I’ve been catching halibut off of Goleta Beach this week on my WaveWalker charter boat, then following that up with bass, rockfish (think red snapper) or lingcod. Fishing is good wherever the weather lets us fish.
Prolonged winds have limited island fishing opportunities recently, but when feasible the fishing possibilities are limitless. White seabass are foraging aggressively around the east end of Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island. Halibut are hanging out below the seabass, adding greatly to the options.
Some big fish have been reported, such as halibut in the 50-pound range and white seabass of more than 60 pounds. It wasn’t long ago that we didn’t know white seabass could grow to more than 70 pounds, but even some of those — and bigger — have been caught (by rod and reel or by spearfishing) this season and last.
These species of fish are being managed very well, with time-tested management practices of seasons, bag limits and minimum size restrictions. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have nothing to do with these fisheries management successes. MPAs are business battles over grant money and cause harm to our local economies.
Pelagic fish are cruising into our waters for their seasonal forays. Thresher shark numbers are coming up sharply along our coast with Caprinteria, Goleta and Gaviota hosting some of the best concentrations of T-sharks. Barracuda were caught recently off of the rock island near La Conchita. Yellowtail showed up for brief but furious forays behind Anacapa Island.
There is more to come. We hope for a return of bonito later in the summer. Very large bonito (10 to 15 pounds) showed up in big numbers every year — except for last year — for five years in a row. Every year is different, but we hope for their return this summer.
With so many options, fishing fever is taking hold. But there is so much more out there. Like today, I had a group of kids out on charter and we encountered a pod of dolphins. We slowed down a respectable distance away and those critters raced over to join us. They swam with us for about 15 minutes. Those kids had a blast, and so did I.
Farther out in the Santa Barbara Channel, humpback whales, blue whales and others are feasting on an incredibly abundant population of krill.
It is high time to take to the sea for a day. Get to it!
— 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.