March 16, 2006, by Steve "Bad Dog" Ross:
I was introduced to flag fishing during a 16-day trip to Clarion Island aboard the Qualifier 105 with John Garbowski at the helm. John would throw a flag overboard to mark a spot while trolling for wahoo or locating a bank, and it made a lasting impression on me.
I took a Scott Plastics marine light that floated and added a couple of "Skier Down" flags. My first adventure with the flag was during marlin fishing at the 277 off Catalina Island. At the instant of any jig strike we would throw the flag overboard so we could look back and see exactly where we got bit and would work our way back to that spot. I'll be darned if we wouldn't get bit right back where we left the flag. So Bad Dog flag fishing was born.
During Bad Dog's last season of fishing out of Ensenada we enjoyed some fabulous marlin trips at the 390 with great success. On one trip we had a jig strike at 0730 and after that, I left. At 1:30 p.m. I headed back to go over the exact same spot on the exact same numbers and I got hooked up with a marlin again. A classic case for a flag. I should have thrown the flag on the morning jig strike and stayed in that area doing laps up and down swell from it.
You could just as easily hit the GPS Man Overboard button and return to the numbers, but the flag marks the spot and stays there for you to quickly identify where you were and take in the big picture. You could just as easily throw a paper plate in the water, but, there's nothing like a tall bright orange and black flag bobbing in the swells to signal you back to the original location.
Flag fishing is really cool with albacore strikes, as frequently, I find myself running over the same numbers with repeated jig strikes. If you're fishing a paddy and they stop biting, throw the flag and give it a half-hour rest, then come back to the flag and the paddy and start all over again.
When you're rockcodding and you find the magic rock loaded with reds, throw the flag. As you drift away you can always look back at the flag and know how far off the rock you have travelled in the drift of current and wind.
You can get into flag fishing pretty easily by simply buying a Man Overboard Flag at any marine chandlery store.
• Steve Ross has been fishing off Southern California and Baja California, Mexico, for more than 50 years. He runs his sportfisher, Bad Dog, out of Marina Coral in Ensenada, Baja California.
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