In the week leading up to my last trip of the year, people kept asking me…  How’s the fishing?  How’s the weather?  My response?  “I don’t care.  If they’re going.  I’m going.”  Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what the count looks like, or what the conditions are supposed to be…you just gotta go fish.  I found 19 other like minded individuals at the landing ready to go too.  We would be pleasantly surprised.

It was the familiar crew working the trip – Capt. Steve Virtue, 2nd Capt. Dan, Bryan and Ron on deck, and Laura in the galley.  Steve gave his usual trip briefing, but with a nice little surprise.  “We’re going to make our way out to San Miguel.”  Oh yeah?  🙂  We had really nice larger size anchovies (3-5″) and cut squid for bait.  I rigged a standard double dropper bait, swimbait and jig setups and hit my bunk.

I slept like a baby.  One of the calmest rides ever to the outer islands.

I woke up around 6:30.  The sun was just starting to come up.  I made my way on deck and was greeted to this view as we neared San Miguel Island…

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It ended up being another 40 minutes or so before we settled in for our first drift, to the north of the far west end of the island.  Wow, we are way out here.  That never would’ve happened had it not been so calm.

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Tady 4/0 squid pattern

I was excited and hopeful that it would be a good day.  I started off fishing bait.  Unfortunately, that first stop wasn’t it.  Just smallish, mixed rockfish…starries, blues, johnny bass etc.  We moved and reset.  Next stop was a little better, but still not great.  The drift wasn’t really moving because the conditions were so calm, no wind and little current.  Might as well throw a jig and try to cover some ground.  Yeah, that worked 🙂

It was a good fish, and I had the early lead on jackpot.  I was throwing jigs on the starboard side.  There were a few other guys throwing jigs or swimbaits too.  We were smashing it compared to everyone else on the boat, at least in terms of catching lings.  There weren’t big baits in the hand wells, and the lingcod seemed to want more than a snack.

One guy fishing next to me (didn’t get his name) was killing it on a red 5″ swimbait.  He ended up with a ridiculous 12 legals!

We were rapidly ticking down to the 60 ling boat limit, and slowly picking away at the rockfish.  There were a lot of red tuna crabs getting spit out for the ones that did hit the deck.  Maybe the rockfish were fat and lazy on the crab?

Toward the end of the day, we made our way into the shallows of Rosa to try and get some whitefish and sheephead to round out the day.  I did a lot of single dropper with a full squid looking for a sheepie for Juj, but no luck.  One guy managed to get one though and it looked like a threat to JP.  In the end, my early ling held up.  Great trip to end the year.  The boat limited on lings and was just shy of it on rockfish.  Sometimes you just gotta go.  I’m glad I did.  Tight lines.

Editors note – Rockfishing is closed now in U.S. waters until March 1st. 

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