Sunday, September 25 , 2016, 8:46 pm | Fair 74º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: For a Tasty Experience, Little Sand Dabs Will Do You

The bottom line is that these tiny fish are the catch of your day.

Before these latest storms moved in we enjoyed a week and a half of perfect winter weather ... high 70s, calm air and glassy flat water — that invited boaters to head to sea for a fishing trip. Problem is, many of our popular fish are out of season in January and February. Of the fish we can keep, most are not very active in the dead of winter. But we have one delicious little exception, sand dabs.

image
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
Have you tried them in restaurants or in your own kitchen? You should! They put halibut to shame, according to my taste buds. They are related. Sand dabs look like baby halibut, but they are full grown. We have more sand dabs in our local waters than you would believe. And they are always hungry.

On a sand dab charter, one of my enthusiastic passengers described it, “You just sorta watch for a wiggle on your rod tip. Then wait for a second wiggle, and then reel up two of the tastiest little critters you ever met. Once at home, fry ‘em quick-like in peanut oil, and there’s nuthin’ like ‘em!” I’ve also experimented with sesame seed oil, grape seed oil and others. I haven’t had a bad sand dab yet. The only risk is overcooking. About 30 seconds on each side, for a medium size sand dab, will cook it to perfection.

Finding sand dabs can be tricky because they do not register on a fishfinder. You’re fishing by trial and error, although if sand dabs are in the spot you are trying, you will know it very quickly because they are voracious and competitive feeders. Once you find one of them, you’ve probably found all you’ll need, since they seem to congregate in the thousands. I find them on mixed mud and sand bottom in 150 to 300 feet. My own favorite places are off of the backside of Anacapa Island, outside the oil platforms off of Santa Barbara and off of Ellwood.

Rigging and baiting is simple enough. We tie up a double dropper loop, bait it with 4-inch strips of squid and drop it to the bottom. The fish lie on the bottom to ambush their prey, so keep the weight touching the bottom.

A 10-inch sand dab is a big fish. Seven or eight inches is more the norm. When really small ones — say four or five inches — come up, they are quite easy to release, providing the hook doesn’t tear flesh while being removed. Sand dabs do not have air bladders so they don’t suffer from barotrauma when brought up from deep water. Just carefully remove the hook and put them back in the water with a minimum of handling. They usually swim away unhurt, and that is gratifying. Put the keepers in cool water in a fish box, or on ice. Never put them in a gunny sack in the sun. That ruins fish flesh in a hurry.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

» on 02.05.09 @ 12:03 PM

YUMMY Sand dabs!!!

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >