Impatience is a tangible and terrible thing this week. Every red-blooded saltwater angler fidgets and waits for the March 1 opener of groundfish season, which includes absolutely delectable fish, including red snapper and lingcod and cabezon, just to name a few. Most of us have run out of fish and are anxious to sink our pearly whites into some fresh-that-day tasty fillets.
I’m here to tell you that the taste and texture of fish caught and consumed in the same day are way, way different than anything you are going to buy in the store. The closest you can come is going to the Saturday morning Fisherman’s Market at the Navy Pier in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
But when you go out yourself and have a blast in the outdoors rigging, casting, hooking and bringing in your own fish, the dining experience takes on the magical aura of ancient times — sitting around camp/cook fires telling hunting stories while cooking and eating. Now this is living large!
All this week, before the season opener on March 1, anglers will be looking closely at rods, reels and tackle. Most will replace old fishing line with fresh line that can be trusted when fighting a powerful fish.
Fishing tackle boxes will be cleaned out, cleaned up and freshly stocked with hooks, swivels, weights, lures, leaders, pliers, cutters and myriad items that make for a good day of fishing and catching. New rods and reels will be purchased and readied. Those with boats will be servicing trailers, motors and machinery.
Businesses will be involved and will be busy. For example, Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara will host a big sale on fishing gear Feb. 26-28.
“The better we can help prepare people with fresh gear, the better their early season experience will be,” said Capt. Tiffany Vague, store manager. “Our fish stocks here in the Santa Barbara Channel and around the Channel Islands are very robust, and we are expecting a fabulous season of fishing.”
The opening weekend features a new moon, good tidal current flows and a midmorning high tide. From a fishing captain’s perspective, it promises a great beginning. Santa Barbara’s partyboat, Stardust, will be running trips. Private charter boats such as my WaveWalker will be on duty.
Let the fishing seasons begin!
— 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.