Posted by: socalsalty | July 6, 2012

Trip Report: Biscuits and Buts

The Coral Sea

As much as I love the Pacific Islander, the role that it serves in the Channel Islands Sportfishing fleet is “Outer Island Freelance” meaning it’s going to hit Santa Rosa, San Miguel (maybe San Nic?).  This isn’t a bad thing, but if the bite is along the coast or one of the closer islands…  Well the coastal bite of a few weeks ago, has migrated out to the islands and Santa Cruz has been the hotspot.  Early Tuesday morning, I headed north to catch a ride on the Coral Sea.

The Coral Sea is a smaller boat (58ft long) but it’s very clean and comfortable.  It fishes everything from Full Day to 2 Day trips, so it has bunks!  Having to get there for a Full Day 4am ride, the bunks were very much appreciated.  When I boarded the boat, I was greeted by Ricky (from Jake’s Overnight).  Ricky’s dad and myself were among 18 anglers aboard to chase white seabass.  We were already tanked up with live squid.  Capt. Alex Edwards told us that we’d be fishing the front side of Santa Cruz island.  Manny was the lead deckhand, and Chris rounded out the crew in the galley.  Preferred rig was going to be the standard high dropper loop setup…bigger hooks (3/0 to 5/0) and 6 to 8 oz of lead.  The ride was going to take a couple hours so I prepared my 30lb rig and sacked out.

First biscuit onboard

Around 6am we were in the spot.  Capt. Alex and crew were on the lookout for bird activity on schools of squid.  Once we were on the schools, Alex would look for seabass marks on the finder.  We quickly located a school with marks and setup our first drift.  Shortly thereafter, the first white seabass of the day hit the deck.  Not a big one…maybe 15 lbs…but it was exciting to see one boated right out of the gate.  Hopes were high for the day!

After a couple bat ray false alarms, Gus got bit off the stern.  I was on the opposite side of the boat, about halfway up the rail on the starboard side.  I made my way toward the bow, and was able to capture this video from my vantage point.

Barn door comes to mind

Nice fish Gus!  Nicer grade of fish.  It was probably double the weight of the first one.  We continued on in this way…finding the school, setting up a drift, and picking off 1 or 2 fish.  One of those fish was a very large halibut that ended up tipping the scale at 40lbs, 2 oz and taking jackpot.  The angler who caught it was up from San Diego with his twin brother.  He was very glad he made the drive up 🙂

Then around 10am, I got whacked hard.  Line started stripping out.  It felt like the right kind of bite…seabass.  Shortly after I got bit, another angler went bendo, then another.  Chaos ensued.  I had mine on for maybe 5-6 minutes, then POP.  Dammit!  My line had gotten sawed off in the mayhem.  I think we boated maybe 6 or 7 seabass in what ended up being the big bite of the day.

We picked off a couple more before the end of the day, but that bite ended up being the only one I got 😦  The boat did well though, we ended up with 13 white seabass, 2 halibut and a few barracuda to round out the count.  The biggest wsb was just over 37lbs.

For me, lesson learned…my 30 lb rig had a long topshot of mono extending from the braid, leftover from fishing live sardines on my day and half trip offshore.  I could’ve easily cut off the mono, tied on a swivel, and tied the dropper loop setup from there.  When you are fishing for tuna with live sardines, I like to have a longer mono topshot for the float characteristics and for casting.  Since we were drifting off the bottom for this trip, no need to have that much mono exposure and run the greater risk of getting sawed off.  Time on the water.  Lesson learned.  It’s good up there.  I’m going to have to get back soon.  Tight lines!

40.2 without his hand 😉

A few cudas rounded out the mix

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