A Tale of Two Tails

By John F. Pawlak

On the morning of April 26, 2003, Avery Ellisman (aka SWINGFISH who lives in Encinitas, CA and is a 52 year old Executive Director of the American Friends of the College of Judea & Samaria, Inc.) and I both landed large Yellow Tails from our kayaks while fish in the waters of La Jolla, CA.

Neither of us are authorities.  As you’ll see we differ in our approach and equipment, except for one very important point.  We were both fishing deep.  It seems that many of the big YT have been cruising at 50’ and deeper lately.  Avery after catching his 20lb class fish that measured 40” at the fork was then joined by Baggared in a private boat whom had been fly lining Dines all morning with no success.  Following Avery’s advise to go deep he then put on some weight and was hooked up immediately. Avery was baited with a Spanish mackerel, which usually won’t go deep on their own, so he was using an egg sinker followed by a swivel and fluorocarbon leader.

I launched with my paddling buddy Rick at 4AM and headed north to the lights of the Script’s pier.  There was a serious feeding frenzy going on there and in no time we were both loaded up on 8”green back mackerels and 4” sardines.  Avery launched at first light and went straight to the buoy line where he caught 7” Spanish mackerel for bait.

I trolled a 12” mac over the La Jolla Canyon as the sun rose in a cloudless sky in hopes for an early morning shark encounter. At first light I counted (25) kayak fishermen on the Point.  Before the day was over the crowd of private boaters, party boats and kayak fishermen would swell to uncountable numbers. 

The green back will most often go deep with out the need of weight and so at 8am I was fly lining with just a hook.  Sterling who is another kayak fisherman had paddled over and we were drifting and talking as kayak fishermen often do when first he hooks up and then myself.  As his kayak was towed away mine followed in a train like fashion.  We had both hooked a fish from the same breezing school and they had then wrapped our lines together.  Finally we got enough line in to get to the tangle, as we were trying to figure out how to untangle ourselves one of the fish made a screaming run and the 20 lb P-line that I was using sawed off what ever line Sterling was using right at the point of the tangle. As my fish towed me away I left Sterling there looking as if he had just gotten the bad news that a close relative or friend had died.  I’ve felt your pain brother fisherman, but not today, because after a 20 to 30 minute battle I landed a 17lb 3oz YT that measured 36” at the fork.

This is a side-by-side comparison of the different equipment that Avery and myself successfully used today.





OK Scupper Pro TW

OK Scupper Pro TW


Spanish mac

Green mac

Bait rig

2oz sliding egg sinker,swivel,25lb Seagur fluorocarbon leader



7’ Graphfighter med action

61/2’ Ugly Stick med action


Daiwa SLX40

Shimano Calcutta 400


Owner 2/0 circle w/ring

Eagle Claw 4/0 fine wire circle


Maxima 40lb

20lb clear P-Line

I owe a large debt of gratitude to The Man, The Myth, The Legend Johnny Ceviche who has over the years become like a sensei to me.  Many hours of on the water torturing and weekly phone calls with advice (much of which is contained in this story) and encouragement.

If your new or learning to fish LJ than my advice to you is to get a professional guide and if that is out of your budget than the next best thing is a mentor who will take you under his wing and teach you all the things that would otherwise take you years to figure out on your own. The best mentors on the water today are in alphabetical order:

·        C-Level

·        fishead

·        Iceman

·        Jimm Hoffmann

·        Moyer the Fish Destroyer

·        Sammy/Tattooed

·        Soulwinner

·        thelifeguardguy

·        Tom Booth

·        Yak Atak

And I’m certain that there’s a few others that I’ve yet to meet.

Eagle Eye