Posted by: socalsalty | February 29, 2016

Maximus Teaser


Still in Puerto Vallarta.  Couple hours before my flight back, so a quick update on the trip.  If you have the chance, do it!  

Fishing was so fun and after the first fish I had the hang of it.  We caught 2 cows with one just shy of super cow status!  30 fish for the trip, so everyone got to feel what it feels like to battle these mighty fish.  

Capt. Keith will be at Fred Hall next week.  Make sure you talk to him about coming out.  Much more content to come.

Posted by: socalsalty | July 1, 2013

The End Of SoCal Salty

June was the biggest month ever in the history of this website.  Thanks to all of you who have taken time out of your day to read these pages.  It’s been a great ride.  In the 2.5 years since I started the blog, I’ve met some great people, had some amazing times, and learned a tremendous amount of information.  One of the deckhands I fish with said, “You’ve gone from a half day hack, to knowing things that only a handful of people ever learn, and writing for a major outdoor publication (referring to my recent articles in Western Outdoor News).”

I hope my journey has inspired some of you to get out on the water, hopefully have success and enjoy your time out there.  When I started fishing here in SoCal, I was fascinated by how there were always some anglers on the boat who consistently caught more fish.  I’ve learned that a myriad of small details add up to being one of those guys.  I’m not there, but I’ve come a LONG way.

Thank you to all the captains, crews, landing personnel, manufacturers, and fellow anglers who have contributed to this journey.  Most of all, thank you to you readers who have inspired me to share what I’ve learned.  Never fear though, I’ll be shutting down this site, but Salty will live on at the new SoCal Salty website (  We’ve got a lot of great stuff in store for you in the coming weeks…I’ll be going to ICAST, the annual tackle extravaganza where all the new stuff is introduced.  I’ll share what I learned on my visit to the Seeker Rods factory, and our offshore season is just getting started.  Please bookmark the new site.  See you over at the new SoCal Salty.  Tight lines!

Tuna Time!

Tuna Time!

Posted by: socalsalty | June 24, 2013

Trip Report: Clemente On The Freedom

IMG_0094I’ve been spending most of June fishing up north out of CISCO’s.  It’s been that time of the year…I wanted to give myself the best possible opportunity to score a white seabass, and that’s where it has been most consistent.  I was hoping to catch an Extra Salty one (didn’t😦 ), but at least I caught.  One of the areas I’ve kept an eye on though is Catalina and Clemente.  They’ve been catching a nice mix of yellowtail, white seabass, halibut and calicos out there.

I’ve been wanting to get out and see for myself.  Wednesday night, I boarded the Freedom for an overnight to San Clemente Island.  Capt. Tommy Lee has been having a nice run of late, yet it had been awhile since I’d been on the boat.  Ironically, the last time I was on it was when this whole silly sheephead thing started.  It’s not the reason I haven’t ridden the boat, but I did take notice that he’s been catching his share of goats there😉

We had some squid when we got aboard, but needed more.  A total of 14 anglers boarded the boat.  It’s supposed to take 15 to get off the dock, but Tommy didn’t want to send us home, so we went out.  The crew for the boat was Tommy driving, 2nd Capt. Sal, Robby and Jeff working the deck (with Chloe and Matt assisting) and Greg in the galley.  The plan was to head to Pyramid Cove, make some squid, then fish the grey light for seabass.  If that plan didn’t work out, we’d make our way around the island and look for yellowtail or possibly drift for halibut.  They recommended the same 2 rigs as they do up north…a high dropper loop and a sliding sinker rig using at least 30.  Here though, they wanted you to go 6 feet off the ground for the dropper, and smaller bait style hooks (vs. a long shanked hook like the Aki Twist).  I brought 4 rigs.  Excessive?  There are a lot of potential scenarios out there.  I brought my jig stick, a 40 lb rig, a 30 lb bait stick, and my bass rod.  I rigged the 40 and 30 with the high dropper and slider respectively, and put on a squiddy looking candy bar iron on my jig stick.  It was going to be an early morning, so I settled into my bunk for the ride over.

There's a bit of squid out here alright

There’s a bit of squid out here alright

We rolled into the cove around 3:30 and I got up to help make squid.  By the time I got on deck, they had a light in the water and Sal was handing out jigs.  The squish were thick.  Drop to the shallow bottom, jig a bit and wind up slowly…2, 3, 5 squid at a time.  We made short work of it, made a small move and started fishing.  As the day started to reveal itself, I noticed all the other boats in the area…all the overnight sporties, private boaters and the seiners making squid.  Pretty busy…it didn’t surprise when that morning stop didn’t yield anything.

We got a call from the Navy to move up past the White Rock area.  It was almost 8am by the time we got there.  It was already starting to get hot.  I asked later and found out the water hit 70 during the day.   The water was clean and there was little condition in terms of wind or current to deal with.

Pinhead Matt was throwing a 6x Jr in scrambled egg off the bow and was the first to connect with a nice yellow.  Cool to see a jig fish start the day.  His fish was followed shortly by an angler fishing the dropper and connecting with a nice yellow off the port / stern corner.  Unfortunately, in between those initial 2 fish and lunch it was achingly slow.  A couple guys hooked up, but ended up losing their fish in the kelp.  We were fishing just outside the kelp line and if you didn’t immediately pull on these fish, they found their way into the jungle and weren’t coming back.  During the morning session, I had one nibble that I was hoping was the precursor of a biscuit or flattie bite, but it never materialized.  There were some other mixed fish that broke up the day…calicos, whitefish, sheephead etc., but most of the anglers seemed to be on an exotic or bust mission and I was one of them.

Gitzem got him

Gitzem got him

It was disappointing.  I took a lunch break (HINT – the Freedom Burger is definitely the way to go – double meat and cheese, bacon and coming with chips and a soda for $10) and returned to the rail.  Fortunately, things started heating up.  We started seeing random breezers and someone would score everytime they came through.  Then Tommy was yelling off the top deck, “Big school charging us off the port side!”  I was fishing on the opposite side and ran over to throw.  At that point, I was fishing a 3/8 oz Gitzem leadhead with a live squid on my light setup…Crucial 711H with an Abu Revo Toro 50.  Pick pick, but no bite.  Meanwhile people were hooking up all around me.  Wasn’t feeling it and reeled in to find my bait was gone.  It wasn’t long though before Tommy was yelling again …I casted out…same familiar pick, pick, then bang I was on.  Fun ride on that light setup.  It ran out to sea, so I was confident I could play it a little.  I let the rod and drag do their work.  When it slowed, I gained some line back.  One more run straight down and it was worn out.  Robby was next to me and I layed it flat for him to gaff it.

We had a little more time to fish after I got my fish, but that afternoon run was pretty much it for the day.  I really thought going out that with the conditions and the light load that we would kill it.  As it turned out, I felt lucky to get and convert my one opportunity.  I also was happy to score a yellow in a new way.  So far this year, I’ve caught yellows in 4 different ways…yoyo, surface iron, flylined sardine, and now working a squid mid-water column.  The diversity of styles based on time of year, location, conditions etc. to catch yellowtail is one of the reasons why I put it atop the list.

The boat got 12 fish from maybe 8-18 lbs., with probably 4 or 5 lost.  Most were caught on the sliding sinker rig, but the jackpot was another jig fish.  Not an epic trip, but all but maybe 1 or 2 anglers at least had a chance to get one over the course of the day.  Thanks again to Tommy for taking us out and giving us that opportunity.  Tight lines!

Thanks Freedom

Thanks Freedom

Posted by: socalsalty | June 21, 2013

Trip Report: Santa Rosa WSB On Pacific Islander

IMG_0057It seems like we are seeing a transition period up north.  The coastal spawning wsb bite is fading, while the action is starting to pickup out at the islands.  Two weekends ago, I noticed that both the Mirage and Pacific Islander…the outer islands overnight boats of Channel Islands Sportsfishing both got their first seabass of the year (on their normal run).  As I was looking at the fishing opportunities up there, I noticed a nice light load trip on the PI leaving Sunday night…just enough to get out, but nowhere near full capacity.  I reserved my spot and awaited the Sunday night departure.

Then Saturday (June 15th) happened…22 anglers got limits of seabass, limits of rockfish, 28 lings and some random other fish.  All of a sudden, it became a full boat.  Oh well, the bite was hot and I’d be out in the middle of it.  I met my buddy Dennis at the landing.  He and I had fished together a bunch of times out of Marina Del Rey, but this was the first time afield together.  The boat departed at 10 pm and was already tanked with live squid.  Normal crew was aboard with the exception of 2nd Capt. Dan being off…Capt. Steve Virtue, Bryan and Larry on deck, and Laura running the grill.  Jeff was filling in as second ticket.  Steve said we’d go out to the far west side of Santa Rosa in the Eagles Nest area.  He was expecting wind, but we’d give it a shot and see if the ghosts wanted to play.  If that didn’t work out, we’d have to play it by ear based on the conditions.

They had been out there during the day and gotten 6 seabass.  I figured we were due to kick it back up seeing as how a) we would be the bounceback trip and b) Dennis is a wsb magnet.  The previous week, Dennis had hooked 3 on the Aloha Spirit.  He was only able to keep one, but the limit is up to 3 now.  Oh the possibilities!  I sacked out for the long ride to Rosa.

The scene at O-Dark-30

The scene at O-Dark-30

Early the next morning, we rolled into the spot around 3:30 am.  Setup was the standard waist high dropper, but with 8 oz to compensate for being deeper and probably more current.  It was still very dark.  I was slow to make my way out, but I got out there and gave it a whirl.  I was a bit surprised that the current wasn’t very strong, but boy was it windy.  It made it hard to get the boat setup and it was swinging back and forth on the anchor.  Dennis stayed in his bunk and I was thinking that was a good idea.  As a the dark came to light, not a damn thing had happened.  Dennis finally rolled out around 6:30, got a cup of coffee and joined the rest of us on the rail.  Not 5 minutes later, he’s hooked up.  Curse you Dennis!  🙂  We picked up another one just after Dennis’ and then it went quiet.  I was cold and still sleepy, so I decided to head back to my bunk and get a little shuteye.

I woke up refreshed an hour later to the commotion of cheers on the deck.  Went up top to see this girl Joanna high-fiving as her seabass hits the deck.  Little did I know what I was about to see.  Within the next 30 minutes, she goes on an unbelievable tear hooking 3 more in quick succession.  Never seen anything like it before.  During that stretch, she was at the rail next to me for part of that time.  I examined her setup closely.  Nothing special.  Sometimes it’s just your day.  I chatted with her a bit.  She had gotten 2 the week before on 2 other trips.  Wow, I guess it’s her day a lot!

Her amazing run was followed by a steady plunk that lasted the rest of the morning.  By the end, the boat had 12.  I didn’t get a bite during that whole time and neither did most of the people on the boat.  We had a couple more hours to fish and Steve wanted to get everyone some fish.  We went outside for a bit, but by now the current was ripping.  I didn’t even bring a 1lb weight for the trip, but I needed it.  I had a 12 and put a 3 oz slider in front of it and was still having a hard time maintaining contact with the bottom.  We made a run around to the backside.  Better conditions, but the clock was running short.

I wasn’t interested in catching just to catch, so I rigged up some of the ling toys I had brought to see if I could knock it off the list.  First I tried a double dropper with the Tako soft bait on top and a real baby octopus (I made a bait run prior to the trip) on the bottom loop.  Scored a nice red, but no ling.  Changed it up to the large tube lure I call the Pickle on a 6oz leadhead and tipped it with an octopus.  Even though we were drifting, I was casting and dragging from the bow.  Fooled a 23 incher to bite.  Yay!  Cross it off the list and I had ling to eat this week.

Another solid trip on the Pacific Islander.  It wasn’t the typical PI rockfish-lingsanity fest, but a good day considering the conditions we encountered.  Thank you to Capt. Steve and the crew of the Pacific Islander.  Tight lines!

Joanna was the star of the day

Joanna was the star of the day

Posted by: socalsalty | June 18, 2013

Recipe: Lingcod With Mango Ginger Sake Sauce

IMG_0086I got home late Monday from fishing on the Pacific Islander and was starving.  I wanted something quick and easy and didn’t want to go to the store.  I had fresh fish, and checked the fridge to see what else I had.  This recipe is what I came up with.  Perfect, because it only takes about 15 minutes to put it together.  I warmed up some rice, steamed some veggies and boom…dinner.  I posted the above pic on Instagram and people seemed to like it, so here’s how you make it.

(Serves 1)

Just add fish

Just add fish


1 filet (I used lingcod, but any white meat fish would be good…rockfish, wsb, halibut, whitefish etc.)

1 tbsp of mango jam (if you can’t find mango, apricot jam or orange marmalade would probably be good too)

1/2 packet of red pepper flakes

1 tsp grated ginger

2 tbsp of sake

Making it

1. Salt and pepper the fish.  Melt a tab of butter in a pan on low heat and add the fish.

2. Brown one side and flip.  On the flip, add the mango jam, and red pepper flakes.  Grate the ginger on top of the fish (a microplaner is really nice to have to do this step).  Add the sake.

3. Let it cook thru while incorporating the ingredients with a spoon.

4. Let the sauce bubble up and reduce a little.  Serve.

That’s it.  Enjoy!


Posted by: socalsalty | June 17, 2013

Trip Report: Biscuits On The Seabiscuit

IMG_6966Although I successfully scored my white seabass on the Aloha Spirit, I found myself still wanting to try and get myself a bigger one.  I had business in Santa Barbara on Wednesday of last week, so I decided to stay up north and fish on Thursday.  Thursday morning, I boarded the Seabiscuit to get after the ghosts again.  This was the boat where I finally succeeded in getting my seabass last year after 6 unsuccessful tries.  My buddy Scott met me at the landing.  Another angler I had recently met, Steve, was there with his buddy James.  The boat departed at 5am for a full day run.

Owner/Skipper Bob Valney was taking the day off, so 2nd Captain Matt Allport was at the wheel for our trip.  Scott was managing things on deck, and Evan was working the grill.  The boat was already tanked with live squid when we boarded.  Matt came out on deck to give the trip briefing and said we’d be starting the day down the beach, so be ready to fish in 30 minutes.

We got out to the spot, and we were in the same general area as we were last Wednesday on the Aloha Spirit.  I brought the same 3 rigs as last week, and started off the day fishing 40 with the high dropper loop.  We anchored up in a spot roughly 80 feet deep.  Matt said he saw a mark when we first got on it, but when it didn’t bite and he didn’t see anymore, he decided to make a move and head to the islands.

Not a wsb, but he'll take it.

Not a wsb, but he’ll take it.

The move took an hour and a half, so I took advantage of the bunks and caught a little shuteye.  I woke up as the boat was slowing down.  We eased into the Smuggler’s Cove area on the southwestern side of Santa Cruz Island.  Unlike last week, there were only a handful of boats working the area.  We anchored up and almost immediately an angler to my right got bit.  I had to laugh.  He was telling us when we boarded that he had put in 9 trips already and was still fruitless in getting a seabass.  Oh well, a nice halibut wasn’t a bad consolation😉

It wasn’t long though before we started hooking into seabass.  We weren’t there 30 minutes and we already had 3 seabass and the hali onboard.  The bite was consistent, and I got bit during this run.  I was fishing on the stern and the fish took me just around the port corner.  I could tell it wasn’t a huge fish, but it had a few strong runs it.  This time I was prepared and my drag was set appropriately low.  After the third run, he was done and came in easily.  Scott stuck it and it hit the deck.  Another schoolie.  It was smaller than last week’s fish, maybe 13 or 14 lbs, but a seabass.  Scott and Steve both got bit as well during this run.  When the spot was fished out, it was just after 9am and we had 9 seabass and the hali.

We made a move and worked our way a bit further west.  We started a drift.  Most were fishing a dropper, but Capt. Matt threw a sliding sinker rig.  His line was well behind the boat when he got bit.  He furiously reeled to catch up to the fish.  His line tightened up when he caught up with it and he handed it off to an angler named Bill.  Bill fought it briefly before it came to color and was gaffed.  Another schoolie.  At that point, all of the wsb were maybe 10-15 lbs.

Capt. Matt's fish

Capt. Matt’s fish

Big flattie!

Big flattie!

We continued to drift along when Evan, the cook, got bit.  He was next to me on the starboard side by the bait tank.  It took him awhile.  The fish took him down to the stern, and up the other side.  The fish was finally brought on deck up on the bow.  When they brought it back to the stern, I saw it.  Wow, it was significantly bigger than the other fish caught…low to mid-30’s was my guess.  Glad it wasn’t in jackpot.  We got a couple more seabass in the spot and were about to move on when an angler fishing the starboard side by the cabin got bit.  I was on the same side and watched as he followed the fish to within a few feet to my left.  I saw it come to color to see it was a large halibut.  Capt. Matt was at his side, stuck the fish and brought it over the rail.  It wasn’t long, but wow was it thick!

As it turns out, that run ended up being the last of it for the day.  We made our way back east and around to the north side of the island.  We stopped and picked for some random fish…rockfish, whitefish.  We made a final run back to Smuggler’s, but nothing happened and we headed for home.  The final count was 12 wsb and 2 halibut for 17 anglers (plus the leopard shark and the other random fish).  The second halibut ended up taking jackpot.  All in all, a very solid day on the water.  Thanks to Capt. Matt and the crew of the Seabiscuit for a good ride.  Tight lines!



Posted by: socalsalty | June 12, 2013

Chasing Ghosts – Part II

Round 2 - Change of venue

Round 2 – Change of venue

As I was licking my fishing wounds on Tuesday after Monday’s unsuccessful trip, I was checking out the schedule again on the CISCO’s site.  Wouldn’t you know it, there were 3 spots open on the Aloha Spirit for Wednesday’s ride.  I wavered.  Usually when I chase a bad trip with another one, the results aren’t good.  On the other hand, just like the on again / off again yellowtail bite at the Coronado Islands this year, I knew that the seabass were bound to go on the chew again.  I’d be kicking myself if they did and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.  I called and got on.

I had a lot of time to think about seabass strategy on Monday’s trip and the wheels kept spinning Tuesday.  When I finally got my seabass last year on the SeabiscuitI had gotten both fish on the dropper loop.  The first of my 2, I was the first down and got bit immediately as we got on the spot.  I decided I’d have the same dropper and sliding sinker rigs, and use the dropper to start on every spot.  If we decided to stay and anchor up, I’d use the sliding sinker to extend my fishing area…not just side to side in front of my spot, but up and down throughout the water column.  I had noticed Corey throwing out a 6x Jr in Scrambled Egg when we were anchored up on Monday’s ride…exploratory casts he could fit in between working.  It inspired me to bring a stiffer pole to throw smaller jigs as a 3rd, changeup rig.

Slight change in crew from Monday’s ride…Shawn was still driving, but Mike who is usually a deckhand on the Excel was filling in for Corey, and Pat was now working the galley.  As we got underway, Shawn said we would be headed down the beach instead of going out to the islands.  It would only be 30 minutes or so before we’d be fishing.  I was already setup, so I ordered a breakfast burrito and waited it out in the galley.

10am Scoreboard

10am Scoreboard

Around 5:30 we dropped anchor on the spot.  Pretty crowded, but Shawn said there was good life below us.  I dropped in on the port/stern corner and almost immediately an angler on the other side got bit.  Bang biscuit!  I was happy to see it…we were already ahead of the game from Monday.  That bite kicked off a steady plunk.  It wasn’t long before I got bit myself, but my drag was set too tight.  The fish started to take me up the rail, and then it was gone.  In the Avet post from Friday, when I said there were times I wished I had a star drag…this was one of those times.  I could immediately tell it was too tight as soon as I got bit, but was too scared to try and adjust it mid-fight.  Lesson learned.  I adjusted it down and went back to work.  I at least had confidence that my presentation was good.  We continued to pick away at it and I got my second chance just before 10.  I was on the starboard side by the bait tank when I got bit and I followed it up to the side of the cabin.  Mike was next to me and checked my drag as I was fighting the fish.  Thumbs up.  The fish got in a good initial run, then came straight in.  Mike stuck it and I was on the board.  I was guessing it was only 16-18 lbs., but I was happy to have one in.  Plenty of day left to try and get a bigger one.

As the day progressed, we’d get 1 or 2 every hour or so, in between lulls of nothing.  I found a comfortable spot on the bow where I could sit while fishing and I chatted with Shawn about today’s ride vs. Monday’s.  He just wasn’t seeing any conditions on Monday that made him want to sit and wait it out.  Wednesday, we pretty much stayed anchored up in the same general area for the whole day.  We were on top of a squid nest, and he’d see marks passing through on a somewhat consistent basis, so we stayed put.

Seabass fishing reminds me a lot of salmon fishing back home in the Northwest.  Long periods of sitting and waiting, punctuated by a flurry of activity when you get a bite.  I remember sitting in a seabass seminar at Fred Hall once.  The captain was saying how the best seabass fisherman is a rodholder…meaning one of the biggest factors is just keeping your line wet and don’t mess with it too much.  His words were ringing in my head as I watched one particular angler.  He was continually changing setups and missing the moments when the fish would come through, and people got bit.  When you are fishing the sliding sinker rig, you need to be more active.  You can’t leave it on the bottom or you end up catching sharks and rays.  You also need to pay attention to where your line is going and it’s relation to the other anglers since there isn’t enough weight to hold it in place.  I fished it when Shawn said he was marking fish higher in the water column.  I fished the jig a little too, but mostly I stuck with the dropper to maximize my time in the water.

We ended up getting 17 wsb and a couple cuda for 22 anglers.  Not quite limits, but a good day of fishing.  I was glad I took advantage of getting on the boat.  I turned around and got on the Speed Twin for a twilight ride, but didn’t get bit.  We were in the same general area, but a little deeper than during the day.  Conditions were rougher.  The wind kicked up significantly and it got cold and bumpy.  Even then, the boat managed to put 2 seabass on the deck.  Long day for me, but I was happy.  Some of the saltiest anglers I know have yet to get a seabass or it’s been awhile.  It also didn’t take me 7 trips like last year to get mine.  Thank you to the captains and crews of the Aloha Spirit and Speed Twin for the opportunity to score this elusive fish.  Limit goes up to 3 on the Sunday the 16th.  Make your plans and book now.  Tight lines!

One of 2 fat wsb on the Speed Twin twilight ride

Angler Joe Stein with one of 2 fat wsb on the Speed Twin twilight ride

Posted by: socalsalty | June 11, 2013

Chasing Ghosts On The Aloha Spirit – Part I

IMG_6893Two Sundays ago, the weekend was winding down with the kids and I was checking out the various landing sites.  Over the previous Memorial Day weekend, I had a fun trip on the Island Tak.  It was the inaugural white seabass trip of the year.  Good friends, decent fishing, but only one seabass for the trip and I wasn’t the one who caught it.  As I was looking through the Channel Islands schedule, I noticed how mysteriously there was now a 1 where it previously said SOLD OUT for Monday on the Aloha Spirit.  Must be a sign.  I immediately called.  Got the spot🙂

When it comes to fishing seabass, Capt. Shawn Steward driving his boat the Aloha Spirit is considered one of the best rides.  For roughly the last month, I’ve re-posted a steady stream of big biscuit pictures to the facebook page from this boat.   It’s no surprise that the boat is currently booked up through the rest of June.  I felt very lucky to get on.  I got my gear together and got to bed.

Corey gives the trip briefing

Corey gives the trip briefing

The next morning I was at the landing by 4am and got on the boat for a 5am departure.  I was happy to find that we already had live squid onboard.  Shawn was at the wheel.  Corey was managing the deck, with Gage assisting, and Glenn was running the galley.  As we got underway, Corey gathered the 22 anglers on deck for the trip briefing.  Corey recommended 2 rigs…the standard waist high dropper loop, with a 6oz weight and a 4/0 or 5/0 hook.  The other rig was a sliding sinker (1/8 to 1/2 oz) to the hook.  He said to use the dropper if Shawn marked fish and we needed to drop down quickly to have a chance at them.  The sliding sinker rig was for when we were at anchor.  We’d be driving about an hour and a half and start fishing near the arch on the east end of Anacapa.  We would be spending the day in no more than 80-90 feet of water.

I brought 3 setups, a 20#, 30# and 40# rig.  I tied the high dropper on my 40 and the sliding sinker on the 30.  For the 20, I tied on a mint waxwing in case we ran into a boil of the smaller yellows that I’d been seeing pictures of.

Someone call a cab?

Someone call a cab?

We got out to the spot and started to look around.  There were a couple boats out there, but not the parking lot that I expected.  We tried one drift, but it was non-productive.  Shawn wasn’t seeing anything and we moved on.  We drove along the south side of Anacapa through the MPA and slowed down as we got along the south end of Santa Cruz.  Ah…here’s the parking lot.  Most of the CISCO’s fleet as well as the other landings and several private boats were in this spot.  The gray light was melting into day as we started a drift.  I used my dropper rig.  The angler to my left hooked up pretty quickly, but it came in fast…smaller sheephead.  Shortly after, I got bit.  Nice pull, but not a seabass.  It was a short cabezon.

We moved again.  Shawn wanted to get out of the crowd.  We continued west and ended up just shy of the western tip of Santa Cruz.  Rosa was in view as we setup another drift.  Shawn came onto the intercom to say he was marking yellows.  Corey recommended going with the sliding sinker rig and I took the advice.  Couple of drifts producing only 1…guessing 12-13 lb. yellow.

Jackpot fish

Jackpot fish

Long story short, that yellowtail ended up being the highlight of the day.  From there we went back to the area by the arch.  Shawn said he saw fish this time, but no biters.  From there, we made a long run to the beach, close to Port Hueneme.  We anchored up, but no signs of life.  We did a little rockfishing to fill sacks, before giving it one more try to end the day.  Other than a barely legal halibut, nothing else to add on the scorecard.  Dang, big no show on seabass.  It was disappointing, but that’s how it goes with this fish.  I appreciated that Shawn tried to make something happen.  We drove all over the place, but it was what it was…that’s seabass fishing.

I was bummed though thinking that this ride may have been my best shot on the elusive ghosts for the year.  It wasn’t a total loss though, if I got another chance, I could take away some learnings from this ride to be even better prepared for the next trip…

Posted by: socalsalty | June 10, 2013

Weekend Update: June 10, 2013

1st tuna of 2013 (photo Richard Q. Marin)

1st tuna of 2013 (photo Richard Q. Marin)

Bluefin Tuna!

Boats on 1.5 and 2 day trips this weekend went offshore looking for tuna.  Last week, news of tuna at around 175 miles south sent them looking.  A lucky few scored the first bluefin tuna of the year.  The official first tuna of the year was taken by Ed Glinecki.  The bluefin tuna weighed 55 lbs., and was taken on the Old Glory out of H&M Landing.

Most of the boats at that range had limits or close to on yellowtail.  The fish were mostly your typical kelp paddy yellows…maybe 8-15 lbs, but you have to be excited about the numbers.

White Seabass Up North

Photo courtesy of Pacific Islander Sportfishing

Photo courtesy of Pacific Islander Sportfishing

Going into the weekend, the white seabass were the headline fish of the week.  The fishing was very good most of the week, culminating in a Friday bite where just about every boat in the northern fleet got their limit.  I got my first of the year on Wednesday, aboardfortune  the Aloha Spirit.

Unfortunately for the weekend anglers, the bite mostly shut down for the weekend.  I’m certain these fish are still around and those skippers up there will find them again.  The question is what day.  All you can do is go up and give yourself the opportunity.  It was nice to see that both the Mirage and Pacific Islander got a seabass on their outer island trips.  That’s a really good sign that things are starting to change over from the standard excellent bottomfishing we’re used to out there.

Island Exotics

Catalina turned back on this week.  Earlier last week, several boats got nice hits on yellowtail.  Over the weekend, the seabass bite picked.  The Freedom got 14 for 20 anglers on Saturday.  The Fortune got 1 yellowtail and 8 seabass for 19 anglers on Sunday at the island.  Tony Najafi had a big weekend aboard the Mardiosa catching his first white seabass in about 50 feet of water on a 1/4 oz sliding sinker rig.  He topped off the trip with a halibut for good measure.  Nice job Tony!

Tony with his 1st ever WSB (photo Lindsay Mancini)

Tony with his 1st ever WSB (photo Lindsay Mancini)

Definitely opportunities to land exotics all up and down our Southern California coast.  Locally, the bass and barracuda fishing is turning on.  Get your gear together and make plans to get out there.  The season is definitely on.  Tight lines!

Posted by: socalsalty | June 7, 2013

Avet Reels Factory Tour

IMG_6841Last week after my Thursday cuda trip on the Enterprise, with the issues that I had in terms of gear, I wanted to resolve those issues in order to be fully prepared for this week’s seabass hunt.  Specifically, I needed to replace the clamp screws (one of which I had lost) for my trusty old MXL, it needed normal maintenance, and I had been wanting to update the handle to the newer style which I find much more comfortable.  My buddy Adrian lives close to the Avet factory and told me I should just drop in and they’d handle it for me.  I took his advice.

The Avet factory is located in Chatsworth and you can find all their information at the Avet Reels website.  Since I was going to drive up, I asked if I could meet their marketing manager, Scott Throop, and get a tour while my service was getting done.  Scott was very gracious and took the time to show me around and tell me the Avet story.

Avet Reels was founded by brothers Harry and Sarkis Alajayjyan.  They introduced their reels in March of 2002 at the Fred Hall Show.  The story really started 25 years back though.  Harry is a pilot and was an engineer in the aerospace industry that used to be such a big part of the SoCal industrial scene.  Harry’s company manufactured parts to spec for the big aerospace companies (like McDonnell Douglas).  Harry also has a passion for fishing though and he found a creative outlet in designing and engineering his reels.  The reels were an immediate success at the show and they haven’t looked back since.

Jeff shows me a reel frame and the billet of aluminum it came from

Scott shows me a reel frame and the billet of aluminum it came from

Scott used to have his own rod company and his booth happened to be next to Avet’s at that 2002 Fred Hall Show.  Scott’s background is as a machinist and he and Harry immediately hit it off talking shop.  Scott liked building rods matching the guide wraps to the different colored Pac Bay reel seats.  Avet was the only reel manufacturer that made reels in matching colors and he found himself selling his rods with Avets as a combo.  The product collaboration led to him eventually joining Avet.

Scott took me out on the factory floor and showed me how the reels are made.  The process starts with raw rods of 6061 aircraft grade aluminum of varying diameters depending on the size of reel it’s going to be made into.  It’s a 6 step process from the raw rods of aluminum to a finished frame that is then ready for anodizing (color).  First the rods are cut into billets or “slugs” that are roughly the size of the frame.  The billet is then shaped on the outside and cored, openings are routered, screw taps are made etc.  Flat pieces are made in a similar process from bars of the raw material.  Each step is done in various high tech CNC machines allowing Avet to manufacture each piece to an exacting standard. The quality comes out in the final product being very durable and requiring little maintenance (as I can attest to firsthand).

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All but a very few pieces (small things like some springs and screws) are manufactured inhouse to produce 742 different reels (models, and then the different colors for each model).  The only outsourced process is the anodizing  where color is applied.  Unfortunately, when product comes back from anodizing, the color sometimes comes out inconsistent.  Rather than throw these pieces out, Scott had the bright idea of using them to make the 2 tone “blem” models you see at a discounted rate.  Scott hates the term blemish.  These reels are exactly the same, the color just didn’t come back an exact match.  “Contrast is better than an almost match” he says.  Final assembly is then done by hand at Avet.

Avet chief Harry Alajayjyan

Avet chief Harry Alajayjyan

While we were out on the floor, we ran into Harry.  Scott introduced us and Harry was kind enough to give me some time.  I was curious to ask him about the new SXJ reel that was introduced at this year’s FHS.  Why that reel?  “The SX is overkill for 90% of the local fishing we do.  A smaller diameter spool also has less drag which makes for longer casting and is better for fin bait when in free spool.  It’s also opened up a new market for us with the salmon fishermen in the Northwest.”  What’s coming up for Avet?  “We’re excited about what’s happened with the SXJ in the Northwest, so we are introducing a levelwind which is something that our Northwest dealers are telling us the market up there is very excited about.”  I am too.  My daughter would love a pink Avet levelwind.  Would you ever do a star drag?  “Actually, after we do the levelwind, a star drag is next up.  You’re actually the first ‘press’ we’ve told about it.”  That’s exciting (the reel, not my ‘scoop’).  I’ve found myself in situations where I wanted to adjust the drag in the middle of a fight, but was scared to even try.  An Avet star drag would be just the ticket.

By now my service was done.  Scott told me as we were walking back to his office that the SXJ has been tremendously well received.  It’s actually their best selling reel now.  I picked up my finished MXL.  Ah, much better.  Smooth and the new handle felt good.  It’s already battle tested and it works great.  Thank you Scott, Harry and Team Avet.  I’ve always felt that Avets were great reels and a tremendous value.  Seeing what they do and everything that goes into the final product, that feeling is even stronger.  Keep up the great work.  Tight lines!

The Alajayjyan family...product-testing ;-)

The Alajayjyan family…product-testing😉

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