We had the honor of spending the day fishing with Salty Crew and had a blast reeling in the fish.
The Southern California and Baja waters are riddled with lunkers and Duane Diego, Salty Crew member and our new Pro, knows exactly where to find them. The crew grills and dines on whatever the catch of the day is and they love the flavor that their Traeger’s wood-fired smoke infuses into fish, so we had Chef Marco on deck to create some new and innovative dishes for the team on our Pro 34 grills.
Salty Crew is made up of five watermen who have salt water running through their veins, they grew up in and on the ocean and describe themselves as thrill seekers and risk takers. Being on the ocean fishing and in the ocean surfing isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s ingrained in their genetic makeup and they’ve built a life doing what they love and they’re some of the best fishermen in the country. Salty Crew created a company to encompasses fishing, surfing, sailing, and diving. They’re the outdoor guides to living by the ocean.
The Salty Crew boats live in San Diego harbor, the crew of twin brothers that run fishing expeditions out of Newport joined us for the day. Duane Diego, the legend himself, captained our trip. Duane has killer instincts and amazing skills and can find fish even on days when other expeditions come back empty handed.
We woke up before sunrise and were on the boats at 4 am getting them stocked with bait and food. We headed out into open water, about 30 minutes from San Diego to find some yellowtail tuna off coast the coast of Mexico for the day. We fished for about 5 hours pulling live bait alongside us.
The bait is little 5 to 7 inch sardine like fish and the big fish are enticed because the bait looks like it’s swimming. The more they look alive, the more the lunkers come out to get them.
Often sea lions chase the bait and take the back half of the fish leaving just the head on the line. Once we dodged the sea lions we found a pod of dolphins and they hung around our boats for about 10 minutes. Chef Marco was pumped, he grabbed the go-pro and jumped into the open water to swim with the dolphins.
Casting a pro rod is not an easy task. It takes a ton of skill, strength, and pressure on line to get a good cast. These pros have serious skills. Like big game hunting, sport fishing is a lot of waiting, searching, and patience. In fishing, you watch for tells, like birds, water moving, or fish bubbles. It’s called the boil--White birds gather near the to of the water and big fish are lurking below. Seaweed patches that surface often have smaller fish that hide under the seaweed for safety.
We caught 10 yellowtail tuna and kept 2. We gutted and cleaned them right on the boat, with this crew there’s no need to send them out to get processed. Market value for yellowtail is about $15 a pound. They’re a shite fleshy colored fish that cooks up flakey and are perfect for grilled tacos, ceviche, and pokey.
Once we docked, Chef Marco got to work on firing up the Salty Crew’s Traeger Pro 34 grills. The fishermen’s prize possession is the orange triangular collar of the fish; we rubbed it with Traeger Rub and smoked them for 2 hours. Chef Marco made slow roasted fish belly and created salsa over the grill in a cast iron pan. It tasted so fresh and delicious. He roasted all the condiments including lemons, tomatoes, and cabbage. The slow roasted wood-fired aromas wafted up the dock and people from 20 yards away came by to check out our fixin’s.
If you’re in Southern California, we recommend heading out for some sport fishing with Salty Crew, they’re leaders in recreation and the best in the business. Check @TraegerOutdoors on Instagram for more photos of our trip this summer.
Try these Summer Fish Recipes:
For more seafood recipes, go here.