I caught the above fish on the Ranger 85 Thursday night (June 5th).  It was at the end of the first day of fishing as we were setting up to anchor off Blue Banks at Santa Cruz Island for the night.  I was hosting a 2 day Western Outdoor News fishing charter.  I had already finished dinner and took my notebook up to the wheelhouse to compare my notes from the day with Capt. Dustin Tench.  As we rolled into the cove, Dustin points out a HUGE cloud of squid showing up on his screen.  Below the squid were some “worms” (seabass as they appear on the electronics).

“I think we’re good skipper.  I’m going to go down on deck.”

The crew anchored up the boat and hung a light on the starboard side.  Several anglers pitched in and jigged squid.  I setup on the opposite side.  “If I’m going to be up making squid…might as well soak a bait” I thought to myself.

Prior to the trip, Seeker rep David Sanchez, stopped by the landing to see me off and give me a rod to check out on the trip.  It was the Seeker 7X rod that I had seen during the Fred Hall Show.  David had his personal Shimano Trinidad 20A clamped on, and let me borrow the whole setup.

The reel had 65 lb. braid.  I tied on 40 lb. fluoro to the braid and rigged a high dropper on it.  I pinned on a live squid that I stunned on the deck.  I turned down the drag real low, turned on the clicker, and attached it to the rail with a bungee cord.  Then I proceeded to make squid about 5 feet away.  Thirty minutes later, I look over and BAM!  The clicker screams, and the pole goes bendo.  I left my squid jig setup at the rail and lunged for the pole.  I grabbed it and proceeded to fight the fish.

Dustin sees me from the wheelhouse and it’s all hands on deck.  The fish is running to the opposite side under the boat.  I’m stressing that the line is going to rub and break off on the hull…not to mention all the squid jigs in the water on the other side.  It helped that it was a 9 ft. rod.  I was able to hold it out from the boat in an effort to keep the line away from the hull.  At this point, Dustin, Ricky Perez (2nd ticket) and the rest of the crew are at my side.  It’s dark.  Dustin and Ricky stay with me while the other crewmembers run to find flashlights.  We went to the bow, and Ricky gets the rod under the anchor line to clear it from the hull.  It’s got lines wrapped all over it though.  The crew is screaming for the jiggers to slack their lines and feverishly work to clear all the lines off.  The fish is fighting hard and heads back to our left and around the outside of the anchor line…dragging squid jigs some attached to braid.  We were only in about 70 feet of water, so the fish never “rockfished”.  I got it close a couple times and it ran back out each time.  I eventually end up back where I started when I am able to get the fish to color.  The crew gaffs it…spotlighted in the dark shadow of the boat.  Whew!

Capt. Dustin estimated it at 45 lbs.  Fishing live squid on a dropper loop wasn’t the intended application for the rod, but the combo performed like a champ.  I’d love to spend more time with it (hint hint 😉  )

When I created the Extra Salty goal for white seabass (#3), I just said “a slob”.  I’m counting this fish.  Minus billfish, sharks and that sturgeon, it’s my new personal best big fish.  Thanks to the entire Ranger 85 crew for their help.  Thanks David and Seeker Fishing Rods for the use of the setup.

I’ll have the complete trip report written up for next week’s print edition of Western Outdoor News.  Tight lines!

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 More pics from the trip at our facebook page


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