Sunset over the bait receiver at CISCO’s

July is quickly coming to a close and I realized I hadn’t been up to the 805 all month.  After a strong couple months in the spotlight with a spectacular white seabass bite, a bevy of big ‘buts (which I totally whiffed on), and their share of yellowtail…tuna fever hit SoCal and the sportfishing focus shifted south.  This month I’ve fished offshore from San Diego and Dana.  I’m still probably going to go offshore a few more times, but I was ready for a change of pace and decided to head north this week.

I hit up Amie in the landing and asked her what I needed to bring.  Amie is always complaining that people don’t listen to her gear recommendations.  Listen to this woman!  “Bring 12’s and 16’s Joe.”  Serious?  “Yes.”

OK then, I showed up Sunday night with a heavier tackle bag and boarded the Pacific Islander with 25 other anglers.  As it turns out, a bunch of the Chasing Tail crew were on the trip.  I met a bunch of these guys on a birthday trip for CT crewmember Manny.  This trip was another birthday, this time for Santiago.  For the boat, it was the regular crew of Capt. Steve Virtue, his second Dan, deckboss Bryan, Laura in the galley, and new deckhand Sean.  We had live squid for bait.  Capt. Steve said the conditions weren’t going to be cooperative on the north side of Santa Rosa.  We’d fish the backside in the gray light for seabass or halibut.  If that wasn’t happening, we’d rockfish deep so be ready with a 12 or 16.  Thanks Amie 😉

Good morning Joe!

Good morning Santa Rosa

I stayed up a little too long celebrating with Santiago and the rest of the CT guys and missed the gray light.  When I came out on deck, Capt. Steve greeted me by saying, “I forgot you were fishing with us today!”  Thanks Steve.  I put in about an hour soaking the high dropper before he called for Plan B.  All I missed was a calico, a barracuda and a leopard shark.  The cuda was on the dropper, so it wouldn’t have counted for the Top 10 anyway.

We made about a 45 minute move.  I took the opportunity to grab a bite with Laura.  We stopped at the far west end of the island in about 270 feet of water and did a drift.  Even though we were in the open water between Rosa and Miguel, it wasn’t too bad in terms of wind or swell.  I was tempted to try a jig, but given the depth, I just played it straight and fished a double dropper with the squid.  It was immediately productive.  A small teenage girl scored a huge sheephead.  I was in my normal starboard/stern area, throwing against the drift and bouncing back to the boat.  One of the CT guys, David, was fishing next to me and scored another nice sheephead.   That ended up being it for #thatdamnfish for the trip (shaking my head).

Capt. Steve came on the intercom, “OK guys that was the warm up.  We’re going to go right up to 300 in the next spot.  Make sure you have your 16’s.”  Steve later told me that with all the warm water pushing up from down south, this is what they’ve had to do of late.  The rockfish have gone deeper to find colder water.  It’ll be a good thing next year when we get our 10 fathoms back.  We’ll need it.

We spent the rest of the day fishing the deeper water spots.  It was good.  I was kind of on a meat mission (I’ve been craving ling and rockfish to eat) and I also figured fishing the squid was my best shot at #thatdamnfish so I just fished bait all day.  Some people tried to throw a jig, but they couldn’t get it down.  David had a 12 oz. leadhead and sent a swimmie down for a nice chuckie, but that was all I saw for artificials.  The quality of the fish was really nice.  I had a large treefish that was unusual to see at that depth (migrated out of it’s shallower kelpy home?).  I also had a large bosco that was an easy 3 lbs.!  There were 13 lings for the trip, biggest of which came out at 13 and change.  It still lost to the little girl’s big 16lb. goat.  I managed to get 2 blue ones, so I was happy.  Limits of rockfish all around.

On the way home, Sean setup a trolling rig on the back of the boat.  I asked him about it.  He said they ran into a school of tuna recently…big jumping fish in the 50 lb. class.  Hmmm, definitely something to keep an eye on as this crazy season develops.  Thank you Capt. Steve and crew for another good trip.  See you again soon.  Tight lines!

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