The last trip was aboard the Gentleman, where we enjoyed a great day of yellowtail fishing on the north side of Anacapa Island.  The only thing better would have been to top off the day doing some calico bass fishing.  Capt. Donny Rowell said that action though was down the beach.

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Last Saturday (Sept. 19), I was lucky enough to be able to get onboard the Island Spirit (everything was sold out up there…look ahead in the schedule and book your spot early).  I was totally out of synch the last time on this boat.  I was looking for some redemption.

I boarded the boat with 27 other anglers for this 5am to 4pm run.  Onboard was a mix of nice sardines and some chove.  The crew rigged some sabikis, but the passengers wouldn’t have to make bait.  Capt. Jeff Bunde told us we’d be heading down the beach to the County Line area off Malibu looking for yellowtail.  The rest of the crew consisted of Jake and Alvin on deck; and Kathy and Jessica in the galley.  I was excited.  I haven’t been down this way since last December when we saw the striped marlin!  It was going to be a long ride down, so I ordered a burrito, and setup my rigs: 30 mono flyline, braid to short 25 fluoro topshot, and 40 mono surface iron.  After eating, I settled in for a little nap.

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Bass selfie with deckboss Jake Holder

The boat slowed down and we started looking.  The sun was up and the sea was calm.  Several privates and kayaks in the area as we settled into the spot.  We dropped the pick and gave it a go.  I started with my 30 flyline rig.  The water was really clear and abundant with life…bass, bonito, barracuda…classic Summer inshore fishing conditions.  There was a younger angler that casted a bait off the stern and immediately got picked up.  He followed the fish around to the starboard side and boated it by the bait tank.  It was a smallish, but decent maybe 8-10 lb. yellow.  Nice start to the day.  I wasn’t getting bit.  As clear as the water was, I decided it might be a good idea to switch up to the lighter setup.  It was a good call and I managed a beefy bonito and a calico before we vacated the spot.

Unfortunately, the rest of the morning was spent chasing around schools that didn’t want to bite.  I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the yellows, but I re-rigged my 30 mono setup as a reverse dropper…thinking halibut.

There was really no current going which Capt. Jeff blamed for the lack of biting fish.  He decided to post up just outside the kelp line to target calico bass.  Good.  I was looking forward to doing it.  It lived up to expectations.  The kelp here wasn’t as thick as it is in say Point Loma, but it was thick enough.  There was a large section of kelp forest immediately in front of us…maybe 15 feet front-to-back to an open area beyond it.  Most people were dropping in on the front side of it.  Calicos and small yellows could be seen below.  Most of the fish though on the front side were of the undersized variety.

What I was doing was casting beyond the thick mat of kelp in front of us to the open area on the other side of it.  There was about 5 of us who could put it back there and for us, pretty much any bait was getting smashed.  The real challenge was getting the bass up to the top so you could skip them over the kelp canopy and get ’em back into the boat.  I lost several hooks and fish, but won more than my fair share of these encounters.  It was really fun fishing.

Unfortunately, that would be it for the yellows.  The water started moving and Jeff gave it another go.  The Sea Jay, Aloha Spirit, and Island Tak all joined us in the same general area, but for nothing.  I flylined a couple baits, gave up and went with the halibut rig.  I actually had one bait get dogboned, but I didn’t recognize it was getting bit and missed it.  Oh well.  Overall a fun day.  If you took the two trips for the week…the yellows on the Gent and the calicos on the Island Spirit, it would’ve been the perfect summer trip.  The one little yellow from the beginning of the day took JP.  Thanks to Captain Jeff and his crew for a good day on the water.  I’ll definitely be back to fish with you all again.

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