My ride for the Shootout

My ride for the Shootout

Little over a month ago, I tried to sign up for the 5th annual Channel Islands Shootout put on by Western Outdoor News.  I was disappointed to find that it was already sold out.  Dang it!  Then out of the blue, while I was at ICAST 2 weeks ago, I got a text from the landing, “Someone dropped out.  Call Ben at WON asap!”  I called and got on.  Yay!

So last Thursday, July 18th, I was at CISCO’s by 4am for the 5am-4pm competition.  The format of the contest was simple, 5 biggest fish caught by anglers on the 6 competing boats would win cash and prizes from the tournament sponsors…Turner’s Outdoors, Avet, Yo-Zuri, and Plano.  Everyone received a goody bag upon check-in, and then we boarded and were off.  The competing boats were the Aloha Spirit, Cobra, Mirage, Pacific Islander, Sea Biscuit, and Sea Jay.  I rode on the Pacific Islander with Capt. Steve Virtue, Bryan and Larry on deck, and Chelle in the galley.  They were coming off an epic trip where they boated 81 seabass for an amazing 3 per person boat limit!  The boat was tanked with live squid and anchovies already when we got on.

Everyone fished the same general area…the south side of Santa Cruz Island atop the squid nests that dotted the area.

South side, Santa Cruz Island (photo Mel Layosa)

South side, Santa Cruz Island (photo Mel Layosa)

We anchored up and ended up staying in the same spot for the whole day.  We didn’t do any rockfishing.  It was wsb, halibut or bust.  There was a pretty stiff current going, so once we got settled on the anchor, the stern was the place to be.  Almost as soon as we started fishing, an angler fishing a light sliding sinker rig connected far behind the boat.  He got his fish in and it was a nice size halibut.  Soon after, a young girl connected with a smallish seabass fishing a dropper loop rig on the stern.

Unfortunately for me, I was posted up along the starboard side.  I tried to fish a slider rig, but with the current and given where I was on the boat, it wasn’t working out.  My line quickly strayed into the anglers to my right and I had to reel in and reset to avoid tangling up with them.  So I switched out and fished a dropper loop using 40lb mono and a 5/0 Aki Twist hook with a live (stunned) squid.  I got no bites all morning.


Gotta love these guys

By the afternoon though, some of the anglers started to get tired, bored or whatever and left the rail…opening up room for me to fish the port stern corner.  I switched up to a Carolina rig, using a 3oz. slider, and 30# fluoro top shot to a 3/0 hook.  I casted upcurrent and let my bait bounce along the bottom toward the stern.  Immediate hookup.  I was able to get the fish to color to see that it was a sizeable (30 lbs.?) white seabass.  Unfortunately, he popped off at that point.  I tried the same tactic again, got bit again, and it came off again before I saw anything.  Crap!  Those two bites turned out to be my sole opportunities for the day.  Maybe the hook was too small?  I didn’t have a 4/0, so I couldn’t test that theory.  Maybe I pulled too hard?  I don’t think so, but it’s possible.  Maybe it just wasn’t my day.

That was pretty much my day.  The boat got 3 more wsb (so 1 hali, and 4 wsb total) and a bunch of cuda to round out the count.  In relation to the other boats, we did pretty well.  High boat was the Mirage with 11 wsb.  We left around 2:30pm to head back to the landing for the weigh in.  The hali was big fish on our boat and ended up weighing 18 lbs. on the official scale.  It was good enough to take 3rd.  The winning fish was a 27.5 lb. seabass caught aboard the Sea Jay.  I coulda been a contenda!  Oh well, that’s fishing.  Thanks to the crew of the PI for another good day on the water and to the landing for the heads up so I could even play.  Kudos to Western Outdoor News for a fun event.  Judging from the buzz at the weigh in from the competitors and observers, I’d say it was a success.  I’ll be back to try again next year.


2013 WON Channel Islands Shootout winners



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