Offshore breezes throughout the Santa Barbara Channel created a perfect day of glassy seas, ideal for fishing structure spots along the weather side of the Channel Islands. Our target species was lingcod, and we knew we’d catch limits of vermilion and copper rockfish while we were about our business.
The first spot I put my passengers on was a pinnacle set apart from a rocky ridge on the north side of Santa Rosa Island. The depth was 265 feet, but reeling up with hooks full of heavy rockfish and lingcod, it fell more like 400 feet.
A couple of very large rockfish came up first. When charter master Larry dropped down a second time, armed with a special lure of my own design called the “Lingslayer,” his rod bent double and his Penn International 975LD gave up a few feet of blue Berkley Pro Spec line when a big lingcod savagely attacked the lure and turned to bulldog its way back to the rocks. The drag was tight because Larry couldn’t let that lingcod get back into its rocky lair, but the quality Pro Spec line gave us the confidence to put pressure on the powerful fish.
The first 20 seconds of a fight with a lingcod is 80 percent of the story. The rod, reel, line and angler either have the power to pull the angry fish away from the rocks, or the fish wins and the battle is over. Larry won that battle, thanks to his reactions, strength and quality gear.
Fifteen minutes later my crew, Capt. Tiffany Vague, hauled a 25-pound bundle of muscle and attitude over the rail of our charter boat, WaveWalker.
Aboard our charter boat, we have a nickname for big lingcod — “lingasaur.” It is the only fish I nickname after a dinosaur because it retains a Jurassic image and attitude. Oh, and they taste great! The Lingslayer lure I put together is a Hopkins spoon with a leadhead on the split ring and a twintail plastic or 6-inch Berkley Gulp! Grub.
Stop by Hook, Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, and I’ll show you how it is made and why it works.
— 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.