As I was licking my fishing wounds on Tuesday after Monday’s unsuccessful trip, I was checking out the schedule again on the CISCO’s site. Wouldn’t you know it, there were 3 spots open on the Aloha Spirit for Wednesday’s ride. I wavered. Usually when I chase a bad trip with another one, the results aren’t good. On the other hand, just like the on again / off again yellowtail bite at the Coronado Islands this year, I knew that the seabass were bound to go on the chew again. I’d be kicking myself if they did and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. I called and got on.
I had a lot of time to think about seabass strategy on Monday’s trip and the wheels kept spinning Tuesday. When I finally got my seabass last year on the Seabiscuit, I had gotten both fish on the dropper loop. The first of my 2, I was the first down and got bit immediately as we got on the spot. I decided I’d have the same dropper and sliding sinker rigs, and use the dropper to start on every spot. If we decided to stay and anchor up, I’d use the sliding sinker to extend my fishing area…not just side to side in front of my spot, but up and down throughout the water column. I had noticed Corey throwing out a 6x Jr in Scrambled Egg when we were anchored up on Monday’s ride…exploratory casts he could fit in between working. It inspired me to bring a stiffer pole to throw smaller jigs as a 3rd, changeup rig.
Slight change in crew from Monday’s ride…Shawn was still driving, but Mike who is usually a deckhand on the Excel was filling in for Corey, and Pat was now working the galley. As we got underway, Shawn said we would be headed down the beach instead of going out to the islands. It would only be 30 minutes or so before we’d be fishing. I was already setup, so I ordered a breakfast burrito and waited it out in the galley.
Around 5:30 we dropped anchor on the spot. Pretty crowded, but Shawn said there was good life below us. I dropped in on the port/stern corner and almost immediately an angler on the other side got bit. Bang biscuit! I was happy to see it…we were already ahead of the game from Monday. That bite kicked off a steady plunk. It wasn’t long before I got bit myself, but my drag was set too tight. The fish started to take me up the rail, and then it was gone. In the Avet post from Friday, when I said there were times I wished I had a star drag…this was one of those times. I could immediately tell it was too tight as soon as I got bit, but was too scared to try and adjust it mid-fight. Lesson learned. I adjusted it down and went back to work. I at least had confidence that my presentation was good. We continued to pick away at it and I got my second chance just before 10. I was on the starboard side by the bait tank when I got bit and I followed it up to the side of the cabin. Mike was next to me and checked my drag as I was fighting the fish. Thumbs up. The fish got in a good initial run, then came straight in. Mike stuck it and I was on the board. I was guessing it was only 16-18 lbs., but I was happy to have one in. Plenty of day left to try and get a bigger one.
As the day progressed, we’d get 1 or 2 every hour or so, in between lulls of nothing. I found a comfortable spot on the bow where I could sit while fishing and I chatted with Shawn about today’s ride vs. Monday’s. He just wasn’t seeing any conditions on Monday that made him want to sit and wait it out. Wednesday, we pretty much stayed anchored up in the same general area for the whole day. We were on top of a squid nest, and he’d see marks passing through on a somewhat consistent basis, so we stayed put.
Seabass fishing reminds me a lot of salmon fishing back home in the Northwest. Long periods of sitting and waiting, punctuated by a flurry of activity when you get a bite. I remember sitting in a seabass seminar at Fred Hall once. The captain was saying how the best seabass fisherman is a rodholder…meaning one of the biggest factors is just keeping your line wet and don’t mess with it too much. His words were ringing in my head as I watched one particular angler. He was continually changing setups and missing the moments when the fish would come through, and people got bit. When you are fishing the sliding sinker rig, you need to be more active. You can’t leave it on the bottom or you end up catching sharks and rays. You also need to pay attention to where your line is going and it’s relation to the other anglers since there isn’t enough weight to hold it in place. I fished it when Shawn said he was marking fish higher in the water column. I fished the jig a little too, but mostly I stuck with the dropper to maximize my time in the water.
We ended up getting 17 wsb and a couple cuda for 22 anglers. Not quite limits, but a good day of fishing. I was glad I took advantage of getting on the boat. I turned around and got on the Speed Twin for a twilight ride, but didn’t get bit. We were in the same general area, but a little deeper than during the day. Conditions were rougher. The wind kicked up significantly and it got cold and bumpy. Even then, the boat managed to put 2 seabass on the deck. Long day for me, but I was happy. Some of the saltiest anglers I know have yet to get a seabass or it’s been awhile. It also didn’t take me 7 trips like last year to get mine. Thank you to the captains and crews of the Aloha Spirit and Speed Twin for the opportunity to score this elusive fish. Limit goes up to 3 on the Sunday the 16th. Make your plans and book now. Tight lines!