I was challenged last year completing the Top 10. I got out 100+ times and it still wasn’t easy. I know plenty of really good fishermen (and women) who didn’t catch all 10 species, so it’s a great goal for any Southern Californian angler. Heck, I almost gave up on getting a white seabass last year.
I ended up completing the list in September, but it took me until the last trip of the year to feel really good about the accomplishment. Why you might ask? It was because the sheephead that I had gotten at that point was a barely legal, mostly pink specimen. My good friend and fishing mentor, John Anjard, gave me grief about that fish all year. When I finally got a legit one to end the year, it felt REALLY good.
That chase fueled the latter part of the season for me. Isn’t that the essence of fishing? That chase is the the juice of every fishing trip.
Completing the Top 10 again in 2013 is the goal. Extra Salty might refer to the size of the fish, or catching it in a certain style, but being Extra Salty on any single fish would make any of us happy and make any trip a success. Getting all of them Extra Salty would likely take an act of God in one year’s time. It could end up being a chase for the rest of my time on the water.
10) Sculpin – 4 lb+
The one that Juj caught on the Speed Twin might’ve been close. It was the biggest sculpin that any of us had ever seen. I don’t think we have sculpin that big in Santa Monica Bay. I think it will have to get caught up in the Channel Islands on a day trip.
9) Rockfish – 6 lb+
I think Jake’s big red from his first overnight trip was a 6 lber. We saw an 8 lb specimen on a New Del Mar trip in October. It’s going to take a big red or a chuckie (maybe a big bocaccio) to do it.
8) Sheephead – 18 lbs+
My goat to end the year was a respectable 13 lbs. For me, getting one that had the white beard, red eye, dark black and red bands was the big goal last year, but I saw plenty of bigger ones come over the rail. I want to get one of those.
7) Barracuda – 4 ft. Stovepipe cuda on the jig
We caught a lot of cuda last year on dropper loops by accident…especially up in the Channel Islands when we were chasing white seabass. Doesn’t count. Catching a big one, topwater with the surface iron where it practically swallows the entire jig would be cool. Still kind of a bycatch…saw it happen when we were fishing YT in the Coronados last year, but it would be fun.
6) Saltwater Bass – 5 lbs+ calico, on swimbait or iron, in the Point Loma kelp
I haven’t gotten any 5lb+ bass yet, but I’ve seen plenty of them. Still awesome to see a big grumpy that big, but to do it in the most unforgiving environment I know of, deep in the canopy off Point Loma…that’s really doing something. I remember one time on the Daily Double watching two masters, my friends John Anjard and Joe Oyama duel it out. Awe inspiring. I’d like to catch some SWBA action this year just to watch the top guys do it. I’m sure it would be as satisfying in certain spots out at Clemente or Catalina too. Cheating if you run down to Cedros and do it (fun though ;-))
5) Ling Cod – 20 lbs+ or Hitchhiker
I’ve actually come close a few times…you’re rockfishing and you’re reeling up. All of a sudden you get REALLY HEAVY. It’s a hitcher. I’ve seen it maybe a half dozen times. On YouTube you can find examples like this one in Alaska. It’s pretty damn cool. Has to be SoCal though.
4) California Halibut – 40 lbs+
I caught 2 last year around 30 lbs. I saw one close to 60 lbs. Note that I say a California halibut because I may go to Alaska or home to the Northwest at some point and catch a nice Pacific Halibut which get to be hundreds of pounds, but I want to catch a big local hali. OK, I admit it, I just want to be Peggy Stein 😉
3) White Seabass – A slob
File this one in I’ll know it when I see it. One attribute would be it’s touching the deck as I strain to lift it up for a picture. Brandon Hayward…counting on you brother.
2) Tuna – 50 lbs+ at 2 days or less range
Saw John catch a 40+ bluefin (and bounce it) on an overnight on the Dolphin III last year. That was pretty impressive. Heard of 100 lb-ers last year at 3 day range. Getting that big of a fish in about 100 mile range from SD is a good goal.
1) Yellowtail – 30 lbs+ on surface iron
I caught one short of 20 lbs on a halfie last year. That was a good accomplishment. A big one on the surface, watching the strike, using the long rod…that is SoCal fishing. Again…cheating if you go to Cedros and do it. It’d probably have to happen in either La Jolla or the Coronados. It’s not going to be your offshore kelp paddies.