The size of the white seabass being caught along our mainland coast, is unbelievable. Fishing action is scattered and moves frequently any where from Point Dume in Malibu to Point Conception west of Santa Barbara. Fish in the right place at the right time with the right thing and the results will feed the family for days.
“It is simply incredible, the size of white seabass we are catching, right here along the coast,” said Capt. Tiffany Vague of WaveWalker Charters and manager of Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center in Santa Barbara. “In fact, of late we are catching much bigger fish along the mainland coast than at the Channel Islands. A 40-pounder is fairly common and fish to 60 pounds are caught.
“The wild part is that we are experiencing ‘lost opportunities,’ which are even bigger fish busting off our heavy-duty 40-pound line,” she continued.
Thinking back, it was not that many years ago that we didn’t know white seabass could get this big. Now, here we are enjoying a robust fishery featuring monster-size fish that happen to be fantastic table fare. We carefully managed this fish back to abundance with tried and true fisheries management practices, not by closing off parts of the ocean with damaging closed-to-fishing Marine Protected Areas.
After decades of hard work and careful management, the results are swimming all around us. The trick is to find squid spawning activity in shallow (roughly 40 to 80 feet of water), jig up some live squid with a specialty squid rig, pin live squid on the hook and put it out in the water column. On my charterboat, WaveWalker, we run a weighted hook, a liveline hook, a dropper loop rig and a white jig.
Then the patience-testing wait begins. It can take a while to get bite — a long while. Once bit, more patience is needed because it is wise to let the fish take the squid and run with it before putting the reel in gear, letting the fish pull the line taut and then matching muscle with the wild critter.
— 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.