I hope all of you have a wonderful day today with family and friends.  Had a chance yesterday to go out and fish the Spitfire with Captain Jeremy and crew.  December 31st is the end of ling cod season (reopens March 1st, 2012).  So after getting the trip cut short on Sunday, I was anxious to get out and see if I could get another before it ends.  Eight other anglers had the same idea.

Mr. Balut and his hitcher ling

What a difference a few days make!  Pretty brisk to start the day, but conditions were otherwise perfect…calm seas, no wind, and a gloriously sunny day.  Not too much current either.  We got to the first spot and no issues anchoring up.  I was fishing on the port side when the angler next to me got bit.  The way his rod was going and how he was struggling, I thought that maybe he ling’d up.  He did too.  “Might be a ling” he said as he slowly reeled it up.  Turned out to be a big sculpin.  Bummer for you buddy.  I’ve made that mistake before..

One nice red on that spot, but overall slow, so we moved on.  Jeremy got on the next spot and said to bring it up higher, “maybe 15-20 cranks” as there were a lot of fish holding higher up.  Small hooks and just strips of squid were the preferred rig (even though we had live squid).  Sure enough, nice school of belindas holding over structure.  Everyone loaded up on them and we also boated quite a few salmon grouper (aka bocaccio).  We moved around a bit, but that’s how most of the morning went.

The big excitement was Mr. Balut’s (sp?) hitchhiker.  I was starboard next to the cabin and he was a couple guys down from me toward the stern.  We were all up, nailing belindas.  He hooked up and was reeling in when all of a sudden his rod got really heavy.  He was smart enough not to jerk it or wind too fast.  Pinhead Julian was next to him, gaff ready.  It surfaced and sure enough, a nice ling with a belinda almost obscured in his mouth.  Julian got in a good gaff to it’s head and he was in.  Nice job rookie.  I got my share here too.  No lings, but I got one of the bigger salmon groupers on the boat.  Another angler got one a little bigger than mine.  I’ll come back to this guy later…

The hitchhiking scenario...re-enacted

We got our rockfish limits and moved in shallower to top off sacks with sculpin.  That went pretty quickly as well.  All I did was cut some of the line down to the sinker a bit, so that I was hanging lower.  After doing well with the lucanus on the sculpin Sunday, I switched out my lower dropper loop to the lucanus.  I hung small strips of squid to the assist hooks and the strips looked like part of the skirt (which was supposed to look like a squid).  Quickly knocked it out on the sculpin.  There was a bit of time on the clock and Jeremy said we’d do a couple drifts to finish things out.  I switched up to a reverse dropper, 8oz of weight and a longer leader to a single hook pinned with a whole live squid.  Most of the other anglers did this too.  A couple of us got hooked up on lings, but they were shorts and that was that.

Now back to that other angler.  The ling was pretty obviously the jackpot fish, but he decided he was going to play a little joke on Mr. Balut.  He loaded his salmon grouper with about 3 lbs. of weights.  It was kind of ridiculous.  You could see the chunky outline of them in the belly of his fish.  Lead deckhand John was in on the joke and called everyone to weigh in for jackpot.  The ling was on one side already when this guy came up with the weighed down bocaccio.  What?  The look on Mr. Balut’s face was priceless when he saw the scale tip the other way.  Everyone had a good laugh.  Thanks to Capt. Jeremy and crew for a another great day.  I’ll be fishing Dana Wharf tomorrow for their halibut drift day.  Wish me luck.  Tight lines!

The Jokester and his weights

Sun, sea and salmon grouper

 

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