My first ever California yellowtail came last July near northern Baja’s Coronado Islands. The first of two fish for my day hit a live sardine and, as I fought the fish, a crew member, unhappy with my tight drag setting, loosened it up, more to his liking. I assumed his quick adjustment was sound and so kept it there. Late in the day, another fish struck a sardine and we locked into a seesaw stalemate. Reluctantly, but wishing to decide the battle, I retightened my drag and within 5 minutes the tail was up to gaff. The 25-minute ordeal, however, took its toll on my Trilene knot because even before the fish hit the deck, the knot slipped out, leaving a corkscrew tag end and 1/0 hook in the fish’s lip. Talk about too close for comfort!
Both were trophy-class yellowtail on 17-pound Vanish, Penn number 140 Squidder reel and Sabre Rod. Case in point … scale-test your drag beforehand for accuracy and familiarity, which I plan to do on future trips!
Daniel G. Flores