Three day weekend, so I got in a good fix…
Saturday: Island Tak
Now that I’ve managed to make a good hit on the yellowtail, I’ve turned my attention toward knocking down some of the other fish on my Top 10 list for the year. Don’t get me wrong, any trip where I take home a yellow is a win. If you have the time, I’ll tell you why I made it #1. One of my fishing buddies was asking me the other day why I created the list. I told him one reason is it’s just something to strive for and measure my personal performance against. Another reason, is that I think a lot of us tend to find a type of fishing that we like, have success at and stick with it. The fish on the list represent a lot of different styles. The best place and ways to catch each varies. The reason I like best is that the list encourages you to venture to other landings and utilize different styles of fishing. If you can become proficient at catching each (and I’m far from it at this point), then you have truly become a complete Southern California angler (salty at least).
Some boats have started to venture offshore in search of tuna (#2 on the list), but it’s still early in the year for them (unless you go long range). Of the fish left (tuna, wsb, lingcod, and that damn sheephead), white seabass is going to be the hardest to cross off, so I tried to get in on the bite going on up north in the Channel Islands. In the week leading up to the trip, several boats had scored, with some limiting out. Supposedly, the bite is best just before and just after the full moon. The full moon was either Friday or Saturday night, so I didn’t know if that was going to hurt us. We’d find out soon enough.
Friday night, I met up with fishing friends Adrian, Deborah and Cruz and boarded the Island Tak out of Channel Islands Sportfishing. It’s a smaller boat (15 max load), but it seems like these smaller boats are the ticket on seabass. Maybe they are quieter and can get into spots the bigger boats can’t? Maybe it’s just less, more focused anglers? We slept on the boat, and it departed at 4am with 11 anglers and the crew of 2, Capt. Steve and deckhand John. We made squid a couple hours later when we got out to Santa Cruz Island. The squid were pretty thick and we made short work of it.
We started the first drift of the day in a spot that Capt. Steve said usually holds a halibut or 2. We were in a little cove, just off the kelp line in about 6o feet of water. Most fished the waist high, longish dropper loop setup that is the standard up there in the northern Channel Islands for targeting halibut and white seabass. I did too using my 40lb rod and 6oz. of lead. I went with a 5/0 Aki twist hook and a live squid. Adrian was down the rail to my right. It wasn’t long before I saw his line go bendo and line was zipping off his spool. Once the initial run was done, Adrian started to gain line on him, punctuated by head shakes. It seemed to be the right kind, and sure enough…nice hali just shy of 30 lbs.
Only the hali for that stop, and then we made a series of short moves in the same general area. Mixed in with all the seabass in the week leading up, there was also a nice hit on yellowtail…a real oddity for this time of year, this far north. Steve sonared a school and we made a try on them. He recommended going with a small (1/8 to 1/4 oz) sliding sinker to the hook, but no takers.
We eventually settled into a spot in the kelp that kicked out some fish. Not the target wsb, halibut or yellows, but a steady pick on whitefish, various rockfish, sheephead, calico bass, and a gang of blacksmith perch caught by Deborah. It was getting close to being time and we made one more move.
Long story short, Adrian had the only biter and it was a nice 18 lb white seabass. That was the day. I didn’t think to ask during the day, but Adrian was using 3/0 hooks and fluoro to get his 2 big scores. On a scratchy day (the whole landing count was only 1 wsb and 2 halibut), it made the difference. Way to go Adrian. I got my share of fish, but gave away most of it. I wanted to go big or nothing and this time it was nothing. It was still a great day on the water…beautiful day, good friends, decent fishing. Thank you to Steve and John. Tight lines!