By Steve Carson
The annual 8-day PENN Fishing University trip headed out into a bit of weather, and spent the first couple of days chasing the bluefin tuna around. As is often the case with bluefin, finding them and getting them to bite were separate issues.
Time after time, Captain Rene expertly spun the Shogun in front of large schools of bluefin, but each time the anglers were only able to coax a few of them to bite. The trick was flylining a lively sardine on 25 or even 20-pound line, along with a 3-foot section of matching fluorocarbon leader material. Small, light wire circle hooks like Owner Mutu Lights helped prevent chew offs, which did unfortunately happen to several anglers. Persistence paid off, and the group totaled over 40 bluefin for the two days, ranging from 18-40 pounds.
The Shogun then traveled down to the ridge, finding very nice grade yellowtail from 10-42 pounds. The first day saw the fish biting eagerly, and over 100 were boated on everything; from flylined sardines, to yo-yo jigs, to surface iron. Interestingly, this writer managed to get four yellowtail using the new “slow pitch” jigging technique, which should gain popularity over the next few years. The next day found the fish harder to fool, and the group put just under 50 of the still very good size yellowtail into the RSW.
Heading north towards home, we made a try for some tan grouper in deep water that did not pan out, but not for lack of effort. A little more weather made for slow going home, but we still had time for one last try on the final day, and spent some time on a few very productive rockfish spots that kicked out a number of nice vermillion [red] rockfish.
The group also enjoyed using the PENN “demo” combos, with the Fathom FTH15 star drag combos favored for the bluefin tuna, and the Fathom FTH15LD2 2-speeds the most popular for flylining for large yellowtail. Lots of prizes were given out, including four PENN reels [including three 2-speeds], and a nice plaque for the jackpot winner.
As always, Captain Rene and the deck crew of the Shogun; Karl, Joe, Tyler, Conor, and Dave, handled everything professionally, and new chef Ivan displayed some serious culinary skills. Next year’s trip will slide a little later into June on the calendar. Get hold of Jen Greene in the Shogun office to make sure you are aboard!
Crew and passengers will post and provide images but back at the office Jen is the one who makes it all happen!