IMG_1960It’s funny, I’ve used ling-sanity, ling-a-palooza, ling-vana…I asked my buddy Jimmy Bass what ling hyperbole we should use for this trip.  Ling-tastic!  was his reply, so that’s what we’re rolling with this time around.  I’d been looking forward to this trip for awhile.  When I rode the Pacific Islander last month, Capt. Steve Virtue turned me on to the Bleeding Channel Chovy on that trip and it got me thinking.  I’m kind of bored with tying on a double dropper and waiting.  So lately, I’ve been focused on fishing various lures and figuring out what works, when etc.  I’ve been having a lot of fun going this route and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to introduce more people to fishing this way?”

So I reached out to All Fishin, manufacturer of Candy Bar swimbaits like the Bleeding Channel Chovy.  I asked the if they would supply me with some giveaways for a trip.  Boy did they come through.  Not only did they send a variety of the swimbaits, they also sent an assortment of Megabaits which they said worked really well on lingcod too.  I didn’t want to just giveaway the lures though and have them sit in tackle boxes.  I wanted people to try them out.  As an incentive, I got my buddy at Shimano to supply a beautiful 8 foot Tallus Bluewater rod as a giveaway rod.  In order to win the rod, you had to catch the biggest ling on the giveaway lures.  I promoted the trip with Channel Islands Sportfishing and minus a couple last minute cancels, we left Saturday night with a full boat.

Regular crew…Capt. Steve, 2nd ticket Dan, Bryan and Larry on deck and Laura in the galley.  We left the harbor with live anchovies and we met the bait boat in the channel to pick up live squid.  We enjoyed an easy ride to the west end of Rosa.  At first light, we were drifting the front side of the island.  Once I got some coffee in me and got out to the rail, I was struck by how calm the sea was.  It was almost too calm…hardly any wind or current to push the boat.  I opted to start the day with a pinkish Megabait and a pink shrimp fly tied about a foot up the line from it.  Capt. Steve had people lined up on the port side for the drift, so I posted on the starboard side and casted against the drift.

As opposed to fishing bait, fishing these lures is a much more active way of fishing.  My general technique is to cast it out, and let it sink to the bottom.  I quickly crank it up 5-10 cranks, then let it fall again.  Repeat all the way back to the boat.  Lings are ambush predators, so what I think happens is when you do the quick cranks, they see it race by and it catches their interest.  Then, when it falls, it triggers a reaction and they bite.  I usually get bit on the fall or just as I start to crank again.  It’s really fun to be there doing your thing and all of a sudden you’re heavy.  If I get hit and miss the bite, I immediately free spool and let it fall again.  Often you can reacquire the bite in this way.

Everything was working Sunday.  My first hit, I almost got a hitcher!  A short ling bit the shrimp fly and I had a follower all the way to the boat.  Shortly after, I got my first legal ling of the day on the Megabait.  It was just legal though.  Next I tried a Salas Baby 5x in scrambled egg (by itself) to get a bigger profile and hopefully a bigger fish.  Yup, that worked too.  Got 2 more.  Then for fun, I tried the Lucanus jig in the ling color.  With the Lucanus, you are supposed to fish them more vertically, let them hit bottom, slowly crank them up about 30 feet off the bottom, then drop down and repeat.  Since we weren’t on the anchor, I still casted them out.  Instead of the quick cranks though, I just slowly worked them up and back down all the way back to the boat.  That worked too.  Got 2 more on the Lucanus jig.  It was just one of those magical days where almost anything I pulled out of the box worked!  Along the way, I got 6 rockfish to go with my lings.

Top to bottom - Megabait, Salas 5x, Shimano Lucanus

Top to bottom – Megabait, Salas 5x, Shimano Lucanus

I was in a zone enjoying what I was doing, and other anglers were having success as well.  An angler named Robert was fishing next to me on the standard double dropper.  He had a Gulp jerk shad in nuclear chicken on his top loop and squid on the bottom loop.  On one memorable retrieve, he had double lings, with a 3rd bigger one following!  Another guy, KJ, was fishing next to me almost exclusively on the swimbaits.  I tried the swimmies for awhile but kept getting short bites.  Whatever he was doing differently was working and he was connecting.  My buddy Jimmy was up on the bow.  He was working his P-Line jig and also the Tora Tube (I call it the ling condom).  He beat me with 6 legal lings.  Just that kind of day.

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We left them biting because the boat limited early on both lings and rockfish.  There were also some big whitefish in the mix, a couple sheephead and a very big cabezon to round things out.  At the end of the day, a 10lb+ ling took the jackpot, narrowly edging out the larger of the 2 sheephead.  In our little side competition with the giveaway lures, KJ had the biggest ling to win the Shimano Tallus rod.  It was a great trip…maybe the funnest one of the year!  We enjoyed the best conditions I’ve ever seen in the outer Channel Islands, the fish wanted to bite, and we had a great group of anglers onboard.  Thanks to Capt. Steve and his crew for another epic day on the water.  Thank you to All Fishin and Shimano for the giveaways.  Tight lines!

VIDEO – Just so you could get a feel for how nice the conditions were

Read Jimmy Bass’ account of our trip!

 

 

 

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