I spent several days at the Channel Islands recently and was stunned at the volume of squid in the area.
I was hired on a daily basis by people with boats wanting to learn more about where to go out there, how to use marine electronics and how to find and catch fish. When you want to catch large fish at the Channel Islands, it sure helps to know where the squid spawns are going off.
On three consecutive days, I found major squid spawns on the front side of Santa Cruz Island, on the back side of the island and at the east end. I knew from friends that the east end of Santa Rosa Island was teeming with squid.
On day four, I took a boat, by request of the owner, to the backside of Anacapa Island to show him the fishing spots, techniques and how to read the conditions and know if the area is worth fishing. What we found were staggering quantities of spawning squid and squid eggs stacked 2 feet deep on the seafloor. It looked like every squid in the world was right there.
The problem was, there were so many spots like that, going off all around the islands, that the fish people most wanted to target — namely, white seabass, halibut and yellowtail — were widely scattered among the various squid spawns. We sat on that spot on the back side of Anacapa for several hours. It looked perfect, and the feeling was that the fish would find it soon enough and a hot bite would erupt.
That bite didn’t happen there that day. It turned out that the best course of action was to scout around and find squid spawn spots with the glory fish already there feeding. That’s what we did in order to have a chance to pull on big white seabass, halibut and, in this case, barracuda.
For the past week now, I’ve been noticing squid seiners heading up the coast, one after another, after another. It is the right time of year for major squid spawns to develop from Ellwood to Hollister Ranch and those boats, along with their light boat counterparts, will be scouting and working hard. Much of their work happens at night. Much of our fishing happens during the day, so we are generally compatible.
Those boats show the average boating angler where the squid is concentrated, and that helps people catch some surprisingly large white seabass and halibut.
That’s what I plan on doing!
— 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.