For myself, it’s been a good fifteen years or more since climbing aboard such a vessel, but with our saltwater tackle review pile growing, and seas that haven’t been cooperative with our smaller TackleTour saltwater boat, it came time to search for larger boat options.
The Harbor at Princeton by the Sea, just north of Half Moon Bay, CA
Captain Al: Enter Captain Al, owner of the Tigerfish sportfishing boat out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up in the City by the Bay afforded him the opportunity to serve under apprenticeship with some of legendary captains in the area. Captain Al has seen and learned from some of the best including Captain Chuck Louie of Chucky’s Pride, Captain Don Wong of the C-Gull II, and Captain Jay Yokomizo of the New Huck Finn. Captain Al has even pulled stints aboard two of Southern California’s most reputable long rage boats in the Royal Polaris and Shogun. He did all of this enroute to earning his captain’s license at only twenty six (26) years of age.
Darren readies the rigs.
JIP, normally our captain on the sea, takes a rare break as we head out the harbor.
In 2005, Captain Al finally realized his goal of running his own boat when he purchased the newly refurbished, fifty foot (50) long Tigerfish. The boat is rated for up to forty nine (49) passengers, is powered by a pair of four hundred horsepower, diesel engines, and has a cruising speed of fourteen (14) knots. It has a cabin with three booth-like tables, a small kitchenette, and of course, an onboard restroom. But even with all this room and capacity, Captain Al likes to limit the passenger load to comfortable numbers suitable for fishing. These numbers vary depending upon the species being targeted.
Captain Al at the helm with a smile on his face not realizing what a tough day this would turn out to be!
Darren prepares the bait as anglers jockey for position for their favorite parts of the squid to tip on their shrimp flies.
I have actually known Captain Al for quite some time back when he used to work at Hi’s Tackle Box. We reconnected recently, but it wasn’t until I had asked someone else in the shop about party boat opportunities was I informed that Al was captaining his own boat! Such is his unassuming nature – he never once brought it up in our conversations.
As the boat heads out of harbor, the passengers gather at the back of the boat for a smoother, dryer ride.
California Coastal Rockcod: Saltwater fishing opportunities along California’s Northern Coast have been slowly dwindling in recent years. The once thriving striped bass fishery has long been in decline followed recently by the closure of salmon fishing over the past two years. What remains of course, depends on the season, but there are still opportunities for rock cod, halibut, and in warmer water years, even albacore tuna.
One of the many rod storage stations on board where clients
stowed their rods, we noticed a lot of Daiwa reels ranging from the Saltiga
to the previous Saltists
Currently, it’s all about rockcod and thanks to Captain Al, the Tigerfish has a hot streak going of limits for everyone on board (which equates to ten fish per angler) since he’s been running the trips beginning four years ago! With a streak like that, we felt it was time to sample Captain Al’s guiding skills first hand and accelerate some of our testing needs by leaving the task of piloting the boat and finding the fish to someone else!
Anglers jigging starboard...
... as Capt. Al keeps a watchful eye for action.
Out of the San Francisco Bay Area, there are actually two different destinations possible when in pursuit of rock cod. When the seas are right, a great many of the boats head to the famed Farallon Islands, a group of islands and rocks located 27 miles west of San Francisco. Today, the islands are a mostly a protected marine wildlife refuge but their recorded history dates back to 1579 when Sir Frances Drake ventured to the islands during a discovery trek. Surrounding the islands are waters rich in marine life and when the salmon runs were good, party boats could be found out there almost daily trolling and mooching for limits. Great white sharks are often seen in this area stalking the different species of seals that inhabit the area, and as expected, rockcod fishing near the islands can be phenomenal even to this day.
The sun is getting high.. normally by now, Capt Al is turning the boat around with full limits in the boat, but today, TackleTour is on board - it's not gonna be that easy.
The Farallons Islands were to be the destination for the Tigerfish on this day, but three days prior, after we booked our spots on the boat, the weather forecast changed. The seas were growing rougher and a trip to the islands would not be prudent. Instead, Captain Al redirected to coastal waters, the second possible destination when in pursuit of rockcod out of the San Francisco Bay Area, where the runs out to the fishing spots are much shorter making them a more sensible destination in rough seas, and if you know your spots, the fishing can be just as good.
Cal cranks one up on the Daiwa Conch jig!