Happy New Year Salties!  I hope you all had a great year of fishing in 2017.  I certainly enjoyed mine.  I ended up finishing 9 out of 10 on the Top 10.  The one fish I missed on was a halibut.  I just didn’t have that many opportunities to get one.  I never got lucky while fishing inshore for calicos, off the surf, or just opportunistically while loading bait on the various trips.

I was looking for opportunities to try and target halibut these next couple months during the rockfish closure.  So when Capt. Bob Beyer of First Dawn Charters extended an invitation to do some halibut drifting, I was down to go.

Bob usually runs a 40′ Mediterranean for his charters, but since it was just us two, we took the 18′ Parker center console…perfect little boat for this task.  We took off out of Newport Harbor around 7am and started our day making bait (mackerel) off the end of the jetty as you exit the harbor.  We made a dozen pieces or so and set off north along the beach.  High tide was just after 8am, so we were hopeful that the water movement would spark a good bite.

Once we were in the spot, we each setup 2 rods, one to drag a mack behind the boat and another to cast around as we drifted along.  I setup a 40 lb. modified high dropper by cutting the loop, snelling a bait hook, and tying a stinger treble to the tag coming off the snell.  For my other rod, I threw a 5″ swimbait.  For whatever reason, I wasn’t getting good action on the swimbait and decided to switch up to a short dropper using a size 2 circle hook and a strip of mackerel.  Boom!  First cast I got whacked hard and it produced a 15″ keeper sand bass (top).

Subsequent casts produced 3 small whitefish.  I ended up losing that setup to a lobster trap.

When I re-tied, I figured it would be good to try something with a little bigger profile…hoping it would produce a more substantial catch.  I had a little 3″ grubtail that I found at the Fisherman’s Landing tackle store.  There wasn’t a lot of condition, so I figured I could get a lot of wiggle out of a grubtail without having to fish it fast.

That ended up being a great call…

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A short while later, Bob got the first bite on the live macks.  It was big.  Heavy and steady.  Bob thought it was a black seabass.  I told him,

“It’s a coastal tanker white seabass until proven otherwise.”

As it turned out, Bob was right.  It took us several tries to revive it, but it eventually gave a big swoosh of it’s massive tail and disappeared back to its home below.

While Bob was fighting the BSB, I cleared all the other rods.  Once it was successfully revived and released, I re-baited and sent another mack down.  It made it about 5 feet down when I saw a small mako roll on it and suck it in.  I was heavy for about 10 seconds before it’s teeth shredded my line and it broke off.

That was pretty much the day.  We were done by noon.  Pretty action packed halfie though.  Lots of life out there…birds, plentiful bait in the water, dolphins feeding on it and only occasionally a sea lion.  As you can see from the pics, it was pretty glass, so I think it would only be better with a little more condition.  Two species off the Top 10 on Day 1 of 2018!

Give Bob a shout if you’d like to get in on the action:

(714) 767-1264




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