Posted by: socalsalty | June 6, 2013

Top Ten Update: Caught A Ghost


I sleep-fished to catch this fish, waking at 2 for a 4am ride

Well, it wasn’t the slob that I would consider Extra Salty…just a schoolie sized fish maybe 16-18 lbs., but I will definitely take it.  I caught it yesterday on the Aloha Spirit out of Channel Islands Sportfishing.  The white seabass is one of the most elusive fish that we catch here in Southern California, which earned it one of it’s nicknames, the Grey Ghost (aka wsb, seabiscuit or just biscuit for short).  It’s also one of the tastiest.  It has a firm, white meat that has almost a sweet quality to it.  I like to prepare it simply by just brushing it with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilling it, which is what me and the kids will be doing this weekend 🙂

White Seabass is #3 on my Top 10 of SoCal fish (salty ones).  Last year, it took 7 trips to cross this fish off.  This year only 3!  All that’s left now on the list is a ling cod…I can’t believe I haven’t caught one yet (caught one in January, but out of season), but it shouldn’t be hard.  Tuna, which are now about 175 miles out from San Diego (~ 3 day range), so just around the corner.  And then that damn sheephead.  I hope it doesn’t take until the last day of the season like last year to get a nice black and red specimen.  Stay tuned.

Posted by: socalsalty | June 3, 2013

Trip Report: Reel Fun Dana Halfie

Reel FunPeople are always asking me, “When did you start taking your kids out on the boats?”  It’s really not so much their age that is the biggest factor.  It has more to do with their experience level with fishing in general, and then the circumstances around the ride itself.  For example, Juliana caught her first fish at age 3.  It was a white croaker off the Venice Beach Pier on a sabiki rig.  So she’s been at it now for almost 4 years, but I’m not going to bring her on an overnight anytime soon.

Some of the things I look for are the length of the trip, what the actual hours of the ride will be, and the style of fishing that will be the dominant method of fishing for the day.  Half day trips are going to be your first option, but if you were to take a kid out during the first few days of barracuda season and you’ve got a bunch of people throwing iron…doesn’t really work.

I really like the halfies that have a later start for the kids…PM rides or when they do a late morning start.  Sunday, me and the kids rode on the Reel Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing.  They are running 10am to 3pm which is a great, kid-friendly time.  If you were to see the count…8 Calico Bass 1 Sand Bass 2 Barracuda 107 Calico Bass Released 23 Sand Bass Released for 40 anglers…you might think, “Well that sucks.  Glad I didn’t go.”  Well, if you were only worried about bringing home meat, you’d  be right.  For me though, watching Juj have a great day on the water was priceless.  I setup a simple dropper loop on her rod (something light and size appropriate, but somewhat stiff), with a small circle hook (so she doesn’t have to set the hook) for the live anchovies we had.  I bait her hook, cast it for her and then she’s on her own.  She’s at a point now where if she isn’t bit fairly quickly, “Dad, I’m going to check my bait.”  Love it.  She caught a halibut, a sand bass, a cabezon, and 2 white seabass.  All shorts, but that didn’t matter.  She had a blast.

Capt. Chris likes to work the productive kelp beds just off the beach.  It’s skinny water, so it wasn’t hard for her to reel up the fish.  Capt. Chris Pica and his crew do a great job with the kids.  She gets to see the various sealife that live in the kelp beds (the fish, sea lions, dolphins, birds).  Jake enjoys throwing different lures and swimbaits which we don’t normally get to do on a lot of our rides (he’s the product tester).  Great day.  I highly recommend it.  Tight lines!

VIDEO: Juj’s Halibut

Posted by: socalsalty | May 31, 2013

Some Tips For The Weekend

Santa Monica Bay – MDR boats

Didn’t have time this week to get out a full trip report, but I got out on Spitfire Sportfishing on Sunday (May 26th) over the long weekend.  As I mentioned in the previous weekend’s trip report on the New Del Mar, lings were the thing.  Newly minted skipper (and longtime deckhand) John Corzell was at the helm.  Tip of the Salty cap to Capt. Couch as he was riding a hot streak of putting his customers on a great ling bite.  My buddy, Jimmy Bass, rode on Saturday and caught 3, including one over 14lb ling-o-saurus to take jackpot.  I rode Sunday and the boat got 20 lings!  Monday was good with another 17.  Then the fin bait ran out at the bait receiver and the lingcod disappeared from the count.

Everyone’s going to be watching the MDR count for barracuda, but who knows if they’ll show up in SMB this weekend or not.  Call to the landing and see if they’ve got sardines.  If they do, there’s a great chance you’ll hit a limited load ride and catch a fat ling.

Deckhand Chris Isaac with the biggest of 20 lings caught last Sunday

Deckhand Chris Isaac with the biggest of 20 lings caught last Sunday

Tips For Barracuda Success

I fished on the Enterprise out of Long Beach Marina, with Capt. Andy Siratt yesterday (Thursday).  The cuda had just hit OC and Long Beach on Wednesday, and we went out to chase them again on Thursday.  I had some tackle issues.  In my rush to get my new jig stick on the water, I clamped on my Avet MXL to the new rod.  I’m not a big fan of the deckhand style wraps and having to use a clamp.  I’d rather have a reel seat and just tighten them on the normal way.  It’s faster and easier to change reels.  I also don’t like having that lump of metal resting against the inside of my wrist when I’m fighting a fish.  Well, long story short, I wasn’t able to use that rod most of the day and had to make do throwing a jig with my 30lb. bait stick.  I made do, but it wasn’t optimum.  Lessons learned on the water.  Now you can have the benefit of that experience…

1) Fish Heavy – minimum 30 lb test, 40lb test better with a Heavy or Extra Heavy rated rod.

These are big fish…some serious logs in the mix with 8-12lb. fish at the top end.  So why do you need 30 to catch a max 12lb fish?  For one, these are toothy fish and your line will get nicked up.  Fishing the heavier test gives you a fighting chance even if that happens.  Secondly, lots of sea lions are out there.  The faster you can horse that fish in and avoid a protracted fight, the better chance you have of avoiding the sea lions and successfully boating the fish.  Also, with the heavier line and heavy stick, you have the option of bouncing the fish.  When all the newbs get out there and everyone’s calling for the gaff…you’ll want to be able to bounce it.

2) Check your line often

See above…your line will get nicked often.  Every time you catch, in between spots or when you go to change jigs…take a moment to check your line.  Run your fingers from where you tie on up 3 feet or so.  If there is a rough spot or fraying, cut it off above that spot and re-tie.  You’ll feel like an idiot if you break off, lose a jig, and know you could’ve prevented it.

3) Use smaller, heavier jigs

The first fish I brought in, it spit out two 5 inch anchovies (damn, I wish we were getting that size for bait!).  I continued to see that size of bait getting spit up on the deck.  They’re keyed in on the smaller bait, so give them what they want.  They’re holding lower too.  You could fish surface iron, but it’ll take too long for it to drop down.  In the meantime, other people are getting bit and the sea lions are moving in.  Fish a bait that can get down quickly.  Megabaits, and small, but heavy iron (CP105 6x Jr etc.) are the ticket.

So there you go.  Good luck and enjoy!

Posted by: socalsalty | May 29, 2013

Trip Report: Memorial Day Weekend – Part I

Three day weekend, so I got in a good fix…

Saturday: Island Tak

Island TakNow 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.

Adrian's barndoor kicked off the day

Adrian’s barndoor kicked off the day

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!

AC was the hero of the day!

AC was the hero of the day!

Posted by: socalsalty | May 27, 2013

Pic Of The Weekend


My laptop died, so there’s no way I’m going to thumb out a full trip report on my phone!

This is my buddy Adrian Cruz. We rode Saturday on the Island Tak out of Channel Islands Sportfishing.

We started the day with AC getting bit on the halibut which was just shy of 30 lbs. We ended the day on his white seabass!

The whole CISCO’s fleet only got 1 wsb and 2 hali for a scratchy day on the exotics. It was definitely Adrian’s day. Way to go buddy!

Posted by: socalsalty | May 19, 2013

Trip Report: Saturday PM Ride On The New Del Mar

Fin Bait!!!

Fin Bait!!!

Quick trip report…took the kids out yesterday on the New Del Mar out of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing.  Regular crew onboard…Capt. Danny driving, Vic, Eric and Julian on deck, and Dale on the grill.  For the first time in a long time, they had fin bait…oversized sardines and pinner anchovies, but still.  Going out, I had high hopes that there would be an opportunity to finally cross a ling off my Top 10 for the year.

There were about 40 anglers on the boat.  Rick has a deal running on Travel Zoo, so there were a lot of rent rodders onboard.  As a result, on the first couple spots of the day, Capt. Danny focused on putting some fish in the sacks.  The advice was to go double dropper with 8 oz. of weight.  Light gauge hooks, couple pinner choves, and work it 10-15 cranks off the bottom.  A couple bocaccio (grouper salmon as one of the rent rodders called them) came over the rail, but mostly belindas, starries and other smaller rockfish.  Me and Jake put a half dozen or so in the sack before we decided to just go big and work the bottom for hopefully a ling.

Once Danny was satisfied that everyone had enjoyed catching fish and had some in their sacks, he hit a rocky spot that had been consistently holding some prized lings.  Immediately, a woman to my right, hooked into something big and sure enough it was a ling.

She had a great day.  She ended up getting another one.  Regular Jeff Lerma got one on the port corner on the other side of the lucky girl.  The angler to my immediate left got  another one.  And then a big beautiful one caught by an angler at the starboard corner ended up taking jackpot (red visor in the pic below).  Lings all across the stern where I was fishing, but luck wasn’t with me on Saturday.  I guess I used up my fishing luck for awhile last week.  Five lings though on a halfie.  Definitely a solid trip.


*EDITORIAL NOTE – Sunday the New Del Mar got 33 lings combined on the morning and afternoon rides.

Juj hoists the JP ling with deckhand Eric Ullman

Juj hoists the JP ling with deckhand Eric Ullman

Posted by: socalsalty | May 14, 2013

Trip Report: Mother’s Day Massacre

Live dines AND chovies

Live dines AND chovies

I texted my buddy Vance Saturday morning. “Dude, I had a dream. Maybe a premonition. But I’m seeing this headline…Trip Report: Mother’s Day Massacre.” Whoa…it happened…well that’s the title of this post at least 😉

It wasn’t quite a massacre…the count was 25 yellows for 17 anglers…but it was pretty good. The day started out normally enough. I met Vance at the landing around 4:45 am Sunday morning. We boarded the boat and took off from Seaforth at 5:30. Capt. Ryan Bostian wasn’t driving, so Capt. Ray Montera was at the wheel. Deckhands Matt and Rene were managing the deck and Amato was working the grill. There were 2 pinheads, Dylan and Nick helping out. We made a quick stop at the bait receiver to pickup live sardines and anchovies and we were on our way.

Surface iron setup

Surface iron setup

Capt. Ray said we’d be starting our day at the middle grounds, anchor up shallow (60-80 ft) in a spot he saw fish the previous day and go from there. He mentioned most of the fish were coming on a flylined bait, so there wasn’t much to getting ready. I had a fresh 100 yards or so of 30 lb. mono tied onto the spectra backing of my bait stick. I attached a 3/0 bait hook and that rig was ready to go. My buddy John Anjard wanted me to try out his jig stick, a 9 ft Teramar 90H. It had a Newell 332 with straight 30 lb mono on it. I tied on a Salas JPOT in green sardine, adjusted the drags and I was done. Amato made me a breakfast burrito and I snuck in a nap during the 2 hour ride to the Coronado Islands.

We got there and settled into our first stop around 8. There were a lot of private boaters already there…lots of sea lions too 😦 I started the day using my bait stick. Throw a ‘dine, let it run in freespool, little tug and I can’t feel my sardine anymore. Reel it back in. No wonder, you’re missing your body Mr. Dine. Friggin sea lions. After a few times, I got tired of that routine and setup my light combo to work the bottom…reverse dropper with a sardine or anchovy. Other anglers had the same idea and a few sculpin and rockfish came over the rail.

After the first few stops, we got the first yellow on the boat. Not bad! Still early and we’re catching yellows. By 11, I think we had about 5. When I got my first yellow of the year on the Mission Belle in March, we got 3 for the whole trip. So from that point of reference, we were doing ok. That said, I also knew that a lot of the time this year, all or most of the fish caught for the day were caught by lunchtime. Vance already had 2…a fat one maybe 25+ and then a smaller one around 10 lbs. At this point, I had a calico and a cuda to my credit, but I hadn’t gotten the “right” bite yet.

I took a lunch break and gathered my thoughts. When I finished up, I went back out to the rail. Vance could tell I was bumming. “Hey man, you want take a little of my yellowtail home?” Appreciate it man, thanks. I needed to change something up. Time to bust out some fluoro. Still haven’t learned a good mono to fluoro knot, so I had Rene help me tie on about a 2-1/2 foot leader of 25 lb fluorocarbon. On the business end, I took it one step further and tied a loose eye knot to my hook. Not as strong, but it gives your bait a little more freedom to swim freely. At this point, I was willing to tradeoff the risk of breaking off on the loop for a bite.

Rene brailing some choves

Rene brailing some choves

We settled into a spot between 2 of the islands. Ray said he was metering fish and Rene was on top of the bait tank aggressively tossing bait to hold them next to the boat. I got bit 3x in the spot with my new setup, but each time it was a short pull and then a release. My hooks were coming back empty, so I don’t think they were sea lion bites. One of my baits came back and was crushed, but it was midway down the body of the sardine…short bite 😦

It was getting late. I figured we had maybe an hour to an hour and half left in the day. All of the fish on the boat had been caught on bait. It was typical of how it’s been going for the fleet of late. That said, it wasn’t working for me, so I decided I’d throw the jig to end the day. At least I’d get the practice time in on the water.

We made our last move and settled into a spot off the lee side of the south island. As soon as we got there, you could tell it was fishy. Lots of bird activity going on. Matt saw a boil just off the starboard side of the bow and ran to the bow with his jig stick to throw on it. I was about 3 steps behind him and threw just after him. 1…2…whomp! I’m bit! Matt put down his stick and we followed the fish down the starboard rail. It took me across the stern and through the majority of the anglers on the boat. At one point, I had about 3 lines gummed up on mine (including some white spectra) and Matt had to cut them. I followed the fish back across the stern to the starboard corner and I had him up and down at that point before Matt stuck him. Wow…my first yellow on the surface iron!

1st yellow on the plug...Extra Salty!

1st yellow on the plug…Extra Salty!

The spot ended up being huge. The school stuck to the boat for a good hour and we got the majority of our fish there before having to call it a day. All the fish, but 2 were a nice 20-30 lb. grade. Vance got one more fat one. After my first fish, I got a blind jig strike on the port side, and then picked up 2 more on bait. Just goes to show…you got to have faith in what you’re doing and just keep plugging (pun intended) away at it.

As usual, very impressed with the boat and crew. It’s a real testament to Capt. Ryan’s influence that the boat is run just as well when he isn’t there as when he is. Thank you Capt. Ray and crew for a great day on the water. Tight lines!

VIDEO: Unloading The Hold

Posted by: socalsalty | May 13, 2013

Top 10 Update: 1st Cuda Of 2013

1st cuda of 2013

1st cuda of 2013

I know you’re looking for the Trip Report from yesterday, but I got back too late from San Diego on Sunday, so this is what you’re getting for Monday.  I rode the The San Diego out of Seaforth Landing  yesterday.  Although the focus and excitement for the trip was all about yellowtail, it is worth mentioning that I got my first cuda of the year.  It wasn’t on surface iron, it came on a flylined sardine which kind of sucks.  You’re out there hoping for a big yellow to bite.  You get the bite, but it isn’t the hard pull you expect from a yellow.  It comes in too fast and too easily.  You’re hoping that maybe it’s just a junior sized yellow, but then you see color and your hunch is confirmed.

The barracuda is important though because it signals a change.  You only see them once the water gets over 60 degrees.  Their appearance is the start of Summer for us SoCal anglers.  Once they are in the mix of predators, you often see a more aggressive and consistent yellowtail bite too because they (the yellows) have to compete with these toothy fish for the bait fish out there that makes up their diet.  Further north, white seabass can often be found lurking below the barracuda…picking up an easy meal off the scraps falling down after a cuda attack.  And, it’s just fun to throw surface iron on cuda after a couple months of packing heavy lead for rockfishing!

I predicted we’d see them in Santa Monica Bay the Tuesday after Mother’s Day which is tomorrow.  We’ll see if that plays out, but in the meantime I take a little satisfaction from knocking #7 off the Top 10 list for the year.

Posted by: socalsalty | May 5, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up: Cinco de Mayo Edition

Photo courtesy Aloha Spirit

Photo courtesy Aloha Spirit

Seabass Up North

Crazy week we had of fishing here in Southern California.  The week began with a bang up north where out of nowhere on Monday some seabass were caught.  It wasn’t just one or two boats finding a couple, it was 2 boats, the Aloha Spirit and the Mirage (both out of Channel Islands Sportfishing) LIMITING OUT with 24 and 29 seabass respectively.  And not only were the numbers eye popping, but the fish were a really nice grade too…one caught May 1st was over 51 lbs.  The numbers dropped off over the course of the week as the boat pressure mounted, but even a half day boat, the Speed Twin, scored a couple on Friday.  Weather moved in and killed the bite, but things will settle out and I’m sure the elusive ghosts will be found again.

Best Halfie Ever?

Meanwhile, further south down the coast, a most unusual of catches occurred.  Capt. Jeff Patrick of the Western Pride (out of Davey’s Locker) wasn’t driving the boat on Wednesday.  He was just another one of the anglers on the boat.  But Wednesday was a day unlike any other.  Capt. Jeff hooked into a 125 lb. opah.  The opah is a very rare catch as it is, but unheard of on a half day boat.  Typically, they are only caught on boats that are out tuna fishing offshore.  Angler Paul Rodriguez Jr. was on the boat and got this shot.

125 lb. Opah on the Western Pride

125 lb. Opah on the Western Pride

Clemente Island Is Poppin’!

Freedom Sportfishing is stringing together consistent trips scoring the exotics.  They’re leaving with live sardines and making squid when they get out to the islands.  Tuesday, Capt. Tommy Lee took out 27 anglers on an overnight to fish Clemente May 1st.  They scored 1 yellowtail, 1 white seabass and 3 halibut.  Saturday’s trip yielded 9 yellowtail and a 300 lb thresher shark!

Meanwhile, Down In San Diego

It’s still the same one day on, most days off pattern for the yellowtail by the Coronados Islands.  The 3/4 boats are seeing a lot of fish, but it’s anyone’s guess what day they’ll bite.  Wednesday, the San Diego caught 10 big forks.  Capt. Ryan Bostian says the fish are being scored up top on a flylined sardine on 25lb test, and that you’ll help your cause adding 3-5 feet of fluorocarbon leader.  Weather moved in by the weekend, but they still managed to catch 5 in really sloppy conditions Saturday before canceling the Sunday trip.

Photo courtesy San Diego Sportfishing

Photo courtesy San Diego Sportfishing

This weather is supposed to settle out Tuesday.  The water is over 60 degrees on our whole SoCal coast.  We’ll probably see some nice scores again by midweek this week.  Keep up to date with the latest news from the sportboats via our facebook page.  Tight lines!

EDITORIAL NOTE: As I was hitting publish on this post, saw a pic from one of our favorite half day boats, the New Del Mar.  They caught a king salmon on Sunday!  Crazy week indeed…

King Salmon on the NDM

King Salmon on the NDM

Posted by: socalsalty | May 1, 2013

Costas Contest: Share To Win

Last month, I launched a contest here to win a pair of Costa sunglasses from the new Kenny Chesney line to benefit the Coastal Conservation Association.  I think I made it too complicated.  So we are re-setting the contest.  Those of you who participated last time will have an entry in the new contest.

This is how it’s going to work:

1) Like the SoCal Salties page on facebook if you haven’t already

2) Share this post (and the rest of the Costa posts) from the SoCal Salty facebook page during the month of May to your wall on facebook (you need to share it from facebook so I can see who shared)

Each share will give you a ticket into the final drawing.  At the end of the month, I’ll draw a winner from all the entries.  We’re giving away a pair of the Costa Hammerheads with the blue glass, and driftwood frames.  The lucky winner will receive the sunglasses and the entire kit as seen below.  Good luck!


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