Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 9:37 pm | Fair 47º

Captain’s Log: Cruising for Fish, Fun at Santa Cruz Island

A young calico comes boatside and is quickly released.
A young calico comes boatside and is quickly released.  (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

By Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist |

Santa Cruz Island is one of my favorite places in the world and for a number of reasons. Fishing is a big part of my reasons for loving the waters around this island, but the awesome beauty and soul-settling natural spots capture my heart. I love that island.

I run a charter boat, and during a majority of our trips we spend some time fishing. We are blessed with a multitude of fishing options here on the Santa Barbara Channel and around the Channel Isles. I enjoy most all forms of fishing, but I must confess that I have a favorite. I get all excited when we are going boiler rock bassing at Santa Cruz Island for calico bass.

Over the weekend, my charter boat, WaveWalker, made a run to the front (north) side of the island. It was a calm crossing, and we had to stop repeatedly along the way to enjoy dolphins and whales.

Our first planned destination was my spiritual home — Painted Cave. We were blessed that sea conditions were perfect for taking the WaveWalker deep into the cave. Our passengers were completely enthralled. Before entering the long cave, I said to them, “Folks, we are about to enter a profoundly spiritual place.” I was pleased that they really got it and it meant a great deal to them, being spiritual people themselves.

After that we cruised east along the island to get out of the Marine Protected Area (MPA, or a place where no extraction is allowed — in other words, no fishing) that was cruelly imposed on recreational anglers for little reason of need and only driven by desires to preserve rather than conserve.

Once outside of that zone, we brought out our rods and spent some glorious time casting swimbaits (a type of fishing lure) to the edge of the boiler rocks where waves crash over them and catching beautiful calico bass. These fish are tough, fun to fight and absolutely beautiful. They are carefully managed and were legal to keep; however, this group of people believed in letting the calicos go, so it was catch-and-release fishing.

I enjoy boiler rock bassing fishing so much that I put my crew member, Capt. Tiffany Vague, at the helm of the vessel, and I joined our passengers on deck and had a blast making long casts and hooking up with feisty bass. I haven’t had that much fishing fun in a long time.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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