IMG_7508Friday night as I was prepping gear, I texted my buddy Matthew.  “Thinking about heading up for the PI trip on Sat.”  Matt replied, “I’m already on that boat.”  Nice.  So as soon as we got back in Saturday afternoon/evening on the Enterprise, I just headed up the 405 and made my way toward Oxnard for the 10pm departure.

I hadn’t had a straight up rockfish trip since just after the season opened in March.  That trip was aboard the Pacific Islander too.  It was a bumpy trip, but Capt. Steve tucked into one of his honey holes in the lea of the island.  The afternoon was epic!  I tallied 7 legal lings that day and Matthew got 11!  It was a super fun time and I was looking forward to more of the same.

I made it to the landing with plenty of time to spare.  After checking in, it was only a few minutes before Bryan came up and told us to board.  It was a nice light load of only 15 anglers total (half full).  Once Capt. Steve gave his trip briefing, I was in my bunk and quickly out.

santarosa_sunrise

 

Reeb_lingThe next morning we were on the south side of Rosa.  We started the day off the west end of the island, fishing deep…300+ feet.  Recommended setup was a standard double dropper with a pound of lead.  We had little pinner choves and cut frozen squid for bait.  I started off with a squid head and a strip.  Immediately the fishing was good.  Nice reds, chucks, johnnies, bocaccio and a lot of short lings.  I wanted try and put something down with a bigger profile to see if any bigger lings were around.  Sean was hiding all the whole squid, so I put on an orange Reeb’s grubtail.  It was a good call.  I ended up with one of the very few legal lings during the deep drift part of the day.  Despite the lack of lings, overall the fishing was good.  The boat limited out on the nicer quality, outer island size fish early.  We were done by about 8:30.

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Now what?  The day was following Capt. Steve Virtue’s plan…knockout the rockfish count quickly, in order to focus on what he likes doing best, shallow water lingcod fishing.  Time to move.  Matthew went with a swimbait.  I fished a red crab/rockfish colored Tady 4/0 heavy.  We hit a series of spots.  Plenty of action, but still not a lot of legals.  I was tipping my jig with a mass of squid heads and strips, but not finding the fish I was looking for.  I lost the jig and tried fishing a Toro Tube on a 6 oz. jighead.  Nope.  Steve confinued further east.  We were close now to the far east end of the island.  The crew said to rig the big swimmie, so that’s what I did.  I used the big Candy Bar one in a brown and red pattern.  As we rolled into the spot, I noticed a funky looking setup on a rod leaning against the rail.

VIDEO: Sean’s Funky Chicken (language is a bit salty)

Right after Sean’s score on the Funky Chicken, I heard a big thud behind me.  Whoa!  Capt. Steve had just come from the bow.  Steve hung what ended up being the big fish of the day, a 16lb. beast that he got on the Candy Bar swimbait in his favorite pattern – the Bleeding Channel Chovy.  That little stretch turned out to be the best of the day.  I redeemed myself and got 2 more fish to fill out my bag limit.  Matthew got 2, and one of his fish took jackpot (since Steve’s didn’t count).  We fished really shallow on the last stop of the day looking for whitefish and I managed to get a bonus cabazon.

The trip wasn’t as great as the season opener, but definitely a fun day on the water.  Final count:  2 Sheephead 1 Whitefish 150 Rockfish (limits) 29 Lingcod and my cabbie for the 15 anglers.  I can always count on this boat for a fun ride.  Thank you to Capt. Steve and his excellent crew.  Tight lines!

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