Posted by: socalsalty | November 2, 2011

Trip Report: Deep Drift Rockfishing on the Mission Belle

Loading up bait

Heading into the weekend I was invited to go up to Oxnard and fish the Pacific Islander overnight trip out of Channel Island Sportfishing on Friday night, and lobster hooping in San Diego on Saturday night with One Cool Tuna on the Pride out of Seaforth.  Both great options, but after a long work week I was actually kind of burnt out and just wanted to settle in and watch college football on Saturday.  After a relaxing (and winning) day of football though, I was ready to get back on the water.

My original plan was to stay close to home and fish out of Marina del Rey.  Unless you are going offshore from San Diego, pretty much anywhere you go now is going to be a rockfish trip.  Fall usually means great rockfishing.  After the summer months where our focus was toward the top or middle of the water column, the rockfish have been fattening up down low.  While I was watching football, my buddy John called.  “Hey Joe, the Double is out of the water (maintenance) so I’m going to fish 3/4 tomorrow.  The Belle is going deep and they’re catching some big rockcod.”   Hmmmm.  “Boat leaves at 6 if you want to go.”

Karen doing Fishing 101

I met John at 5:30am in front of the landing.  He brought his friends June and Aaron with him.  One nice thing about rockfishing is you don’t have to bring a ton of gear.  I only brought 2 poles…a 30# and a 40# setup.  Both have lots of spectra on them so going deep (300-400 ft.) was not going to be an issue.

We lined up to sign the manifest with Karen and boarded the boat.  Captain Steve was at the helm, and Carl was managing things in the galley.  We motored out by the Coronado Islands and stayed nearby all day.  Live sardines and dead squid were what we had for bait.  First drift of the day was in about 340 ft. of water.  I started out with the 40# setup using 12 oz. of lead.  I tied 3 short dropper loops (max is 4 in Mexican water).  On the top 2 loops I was using shrimp flies, tipped with a strip of squid.  The bottom loop I had a 3/0 circle hook with a glow bead in front of the hook.  For the bottom loop I pinned a squid strip and a live sardine.  Since we were going so deep, I like to put both.  Sometimes the ‘dine works itself off on the drop, so it’s good to know the strip is still there instead of a bare hook.  My line was getting far out from me and I wasn’t sure if I was at a proper depth.  I fished out the spot without getting bit and changed up to a 1 lb. weight for the next drift.  John picked up a nice bank perch on that drift, but not much else on the boat.

Aaron and his double red snapper combo

Going heavier on the weight was all I needed to do and I stayed with that setup for most of the day.  On the second drift, Aaron got bent big time.  I was fishing next to him and I hooked up as he was reeling in his catch.  He nailed 2 big reds.  Mine ended up being a big red too.  Several quality rockfish on that one.  Our 3 were all in the 5 lb. plus category.

There was a steady pull of fish for most of the rest of the day, but that drift was the best of the trip.  More bocaccio than reds and other than John’s bankie, not a lot of those (reds and bankies are my favorite rockfish).  Lots of smaller starries and barberpoles added to the mix.  Two lings were also brought in.  One was the biggest fish on the boat (but they don’t do jackpot anymore?).  I think everyone was at or near a limit.  I had more than a limit in my sack when we poured it out on the cutting board.

Overall, it was a beautiful day on the water.  Fishing with friends, and lots of ocean wildlife to see on a sunny day.  We saw 2 whales.  Capt. Steve thought they were humpbacks.  We didn’t get close enough to confirm, but we saw them spout.  Best though was the armada of dolphins that escorted us back on a good section of the ride home.  Capt. Steve was kind enough to slow down to allow me to try to get some underwater footage.  Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out.  I did get this above water view though which was pretty good.  Thank you to the crew of the Mission Belle for another great day on the water.  Tight lines!

Catching Nemo

Not ling for this world...

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