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David "Wahoodad" Choate

Dave fishes mostly Long Range out of San Diego, California. Very fortunate to have become a product tester for many tackle companies, but he really enjoys helping others learn to enjoy this sport and improve their techniques.

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June 09, 2013

Maiden Voyage on the Tribute

by Wahoodad


It just looked like things were all lined up, light load, nice weather, and going to be a few boats out for coverage. I had the weekend off from work, and did my HONEY-Do's from midweek on in the evenings.

As it turns out, a full load of us had the same idea. But the ample size of the Tribute, formerly the Holiday for many years, made it seem like a fairly light load after all. Or, maybe it was the crew who made easy work of it all.

I took off work a bit early, to beat the traffic, and to wander around the boat and get some pics prior to leaving. The boat is in fantastic shape, as captain Mike Pritchard is quite talented at boat work.

The heads are nice, good sized showers, and the boat has a bow bait tank! Perfect for those plunker Bluefin bites, as that way I won't have to put so many miles on my Xtra-Tufs fishing the pointy end!

I felt fortunate to grab one of the staterooms- nice wide bunks. But I did stroll through the bunkroom, and found it very nice as well. I like the added feature of the curtains. It's nice to get some privacy, maybe blocking out noise and cold. Plenty of fresh air in both staterooms and bunk rooms.

We had the typical safety speech, crew introductions, including Kyle, from the Intrepid being our chef, and a game plan for our fishing the next day and a half of fishing. Actually just a full day sun up to sundown, but it's called a day and a half trip. As over night trips go, these are indeed my favorite. I like the prospect of that evening bite.

Loading bait, it was apparent Everingham Bros had stocked the receiver with huge sardines. My gosh, these things looked like they were salmon! Luckily, we got some chovies too, because you don't get very many baits when they are real big.

During the bait loading, the second ticket, Randy Kramer, gave a in depth fishing seminar. That was a good thing, as we had some anglers that had never even been on an over night trip before.

After the fishing seminar, quite a few prizes were given out from the sponsors of the boat: Soft Steel Ultra, Pelagic, and Seeker. Hats, T shirts, visors, fishing videos, stickers, cozies, blankets.

And, the second and first place jackpot winners would win big prizes. Granted, it wasn't a sponsored trip, but a couple of the sponsors provided some generous prizes. More on that later……


I woke up early, Kyle had coffee going, and he was pre-cooking all his breakfast stuff. I placed my order for a breakfast burrito, and went outside to enjoy my cup o joe! It wasn't long, and we were on a scrap of kelp.

We trolled by at first, and the cry of "HOOK UP" soon followed. Although the 1st was a short stop, it became apparent that almost any kelp strand was going to be holding a decent grade of yellowtail.

The crew bags the fish until the stop is over, then stapling a tag on and dropping them into the chilly RSW. I like it when they take good care of our fish, and this crew did a great job of that.

Today, we would be working with Mark O on the Pacific Voyager. He was a bit to the east of us, and before long Mark reported getting 51 yellows on his first kelp.

This was a bit disappointing, as Mike had hoped we could stay out west for a couple of reasons. 1 was good water and a temp break he wanted to work, and 2 was a better chance of tuna!

So, eastward bound for a bit, and yes, those kelps seemed to be holding more fish. We continued this tack for a short while, until everyone on board had a fish or two in the hold.

At that point, Mike decided to head back towards the west, and something very strange happened- the kelps became much more frequent. The kelps were huge and easy to spot. AND, they were jugged with yellows. Good sized yellows too!

By about 1:30 pm, we were done! DONE DONE DONE! We could bag no more yellowtail, full limits for all aboard the Tribute on it's first trip under the new name.

This was great news, now we could spend the rest of the fishing day concentrating on trying to find some tuna. Below us some 90 miles (well out of day and a half range), captain Aaron Barnhill on the Shogun had found some biting Bluefin and yellowfin tuna , with the Bluefin reported to be quite large. Some of them weighed over a hundred pounds!


As we headed out to more typical tuna waters to the west, we had some spots of fish that definitely looked like Bluefin tuna and albacore on the sonar and depth sounder.

There was a group of the large kelp patties we were coming up on, and captain Mike was having to steer clear of the kelps. If we got too close driving by a kelp patty, we would hear the cry of HOOK-UP!

On this particular group of kelps though, Mike heard a hit on the sonar that sounded like Bluefin Tuna. So, we shut it down and fished there. We never saw a tuna boil, but I saw the marks as well, and am completely certain that it was indeed a school of Bluefin!

No boils, no jumping tuna, no bites by tuna, but things are looking up. We had good weather, a bunch of satisfied customers taking home a limit of nice size yellowtail each. What more could you want?


What a fitting way to end the day. Kyle had a perfectly prepared Tri-Tip dinner with a Caesar salad, mashed yam and potato mix, dinner roll, and your choice of carrot cake or chocolate cake.

During dinner, the crew got all the fish out of the chilly RSW and spread them out. Jackpot was determined to be the one lone bonito we caught, about 16&1/2 pounds worth.

Our jackpot winner was surprised to learn he won something beside the money- a brand new fishing rod donated by Seeker Fishing Rods! He was overjoyed about winning the new rod.

Also a prize for our number 2 in jackpot, as a 1,000 meter spool of Soft Steel Ultra went as a consolation prize. That angler was stoked as well, nice prizes for a day and a half trip.


Yes, suspicions confirmed, those were Bluefin tuna, as they got some this past trip. Bring a rod with heavier line, like 40 or 50 # test. There are some good sized tuna out there, go get ya some!

Pics from this week's trip:

Comments (1)

Makoman936 wrote 9 months ago

I thought that the tribute looked familiar. I live in Texas now but I have worked on the islander back when mark owned it before he built the independence and I worked on the constitution when jayfirst brought it down and worked with John cox when it was the deep adventures and when joe Phillips bought it. In fact joe was the pastor of my church

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