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Mothership Kayak Fishing Aboard the Islander - San Clemente Island

by Brian Long

The day started with nothing but darkness and optimism (and a full breakfast) as the anglers made their way out of the staterooms one by one.  On deck the crew was already preparing for the morning task of getting 22 kayaks from the custom built rack into the water.  Those who had prepared the night before, or were most vigorous at the breakfast table were able to launch the earliest while others took their time and enjoyed the morning at a more leisurely pace.

With everyone focused on their own tasks the kayak rack was emptied and everyone was in the water within a reasonable amount of time.  A feeling of adventure and excitement accompanied the familiar focus of presenting that perfect bait in the perfect spot for the perfect fish.

Unlike La Jolla or San Diego Bay or other local favorites of these 22 fishermen, these waters have rarely seen a paddle dipped into their crystal clear surface. 

And while the fish are the same species that inhabit the local waters of San Diego, these fish are stronger and healthier and seem to take greater pride in punishing those fortunate enough to fool them.

The Islander is one of San Diego’s premier fishing boats. At 88 feet long she spends most of her time chasing offshore exotics such as tuna and dorado but owners John Conniff and Shane Slaughter have set the boat up to handle just about any type of trip from long range tuna fishing to local scuba diving, and even kayak fishing mothership trips. A custom built aluminum rack sits over the bait tank and can hold upwards of 20 kayaks.

The trips run a day and a half which means the anglers load their gear the night before, sleep on the boat during the nighttime voyage to the targeted fishing grounds (normally San Clemente or Catalina Island) and wake up at the spot. After fishing all day the boat leaves after dark and the anglers again sleep during the trip back home.

The focus of this trip was San Clemente Island.  The boat anchored near China Point and the kayakers began fishing the surrounding kelp line and beaches.  Plenty of bass, one halibut and one yellowtail were caught before the boat made its first move to Pyramid Cove.  The kayakers stay in the water and drift with the wind toward the boat’s new position.

The afternoon produced better results for most, as some yellowtail came through the area.  By one o’clock in the afternoon the galley of the Islander was filled with tired arms and cold drinks.  After lunch the hunt continued.  The boat made one more move toward Pyramid Head.  A few more fish were caught and there was no lack of fish stories that night at the dinner table.    The final count for the boat was 7 yellowtail (biggest being 31lbs, smallest around 20), 3 halibut (15-20lb range) and all the bass you wanted, biggest being 8.5lbs.  By anyone’s standards this was an excellent trip and most have their pens at the ready for next year’s sign up sheet.

There are very few experiences that can compare to kayak fishing.  Throw in a remote location, beautiful scenery, big fish, a comfortable stateroom and hot meals throughout the day and it’s no wonder these trips are in such high demand.  These trips are definitely something every kayak fisherman should try at least once in their life, and more than likely it’ll become a yearly tradition.

For reservations and more information about mothership kayak fishing trips aboard the Islander, Check BWE  or contact OEX at (619) 758-9531.