Let's kill some fish!

Let’s kill some fish!

Friday night (March 28), I boarded the Pacific Islander for an overnight trip to the outer Channel Islands.  I was supposed to ride this boat for opening day of rockfish season (March 1st), but high wind and swells kept all the boats in the harbor.  That was a major bummer.  My last trip on the boat was the Ling-tastic trip in November.  We hit the best weather I’ve ever seen on an outer island trip and laid the wood to the fish.  So I’ve been waiting now for almost 4 months to get back on!

The boat went out with 27 anglers, including my buddy Ty, Ricardo from Fisheye Channel, and several salties, many of whom I knew only from Facebook.  It was mostly the same crew, Capt. Steve Virtue, his second Dan, and Laura in the galley.  Bryan was joined on deck by new deckhand (to the boat) Jon.  The boat was tanked with live anchovies and boxed squid.  Steve gave his customary safety and trip briefing.  He said weather permitting, we’d try to make San Miguel (the westernmost island).  I was excited to try.  Ty is one of the fishiest guys I know.  Yet despite almost 30 years fishing the waters off SoCal and Baja, he had yet to get a legal ling.  I knew if we could make Miguel, it was all but guaranteed.  I rigged one rod and hit my bunk.

The next morning, I was up at roughly 6am.  It was still dark.  Laura was already rocking in the galley, so I had a breakfast burrito, then went on deck to rig up the rest of my rods.  My goal for the day was to get a ling and rockfish limit without using bait.  I setup my 40lb rig with the heaviest of my new Bait Wrap jigs, and a pink/white Zman Jerk ShadZ about a foot up from the jig.

LH_baitwrapchuck

Big chuck on the Bait Wrap

As the light came up, I could see an island to our starboard side.  I assumed it was Rosa, but it turned out to be Santa Cruz.  While we slept, the weather must have kicked up and Dan cut through to the backside to get out of it.  By the time we setup the first drift of the day, we were short of the west end of the island.  Miguel was in sight, but well off in the distance 🙁

Despite being on the “slow side” of the island and a cold wind kicking up a fast drift, the day started off well enough.  My first 2 casts, I scored short lings on the Zman.  On the third, I scored a fat chucklehead (copper rockfish) on the Bait Wrap jig.  The boat had one legal ling before Steve decided to move further west.

At the next stop, things slowed down for me.  It became clear that the anglers using bait were doing better than the jig fishermen.  I kept at it though…that is until I hung up my jig on a rock and lost it.  Ugh.  I gave in and switched over to bait, but only managed a gopher and blue rockfish.  Ty wasn’t doing any better.  He lost a Bait Wrap jig too and I could tell he was getting frustrated.  Ricardo added one more ling to the boat total (on bait).  Eventually we caught a break in the weather, and Steve decided to make a longer run to the good side of the island.  I took the opportunity to re-rig my next heavier Bait Wrap jig in the purple squid with  glow back.  I tied an orange and yellow shrimp fly on top.

Bryan holds up Ty's big ling

Bryan holds up Ty’s big ling

Things picked up significantly on the other side of the island.  Quality reds, chuckleheads, lings and assorted other rockfish started to fill the sacks.  There was even a run with large whitefish.  One in particular, caught by angler, Anne Levinson, was the size of a paddy yellow.  It was clear the bait anglers were enjoying the most success, so us jig throwers started tipping our lures which led to the most productive period of the trip.  It got pretty automatic, you’d throw and if it wasn’t a big head shaker on the other end, it was a nice red or chuckie.  Ty was throwing a pink and white Edge jig next to me and had a string of probably 10 consecutive casts where he connected on fish.  During that string, he got one bite which took him awhile to handle.  When he got it to the surface, it raised a cheer on the back of the deck.  He got his lingcod and it was big enough to put him in the lead for jackpot!

I filled up my sack during this run with quality reds and chucks.  I also added to my total of short lings.  Once I was done filling the sack, I was on a mission to finally get my ling.  I’d already tried 2 of the Bait Wraps and bait.  I tried the Bleeding Channel Chovy, the MC Swimbaits slug on a Gitzem leadhead, the Lucanus…it netted me a few promising bites.  Two were foul hooked shorties and the third was a double short!  Grrr…final count 10 shorts!  A new record for me.

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At this point, it was getting late in the day.  After that stretch we were limited out on rockfish.  Capt. Steve said he was going to try one last drift in the original Ling-sanity spot.  The drift was fast so we actually had 2 tries at it.  Not much to show for it, but one angler scored a big one.  At the weigh-in, it proved to be enough to take jackpot.

It was a tougher than normal trip for the PI, but the afternoon run saved it.  The final count was limits of rockfish, plus 4 Sheephead, 18 Whitefish, and 22 Lingcod.  Thanks to Capt. Steve and crew for another great trip.  Thank you Laura Hohensee for your many pictures used in this post.  Thanks to all the salties who came out.  I’ll be back soon.  Tight lines!

The jackpot ling

The jackpot ling

 

 

 

 

 

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