Posted by: socalsalty | March 6, 2012

Trip Report: LING-sanity on the Pacific Islander

Capt. Steve gives a trip briefing Friday night

First overnight trip of 2012!…I have been anticipating this trip for a couple months now.  Not that I don’t enjoy our local bass/sculpin trips in Santa Monica Bay, or the halibut targeted trips down at Dana Point that I’ve added to my winter regimen.  There had already been some memorable trips this year like the whale trip on the New Del Mar and the Bass Bonanza on the Clemente.  It’s just that with the opening of rockfish season, it seemed appropriate to take it up a notch, and an overnight to the islands with Channel Islands Sportfishing fit the bill.

On this particular trip, I was taking up a group of anglers that consisted of a lot of our regular crew out Marina Del Rey, “Jackpot” Jimmy Bass of Tradition Sportfishing and SoCal Freshy…aka Chris Stell.  Chris had taken me on a nocturnal golf pond safari for largemouth bass last month, and this was his opportunity to get a little salty.  At the landing, we met Scott, another MDR regular who had just gotten off the Mirage and was going back-to-back, so we were 11 strong among the 29 total anglers on the boat.

Earlier in the week, I was getting reports that we would be in for a bumpy ride.  Aside from what that would mean in terms of comfort and sleep, it would also hinder our return to “Jurassic Park” aka San Miguel island which is known for being the ling cod capital of Southern California.  As it turned out, conditions got progressively better as the week went on and Capt. Steve confirmed in his trip briefing that we would be making the long run (@ 7 hours) to San Miguel.

Dawn over a calm sea

I woke up the next morning to the smell of Amie cooking bacon in the galley upstairs.  I walked out and was greeted by a beautiful dawn glow over calm seas.  Today was going to be a good day 🙂  Capt. Steve came on the intercom to say that we’d be starting out the day in about 140 feet of water, doing a drift over some rocks fairly close to the shore of the island.  I had rigged up the night before, so I was quick to setup for the first drop, opting to use my 30# setup with standard double dropper loops.  I put a shrimp fly on top with a strip of squid and a 2/0 bait hook on the bottom to use with the live sardines.  Nothing quality on the first stop.  Smaller rockfish was all I saw, including a chuckie and a gopher on my end.

Deckhand Chris helps out the "early ling limit guy"

We moved out to some deeper water, 200+ feet.  Tried a few drifts and a few quality fish started coming aboard.  My buddy Jeff got a nice ling.  I got my first short ling of the day, which is always exciting to see.  Unfortunately, short lings seemed to be the order of the day.  Other than an older gentleman on the port/stern corner who managed his ling limit early, everyone was talking about short lings. I think I ended up with 6 and some people I talked to were into double digits.  Being that we were out at Jurassic Park, it was disappointing.  We were pulling in quality rockfish though, some reds, but mostly a lot of big chucklehead, with some smaller gophers and treefish mixed in.

Around noon, the boat was close to limiting out on rockfish.  We moved into less than a 100 feet of water to hopefully get some whitefish or sheephead.  We did get a nice pick on the whitefish.  Only one sheephead that I saw.  But things started to turn on the ling.  I got one that was very close to legal, but just short.  Kept at it though and was rewarded with my first.

The lone sheephead

Capt. Steve decided to make another short move and in about 70 feet of water, on the last stop of the day, things changed dramatically.  All I can say…LING-sanity 🙂  Multiple rods going bendo at once.  Shouts of “Gaff!” echoing across the deck.  Progressively bigger lingcod hitting the deck.  It was truly epic!  When it was all said and done, 35 for the boat and big smiles all around.  I believe the landing total for lings on Saturday was around 60 or 70, so our one boat got half or more of it.  My buddy LeRoy took jackpot with one that tipped the scale at around 11 lbs.  Thanks to Capt. Steve and 2nd captain Dan; deckhands Bryan and Chris, and Amie in the galley for another great trip.  I highly recommend you get out and take part.  Check Channel Island Sportfishing’s schedule here, and book your trip today.  Tight lines!

A couple big chuckies

Ryo & LeRoy with their lings (Jimmy Bass photo)

Jeff with a chuck & a whitefish. Adrian is hiding behind him with a chuck & a ling.

LeRoy's ling at the gaff

LING-sanity! (photo Pacific Islander)



  1. Seems like a super fun trip. Thanks for the chuckie, Joe! Grilled it for dinner last night. It was DELICIOUS!!

    • You’re welcome Claire. We need to get you salty so you can catch some for yourself! 🙂

  2. Great blog post, Joe! Good you all had a great time :-))

    • Thank you. You’ve got a really great crew and boat going. I really enjoy fishing up there with you all!

  3. Wow, I wish I lived near you…I love fish and it’s so expensive here. Love your story!! I bet Jacob and Juju love eating your catch. Love and miss you,

    Your only beautiful Auntie

    • Thanks for stopping by Auntie Phebe. I need to meet my nephew, so maybe I’ll get out there later this year. Of course I’ll try to fish 😉

  4. Stellar job Joe!

    • Thanks Chris. It was great having you out with us.

  5. Great read Joe, as always.

    Looking forward to our next adventure! i sure hope its before our June charter!

    • I want to try and setup something in April. Let me know what you’re looking at and let’s rally the troops.

  6. Nice report Joe! Please keep me in the loop for next potential trips, I had a blast fishing with you guys!

    • It was great to have you Jimmy. Definitely looking to do more trips this year.

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