IMG_5989I ride the Pacific Islander out of Channel Islands Sportfishing a pretty fair amount…It has very comfortable for both sleeping and on deck for fishing.  I love Capt Steve Virtue and his crew.  Laura kicks a$$ in the galley.  Just a great overall experience.  Typically I try to write some catchy headline for my trip reports, but given I’ve been fishing for yellowtail and tuna so much this year, the fact that we went on a straight rockfish trip is noteworthy by itself.  In fact, the last 2 times on the boat I caught tuna and white seabass.  As much fun as this year has been with the exotics, I was definitely ready to ROCK–fish.

The trip left Saturday night (Nov 15).  Going into the weekend, I wondered if the boat was even going to get off the dock.  Strong winds were predicted, especially at the outer Channel Islands.  We left though with an almost full boat of 26 anglers (30 sleeping capacity).  Onboard we had live anchovies and frozen squid for bait.  The regular crew of Capt. Steve Virtue, his second Dan, Bryan and Sean on deck, and Laura in the galley worked the trip.  In his trip briefing, Steve said it would be bumpy on the way out, but that we’d try to get to Miguel.  Wait, what?  Really?  It’s rare that we get out there and I thought given the predictions of strong wind there wasn’t a chance, but wow.  I was excited, but given the lack of sleep from Fishing With Grumpy, I hit my bunk and was out almost immediately.

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The next morning I woke up to a brilliant sunrise.  My buddies Kevin Brannon of Reel Anglers and Robert Danelen (from surf fishing) greeted me on deck.  I was surprised to see we were on the north side of Rosa which is usually the “weather” side.  There was a bit of chop, but not bad at all.  We were a little ways off the spot, so I ordered a burrito from Laura and prepared to fish.

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Picked up my first hitchhiker

We settled into a spot that was about halfway between Rosa and Miguel, but closer to the mainland than the islands.  Steve setup a drift and the results were pretty immediate…for everyone on the boat but me it seemed.  I was fishing the same setup I had used last week to yoyo that yellow on the Enterprise.  All that mono on top of the spectra had me feeling lost.  People fished like this before, but it wasn’t working for me.  After we were done with the drift, I stripped off all the mono except enough topshot to tie some dropper loops.  Ahhh, much better and I started putting fish in the sack.

I had started the day fishing a 16 oz. sinker as recommended, but as the day progressed conditions got better and better.  Some people started fishing jig and a fly (or bare hook) setups to good results and I followed suit.  Jesse of lingcodjigs had given me one of his jigs to try out and I figured now was as good a time as any.  I tied it onto the bottom and then put a bare circle hook about a foot above it with a strip of squid.  Just before I casted, my other buddy Treve had found some mackerel reeling his line back in.  I casted out against our drift and was kind of puzzled when it stopped sinking.  WTH?  After awhile, it started to sink again, and I wondered if it didn’t get stopped by a mackerel.  It finally hit bottom and almost immediately I got whacked.  I took my time with it.  If a mackerel big enough to stop 8 oz. was on there, I needed to give the ling time to choke it down a little.  It was a good call and I was rewarded with my first ever hitchhiker ling!

Sean stripped out the mackerel into small slabs to use for bait and I sent it out again.  I got stopped again mid-fall!  This is weird.  I was thinking it might be another mega-mackerel like on the Coral from Saturday.  Something that big I better trap rig or cut into smaller piecs, so I reeled it up.  To my surprise, it was a nice bonito that bit the mackerel slab!  I bled it, put it on ice and went back to fishing.

The next cast, I was able to get Jesse’s jig down to the bottom and fish it properly.  I kept on getting bit, but was missing bites.  The boat was rapidly approaching limits on both rockfish and lingcod, so I decided to switch up.  Treve gave me one of his homemade jigs to try out and I gave it a whirl.  It worked pretty well, in the next hour before we hit limits I picked up 2 more legal lings and a bonus cabezon.  Meanwhile, Treve’s friend Theresa who was fishing the stern with us was absolutely killing it.  It seemed like every drop she was soon rolling up another ling.  When it was all said and done, I counted 7 legals for her and she ended up taking jackpot.

The day was running out and we had reached limits of lings and rockfish.  Steve went shallow to see if we could pickup some whitefish (I was hoping for #thatdamnfish).  A couple nice sized ones came over the rail and that was the day.  Overall, a very nice day…surprisingly nice conditions and full sacks for everyone.  Thank you to Capt. Steve and his crew on the Pacific Islander for a great day on the water.  See you in a couple weeks for the SoCal Salty sponsored trip.  Tight lines!

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