IMG_3308I have the kids every Tuesday night for dinner (they live with their mom).  As we were eating last Tuesday, Juj says, “Dad, can we go fishing when we’re with you this weekend?”  Absolutely sweetheart (twist my arm, right?).  Why do you want to go fishing so bad?  “I can’t wait to wear my new Costa Sunglasses!”  Haha.  Of course, a new accessory to wear.  Whatever works.  So Saturday morning (April 12th) me and the kids drove up to Oxnard to Channel Islands Sportfishing and rode the Speed Twin for their extended half day run (8am – 4pm).

The 3 of us were part of 46 anglers onboard for the day.  Despite the large number, it’s a big boat and it wasn’t too bad finding room to fish.  The bait tanks were already loaded with live anchovies and they had box squid as well for bait.  There’s a new crew working the boat, but there was a relief captain driving (Capt. Craig) for the day.  Capt. Craig said they’d been fishing down the beach, but it hadn’t been good so he wanted to try something different and head to the islands.  It’d be about an hour ride, so we worked on setting up our poles.  It was overcast, but not a lot of wind and otherwise comfortable except for the perplexing number of kelp flies plaguing us.

IMG_3312After the ride over, we setup shop just off the NE end of Anacapa Island.  We didn’t drop anchor, but instead setup a drift.  Given the skill level of the anglers onboard (you shouldn’t expect a high saltiness level on a boat that leaves at 8am), I wasn’t sure it was a great idea.  We were on the right side of the boat though and casted our lines out which helped to avoid getting tangled.  We were in about 180 feet of water.  Given the depth and the number of people aboard, we played it straight and took advantage of the nice anchovies we had for bait.

We had a fast start.  First drop I caught a nice 2-3 lb. red and Juj matched me up with a like sized chuckie.  It must’ve been a small spot though, because the bite quickly petered out and we needed to reset to drift it again.  That was pretty much the pattern for the morning as we worked a series a small spots.

As we got toward lunch time, the sun came out and the fishing picked up as well.  We got into a spot where it was pretty automatic.  If you pinned on a fresh, lively chovy, you were almost guaranteed a bocaccio (aka salmon grouper).  Amongst all the grouper were a mixture of starries, barberpoles, and if you fished the squid strips higher up, nice bank perch as well.  We hit the spot over and over and loaded up sacks until we hit the boat limit on the groupers (3 per angler).

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Capt. Craig said he was going to make a longer move to get away from the grouper and get in a spot where we should see more reds, chuckies, and maybe score a lingcod.  He said it would be shallower, so Jake and I took the opportunity to rig some jigs during the ride over.  While we fished the east end of the island, because of the angle, we weren’t able to see the arch.  The ride over gave us and the rest of the passengers some nice views of the island, including the iconic Anacapa Arch.

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Juj looking stylish in her new Costas and a jackpot ling

We ended up in the gap between Anacapa and Santa Cruz.  It was now about 120 feet deep with less wind and current…much better conditions to throw a jig.  At this point, Juj had found her groove.  She already had 8 fish in the sack and had made friends with some college girls who had fished next to her all day.  After getting her setup with bait and casting her out, Jake and I took the opportunity to head over to the other side of the boat and throw jigs against the drift.

After awhile throwing, it was pretty clear that not only were we not going to catch a ling, no other fish wanted our offerings either.  It was disappointing, but it had still been a good day.  We decided to head back and see how Juj was doing.  As we got back, Juj was in the middle of a mighty battle.  One of the deckhands was standing next to her, gaff at the ready.  Jake and I looked at each other.  “Oh no, please tell me she doesn’t have a ling” he says.  We watched her handle her business and when the fish got to color, not only was it a ling, but it was clearly legal.  The deckie stuck it and that was that.  Wow!

There was one other ling caught earlier in the day, but the angler wasn’t in the jackpot.  When they weighed up, a couple of the larger groupers gave it a shot and weighed against her but it wasn’t close.  Juj won her first jackpot.  Thanks to Capt. Craig and the crew of the Speed Twin for a memorable day on the water.  Not only did Juliana catch the first legal ling of the year amongst the Salty Crew, she took the first jackpot.  Nice job Juj!  Tight lines.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Sunny in the galley makes a mean bacon cheeseburger.  Do yourself a favor and get one!

 

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