Posted by: socalsalty | January 3, 2012

Trip Report: Return To Jurassic Park

Dawn breaks over San Miguel

After enjoying a great Christmas weekend with the kids, I dropped them off Sunday night and headed up to Oxnard.  I was going up to connect with my buddy LeRoy and ride the Pacific Islander for the last overnighter of 2011.  The Pacific Islander has a new skipper, Capt. Steve Virtue, and the landing has been talking him up to me.  I was curious and also wanting to get in a freezer stocking trip before the rockfish closure (Jan 1)…getting the Monday off after Christmas sealed the deal.

I met up with LeRoy around 9, and we were able to board the boat right away and stow our gear.  Once the rest of the anglers were loaded on, we headed out.  Capt. Steve gave a safety briefing and told us that conditions willing, we’d be headed out to San Miguel.  San Miguel is the westernmost island in the Channel Islands chain.  I’d been out one time before back in September, and scored my only legal ling of the year there.  Looking at the counts prior to coming, I was definitely going to be in the right spot and I was hopeful I could score another ling to end the year.

LeRoy and his fat reds

Around 7:30 the next morning, we were in the right area and started looking to drop lines.   The weather had cooperated and we were indeed at San Miguel.  We had live squid and squid strips for bait.  Everyone was fishing standard 2 dropper loop setups with 8-10 oz of lead.

Capt. Steve setup the first drift of the day in 140 ft. of water.  There was an odd current and lots of wind.  I knew we weren’t going to setup like Capt. Steve wanted to.  I was right.  We didn’t last long in the spot before he wanted to reset, but I managed to hook into a decent gopher rockfish before he told us to bring up lines.  We reset and this time we dropped anchor.  We stuck around for awhile and quickly I started to see some nice lings and quality rockfish come over the rail.  One ling was pretty long and fat and took the early jackpot lead.  I watched LeRoy nail a couple nice reds in the 5lb range.  I hooked into 2 short lings and several nice rockfish in this spot and was feeling good about the direction of the day.  The highlight of the morning for me was hooking into a big whitefish.  I was fishing on the port side, by the bait tank when I got hit hard on the fall.  I started to reel in, but this fish had other ideas.  It started to strip out line and I was thinking it was either a nice ling or maybe a white seabass.  I was surprised to see it was a whitefish.  Sometimes called a poorman’s yellowtail, I was impressed.  It was also nice to put a fish in the sack that wasn’t going to count against my 10 rockfish limit.

Ling limit to end the year

The morning continued…making short moves, but generally staying in the same area.  As we got past noon, because we were so far out, the pressure was on to fill sacks.  The wind was still kicking up and Capt. Steve decided to make a run about a mile south to a more leeward spot.  Amazing what a 1 mile move can do.  Instead of whitecaps, all of a sudden we were in a calm sunny spot.  That move was definitely the ticket.  I was fishing off the stern and quickly got into 2 more short lings, but these were getting closer to legal size.  LeRoy came back to get bait and said to come up to the bow as he had just picked up his first ling and a nice whitefish.  No thanks.  I was rewarded for staying by scoring not one, but 2 legal lings.

I noticed that some of the anglers next to me on the stern had opted to switch up to single hook setups with a 2-3 oz egg sinker in front of the hook and a whole live squid.  They started to nail big sheephead.  One in particular looked like it could challenge the big ling and sure enough ended up taking it.  Around 2, Capt. Steve called last drift.  We did it and then began the long drive home.  Picture time…lots of big reds and other quality rockfish, lots of ling, some whitefish and the big goats.  Here’s the final count (12/26).

I enjoyed fishing with Capt. Steve and will ride again in 2012.  He does a shallow water focused trip which sounds like a very interesting option during the rockfish closure.  I’m looking forward to checking it out.  Tight lines!

Bryan with the jackpot goat



  1. was waiting for this report. Cant wait until march. lets set up a trip on the opener!

    • That’s a great idea! Let me check with the landing.

  2. i just saw that the Mirage out of CISCO has a overnight 3/3 fishing sunday. I think we should go on that boat. let me know if you can make it

    • Could work, but would rather hit the PI Saturday night. Does that work?

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