Although I successfully scored my white seabass on the Aloha Spirit, I found myself still wanting to try and get myself a bigger one. I had business in Santa Barbara on Wednesday of last week, so I decided to stay up north and fish on Thursday. Thursday morning, I boarded the Seabiscuit to get after the ghosts again. This was the boat where I finally succeeded in getting my seabass last year after 6 unsuccessful tries. My buddy Scott met me at the landing. Another angler I had recently met, Steve, was there with his buddy James. The boat departed at 5am for a full day run.
Owner/Skipper Bob Valney was taking the day off, so 2nd Captain Matt Allport was at the wheel for our trip. Scott was managing things on deck, and Evan was working the grill. The boat was already tanked with live squid when we boarded. Matt came out on deck to give the trip briefing and said we’d be starting the day down the beach, so be ready to fish in 30 minutes.
We got out to the spot, and we were in the same general area as we were last Wednesday on the Aloha Spirit. I brought the same 3 rigs as last week, and started off the day fishing 40 with the high dropper loop. We anchored up in a spot roughly 80 feet deep. Matt said he saw a mark when we first got on it, but when it didn’t bite and he didn’t see anymore, he decided to make a move and head to the islands.
The move took an hour and a half, so I took advantage of the bunks and caught a little shuteye. I woke up as the boat was slowing down. We eased into the Smuggler’s Cove area on the southwestern side of Santa Cruz Island. Unlike last week, there were only a handful of boats working the area. We anchored up and almost immediately an angler to my right got bit. I had to laugh. He was telling us when we boarded that he had put in 9 trips already and was still fruitless in getting a seabass. Oh well, a nice halibut wasn’t a bad consolation 😉
It wasn’t long though before we started hooking into seabass. We weren’t there 30 minutes and we already had 3 seabass and the hali onboard. The bite was consistent, and I got bit during this run. I was fishing on the stern and the fish took me just around the port corner. I could tell it wasn’t a huge fish, but it had a few strong runs it. This time I was prepared and my drag was set appropriately low. After the third run, he was done and came in easily. Scott stuck it and it hit the deck. Another schoolie. It was smaller than last week’s fish, maybe 13 or 14 lbs, but a seabass. Scott and Steve both got bit as well during this run. When the spot was fished out, it was just after 9am and we had 9 seabass and the hali.
We made a move and worked our way a bit further west. We started a drift. Most were fishing a dropper, but Capt. Matt threw a sliding sinker rig. His line was well behind the boat when he got bit. He furiously reeled to catch up to the fish. His line tightened up when he caught up with it and he handed it off to an angler named Bill. Bill fought it briefly before it came to color and was gaffed. Another schoolie. At that point, all of the wsb were maybe 10-15 lbs.
We continued to drift along when Evan, the cook, got bit. He was next to me on the starboard side by the bait tank. It took him awhile. The fish took him down to the stern, and up the other side. The fish was finally brought on deck up on the bow. When they brought it back to the stern, I saw it. Wow, it was significantly bigger than the other fish caught…low to mid-30’s was my guess. Glad it wasn’t in jackpot. We got a couple more seabass in the spot and were about to move on when an angler fishing the starboard side by the cabin got bit. I was on the same side and watched as he followed the fish to within a few feet to my left. I saw it come to color to see it was a large halibut. Capt. Matt was at his side, stuck the fish and brought it over the rail. It wasn’t long, but wow was it thick!
As it turns out, that run ended up being the last of it for the day. We made our way back east and around to the north side of the island. We stopped and picked for some random fish…rockfish, whitefish. We made a final run back to Smuggler’s, but nothing happened and we headed for home. The final count was 12 wsb and 2 halibut for 17 anglers (plus the leopard shark and the other random fish). The second halibut ended up taking jackpot. All in all, a very solid day on the water. Thanks to Capt. Matt and the crew of the Seabiscuit for a good ride. Tight lines!