridge or the Rocks you can drop a bait to the bottom on a dropper loop rig for the shot at a big Yellowtail as well as other species like Grouper, Pargo, Cabrilla and Black Seabass. On our recent 10 day trip we had a nice steady bite on the Yellowfin on the surface but all it took was one angler to drop a bait to the bottom to kick off some wide-open Yellowtail fishing.

Yellowtail When bottom fishing for Yellowtail the rig you want to be using is a minimum of 60# line (80# preferred) with a dropper loop type setup. The reason I say "dropper loop type" is because the dropper loop knot is not the strongest of the knots you can use. Try using a Roy Rose knot or a Spider Hitch, these are stronger knots than the dropper loop knot. The amount of weight you will use will depend on the current. Anywhere from 8 oz. to 16 oz. or more may be necessary. One thing I hate is bringing a lot of lead with me so I will usually end up purchasing any needed torpedo sinkers from the boat. Hook sizes for dropper loop rigs should match the bait size and VMC, Owner, Eagle Claw or Mustad will fill this need.

The rod you will want to use for bottom fishing should have enough backbone to turn the fish away from the rocks as soon as it is hooked. Some rods that would handle this task are the Calstar 6460XH, 6460XXH, 6455XXH, 660XH, 665XH, GF755XH, GF760M or GF765M along with a 2 speed reel such as the Shimano TLD 30II, Avet Pro EX or EXW, Penn International 30SW, Penn Formula 15KG, Accurate ATD-12, Accurate ATD-30. Remember that you should be using 60# line minimum with 80# preferred. Some good line choices for this type of fishing are Izorline, Maxima or Ande. The past 2 seasons we have been using Ande Back Country (blue) & had great success with it. All of these lines have high abrasion resistance with Izorline probably being the toughest for this application.

As with many of the other species you will encounter Yellowtail can also be caught on the iron "yo-yo" style. When yo-yo fishing 40# line is the rule. Either drop your jig straight down or cast away from the boat. Let your jig sink and when it hits the bottom start winding. If you do not get bit by the time your jig is about halfway up, drop it back down and do it again. Yo-yo fishing is very effective for catching Yellowtail as with jig fishing for other species, it is a great feeling to be winding in your jig and have it stopped by one of these strong members of the Jack family. For Yellowtail fishing you cannot beat the Salas 6x Jr. but a Tady 9 or Sumo Jr. will suffice.

Some of the preferred rods and reels for yo-yo fishing are the Calstar 660H, GF700H, GF765XL, 6480, Truline D-8 matched to a Penn 4/0 Yellowtail Special, Penn GS 555, Accurate 665H, Shimano Trinidad TN-40 or Newell 540 or 533.

One thing about bottom fishing on these trips is that you never know what is down there that will take your offering. You may hook a Yellowtail, Pargo, Grouper or even get a shot at a 100#+ Black Seabass (if you do catch a Black Seabass and the fish has a good chance at survival, please release it.). A couple of years ago I was yo-yo fishing for Yellowtail and my jig got hit about 15 cranks off the bottom with what I thought was a Yellowtail but to my surprise it turned out to be a 40# Grouper.

Frequently on a 10 day trip you will remain anchored at night and if you do not have to catch bait you might want to drop a bait down to the bottom. Use the heavy stuff at night, 80# or even 100# line and a 8/0 or 9/0 hook baited with a slab of Skipjack or Whitefish. This is very effective for enticing big Black Seabass or Grouper. Grouper and Pargo are some of the best eating fish and will usually put up a great fight.

Noce Dorado While making your way around to many of the fishing spots located along the Baja coast you will run into kelp paddy's or some floating debris that can cause complete chaos in the form of a wide-open Dorado bite. Fishing for Dorado is a blast. You can have everyone on the boat hooked up to these fast moving acrobats at the same time. When Dorado want to bite they will eat anything that hits the water. On our last 10 day a couple were landed using a piece of melon that was served for the afternoon snack. Weather you are using 15# line or 100# line, you will get bit in these situations. The object to any type of fishing is to have fun. Although you catch Dorado using 100# line, there is no fun in it. Try using 20# - 40# line, you may lose a few but you will have a really fun time catching them. During wide-open bites of Dorado the use of designer hooks like VMC, Owner, Hayabusa or Gamakatsu is out of the question since you will most likely lose a lot of hooks. Have an assortment of Eagle Claw or Mustad live bait hooks available. You can get a box of 50 or 100 for around $10p-$20. You do not want to be using hooks that can cost up to a buck a piece.

Some good rods for Dorado fishing are the Calstar 660L, 870, 270, GF700L, GF765XL matched to a Shimano Trinidad or Torium 20, Avet SX, Avet JX 6/3, Penn GS535, Penn GS545, Newell 332 or 338, Accurate 870 reel.

One thing to remember, do not skimp on changing your line. This could be your trip of a lifetime & amp; you may just hook into the trophy you are looking for. Line is one of the cheapest elements of your trip so don't use abused line. Every angler has their preference of line but we do recommend Ande Back Country. I have seen this line scrape down one side of the hull of the Red Rooster III & the fish was still landed.

Grouper The 10 day Ridge / Rocks trips offer the most diverse species of fish and a wide variety of fishing techniques. They are the ultimate trip.I have been fishing long range for over 15 years and have taken many types of trips but the 10 day Rocks & Ridge trips are still my favorite and I will continue to do them year after year. We hope to share the rail with you on one of these awsome adventures.

To view the pictures from some of our 10 day trips CLICK HERE!

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