Posted by: socalsalty | August 15, 2011

Trip Report: Sunday On The Spitfire

MDR's 3/4 boat, the Spitfire

Reports of wide open tuna bites distracted me all week at work.  The latter part of the week was spent trying to arrange a ride to get in on the action.  Every single overnight or longer boat out of San Diego was booked.  Even the 3/4 day boats were full.  Then I went through an exercise in my mind of second options…where could I maybe get a halibut or ling or yellowtail and knock one off the Top 10?  At the end of the day, I stayed local and went with an old friend, the Spitfire.

I’d have to say that “the Spit” was my favorite boat last year.  I got my first jackpot on the Spitfire and you know what they say, you never forget your first 😉  I tried to go another time this year, but they had an issue with their bait tank and I ended up on the New Del Mar.  I guess given the visitation schedule with the kids, we stay here and go half day when I have them, and then I head elsewhere the weeks I don’t.  Anyway, it was nice to be back.  Jeremy was off, so Capt. John was driving, deckhand John managed duties on deck, and Mike rounded out the crew in the galley.

We headed south, and I was up in the wheelhouse with Capt. John, deckhand John, and LeRoy.  The Spitfire just got a new fishfinder and Capt. John was showing us the finer points of using it.  We ended up going further and further, but the new fishfinder wasn’t showing us the love.  We briefly stopped to take a look at a spot off Hermosa, but Capt. John was seeing only bait, so we kept moving…all the way to Rocky Point.  We had live squid and sardines on the boat, and when we first got into the kelp, anglers picked away at some nice calicos.  Preferred rigging was a 1/2 oz or smaller slider, and a 2/0 bait hook pinned

Mike scores a nice calico

with a live squid. Cast the squid out, let the current take it into the kelp, and keep it in free spool until you got bit…just like I described with anchovies in Calico 101.  We picked away at the bass, but when the current shut off …so did the bite.  Anglers fishing squid strips could get all the blue perch and spanish mackerel they wanted.

Because it took so long to drive down, we pointed back north and started our way up the beach.  We settled in off “The Pipe” and stayed in that general area the rest of the day.  Here, we were a little deeper and given the live bait, the preferred rigging was a reverse dropper loop setup.  Target fish was sand bass, but I managed to score an ‘exotic’ and pick up another calico here.  The quality of the bass coming over the rail was nice, but not too many of them.  Other anglers (including myself briefly) threw a jig to see if there were any cuda in the area, but the few landed (I think) came on either dropper loops or flylined ‘dines.  Meanwhile, rent rods with a conventional dropper loop setup were catching sheephead and a small halibut to take lead in jackpot.  At this late point in the game, I decided good things typically happen when soaking a live squid, so I went up to the bow with a newly tied dropper loop setup and started working a fan in front of me.  On my second cast, as I slowly raked it in along the bottom, I got bent pretty good.  White seabass?  Halibut?  I worked the reel and when I saw the head of the fish, I got really excited…Ling!  Finally!  Tick it off the Top 10!  John!  Gaff!  Nice cabezon Joe!  Crap, not a ling, but it’s cousin the cabezon.

The cabbie edged the small halibut, the sheepheads, and the few cudas.  I’ll take the win.  Ended up a with a few calicos and the cab, so I have fresh fish to last the week.  A good day on the water with MDR Sportfishing and the Spitfire.  Tight lines!

Blue cabezon #FTW

Better eating than he looks



  1. A nice legal cabezon is a little more rare of a catch than a legal lingcod. Nice job on the jp

    • Thanks Jason. I know, in the grand scheme it’s a good fish. I’ll be very happy eating it. It’s just me and my obsession with the Top 10. How are things on the DD? Calico still on the chew?

  2. Nice cabbie Joe! I got a 5-1/2 pounder last year. Actually I think I’ve caught more legal cabezon than legal lingcod, but that may change soon as DFG dropped the minimum size limit on lings to 22 inches and opened lingcod March through December.

    • Hey Jimmy, if I get into Nov and I don’t have a ling yet for this year, then I’ll get worried, but I’m good. I need a halibut though real bad. What’s it look like in Redondo to get one?

      • The few we’ve been getting are just off the rockpiles we fish for bass, using a leadhead and squid on the bottom.

  3. That’s usually the preferred way to fish for sandies on the twilight ride on the NDM. It’s just lately that the dropper loops started killing it. It pays to know the crew, so they can tip you to what’s working today, vs. what might’ve worked for you some other time or in another spot…saves time figuring it out and maximizes your time on the water.

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