Posted by: socalsalty | January 10, 2011

Gear Report: The Sculpin Slaying Rig

Salty Family aboard the New Del Mar

Managed to get on the Sunday morning half day (Church of Saltiness) on the New Delmar.  Salty had the crew out, and it was the first opportunity to try out the new (for us) Calstar pole I picked up last week in San Diego. I paired it with my Trinidad 12 that is spooled with 30# green Power Pro and a top shot of 15# Silver Thread. As I’ve been mentioning the last several weeks, we are well into the winter fishing season of So Cal and the target fish are sculpin, with the occasional bass.  I had been looking at the trip reports last week from LA to San Diego and this is the deal on whichever part of the So Cal coast you may access on a local boat…unless you go to San Diego, where 3/4 day and longer boats get into Northern Baja and the rockfish/ling cod tango is still on.  Then of course you can go longer for more of the same or go real long to go after tuna, yellowtail and other ‘exotics’.  Big tuna is ON right now.  A “diminutive” woman angler took a 315# yellowfin on a 12 day boat last week!

At the first stop, I hooked a baby starry (he was sent back and didn’t get taken by a gull or pelican that I saw, so he may have made it), and one of the other saltys called it an ‘exotic’ which cracked a smile with the guys on the rail.  Maybe sounds boring, but the sculpin fishing was good!  They were much bigger than the ones I’ve been seeing lately, which was exciting. There were also a couple of 7 or 8 lb blue cabezons caught today…easy jackpot winners had they been legal (because ling are offseason, their close cousin the cabezon gets a pass because someone unscrupulous might try to take a ling and pass off the filets as cabezon.  why don’t they just say both are off?  loco). Anyway…

Jake was using the new rig. It’s a good size for him since the pole is only 6 ft.   I tried it a little myself, and I liked the action of it…very parabolic, but plenty of confidence in using it. It’s a fun pole for this kind of fishing.  My primary rig today was my  light Seeker/Torium combo.

The conditions were great…light current, small swells, sunny and not too cold.  First stop was in 80 to 100 ft of water, straight out from LAX. Went lighter to start, but found the right

The Sculpin Slayer stops to pose with Salty

setup to be a 6-8 oz. weight on bottom, 2 drop shots about 12 inches each above the weight. Tried plain hooks (2/0 or 4/0), white leadheads, and my trusty B52…all to great effect. Saw another guy using a butterfly jig hanging with what looked like 4 whole squids on 2 assist hooks and he was killing them too. Like I’ve said before, sculpin are pretty indiscriminate. Find them and you will catch them.

First hookup of the day was next to Jake and I on the starboard/stern corner and it was the biggest sculpin I’ve ever seen, maybe a 2 pounder and 16 inches or so long. It was in the

conversation all day for the jackpot, but the eventual winner was even bigger! At this first stop, in the hands of Jake, the new setup was The Sculpin Slayer. He limited out with big sculpin in the first stop and started filling the bag with more on my behalf.  I on the other hand got one keeper, plagued with shorties or drops.  Jake told me later that despite what the captain was saying (work the bottom), he was pulling it up a couple cranks.  Other than me, pretty much everyone wetting a line got a sculpin limit at the first stop.

With about an hour and a half left, we went shallow (60 feet?), just off Dockweiler (gotta try this spot on a kayak) and targeted sand bass.  On the switch, I cutoff the sinker choosing to go with a half oz egg slider, behind a 2/0 hook.  I kept the upper drop loop as is with either my B52 and squid, or a small darter leadhead and a black/silver Bass Assasin.  I hooked a live sardine on the bottom hook and let him pull around the line.  It was here that my 2011 Salty card got punched.  On first drop, I took the only sandy of the day!  He hit the sardine.  He measured later at 2 lbs, 6 oz.   Not enough to get into the January bass bingo (3lb 7oz posted atop the leaderboard), but it’s always good to get a bass.  Got a few larger sculpin here also to round out the bag.  Makes sense scoring the bigger sculpies, based on what Jake told me about how he was fishing them.  Jake is the Sculpin Slayer after all 😉

All in all, a nice day on the water.  Always fun to break in new gear successfully too, especially when it’s Jake doing the big damage.

(Photo credits – Thanks Johanna!)

Salty with Sandy and Victor

Eric and Victor: filet masters at work

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