As I’m writing this post, I just commented on thread originated by a crewmember, “If you’re complaining about making bait then don’t go fishing. Nobody is pulling your arm to go out…”

I wrote an article about bait a couple weeks ago for BD Outdoors.  After I wrote that article, several captains and crewmembers sent me notes thanking me for putting that information out there.  Well I guess the word still needs to get out, so it bears mentioning again.  There’s no guarantee of having live bait when you buy your ticket to fish.  The crews are doing everything they can to have live bait on their boat when you arrive, but conditions are such right now that it’s very hard to come by.  It’s the entire chain…the bait boats can’t always find it.  When they do, the water at the bait receiver is ungodly hot and a huge shock to their system.  If it’s there at the receiver, it doesn’t last long and a significant percentage will roll on the boat by the time you are ready to use it.  It’s so bad, that making bait is actually a better option.  So if you are asked to make bait, just pitch in and don’t complain.  And if the effort to make bait isn’t successful, adapt and use the situation to try fishing artificials.  Instead of complaining, try to expand your repertoire on the water.

OK, rant over, let’s talk about the fishing…

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Saturday, August 5th – Island Spirit

The yellowtail fishing has been hot off the 805 coast the last couple weeks.  There have been epic trips at both the islands and along the beach.  I wanted to get in on this action firsthand, so I joined 34 other anglers aboard the Island Spirit, 3/4 day boat out of Ventura Sportfishing.  Checking in for the trip, landing owner Greg Ewart asked me if I had a sabiki.  Yes I do.  Similar to the trip I had a couple weeks ago on the Spitfire, the success of this trip rested largely on the success of making bait.

The previous day, the boat had gotten 34 yellows heading down the beach and fishing the County Line area.  We left with a tank of anchovies from the bait receiver (which was fine for chum), but we needed to make some mackerel.  We started our day looking for bait just off the beach by the Navy base.  Lots of driving resulted in no successful bait catching.  Captain Jeff Bunde had to head out into the channel before we found a school of bait that wanted to play.  While we were loading up on greenbacks, Jeff got a call from Aloha Spirit captain Shawn Steward, “Good luck finding a spot in this parking lot.”  We were stopped almost half way out to Anacapa, so Jeff opted to fish the islands.

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Passing the arch

The recommended rig was flylining 30 tipped with 30 fluoro and a 2/0 hook.  I’ve fished all summer without using fluoro.  All my tuna and yellowtail I’ve gotten on straight mono, so that’s what decided it to do.  It might have been my fatal mistake for the trip.

We started out on the southwest corner of Anacapa.  Conditions weren’t really what Jeff was looking for.  We gave it a couple tries for nothing and left.  While we were there though, we witnessed what looked to be a spot of tuna bubbling on the surface offshore from the island.  There was also a marlin that jumped off in the distance.  We tried to go look at the tuna.  I was ready in the bow to throw a Flatfall, but it sunk out well before we got there.  Oh well.  Time to cross the gap to Cruz.

Once we were on the other side, things started happening for us.  Long story short, it was never great, but slow and steady.  Quality of the fish though was great.  There were some smaller ones (10-12 lbs.), but most were the larger 20 lb+ variety.

By the time I finally gave in and put on some fluoro, we had almost exhausted the bait we made.  Shortly after I made the switch, I got picked up, but POOF it was gone when I dropped it into gear.  Dogboned bait.  I fished a couple more baits with no result.  We hung out at the island a little longer and I enjoyed catching bonito on a little metal jig I picked up for $.50 at the SD swap meet.  They were boiling around us the whole time on anchovies.  Deck boss Jake Holder came up with the idea of giving them a go on poppers and the two of us amused ourselves for awhile trying to make that happen.

The day was done with a couple rockfish drifts in the middle of the gap before heading home.  High stick with 3 and taking jackpot was Treve Alan Bartlett.  The JP fish if I recall correctly was 26 lbs.  Kudos also to Christian DuBarr.  Christian caught his first ever yellow, and got another one!  Right before he caught the first one, he was on a long soak.  I was next to him and he asked me if he should reel it back.  “Is it still swimming?”  Yeah, I can feel him still.  “Keep him out there.”  Bendo!  I made one good call for the day.  Boat ended up with 15 yellows, a bunch of bonito, plus some rockfish and 1 ling.

All in all, a nice day on the water.  Thanks to Capt. Jeff; Jake, Cody & Andreas on deck; and Cory and Kathy in the galley.  Good company on the deck.  Even though I didn’t personally succeed, I had fun and enjoyed the ride.  It’s a nice boat and they keep the load to a manageable level.  I’ll definitely come out again.

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