This reminds me of opening day of dear season in the Midwest where some states have considered making it a legal holiday, simply because a huge percentage of the population is not expected to report for work that day. People wait all year for the opener, and many believe that the early season represents the best opportunities for hunting success. They just can’t help themselves because the call of the wild and the taste of truly fresh meat are temptations too strong to ignore.
It is much the same here on opening day of boat-based rockfish/lingcod season.
So the question is, where did all the fisherfolk go this weekend? The answer is, fishing of course, just like people on the opening day of dear season, duck season and a few other greatly anticipated openers when we take a very first-hand part in the ongoing and successful management of our game species.
March 1 — this Friday — is our boat-based rockfish and lingcod opener. At my fishing tackle shop, Hook, Line & Sinker (on Calle Real between Upper State and Highway 154) we have been busy all week getting scores of anglers geared up and ready with the right information and regulations. We are truly blessed here because the Santa Barbara Channel and waters surrounding the Channel Islands are teeming with healthy fish stocks. We enjoy stellar rockfishing, and I have never seen lingcod populations so robust.
Our anglers know this and have been eagerly waiting to sink their pearly whites into some fresh, delicious healthy fish. I’m talking about fish so fresh that it was swimming a few hours ago. You don’t buy that in a grocery store. The taste difference between that fish and one that has been dead for days or weeks is astounding. Besides, a day on the water is a day of great adventure.
Rigging is relatively simple. For rockfish, the standard rig is a double-hook leader with an 8- to 12-ounce weight at the bottom. Bait up the hooks with strips of squid, lower it to rocky structure on the seafloor and reel up your reward. Lingcod are big and tougher because they are stronger and more aggressive. Mostly we use heavy lures, and the king of our lingcod lures is the Lingslayer, available at Hook, Line & Sinker.
Opportunities to fish are readily available. I operate a charter boat, WaveWalker. Another great charter boat is the Jesse Mae. The Stardust is Santa Barbara’s open-party boat where individuals can buy a ticket and go on the boat with many other fishers.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.