For battle-tested U.S. Marines, a job well done
Roman Konopotskiy, winner of a Purple Heart, was initiated into the long-range fishing realm this past week and emerged with a 75-pound yellowfin tuna and second place in the jackpot.
Not bad considering there were 26 passengers aboard the Excel, most of them seasoned anglers, and it was his first-ever saltwater fishing excursion.
Lance Cpl. Konopotskiy, 27, was one of eight U.S. Marines, all similarly decorated, treated to a multi-day adventure aboard the luxurious long-range sportfisher out of San Diego.
Said Justin Fleck, the vessel’s captain: "My parents said no good deed goes unrewarded. This one was rewarded by wide-open fishing on yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and wahoo."
Recalled Konopotskiy: "Our first fishing was out on the ocean at a kelp paddy. On my first cast with a live bait I got bit. I was surprised. I got excited; I had a fish on! They told me to just keep reeling.
"Then we went to Turtle Bay” off Baja California. "The yellowtail fishing there was very good, and we also caught some wahoo.
"Next, we went to Alijos Rocks for bigger fish. I got my first big yellowfin tuna right away, with a sliding sinker. Then I got a smaller one, before I got my best tuna.
"My next bait was hot, like a marathon runner. I thumbed my reel and let him swim. I got bit, counted to three, hooked him and waited for his run to slow down. He took me around the boat 1 1/2 times and then he was straight down. I got tired and used the rail to help me wind on him. He got wrapped on the anchor line.
"The whole thing took about a half-hour. It was a very different experience, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I’m still figuring out how to ship my fish."
Ship my fish? Must be military jargon. Anyway, the Excel's crew and chartermaster “Big” Al Gross are to be commended for their efforts. This mission was definitely accomplished.
-- Pete Thomas
Photos by Bill Roecker/Fishingvideos.com
Roman Konopotskiy (top right) poses with a 75-pound yellowfin caught aboard Excel, and again (front and center, below) as part of a group photo Wednesday morning at the San Diego dock.