EARLY morning

EARLY morning

“Keep It Simple…Stupid” aka the KISS Principle is a saying that I encounter a lot in the business world.  It refers to the idea that sometimes you can get caught up in a lot of things that at the end of the day aren’t important to the final result.  By keeping things simple, it allows you to focus on what’s important to accomplishing the end result that you desire.

In preparing for my first white seabass trip of the 2014 season, I certainly could have and should have heeded that advice.  Yesterday morning (real early), I drove up to Oxnard to Channel Islands Sportfishing to ride the Cobra, a 4am-4pm day boat in the CISCO’s fleet.  Most landings only have one all day boat in their lineup if they have one at all.  Channel Islands has several.  The reason why they excel in that fishery is they are well suited to fishing  up and down the beach and to Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands when it is white seabass season.  The season is on in full swing right now and yesterday was a big day with 78 wsb tallied for the CISCO fleet.  As is normally the case, the bite started in range of the day boats.

Capt. John Sudac of Cobra Sportfishing recommends the following setup:

  • minimum 30 lb test line
  • big hook (I chose 5/0 Owner Aki Twist)
  • high dropper – loop positioned roughly 5 ft. above the weight
  • 6-8 oz. of lead
  • drags backed WAY off

We departed the landing with 13 anglers and live squid in our tanks.  It was roughly a 90 minute drive out to the spot. IMG_3779 It’s no secret, everyone is in the same spot right now…just off the Anacapa Arch.  It’s a relatively deep spot.  The zone was roughly 120 feet deep and it’s a very kelpy area.  There’s a bite window in the morning where a tidal condition is creating an eddy around a deep ridge.  Capt. John hypothesized that bait is getting caught in that swirl and the seabass, yellowtail and halibut are coming in to feed on the aggregation of bait. I’d say he’s probably right as we scored on the first drift of the day and continued to do so during that window that the condition was in play.  Once the condition played out, so did the bite and that was that for the day.  This is the reason why the news of the hot bite has been coming early in the day.  We vacated the area around 11am and looked for something else.

I personally did not score, but I setup the rod for visiting author, Paul Greenberg of Four Fish and he caught the first fish of the day.  Fittingly, I brought 3 rods for 3 different setups and just the one for Paul.  I had issues all morning holding bottom, getting caught in the kelp, and otherwise not being in the zone when I needed to be.  There were a couple anglers that did particularly well.  One angler, who caught 3 seabass and won jackpot told me he wasn’t able to catch one all last year.  Another angler, a woman who was dragged out by her more frequent fisherman friend, scored one seabass and one halibut.  Were they lucky?  Of course!  Luck always plays a role in seabass fishing, but it’s also the KISS Principle at work…they fished the recommended setup, managed to be in the zone at the right time and scored.

Based on my observations on the water, here are some tips to help you take advantage of this bite…

  • Go heavy to start…both in terms of line size and weight

This bite is deep, the current is strong, and the drift is fast (2 knots yesterday).  You got to be in the game to make a play

  • Live squid isn’t necessarily better than dead

Especially for white seabass.  I’ve heard it before and deckhand Keith Ballard reiterated, they’re a lazy fish.  They don’t want to chase their food.  The only time I’d change out is if the tentacles get bitten off.  Don’t throw away the used squid.  Put it on the cutting board so they can use it for chum, or strip it out later for rockfishing.

  • Keep it loose

Keith personally checked each reel and set the drag.  It’s very loose and the reason why is when you do hook up, most of the lost fish happen during that initial hit because the drag is too tight.  And for God’s sake, don’t thumb the spool!

  • Don’t swing

It’s seabass, not largemouth.  The beginning of the bite is the fish pecking away at the tentacles.  If you swing, all you do is take it out of their mouth.  Be patient and let ’em eat it.

That’s it.  This particular bite will probably change, but you can’t go wrong with these tips if it does.  Get out while it’s good.  Tight lines!

The Cobra has open party full day trips coming up!  Check out their schedule and book online HERE, or call Channel Islands Sportfishing 805-382-1612 to get onboard.

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