IMG_5001Half day boats, they are the warhorse of every landing’s fleet.  Sometimes during the year, they go out 3 times a day…a morning run, afternoon, and a twilight ride.  Having the shortest allotment of time for a trip, a halfie is typically a pretty routine affair, especially at this time of the year.  For the typical winter half day trip (during the rockfish closure), it’s a steady diet of sand bass and sculpin.  Sculpin are the predictable bag filler.  Catching a sand bass puts you in the jackpot conversation at the end of the ride.

It’s a routine that suits a lot of anglers.  Spending $40-$45 for a ride, enjoying a few hours fishing and coming home with fresh fish is definitely a nice way to spend the day.  For those of us though who’s freezers are stocked with the big game treasures of last year’s bounty, a sculpin and sand bass meat ride doesn’t hold a lot of allure.

The New Seaforth breaks this mold.  I had the pleasure over the last several months of getting to know this boat a lot better.  Capts. RJ Hudson and Brian Castleton have hosted me on a several rides, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  Catching half day yellowfin last summer aboard the NSF was one of the really memorable rides of 2014.  It isn’t summer now though, and I was curious to see what these guys are up to in the dead of winter.

Prior to my Colonet trip on the Eclipse, I rode the New Seaforth for a Thursday morning ride.  I rode again on the Monday after I got back, and then I rode 3 more times this week!  Over the course of those trips, all I’ve managed to catch are a handful of rockfish.  On all but one trip though, someone picked up an “exotic”…mostly yellowtails, but a handful of halibut and white seabass found their way into the mix as well.  It may only be a one or two fish a trip, but they’re quality fish.


Friday, Jan. 30th afternoon ride

And then they have days where it all comes together…usually for a small group of anglers that didn’t chase the count and just came out.  These are the days you tell stories about if you were there.  I asked Capt. RJ why the trips were an all or nothing type proposition… “We don’t have the big artificial reefs that you guys have up north, so we really don’t have the big sandbass and sculpin spots that you guys have.”  Makes sense.  It feels like it might be more philosophical than that though.  I mean, how many half day boats do you know of that even think to look outside and go for tuna?

Although I did see one surface boil of yellowtail while I was out with these guys, for the most part they are boxing areas of known activity, while keeping an eye on the side scanner.  Once a school is located, they get on top of the school and then the anglers drop in using either a heavy jig, or dropper loop setup.  In the picture above, Capt. Brian told me the school hung with the boat for an hour of epic fishing.  Typically though, you drop in, maybe one or two fish get hung, and you move on looking for the next school.

I suspect that this will be the pattern for at least the next month or so.  The boat tends to get full the day immediately after a big hit, but it’s typically a light load.  The water is clean and warm (low 60’s) and there is a lot of bait in the water…good signs that the fish will stay around.  Right now, the 3/4 day boats are spotty getting out to the islands.  If you want to get out and have a chance to go big, this is your ride.  Don’t be a count chaser.  Just figure out when you can go and do it.  Who knows, it might be you telling the story 😉

VIDEO: Capt. RJ is excited to see a ghost


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