Posted by: socalsalty | June 11, 2013

Chasing Ghosts On The Aloha Spirit – Part I

IMG_6893Two Sundays ago, the weekend was winding down with the kids and I was checking out the various landing sites.  Over the previous Memorial Day weekend, I had a fun trip on the Island Tak.  It was the inaugural white seabass trip of the year.  Good friends, decent fishing, but only one seabass for the trip and I wasn’t the one who caught it.  As I was looking through the Channel Islands schedule, I noticed how mysteriously there was now a 1 where it previously said SOLD OUT for Monday on the Aloha Spirit.  Must be a sign.  I immediately called.  Got the spot 🙂

When it comes to fishing seabass, Capt. Shawn Steward driving his boat the Aloha Spirit is considered one of the best rides.  For roughly the last month, I’ve re-posted a steady stream of big biscuit pictures to the facebook page from this boat.   It’s no surprise that the boat is currently booked up through the rest of June.  I felt very lucky to get on.  I got my gear together and got to bed.

Corey gives the trip briefing

Corey gives the trip briefing

The next morning I was at the landing by 4am and got on the boat for a 5am departure.  I was happy to find that we already had live squid onboard.  Shawn was at the wheel.  Corey was managing the deck, with Gage assisting, and Glenn was running the galley.  As we got underway, Corey gathered the 22 anglers on deck for the trip briefing.  Corey recommended 2 rigs…the standard waist high dropper loop, with a 6oz weight and a 4/0 or 5/0 hook.  The other rig was a sliding sinker (1/8 to 1/2 oz) to the hook.  He said to use the dropper if Shawn marked fish and we needed to drop down quickly to have a chance at them.  The sliding sinker rig was for when we were at anchor.  We’d be driving about an hour and a half and start fishing near the arch on the east end of Anacapa.  We would be spending the day in no more than 80-90 feet of water.

I brought 3 setups, a 20#, 30# and 40# rig.  I tied the high dropper on my 40 and the sliding sinker on the 30.  For the 20, I tied on a mint waxwing in case we ran into a boil of the smaller yellows that I’d been seeing pictures of.

Someone call a cab?

Someone call a cab?

We got out to the spot and started to look around.  There were a couple boats out there, but not the parking lot that I expected.  We tried one drift, but it was non-productive.  Shawn wasn’t seeing anything and we moved on.  We drove along the south side of Anacapa through the MPA and slowed down as we got along the south end of Santa Cruz.  Ah…here’s the parking lot.  Most of the CISCO’s fleet as well as the other landings and several private boats were in this spot.  The gray light was melting into day as we started a drift.  I used my dropper rig.  The angler to my left hooked up pretty quickly, but it came in fast…smaller sheephead.  Shortly after, I got bit.  Nice pull, but not a seabass.  It was a short cabezon.

We moved again.  Shawn wanted to get out of the crowd.  We continued west and ended up just shy of the western tip of Santa Cruz.  Rosa was in view as we setup another drift.  Shawn came onto the intercom to say he was marking yellows.  Corey recommended going with the sliding sinker rig and I took the advice.  Couple of drifts producing only 1…guessing 12-13 lb. yellow.

Jackpot fish

Jackpot fish

Long story short, that yellowtail ended up being the highlight of the day.  From there we went back to the area by the arch.  Shawn said he saw fish this time, but no biters.  From there, we made a long run to the beach, close to Port Hueneme.  We anchored up, but no signs of life.  We did a little rockfishing to fill sacks, before giving it one more try to end the day.  Other than a barely legal halibut, nothing else to add on the scorecard.  Dang, big no show on seabass.  It was disappointing, but that’s how it goes with this fish.  I appreciated that Shawn tried to make something happen.  We drove all over the place, but it was what it was…that’s seabass fishing.

I was bummed though thinking that this ride may have been my best shot on the elusive ghosts for the year.  It wasn’t a total loss though, if I got another chance, I could take away some learnings from this ride to be even better prepared for the next trip…


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